Jesse LeeNovember 04, 2010
11:50 AM EDT
After meeting with his Cabinet this morning, the President reitereated that "it’s clear that the voters sent a message, which is they want us to focus on the economy and jobs and moving this country forward." To that end, he immediately extended an invite to leaders of both parties in Congress for a substantive meeting to get going on job creation and the other central issues lying ahead:
Now, at the same time, obviously what’s going to be critically important over the coming months is creating a better working relationship between this White House and the congressional leadership that’s coming in, as well as the congressional leadership that carries over from the previous Congress. And so I want everybody to know that I have already called Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to invite them to a meeting here at the White House in the first week of the lame duck on November 18th. This is going to be a meeting in which I’ll want us to talk substantively about how we can move the American people’s agenda forward. It’s not just going to be a photo op. Hopefully -- it may spill over into dinner. And the immediate focus is going to be what we need to get done during the lame-duck session.
I mentioned yesterday we have to act in order to assure that middle-class families don’t see a big tax spike because of how the big tax cuts have been structured. It is very important that we extend those middle-class tax provisions to hold middle-class families harmless.
But there are a whole range of other economic issues that have to be addressed: unemployment insurance for folks who are still out there looking for work; business extenders, which are essentially provisions to encourage businesses to invest here in the United States, and if we don’t have those, we’re losing a very important tool for us to be able to increase business investment and increase job growth over the coming year. We’ve got to provide businesses some certainty about what their tax landscape is going to look like, and we’ve got to provide families certainty. That’s critical to maintain our recovery.
I should mention that in addition to those economic issues, there are some things during the lame duck that relate to foreign policy that are going to be very important for us to deal with, and I’ll make mention of one in particular, and that’s the START treaty. We have negotiated with the Russians significant reductions in our nuclear arms. This is something that traditionally has received strong bipartisan support. We’ve got people like George Shultz, who helped to organize arms control treaties with the Russians back when it was the Soviet Union who have come out forcefully in favor of this.
This is not a traditionally Democratic or Republican issue but rather a issue of American national security. And I am hopeful that we can get that done before we leave and send a strong signal to Russia that we are serious about reducing nuclear arsenals, but also sending a signal to the world that we’re serious about nonproliferation. We’ve made great progress when it comes to sending a message to Iran that they are isolated internationally, in part because people have seen that we are serious about taking our responsibilities when it comes to nonproliferation, and that has to continue.
So there is going to be a whole range of work that needs to get done in a relatively short period of time, and I’m looking forward to having a conversation with the leadership about some agenda items that they may be concerned about.
Jesse LeeNovember 03, 2010
05:12 PM EDT
In a news conference in the East Room this afternoon, the President spoke openly about the lessons of the previous night’s elections, and his hope for working with the new Congress going forward. He made clear that he understood the profound frustrations and anxiety around the economy felt by so many families, and pledged to redouble his efforts to work across the aisle to speed up our recovery and move the country forward:
I’m not suggesting this will be easy. I won’t pretend that we will be able to bridge every difference or solve every disagreement. There’s a reason we have two parties in this country, and both Democrats and Republicans have certain beliefs and certain principles that each feels cannot be compromised. But what I think the American people are expecting, and what we owe them, is to focus on those issues that affect their jobs, their security, and their future: reducing our deficit, promoting a clean energy economy, making sure that our children are the best educated in the world, making sure that we’re making the investments in technology that will allow us to keep our competitive edge in the global economy.
Because the most important contest we face is not the contest between Democrats and Republicans. In this century, the most important competition we face is between America and our economic competitors around the world. To win that competition, and to continue our economic leadership, we’re going to need to be strong and we’re going to need to be united.
None of the challenges we face lend themselves to simple solutions or bumper-sticker slogans. Nor are the answers found in any one particular philosophy or ideology. As I’ve said before, no person, no party, has a monopoly on wisdom. And that’s why I’m eager to hear good ideas wherever they come from, whoever proposes them. And that’s why I believe it’s important to have an honest and civil debate about the choices that we face. That’s why I want to engage both Democrats and Republicans in serious conversations about where we’re going as a nation.
