President Barack Obama Weekly Address October 23, 2010 (Video/Transcipt)

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Weekly Address
Washington, DC
Over the past two years, we’ve won a number of battles to defend the interests of the middle class.  One of the most important victories we achieved was the passage of Wall Street Reform.

This was a bill designed to rein in the secret deals and reckless gambling that nearly brought down the financial system.  It set new rules so that taxpayers would never again be on the hook for a bailout if a big financial company went under.  And reform included the strongest consumer protections in history – to put an end to a lot of the hidden fees, deceptive mortgages, and other abusive practices used to tilt the tables against ordinary people in their financial dealings.

It was a tough fight.  The special interests poured millions into a lobbying campaign to prevent us from reforming the system – a system that worked a lot better for them than for middle class families.  Some in the financial industry were eager to protect a status quo that basically allowed them to play by their own rules.  And these interests held common cause with Republican leaders in Washington who were looking to score a political victory in an election year.

But their efforts failed.  And we succeeded in passing reform in the hopes of ensuring that we never again face a crisis like the one we’ve been through – a crisis that unleashed an economic downturn as deep as any since the Great Depression.  Even today, we are still digging out of the damage it unleashed on the economy.  Millions of people are still out of work.  Millions of families are still hurting.

We’re also seeing the reverberations of this crisis with the rise in foreclosures.  And recently, we’ve seen problems in foreclosure proceedings – mistakes that have led to disruptions in the housing markets.  This is only one more piece of evidence as to why Wall Street Reform is so necessary.  In fact, as part of reform, a new consumer watchdog is now standing up.  It will have just one job: looking out for ordinary consumers in the financial system.  And this watchdog will have the authority to guard against unfair practices in mortgage transactions and foreclosures.

Yet despite the importance of this law – and despite the terrible economic dislocation caused by the failures in our financial system under the old rules – top Republicans in Congress are now beating the drum to repeal all of these reforms and consumer protections.  Recently, one of the Republican leaders in the Senate said that if Republicans take charge of Congress, repeal would be one of the first orders of business.  And he joins the top Republican in the House who actually called for the law to be repealed even before it passed.

I think that would be a terrible mistake.  Our economy depends on a financial system in which everyone competes on a level playing field, and everyone is held to the same rules – whether you’re a big bank, a small business owner, or a family looking to buy a house or open a credit card. And as we saw, without sound oversight and common-sense protections for consumers, the whole economy is put in jeopardy.  That doesn’t serve Main Street.  That doesn’t serve Wall Street.  That doesn’t serve anyone.  And that’s why I think it’s so important that we not take this country backward – that we don’t go back to the broken system we had before.  We’ve got to keep moving forward.



President Barack Obama Weekly Address October 16, 2010 (Video/Transcipt)

Remarks of President Barack Obama
As prepared for delivery
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Washington, DC
After a decade of hardship for middle class families, and a recession that wiped away millions of jobs, we are in the middle of a tough fight to rebuild this economy and put folks back to work.

Winning this fight will not depend on government alone.  It will depend on the innovation of American entrepreneurs; on the drive of American small business owners; on the skills and talents of American workers.  These are the people who will help us grow our economy and create jobs.

But government still has an important responsibility.  And that’s to create an environment in which someone can raise capital to start a new company; where a business can get a loan to expand; where ingenuity is prized and folks are rewarded for their hard work.

That’s why I fought so hard to pass a jobs bill to cut taxes and make more loans available for entrepreneurs.  It eliminated the capital gains taxes for key investments in small businesses.  It increased the deduction to defray the costs of starting a company.  And it’s freeing up credit for folks who need it.  In fact, in just the first two weeks since I signed the bill, thousands of business owners have been able to get new loans through the SBA.

But we need to do more.  So I’ve proposed additional steps to grow the economy and spur hiring by businesses across America.  Now, one of the keys to job creation is to encourage companies to invest more in the United States.  But for years, our tax code has actually given billions of dollars in tax breaks that encourage companies to create jobs and profits in other countries.

I want to close these tax loopholes.  Instead, I want to give every business in America a tax break so they can write off the cost of all new equipment they buy next year.  That’s going to make it easier for folks to expand and hire new people.  I want to make the research and experimentation tax credit permanent.  Because promoting new ideas and technologies is how we’ll create jobs and retain our edge as the world’s engine of discovery and innovation. And I want to provide a tax cut for clean energy manufacturing right here in America.  Because that’s how we’ll lead the world in this growing industry.

