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Christina RomerJune 04, 2010
09:30 AM EDT
Today’s employment situation report shows continued signs of labor market recovery. Payroll employment rose for the fifth month in a row, and the unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 9.7 percent. While these are encouraging developments, we clearly have a very long way to go until the labor market is fully recovered. It is essential that we continue our efforts to move in the right direction and generate steady, strong job gains and continuing declines in unemployment.
Payroll employment rose 431,000 in May. As expected, most of this increase was due to temporary hiring associated with the decennial Census. Total private employment increased by 41,000, somewhat lower than the rate of increase in previous months. Building on the steady gains in previous months, private employment is now nearly 1/2 million higher than in December 2009. Both manufacturing and service-providing industries showed job gains; employment in construction and state and local government, however, fell noticeably. Average weekly hours, which are another important indicator of labor market healing, rose by one-tenth of an hour in May and are up four-tenths of an hour since last December.
The unemployment rate, which had risen in April, fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 9.7 percent. Both the labor force and the household measure of employment fell in May, following tremendous gains in the previous months. Consistent with the rise in average weekly hours, the number of full-time workers rose for the fourth month in a row and the number of people working part-time for economic reasons declined sharply.
The fact that the unemployment rate fell and private employment rose are obviously encouraging signs that recovery continues. At the same time, the continued high level of unemployment and the slowdown in private sector job growth emphasize the need for continuing vigilance. The Administration strongly supports targeted actions to spur private sector job creation and prevent continued reductions in state and local government employment. Tax incentives for clean energy manufacturing and energy efficiency, extensions of unemployment insurance and other key income support programs, a fund to encourage small business lending, and fiscal relief for state and local governments are essential measures to ensure a more rapid, widespread recovery.
As always, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative. The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and subject to substantial revision. Emphasis should be placed on persistent trends rather than month-to-month fluctuations.
Christina Romer is the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
Heidi AveryJune 04, 2010
09:24 AM EDT
Ed. Note: For more information on federal response resources, volunteer opportunities, and assistance for those in affected areas visit WhiteHouse.gov/Deepwater-BP-Oil-Spill.
Below is the latest in the ongoing Administration-wide response provided by the Joint Information Center.
Heidi Avery is White House Deputy Homeland Security Advisor
Arun ChaudharyJune 04, 2010
01:30 AM EDT
Thanks for checking out the 10th episode of West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Walk step by step with the President while he visits the troubled Gulf Coast, celebrates Memorial Day, honors Paul McCartney and the current National Spelling Bee Champ, meets with General Odierno and President Garcia of Peru, and much more.
Find more video, photos, and information on the events featured in this episode below:
Friday, May 28, 2010:
Monday, May 31, 2010:
- The President on Memorial Day in Illinois
- The President on Memorial Day at Andrews Airforce Base
- The Vice President on Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetary
Tuesday, June 1, 2010:
- The President's meeting with the Co-Chairs of the BP Oil Spill Commission
- President Obama meets with Peruvian President Alan García
Wednesday, June 2, 2010:
- The President meets with Gen. Raymond Odierno, Commanding General, United States Forces-Iraq
- The President presents Sir Paul McCartney with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song
Thursday, June 3, 2010:
Arun Chaudhary is the official White House videographer
Jesse LeeJune 03, 2010
03:47 PM EDT
This afternoon the President met with Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona in the Oval Office -- here's the official readout from the White House:
The President had a good meeting with Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona at the White House today to discuss a range of critical issues of mutual interest, including the President’s comprehensive plan to secure the Southwest border and the unprecedented resources his Administration has devoted to that effort. The President and Governor Brewer also discussed the President’s decision to deploy up to an additional 1,200 requirements-based National Guard troops to the border and his upcoming request to Congress of $500 million in supplemental funds for enhanced border protection and law enforcement activities as part of that integrated strategy. The President listened to Governor Brewer’s concerns, and noted that the Administration’s ongoing border protection and security efforts have increased pressure on illegal trafficking organizations through record seizures of illegal weapons and bulk cash transiting from the United States to Mexico, resulted in significant seizures of illegal drugs headed into the United States, lowered the average violent crime statistics in states along the Southwest Border, and reduced illegal immigration into the United States.
