Category Archives: the White House

Get the Facts on the Debt Deal

I personally don’t like this debt limit compromise and I commend both Middletown area Congressmen Rush Holt and Frank Pallone for having the conviction to vote against it. This deal will do little to restore fiscal sanity back in Washington while hurting many in the middle-class.

The principals of “shared sacrifice” do not exist in this deal and it will be the average joe that suffers in the coming months and years because of it.

The facts sheet below is posted over at Whitehouse.gov:

Bipartisan Debt Deal: A Win for the Economy and Budget Discipline

  • Removes the cloud of uncertainty over our economy at this critical time, by ensuring that no one will be able to use the threat of the nation’s first default now, or in only a few months, for political gain;
  • Locks in a down payment on significant deficit reduction, with savings from both domestic and Pentagon spending, and is designed to protect crucial investments like aid for college students;
  • Establishes a bipartisan process to seek a balanced approach to larger deficit reduction through entitlement and tax reform;
  • Deploys an enforcement mechanism that gives all sides an incentive to reach bipartisan compromise on historic deficit reduction, while protecting Social Security, Medicare beneficiaries and low-income programs;
  • Stays true to the President’s commitment to shared sacrifice by preventing the middle class, seniors and those who are most vulnerable from shouldering the burden of deficit reduction. The President did not agree to any entitlement reforms outside of the context of a bipartisan committee process where tax reform will be on the table and the President will insist on shared sacrifice from the most well-off and those with the most indefensible tax breaks.
Mechanics of the Debt Deal

  • Immediately enacted 10-year discretionary spending caps generating nearly $1 trillion in deficit reduction; balanced between defense and non-defense spending.
  • President authorized to increase the debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion, eliminating the need for further increases until 2013.
  • Bipartisan committee process tasked with identifying an additional $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, including from entitlement and tax reform. Committee is required to report legislation by November 23, 2011, which receives fast-track protections. Congress is required to vote on Committee recommendations by December 23, 2011.
  • Enforcement mechanism established to force all parties – Republican and Democrat – to agree to balanced deficit reduction. If Committee fails, enforcement mechanism will trigger spending reductions beginning in 2013 – split 50/50 between domestic and defense spending. Enforcement protects Social Security, Medicare beneficiaries, and low-income programs from any cuts.

1. REMOVING UNCERTAINTY TO SUPPORT THE AMERICAN ECONOMY

  • Deal Removes Cloud of Uncertainty Until 2013, Eliminating Key Headwind on the Economy: Independent analysts, economists, and ratings agencies have all made clear that a short-term debt limit increase would create unacceptable economic uncertainty by risking default again within only a matter of months and as S&P stated, increase the chance of a downgrade. By ensuring a debt limit increase of at least $2.1 trillion, this deal removes the specter of default, providing important certainty to our economy at a fragile moment.
  • Mechanism to Ensure Further Deficit Reduction is Designed to Phase-In Beginning in 2013 to Avoid Harming the Recovery: The deal includes a mechanism to ensure additional deficit reduction, consistent with the economic recovery. The enforcement mechanism would not be made effective until 2013, avoiding any immediate contraction that could harm the recovery. And savings from the down payment will be enacted over 10 years, consistent with supporting the economic recovery.

2. A DOWNPAYMENT ON DEFICIT REDUCTION BY LOCKING IN HISTORIC SPENDING DISCIPLINE – BALANCED BETWEEN DOMESTIC AND PENTAGON SPENDING