These are commonsense ideas.  When more things are made in America, more families make it in America; more jobs are created in America; more businesses thrive in America.  But Republicans in Washington have consistently fought to keep these corporate loopholes open.  Over the last four years alone, Republicans in the House voted 11 times to continue rewarding corporations that create jobs and profits overseas – a policy that costs taxpayers billions of dollars every year.

That doesn’t make a lot sense.  It doesn’t make sense for American workers, American businesses, or America’s economy.  A lot of companies that do business internationally make an important contribution to our economy here at home.  That’s a good thing.  But there is no reason why our tax code should actively reward them for creating jobs overseas.  Instead, we should be using our tax dollars to reward companies that create jobs and businesses within our borders.

We should give tax breaks to American small businesses and manufacturers.  We should reward the people who are helping us lead in the industries of the future, like clean energy.  That’s how we’ll ensure that American innovation and ingenuity are what drive the next century. That’s how we’ll put our people back to work and lead the global economy.  And that’s what I’ll be fighting for in the coming months.

Thank you.

A Reluctant Power in a New World by ROGER COHEN

I found this remarkable column in the The New York Times

(printed in The New York Times on Tuesday, October 5, 2010)

     One of the characteristics of the uncertain global economic recovery is that it has been accentuating inequality within nations even as it is cutting inequality between them. Wall Street has done better than the American middle class. At the same time, the United States as a whole has seen emergent powers race ahead as it struggles.
     Neither of these developments bodes well for America but it could navigate the troubles better if it showed greater receptiveness to a changed world.
     Take Latin America. The economies grouped under the BRIC acronym — Brazil, Russian, India and China—have all used the crisis to demonstrate their new resilience as well as their reduced dependency on the American economy. But Brazil has been a standout. Its 11 percent growth rate in the year to March 2010 may not be sustainable but is a reminder of the Lula miracle.
     Perhaps any power that has enjoyed a spell of near hegemony and finds itself at war will, ostrich-like, refuse to accept the emergence of another behemoth in its hemisphere. Still, the United States would do well to look south for political as well as economic inspiration. It has failed to do so.
     One small example: at a recent meeting of the Washington based Inter-American Development Bank, Brazil and other South American nations sent ministers to attend. China, with a close eye on the mineral wealth of Latin America, sent the president of its Central Bank. All the United States could muster was an assistant secretary.
     “To tell you the truth we’re not that unhappy about U.S. distraction,” one senior South American banker told me. “We’re looking instead to China and Asia whose interest in the region is huge. There’s still a U.S. tendency to say, ‘This is what you should do.’ Today nobody listens.”
     The fact that United States free-trade deals with Colombia and Panama still stand unratified sends a clear message of American indifference.
     On the political front, I thought the contemptuous American dismissal of a Brazilian-Turkish deal with Iran to get low-enriched uranium out the country and so provide a breathing space for dialogue was another mistake. The accord was not perfect but nor was it different in its essence from one the United States proposed earlier, though the Americans complained that Iran had doubled the amount of uranium it enriched and altered the terms of the original deal.
     Here was a historic opportunity for America to say it sees the power shifts in the world and appreciates the efforts and emergent sense of responsibility of the developing powers. Instead Big Brother’s curt message was: don’t think for a second you can tackle the big issues. And here we are, locked into another sterile cycle of sanctions on Iran.
     I said the “Lula miracle.” President Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva, who steps down at the end of December after eight extraordinary years, has demonstrated precisely the popular touch that President Barack Obama has been unable to communicate. Lula is right to declare that “Brazil, Russia, India and China have a fundamental role in creating a new international order.”
     America and Obama would do much better to foster that process and so shape it than to be blind to it or dismissive. This will involve a fundamental reorientation of United States foreign policy.
     The Lula-Obama contrast is puzzling in some ways. Both are outsiders. Both break the mold. Both were seen as change agents. So why has Lula proved so much more effective?
     There was some luck of course: the Brazilian leader rode the commodities boom of the past decade. But perhaps it’s above all because a popular touch has to be rooted in experience. Lula, one of eight children, from the impoverished far north of Brazil, a former steelworker who left school very early, has struggled every step of the way. Obama incarnated hope in a divided America, but in the end he is a man framed by elite schools and institutions as much as by his experience as an African American or community worker. Finding the right tone for a nation trying to dig out from difficulty has eluded him.
     The verdict is in. Brazil, long the most divided of societies, has gone some way toward easing inequality as the United States has moved in the opposite direction.
     It has also closed the gap on developed-world economies and could well be the world’s fifth largest economy by 2025.