Despite the significant improvements, the President acknowledged the understandable frustration that all Americans share about the broken immigration system, and the President and Governor agreed that the lack of action to fix the broken system at the federal level is unacceptable. As he did at the recent meeting with Senate Republicans, the President underscored that security measures alone won’t fix the broken borders, there needs to be comprehensive immigration reform that includes: lasting and dedicated resources by which to secure our borders and make our communities safer; holding unscrupulous employers accountable who hire workers illegally and exploit them and providing clear guidance for the many employers who want to play by the rules; and requiring those who have come here illegally to pay a fine, pay back taxes, learn English, and get right with the law. The President urged Governor Brewer to be his partner in working in a bipartisan manner on comprehensive immigration reform to implement the type of smart, sensible, and effective solutions the American people expect and deserve from their federal government. Regarding Arizona law SB1070, the President reiterated his concern with the measure, including that a patchwork of different state immigration regulations around the country would interfere with the federal government’s responsibility to set and enforce immigration policy.
Kori SchulmanJune 03, 2010
03:29 PM EDT
Last night, President Obama presented America’s highest award for popular music − the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song − to Sir Paul McCartney in the East Room of the White House. Watch a video of the award presentation:
Artists from all genres and backgrounds joined the President and First Lady to honor Paul McCartney, including Stevie Wonder, the Jonas Brothers, Faith Hill, Emmylou Harris, Lang Lang, Herbie Hancock, Elvis Costello, Jack White, Corinne Bailey Rae, David Grohl, and Jerry Seinfeld. As they gathered to present the annual award for extraordinary contributions to American music and culture, in his remarks, the President took a moment to address the challenges Americans face and the value of music in tough times:
We've gone through a difficult year and a half, and right now our thoughts and our prayers are with friends in another part of the country that is so rich in musical heritage -- the people of the Gulf Coast who are dealing with something that we simply had not seen before. And it’s heartbreaking. And we reaffirm, I think together, our commitment to see to it that their lives and their communities are made whole again.
But part of what gets us through tough times is music, the arts, the ability to capture that essential kernel of ourselves, that part of us that sings even when times are hard. And it’s fitting that the Library has chosen to present this year’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to a man whose father played Gershwin compositions for him on the piano; a man who grew up to become the most successful songwriter in history -– Sir Paul McCartney.
The concert will be broadcast on PBS stations nationwide on Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 8:00 PM EDT as “In Performance at the White House Celebrating the Music of Paul McCartney: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize.”
Last year, the President presented Stevie Wonder with the 2nd Annual Library of Congress Gershwin Prize. The prize commemorates George and Ira Gershwin, the legendary American songwriting team whose extensive manuscript collections reside in the Library of Congress. The prize is awarded to musicians whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins.
Liz OxhornJune 03, 2010
12:33 PM EDT
If you’ve ever looked back at the old black and white photos of America being built, with hard-working men and women creating the infrastructure and fueling the economy that made our country what it is today, you may have stumbled across pictures like this where workers scaled dizzying heights to put the finishing touches on the Brooklyn Bridge back in 1881:
Over the past year and half, the Recovery Act has put hundreds of thousands of hard-working men and women to work on the same kind of projects for the 21st Century -- once again fueling America’s economy by repairing, rejuvenating, improving and advancing much of same infrastructure that was first created back then.
During a visit to New York City yesterday, Vice President Biden stopped by the Brooklyn Bridge where Recovery Act dollars are at work making a contribution to New York City's locally-funded effort to repair, upgrade, and preserve one of America’s most historic crossings.
After touring the construction site alongside Mayor Bloomberg, Vice President Biden spoke about how the $508 million project, which is funded in-part by the Recovery Act, will bring the Brooklyn Bridge into a state of good repair and improve traffic flow for the more than 120,000 vehicles, 4,000 pedestrians, and 2,600 bicyclists that cross every day.
“It’s great to see men and women back on the job, completing work on one of the truly, treasured landmarks this country possesses,” the Vice President told a crowd of about 40 construction workers near the Manhattan-side entrance to the bridge.
New York City says the Recovery Act’s $30 million investment in the project will create 150 jobs, generate economic activity and allow New York City to fund other critical infrastructure projects they otherwise would have eliminated or postponed. For the Brooklyn Bridge, it means a reconstructed roadway surface, rehabilitated and retrofitted steel support structures, expanded entrance ramps, and repainting to prevent corrosion.
As Vice President Biden noted, the Recovery Act has funded nearly 1,300 bridge projects and 14,000 transportation across the United States to-date.