And with so much at stake, what the American people don’t want from us, especially here in Washington, is to spend the next two years refighting the political battles of the last two. We just had a tough election. We will have another in 2012. I’m not so naïve as to think that everybody will put politics aside until then, but I do hope to make progress on the very serious problems facing us right now. And that’s going to require all of us, including me, to work harder at building consensus.
You know, a little over a month ago, we held a town hall meeting in Richmond, Virginia. And one of the most telling questions came from a small business owner who runs a tree care firm. He told me how hard he works and how busy he was; how he doesn’t have time to pay attention to all the back-and-forth in Washington. And he asked, is there hope for us returning to civility in our discourse, to a healthy legislative process, so as I strap on the boots again tomorrow, I know that you guys got it under control? It’s hard to have a faith in that right now, he said.
Asked later to discuss how other issues aside from the economy played in the election, the President looked back at the way things got done in Washington during the last two years and before:
I’m doing a whole lot of reflecting and I think that there are going to be areas in policy where we’re going to have to do a better job. I think that over the last two years, we have made a series of very tough decisions, but decisions that were right in terms of moving the country forward in an emergency situation where we had the risk of slipping into a second Great Depression.
But what is absolutely true is that with all that stuff coming at folks fast and furious -- a recovery package, what we had to do with respect to the banks, what we had to do with respect to the auto companies -- I think people started looking at all this and it felt as if government was getting much more intrusive into people’s lives than they were accustomed to.
Now, the reason was it was an emergency situation. But I think it’s understandable that folks said to themselves, you know, maybe this is the agenda, as opposed to a response to an emergency. And that’s something that I think everybody in the White House understood was a danger. We thought it was necessary, but I’m sympathetic to folks who looked at it and said this is looking like potential overreach.
In addition, there were a bunch of price tags that went with that. And so, even though these were emergency situations, people rightly said, gosh, we already have all this debt, we already have these big deficits; this is potentially going to compound it, and at what point are we going to get back to a situation where we’re doing what families all around the country do, which is make sure that if you spend something you know how to pay for it -- as opposed to racking up the credit card for the next generation.
And I think that the other thing that happened is that when I won election in 2008, one of the reasons I think that people were excited about the campaign was the prospect that we would change how business is done in Washington. And we were in such a hurry to get things done that we didn’t change how things got done. And I think that frustrated people.
November 03, 2010
04:54 PM EDT
The federal employees responsible for conducting inspections on offshore rigs, platforms and other facilities associated with offshore drilling have been subjected to waves of criticism over the past several months. Some of that criticism has been fair, as when it focused on the selfish and corrupt acts of a few inspectors; but much of it has been misguided and unfair because it has been based on flawed assumptions and incomplete or inaccurate facts.
Regrettably, this second type of criticism has recently found its way to mainstream media outlets whose coverage has previously generally been reasonable and balanced. In an editorial dated October 28, the New Orleans Time-Picayune made the sweeping assertions that "government inspectors know little or nothing about crucial rig operations," that "inspectors likely were unable to identify problems because they did not understand how some important drilling processes worked," and that this was a farcical case of "the hens not even knowing how to recognize an egg."
These statements substituted rhetoric for factual accuracy and provided an extremely misleading picture of the roles of offshore drilling inspectors and more generally of the process by which our agency monitors and regulates offshore drilling. The coverage suggested that the inspectors are ignorant about rigs, derelict in their duties, and failed to perform their jobs. That is both wrong and unfair.
Secretary Kathleen SebeliusNovember 03, 2010
03:23 PM EDT
Every day, millions of Americans benefit from the advances made in the fields of life, biological, and medical science. Breakthroughs in these fields have helped to significantly reduce mortality from many conditions that were once considered fatal. Our support for scientific research is one of our best investments in our future—for the health of Americans and the health of the American economy.
