President Barack Obama will address the nation on Tuesday regarding the need to push for stricter gun control guidelines. Below is a sneak peak of the President’s prepared remarks:
“Some back in Washington are already floating the idea that they might use political stunts to prevent votes on any of these reforms. Think about that. They’re not just saying they’ll vote “no” on ideas that almost all Americans support. They’re saying they won’t allow any votes on them at all. They’re saying your opinion doesn’t matter. And that’s not right.”
“I’ve also heard some in the press suggest that what happens to gun violence legislation in Congress this week will be a political victory or defeat for me. You know what? This isn’t about me. And it shouldn’t be about politics. This is about doing the right thing for families like yours that have been torn apart by gun violence, and families going forward.”
A WORD OF ADVICE TO THE PRESIDENT AND FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA: NO MORE FLIRTING AND OTHER CURIOUS BLOOPERS THAT MAKE US SAY ‘HMMM’!
What is the REAL deal behind the series of bloopers and blunders that it appears President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are making lately? First, the White House Press Office release a statement that the President and the First Lady are vacationing – separately. Next, there was the confusing drama surrounding the visit of the very beautiful and intoxicating Miss Israel to the United States. The first Black Miss Israel, Yityish Aynaw, was extended an invitation to dinner at the White House with President Obama last month. Not dinner with the First Family. Not dinner with the President and the First Lady. Just dinner with the President. Miss Israel’s camp declined the invitation. Sources report that the invite was re-extended with a message that it was non-negotiable. Interesting. First Lady Michelle Obama does an interview about the importance of accessible healthy food and ends up calling herself a “single mother” and then makes a poor attempt to clarify her blooper. And Thursday at a Democratic fundraiser, President Obama called California Attorney General Kamala Harris “by far the best-looking attorney general in the country.” What was that all about? Blatant flirting? In public? White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday that the President called Kamala Harris Thursday night to apologize for his flirty statement and that “he did not want in any way want to diminish the attorney general’s accomplishments and capabilities” when he blurted that she was fine!
Statement by the President on Intention to Nominate General Philip Breedlove for U.S. European Command and SACEUR
Statement by the President on Intention to Nominate General Philip Breedlove for U.S. European Command and SACEUR
Today I am proud to announce my intention to nominate General Philip Breedlove as the next Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and Commander of U.S. European Command. For over three decades, General Breedlove has served with distinction in assignments at all levels of the U.S. Air Force and around the globe, from Washington to Germany, Italy, Spain, and South Korea. As Commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and the Commander of NATO’s Allied Air Command, General Breedlove has established trust and deep relations with our NATO allies and partners – assets he will draw upon in taking on this important new role on behalf of the United States and the Alliance.
If confirmed by the Senate, General Breedlove will replace Admiral Jim Stavridis as the Supreme Allied Commander in late Spring. Admiral Stavridis has played an absolutely essential role in strengthening the NATO Alliance to meet the challenges of the 21st century, to include enhancing our collective capabilities and partnerships. I am grateful for his steadfast service on behalf of our country and NATO.
When President Barack Obama stands before America, DNC delegates, and the world Thursday evening, he has got to deliver the goods. Former President Bill Clinton, like an excellent defense attorney, made a clear cut argument, point by point, why American voters should re-elect President Barack Obama for another term.
The First Lady Michelle Obama hit a major grand slam Tuesday with a speech that will go down in history as one of the most powerful statements that a First Lady can make in behalf of their incumbent spouse. Both President Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama prepared the ground work for President Obama. All the President needs to do Thursday evening is bring the theme to a climatic conclusion: “Why I Deserve Your Vote of Confidence For Another Four Years.”
President Obama must make and prove his case to the American public. His speech can be as detailed as he would like to prepare it. But the key will be in the deliverance. How will the President deliver his speech? What the President must do is explain, not in his usual laid back way, the core principles and strategies that has made his administration and term successful for middle class America.
As President Obama speaks to America, he needs to appeal to his audience. Make his message conversational, lively, descriptive, but positive. Lay it on the line. He can not be afraid to appear human, but he needs to speak from the heart. Americans will have to feel every last word he says. Like the head coach of a championship team at the Super Bowl or Final Four, President Obama’s speech should motivate, invigorate and inspire everyone that can see him on television and on the radio. Like NFL Hall of Famer Barry Sanders, President Obama should run with that speech like a whole crew of three hundred pound football players are chasing him, fiercely, and with great power, sprinting forcefully into the in zone!
From the moment the President walks out in front of America, he has to grab the attention and wring the life out of it. President Obama can not be scared to stand up for his policies; even the controversial ones like the Affordable Care Act. When President Obama whips it out on America Thursday evening, he has to let his inner Don Cornelius out! Put some SOUUUUUUUUL all the way into that speech. The President needs to put his natural foot in it!
Hopefully, President Obama watched the video of President Clinton’s speech and took some notes because Thursday evening is the night where if he doesn’t make his case for a second term, there might not be one.
Statement by White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer on Today’s Contempt Vote in the U.S. House of Representatives
Statement by White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer on Today’s Contempt Vote in the U.S. House of Representatives
At the beginning of this year, Republicans announced one of their top priorities was to investigate the Administration and to ensure that President Obama was a one-term President. Despite the major economic challenges facing the country, they talked openly about devoting taxpayer-funded, Congressional oversight resources to political purposes.
The problem of gunwalking was a field-driven tactic that dated back to the George W. Bush Administration, and it was this Administration’s Attorney General who ended it. Attorney General Holder has said repeatedly that fighting criminal activity along the Southwest Border – including the illegal trafficking of guns to Mexico has been is a top priority of the Department. Eric Holder has been an excellent Attorney General and just yesterday the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee acknowledged that he had no evidence – or even the suspicion – that the Attorney General knew of the misguided tactics used in this operation.
Yet, Republicans pushed for political theater rather than legitimate Congressional oversight. Over the past fourteen months, the Justice Department accommodated Congressional investigators, producing 7,600 pages of documents, and testifying at eleven Congressional hearings. In an act of good faith, this week the Administration made an additional offer which would have resulted in the Committee getting unprecedented access to documents dispelling any notion of an intent to mislead. But unfortunately, a politically-motivated agenda prevailed and instead of engaging with the President in efforts to create jobs and grow the economy, today we saw the House of Representatives perform a transparently political stunt.
COMMENTARY: Why Eliminating The Individual Mandate of Obamacare May Not Be Such A Horrible Idea
-By Tracey Ricks Foster
The White House and the rest of concerned Americans and political pundits are counting down the hours to the big reveal. The United States Supreme Court will release its’ conclusive decision regarding the fate of President Obama’s AFFORDABLE CARE ACT on Thursday. Some say that the President’s re-election hopes depend roughly on how the nine Justices rule. Others lament that while the controversial health care law could be the thrown out in its entirety, more than likely the individual mandate portion that requires all U.S. citizens to acquire some form of health insurance will be struck down. Which would be a good thing.
When President Obama initially asserted his argument over the need for America to adopt some form of universal health care on the campaign trail back in 2008, the proposal he laid out to the American people contained a key element: public option. The President’s campaign website then expressed that “any American will have the opportunity to enroll in [a] new public plan.” The President noted in a speech in 2009 that “a public option will give people a broader range of choices and inject competition into the health care market” and that any plan he decided to sign “must include…a public option.”