  • More than $900 Billion in Savings over 10 Years By Capping Discretionary Spending: The deal includes caps on discretionary spending that will produce more than $900 billion in savings over the next 10 years compared to the CBO March baseline, even as it protects core investments from deep and economically damaging cuts.
  • Includes Savings of $350 Billion from the Base Defense Budget – the First Defense Cut Since the 1990s: The deal puts us on track to cut $350 billion from the defense budget over 10 years. These reductions will be implemented based on the outcome of a review of our missions, roles, and capabilities that will reflect the President’s commitment to protecting our national security.
  • Reduces Domestic Discretionary Spending to the Lowest Level Since Eisenhower: These discretionary caps will put us on track to reduce non-defense discretionary spending to its lowest level since Dwight Eisenhower was President.
  • Includes Funding to Protect the President’s Historic Investment in Pell Grants: Since taking office, the President has increased the maximum Pell award by $819 to a maximum award $5,550, helping over 9 million students pay for college tuition bills. The deal provides specific protection in the discretionary budget to ensure that the there will be sufficient funding for the President’s historic investment in Pell Grants without undermining other critical investments.

3. ESTABLISHING A BIPARTISAN PROCESS TO ACHIEVE $1.5 TRILLION IN ADDITIONAL BALANCED DEFICIT REDUCTION BY THE END OF 2011

  • The Deal Locks in a Process to Enact $1.5 Trillion in Additional Deficit Reduction Through a Bipartisan, Bicameral Congressional Committee: The deal creates a bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Committee that is charged with enacting $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction by the end of the year. This Committee will work without the looming specter of default, ensuring time to carefully consider essential reforms without the disruption and brinksmanship of the past few months.
  • This Committee is Empowered Beyond Previous Bipartisan Attempts at Deficit Reduction: Any recommendation of the Committee would be given fast-track privilege in the House and Senate, assuring it of an up or down vote and preventing some from using procedural gimmicks to block action.
  • To Meet This Target, the Committee Will Consider Responsible Entitlement and Tax Reform. This means putting all the priorities of both parties on the table – including both entitlement reform and revenue-raising tax reform.

4. A STRONG ENFORCEMENT MECHANISM TO MAKE ALL SIDES COME TOGETHER

  • The Deal Includes An Automatic Sequester to Ensure That At Least $1.2 Trillion in Deficit Reduction Is Achieved By 2013 Beyond the Discretionary Caps: The deal includes an automatic sequester on certain spending programs to ensure that—between the Committee and the trigger—we at least put in place an additional $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by 2013.
  • Consistent With Past Practice, Sequester Would Be Divided Equally Between Defense and Non-Defense Programs and Exempt Social Security, Medicaid, and Low-Income Programs: Consistent with the bipartisan precedents established in the 1980s and 1990s, the sequester would be divided equally between defense and non-defense program, and it would exempt Social Security, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, programs for low-income families, and civilian and military retirement. Likewise, any cuts to Medicare would be capped and limited to the provider side.
  • Sequester Would Provide a Strong Incentive for Both Sides to Come to the Table: If the fiscal committee took no action, the deal would automatically add nearly $500 billion in defense cuts on top of cuts already made, and, at the same time, it would cut critical programs like infrastructure or education. That outcome would be unacceptable to many Republicans and Democrats alike – creating pressure for a bipartisan agreement without requiring the threat of a default with unthinkable consequences for our economy.

5. A BALANCED DEAL CONSISTENT WITH THE PRESIDENT’S COMMITMENT TO SHARED SACRIFICE

  • The Deal Sets the Stage for Balanced Deficit Reduction, Consistent with the President’s Values: The deal is designed to achieve balanced deficit reduction, consistent with the values the President articulated in his April Fiscal Framework. The discretionary savings are spread between both domestic and defense spending. And the President will demand that the Committee pursue a balanced deficit reduction package, where any entitlement reforms are coupled with revenue-raising tax reform that asks for the most fortunate Americans to sacrifice.
  • The Enforcement Mechanism Complements the Forcing Event Already In Law – the Expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts – To Create Pressure for a Balanced Deal: The Bush tax cuts expire as of 1/1/2013, the same date that the spending sequester would go into effect. These two events together will force balanced deficit reduction. Absent a balanced deal, it would enable the President to use his veto pen to ensure nearly $1 trillion in additional deficit reduction by not extending the high-income tax cuts.
  • In Securing this Bipartisan Deal, the President Rejected Proposals that Would Have Placed the Sole Burden of Deficit Reduction on Low-Income or Middle-Class Families: The President stood firmly against proposals that would have placed the sole burden of deficit reduction on lower-income and middle-class families. This includes not only proposals in the House Republican Budget that would have undermined the core commitments of Medicare to our seniors and forced tens of millions of low-income Americans to go without health insurance, but also enforcement mechanisms that would have forced automatic cuts to low-income programs. The enforcement mechanism in the deal exempts Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare benefits, unemployment insurance, programs for low-income families, and civilian and military retirement.

