Read all posts from January 2009

  • Yesterday, President Obama rescinded the "Mexico City Policy" and released the following statement:
    It is clear that the provisions of the Mexico City Policy are unnecessarily broad and unwarranted under current law, and for the past eight years, they have undermined efforts to promote safe and effective voluntary family planning in developing countries.  For these reasons, it is right for us to rescind this policy and restore critical efforts to protect and empower women and promote global economic development.
    For too long, international family planning assistance has been used as a political wedge issue, the subject of a back and forth debate that has served only to divide us.  I have no desire to continue this stale and fruitless debate.
    It is time that we end the politicization of this issue.  In the coming weeks, my Administration will initiate a fresh conversation on family planning, working to find areas of common ground to best meet the needs of women and families at home and around the world.
    I have directed my staff to reach out to those on all sides of this issue to achieve the goal of reducing unintended pregnancies.  They will also work to promote safe motherhood, reduce maternal and infant mortality rates and increase educational and economic opportunities for women and girls.
    In addition, I look forward to working with Congress to restore U.S. financial support for the U.N. Population Fund.  By resuming funding to UNFPA, the U.S. will be joining 180 other donor nations working collaboratively to reduce poverty, improve the health of women and children, prevent HIV/AIDS and provide family planning assistance to women in 154 countries.

  • In his first weekly address since being sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, President Barack Obama discusses how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan will jump-start the economy.
    "This is not just a short-term program to boost employment," he said. "It’s one that will invest in our most important priorities like energy and education; health care and a new infrastructure that are necessary to keep us strong and competitive in the 21st century."
    The Administration is still working with Congress to refine the plan, but in the address, President Obama lays out the key priorities. He goes into detail, noting that the plan will update our electric grid by laying more than 3,000 miles of transmission lines; weatherize 2.5 million homes; protect health insurance for more than 8 million Americans in danger of losing their coverage; secure 90 major ports; renovate 10,000 schools; and triple the number of science fellowships.
    Watch the President's weekly address and read the full remarks below.
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    Remarks of President Barack Obama
    Weekly Address
    Saturday, January 24th, 2009
    We begin this year and this Administration in the midst of an unprecedented crisis that calls for unprecedented action. Just this week, we saw more people file for unemployment than at any time in the last twenty-six years, and experts agree that if nothing is done, the unemployment rate could reach double digits. Our economy could fall $1 trillion short of its full capacity, which translates into more than $12,000 in lost income for a family of four. And we could lose a generation of potential, as more young Americans are forced to forgo college dreams or the chance to train for the jobs of the future.
    In short, if we do not act boldly and swiftly, a bad situation could become dramatically worse.
    That is why I have proposed an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan to immediately jumpstart job creation as well as long-term economic growth. I am pleased to say that both parties in Congress are already hard at work on this plan, and I hope to sign it into law in less than a month.
    It’s a plan that will save or create three to four million jobs over the next few years, and one that recognizes both the paradox and the promise of this moment - the fact that there are millions of Americans trying to find work even as, all around the country, there’s so much work to be done. That’s why this is not just a short-term program to boost employment. It’s one that will invest in our most important priorities like energy and education; health care and a new infrastructure that are necessary to keep us strong and competitive in the 21st century.
    Today I’d like to talk specifically about the progress we expect to make in each of these areas.
    To accelerate the creation of a clean energy economy, we will double our capacity to generate alternative sources of energy like wind, solar, and biofuels over the next three years. We’ll begin to build a new electricity grid that lay down more than 3,000 miles of transmission lines to convey this new energy from coast to coast. We’ll save taxpayers $2 billion a year by making 75% of federal buildings more energy efficient, and save the average working family $350 on their energy bills by weatherizing 2.5 million homes.
    To lower health care cost, cut medical errors, and improve care, we’ll computerize the nation’s health record in five years, saving billions of dollars in health care costs and countless lives. And we’ll protect health insurance for more than 8 million Americans who are in danger of losing their coverage during this economic downturn.
    To ensure our children can compete and succeed in this new economy, we’ll renovate and modernize 10,000 schools, building state-of-the-art classrooms, libraries, and labs to improve learning for over five million students. We’ll invest more in Pell Grants to make college affordable for seven million more students, provide a $2,500 college tax credit to four million students, and triple the number of fellowships in science to help spur the next generation of innovation.
    Finally, we will rebuild and retrofit America to meet the demands of the 21st century. That means repairing and modernizing thousands of miles of America’s roadways and providing new mass transit options for millions of Americans. It means protecting America by securing 90 major ports and creating a better communications network for local law enforcement and public safety officials in the event of an emergency. And it means expanding broadband access to millions of Americans, so business can compete on a level-playing field, wherever they’re located.
    I know that some are skeptical about the size and scale of this recovery plan. I understand that skepticism, which is why this recovery plan must and will include unprecedented measures that will allow the American people to hold my Administration accountable for these results. We won’t just throw money at our problems - we’ll invest in what works. Instead of politicians doling out money behind a veil of secrecy, decisions about where we invest will be made public, and informed by independent experts whenever possible. We’ll launch an unprecedented effort to root out waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary spending in our government, and every American will be able to see how and where we spend taxpayer dollars by going to a new website called recovery.gov.
    No one policy or program will solve the challenges we face right now, nor will this crisis recede in a short period of time. But if we act now and act boldly; if we start rewarding hard work and responsibility once more; if we act as citizens and not partisans and begin again the work of remaking America, then I have faith that we will emerge from this trying time even stronger and more prosperous than we were before. Thanks for listening.