Why “public option?” The theory behind public option is that the U.S. federal government would create an insurance plan that would be designed to compete with private insurance companies. In this way, private insurance would be in direct competition for consumers with the federal government. The public would have the opportunity to compare and rate one insurance competitor against the next. Then compare those rates with the U.S. government’s. Yes. There would have been a 1 trillion price tag attached to the public option proposal. The down side. The up side? Consumers, for the first time in U.S. health insurance history, would be in the driver’s seat. Finally, health insurance companies who fleece its’ customers with high deductibles and exclude those with preexisting conditions would be forced to evaluate their policies and scrutinize the affects that their capitalism have on customers. The public option would have kicked open the health insurance market and necessitate health insurance companies and providers to become competitive in all 50 states. Consumers would have the luxury of comparable shopping within state or cross state lines for the best health insurance rates. A sure win win for American consumers.
However, the health insurance industry despised the idea. Just the very thought that the federal government could come in and legitimately steal consumers based on competitive rates was appalling. Health insurance lobbyists were paid millions to voice the industry’s opposition and the GOP, along with the Tea Party called public option “socialism.” Soon, the White House changed its tune. Public option was ‘out.’ Mandatory health insurance coverage was ‘in.’ Competitive rates? No. Cross state insurance? No. Consumers win? No. Health insurance companies and providers win? Yes.
So, the final draft of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed in to law on March 23, 2010 by President Obama without public option. Instead, within this passed legislation is the “individual mandate” which requires individuals to purchase health insurance and threatens punishment for those who don’t, hence the need for the Supreme Court to intervene.
Even though proponents of the President and the “individual mandate” assert that the benefits of this mandate would solve the problem of the massive debt left by uninsured Americans, whose health care costs are paid for by insured consumers thereby driving insurance rates up, data proving that the individual mandate will eradicate the problem has yet to be forthcoming. Economists, on the other hand, argue that not all uninsured consumers leave a bill for the insured to absorb. Statistics reveal that uninsured consumers pay about 25% of their health care costs out of pocket. In 2001, $35 billion in uncompensated health care was received by the uninsured or only 2.8%.
So, what are the true benefits of the individual mandate? The individual mandate will not propel health insurance rates downward making the purchase of health insurance plans affordable for the unemployed or uninsured. If anything, the individual mandate is only viable and enforceable if EVERYONE participates. What happens to those who are not able to participate because of their economic situation? Then these will be subjected to fines under the law.
However, this statute gives way to the same problem that former Massachusetts governor and presumed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney faced. The solution? Exemptions and vouchers paid for by insured consumers! Which in essence takes the whole argument back to the reason why the individual mandate provision in the Affordable Care Act may not work and could very well be stricken down by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Statement by the President on the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Arizona v. the United States: “A Patchwork of State Laws is not a Solution to our Broken Immigration System – It’s Part of the Problem”
Statement by the President on the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Arizona v. the United States
I am pleased that the Supreme Court has struck down key provisions of Arizona’s immigration law. What this decision makes unmistakably clear is that Congress must act on comprehensive immigration reform. A patchwork of state laws is not a solution to our broken immigration system – it’s part of the problem.
At the same time, I remain concerned about the practical impact of the remaining provision of the Arizona law that requires local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they even suspect to be here illegally. I agree with the Court that individuals cannot be detained solely to verify their immigration status. No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like. Going forward, we must ensure that Arizona law enforcement officials do not enforce this law in a manner that undermines the civil rights of Americans, as the Court’s decision recognizes. Furthermore, we will continue to enforce our immigration laws by focusing on our most important priorities like border security and criminals who endanger our communities, and not, for example, students who earn their education – which is why the Department of Homeland Security announced earlier this month that it will lift the shadow of deportation from young people who were brought to the United States as children through no fault of their own.
I will work with anyone in Congress who’s willing to make progress on comprehensive immigration reform that addresses our economic needs and security needs, and upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. And in the meantime, we will continue to use every federal resource to protect the safety and civil rights of all Americans, and treat all our people with dignity and respect. We can solve these challenges not in spite of our most cherished values – but because of them. What makes us American is not a question of what we look like or what our names are. What makes us American is our shared belief in the enduring promise of this country – and our shared responsibility to leave it more generous and more hopeful than we found it.
Op-ed by President Obama: President Obama Reflects on the Impact of Title IX
The full text of the op-ed by President Barack Obama is printed below. The piece was published today in Newsweek.
President Obama Reflects on the Impact of Title IX
By President Obama
Coaching my daughter Sasha’s basketball team is one of those times when I just get to be “Dad.” I snag rebounds, run drills, and have a little fun. More importantly, I get to watch Sasha and her teammates improve together, start thinking like a team, and develop self-confidence.
Any parent knows there are few things more fulfilling than watching your child discover a passion for something. And as a parent, you’ll do anything to make sure he or she grows up believing she can take that ambition as far as she wants; that your child will embrace that quintessentially American idea that she can go as far as her talents will take her.
But it wasn’t so long ago that something like pursuing varsity sports was an unlikely dream for young women in America. Their teams often made do with second-rate facilities, hand-me-down uniforms, and next to no funding.
What changed? Well, 40 years ago, committed women from around the country, driven by everyone who said they couldn’t do something, worked with Congress to ban gender discrimination in our public schools. Title IX was the result of their efforts, and this week, we celebrated its 40th anniversary—40 years of ensuring equal education, in and out of the classroom, regardless of gender.
I was reminded of this milestone last month, when I awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Pat Summitt. When she started out as a basketball coach, Pat drove the team van to away games. She washed the uniforms in her own washing machine. One night she and her team even camped out in an opponent’s gym because they had no funding for a hotel. But she and her players kept their chins up and their heads in the game. And in 38 years at the University of Tennessee, Pat won eight national championships and tallied more than 1,000 wins—the most by any college coach, man or woman. More important, every single woman who ever played for Pat has either graduated or is on her way to a degree.
Today, thanks in no small part to the confidence and determination they developed through competitive sports and the work ethic they learned with their teammates, girls who play sports are more likely to excel in school. In fact, more women as a whole now graduate from college than men. This is a great accomplishment—not just for one sport or one college or even just for women but for America. And this is what Title IX is all about.
Let’s not forget, Title IX isn’t just about sports. From addressing inequality in math and science education to preventing sexual assault on campus to fairly funding athletic programs, Title IX ensures equality for our young people in every aspect of their education. It’s a springboard for success: it’s thanks in part to legislation like Title IX that more women graduate from college prepared to work in a much broader range of fields, including engineering and technology. I’ve said that women will shape the destiny of this country, and I mean it. The more confident, empowered women who enter our boardrooms and courtrooms, legislatures, and hospitals, the stronger we become as a country.
And that is what we are seeing today. Women are not just taking a seat at the table or sitting at the head of it, they are creating success on their own terms. The women who grew up with Title IX now pioneer scientific breakthroughs, run thriving businesses, govern states, and, yes, coach varsity teams. Because they do, today’s young women grow up hearing fewer voices that tell them “You can’t,” and more voices that tell them “You can.”
We have come so far. But there’s so much farther we can go. There are always more barriers we can break and more progress we can make. As president, I’ll do my part to keep Title IX strong and vibrant, and maintain our schools as doorways of opportunity so every child has a fair shot at success. And as a dad, I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that this country remains the place where, no matter who you are or what you look like, you can make it if you try.
On Anniversary of Olmstead, Obama Administration Reaffirms Commitment to Assist Americans with Disabilities
On Anniversary of Olmstead, Obama Administration Reaffirms Commitment to Assist Americans with Disabilities
On June 22, 1999, the Supreme Court ruled in Olmstead v. L.C. that the unjustified institutional isolation of people with disabilities is a form of unlawful discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Obama Administration has made significant progress continuing to enforce Olmsteadas well as more broadly helping to level the playing field for people with disabilities.