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Filed under bipartisanship, budget deal, debt ceiling, debt deal, debt limit, deficit reduction, economy, fiscal crisis, Frank Pallone, President Obama, Rush Holt, shared sacrifice, Tea Party, the White House

>President Obama’s Weekly Address 5/28/11: Vice-President Biden on the American Auto Comeback

>Vice President Joe Biden delivers the Weekly Address, celebrating the success of the American auto industry in the wake of Chrysler paying back their loans.

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Filed under Auto Industry, auto industry bailout, Chrysler, General Motors, President Obama, repayment of loans, the White House, Vice-President Joe Biden, weekly address

>White House says N.J. benefits from proposed tax cuts

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I posted the following just for some balance to offset the argument of the previous post.

From Tom Hester Jr. @ NewJerseyNewsroom.com
12/15/10

New Jersey stands to benefit if the House acts quickly on a bipartisan package that extends unemployment benefits and tax cuts, White House officials said Wednesday.

As many 4.7 million New Jerseyans would see more money in their paychecks because of the proposed 2 percent payroll tax cut. If the legislation is not approved, a typical working family faced a tax increase of over $3,000 on Jan. 1.

At least 321,774 New Jerseyans who have been jobless for an extended period would continue to receive jobless benefits under the legislation. If the package is not approved, the jobless benefits would end in the weeks ahead.

The package also includes an extension of the American Opportunity tax credit, which was used by 281,000 New Jersey families last year to help pay for college tuition.

Additional tax cuts in the legislation that also are geared at middle-class families include the Earned Income Tax Credit, designed to help families to climb out of poverty, and the Child Tax Credit extension, that would make sure families don’t see their taxes jump by up to $1,000 for every child.

“This tax cut plan, while not perfect, will help to grow our economy and create jobs in the private sector,” President Obama said. “It will help to lift up middle class families, who will no longer need to worry about a New Year’s Day tax hike. It will offer emergency relief to help tide folks over until they find another job. And it includes tax cuts to make college more affordable; help parents to provide for their children; and help businesses, large and small, to expand and hire. We worked hard to negotiate an agreement that’s a win for middle-class families, and a win for our economy, and we can’t afford to let it fall victim to delay and defeat. So, I urge Members of Congress to pass these tax cuts as swiftly as possible.”

White House officials described the proposals as responsible, temporary measures designed to support the national economy that will not add costs by the middle of the decade. Obama does not believe it is affordable to make the high-income tax cuts permanent and will continue to make his case for why the administration cannot extend these measures beyond 2012.

The Senate voted 81-19 in favor of the bipartisan tax cut package Wednesday afternoon. It now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Filed under Bush Tax Cuts, New Jersey, New Jersey Newsroom, President Obama, tax cuts, the White House, Tom Hester

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

Video: President Obama on the Final March for Reform

President Obama calls on supporters to help finish the fight for health reform.

Giving Peace of Mind Back to the American People
Posted by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on March 04, 2010 at 05:53 PM EST

The urgency of health reform couldn’t be more clear.

Across the country, working families have been saddled with huge rate increase in their health insurance premiums. In California, consumers were informed of rate hikes as high as 39 percent, and in Michigan, insurers sought a 56 percent increase and this is happening across the country.

