President Barack Obama Weekly Address October 24, 2015 (Video/Transcript)

President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 24, 2015
Hi, everybody.  Our country is home to some of the most beautiful God-given landscapes in the world.  We’re blessed with natural treasures – from the Grand Tetons to the Grand Canyon; from lush forests and vast deserts to lakes and rivers teeming with wildlife.  And it’s our responsibility to protect these treasures for future generations, just as previous generations protected them for us.

Since taking office, I’ve set aside more than 260 million acres of public lands and waters – more than any President in history.  Last month, we announced that 11 states had come together with ranchers, and industry groups to protect a threatened species – the sage grouse – without jeopardizing local economies.  Two weeks ago, we announced that we’re creating one new marine sanctuary on the Potomac River in Maryland, and another along Lake Michigan in Wisconsin – part of unprecedented efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes.  We also joined a coalition of countries cracking down on illegal fishing that threatens jobs and food security around the globe. And I’m going to keep protecting the places that make America special, and the livelihoods of those who depend on them.

We’ll also keep doing what we can to prevent the worst effects of climate change before it’s too late.  Over the past six years, we’ve led by example, generating more clean energy and lowering our carbon emissions.  Our businesses have stepped up in a big way, including just this past week.  Some of our biggest companies made new commitments to act on climate – not just because it’s good for the planet, but because it’s good for their bottom line.

This is how America is leading on the environmentAnd because America is leading by example, 150 countries, representing over 85% of global emissions, have now laid out plans to reduce their levels of the harmful carbon pollution that warms our planet.  And it gives us great momentum going into Paris this December, where the world needs to come together and build on these individual commitments with an ambitious, long-term agreement to protect this Earth for our kids.

Now Congress has to do its job.  This month, even as Republicans in Congress barely managed to keep our government open, they shut down something called the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  For more than half a century, this fund has protected more than 5 million acres of land – from playgrounds to parks to priceless landscapes – all without costing taxpayers a dime.  Nearly every single county in America has benefited from this program.  It has bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.  Republicans in Congress should reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund without delay.

After all, as Pope Francis reminds us so eloquently, this planet is a gift from God – and our common home.  We should leave it to our kids in better shape than we found it.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

President Barack Obama Weekly Address October 17, 2015 (Video/Transcript)

President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 17, 2015
Hi, everybody.  Thirty years ago, there were 500,000 people behind bars in America.  Today, there are 2.2 million.  The United States is home to 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.  Every year, we spend $80 billion to keep people locked up.

Now, many of the folks in prison absolutely belong there – our streets are safer thanks to the brave police officers and dedicated prosecutors who put violent criminals behind bars.  But over the last few decades, we’ve also locked up more non-violent offenders than ever before, for longer than ever before.  That’s the real reason our prison population is so high.

Ever since I was a Senator, I’ve talked about how, in too many cases, our criminal justice system is a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails.  And we’ve taken steps to address it.  We invested in our schools to give at-risk young people a better shot to succeed.  I signed a bill reducing the 100 to 1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.  I’ve commuted the sentences of dozens of people sentenced under old drug laws we now recognize were unfair.  The Department of Justice has gotten “Smart on Crime,” refocusing efforts on the worst offenders, and pursuing mandatory minimum sentences less frequently.

Still, much of our criminal justice system remains unfair.  In recent years, more of our eyes have been opened to this truth.  We can’t close them anymore.  And good people, of all political persuasions, are eager to do something about it.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll travel the country to highlight some of the Americans who are doing their part to fix our criminal justice system.  I’ll visit a community battling prescription drug and heroin abuse.  I’ll speak with leaders from law enforcement who are determined to lower the crime rate and the incarceration rate, and with police chiefs who have dedicated their careers to keeping our streets and officers safe.  I’ll meet with former prisoners who are earning their second chance.

And I’ll keep working with lawmakers from both parties who are determined to get criminal justice reform bills to my desk.  Earlier this month, Democrats and Republicans came together in the Senate to introduce such a bill – one that would reduce mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenders, and reward prisoners with shorter sentences if they complete programs that make them less likely to commit a repeat offense.  There’s a similar bill working its way through the House, and I’m encouraged by these kinds of bipartisan efforts.  This is progress – not liberal ideas or conservative ideas, but common-sense solutions to the challenges we face.

From the halls of Congress to the classrooms in our schools, we pledge allegiance to one nation under God with liberty, and justice, for all.  Justice means that every child deserves a chance to grow up safe and secure, without the threat of violence.  Justice means that the punishment should fit the crime.  And justice means allowing our fellow Americans who have made mistakes to pay their debt to society, and re-join their community as active, rehabilitated citizens.

Justice has never been easy to achieve, but it’s always been worth fighting for.  And it’s something I’ll keep fighting for as long as I serve as your president.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.


President Barack Obama Weekly Address October 10, 2015 (Video/Transcript)

President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 10, 2015
Hi, everybody.  This week, after five years of effort with eleven other nations, we reached agreement on a new trade deal that promotes American values and protects American workers.
There’s a reason this Trans-Pacific Partnership took five years to negotiate.  I wanted to get the best possible deal for American workers.  And that is what we’ve done.  Here’s why it matters.

Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside our borders -- 95 percent.  They want to buy American products.  They want our cars; our music; our food.  And if American businesses can sell more of their products in those markets, they can expand and support good jobs here at home.
So it’s no wonder that exports played a huge role in helping America recover from the Great Recession.  In fact, last year, we set a new record for American exports for the fifth year in a row, selling more than $2 trillion in goods and services.  Our exports support roughly 12 million American jobs -- and they’re jobs that typically pay better than other jobs.

But here’s the thing:  Outdated trade rules put our workers at a disadvantage.  And TPP will change that.

Right now, other countries can cut their costs by setting lower standards to pay lower wages.  This trade agreement, TPP, will change that, holding partner countries to higher standards and raising wages across a region that makes up nearly 40 percent of the global economy.

Right now, other countries charge foreign taxes on goods that are made in America.  Japan, for example, puts a 38 percent tax on American beef before it even reaches the market.  Malaysia puts a 30 percent tax on American auto parts.  Vietnam puts taxes as high as 70 percent on every car American automakers sell there.  Those taxes and other trade barriers put our workers at a disadvantage.  It makes it more expensive to make goods here and sell them over there.  Well, TPP is going to change that.  It eliminates more than 18,000 of these taxes on American goods and services.  And that way, we're boosting America’s farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and small business owners -- make it easier for them to sell their products abroad.

That’s what it means to level the playing field for American workers and businesses.  And when the playing field is level, and the rules are fair, Americans can out-compete anybody in the world.
Now, I’m the first person who will say that past trade agreements haven’t always lived up to their promise.  Sometimes they’ve been tilted too much in the direction of other countries and we haven't gotten a fair deal.  And that makes folks suspicious of any new trade initiatives.  But let’s be clear.  Our future depends not on what past trade deals did wrong, but on doing new trade deals right.  And that's what the TPP does.

It includes the strongest labor standards in history, from requiring fair hours to prohibiting child labor and forced labor. It includes the strongest environmental standards in history.  All these things level the playing field for us, because if they have to follow these rules, then they can't undercut us and sell their products cheaper because they’re violating these rules.  And unlike past trade agreements, these standards are actually enforceable.

Without this agreement, competitors that don’t share our values, like China, will write the rules of the global economy.  They’ll keep selling into our markets and try to lure companies over there; meanwhile they’re going to keep their markets closed to us.  That’s what’s been going on for the last 20 years.  That's what’s contributed so much to outsourcing. That's what has made it easier for them to compete against us.  And it needs to change.

With this Trans-Pacific Partnership, we are writing the rules for the global economy.  America is leading in the 21st century.  Our workers will be the ones who get ahead.  Our businesses will get a fair deal.  And those who oppose passing this new trade deal are really just accepting a status quo that everyone knows puts us at a disadvantage.

Look, you don’t have to take my word for it.  In the coming weeks and months, you’ll be able to read every word of this agreement online well before I sign it.  You’ll be able to see for yourself how this agreement is better than past trade deals -- and how it’s better for America’s working families.

You can learn more at  And I look forward to working with both parties in Congress to approve this deal -- and grow our economy for decades to come.

Thanks, everybody.  And have a great weekend.

President Barack Obama Weekly Address October 3, 2015 (Video/Transcript)

President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 3, 2015
Hi, everybody.  Yesterday, we learned that our businesses created another 118,000 new jobs in September.  That makes 67 straight months of job creation, and 13.2 million new jobs in all.

But we would be doing even better if we didn’t have to keep dealing with crises in Congress every few months.  And especially at a time when the global economy is softening, our own growth could slow if Congress doesn’t do away with harmful austerity measures.

Now, on Wednesday, more than half of Republicans in Congress voted to shut down the government for the second time in two years.  Fortunately, there were enough votes in both parties to pass a last-minute bill to keep the government open for another ten weeks.  Unfortunately, that gimmick only sets up another shutdown threat two weeks before Christmas.

Look, that’s not the way America should operate.  It just kicks the can down the road without solving any problems or doing any long-term planning for the future.  And that’s why I will not sign another shortsighted, short-term spending bill like the one Congress sent me this week.

Here’s why.  A few years ago, both parties agreed to put in place harmful, automatic cuts that make no distinction between spending we don’t need and spending we do.  Those cuts have actually kept our economy from growing faster.  Even worse, they’re actually undermining the middle class.

Here’s one example.  If we don’t undo these mindless cuts, then next year, we’ll be funding our kids’ education at the same levels per pupil we did in the year 2000.  Compared to my budget, that would be like cutting federal funding for 4,500 schools, 17,500 teachers and aides, 1.9 million students.

That’s not good for our kids or our economy.  It’s a prescription for American decline.  And it shouldn’t happen.  We should invest in things like education today, or we’ll pay the price tomorrow.
Congress should do its job, stop kicking the can down the road, and pass a serious budget rather than flirt with another shutdown.  A serious budget is one that keeps America strong through our military, our law enforcement; that keeps America generous through caring for our veterans and our seniors; that keeps America competitive by educating our kids and our workers.

That’s what I want to work with serious people in both parties to achieve.  Because that’s how we’ll build on the progress of 13 million new jobs, and help the middle class get ahead.

Thanks everybody, and have a great weekend.