“Olmstead affirmed the rights of Americans with disabilities to live in their communities,” said President Obama. “As we mark the anniversary of this historic civil rights decision, we reaffirm our commitment to fighting discrimination, and to addressing the needs and concerns of those living with disabilities.”
In April of this year, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the creation of the Administration for Community Living (ACL), which brings together key HHS organizations and offices dedicated to improving the lives of those with functional needs into one coordinated, focused and stronger entity. ACL combined the Administration on Aging, the Office on Disability and the Administration on Developmental Disabilities into a single agency that supports both cross-cutting initiatives and efforts focused on the unique needs of individual groups, such as children with developmental disabilities or seniors with dementia. This agency will work on increasing access to community supports and achieving full community participation for people with disabilities and seniors.
HHS also has worked closely with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to develop and subsidize rental housing for very low-income adults with disabilities and implement the new Section 811 Project Rental Assistance Program, which will assist extremely low-income adults with disabilities in accessing integrated affordable housing. Last month, HUD announced a new $85 million funding opportunity under the Section 811 program for state housing agencies that meet certain eligibility criteria, including having a partnership with a state health and human services agency and Medicaid agency, to provide essential support and services that help people live in integrated settings in the community. This funding opportunity works to align critical health and housing services and aims to assure integration by promoting Medicaid efforts to serve people in the most appropriate integrated setting.
The Department of Justice also continues to enforce the ADA and Olmstead. Over the last three years, the Civil Rights Division at the Department has been involved in more than 40 Olmstead matters in 25 states. Recently, in Virginia, the Department entered into a landmark settlement agreement with the Commonwealth, which will shift Virginia’s developmental disabilities system from one heavily reliant on large, state-run institutions to one focused on safe, individualized, and community-based services that promote integration, independence and full participation by people with disabilities in community life. The agreement expands and strengthens every aspect of the Commonwealth’s system of serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in integrated settings, and it does so through a number of services and supports. The Department has a website dedicated to Olmsteadenforcement, which includes links to settlements, briefs, findings letters, and other materials.
Statement by the President
Last night I accepted the resignation of John Bryson as Secretary of the Department of Commerce. I want to extend my deepest thanks and appreciation to John for his service over the past months, and wish him and his family the very best.
As Secretary, John fought tirelessly for our nation’s businesses and workers, helping to bolster our exports and promote American manufacturing and products at home and abroad. John has proven himself an effective and distinguished leader throughout his career in both the public and private sectors, from his success in the business world to his work leading on issues in the renewable energy industry. I am grateful that he brought that invaluable experience and expertise to my administration, and am pleased that he has agreed to continue supporting our efforts to strengthen the economy and create good jobs by serving as a member of my Export Council going forward.
I am confident that Dr. Rebecca Blank will serve the American people well as Acting Secretary and that the Commerce Department staff will continue their tireless work putting forward policies that help our workers and businesses compete.
Statement by the President on World Refugee Day
On this World Refugee Day, the United States joins the international community in recognizing the nearly 15 million refugees worldwide, and millions more internally displaced people. We honor the dignity, courage, and determination of these men, women and children who have fled persecution and violence in their homelands and the commitment and generosity of the countries and organizations that provide them protection and assistance during this difficult time.
While we work to promote lasting peace and stability and human rights around the world, so that these refugees may one day return to their countries in safety and dignity, we know that for some voluntary return may not be possible. For these refugees social, economic, and legal integration in their country of asylum not only provides opportunities for them to begin rebuilding their lives, but also for the contribution of their knowledge, talents, and skills to be fully realized. Americans know the benefits of these valuable contributions firsthand. Since 1975, we have welcomed more than 3 million refugees from all over the world and continue to lead the world in refugee resettlement.
Together with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the international community, we are committed to protecting the world’s refugees, mitigating their suffering, and working to help find ways for them to live in dignity and peace.
BREAKING NEWS: Obama Administration Holds 39 Million Acre Lease Sale in Central Gulf of Mexico Salazar Announces Over $1.7 Billion in High Bids for Over 2.4 Million Acres
Obama Administration Holds 39 Million Acre Lease Sale in Central Gulf of Mexico
Salazar Announces Over $1.7 Billion in High Bids for Over 2.4 Million Acres
NEW ORLEANS, La. — Today, the Department of the Interior took the latest step as part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, holding a 39 million acre lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that today’s Central Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sale attracted $1,704,500,995 in high bids for tracts on the U.S. outer continental shelf offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. A total of 56 offshore energy companies submitted 593 bids on 454 tracts covering more than 2,402,918 acres. The sum of all bids received totaled $2,602,563,726.
Today’s lease sale builds on a series of actions taken by the Obama administration, including additional lease sales for both onshore and offshore areas for oil and gas development, to meet the President’s direction to continue to expand safe and responsible production of America’s important domestic resources.
“This sale, part of the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, is good news for American jobs, good news for the Gulf economy, and will bring additional domestic resources to market,” said Salazar, who opened this morning’s sale. “When it comes to domestic production, the President has made clear he is committed to expanding oil and natural gas production safely and responsibly, and today’s sale is just the latest example of his administration delivering on that commitment. The numbers speak for themselves: every year the President has been in office, domestic oil and gas production has increased, foreign imports of oil have decreased, and we are currently producing more oil than any time in the past eight years.”
The Central Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 216/222, conducted by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), offered more than 39 million acres for oil and gas development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. The acreage included 7,434 tracts from three to more than 230 miles off the coast, in depths ranging from 10 to more than 11,200 feet (3 to 3,400 meters). BOEM estimates the economically recoverable hydrocarbons that could be produced as a result of the acreage offered ranges from 0.8 to 1.6 billion barrels of oil and 3.3 to 6.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Today’s sale builds on the successful Western Gulf of Mexico lease sale held by BOEM in December 2011 that made available more than 21 million acres – equal to an area the size of South Carolina – and attracted more than $337 million in high bids and included 20 companies submitting 241 bids on 191 tracts comprising over a million acres offshore Texas. In 2010, DOI offered nearly 37 million offshore acres to industry for oil and gas leasing.
“Before moving forward with Sale 216/222, we conducted a rigorous analysis of the environmental effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Central Gulf of Mexico,” said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. “We have also continued a number of lease terms designed to ensure fair return to the American people and provide innovative incentives to promote diligent development of our nation’s offshore oil and gas resources.”
Today’s highest bid on a tract was $157,111,000 submitted by Statoil Gulf of Mexico LLC for Mississippi Canyon, Block 718. Shell submitted the highest total amount in bonus bids, $406,594,560 on 24 tracts.
Lease terms for both sales included escalating rental rates to encourage faster exploration and development of leases as well as shorter lease terms for shallower water in order to encourage timely development. BOEM has increased its minimum bid requirement in deepwater to $100 per acre, up from $37.50 in previous Central lease sales. Rigorous historical analysis showed that leases that received high bids of less than $100 per acre have experienced virtually no exploration and development activities.
Lessees will have to comply with a series of important environmental stipulations, including requirements to protect biologically sensitive features, as well as marine mammals and sea turtles, and employ trained observers to ensure compliance and restrict operations when conditions warrant. These terms will help ensure an appropriate balance of responsible resource development with protection of the human, marine and coastal environments.
Each high bid on a tract will now go through a strict evaluation process within BOEM to ensure the public receives fair market value before a lease is awarded. This is the final Gulf Lease Sale scheduled in the current Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program: 2007-2012.
