Category Archives: Congress

President Obama’s Weekly Address 7/17/10: Filibustering Recovery & Obstructing Progress

The President blasts Republicans in the Senate who are blocking unemployment insurance and small business tax breaks to create jobs — even as they push for permanent, massive tax cuts for the richest Americans.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
July 17, 2010

This week, many of our largest corporations reported robust earnings – a positive sign of growth.

But too many of our small business owners and those who aspire to start their own small businesses continue to struggle, in part because they can’t get the credit they need to start up, grow, and hire. And too many Americans whose livelihoods have fallen prey to the worst recession in our lifetimes – a recession that cost our economy eight million jobs – still wonder how they’ll make ends meet.

That’s why we need to take new, commonsense steps to help small businesses, grow our economy, and create jobs – and we need to take them now.

For months, that’s what we’ve been trying to do. But too often, the Republican leadership in the United States Senate chooses to filibuster our recovery and obstruct our progress. And that has very real consequences.

Consider what that obstruction means for our small businesses – the growth engines that create two of every three new jobs in this country. A lot of small businesses still have trouble getting the loans and capital they need to keep their doors open and hire new workers. So we proposed steps to get them that help: Eliminating capital gains taxes on investments. Establishing a fund for small lenders to help small businesses. Enhancing successful SBA programs that help them access the capital they need.

But again and again, a partisan minority in the Senate said “no,” and used procedural tactics to block a simple, up-or-down vote.

Think about what these stalling tactics mean for the millions of Americans who’ve lost their jobs since the recession began. Over the past several weeks, more than two million of them have seen their unemployment insurance expire. For many, it was the only way to make ends meet while searching for work – the only way to cover rent, utilities, even food.

Three times, the Senate has tried to temporarily extend that emergency assistance. And three times, a minority of Senators – basically the same crowd who said “no” to small businesses – said “no” to folks looking for work, and blocked a straight up-or-down vote.

Some Republican leaders actually treat this unemployment insurance as if it’s a form of welfare. They say it discourages folks from looking for work. Well, I’ve met a lot of folks looking for work these past few years, and I can tell you, I haven’t met any Americans who would rather have an unemployment check than a meaningful job that lets you provide for your family. And we all have friends, neighbors, or family members who already knows how hard it is to land a job when five workers are competing for every opening.

Now in the past, Presidents and Congresses of both parties have treated unemployment insurance for what it is – an emergency expenditure. That’s because an economic disaster can devastate families and communities just as surely as a flood or tornado.

Suddenly, Republican leaders want to change that. They say we shouldn’t provide unemployment insurance because it costs money. So after years of championing policies that turned a record surplus into a massive deficit, including a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, they’ve finally decided to make their stand on the backs of the unemployed. They’ve got no problem spending money on tax breaks for folks at the top who don’t need them and didn’t even ask for them; but they object to helping folks laid off in this recession who really do need help. And every day this goes on, another 50,000 Americans lose that badly needed lifeline.

Well, I think these Senators are wrong. We can’t afford to go back to the same misguided policies that led us into this mess. We need to move forward with the policies that are leading us out of this mess.

The fact is, most economists agree that extending unemployment insurance is one of the single most cost-effective ways to help jumpstart the economy. It puts money into the pockets of folks who not only need it most, but who also are most likely to spend it quickly. That boosts local economies. And that means jobs.

Increasing loans to small business. Renewing unemployment insurance. These steps aren’t just the right thing to do for those hardest hit by the recession – they’re the right thing to do for all of us. And I’m calling on Congress once more to take these steps on behalf of America’s workers, and families, and small business owners – the people we were sent here to serve.

Because when storms strike Main Street, we don’t play politics with emergency aid. We don’t desert our fellow Americans when they fall on hard times. We come together. We do what we can to help. We rebuild stronger, and we move forward. That’s what we’re doing today. And I’m absolutely convinced that’s how we’re going to come through this storm to better days ahead.

Thanks.

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Filed under Congress, filibuster, President Obama, Recession, small businesses, tax cuts, the White House, weekly address

president Obama’s Weekly Address: 6/19/10 Republicans Blocking Progress

The President calls on Republicans in Congress to put scoring political points aside, and instead to focus on solving the problems facing the nation. At the time of this address, the Republican leadership is blocking progress on a bill to boost the economy, retain jobs for teachers and cops, and help people buy their first home; another bill which would hold oil companies accountable for any disasters they cause by removing the current $75 million liability cap; and 136 highly qualified men and women who have been nominated to government positions.

