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March 7, 2009

March 7, 2009: President Obama’s Weekly Address – Reforms Will Save Americans $40 Billion Each Year

President Barack Obama used his March 7, 2009 weekly address to detail his plans to fix our ailing economy, noting that reforming healthcare is necessary to ensure our long term fiscal health.  While ending this crisis will not be quick or easy, the President’s plans will take the swift, bold, and responsible actions needed for the United States to emerge stronger and more prosperous than before. And that is why reforming healthcare, jumpstarting job creation, restoring lending, relieving responsible homeowners, and making hard choices are all so critically important right now.

Transcript of President Obama’s remarks:

Yesterday, we learned that the economy lost another 651,000 jobs in the month of February, which brings the total number of jobs lost in this recession to 4.4 million.  The unemployment rate has now surpassed 8 percent, the highest rate in a quarter century.

These aren’t just statistics, but hardships experienced personally by millions of Americans who no longer know how they’ll pay their bills, or make their mortgage, or raise their families. 

From the day I took office, I knew that solving this crisis would not be easy, nor would it happen overnight.  And we will continue to face difficult days in the months ahead.  But I also believe that we will get through this — that if we act swiftly and boldly and responsibly, the United States of America will emerge stronger and more prosperous than it was before. 

That’s why my administration is committed to doing all that’s necessary to address this crisis and lead us to a better day.  That’s why we’re moving forward with an economic agenda that will jumpstart job creation, restart lending, relieve responsible homeowners, and address the long-term economic challenges of our time:  the cost of health care, our dependence on oil, and the state of our schools.

To prevent foreclosures for as many as 4 million homeowners — and lower interest rates and lift home values for millions more — we are implementing a plan to allow lenders to work with borrowers to refinance or restructure their mortgages.  On Wednesday, the Department of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development released the guidelines that lenders will use for lowering mortgage payments.  This plan is now at work.

To restore the availability of affordable loans for families and businesses — not just banks — we are taking steps to restart the flow of credit and stabilize the financial markets.   On Thursday, the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve launched the Consumer and Business Lending Initiative — a plan that will generate up to a trillion dollars of new lending so that families can finance a car or college education — and small businesses can raise the capital that will create jobs.

And we’ve already begun to implement the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — a plan that will save and create over 3.5 million jobs over the next two years — jobs rebuilding our roads and bridges, constructing wind turbines and solar panels, expanding broadband and mass transit.  And because of this plan, those who have lost their job in this recession will be able to receive extended unemployment benefits and continued health care coverage, while 95 percent of working Americans will receive a tax break beginning April 1st.

Of course, like every family going through hard times, our country must make tough choices.  In order to pay for the things we need — we cannot waste money on the things we don’t. 

My administration inherited a $1.3 trillion budget deficit, the largest in history.  And we’ve inherited a budgeting process as irresponsible as it is unsustainable.  For years, as Wall Street used accounting tricks to conceal costs and avoid responsibility, Washington did, too.

These kinds of irresponsible budgets — and inexcusable practices — are now in the past.  For the first time in many years, my administration has produced a budget that represents an honest reckoning of where we are and where we need to go.

It’s also a budget that begins to make the hard choices that we’ve avoided for far too long — a strategy that cuts where we must and invests where we need.  That’s why it includes $2 trillion in deficit reduction, while making historic investments in America’s future.  That’s why it reduces discretionary spending for non-defense programs as a share of the economy by more than 10 percent over the next decade — to the lowest level since they began keeping these records nearly half a century ago.  And that’s why on Wednesday, I signed a presidential memorandum to end unnecessary no-bid contracts and dramatically reform the way contracts are awarded — reforms that will save the American people up to $40 billion each year.

Finally, because we cannot bring our deficit down or grow our economy without tackling the skyrocketing cost of health care, I held a health care summit on Thursday to begin the long-overdue process of reform.  Our ideas and opinions about how to achieve this reform will vary, but our goal must be the same:  quality, affordable health care for every American that no longer overwhelms the budgets of families, businesses, and our government.

Yes, this is a moment of challenge for our country.  But we’ve experienced great trials before.  And with every test, each generation has found the capacity to not only endure, but to prosper — to discover great opportunity in the midst of great crisis.  That is what we can and must do today.  And I am absolutely confident that is what we will do.  I’m confident that at this defining moment, we will prove ourselves worthy of the sacrifice of those who came before us, and the promise of those who will come after. 

Thank you.