Sale statistics for Central Sale 216/222 are available at: http://www.boem.gov/Oil-and-Gas-Energy-Program/Leasing/Regional-Leasing/Gulf-of-Mexico-Region/Lease-Sales/216-222/Central-Planning-Area-Lease-Sale-216-222-Information.aspx.
Los Cabos, Mexico
5:47 P.M. MDT
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I want to begin by thanking my good friend and partner, President Calderon, and the people of Los Cabos and Mexico for their outstanding hospitality and leadership. Mexico is the first Latin American country to host a G20 summit, and this has been another example of Mexico playing a larger role in world affairs, from the global economy to climate change to development.
Since this is my last visit to Mexico during President Calderon’s time in office, I want to say how much I’ve valued Felipe’s friendship and the progress that we’ve made together over the past several years. And building on the spirit here at Los Cabos, I’m absolutely confident that the deep ties between our countries will only grow stronger in the years to come.
Now, over the past three years, these G20 summits have allowed our nations to pull the global economy back from a free fall and put us back on the path of recovery and growth. In the United States, our businesses have created jobs for 27 months in a row — more than 4 million jobs in all — and our highest priority continues to be putting people back to work even faster.
Today, we recognize that there are a wide range of threats to our ongoing global economic recovery and growth. But the one that’s received the most focus obviously and that does have a significant impact on the United States as well as globally is the situation in Europe. As our largest trading partner, slower growth in Europe means slower growth in American jobs. So we have a profound interest in seeing Europe prosper. That’s why I’ve been consulting closely with my European counterparts during this crisis, as we’ve done here at Los Cabos.
I do think it’s important to note, however, that most leaders of the eurozone, the economies are not part of the G20. The challenges facing Europe will not be solved by the G20 or by the United States. The solutions will be debated and decided, appropriately, by the leaders and the people of Europe.
So this has been an opportunity for us to hear from European leaders on the progress they’re making and on their next steps — especially in the wake of the election in Greece, and because they’re heading into the EU summit later this month. It’s also been a chance for the international community, including the United States — the largest economy in the world, and with our own record of responding to financial crises — to stress the importance of decisive action at this moment.
Now, markets around the world as well as governments have been asking if Europe is ready to do what is necessary to hold the eurozone together. Over the last two days European leaders here in Cabos have made it clear that they understand the stakes and they pledged to take the actions needed to address this crisis and restore confidence, stability, and growth. Let me just be a little more specific.
First, our friends in Europe clearly grasp the seriousness of the situation and are moving forward with a heightened sense of urgency. I welcome the important steps that they have already taken to promote growth, financial stability and fiscal responsibility. I’m very pleased that the European leaders here said that they will take all necessary measures to safeguard the integrity and stability of the eurozone, to improve the functioning of the financial markets. This will contribute to breaking the feedback loop between sovereigns and banks, and make sovereign borrowing costs sustainable.
I also welcome the adoption of the fiscal compact and it’s ongoing implementation, assessed on a structural basis, together with a growth strategy which includes structural reforms.
G20 leaders all supported Europe working in partnership with the next Greek government to ensure that they remain on a path to reform and sustainability within the eurozone. Another positive step forward was the eurozone’s commitment to work on a more integrated financial architecture — including banking supervision, resolution, and recapitalization, as well as deposit insurance. Also, in the coming days Spain will lay out the details of its financial support request for its banks restructuring agency, providing clarity to reassure markets on the form and the amount and the structure of support to be approved at the earliest time.
It’s also positive that the eurozone will pursue structural reforms to strengthen competitiveness in deficit countries, and to promote demand and growth in surplus countries to reduce imbalances within the euro area.
And finally, I welcome the fact that Europe is determined to move forward quickly on measures to support growth and investment including by completing the European single market and making better use of European funds.
Of course, Europe is not, as I said, the only source of concern when it comes to global growth. The G20 also agreed that reversing the economic slowdown demands a renewed focus on growth and job creation.
As the world’s largest economy, the best thing the United States can do is to create jobs and growth in the short term, even as we continue to put our fiscal house in order over the long term. And as part of that effort, we’ve made significant progress in advancing our trade agenda. This is an essential to promoting growth, innovation and jobs in the United States.
Here in Los Cabos, we announced important steps towards closer integration with three of our major trading partners. Both Mexico and Canada have been invited to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, which is an ambitious 21st century trade agreement that will now include 11 countries. And this agreement holds enormous opportunities to boost trade in one of the world’s fastest growing regions.
Even as we build this new framework for trade in the Asia Pacific, we’re also working to expand our trade with Europe. So today, the United States and the European Union agreed to take the next step in our work towards the possible launching of negotiations on an agreement to strengthen our already very deep trade and investment partnership.
In addition, and in keeping with our commitments at the last G20 in Cannes, we agreed that countries should not intervene to hold their currencies at undervalued levels, and that countries with large surpluses and export-oriented economies needed to continue to boost demand.
So, in closing, I’d note that with Mexico’s leadership, we continue to make progress across a range of challenges that are vital to our shared prosperity — from food security to Greek economic growth that combats climate change, from financial education and protection for consumers to combating corruption that stifles economic growth, and in strengthening financial regulation to creating a more level playing field. All of this happened in large part because of the leadership of President Calderón. I want to thank him, and I want to thank my fellow leaders for their partnership as we work very hard to create jobs and opportunity that all of our citizens deserve.
So with that, I’m going to start with Ben Feller of AP.
Q Thank you very much, Mr. President. We’re all hearing a lot of encouraging promises about what Europe plans to do, but can you assure us that those actions, if they’re able to come together on them, will actually do anything to create jobs in America this year? And if Europe is not able to rally in a big way pretty quickly, do you think that will cost you the election?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I think that what I’ve heard from European leaders during the course of these discussions is they understand the stakes. They understand why it’s important for them to take bold and decisive action. And I’m confident that they can meet those tests.
Now, I always show great sympathy for my European friends because they don’t have to deal with one Congress — they have to deal with 17 parliaments, if you’re talking about the eurozone. If you’re talking about the European Union, you’re talking about 27. And that means that sometimes, even after they’ve conceived of approaches to deal with the crisis, they have to work through all the politics to get it done. And markets are a lot more impatient.
And so what I’ve encouraged them to do is to lay out a framework for where they want to go in increasing European integration, in resolving the financial pressures that are on sovereign countries. Even if they can’t achieve all of it in one full swoop, I think if people have a sense of where they’re going, that can provide confidence and break the fever. Because if you think about Europe, look, this remains one of the wealthiest, most productive regions of the world. Europe continues to have enormous strengths — a very well-educated, productive workforce. They have some of the biggest, best-run companies in the world. They have trading relationships around the world. And all of these problems that they’re facing right now are entirely solvable, but the markets, when they start seeing potential uncertainty, show a lot more risk aversion, and you can start getting into a negative cycle.
And what we have to do is it to create a positive cycle where people become more confident, the markets settle down, and they have the time and the space to execute the kinds of structural reforms that not only Europe, but all of us are having to go through, in balancing the need for growth, but also dealing with issues like debt and deficits. And I’m confident that over the next several weeks, Europe will paint a picture of where we need to go, take some immediate steps that are required to give them that time and space. And based on the conversations that I’ve had here today and the conversations that I’ve had over the last several months, I’m confident that they are very much committed to the European project.