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Historic healthcare bill passes; On a 219-212 vote, the sweeping change in health policy heads to the president

Los Angeles Times

Ending the Democrats’ decades-long quest to create a healthcare safety net to match Social Security, the House of Representatives on Sunday night approved sweeping legislation to guarantee Americans access to medical care for the first time, delivering President Obama the biggest victory of his young presidency.

The bill, which passed 219 to 212 without a single Republican vote, would make a nearly $1-trillion commitment in taxpayer money over the next decade to help an estimated 32 million uninsured Americans get health coverage.

And it would establish a broad new framework of government regulation to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage and, advocates hope, to begin making healthcare more affordable to most Americans.

“Tonight, at a time when the pundits said it was no longer possible, we rose above the weight of our politics,” the president said in a televised address from the East Room of the White House after the House completed its last vote. “We proved we are still a people capable of doing big things and tackling our biggest challenges.”

On the House floor, Democrats erupted into cheers of “Yes, we can!” at 10:45 p.m. Eastern time as the decisive 216th “yes” vote was recorded, capping a tortuous campaign that several senior lawmakers linked to the historic battle for civil rights two generations earlier.

“This is the Civil Rights Act of the 21st century,” said Democratic Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the top-ranking black member of the House….

Read more >>> Here

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Public Opinion Snapshot: Public Holding Steady on Key Elements of Health Care Reform

By Ruy Teixeira, The Center for American Progress

In the last month, the public’s view of Congress’ health care reform efforts has certainly darkened. But it’s striking how little change there has been in the public’s view of the basic elements of health care reform as articulated by President Barack Obama and progressives. These essentials of health care reform remain not just popular, but very popular. Consider these data from the just-released August edition of the Kaiser Health Care Tracking poll.

In the poll, 68 percent favor “requiring all Americans to have health insurance, either from their employer or from another source, with financial help for those who can’t afford it.” One month ago, the figure in the Kaiser tracking poll was an identical 68 percent. Similarly, 70 percent favor “offering tax credits to help people buy private health insurance,” which is actually up a point from July’s 69 percent. And 68 percent favor “requiring employers to offer health insurance to their workers or pay money into a government fund that will pay to cover those without insurance,” up 4 points from July’s 64 percent.

Finally, what about the public health insurance option that conservatives have attacked mercilessly and about which there has been so much controversy? Surely here the public has been scared away from their previous level of support. Nope. In the Kaiser poll, 59 percent favor “creating a government-administered public health insurance option similar to Medicare to compete with private health insurance plans,” exactly the same as July’s 59 percent.

It’s also worth noting that the public remains hopeful about the health care reform efforts in Washington (63 to 36 percent in the Kaiser poll). Perhaps that’s because the public knows that somewhere in that legislative logjam in Congress, the basic elements of health care reform as outlined above are still alive. Let’s hope Congress keeps health care reform on track and doesn’t disappoint them.

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Filed under Congress, health care debate, health care reform, Kaiser Health Care Tracking Poll, Medicare, President Obama, The Center for American Progress

President Obama’s Weekly Address: 8/15/09

Real Conversations About Health Insurance Reform

The President talks about how the chatter and ruckus around health insurance reform on television obscures the reality of what’s happening in America. He discusses how in most towns people and Members of Congress are having constructive conversations, and how people are learning how reform will help them and their families with the real problems they have faced with the insurance system.

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New Nationwide Ad: Wall Street Chooses Greed over Workers, Employee Free Choice Act

Second ad in a week builds on hundreds of grassroots events and momentum for legislation during Congressional recess:

Greeted with a new massive nationwide ad campaign along with over 350 grassroots actions, members of Congress returned to their home states and districts this week to be reminded that a majority of the public demands passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. A new, hard-hitting television ad will hit national airwaves today exposing the real motives of those who oppose the Employee Free Choice Act. It joins another ad already on the air and grassroots events across the country highlighting the broad support for the bill.

The ad calls out corporations, many of whom have received billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded bailouts, as opposing workers’ freedom to bargain with their employers for better wages and benefits at a time when the imbalance of power is the reason for our economic crisis. Instead of focusing on rebuilding our economy and getting us out of the mess they helped to create, the ad points out that companies like Bank of America took $45 billion in taxpayer money and have been working against the Employee Free Choice Act, exploiting their low wage workers, and rewarding its leaders, like CEO Ken Lewis, with million dollar payouts.