February 5, 2009

Is Michael Steele The Republican Superman?

michael_steele The Republican Party’s selection of former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele as party chief is almost as historic as the Democrats’ nomination of Barack Obama as the party’s presidential candidate. President Obama attracted many independents and even a smidgen of Republicans into the Democratic Party and widened the Democrats’ membership and popularity – can Steele do the same for the GOP?

Can the man of steel pick up the demolished pieces of the Republican Party and put them together again like humpty dumpty to form a winning party?  

Steele is articulate – he’s a great orator, but can he pontificate the Republican doctrines in a populous way that will attract people other than white southern conservatives?  And being black, can he keep southern white conservatives in the party?

I have watched Steele on various television broadcasts over the years and he can be quite impressive.  He knows his facts, he is assertive and when attacked he counter-attacks with a punch.

And since he’s black, when he criticizes President Obama and his administration he can’t be called a racist.  He can be called other things but not a bigot.

There are a few ethereal similarities between Steele and Obama — they are attractive, charismatic, powerful, telegenic speakers. But unlike Mr. Obama, Steele is a divider and fighter; President Obama is a uniter and a peacemaker.

Since being elected party Chief Mr. Steele has reconfirmed his commitment to issues important to religious and social conservatives.  He has mentioned his support to make abortions illegal and has implied that he doesn’t believe in certain gay rights while declaring his support of guns and infusing our government with faith-based policies. But those are not new ideas; those are just the things that will continue to regionalize the Republican Party even further.

These are the concerns of the Bible belt, not the young, urbane professional or the multicultural blend that has become the new America. These ideas are like analog technology versus today’s digital.  These ideas are like using yesterday’s Betamax recorders versus today’s Blu-ray.

It seems to me that even though Steele ‘looks’ like a new fresh face that should have new ideas for the Republican Party he seems to be more of the same.  The same old Republican with the same old broken down outdated ideas that belong in yesteryear.

December 14, 2008

Barack Obama’s Inner Circle – Their Plan To Remain Close

obama-friends-martin-nesbitt-valerie-jarrett-dr-eric-whitaker Obama’s Inner Circle: Left to right – Martin Nesbitt, Valerie Jarrett, Dr. Eric Whitaker

Last Sunday night, President-elect Barack Obama’s three closest friends — Valerie Jarrett, Martin Nesbitt and Dr. Eric Whitaker — sat down in the study of Mr. Nesbitt’s house in Chicago for one of their increasingly frequent heart-to-hearts.

They were puzzling over a new question: how the Obamas, who hope to remain close to their Chicago friends, will spend time with them while living in the isolation chamber of the White House. Over Diet Cokes, the three drafted the beginnings of an elaborate visiting schedule that will bring Hyde Park to Washington, so the nation’s new first family can have a little taste of home.

“O.K, Eric, you need to plan to be in D.C. the first six weekends of the presidency,” Ms. Jarrett, soon to be a senior White House adviser, instructed Dr. Whitaker, he recalled.

In the presidential campaign, the Obamas had a “no new friends” rule, surrounding themselves with a coterie of familiar faces. Even if the Obamas lift that rule in Washington, newcomers are unlikely to replicate the intensity of this group’s ties, formed over more than a decade by births and deaths, Scrabble games, barbecues and vacations, but also by shared beliefs about race, success and responsibility.

Back when the Obamas were hardly the most prominent members of the group, the doctors, lawyers and businessmen from Chicago became not just one another’s friends but also one another’s supporters, forming a network that eventually helped the politician among them on his way to a Senate seat and then the presidency. Their bonds grew only tighter in the long slog of the campaign.

“We knew Barack running for president would be hard on him and Michelle, but we didn’t realize the impact it would have on us,” said Dr. Whitaker, speaking of the frenetic travel schedule he and other friends maintained to keep Mr. Obama company, the scrutiny they endured and the sometimes disconcerting way that proximity to the Obamas affected their own relationships and careers.

“Marty and Eric and I will get together just to talk through experiences we’ve been through,” Ms. Jarrett said. “People are far more interested in us than any of us have ever experienced in our lives.”

And Mr. Obama is not even president yet. Soon they will no longer be the best friends of a newly successful politician but of the most powerful man in the world. Though Mr. Obama’s friends vow their friendships will not change, they all sound a bit worried: that others will try to take advantage, that they will no longer be regarded on their own terms but in relation to Mr. Obama, or that they will say something that will reflect badly on him. For all of their immense pride in the Obamas, for all the dazzle of the campaign and the White House, being a first friend “is not all fun and games,” Dr. Whitaker said.