Now, all this affects the United States. Europe as a whole is our largest trading partner. And if fewer folks are buying stuff in Paris or Berlin, that means that we’re selling less stuff made in Pittsburgh or Cleveland. But I think there are a couple of things that we’ve already done that help. The financial regulatory reforms that we passed means that our banks are better capitalized. It means that our supervision and our mechanisms for looking at trouble spots in our financial system are superior to what they were back in 2008. That’s an important difference. But there’s still some more things we can do.
And the most important thing we can do is something that I’ve already talked about. If Congress would act on a jobs plan that independent economists say would put us on the path of creating an extra million jobs on top of the ones that have already been created — putting teachers back in the classroom, putting construction workers back on the job rebuilding infrastructure that badly needs to be rebuilt — all those things can make a significant difference. And given that we don’t have full control over what happens in Europe or the pace at which things happen in Europe, let’s make sure that we’re doing those things that we do have control over and that are good policy anyway.
THE PRESIDENT: I think it’s fair to say that any — all these issues, economic issues, will potentially have some impact on the election. But that’s not my biggest concern right now. My biggest concern is the same concern I’ve had over the last three and a half years, which is folks who are out of work or underemployed or unable to pay the bills — what steps are we taking to potentially put them in a stronger position. And I consistently believed that if we take the right policy steps, if we’re doing the right thing, then the politics will follow. And my mind hasn’t changed on that.
Jeff Mason, Reuters. Where’s Jeff?
Q Thank you, sir. My question is about Syria. Did President Putin of Russia indicate any desire on Russia’s part for Assad to step down or to leave power? And did you make any tangible progress in your meetings with him or with Chinese President Hu in finding a way to stop the bloodshed there?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, these were major topics of conversation in both meetings. And anybody who’s seen scenes of what’s happening in Syria I think recognizes that the violence is completely out of hand, that civilians are being targeted, and that Assad has lost legitimacy. And when you massacre your own citizens in the ways that we’ve seen, it is impossible to conceive of a orderly political transition that leaves Assad in power.
Now, that doesn’t mean that that process of political transition is easy. And there’s no doubt that Russia, which historically has had a relationship with Syria, as well as China, which is generally wary of commenting on what it considers to be the internal affairs of other countries, are and have been more resistant to applying the kind of pressure that’s necessary to achieve that political transition.
We had a very candid conversation. I wouldn’t suggest that at this point the United States and the rest of the international community are aligned with Russia and China in their positions, but I do think they recognize the grave dangers of all-out civil war. I do not think they condone the massacres that we’ve witnessed. And I think they believe that everybody would be better served if Syria had a mechanism for ceasing the violence and creating a legitimate government.
What I’ve said to them is that it’s important for the world community to work with the United Nations and Kofi Annan on what a political transition would look like. And my hope is, is that we can have those conversations in the coming week or two and that we can present to the world, but most importantly, to the Syrian people, a pathway whereby this conflict can be resolved.
But I don’t think it would fair to say that the Russians and the Chinese are signed on at this point. I think what is fair to say is that they recognize that the current situation is grave; it does not serve their interests; it certainly does not serve the interests of the Syrian people. And where we agree is that if we can help the Syrian people find a path to a resolution, all of us would be better off.
But it’s my personal belief — and I shared this with them — that I don’t see a scenario in which Assad stays and violence is reduced. He had an opportunity with the Annan plan. They did not fulfill their side of the deal. Instead we saw escalation and murder of innocent women and children. And at this point, we have the international monitors that were sent in having to leave because of this violence that’s being perpetrated. And although you’ll hear sometimes from some commentators that the opposition has engaged in violence as well, and obviously there’s evidence of that, I think it’s also fair to say that those haunting images that we saw in places like Hom were the direct result of decisions made by the Syrian government and ultimately Mr. Assad is responsible.
Q Did either of them talk about Syria without Assad?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: We had an intensive conversation about it. If you’re asking me whether they signed on to that proposition, I don’t think it would be fair to say that they are there yet. But my — I’m going to keep on making the argument and my expectation is, is that at some point there’s a recognition that it’s hard to envision a better future for Syria while Assad is still there.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. One of Mitt Romney’s economic advisors recently wrote in a German publication that your recommendations to Europe and to Germany in particular reveal ignorance of the causes of the crisis, and he said that they have the same flaws as your own economic policies. I want to get your response to that, and also to follow up on Ben’s question. Europe has been kicking the can down the road for years, so why are you any more convinced that we won’t see another three-month fix emerge out of Brussels at the end of the month?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, with respect to Mr. Romney’s advisors, I suggest you go talk to Mr. Romney about his advisors. I would point out that we have one President at a time and one administration at a time, and I think traditionally the notion has been that America’s political differences end at the water’s edge. I’d also suggest that he may not be familiar with what our suggestions to the Germans have been. And I think sometimes back home there is a desire to superimpose whatever ideological arguments are taking place back home on to a very complicated situation in Europe.
The situation in Europe is a combination of things. You’ve got situations where some countries did have undisciplined fiscal practices, public debt. You had some countries like Spain whose problems actually arose out of housing speculation and problems in the private sector that didn’t have to do with public debt.
I think that there’s no doubt that all the countries in Europe at this point recognize the need for growth strategies inside of Europe that are consistent with fiscal consolidation plans — and by the way, that’s exactly what I think the United States should be thinking about. The essence of the plan that I presented back in September was how do we increase growth and jobs now while providing clarity in terms of how we reduce our deficit and our debt medium and long term.
And I think that’s the right recipe generally — not just for us, but across the board.
You had a second question. What was it?
Q Why are you –
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Why am I confident? Well, look, I don’t want to sound Pollyanna-ish here. Resolving the issues in Europe is difficult. As I said, there are a lot of players involved. There are a lot of complexities to the problems, because we’re talking about the problems of a bunch of different countries at this point. Changing market psychology is very difficult. But the tools are available. The sense of urgency among the leaders is clear. And so what we have to do is combine that sense of urgency with the tools that are available and bridge them in a timely fashion that can provide markets confidence. And I think that can be done.
Hopefully — just to give an example — when Spain clarifies exactly how it intends to draw down and utilize dollars — or not dollars, but euros to recapitalize its banking system, given that it’s already got support from other European countries, given that the resources are available, what’s missing right now is just a sense of specifics and the path whereby that takes place. When markets see that, that can help build confidence and reverse psychology.
So there are going to be a range of steps that they can take. None of them are going to be a silver bullet that solves this thing entirely over the next week or two weeks or two months. But each step points to the fact that Europe is moving towards further integration rather than breakup, and that these problems can be resolved — and points to the underlying strength in Europe’s economies.
These are not countries that somehow at their core are unproductive or dysfunctional; these are advanced economies with extraordinarily productive people. They’ve got a particular challenge that has to do with a currency union that didn’t have all the best bells and whistles of a fiscal or a monetary union, and they’re catching up now to some of those needs. And they just need the time and the space to do it. In the meantime, they’ve got to send a strong signal to the market, and I’m confident they can do that.
All right. Thank you very much, everybody.
U.S. Trade Representative Kirk Welcomes Canada as a New Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiating Partner
U.S. Trade Representative Kirk Welcomes Canada
as a New Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiating Partner
Washington, DC – President Obama announced today that the United States and the eight other countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement have extended an invitation to Canada to join the TPP negotiations, pending successful conclusion of domestic procedures. In addition to the United States, the current TPP countries are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
“Inviting Canada to join the TPP negotiations presents a unique opportunity for the United States to build upon this already dynamic trading relationship. Through TPP, we are bringing the relationship with our largest trading partner into the 21st century,” said Ambassador Kirk. “We look forward to continuing consultations with the Congress and domestic stakeholders regarding Canada’s entry into the TPP as we move closer to a broad-based, high-standard trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Next steps will parallel those for Mexico, which was also invited to join the TPP negotiations yesterday. The Administration will shortly notify Congress of our intent to include Canada in the TPP negotiations. The notification will trigger a 90-day consultation period with Congress on U.S. negotiating objectives with respect to Canada. We also will publish a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comments.