That’s why, today, we’re happy to announce the firms that have been accepted into the Therapeutic Discovery Project Program, which was created by the Affordable Care Act. This program will advance American competitiveness in the fields of life, biological, and medical science by giving tax credits and grants to small companies conducting cutting-edge biomedical research.
The program is targeted towards projects that show significant potential to produce new therapies, address unmet medical needs, reduce the long-term growth of health care costs, and advance the goal of curing cancer within the next 30 years.
So what does this mean? It means that a firm in Oklahoma will continue its attempt to develop therapeutics to prevent the metastatic spread of cancer, and a firm in North Carolina will continue to create a gene therapy-based therapeutic for a lethal inheritable childhood disease—one that currently has no life-sustaining treatment. It means that a firm in New York will continue working on a flu vaccine that can provide protection for a period of several years—with technology that could also be used to develop cancer vaccines.
The Therapeutic Discovery Project Program also means that these firms, and other companies who have been awarded tax credits or grants, have an incentive to keep growing and create high-paying jobs right in their local communities.
We are very excited about the possibilities of this program; it is a great example of the way the Affordable Care Act will help advance research to find life-saving treatments and diagnostics and help U.S. companies lead the way in making innovative medical discoveries.
Visit here to learn more.
Kori SchulmanNovember 03, 2010
03:14 PM EDT
This week we sat down with Jeff Bader, Senior Director for Asian Affairs, and Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, to talk about the President’s upcoming trip to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan. On WhiteHouse.gov and Facebook, you asked questions on a range of topics from outsourcing jobs to “hot button” issues surrounding China to the President’s plans for Diwali in India. Watch their responses by using the links below to jump directly to the questions that you're interested in or watch the full video of the chat. Check back for full coverage of the President’s trip on WhiteHouse.gov.
- Opening remarks
- How are going to help boost American exports to Asian countries?
- Where will you visit in Japan?
- Will the President’s trip to Indonesia afford any opportunities to see friends or relatives?
- Do you anticipate the President addressing North Korea’s arsenal during the trip?
- What does the Administration expect to achieve during the trip?
- Does this mean more outsourcing of US jobs for more profits?
- Is increasing military presence in the region the best way for the U.S. to renew leadership?
- Will the President delve into hot-button issues surrounding China during the trip?
- During the trip, will health issues be a focus?
- What are some of the long term goals for U.S. – India relations?
- Could there be a collaborative International effort on clean energy?
- Why did President Obama cancel his trip to the Sikh temple during his trip to Asia?
- What dates will the President be in India, and what will he be doing for Diwali?
- How is the U.S. Government planning to collaborate with the Indian Government on Agriculture?
- Will the President address Intellectual Property Rights issues during the trip?
- Why is President Obama spending one day in Indonesia as opposed to four days in India?
- What are the logistical challenges of planning an international trip such as the upcoming Asia trip?
Check out what you missed in previous Tuesday Talks:
Tuesday Talk with David Axelrod
Tuesday Talk with Austan Goolsbee
Tuesday Talk with Elizabeth Warren
Tuesday Talk with the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities
Craig FugateNovember 02, 2010
06:24 PM EDT
Last week I had the opportunity to speak in front of leaders from a variety of fields at the 2010 TEDMED conference in San Diego. The conference gave business leaders, journalists, entertainment figures, scientists, artists and authors the opportunity to share their diverse experiences about how their fields intersect with health and medicine. I talked about FEMA’s vision for emergency management and how we can’t respond to disasters alone – it has to be a team effort, and that team includes the entire federal family, state and local government, faith-based and non-profit organizations, the private sector and especially the public.
At FEMA, we are working every day to strengthen that team, but we can and we must do more. At the conference, I took the opportunity to challenge all of the leaders to come up with ideas on how we can prepare our communities before a disaster strikes. Now I’m using this blog to pose this same challenge to all of you.