This is unacceptable, particularly at a time when families are struggling to make ends meet and the largest insurers took in more than $12 billion in profits last year alone. The American people want to understand why their premiums are skyrocketing while some companies are doing well. And they deserve a clear and accurate explanation.

I just got out of a meeting where I asked leaders from big insurance companies for answers. I hosted a discussion with the CEOs of UnitedHealth Group Inc., WellPoint Inc., Aetna Inc., Health Care Service Corporation and CIGNA HealthCare Inc., along with leaders from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. I asked them to explain why these crushing burdens are being placed on middle-class families and what we can do to lower costs.

I also asked the CEOs to post the actuarial justification for these stunning rate increases online in an easy-to-understand manner, so that consumers can see why premiums are skyrocketing to the point that some people in the individual market can no longer afford coverage. I hope they will act quickly and make this information available to all of us. If insurance companies are going to raise rates, the least they can do is tell us why.

President Barack Obama reads a letter he received from Natoma Canfield of Medina, Ohio, during a meeting with insurance company executives hosted by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in the Roosevelt Room of the White House March 4, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

But families deserve more. They need to know how we can prevent these increases from happening in the future. Families want to be responsible and buy health insurance. They’re willing to pay a fair price. They understand that health care is not cheap.

But they don’t want to be afraid every time they open a letter from their insurer that their premiums are going up $7,000 a year. Or that their application has been rejected because they take a medicine for high blood pressure. Or that their insurance is being cancelled because of a mistake on their paperwork.

The point of health insurance is to give people peace of mind, and they’re not getting it. The system we have is failing them.

President Obama has offered a health insurance reform proposal to help working families and small business owners. It will hold insurance companies accountable by laying out common-sense rules of the road to keep premiums down, prevent insurance industry abuses and outlaw discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Reform also includes key provisions that will protect consumers from unjustified premium increases. Building upon existing state practices, the President’s plan includes a new Federal authority to force insurers to justify their rate increases, provide additional support for states that already do rate reviews, and help those states that don’t currently review increases on their own.

Right now, in 21 states, insurance companies can raise rates without any oversight, no questions asked, and consumers suffer. Reform will change the rules and help stop exorbitant increases.

And the President’s plan will help reduce costs and require insurance companies to dedicate more of the premiums dollars they collect to actual care instead of profits, CEO salaries and advertising. If they don’t spend enough on actual care, they’ll be required to send rebate checks to consumers.

Comprehensive reform is a necessary step to fix our broken health insurance market. Holding the insurance industry accountable is one step in that direction.

Kathleen Sebelius is Secretary of Health and Human Services

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Filed under Department of Health and Human Services, health care reform, Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama, the White House

President Obama on Health Reform: "I am not going to walk away just because it’s hard."

The White House Blog
January 22, 2010

President Obama made it clear to an enthusiastic crowd in Ohio today that he is not giving up the fight for health reform that protects consumers from insurance company abuses, lowers costs and help businesses and families around this country.

I didn’t take up this issue to boost my poll numbers or score political points – believe me, if I were, I would have picked something a lot easier than this. No, I’m trying to solve the problems that folks here in Elyria and across this country face every day. And I am not going to walk away just because it’s hard. We’re going to keep on working to get this done with Democrats, Republicans – anyone who is willing to step up. Because I am not going to watch more people get crushed by costs, or denied the care they need by insurance company bureaucrats, or partisan politics, or special interest power in Washington.

The President told the crowd that he is working closely with Congress to complete work on reform that will bring security and stability to Americans who have insurance and provide affordable options to those who don’t. After 70 years of effort, we are closer than we have ever been to achieving these goals. We will not stop now.

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Filed under health care reform, Ohio, President Obama, the White House

President Obama’s Weekly Address: 1/9/10 Health Reform’s Benefits in 2010

The President discusses the benefits of health reform that Americans will receive in the first year, and how reform will help build a new foundation for American families.

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Filed under health care reform, President Obama, the White House, weekly address