The TPP is a key element of the Obama Administration’s efforts to support the creation and retention of high-quality jobs for Americans by increasing exports to the vibrant economies of the Asia-Pacific region. The United States and its TPP partners are determined to expeditiously complete a comprehensive, next-generation agreement.
The TPP countries have completed 12 rounds of negotiations and the nine countries have made solid progress. The next round of negotiations is scheduled to take place July 2 – 10 in San Diego, California.
WEEKLY ADDRESS: Ending the Stalemate in Washington
WASHINGTON, DC— In this week’s address, President Obama told the American people that the stalemate in Washington is holding our economy back during this make-or-break moment for the middle class. The President’s jobs bill could create more than one million additional jobs if Congress were to drop its opposition to common sense ideas like giving small businesses tax cuts for hiring more workers, helping states keep thousands of teachers, firefighters and police officers on the job, and putting thousands of construction workers back to work. It’s time for Congress to end this partisan gridlock and work with the President on behalf of the American people to help grow the economy and support new jobs.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT LGBT PRIDE MONTH RECEPTION
5:16 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, hello, hello! (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Thank you so much. Well, thank you very much.
Well, welcome to the White House, everybody. (Applause.) We are glad all of you could join us today. I want to thank the members of Congress and the members of my administration who are here, including our friends who are doing outstanding work every day — John Berry, Nancy Sutley, Fred Hochberg. (Applause.)
Now, each June since I took office, we have gathered to pay tribute to the generations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans who devoted their lives to our most basic of ideals –- equality not just for some, but for all. Together we’ve marked major milestones like the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, when a group of brave citizens held their ground against brutal discrimination. Together, we’ve honored courageous pioneers who, decades ago, came out and spoke out; who challenged unjust laws and destructive prejudices. Together, we’ve stood resolute; unwavering in our commitment to advance this movement and to build a more perfect union.
Now, I’ve said before that I would never counsel patience; that it wasn’t right to tell you to be patient any more than it was right for others to tell women to be patient a century ago, or African Americans to be patient a half century ago. After decades of inaction and indifference, you have every reason and right to push, loudly and forcefully, for equality. (Applause.)
But three years ago, I also promised you this: I said that even if it took more time than we would like, we would see progress, we would see success, we would see real and lasting change. And together, that’s what we’re witnessing.
For every person who lost a loved one at the hand of hate, we ended a decade of delay and finally made the Matthew Shepard Act the land of the law. (Applause.) For every person with HIV who was treated like an outcast, we lifted the HIV entry ban. (Applause.) And because of that important step, next month, for the first time in more than two decades, the International AIDS conference will be held right here in the United States. (Applause.)
For every American diagnosed with HIV who couldn’t get access to treatment, we put forward a National HIV/AIDS strategy — because who you are should never affect whether you get life-extending care. Marjorie Hill, the head of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, is here. (Applause.) GMHC has saved so many lives, and this year they are celebrating their 30thanniversary. So I want to give them and all these organizations who work to prevent and treat HIV a big round of applause. Give it up for Marjorie and everybody else. (Applause.)
For every partner or spouse denied the chance to comfort a loved one in the hospital, to be by their side at their greatest hour of need, we said, enough. Hospitals that accept Medicare or Medicaid -– and that is most of them -– now have to treat LGBT patients just like any other patient. For every American denied insurance just for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, we passed health insurance reform, which will ban that kind of discrimination. (Applause.)
We’ve expanded benefits for same-sex partners of federal employees, prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender identity for workers in the federal government. (Applause.) We’ve supported efforts in Congress to end the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. (Applause.) And as we wait for that law to be cast aside, we’ve stopped defending its constitutionality in the courts. (Applause.)
We’ve put forward a strategy to promote and protect the rights of LGBT communities all over the world, because, as Secretary Clinton said back in December, gay rights are human rights. (Applause.)
And, of course, last year we finally put an end to “don’t ask, don’t tell” — (applause) — so that nobody would ever have to ever again hide who they love in order to serve the country they love. And I know we’ve got some military members who are here today. (Applause.) I’m happy to see you with your partners here. We thank you for your service. We thank your families for their service, and we share your joy at being able to come with your spouses or partners here to the White House with your Commander-in-Chief. (Applause.)
Now, we know we’ve got more to do. Americans may feel more comfortable bringing their partners to the office barbecue — (laughter) — but we’re still waiting for a fully inclusive employment non-discrimination act. (Applause.) Congress needs to pass that legislation, so that no American is ever fired simply for being gay or transgender.
Americans may be able serve openly in the military, but many are still growing up alone and afraid; picked on, pushed around for being different. And that’s why my administration has worked to raise awareness about bullying. And I know — I just had a chance to see Lee Hirsch, the director of BULLY, who is here. And we thank him for his work on this issue. (Applause.)
I want to acknowledge all the young leaders here today who are making such a big difference in their classrooms and in their communities. And Americans may be still evolving when it comes to marriage equality — (laughter and applause) — but as I’ve indicated personally, Michelle and I have made up our minds on this issue. (Applause.)
So we still have a long way to go, but we will get there. We’ll get there because of all of you. We’ll get there because of all of the ordinary Americans who every day show extraordinary courage. We’ll get there because of every man and woman and activist and ally who is moving us forward by the force of their moral arguments, but more importantly, by the force of their example.
And as long as I have the privilege of being your President, I promise you, you won’t just have a friend in the White House, you will have a fellow advocate — (applause) — for an America where no matter what you look like or where you come from or who you love, you can dream big dreams and dream as openly as you want.
Thank you. God bless you. God bless America. (Applause.)
Remarks By President Barack Obama On Immigration, Transcript Includes Rude Interruption Made By Reporter From The Daily Caller
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
2:09 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. This morning, Secretary Napolitano announced new actions my administration will take to mend our nation’s immigration policy, to make it more fair, more efficient, and more just — specifically for certain young people sometimes called “Dreamers.”
These are young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they’re friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag. They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents — sometimes even as infants — and often have no idea that they’re undocumented until they apply for a job or a driver’s license, or a college scholarship.
Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you’ve done everything right your entire life — studied hard, worked hard, maybe even graduated at the top of your class — only to suddenly face the threat of deportation to a country that you know nothing about, with a language that you may not even speak.
That’s what gave rise to the DREAM Act. It says that if your parents brought you here as a child, if you’ve been here for five years, and you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, you can one day earn your citizenship. And I have said time and time and time again to Congress that, send me the DREAM Act, put it on my desk, and I will sign it right away.
Now, both parties wrote this legislation. And a year and a half ago, Democrats passed the DREAM Act in the House, but Republicans walked away from it. It got 55 votes in the Senate, but Republicans blocked it. The bill hasn’t really changed. The need hasn’t changed. It’s still the right thing to do. The only thing that has changed, apparently, was the politics.
As I said in my speech on the economy yesterday, it makes no sense to expel talented young people, who, for all intents and purposes, are Americans — they’ve been raised as Americans; understand themselves to be part of this country — to expel these young people who want to staff our labs, or start new businesses, or defend our country simply because of the actions of their parents — or because of the inaction of politicians.