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MADDOW: you get into an argument or a confrontation with somebody, you can`t help afterwards thinking of all the things you wish you`d said. You run it over and over in your mind, imaging the perfect comeback or the perfect way to have made your point.
Well, last night after the president`s big Oval Office speech on the BP oil disaster, I had a version of that experience. I hadn`t, of course, been in an argument with the president or anything, I just couldn`t stop running tape in my head of what I wish that speech had been like, what I wish he`d said. An Oval Office address is a priceless chance to get the nation to stop what it`s doing, to stop every other TV show in the country, to get us all to pay attention, all at once, to this crisis and to what the president has to say about it.

What if he had started off by saying, "Good evening"? OK, actually, he did start off by saying, "Good evening." But what if right after he said, "Good evening," he said, I`m here to announce three major developments in the response to the BP oil disaster that continues right now to ravage the beloved gulf coast of the United States of America. I wish I could tell you that the first development is that BP has capped the well, stopped the leak. They haven`t. They can`t. They don`t know how. And no one else does either. Their best hope is a relief well, which poses its own risks and challenges and which, even in a best-case scenario, affords no relief until August. All this, the might of this, the mightiest nation on earth and the combined expertise of the richest, most technologically ambitious corporations the world has ever seen cannot, it turns out, cannot cap an oil well when it breaks 5,000 deep in the ocean. It`s something that mankind does not yet have the technological capability to fix.
And that brings us to the first development in this disaster that I am announcing tonight. Never again will any company, anyone be allowed to drill in a location where they are incapable of dealing with the potential consequences of that drilling. When the benefits of drilling accrue to a private company, but the risks of that drilling accrue to we, the American people, whose waters and shoreline are savaged when things go wrong, I, as fake president, stand on the side of the American people and say to the industry, "From this day forward, if you cannot handle the risk, you no longer will take chances with our fate to reap your rewards." Our nation`s regulatory oversight of the oil industry has been a joke in many ways for decades, from the revolving door of industry apparatchiks taking supposed oversight jobs in the government in which they just rubber stamp the desires of the industry to which they were loyal, to energy industry lobbyists themselves being allowed in secret meetings to write our nation`s policies.
In light of the state of the gulf right now, my fellow Americans, the details of how industry has infiltrated and infected the government that was supposed to be a watchdog, protecting the American public from them, those details are enough to turn your stomach. But no detail tells you more about the corroding power of the industry against the interests of the American people than the simple fact that they have been allowed to drill in American waters without being forced to first prove that that drilling is safe. That will never happen again, as long as I am fake president.
When I announced in March that my administration`s energy policy would include expanded offshore drilling, that policy change was predicated on our acceptance of the oil industry`s assurances, our acceptance of their assurances that they knew how to do that kind of drilling safely. They were lying. It cannot be done safely, not when no technology exists to cap a blowout on the sea floor. Offshore drilling will not be expanded in American waters. The moratorium will be held firm and in place, unless and until this industry conclusively demonstrates major advances in safety. Oil industry jobs are important and I will work with industry to mitigate the impact on American families who survive on oil company paychecks. But in the 21st century and in the name of the 11 oil workers who were killed when the Deepwater Horizon rig blew out, we will not play Russian roulette with workers` lives and we will not play Russian roulette irreversible national environmental disaster for the sake of some short-term income. The second major development I`m announcing tonight, my fellow Americans, concerns another oil industry assurance we can no longer believe. The industry has long assured us that they were capable of handling spilled oil. In BP`s own disaster response plan for the Gulf of Mexico, they claimed they were perfectly capable of containing and cleaning up to 250,000 barrels of oil a day, that no significant of amount of oil spill of even that size would get to shore, would foul beaches, would kill wildlife or destroy wetlands. They were lying when they gave that assurance. And the industry is lying when it says it takes seriously its responsibilities to contain and cleanup disasters that they cause. The same low-tech ineffective equipment and techniques are being used to respond to this oil disaster today that were used in the 1960s and `70s to respond to spills back