The Obama social universe is large, multiracial and far-flung, spanning law school buddies, political allies and friends who kept Mrs. Obama company during her husband’s long absences. But the Obamas’ closest friends are the tight bunch from the South Side of Chicago, who never expected to find themselves in this situation.

Like Mrs. Obama, whose father worked for the city water department, most are from modest backgrounds. (When Mrs. Obama directed a student-volunteerism program at the University of Chicago in the mid-1990s, she was employed by the same office for which her mother had once worked as a secretary.) Mr. Nesbitt, now a real estate executive, is the son of a steel mill worker and a nurse; Mr. Whitaker’s mother was also a nurse, his father a bus driver. Like Mr. Obama, they attended private schools on scholarship.

When they arrived at elite universities, they often found they were among the only blacks in their classrooms. In medical school in Chicago, Dr. Whitaker and Mr. Nesbitt’s wife were taken under the wing of Dr. James Bowman, Ms. Jarrett’s father and the first black tenured professor in his department. (Dr. Whitaker also earned a public health degree at Harvard, where he played basketball with a certain lanky law review president with a funny last name.)

“How many African-Americans are there going to be at the University of Chicago?” Mr. Nesbitt said, explaining how he and Craig Robinson, Mrs. Obama’s brother, now a college basketball coach, became close at business school there, years after meeting on a basketball recruiting trip.

(more…)

December 3, 2008

Is Jeb Bush Aiming For The White House?

bushes-george-and-jeb Can American afford another Bush in the White House?  I don’t think so. I know that the Bushes want to see Jeb Bush as President someday but had pushed that hope to the side since Dubya was an inept President at best.  Dubya invaded Iraq and started a war of choice with Iraq over WMD which never existed.  Dubya flew over as New Orleans sank and now Dubya is standing on the sidelines drinking Peruvian Piso Sours as America’s economy is flushed down the toilet.

Now Jeb wants to be a Senator from Florida. Undoubtedly he sees this as a stepping stone to the White House.

Two sources close to Jeb Bush, including one who has spoken to the former Florida governor within the past few hours, say he is seriously considering a run for Senate now that incumbent Republican Mel Martinez has retired.“He is receiving a lot of encouragement from both in and out of the state,” a longtime Bush adviser said tonight. “He is going to take his time and approach this very methodically.”  Bush will weigh, according to this adviser, how a run would impact his family, his business, and whether the Senate would be the best platform for the causes he’d advocate — education, immigration, GOP solutions to health care and energy.“the old white-guy party” and that it ought to modulate the way it handles the immigration issue. Bush, who speaks fluent Spanish and won the support of a majority of Hispanic voters during his 2002 re-election bid, favors a comprehensive approach to reform. But Bush said that Republicans can’t give up on conservatism, and, in what might be interpreted as a dig at Florida’s current governor, said that Republicans “can’t be Democrat-lite. We can’t just ‘get along.”  The words echo some Republican criticism of Crist, who they view as accodomationist in his politics and unwilling to push for real reforms.

 

Bush did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

If he decides to run, Republicans expect the field to clear for him.  Maybe. Governor Charlie Crist, with whom Bush has not had the warmest of relations, is said to be interested in moving to the Senate. Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is weighing a bid, as is former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, Orange County executive Richard Crotty, and U.S. Rep. Connie Mack.

Bush, in an interview with Newsmax this week, said that the GOP risked becoming

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November 16, 2008

President-Elect Obama’s First Interview: 60 Minutes – Sunday, November 16, 2009

AP on TV Steve Kroft Obama Since Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States 12 days ago, he has largely remained out of sight, getting high-level government briefings and conferring with his transition team. But he surfaced on Friday afternoon in Chicago, alongside his wife Michelle to give 60 Minutes his first post-election interview.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 13, 2008

Should The Obama Administration Investigate and Prosecute The Bush Administration?

george-w-bush-wanted-2

During his reign King George used his executive powers to block Congressional requests for executive branch documents and testimony from former aides. Now that Bush will no longer rule, investigators are hoping that the Obama administration will open up Pandora’s filing cabinets and withdraw the declaration of executive privilege that Bush officials have used to keep from raising their right hands and swearing under oath.

“I intend to ensure that our outstanding subpoenas and document requests relating to the US attorneys matter are enforced,” said Representative John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “I am hopeful that progress can be made with the coming of the new administration.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First have  and Human Rights First already have detailed reports ready for the new administration calling for criminal investigations into severe allegations of abuse of detainees at Guantanamo and other American holding prison oversees, etc.

With America and the world in the midst of a severe economic crisis, no one knows if President Obama will give his blessings to any such investigation, but we can hope. 

