The White House Blog: The Vice President
- Posted byon December 2, 2011 at 11:09 AM EDT
Speaking at an event in Baghdad to honor the shared sacrifice and commitment of American and Iraqi servicemembers, Vice President Biden heralded a new chapter in the relationship between the United States and Iraq – one rooted in civilian cooperation as the remaining American troops prepare to return home by the end of this year. More than 200 U.S. and Iraqi servicemembers attended the event at Al Faw Palace - a former palace of Saddam Hussein.
“Today we come together at another moment of transition,” said Vice President Biden. “In America, and in Iraq, the tide of war is receding. And our relationship, borne on the battlefield and long defined by the imperative of security alone, is now giving way to a new, more normal partnership between sovereign nations seeking to build a future together.”
In reflecting on the 4,486 American servicemembers who lost their lives in the war in Iraq, and the more than 30,000 wounded, the Vice President quoted President Harry Truman in describing the end of the war as a “solemn but glorious hour.”
The event capped two days of productive talks in Baghdad with Iraqi political leaders – including a meeting of the U.S.-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee – all focused on the transition to an Iraq in control of its own security, with the United States as an enduring strategic partner across a broad range of areas. From energy development, to trade, to the rule of law, to agriculture, to education – these areas of cooperation defined by the Strategic Framework Agreement offer an “opportunity to help a new Iraqi democracy secure its place in the community of responsible nations,” the Vice President said.
From Baghdad, Vice President Biden traveled to Erbil where he met with Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani.
The next stop for the Vice President: Ankara, Turkey, the first leg on a four-day visit to Turkey and Greece.
Related: See the slideshow from the Vice President's trip to Iraq
- Posted byon November 29, 2011 at 4:36 PM EDT
This morning, the Vice President arrived in Baghdad.
He's there to co-chair a meeting of the U.S.-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee and speak at a ceremony honoring the sacrifices of both U.S. and Iraqi troops -- and the victories they've won.
That ceremony takes on particular significance because, between now and the end of the year, the last of the American servicemembers stationed in Iraq will come home, as President Obama has repeatedly promised.
While in the country, Vice President Biden will also hold talks with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, President Jalal Talabani, Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, and other political leaders.
They'll discuss ways in which our two countries can deepen our cooperation on a range of policies -- from trade to energy to technology.
- Posted byon November 22, 2011 at 11:55 AM EDT
Without a vote from Congress, taxes for nearly every American will go up on January 1, 2012. The American Jobs Act would expand existing tax cuts and put more money in your pocket. This morning, Vice President Joe Biden sent the email below to the White House email list, asking folks to check out our calculator to see how your own bottom line would be impacted. At 12:15 p.m. EDT today, President Obama will discuss the importance of the American Jobs Act and tax cuts for the middle class. Watch live at WhiteHouse.gov/live.
If you didn't get the email, but sure to sign up for the White House email list.
I'll cut to the chase: If Congress doesn't act soon, middle-class Americans will see their taxes go up starting on January 1st, taking almost $1,000 out of the pockets of a typical family next year.
Last year, President Obama and members of both parties in Congress cut the payroll tax for 155 million workers, putting money in your pockets. Now, that tax cut is expiring. So in September, the President and I proposed extending that tax cut and cutting your taxes even further: giving the typical family a $1,500 tax cut. Steps like this won't just help families feel more secure in their budgets, it'll give them more money to spend at local businesses that will hire more people and make investments in new equipment too.
We thought the extension would win bipartisan support again. How could Republicans in Congress, some of whom have pledged not to raise taxes by a penny, oppose extending the same tax cuts they just passed? But after years of protecting expensive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, many Republicans now say we should let this middle-class tax cut expire.
There's a lot at stake here for you and your family, and the better folks understand how much more they may have to pay, the easier it will be to get Congress to do the right thing. We've put together a calculator to show how much of your money hangs in the balance.
- Posted byon November 18, 2011 at 3:34 PM EDT
On November 18, 2010 Vice President Biden joined thousands of people from around the country in telling LGBT young people that “It Gets Better.” Watch the video here.
The teenage years are a difficult time in anyone’s life. But those years are much harder to endure for young people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender and face bullying and harassment from their own peers as a result. The It Gets Better campaign was created after a spate of bullying-related suicides to tell these young people that life has far more in store for them.
Vice President Biden knows what it’s like to be bullied. “They made fun of me because I stuttered,” he said in his video message. “And it hurt.”
Through the support of his parents, the Vice President said he was able to recognize that “the fact that I stuttered didn’t make me less bright, it didn’t make me less worthy or less of a person.”
