The White House Blog: The Vice President
- Posted byon October 19, 2011 at 3:40 PM EDT
Yesterday, the Vice President traveled to Philadelphia to participate in a roundtable about the American Jobs Act with Chiefs of Police from the region.
Alongside Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske, and more than 10 local police chiefs, the Vice President underscored how the piece of the American Jobs Act the Senate is considering this week would put thousands of cops back on the job.
“I call on the members of Congress to step up this week. Step up and make a choice. Make a choice. Make a choice for the people in your district. Should they have more teachers back in school? Should they have more police on the beat? Should they have firefighters in the firehouse? Or should you save a millionaire from a $500 tax? Ladies and gentlemen, it's that basic and that simple.”
The Chiefs told the Vice President about the devastating impact budget cuts have had on their communities. Chief Scott Thomson of Camden, NJ, had to lay off 168 officers – nearly half of his force – in January of this year. In the wake of those layoffs, Camden has seen a 14 increase in violent crime, and homicide has risen 30 percent.
The story echoed what the Vice President heard last week in Flint, Michigan – a city that has also seen an uptick in crime and a significant increase in police response times after cutting their police force in half since 2008. Today, we released a video that shows what Flint’s first responders say the impact of the American Jobs Act would be:
- Posted byon October 19, 2011 at 10:53 AM EDT
Vice President Biden was in Flint, Michigan to talk with fire fighters and police officers about the American Jobs Act.
Right now, local communities across the country are laying off first responders as policymakers struggle with budget cuts in the tough economy. It’s putting public safety at risk.
In Michigan, the Vice President said, "The President and I believe that the single-most basic obligation a government has -- it exceeds -- the single-most basic obligation is to keep its citizens safe. It’s literally -- everything flows from that. All our civil rights flow from being able to be safe in our streets, in our homes, our schools, our businesses. Everything flows from it.”
That's why the American Jobs Act calls for $5 billion for local governments to keep police and fire fighters on the job.
Watch the Vice President and listen to these first responders tell their stories about why these funds are so necessary.
- Posted byon October 16, 2011 at 8:48 PM EDT
Today, nearly half a century after Martin Luther King, Jr. led the historic March on Washington for equality, tens of thousands came to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Dedication. The memorial to Dr. King has been open since August, but the dedication was delayed due to Hurricane Irene. As President Obama said, though delayed, "this is a day that would not be denied."
President Obama, joined by the First Family, toured the memorial and then spoke at the dedication ceremony in honor of Dr. King's work to make his dream a reality for all. During his speech, President Obama reminded us that the progress towards Dr. King's vision has not come easily and there is still more to do to expand opportunity and make our nation more just:
Our work is not done. And so on this day, in which we celebrate a man and a movement that did so much for this country, let us draw strength from those earlier struggles. First and foremost, let us remember that change has never been quick. Change has never been simple, or without controversy. Change depends on persistence. Change requires determination. It took a full decade before the moral guidance of Brown v. Board of Education was translated into the enforcement measures of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, but those 10 long years did not lead Dr. King to give up. He kept on pushing, he kept on speaking, he kept on marching until change finally came.
And then when, even after the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act passed, African Americans still found themselves trapped in pockets of poverty across the country, Dr. King didn’t say those laws were a failure; he didn’t say this is too hard; he didn’t say, let’s settle for what we got and go home. Instead he said, let’s take those victories and broaden our mission to achieve not just civil and political equality but also economic justice; let’s fight for a living wage and better schools and jobs for all who are willing to work. In other words, when met with hardship, when confronting disappointment, Dr. King refused to accept what he called the “isness” of today. He kept pushing towards the “oughtness” of tomorrow.
And so, as we think about all the work that we must do –- rebuilding an economy that can compete on a global stage, and fixing our schools so that every child -- not just some, but every child -- gets a world-class education, and making sure that our health care system is affordable and accessible to all, and that our economic system is one in which everybody gets a fair shake and everybody does their fair share, let us not be trapped by what is. We can’t be discouraged by what is. We’ve got to keep pushing for what ought to be, the America we ought to leave to our children, mindful that the hardships we face are nothing compared to those Dr. King and his fellow marchers faced 50 years ago, and that if we maintain our faith, in ourselves and in the possibilities of this nation, there is no challenge we cannot surmount.