then. That`s because the industry has not invested in any new containment and cleanup technology in all of these decades, because they haven`t cared too much about it as an issue and it shows. It shows both in the inept technology that we have to deploy, to contain, to clean up a spill like this. And it also shows in the lackadaisical, uncoordinated, unprofessional way this inept technology has been deployed by BP. Beaches have been fouled. Wetlands have been destroyed. Wildlife has been killed that should have been saved. Pensacola Bay in Florida, if properly boomed, should never have been breached by oil. Perdido Pass of Orange Beach, Alabama should never have been breached by oil. Queen Bess Island, the pelican nesting ground and Barataria Bay in Louisiana Barataria Bay itself none of these areas should have been breached by oil even given the sad state of existing technology to stop it. But the fact that those areas were breached is BP`s human error. And tonight, as fake president, I`m announcing a new federal command specifically for containment and cleanup of oil that has already entered the Gulf of Mexico with priority of protecting shoreline that can still be saved, shoreline that is vulnerable to all that has not yet been hit.
I`ve asked the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to assist me in the diplomatic side of this, in soliciting, green lighting and expediting all international offers of help, from experts in booming and skimming all over the world. We will bring in the best experts and the best equipment from anywhere on earth to dramatically increase our efforts to get the oil out of the water and off the coast. Oil industry workers are often trained in booming and skimming. I`m hereby directing BP to fund booming and skimming crash academies for all available oil industry personnel anywhere in the world to radically overhaul what has been a haphazard, halfhearted, totally unacceptable protection effort starting immediately. No expense will be spared and no excuses will be brooked. Even if the oil leak is capped today, the oil in the water will continue to surge towards shore for weeks if not months. As fake president, I will personally issue a public update on cleanup and containment efforts every single day until this disaster is under control. And finally, the third development I have to announce to you tonight in the response to this oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is about how we got here and how that will change.
Every president in the modern era has complained that America must get off oil. Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and now, I, fake President Obama we have all intoned solemnly that we must get off oil. Now that we have, at the hands of the oil industry, experienced the worst environmental disaster in American history, the time for talk is over. The world is different now. Our country is different now. The scales have fallen from our eyes. People say we`re not ready. They`re right. We`re not ready. We also weren`t ready to fight in World War II before Pearl Harbor happened. But events forced that upon us and events have forced this fight upon us now. I no longer say that we must get off oil like every president before has said, too. I no longer say we must get off oil. We will get of oil and here is how. The United States Senate will pass an energy bill this year. The Senate version of the year will not expand offshore drilling. The earlier targets in that bill for energy efficiency and for renewable energy sources will be doubled or tripled. If senators use the filibuster to stop the bill, we will pass it by reconciliation which still ensures a majority vote. If there are elements of a bill that cannot procedurally be passed by reconciliation, if those elements can be instituted by executive order, I will institute them by executive order.
The political cowardice that has kept politicians from doing right by this country, finally, on energy finally, standing up to the oil industry that cowardice has been drowned in oil on Queen Bess Island. There is a new reality in this country that has been forced on us by this disaster. As president, I pledge to you that the land and sea and livelihood and lives of American people will be put first as with the other thing that is humanly possible to stop this disaster. We will never again let the oil industry put America at this kind of risk. We will save what can still be saved that is directly at risk in the gulf and we will free ourselves as a nation, once and for all, from the grip of this industry that has lied to us as much as it has exploited us, as much as it has befouled us with its toxic affluent.
The oil age, America, is over. If you are with me, let your senator know it. I will next speak to you about the BP oil disaster tomorrow with my first public update and the cleanup effort in the gulf. God bless you and God bless the United States of America. Oh, and one more thing. I`ve also decided I`m not a White Sox fan anymore. I`m a Red Sox fan and I`m closing Guantanamo. Thank you. Bye. So in my mind, last night, that`s what the president said which is why I will never run for anything because I say stuff like "toxic affluent" and I get all weepy when I`m mad. Also, when I`m mad, I get blotchy and nobody likes a blotchy president.