In the absence of any immigration action from Congress to fix our broken immigration system, what we’ve tried to do is focus our immigration enforcement resources in the right places. So we prioritized border security, putting more boots on the southern border than at any time in our history — today, there are fewer illegal crossings than at any time in the past 40 years. We focused and used discretion about whom to prosecute, focusing on criminals who endanger our communities rather than students who are earning their education. And today, deportation of criminals is up 80 percent. We’ve improved on that discretion carefully and thoughtfully. Well, today, we’re improving it again.
Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people. Over the next few months, eligible individuals who do not present a risk to national security or public safety will be able to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization.
Now, let’s be clear — this is not amnesty, this is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people. It is –
THE PRESIDENT: — the right thing to do.
Q — foreigners over American workers.
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, sir. It’s not time for questions, sir.
Q No, you have to take questions.
THE PRESIDENT: Not while I’m speaking.
Precisely because this is temporary, Congress needs to act. There is still time for Congress to pass the DREAM Act this year, because these kids deserve to plan their lives in more than two-year increments. And we still need to pass comprehensive immigration reform that addresses our 21st century economic and security needs — reform that gives our farmers and ranchers certainty about the workers that they’ll have. Reform that gives our science and technology sectors certainty that the young people who come here to earn their PhDs won’t be forced to leave and start new businesses in other countries. Reform that continues to improve our border security, and lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.
Just six years ago, the unlikely trio of John McCain, Ted Kennedy and President Bush came together to champion this kind of reform. And I was proud to join 23 Republicans in voting for it. So there’s no reason that we can’t come together and get this done.
And as long as I’m President, I will not give up on this issue, not only because it’s the right thing to do for our economy — and CEOs agree with me — not just because it’s the right thing to do for our security, but because it’s the right thing to do, period. And I believe that, eventually, enough Republicans in Congress will come around to that view as well.
And I believe that it’s the right thing to do because I’ve been with groups of young people who work so hard and speak with so much heart about what’s best in America, even though I knew some of them must have lived under the fear of deportation. I know some have come forward, at great risks to themselves and their futures, in hopes it would spur the rest of us to live up to our own most cherished values. And I’ve seen the stories of Americans in schools and churches and communities across the country who stood up for them and rallied behind them, and pushed us to give them a better path and freedom from fear –because we are a better nation than one that expels innocent young kids.
And the answer to your question, sir — and the next time I’d prefer you let me finish my statements before you ask that question — is this is the right thing to do for the American people –
THE PRESIDENT: I didn’t ask for an argument. I’m answering your question.
Q I’d like to –
THE PRESIDENT: It is the right thing to do –
THE PRESIDENT: — for the American people. And here’s why –
Q — unemployment –
THE PRESIDENT: Here’s the reason: because these young people are going to make extraordinary contributions, and are already making contributions to our society.
I’ve got a young person who is serving in our military, protecting us and our freedom. The notion that in some ways we would treat them as expendable makes no sense. If there is a young person here who has grown up here and wants to contribute to this society, wants to maybe start a business that will create jobs for other folks who are looking for work, that’s the right thing to do. Giving certainty to our farmers and our ranchers; making sure that in addition to border security, we’re creating a comprehensive framework for legal immigration — these are all the right things to do.
We have always drawn strength from being a nation of immigrants, as well as a nation of laws, and that’s going to continue. And my hope is that Congress recognizes that and gets behind this effort.
All right. Thank you very much.
Q What about American workers who are unemployed while you import foreigners?
AT CAMPAIGN EVENT
New York, New York
8:05 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, to Sarah Jessica and her whole crew — (laughter) — Matthew apparently had a show he had to run off to — but for them to let us crash their house, Secret
Service tromping all over the place, is incredibly generous. And they’ve been great friends. Sarah Jessica is doing all kinds of stuff with our Arts and Humanities Council and she has been a great leader and champion on behalf of the arts. And we could not thank her more for everything that she’s done. So please give her a big round of applause. (Applause.)
To Anna, who has been just a great friend, and I think this is — she is working really hard here in New York, but she actually was in Chicago as well, making things happen on our behalf. So, thank you, Anna, for everything that you do. (Applause.)
Now, I recognize that most of you are here to see Michelle. (Laughter.) I understand. I have been there before. I always explain I rank fifth in the hierarchy in the White House. (Laughter.) There’s Michelle, my mother-in-law, the two girls, Bo — so that actually makes it six — (laughter) — in terms of star wattage. People come to the White House — first they ask, where’s Michelle? They ask, where are the girls? And then they say, where’s Bo? (Laughter.) But that’s okay. See, that’s how you’re thinking, too, isn’t it? (Laughter.) It makes sense to you.
But I do want to say — I don’t get a chance to say this a lot publicly — some of you know that Michelle had some skepticism about a life in politics. I think that’s well known. And so the grace and the strength and the poise and the warmth that she has brought to an extraordinarily difficult task as First Lady and still being the best mom imaginable couldn’t make me prouder. And so I’m very pleased she’s here. And this is sort of our date night, so — (applause.)
Now, because this is an intimate setting I usually don’t give a long speech — and I already gave a long speech today. So what I’d rather do is spend most of my time taking questions and getting comments and advice. I usually get some advice. That’s one of the things about the President — (laughter) — you have advisors everywhere. But let me just say a few things at the top.
In 2208, when we came together, it was because we had a sense that some of the core values, the basic bargain that had made this country the extraordinary place it is had been betrayed, or at least misplaced. We had a country in which folks who didn’t need them were getting tax cuts that exploded the deficit. We had two wars that were placed on a credit card. We had an economy that was doing very well for a few, but for a huge number of people — and a growing number of people — meant harder work for less pay, lower incomes, more stress.
And Michelle and I, I think, embody the essence of an America in which if you are willing to work hard, if you’re willing to take responsibility not just for your own life, but for your community and your family, your neighborhood, that you can make it in this country, regardless of what you look like, where you come from, who you love, what your faith. And that basic bargain, that dream, felt like it was eroding.
So that’s why I ran in 2008, and that’s why a lot of you supported me in 2008.
What we didn’t know was that we would end up experiencing the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression — 9 million people ultimately losing their jobs, millions of homes in foreclosure, people having a harder and harder time just making ends meet.
And the good news is that because of the incredible resilience of the American people — and one of the great privileges of being President is you travel all across the country and you meet people from every walk of life — the good news is because of their resilience, we’ve begun to come back.
So we’ve created more than 4 million jobs over the last 27 months, 800,000 this year alone. We were able to stabilize the financial system. Manufacturing started coming back. Sometimes we had to make some tough choices like bailing out the auto industry. But because we had faith in those workers and we had faith in American ingenuity, GM is now back on top and — (applause) — that’s worth applauding. Yes, why not? Why not? (Applause.) James has been dying to — he wanted to fire up the crowd a little bit.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: He knows how to applause line.
THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely. And that was a good one — right on cue. (Laughter.)
But there are still a lot of people hurting out there. We have not come all the way back. And with what’s happening in Europe and what’s happening around the globe, the economy is fragile. And we have to remind ourselves of how much more we have to do not just to get back to where we were before the crisis hit, but how do we get back to that core American ideal in which everybody has a shot — everybody has a fair shot, everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules.
And so even as we try to address the crisis — that was our first order of business — what we also tried to do was slowly begin a process of reforming our institutions so that we can build a strong middle class and give a ladder of opportunity for people who are trying to get into the middle class.
That’s why we passed health care reform. That’s the reason why we made sure that we reformed our financial system so we wouldn’t go through the kind of crisis that we did in 2008. That’s why we reformed our student loans system so millions of students have a better chance of going to college. That’s why we invested in science and research, because we understand that’s how we’re going to be able to compete over the long term in this very competitive economy.