Since Presidents don’t have crystal balls and don’t know what kind of prickly situations they might find themselves in during their tenure, some tend not to pursue investigations into their predecessor’s acts while in office. George W. Bush used executive privilege for the first time in 2001 to stop Congressional Republicans from investigating the Clinton administration.

In April Obama told The Philadelphia Daily News that people need to discern what warranties an investigation and shouldn’t be eager to investigate just for investigations sake.  “If crimes have been committed, they should be investigated,” Obama said, but added, “I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of Republicans as a partisan witch hunt, because I think we’ve got too many problems we’ve got to solve.”

But even if Obama himself throws-out the calls for investigations, he cannot control what the courts or Congress does.

Let’s hope that Representatives Conyers and Kucinich stay vigilant and prosecute Bush and Cheney for all their transgressions.

Also read: https://letustalk.wordpress.com/2008/06/09/drama-congressman-dennis-kucinich-calls-for-bush-impeachment/

November 12, 2008

The Night Obama Slept In A NYC Alley: From Alley Way To The White House

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Barack Obama’s story is truly about strength of mind, perseverance, courage and audaciousness.  This man – from he was young – was determined to be a success and did all he had to and remains grounded. Barack Obama is truly an inspiration. This man has my respect!

This post was written on Tuesday, November 4

If the election goes the way the polls predict, every school kid should see the Manhattan alleyway where a future President spent his first night in New York.

Just across the street is the fire hydrant where young Barack Obama washed up with a homeless gentleman after waking that morning a quarter century ago.

Obama had come to New York as a transfer student at Columbia, having arranged to take over a friend of a friend’s apartment on W. 109th St. He arrived with his luggage just after 10p.m., only for nobody to answer the door.

Obama sat on the building’s stoop, rereading a letter he had received before he left California. The letter was from the father who had long since moved back to Kenya. The father urged him to carry through with plans to visit Africa after his graduation.

“The important thing is that you know your people, and also that you know where you belong,” the long-absent father had written. “Please look after yourself and say hello to your mum.”

Obama refolded the letter and gazed along what was then a row of boarded-up buildings on W. 109th St., keenly feeling the absence of a guiding paternal hand in a country where there seemed no clear place for a young black man.

“I looked down now at the abandoned New York street,” Obama later wrote in his autobiography. “Where were the fathers, the uncles and grandfathers who could help explain this gash in our hearts? Where were the healers who might help us rescue meaning from defeat? They were gone, vanished, swallowed up by time. Only their cloudy images remained.”

He waited past midnight before wiggling through a gate into an alleyway that by his description is almost certainly the one adjacent to 200 W. 109th St.

“I found a dry spot, propped my luggage beneath me and fell asleep, the sound of drums softly shaping my dreams,” he wrote. “I woke up to find a white hen pecking at the garbage near my feet.”

He rose and stepped from the alleyway.

“Across the street, a homeless man was washing himself at an open hydrant and didn’t object when I joined him,” Obama recalled.

Twenty-five years later, the hydrant has been given a cheerful coat of red paint by the Dominican superintendent of the building across from the alleyway.

The alleyway is no longer garbage-strewn but swept clean, the six trash cans kept in a neat row by the Montenegrin super in the adjacent building.

The supers were taking the extra care because that is their nature, just as the once-abandoned buildings along the block now fly American flags as a signal of the neighborhood’s restoration.

Nobody seems to have been aware that the alleyway and the hydrant might become one of the city’s most unlikely historical sights.

Here slept and washed up a future President who propelled himself beyond the soft drumming of his dreams, who appeared before us suddenly and so vividly, showing a young black man’s place is where he strives to be, presenting himself as a healer who can help black and white rescue meaning from defeat.

“It’s a privilege to live in a neighborhood where once a future President has spent the night,” the Montenegrin super, Ruzdija Jarovic, said in his native language.

Happy shouts rang out from the recess yard of Public School 165 just down the block. A whistle sounded and the youngsters filed inside past a bank of voting machines delivered for the election that could have such an impact on their future.

The man who slept in the alley just up W. 109th St. was on every ballot in the country. Obama’s father and mother died long before his nomination. His grandmother died yesterday, a day before she could have seen more than dreams come true.

Maybe the homeless guy who shared the hydrant is still around. The hydrant and the alleyway remain, and to visit there on Election Eve was to feel how audacious hope can really be.

obamas-white-house-oval-office1

 

Author: Michael Daly – NY Daily News.

Link: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2008/11/03/2008-11-03_how_far_obama_and_us_have_come_since_he_.html

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