President Barack Obama Weekly Address October 9, 2010 (Video/Transcipt)

Remarks of President Barack Obama
As Prepared for Delivery
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Washington, DC

The other day, I was talking about education with some folks in the backyard of an Albuquerque home, and someone asked a question that’s stayed with me. He asked, if we don’t have homes to go to, what good is an education? It was a heartfelt question, one that could be asked by anyone who’s lost a home or a job in this recession.
Because if you’re out of work or facing foreclosure, all that really matters is a new job. All that really matters is a roof over your head. All that really matters is getting back on your feet. That’s why I’m fighting each and every day to jumpstart job-creation in the private sector; to help our small business owners grow and hire; to rebuild our economy so it lifts up a middle class that’s been battered for so long.
But even as we focus on doing all that; even as we focus on speeding up our economic recovery; we also know that when it comes to jobs, opportunity, and prosperity in the 21st century, nothing is more important than the quality of your education. At a time when most of the new jobs being created will require some kind of higher education; when countries that out-educate us today will outcompete us tomorrow, giving our kids the best education possible is an economic imperative.
That’s why, from the start of my administration, we’ve been fighting to offer every child in this country a world-class education – from the cradle to the classroom, from college through a career. Earlier this week, I announced a new Skills for America’s Future initiative that will help community colleges and employers match what’s taught in the classroom with what’s needed in the private sector, so we can connect students looking for jobs with businesses looking to hire.
We’re eliminating tens of billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies for banks to administer student loans, and using that money to make college more affordable for millions of students. And we’ve launched a Race to the Top in our states to make sure our students, all of them, are graduating from high school ready for college – so we can meet our goal of graduating a higher proportion of students from college than any other country in the world by 2020.
And yet, if Republicans in Congress had their way, we’d have a harder time meeting that goal. We’d have a harder time offering our kids the best education possible. Because they’d have us cut education by 20 percent – cuts that would reduce financial aid for eight million students; cuts that would leave our great and undervalued community colleges without the resources they need to prepare our graduates for the jobs of the future.
Now, it is true that when it comes to our budget, we have real challenges to meet. And if we’re serious about getting our fiscal house in order, we’ll need to make some tough choices. I’m prepared to make those choices. But what I’m not prepared to do is shortchange our children’s education. What I’m not prepared to do is undercut their economic future, your economic future, or the economic future of the United States of America.
Nothing would be more detrimental to our prospects for success than cutting back on education. It would consign America to second place in our fiercely competitive global economy. But China and India aren’t playing for second. South Korea and Germany aren’t playing for second. They’re playing for first – and so should America.
Instead of being shortsighted and shortchanging our kids, we should be doubling down on them. We should be giving every child in America a chance to make the most of their lives; to fulfill their God-given potential. We should be fighting to lead the global economy in this century, just like we did in the last. And that’s what I’ll continue fighting to do in the months and years ahead. Thanks, everybody, and have a nice weekend.

President Barack Obama Weekly Address October 2, 2010 (Video/Transcipt)

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 2, 2010
Over the past twenty months, we’ve been fighting not just to create more jobs today, but to rebuild our economy on a stronger foundation.  Our future as a nation depends on making sure that the jobs and industries of the 21st century take root here in America.  And there is perhaps no industry with more potential to create jobs now – and growth in the coming years – than clean energy.
For decades, we’ve talked about the importance of ending our dependence on foreign oil and pursuing new kinds of energy, like wind and solar power.  But for just as long, progress had been prevented at every turn by the special interests and their allies in Washington.
So, year after year, our dependence on foreign oil grew.  Families have been held hostage to spikes in gas prices.  Good manufacturing jobs have gone overseas.  And we’ve seen companies produce new energy technologies and high-skilled jobs not in America, but in countries like China, India and Germany.
It was essential – for our economy, our security, and our planet – that we finally tackle this challenge.  That is why, since we took office, my administration has made an historic commitment to promote clean energy technology.  This will mean hundreds of thousands of new American jobs by 2012.  Jobs for contractors to install energy-saving windows and insulation.  Jobs for factory workers to build high-tech vehicle batteries, electric cars, and hybrid trucks.  Jobs for engineers and construction crews to create wind farms and solar plants that are going to double the renewable energy we can generate in this country.  These are jobs building the future.
For example, I want share with you one new development, made possible by the clean energy incentives we have launched.  This month, in the Mojave Desert, a company called BrightSource plans to break ground on a revolutionary new type of solar power plant.  It’s going to put about a thousand people to work building a state-of-the-art facility.  And when it’s complete, it will turn sunlight into the energy that will power up to 140,000 homes – the largest such plant in the world.  Not in China.  Not in India.  But in California.
With projects like this one, and others across this country, we are staking our claim to continued leadership in the new global economy.  And we’re putting Americans to work producing clean, home-grown American energy that will help lower our reliance on foreign oil and protect our planet for future generations.
Now there are some in Washington who want to shut them down.  In fact, in the Pledge they recently released, the Republican leadership is promising to scrap all the incentives for clean energy projects, including those currently underway – even with all the jobs and potential that they hold.
This doesn’t make sense for our economy.  It doesn’t make sense for Americans who are looking for jobs. And it doesn’t make sense for our future.  To go backwards and scrap these plans means handing the competitive edge to China and other nations.  It means that we’ll grow even more dependent on foreign oil.  And, at a time of economic hardship, it means forgoing jobs we desperately need. In fact, shutting down just this one project would cost about a thousand jobs.
That’s what’s at stake in this debate.  We can go back to the failed energy policies that profited the oil companies but weakened our country.  We can go back to the days when promising industries got set up overseas.  Or we can go after new jobs in growing industries. And we can spur innovation and help make our economy more competitive.  We know the choice that’s right for America.  We need to do what we’ve always done – put our ingenuity and can do spirit to work to fight for a brighter future.