“The public and lawmakers alike need to know that the special interests opposing the Employee Free Choice Act are the same ones who caused this economic meltdown,” said American Rights at Work Executive Director Mary Beth Maxwell. “This new ad sends a resolute message that now is the time to help workers to bargain for a better life. The Employee Free Choice Act is urgently needed to create fairness in this economy.”

The momentum for the Employee Free Choice Act is growing, with ramped up grassroots events underway during the recess including rallies, anti-corporate actions, leafleting, lobbying, town hall meetings, moving billboards, community forums, vigils, call-in days, and more. Workers, elected officials, small business owners, students, faith leaders, civil rights activists, and other advocates, are participating in an array of actions underscoring the broad and diverse support for the measure.

The new ad campaign and recess activities continue to build on the broad support for the Employee Free Choice Act: independent polling confirmed a majority of the public supports its passage; over 40 leading economists – including Nobel laureates – released a joint statement endorsing the legislation as a critical part of our economic recovery; and just last week the “Faces of the Employee Free Choice Act ” campaign was unveiled by award-winning cast members of The West Wing standing alongside workers to promote the freedom to form unions on Capitol Hill.

For More Information Contact: American Rights at Work

Josh Goldstein (American Rights at Work) 202-822-2127 x118

Alison Omens (AFL-CIO)
202-637-5083

Noreen Nielsen (Change to Win)
202-721-6047

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Filed under AFL-CIO, American rights at work, Change to win, Congress, Employee Free Choice Act, greed, nationwide ad campaign, right to work, Wall Street

‘Republicants’ Deny Sky Is Falling

By United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard, posted on The Hill’s Congressional Blog.

The sky is falling.

For the average Working Joe or Jane in America, it is anyway. Unemployment is at 7.6 percent and rising. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that there are 4.1 job seekers now for every opening. The mortgage delinquency rate set another record last quarter, and foreclosures are predicted to top 1 million this year. Because of reckless speculation by Wall Street financiers, the stock market is plummeting, taking with it a third of the value of the retirement accounts of hard-working Americans.

If the average Jane and Joe have not lost their jobs, they’ve seen a big chunk of their retirement savings slip away. Or their kid can’t find work. Or a neighbor’s been foreclosed on.

Still, Republicans in Congress couldn’t find it in their hearts to vote for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, commonly called the stimulus bill. They just can’t vote to support the American people — they’re “Republicants.”

An official description of the act the Republicants rejected says it: “Makes supplemental appropriations for FY2009: (1) for job preservation and creation; (2) to promote economic recovery; (3) to assist those most impacted by the recession; (4) to provide investments needed to increase economic efficiency by spurring technological advances in science and health; (5) to invest in transportation, environmental protection, and other infrastructure that will provide long-term economic benefits; and (6) to stabilize state and local government budgets, in order to minimize and avoid reductions in essential services and counterproductive state and local tax increases.”

In the House, not a single Republicant voted for this bill to create jobs and restore economic growth. In the Senate, three brave members of the GOP stood up to the Republicants gang to pass the Recovery Act and aid suffering Americans — Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

Read more >>> Here

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Filed under Congress, Congress Blog, Economic Stimulus Package, Loe W. Gerard, Republicants, the GOP, unemployment rate, United Steelworkers International

>‘Republicants’ Deny Sky Is Falling

>By United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard, posted on The Hill’s Congressional Blog.

The sky is falling.

For the average Working Joe or Jane in America, it is anyway. Unemployment is at 7.6 percent and rising. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that there are 4.1 job seekers now for every opening. The mortgage delinquency rate set another record last quarter, and foreclosures are predicted to top 1 million this year. Because of reckless speculation by Wall Street financiers, the stock market is plummeting, taking with it a third of the value of the retirement accounts of hard-working Americans.

If the average Jane and Joe have not lost their jobs, they’ve seen a big chunk of their retirement savings slip away. Or their kid can’t find work. Or a neighbor’s been foreclosed on.

Still, Republicans in Congress couldn’t find it in their hearts to vote for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, commonly called the stimulus bill. They just can’t vote to support the American people — they’re “Republicants.”

An official description of the act the Republicants rejected says it: “Makes supplemental appropriations for FY2009: (1) for job preservation and creation; (2) to promote economic recovery; (3) to assist those most impacted by the recession; (4) to provide investments needed to increase economic efficiency by spurring technological advances in science and health; (5) to invest in transportation, environmental protection, and other infrastructure that will provide long-term economic benefits; and (6) to stabilize state and local government budgets, in order to minimize and avoid reductions in essential services and counterproductive state and local tax increases.”