And that’s why I’m running for a second term — because our work is not yet done. We still have to put more people back to work. We still have to rebuild America. We still have to reform our immigration system to make sure that incredibly talented young people who grew up here, who understand themselves as Americans, but may have been brought here with parents who didn’t have papers — that those kids have a chance to contribute, start businesses, and thrive and do all the things that remind us this is a nation of immigrants as well as a nation of laws. (Applause.)
We’ve got to make sure that health care gets implemented. Having ended the war in Iraq, we have to now make sure that we’re dealing with a transition in Afghanistan that’s responsible, but ends the war by 2014. We have to continue to restore respect for America around the world because we observe rule of law, and we’ve eliminated torture, and we’ve once again reached out to countries on the basis of our ideals and our values, and not just our incredible military. And we’ve got to take care of our veterans who have fought for us and are now coming home, because they shouldn’t have to fight for a job after they fought for us.
So we’ve got a huge amount of work to do. And the speech that I gave today focused on the fact that we’ve still got a choice. We’ve got as fundamental a choice this time out as we’ve had maybe in 30, 40, 50 years.
In some ways, this election is more important than 2008 — because in 2008, as much as I disagreed with Mr. McCain, he believed in climate change. He believed in campaign finance reform. He believed in immigration reform. And now what we have is a Republican nominee and a Republican Party that has moved fundamentally away from what used to be a bipartisan consensus about how you build an economy; that has said our entire agenda is based on cutting taxes even more for people who don’t need them and weren’t asking for them; slashing our commitment to things like education or science or infrastructure or a basic social safety net for seniors and the disabled and the infirm; that wants to gut regulations for polluters or those who are taking advantage of consumers.
So they’ve got a very specific theory about how you grow the economy. It’s not very different from the one that actually got us into this mess in the first place. And what we’re going to have to do is to present very clearly to the American people that choice. Because ultimately you guys and the American people, you’re the tie-breaker. You’re the ultimate arbiter of which direction this country goes in. Do we go in a direction where we’re all in this together and we share in prosperity, or do we believe that everybody is on their own and we’ll see how it plays out?
And I am absolutely convinced in my gut that we are in this together, and that for all the differences that you hear about in the news and on cable, there is still a lot more that we have in common than what drives us apart. And I think our ideas are ones that the American people believe in.
But we’re going to have to fight for it, because the American people are tired. They’ve gone through a very tough economy. They’re still having a tough time. And that’s why this election is going to be close. Because at a certain point, the other side is going to spend $500 million with a very simple message, which is: You’re frustrated, you’re disappointed, and it’s the fault of the guy in the White House. And that’s a — it’s an elegant message. It happens to be wrong, but it’s crisp. You can fit it on a bumper sticker.
And so we’re going to have to work hard in this election. We’re going to have to work harder than we did in 2008. But the good news is, from those travels around the country, I will tell you people remain hopeful, they remain resilient, and ultimately, they prefer our vision of the future. So we’ve just got to present it to them, and go out and win an election, and then we’re going to have to spend four more years doing a lot of work.
And I want you to know, despite the fact that my hair is a little grayer than it was — (laughter) — when I started on this journey, I’ve never been more determined and more convinced about the importance of our cause.
Thank you, everybody. Thank you.
President Obama Nominates Two to Serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
President Obama Nominates Two to Serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Obama will nominate Caitlin Halligan and Srikanth Srinivasan to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
“Caitlin Halligan and Sri Srinivasan are dedicated public servants who will bring their tremendous experience, intellect, and integrity to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit,” President Obama said. “This important court is often called the Nation’s second-highest court, and it stands more than a quarter vacant. I remain deeply disappointed that a minority of the United States Senate blocked Ms. Halligan’s nomination last year and urge her reconsideration, especially given her broad bipartisan support from the legal and law enforcement communities. Mr. Srinivasan will be a trailblazer and, like Ms. Halligan, will serve the court with distinction and excellence.”
Caitlin Halligan: Nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Caitlin Halligan is General Counsel for the New York County District Attorney’s Office. She is a nationally recognized appellate litigator who has practiced extensively before the Supreme Court of the United States, the U.S. Courts of Appeals, and the appellate courts of the State of New York.
After graduating from law school, Ms. Halligan served as a law clerk to Judge Patricia M. Wald on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 1995 to 1996, and subsequently to Justice Stephen G. Breyer during the Supreme Court’s 1997-98 term. She was an associate at the law firm of Wiley, Rein, & Fielding in Washington, D.C., from 1996 to 1997, and at the law firm of Howard, Smith & Levin LLP in New York in 1998. In 1999, Ms. Halligan joined the Office of the New York State Attorney General, where she initially served as the Office’s first Chief of the Internet Bureau, overseeing legal matters regarding privacy, online consumer fraud and securities trading, and other Internet-related issues. In 2001, she became First Deputy Solicitor General of New York, and later that year was appointed Solicitor General of New York State. As Solicitor General through 2006, Ms. Halligan managed a staff of nearly 50 appellate attorneys representing New York in federal and state appellate courts. Her national peers selected her in each year from 2001 to 2005 to receive the “Best Brief” award from the National Association of Attorneys General. In 2007, Ms. Halligan became a partner at the firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP, in New York, where she led the firm’s Appellate Practice until she returned to public service in her current role in January 2010.
Ms. Halligan has served as adjunct faculty at Columbia Law School since 2005, where she has taught an advanced seminar on federalism and constitutional law. From 2007 to 2009, she served as pro bono counsel to the Board of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the entity that is overseeing the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Ms. Halligan was born in Xenia, Ohio, and grew up in several different states, including Arkansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Florida. She received her A.B. with honors from Princeton University in 1988 and her J.D. with high honors in 1995 from Georgetown University Law Center, where she served as managing editor of the Georgetown Law Journal.
Srikanth Srinivasan: Nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Srikanth “Sri” Srinivasan is the Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States. He is a highly-respected appellate advocate who has spent a distinguished career litigating before the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Courts of Appeals, both on behalf of the United States and in private practice.
Mr. Srinivasan began his legal career by serving as a law clerk for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 1995 to 1996. He then spent a year as a Bristow Fellow in the Office of the Solicitor General before clerking for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor during the Supreme Court’s 1997-98 term. He was an associate at the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP in Washington, D.C., from 1998 until 2002. In 2002, he returned to the Solicitor General’s Office as an Assistant to the Solicitor General, representing the United States in litigation before the Supreme Court. For his work, he received the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Furthering U.S. National Security in 2003 and the Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Excellence in 2005. In 2007, Mr. Srinivasan became a partner with O’Melveny & Myers LLP. In 2011, he was named the Chair of the firm’s Appellate Practice Group. He was named as the Principal Deputy Solicitor General in August 2011.
Mr. Srinivasan is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading appellate and Supreme Court advocates. He has argued before the Supreme Court twenty times, drafted briefs in several dozen additional cases, and has also served as lead counsel in numerous cases before the federal and state appellate courts. He has also served as a lecturer at Harvard Law School, where he taught a class on appellate advocacy.
Mr. Srinivasan was born in Chandigarh, India, and grew up in Lawrence, Kansas. He received his B.A. with honors and distinction in 1989 from Stanford University and his J.D. with distinction in 1995 from Stanford Law School, where he was elected to Order of the Coif and served as an editor of the Stanford Law Review. He also holds an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, which he received along with his J.D. in 1995.