Visit www.challenge.gov/fema to accept the challenge.
Marie JohnsNovember 02, 2010
03:25 PM EDT
On September 29th, I had the opportunity to sit down with Scott Roen from American Express OPEN to answer questions about The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 and opportunities available for small businesses under the Recovery Act and Affordable Care Act.
There were a number of great questions we weren't able to get to during the Open for Questions chat, so we thought we'd address a few more here:
Ira in Florida asked:
Now that many of those banks have stabilized, what incentive do they have to lend to small businesses, as credit has been impossible to get for the past 24-36 months in the small business sector?
- Ira in Florida asked:
Kori SchulmanNovember 01, 2010
04:53 PM EDT
On Friday, President Obama will depart for a ten-day trip starting in India, followed by Indonesia, South Korea (for the G20 Summit in Seoul) and Japan (for the APEC Summit in Yokohama). Jeff Bader, Senior Director for Asian Affairs, and Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, will be answering your questions about President Obama's travel in a live video chat.
In a press briefing last week, Rhodes discussed this trip as a part of the President’s Asia strategy, "a renewed engagement of the United States in Asia that is founded upon our core alliances in the region...We see this very much in the context of the focus we put on Asia as a region of the world with the most dynamic and growing markets that are going to be fundamental to our export initiative of doubling exports in the world, but also fundamental to a number of political and security concerns that will a subject of the President’s travel."
Join us for a talk with Jeff Bader and Ben Rhodes on Tuesday, November 2nd at 1:00 p.m. EDT.
Here's how you can participate:
- Ask your questions in advance on Facebook
- Join the discussion live through the White House Facebook application
- Watch the chat through WhiteHouse.gov/live
And check out what you missed for past Tuesday Talks:
Secretary Steven ChuNovember 01, 2010
04:42 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Cross posted from the Energy Blog.
This weekend, communities across the country celebrated National Weatherization Day, highlighting the important work happening nationwide to save money for America’s homeowners by investing in energy efficiency. As a result of the Recovery Act weatherization program, more than 245,000 low-income families have had their homes upgraded, which means these families are paying lower energy bills every month. The program has also helped to put thousands of workers on the job every day, helping to grow America’s clean energy economy while improving our energy independence and reducing pollution. To all those involved in the success of this program, congratulations and we look forward to your continued good work in the months and years ahead.
Watch the video to get a firsthand look at the work happening in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania under the weatherization program.
Steven Chu is the Secretary of Energy.
Nikki SuttonNovember 01, 2010
02:28 PM EDT
Pete Souza, Chief Official White House Photographer and Director of the White House Photography Office, recently took questions from Flickr and Facebook users on what it is like to snap shots by the side of the President. One of the best ways to see through Pete's perspective and get a glimpse inside the White House is with the Photo of the Day. Throughout each month the Photo of the Day photographs are collected in a gallery that provides a unique look at events in and around the White House.
Melody BarnesNovember 01, 2010
11:41 AM EDT
Over the past three months, senior leaders from the Administration have been visiting state fairs across the country to meet fair visitors and rural leaders and discuss some of the ways that the Obama Administration is working to support rural communities. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and CPSC Chair Inez Tenenbaum are only a handful of the leaders who traveled around the country to enjoy the sites of the state fairs, meet 4-H and FFA young leaders, and discuss the ways that their agencies are working to support the Administration’s vision for keeping rural America strong.
During these visits, we heard firsthand how the economic downturn has created challenges in rural America as well as how rural communities are responding to the downturn by leading the charge on a number of important national priorities, such as increasing the production of renewable energy and reducing our dependence on foreign oil, creating and expanding small businesses, and contributing talent and energy to national service. Members of the Cabinet and other senior officials learned about the importance of agriculture education and supporting the development of the next generation of farmers and ranchers, talked about the Obama Administration’s commitment to making college more affordable and accessible for all students, and discussed the significant investments that are being made in rural communities thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
A unique view of 2012