In the House, not a single Republicant voted for this bill to create jobs and restore economic growth. In the Senate, three brave members of the GOP stood up to the Republicants gang to pass the Recovery Act and aid suffering Americans — Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

Read more >>> Here

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Filed under Congress, Congress Blog, Economic Stimulus Package, Loe W. Gerard, Republicants, the GOP, unemployment rate, United Steelworkers International

Hoekstra leaks unauthorized intelligence information via Twitter

I understand the need to keep your constituents informed, but I think that things are getting a little out of hand. 
Whether it is a lunch at the White House with the President or over seas on a SECRET mission to Iraq, do our Representatives need to constantly inform us of their every activity? Are they trying to impress us  so much that they have become oblivious to there surrounds?  
Twitter is a social networking site where friends, family, and co–workers can communicate and stay connected with each other.  Members of Congress should not be abusing their privileges by divulging their activities as they happen. Not only is it rude to their host,but  how can they concentrate on what is being told to them?
The following  post from Think Progress is an excellent example of my point. While on a secret mission to Iraq, Congressman Pete Hoeksra let the followers of his Twitter account know exactly what he was doing, when no one was supposed to know that there was on entourage of congressmen in Iraq.
 

Rep. Pete Hoeksra (R-MI), the ranking member of the House intelligence committee, revealed classified intelligence information on Twitter when he reported on his “congressional trip to Iraq this weekend that was supposed to be a secret.” “Just landed in Baghdad,” messaged Hoekstra, who was part of a delegation led by John Boehner (R-OH). CQ reports, “Before the delegation left Washington, they were advised to keep the trip to themselves for security reasons. A few media outlets, including Congressional Quarterly, learned about it, but agreed not to disclose anything until the delegation had left Iraq.” Hoekstra not only revealed the existence of the trip, but included details about their itinerary. In a May 2006 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Hoekstra wrote:

But every time classified national security information is leaked, our ability to gather information on those who would do us harm is eroded. … I regret that I see little sign of intolerance for unauthorized disclosures of intelligence to the media from some of my Democratic colleagues today. … We are a nation at war. Unauthorized disclosures of classified information only help terrorists and our enemies – and put American lives at risk.


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Filed under Congress, Iraq, LA Times, Rep. Pete Hoeksra, secret mission, terrorists, the President, the White House, Think Progress, Twitter

>Hoekstra leaks unauthorized intelligence information via Twitter

>

I understand the need to keep your constituents informed, but I think that things are getting a little out of hand. 
Whether it is a lunch at the White House with the President or over seas on a SECRET mission to Iraq, do our Representatives need to constantly inform us of their every activity? Are they trying to impress us  so much that they have become oblivious to there surrounds?  
Twitter is a social networking site where friends, family, and co–workers can communicate and stay connected with each other.  Members of Congress should not be abusing their privileges by divulging their activities as they happen. Not only is it rude to their host,but  how can they concentrate on what is being told to them?
The following  post from Think Progress is an excellent example of my point. While on a secret mission to Iraq, Congressman Pete Hoeksra let the followers of his Twitter account know exactly what he was doing, when no one was supposed to know that there was on entourage of congressmen in Iraq.
 

Rep. Pete Hoeksra (R-MI), the ranking member of the House intelligence committee, revealed classified intelligence information on Twitter when he reported on his “congressional trip to Iraq this weekend that was supposed to be a secret.” “Just landed in Baghdad,” messaged Hoekstra, who was part of a delegation led by John Boehner (R-OH). CQ reports, “Before the delegation left Washington, they were advised to keep the trip to themselves for security reasons. A few media outlets, including Congressional Quarterly, learned about it, but agreed not to disclose anything until the delegation had left Iraq.” Hoekstra not only revealed the existence of the trip, but included details about their itinerary. In a May 2006 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Hoekstra wrote:

But every time classified national security information is leaked, our ability to gather information on those who would do us harm is eroded. … I regret that I see little sign of intolerance for unauthorized disclosures of intelligence to the media from some of my Democratic colleagues today. … We are a nation at war. Unauthorized disclosures of classified information only help terrorists and our enemies – and put American lives at risk.


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Filed under Congress, Iraq, LA Times, Rep. Pete Hoeksra, secret mission, terrorists, the President, the White House, Think Progress, Twitter