Liz Oxhorn is the Recovery Act Communications Director
June 02, 2010
04:59 PM EDT
Yesterday, I was fortunate to join First Lady Michelle Obama, Representative Dina Titus and Senator Harry Reid at the launch of Let’s Move Outside! in the spectacular Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area of Southern Nevada. The Canyon is just a short drive from the bustle of the Las Vegas Strip; this 197,000 acre property takes you to another time and with its solitude, wide open vistas and soaring red sandstone cliffs. Red Rock Canyon is one of only sixteen National Landscape Conservation Areas in the country, managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
This amazing backdrop was the perfect setting for the First Lady's to announce a new component of her Let’s Move! campaign -- Let's Move Outside! As the first lady said in her remarks:
Our overall goal for “Let’s Move Outside” is to really get our kids active so that they make it a habit of moving around and seeing the activity they need not as a chore but as a fun way to explore our country and to do some things they haven’t done.
Doctors, teachers, and other professionals agree that outdoor activity is one of the easiest and most fun ways to get – and stay – fit. And boy, did we have fun!
Twenty energetic kids from nearby elementary schools joined us for the afternoon’s activities. The First Lady and Senator Reid led the group in a series of geology stretches. Then, we all hiked over to a sandstone slope, where we watched some able rangers guide kids on a “rock scramble.” Even though it was a steep climb, the pay-off at the top was terrific — a panoramic view of the canyon as far as the eye could see. Finally, children were sworn in by First Lady Michelle Obama as official Let’s Move Outside! Junior Rangers, capping off an afternoon of adventure, exercise, and good cheer.
There are no better places for America’s children to get moving than in the parks, trails, and waters in all of our communities. Whether you are walking, hiking, swimming, horseback riding, or mountain biking --America’s public lands have a wide range of affordable activities and adventures for every family. These lands are America’s backyard—they are owned by everyone in this country and provide opportunities to get outside in every state, county, and city in the country.
The Department of Interior and the U.S. Forest Service will be hosting Let’s Move Outside! events across the country during the summer months. We will engage partners across the public and private sectors to expand access to these places and connect American families to our great big collective backyard. Check out the Let's Move! website to find opportunities to get outside and have fun today!
Rhea Suh is Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management & Budget
Jesse LeeJune 02, 2010
03:48 PM EDT
“America does not stand still. We move forward.” -- this was a recurring theme in the President’s speech at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, harkening back to one of the most sweeping speeches of his presidency.
On April 14th of last year, the President spoke at Georgetown University on his vision to restore the economy not just in the short term, but for generations to come. In the time since then, the economy has turned from hemorrhaging hundreds of thousands of jobs, to some of the strongest job growth we’ve seen in years over the past months – although for millions of Americans times are still tough. But in that same time, much progress has also been made on what the President called the “New Foundation” a year ago:
It's a foundation built upon five pillars that will grow our economy and make this new century another American century: Number one, new rules for Wall Street that will reward drive and innovation, not reckless risk-taking -- (applause); number two, new investments in education that will make our workforce more skilled and competitive -- (applause); number three, new investments in renewable energy and technology that will create new jobs and new industries -- (applause); number four, new investments in health care that will cut costs for families and businesses; and number five, new savings in our federal budget that will bring down the debt for future generations. (Applause.)
The President noted that “for a lot of middle-class families -- for entire communities, in some case -- a sense of economic security has been missing since long before the recession began,” and that this problem is what the New Foundation is meant to address. As such, he chastised the Republican Party for the fact that “most have sat on the sidelines and shouted from the bleachers” rather than offer real help. He gave a recap of the progress made on each pillar, making clear while some may argue we need to move backward towards the broken status quo, he will continue to push forward:
On Wall Street Reform, which has passed both the House and Senate:
To start with, we can't compete as a nation if the irresponsibility of a few folks on Wall Street can bring our entire economy to its knees. That's why we're on the verge of passing the most sweeping financial reform since the Great Depression. It’s a reform that will help prevent another AIG. It will end taxpayer-funded bank bailouts. It contains the strongest consumer protections in history -- protections that will empower Americans with the clear and concise information they need before signing up for a credit card or taking out a mortgage.
On education, which has remained a consistent top priority of the President’s even as other issues dominated the headlines:
You know, if you’re a family who’s tightening your belt, you will definitely sacrifice going out to dinner, but you’re not going to sacrifice saving for your child’s college education. It’s precisely our investments in education and innovation that will make America more competitive in the 21st century. And we can’t go back; we’ve got to move forward. (Applause.)
That’s why I’ve made education reform a top priority -- because countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow. And so we want every citizen to have the skills and training they need in a global economy -- from the day that you’re born through whatever career you may choose.