- Posted byon October 14, 2011 at 4:10 PM EDT
Vice President Biden traveled to two Michigan cities this week to highlight how the American Jobs Act would help put cops and firefighters back on the beat and help modernize schools.
In Flint, Michigan, the Vice President made clear how the Jobs Act would both create jobs and protect the nation's "most basic obligation" to keep our citizens safe by putting cops and firefighters back to work. Over the past 18 months, Flint has been has been forced to cut its police force in half due to budget cuts at the same time violent crime has increased in the city.
Nationally, in the past 18 months, 10,000 cops have been laid off around the country, while 30,000 police vacancies have gone unfilled. Thousands of firefighters were laid off between 2009 and 2010, and another 7,000 could face possible layoffs this year.
"It's hard enough to do your job in good economic times. It's a tough job in good times," the Vice President told a group of Flint cops and firefighters assembled inside the city's fire department on Wednesday. "But it's almost impossible to serve the total needs of the community in bad economic times when you get cut in half."
The American Jobs Act includes $5 billion to support public safety jobs across the country. It will also dramatically improve the way cops, firefighters and other first responders are able to communicate with each other during emergency situations by deploying a nationwide public safety broadband network.
"I don't buy people who say there is nothing we can do," said the Vice President. "This is a fight for the soul of this country. It's a fight for the middle class. ... It's about making sure America's fire departments, police departments continue to be a large part of the American fabric and be able to do their job. It's about reversing the cycle of crime and fire and unemployment, and starting a new cycle of jobs and prosperity. It's about keeping you safe so you can keep all of us safe. And it's about a President and I who are prepared to fight like crazy to do whatever we can to make sure that you have the resources to be able to protect us."
- Posted byon October 13, 2011 at 2:55 PM EDT
This morning amidst a light rain, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed President Lee Myung-bak and First Lady Kim Yoon-ok of the Republic of Korea to the White House. During the Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn, President Obama spoke about the strength of the relationship between our two nations:
Today we celebrate an alliance rooted in the shared values of our people -- our service members who have fought and bled and died together for our freedom, our students and workers and entrepreneurs who work together to create opportunity and prosperity, and our families, bound by the generations, including many who are here today -- proud and patriotic Korean Americans.
President Lee, our two nations have stood together for more than 60 years. Over the past two years we’ve deepened our cooperation. Today, I'm proud to say that the alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea is stronger than it has ever been.
President Lee Myung-bak also spoke of the historic friendship between the Korean people and Americans. Reflecting on visiting the Korean War Memorial yesterday to pay respects to the 37,000 American soldiers who lost their lives, he said:
It is written on a wall at that memorial that these American soldiers, “answer the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.” The simple yet poignant words describe how brace and good they were.
Mr. President, Madam First Lady, ladies and gentlemen, the Korean people have never forgotten what these fallen soldiers and their families gave up. We will always remain grateful to all of them.
Our alliance is the bedrock of stability, peace and progress, and our relationship is evolving. Our two countries are working together to fight disease and poverty, climate change and natural disasters. We are addressing the issues of energy security and eradicating terrorism and extremism, and stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
- Posted byon October 7, 2011 at 9:41 AM EDT
Last year, Mrs. Keene’s 5th grade class at Oakstead Elementary in Land O’Lakes, Florida had 19 students in it. This year, she has a class of 25. As a result of state budget cuts, Oakstead lost 8 out of 83 teachers for the 2011-2012 school year, eliminating nearly 10% of the teaching staff at a school that serves over 1000 students.
During his visit to Oakstead on Tuesday, Vice President Biden had the chance to visit Mrs. Keene’s class, as well as speak to a group of parents and teachers about how the American Jobs Act would help keep and put hundreds of thousands of teachers in the classroom.
The 8 teaching positions lost at Oakstead were just a few of the 513 positions eliminated district-wide when Pasco County Public Schools had to close a $54 million budget shortfall this year. After years of budget cuts from the state and declining tax revenues – the district now receives $780 less per pupil in funding than it did in 2007 – and cutting all of the overhead it could, the District was forced to make cuts that impact the classroom. As a result, kids are in bigger class sizes – some over the state limit – and receive less arts, music and physical education.