He reminded young people that “one day not long from now you’re going to look back on this time in your life, and you’ll be incredibly proud that you’re able to get through it, too.”
“Things do get better,” he said. “You might not be able to see it right now, but it’s there and it’s waiting for you.”
- Posted byon November 18, 2011 at 11:01 AM EDT
On November 13th, 2011, Vice President Biden delivered a speech to over 2,000 rabbis, educators and Jewish community and business leaders in Detroit. The remarks, included below, were made at the anniversary dinner of Yeshiva Beth Yehuda, the oldest and largest Jewish schools system in Michigan.
VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN
DELIVERS REMARKS TO THE
YESHIVA BETH YEHUDA ANNIVERSARY DINNER
Renaissance Center Marriott Hotel
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I understand I’m not even the end of the program. (Laughter.)
Well, first of all, let me thank Debbie for inviting me. And she is correct, everyone knows about you in Washington. And everyone knows something else -- at least Joe Biden knows -- when Debbie Stabenow asks you something, just say yes the first time. Don’t say, I have to check my schedule. Don’t say, I’m not sure -- just say yes. Governor, start listening to her. Say yes, because Carl and everyone else listens to her. (Applause.)
By the way, Governor, it’s an honor to be with you tonight. I appreciate your -- being with you. I think we can call a quorum of the United States Congress here today. (Laughter.) To all my former colleagues in the House and the Senate, I say thank you for allowing me to be here with you.
Ladies and gentlemen, 97th anniversary -- I’m told you began with a weekly class of just five students some 97 years ago. And now, you’re the largest Jewish school system in the state. And nearly a century -- for nearly a century you’ve set a standard for excellence not just in Jewish education, but in education period, preparing each generation for leadership and service in the community, which is an unyielding Jewish tradition.
- Posted byon November 14, 2011 at 7:57 PM EDT
At the end of October, the Senate confirmed John Bryson to head the U.S. Department of Commerce, and today, Vice President Biden was on hand to swear in the new Secretary at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
Secretary Bryson comes to the job with decades of experience and deep knowledge of American business. Learn more about Bryson here.
- Posted byon November 4, 2011 at 6:29 PM EDT
On Friday, Vice President Biden spoke to a group of students at the University of Pittsburgh. Making it easier to pay for college has been a top priority of the Middle Class Task Force and our entire Administration since the President and Vice President came into office. We stopped paying private lenders to act as middlemen for federal student loans, and invested the savings in student aid. We increased the maximum Pell Grant award by more than $800. And we created the American Opportunity Tax Credit to give students up to $10,000 over four years to help with tuition and other expenses.
Today, the Vice President focused on our latest initiative – capping student loan payments. Current law allows borrowers to limit their federal loan payments to 15 percent of their discretionary income and forgives all remaining debt after 25 years, or 10 years for graduates working in public service jobs. Last year, following a recommendation from the Middle Class Task Force, the President proposed, and Congress enacted, a plan to lower payments even further starting in 2014. But many students can’t wait until 2014 for relief. So last Wednesday, the President announced an executive action that will cap federal loan payments at 10% of discretionary income and shorten the forgiveness timeline to 20 years starting next year.
We estimate that this new cap lower payments for 1.6 million borrowers, including 60,000 Pennsylvanians. Many of these borrowers will save hundreds of dollars every month. For example, a teacher with $25,000 in debt and a $30,000 salary would see her monthly payments drop from $287 under the standard repayment plan to $114 under the new cap. You can learn more about our plan to help students here.
- Posted byon November 3, 2011 at 7:42 PM EDT
This evening, Vice President Biden sent the email below to the White House email list. If you didn't get it, be sure to sign up for our list.
I want to make sure you heard a piece of news from Capitol Hill today.
This morning, Holly Petraeus, who has been leading an office at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to protect military families, went to Capitol Hill to highlight some of the most abusive practices our service members face in today's financial marketplace.
She explained that military families are the targets of predatory lenders. She talked about how many service members and their families struggle to make ends meet -- especially during deployments. And she said that the CFPB will help combat the lenders who try to take advantage of people with deceptive, unfair, and abusive lending practices.
But here's the thing: The Senate still hasn't confirmed President Obama's nominee to lead the CFPB, a former Attorney General from Ohio named Rich Cordray. The bureau needs a director to fully ensure that the debt collectors, private student loan providers, and payday loan providers are properly supervised and that consumers are not put at risk of falling prey to the same kinds of abusive practices that helped cause the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Rich has spent his career advocating for middle class families, and enjoys broad, bipartisan support from the elected officials, business leaders, and consumer groups who have worked with him.
- Posted byon November 1, 2011 at 2:22 PM EDT
Last July, I wrote about a new and innovative effort to help address sexual assault and dating violence. While women of any age can be targets of this kind of abuse, young women aged 16-24, experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault, and 1 in 5 will be a victim of sexual assault during college. Many of these assaults occur when the offender, often an acquaintance, has targeted and isolated a young woman in vulnerable circumstances. Moreover, sixty percent of college students who have been in an abusive relationship say no one helped them.
Working with the Office of the Vice President and the White House Office of Science and Technology, we launched the Apps Against Abuse technology challenge – calling on software innovators to harness the power of mobile technology to help prevent dating violence and abuse by keeping young adults connected to trusted friends and providing easy access to important resources for help including local police and abuse hotlines.
Today, we are pleased to announce the winners of the challenge: “Circle of 6” and “On Watch.” Prototypes of the two winning applications were selected from a pool of over 30 entries submitted to Challenge.gov.
Vice President Biden applauded the winning applications earlier today during a conference call with hundreds of college and university officials to discuss ongoing efforts to help better prevent and respond to sexual assault and violence on campuses across the country. He encouraged the college and university leaders to make students on their campuses aware of the applications when they become available for download in 2012.
- Posted byon October 21, 2011 at 5:10 PM EDT
On Thursday night, Senate Republicans once again blocked a plan to put laid off cops and firefighters back to work protecting communities across the country. This partisan obstruction carries serious consequences – for the economy, and for the safety and wellbeing of all Americans.
State and local budget cuts have proven devastating to cities like Flint, Michigan, where Vice President Biden visited last week. More than half of the police force has been laid off in the past three years. In 2008, Flint employed 259 police officers. Now they have just 125. At the same time, violent crime increased.
Citing statistics from the City of Flint Police Department, Vice President Biden pointed to spikes in murder and rape to describe the heavy toll crime is taking in Flint.
Some have questioned the validity of the Flint statistics, because they differ from FBI figures, but city crime data can vary from FBI crime data due to different definitions of crime. This is particularly true when it comes to rape. Just this week the FBI took steps to begin to update the definition it uses – a definition that hasn’t been updated since 1927. The City of Flint defines rape differently and, therefore, collects that information differently.
City of Flint Public Safety Director Chief Alvern Lock said of the information provided to the Vice President, “This information is the most accurate data and demonstrates the rise in crime associated with the economic crisis and the reduced staffing levels.”
According to Chief Lock,"The discrepancies with the FBI and other sources reveal the differences in how crimes can be counted and categorized, based on different criteria." Experts agree that a police department’s statistics about local crime can be more up to date than the FBI’s.
But make no mistake, the debate over crime statistics distracts from the real issue. What’s happening in Flint is troubling. And communities across the country are facing similar tough situations.
The American Jobs Act contains $5 billion to help communities such as Flint rehire laid off cops and firefighters. It’s a shame that every single Republican in the Senate voted Thursday night to block putting those first responders back to work.
Let’s not lose sight of the real issue here. The fewer police officers on the street, the harder it is to fight crime, whether stolen cars or assaults.
“Anyone who would question the value or impact of having a marked police unit actively patrolling an urban neighborhood with high crime rates, has obviously never lived or tried to raise a family in such an environment,” said Camden, New Jersey Chief of Police J. Scott Thomson. “Often the presence of a uniformed officer is the determining factor of whether or not a disturbance escalates into an act of violence or order is maintained.”
Thomson continued, “Police leaders do need to have the capacity which also affords the flexibility to effectively deploy officers to combat the thugs and criminals that are negatively defining the lives of the residents in a community. This is why Camden (post layoff) has forsaken other functions and restructured its organization to have 92% of all available sworn personnel in a forward leaning position to address street crime and shape outcomes. “
As the Vice President said in Flint, “There are a few things everybody knows for a fact -- we can argue a lot about law enforcement. But we know one thing: The more law enforcement officers we have, the better opportunity to make our streets safe, our neighborhoods safe and our businesses and places of worship safe.”
Having enough officers means a department can deploy innovative strategies like community policing in high crime neighborhoods. These tactics reduce crime. So when a city like Flint has to cut community policing and can’t send patrol cars to park on the corner in a crime hot spot, they lose an important crime fighting tool.
“There is no question that the number of cops makes a difference when it comes to controlling crime rates,” says Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. “Whether it is a large department, midsize or small there is a staffing level that if you fall below, your ability to be effective on the street is impacted and as a result, crimes rates will rise.”
The American Jobs Act will provide help desperately needed by communities across the country, putting fire fighters and police officers back to work to keep neighborhoods safe.