Last year, we launched a national competition to improve our schools based on a simple idea: Instead of funding the status quo, we will only invest in reform -- reform that raises student achievement, that inspires students to excel in math and science, and turns around failing schools that steal the future of too many young Americans.
On the deficit, which was put on a disastrous course in previous years, and was made worse by the recession that “put a $3 trillion hole in our budget before I even walked in the door”:
The third component is the belt-tightening steps I’ve already outlined to reduce our deficit by $1 trillion.
Starting in 2011, we will enact a three-year freeze on all discretionary spending outside of national security -- something that was never enacted in the last administration. We will allow the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire. We’ve gone through the budget, line by line, and identified more than 120 programs for elimination. We’ve restored a simple budgeting rule that every family and business understands called pay-as-you-go. And we will charge the largest Wall Street firms a fee to repay the American people for rescuing them during the financial crisis -- a fee that will bring down the deficit by $90 billion -- (applause) -- a fee that will bring down the deficit by $90 billion over the next decade. By the way, that $90 billion represents about one-eighth of the amount these banks will pay out in bonuses over the same time period in time.
On reforming our broken health insurance system, now the law of the land, with new benefits kicking in virtually every month:
We also know we can’t compete in a global economy if our citizens are forced to spend more and more of their income on medical bills; if our businesses are forced to choose between health care and hiring; if state and federal budgets are weighed down with skyrocketing health care costs. That’s why we finally passed health insurance reform.
Now, let’s be clear. The costs of health care are not going to come down overnight just because legislation passed, and in an ever-changing industry like health care, we’re going to continuously need to apply more cost-cutting measures as the years go by. But once this reform is in full effect, middle-class families will pay less for their health care, and the worst practices of the insurance industry will end. People with preexisting medical conditions will no longer be excluded from coverage. People who become seriously ill will no longer be thrown off their coverage for reasons contrived by the insurance company. Taxpayers will no longer have to pay -- in the form of higher premiums -- for trips to the ER by uninsured Americans. Businesses will get help with their health care costs. In fact, small businesses are already learning they’re eligible for tax credits to cover their workers this year. And with less waste and greater efficiency in the system, this reform will do more to bring down the deficit than any step we have taken in more than a decade.
The other party has staked their claim this November on repealing these health insurance reforms instead of making them work. They want to go back. We need to move forward.
The President saved the clean energy economy for last, which got its biggest investment in history from the Recovery Act, but which still lacks a comprehensive energy bill out of the Senate:
Now, this brings me to an issue that’s on everybody’s minds right now -- namely, what kind of energy future can ensure our long-term prosperity. The catastrophe unfolding in the Gulf right now may prove to be a result of human error, or of corporations taking dangerous shortcuts to compromise safety, or a combination of both. And I’ve launched a National Commission so that the American people will have answers on exactly what happened. But we have to acknowledge that there are inherent risks to drilling four miles beneath the surface of the Earth, and these are risks -- (applause) -- these are risks that are bound to increase the harder oil extraction becomes. We also have to acknowledge that an America run solely on fossil fuels should not be the vision we have for our children and our grandchildren. (Applause.)
We consume more than 20 percent of the world’s oil, but have less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves. So without a major change in our energy policy, our dependence on oil means that we will continue to send billions of dollars of our hard-earned wealth to other countries every month -- including countries in dangerous and unstable regions. In other words, our continued dependence on fossil fuels will jeopardize our national security. It will smother our planet. And it will continue to put our economy and our environment at risk.
Now, I understand that we can’t end our dependence on fossil fuels overnight. That’s why I supported a careful plan of offshore oil production as one part of our overall energy strategy. But we can pursue such production only if it’s safe, and only if it’s used as a short-term solution while we transition to a clean energy economy.
And the time has come to aggressively accelerate that transition. The time has come, once and for all, for this nation to fully embrace a clean energy future. (Applause.) Now, that means continuing our unprecedented effort to make everything from our homes and businesses to our cars and trucks more energy-efficient. It means tapping into our natural gas reserves, and moving ahead with our plan to expand our nation’s fleet of nuclear power plants. It means rolling back billions of dollars of tax breaks to oil companies so we can prioritize investments in clean energy research and development.
Peter OrszagJune 02, 2010
02:01 PM EDT
CBO Director Doug Elmendorf recently gave a presentation on health costs and the fiscal outlook. Doug concludes that the federal budget remains on an unsustainable course even after enactment of the Affordable Care Act, and I wholly agree with him.
There should be no ambiguity about whether we face unsustainably large deficits over the medium- and long-term. We do. That is why the Administration’s Budget proposes significant additional deficit reduction and that is also why the President has formed a bi-partisan Fiscal Commission charged with recommending measures to achieve medium term fiscal sustainability and to meaningfully improve the long-run fiscal outlook.
The fact that more action must be taken on the deficit even after enactment of the Affordable Care Act, however, is a distinct question from whether the health legislation helps to improve our fiscal course — which it does.
In particular, CBO estimates that the Act will reduce the deficit by more than $100 billion over the next ten years and more than $1 trillion in the ten years after that. That’s more deficit reduction than has been enacted in over a decade.
Perhaps more importantly, the Act has the potential to fundamentally transform our health system into one that delivers better care at lower cost. This potential isn’t fully captured in CBO’s numbers, and that’s appropriate. CBO produces its estimates based on what has happened in the past, and we have never enacted such a fundamental transformation.
The new law incorporates the most promising ideas from economists and leaders from across the political spectrum to control health care costs. As I have written before, this includes the vast majority of the options CBO itself suggested for reducing long-term health care cost growth. And we now have a variety of new institutions that will be devoted to guiding policy toward higher-quality and lower-cost outcomes.
The bottom line is that we are on a long journey toward fiscal sustainability — but that should not diminish the importance and potential of the Affordable Care Act.
Peter R. Orszag is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget
Secretary Tom VilsackJune 02, 2010
11:36 AM EDT
Tomorrow I will travel to Hillsboro, Missouri to host the Obama Administration’s National Summit of Rural America: A Dialogue for Renewing Promise. The event will feature a broad conversation with key policymakers and community leaders to explore the priorities and policies necessary to strengthen America’s rural communities.
Rural communities, and the one-in-six Americans who live in them, are at the center of our nation’s values and prosperity. Small towns throughout the United States supply much of our food and water, and they are moving our country towards energy independence. But today, as we prepare to gather for a dialogue that will inform and highlight the Obama administration’s unprecedented commitment to revitalizing rural America, too many of our communities are struggling.
I am proud and excited at the opportunity to share the stage with panelists who are devoted to renewing America’s promise and building a better future for rural communities. Each of our guests will discuss their area of expertise, and will share ideas about how to maintain a thriving agriculture economy. A strong American economy relies on a vibrant rural America, and the assembled group will offer a terrific diversity of ideas and opinions about how to pursue both proven and new avenues to build prosperity in America’s rural communities.
Later in the day, summit participants will join in breakout sessions designed to address the big challenges facing rural America. By brainstorming ideas, sharing success stories and outlining possible solutions, these conversations will tackle a range of issues that are critical to the rural economy. The six tracks the summit attendees will explore are: Building Infrastructure for a 21st Century Rural Economy, Expanding Opportunities for Rural Businesses, Renewable Energy and Biofuels, Farm Competitiveness and Productivity, Forest Restoration, Rural Recreation and Private Land Conservation, and Regional Food Systems and Nutrition.
Tomorrow’s Summit will serve as a capstone for the Rural Tour I led last year, during which I visited 22 states – often joined by other Cabinet Secretaries – to open dialogue between myself, the Obama administration, farmers, ranchers and people who live in our rural communities. At each event we learned from the communities about how USDA and the Obama Administration are affecting the lives of rural Americans. We gathered thoughts, concerns and stories about each community’s vision for its future to help us better serve these communities.
Over the past year, USDA and the Obama administration have worked to revitalize rural communities with more than 140,000 housing loans, Recovery Act investments in broadband, libraries, schools and hospitals and support for rural entrepreneurs to create jobs. I know that this Summit will act as an additional springboard to solidify our vision for working with communities to create income opportunities, generate wealth and build a stronger, more prosperous rural America for generations to come. We know that when we meet this goal, we will ensure that rural communities across the country will remain the best places in American to live, work, and raise a family.
To watch the National Summit of Rural America: A Dialogue for Renewing Promise, tomorrow, June 3, visit http://www.usda.gov/live.
Tom Vilsack is Agriculture Secretary
Kori SchulmanJune 01, 2010
07:40 PM EDT
Today First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Reno, Nevada where she delivered the keynote address to the 2010 Women’s Summit. The Summit, hosted by Senator Harry Reid, brought together a diverse group of women from across the country to talk about the issues that impact their lives as women and as Americans.