In his remarks, the Vice President described how smaller class sizes in the early years can increase the likelihood that kids attend and graduate from college as well as how access to arts and music education may help keep kids engaged in school and prevent them from dropping out.
Unfortunately, kids across the country are seeing the kind of cuts that the Vice President saw at Oakstead. In the last 12 months we have lost nearly 200,000 education jobs. That’s why the American Jobs Act includes $30 billion to support 400,000 education jobs nationwide. These critical resources will help prevent lay-offs and allow districts like Pasco County to rehire teachers already laid off, as well as hire new teachers.
- Posted byon October 3, 2011 at 11:16 AM EDT
Last week, Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden hosted a reception at the Naval Observatory to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and recognize the outstanding contributions of Hispanic Americans across the military, government and private sector. As Social Secretary to the Vice President and Dr. Biden, I was pleased to open up the doors of the Vice President’s residence for this special occasion – the third Hispanic Heritage reception they have hosted at their home.
The Vice President spoke before a crowd that included veterans and active duty service members, as well as Hispanic business leaders from around the nation. Noting the particular influence of Hispanic immigrants on American society, Vice President Biden said, “we have never once in our history not been stronger and richer and more vibrant as a consequence of the waves of immigration. … it is the thing that enriches us.”
The reception also recognized the continuing sacrifice and dedication of Hispanic American service members, with veterans from the Vietnam War to the continuing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan in attendance.
- Posted byon September 30, 2011 at 2:09 PM EDT
On September 27, 2011, Vice President Joe Biden appeared on The View to discuss the work he has done to end violence against women and his current initiative to reduce youth violence.
Since the passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, a bill the Vice President refers to as his proudest legislative achievement, rates of domestic violence have dropped by over 50%. However, rates of violence against young women continue to remain alarmingly high, with 16-24 year olds experiencing the highest rates of rape, sexual assault and dating violence.
- Posted byon September 30, 2011 at 11:23 AM EDT
Vice President Biden made a short hop across the Potomac yesterday to the Alexandria Police Department in Alexandria, Virginia where he delivered remarks on how the American Jobs Act would help keep police officers and first responders on the beat in northern Virginia and across the country.
Alexandria is just one of thousands of communities where police forces have taken a hit due to budget cutbacks. Thanks to an $800,000 Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant announced on Wednesday, the Alexandria Police Department will be able to put four out of nine of the officers they lost back on patrol. The American Jobs Act, as Vice President Biden said, would fund an additional $4 billion in COPS grants – like the one awarded to Alexandria – that would support the hiring, re-hiring and retention of officers in departments nationwide.
Vice President Biden went on to describe cities like Flint, Michigan, where two thirds of the police force has been laid off in the last 3 years, and Cleveland, Ohio, where the police academy graduated a class of 100 officers – all of whom had to turn in their badge and gun right after graduation because there were no positions available.
“We need to help these departments,” said the Vice President. “When you cut forces, and you cut them significantly, it not only diminishes public safety, it diminishes your ability to stay safe.”
- Posted byon September 21, 2011 at 2:49 PM EDT
Small businesses across the country got a boost yesterday when Vice President Biden announced that 13 of the nation’s largest banks, in partnership with the Small Business Administration, have committed to increase small business lending by a combined $20 billion over the next three years.
Speaking with SBA Administrator Karen Mills at Wrap Tite Inc. – a small packing and shipping material company in Solon, Ohio – the Vice President told the story of how a recent $1.5 million SBA-supported loan allowed Wrap Tite to purchase and renovate a new facility in Solon, as well as hire five new workers. The new lending commitments announced today means more small businesses like Wrap Tite will have access to the capital they need to help grow the nation’s economy at the local level. As Vice President Biden said, "Small business men and women – who are the engine of economic growth in America – create two out of every three jobs in America."
But, as the Vice President said in Ohio, the lending boost for small businesses is only part of the story, and we cannot stop there. Urging Congress to pass the American Jobs Act right away, he described two key ways the bill would help small businesses grow and hire in Ohio and across the country – by cutting their taxes and putting money back in their customer’s pockets: