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President Obama: Keeping Promises (Weekly Address)

Sunday, March 01, 2009


2/28/09: Your Weekly Address from White House on Vimeo

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Saturday, February 28th, 2009
Washington, DC

Two years ago, we set out on a journey to change the way that Washington works.

We sought a government that served not the interests of powerful lobbyists or the wealthiest few, but the middle-class Americans I met every day in every community along the campaign trail – responsible men and women who are working harder than ever, worrying about their jobs, and struggling to raise their families. In so many town halls and backyards, they spoke of their hopes for a government that finally confronts the challenges that their families face every day; a government that treats their tax dollars as responsibly as they treat their own hard-earned paychecks.

That is the change I promised as a candidate for president. It is the change the American people voted for in November. And it is the change represented by the budget I sent to Congress this week.

During the campaign, I promised a fair and balanced tax code that would cut taxes for 95% of working Americans, roll back the tax breaks for those making over $250,000 a year, and end the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas. This budget does that.

I promised an economy run on clean, renewable energy that will create new American jobs, new American industries, and free us from the dangerous grip of foreign oil. This budget puts us on that path, through a market-based cap on carbon pollution that will make renewable energy the profitable kind of energy; through investments in wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient American cars and American trucks.

I promised to bring down the crushing cost of health care – a cost that bankrupts one American every thirty seconds, forces small businesses to close their doors, and saddles our government with more debt. This budget keeps that promise, with a historic commitment to reform that will lead to lower costs and quality, affordable health care for every American.

I promised an education system that will prepare every American to compete, so Americans can win in a global economy. This budget will help us meet that goal, with new incentives for teacher performance and pathways for advancement; new tax credits that will make college more affordable for all who want to go; and new support to ensure that those who do go finish their degree.

This budget also reflects the stark reality of what we’ve inherited – a trillion dollar deficit, a financial crisis, and a costly recession. Given this reality, we’ll have to be more vigilant than ever in eliminating the programs we don’t need in order to make room for the investments we do need. I promised to do this by going through the federal budget page by page, and line by line. That is a process we have already begun, and I am pleased to say that we’ve already identified two trillion dollars worth of deficit-reductions over the next decade. We’ve also restored a sense of honesty and transparency to our budget, which is why this one accounts for spending that was hidden or left out under the old rules.

I realize that passing this budget won’t be easy. Because it represents real and dramatic change, it also represents a threat to the status quo in Washington. I know that the insurance industry won’t like the idea that they’ll have to bid competitively to continue offering Medicare coverage, but that’s how we’ll help preserve and protect Medicare and lower health care costs for American families. I know that banks and big student lenders won’t like the idea that we’re ending their huge taxpayer subsidies, but that’s how we’ll save taxpayers nearly $50 billion and make college more affordable. I know that oil and gas companies won’t like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks, but that’s how we’ll help fund a renewable energy economy that will create new jobs and new industries. In other words, I know these steps won’t sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they’re gearing up for a fight as we speak. My message to them is this:

So am I.

The system we have now might work for the powerful and well-connected interests that have run Washington for far too long, but I don’t. I work for the American people. I didn’t come here to do the same thing we’ve been doing or to take small steps forward, I came to provide the sweeping change that this country demanded when it went to the polls in November. That is the change this budget starts to make, and that is the change I’ll be fighting for in the weeks ahead – change that will grow our economy, expand our middle-class, and keep the American Dream alive for all those men and women who have believed in this journey from the day it began.

Thanks for listening.

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Combative Obama vows to fight for his budget

I really hope that President Obama and Sen. Harry Reid tell these Republicants to sit down, and shut the 'f' up!

By Reuters via The Financial Times

WASHINGTON, Feb 28 - A combative President Barack Obama warned on Saturday he was bracing for a fight against powerful lobbyists and special interests who sought to pick apart the $3,550bn budget he wants to advance his agenda of reform.

Mr Obama’s spending blueprint, with its massive $1,170bn deficit and tax hikes on the wealthy, seeks to squeeze billions of dollars in savings out of current spending through competitive bidding among health insurers and ending subsidies and tax breaks for banks, agribusiness and oil companies.

”These steps won’t sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business,” the president said in his weekly radio address.

”I know they’re gearing up for a fight as we speak,” he said. ”My message to them is this: So am I.”

Republicans, in their radio response, warned that Democratic spending priorities threaten to destroy the American dream that hard work can build a better life for each successive generation of citizens.

”This week, the president submitted to Congress the single largest increase in federal spending in the history of the United States, while driving the deficit to levels that were once thought impossible,” said Senator Richard Burr....(Click for remainder).

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Obama's VA Budget Proposal Aims to Eliminate Benefits Claims Backlog

By Jason Leopold
The Public Record


President Barack Obama took bold steps this week to repair the damage his predecessor George W. Bush left at the Department of Veterans Affairs, proposing a sharp increase to the agency's budget and introducing new initiatives to deal with a massive backlog in benefits claims.

At the same time, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced they would convene an emergency meeting to address the spike in suicides among active-duty soldiers.

Under the Bush administration, the VA suffered through massive budget shortfalls--$1 billion in 2005 alone-- due, in part, to Bush’s political cronies who downplayed the agency’s financial needs and failed to take into account the costs associated with treating veterans injured in Afghanistan and Iraq. Previous GAO reports found that the VA used controversial accounting during the height of the Iraq war to justify cuts to veteran’s healthcare enacted by the Bush administration.

Last month, the Government Accountability Office released a little known report that said VA officials, in the last days of the Bush administration, continued to lowball their budget estimates to Congress to keep spending down.

"VA's use, without explanation, of cost assumptions and a workload projection that appear unrealistic raises questions about both the reliability of VA's spending estimates and the extent to which VA is closing previously identified gaps in noninstitutional long-term care services," according to the GAO report released in late January.

The GAO concluded that in the final days of the Bush administration VA underestimated its 2009 budget for nursing home care by about $112 million and misleads Congress about treating veterans in hospices by $144 million.

But Obama’s appointees have begun the process of repairing the damage.

In his fiscal year 2010 budget unveiled Thursday, Obama proposed a 15 percent increase to VA’s budget, from $97.7 billion this fiscal year to $112.8 billion for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2009 on top of the $1.4 billion already set aside for VA projects in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009....(Click for remainder).

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Anti-Gay Idiot Dobson Steps Down From Pseudo-Christian Group

By Eric Gorski
Associate Press via PageOneQ


Conservative evangelical leader James Dobson has resigned as chairman of Focus on the Family but will continue to play a prominent role at the organization he founded more than three decades ago.

Dobson notified the board of his decision Wednesday, and the 950 employees of the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based ministry were informed Friday morning at a monthly worship service, said Jim Daly, the group's president and chief executive officer.

Dobson, 72, will continue to host Focus on the Family's flagship radio program, write a monthly newsletter and speak out on moral issues, Daly said.

Dobson's resignation as board chairman "lessens his administrative burden" and is the latest step in a succession plan, the group said. Dobson began relinquishing control six years ago by stepping down as president and CEO.

"One of the common errors of founder-presidents is to hold to the reins of leadership too long, thereby preventing the next generation from being prepared for executive authority," Dobson said in a statement. "... Though letting go is difficult after three decades of intensive labor, it is the wise thing to do."...(Click for remainder).

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These bankers are lucky that they are not going to jail

The government has been too timid about confronting these failed financiers. It's time that it showed some teeth.

By Andrew Rawnsley
The Observer


Assuming it is out of the question to hang, draw and quarter Sir Fred Goodwin, pluck out his intestines while they are still warm and wriggling, stuff them into his greedy mouth and then display his severed head on a spike at the Tower of London, could we settle for shooting him instead? Yes, I know, I'm going soft.

Not as soft, mind you, as the politicians who merely condemn him. Gordon Brown calls it "unjustifiable and unacceptable" that the man who led RBS to ruin should refuse to give up a pension worth in excess of £650,000 a year. Peter Mandelson today escalates the government's outrage. In my interview with the business secretary for the Observer, he calls Sir Fred "obscene". Trouble is that I doubt being told that he is an obscenity, even when the name-caller is such a grandee as Lord Mandelson, will cause Fred the Shred to lose much sleep. If Sir Fred had a pound for every time he has been called something rude, he'd be ... well, he'd be as ludicrously rich as he already is.

Politicians can use whatever adjectives they like to deplore this banker and his wretched ilk for demanding gargantuan rewards for abject failures. The issue is, what is to be done about it? Bankers are hated by the voters, universally pilloried in the media and their excesses have been condemned by every political party from the SWP to the BNP and all points between. And yet still they don't give a damn....(Click for remainder).

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Franklin Delano Obama

By Nicholas D. Kristof
The New York Times


Most presidents are tacticians, but President Obama is a strategist. His budget suggests that he aspires to be an echo of Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, harnessing his charisma, vision and political capital to transport America to a different place.

The best measure of that is Mr. Obama’s “down payment” to move closer to universal health coverage from womb to tomb. That is something that Roosevelt also sought, a lifetime ago.

The absurd system of health coverage we now have is a historical accident from World War II. Because of wage controls, employers competed for workers by offering health insurance as a fringe benefit — and so we’re stuck today with a system in which the loss of a job is compounded by the loss of health insurance.

Titanic ambitions encounter titanic opposition, and opponents of health reform are already rehearsing the arguments that they successfully used in the past:

We have the best health care in the world, and you want to create a socialized bureaucracy? You want to wait months for a necessary operation, as in Canada? And you really want higher taxes to pay for this, stifling the economy and undermining our long-term competitiveness?...(Click for remainder).

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Governor Of Kansas Tapped to Lead HHS

All-in-all I think that this is a pretty good choice. I've heard Gov. Sebelius speak before, and she seems like a Progressive.

By Michael A. Fletcher and Ceci Connolly
The Washington Post


Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius yesterday accepted President Obama's request to become his secretary of health and human services, stepping into a central role in the new administration's ambitious effort to overhaul the nation's health-care system.

Sebelius's nomination comes just days before the White House is scheduled to convene a summit on health reform, an early step in the president's bold plan to vastly expand the reach of the health-care system. A formal announcement of her nomination is scheduled for tomorrow.

The summit, which is expected to be the first in a series of open meetings across the country, is intended to spotlight the challenges presented by the nation's balkanized health-care system -- including soaring costs and gaping holes in coverage. It is also aimed at rallying public support for an overhaul certain to draw ideological and industry opposition. The health session, similar to last week's "fiscal responsibility" summit, will open with remarks by Obama. Participants will then split into working groups led by administration officials....(Click for remainder).

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