In her remarks, Mrs. Obama used the example of health care to illustrate women’s unique and increasingly significant role when it comes to keeping families healthy:
Eight in 10 mothers report that they’re the ones responsible for choosing their children’s doctors, taking them to the appointments, managing follow-up care. And many women are making the same decisions for their spouses. And more than 10 percent of women in this country are currently taking care of a sick or elderly relative, often a parent, and making critical health care decisions for them as well.
But women aren’t just disproportionately affected because of the role we play in our family, we’re also affected because the jobs we do are more likely to be part-time or in small businesses, jobs that are -- less likely provide health insurance. Women are more likely to be denied coverage because of so called preexisting conditions like having a C-section or a previous pregnancy. In some cases, insurance plans don’t cover basis women’s health services like maternity care or preventative care for mammograms and Pap smears. And a recent study showed that 25-year-old women are charged up to 84 percent more than 25-year-old men for the same coverage. And at age 40, it’s 40 percent more -- for the exact same coverage.
Now, we know this is unacceptable. It is unacceptable for women. It’s unacceptable for families. And it is unacceptable for our country.
And that's part of the reason why so many people fought so hard to pass health reform this year. Under the new law, starting this year, insurance companies will never again be allowed to deny children coverage because of preexisting conditions.
Katelyn SabochikJune 01, 2010
03:11 PM EDT
Ed. Note: For more information on federal response resources, volunteer opportunities, and assistance for those in affected areas visit WhiteHouse.gov/Deepwater-BP-Oil-Spill.
Today, President Obama met with former Senator Bob Graham and former EPA Administrator Bill Reilly who will serve as co-chairs of the bi-partisan BP Oil Spill Commission. Senator Graham served two terms as Governor of Florida and represented the state in the United States Senate for nearly 20 years. William Reilly served as the Administrator of the EPA under the first Bush administration and served during the Exxon Valdez Disaster.
The Commission is tasked with investigating the cause of the spill to determine what went wrong and what reforms must be made to ensure that a crisis like this one never happens again. In his remarks today, President Obama underscored the importance of this investigation, emphasizing that the Commission would have his “full support to follow the facts wherever they may lead -- without fear or favor.”
We have an obligation to investigate what went wrong and to determine what reforms are needed so that we never have to experience a crisis like this again. If the laws on our books are insufficient to prevent such a spill, the laws must change. If oversight was inadequate to enforce these laws, oversight has to be reformed. If our laws were broken, leading to this death and destruction, my solemn pledge is that we will bring those responsible to justice on behalf of the victims of this catastrophe and the people of the Gulf region.
The President also underscored the Administration’s commitment to stopping the leak, cleaning up the oil spill and restoring the lives and livelihoods of those living in the Gulf Coast region:
We’re continuing our efforts on all fronts to contain the damage from this disaster and extend to the people of the Gulf the help they need to confront this ordeal. We’ve already mounted the largest cleanup effort in the nation’s history, and continue to monitor -- minute to minute -- the efforts to halt or capture the flow of oil from the wrecked BP well. Until the well is stopped, we’ll multiply our efforts to meet the growing threat and to address the widespread and unbelievably painful losses experienced by the people along the Gulf Coast. What’s being threatened -- what's being lost -- isn’t just the source of income, but a way of life; not just fishable waters, but a national treasure.
There are now more than 20,000 men and women in the region working around the clock to contain and clean up the oil. We’ve authorized more than 17,000 National Guard members to respond across four states. More than 1,700 vessels are currently aiding in the response. And we’ll ensure that any and all responsible means of containing this leak are pursued as we await the completion of the two relief wells. I’ve also directed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Admiral Thad Allen, who is the National Incident Commander, to triple the manpower in those places where oil has hit shore or is within 24 hours of impact.
The Administration will ensure that BP will be held financially liable not only for the cost of the clean up, but also for the financial damages of those whose livelihoods have been impacted by the oil spill. The President vowed to “hold BP and any other responsible parties accountable for financial losses borne by the people in the region.”
As a result of this disaster, lives have been lost. Businesses have been decimated. Communities that had already known great hardship now face the specter of sudden and painful economic dislocations. Untold damage is being done to the environment -- damage that could last for decades. We owe all those who’ve been harmed, as well as future generations, a full and vigorous accounting of the events that led to what has now become the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Only then can we be assured that deepwater drilling can take place safely. Only then can we accept further development of these resources as we transition to a clean energy economy. Only then can we be confident that we’ve done what’s necessary to prevent history from repeating itself.