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Should America be focusing on Deficit, Jobs, or Both

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Guest DCpages Staff   
Guest DCpages Staff

According to a new CNN Poll Interviews with 1,038 adult Americans conducted by telephone

by ORC International on September 9-11, 2011.

 

If you had to choose, would you rather see Barack Obama and Congress pay more attention to reducing the budget deficit, or more attention to creating more jobs?

 

Deficit 29%

Jobs 65%

Both equally (vol.) 6%

 

The margin of sampling error for results based on the total sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points. The sample also includes 943 interviews among registered voters (plus or minus 3 percentage points).

 

http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/09/13/rel15d.pdf

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Guest DCpages Staff   
Guest DCpages Staff

According to The Bloomberg National Poll, conducted Sep 9-12 for Bloomberg News by

Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, IA, based on interviews with 997 U.S. adults ages 18 or older.

 

Which of the following do you see as the most important issue facing the country right now?

(Read list. Rotate.) Ranked.

 

46% Unemployment and jobs

18% Government spending

12% The federal deficit

10% Health care

5% The war in Afghanistan

3% Immigration

2% Taxes

4% Other

 

The margin of sampling error for results based on the total sample is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Some questions included an oversample of 205 self-identified Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

 

http://media.bloomberg.com/bb/avfile/rcBTdobXyUWg

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Guest LAW   
Guest LAW

Like the rest of America, our president believes we can do both.

 

Remarks by the President on Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction

 

Rose Garden

 

10:56 A.M. EDT

 

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. Please have a seat.

 

A week ago today, I sent Congress the American Jobs Act. It’s a plan that will lead to new jobs for teachers, for construction workers, for veterans, and for the unemployed. It will cut taxes for every small business owner and virtually every working man and woman in America. And the proposals in this jobs bill are the kinds that have been supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past. So there shouldn’t be any reason for Congress to drag its feet. They should pass it right away. I'm ready to sign a bill. I've got the pens all ready.

 

Now, as I said before, Congress should pass this bill knowing that every proposal is fully paid for. The American Jobs Act will not add to our nation’s debt. And today, I’m releasing a plan that details how to pay for the jobs bill while also paying down our debt over time.

 

And this is important, because the health of our economy depends in part on what we do right now to create the conditions where businesses can hire and middle-class families can feel a basic measure of economic security. But in the long run, our prosperity also depends on our ability to pay down the massive debt we’ve accumulated over the past decade in a way that allows us to meet our responsibilities to each other and to the future.

 

During this past decade, profligate spending in Washington, tax cuts for multi-millionaires and billionaires, the cost of two wars, and the recession turned a record surplus into a yawning deficit, and that left us with a big pile of IOUs. If we don’t act, that burden will ultimately fall on our children’s shoulders. If we don’t act, the growing debt will eventually crowd out everything else, preventing us from investing in things like education, or sustaining programs like Medicare.

 

So Washington has to live within its means. The government has to do what families across this country have been doing for years. We have to cut what we can’t afford to pay for what really matters. We need to invest in what will promote hiring and economic growth now while still providing the confidence that will come with a plan that reduces our deficits over the long-term.

 

These principles were at the heart of the deficit framework that I put forward in April. It was an approach to shrink the deficit as a share of the economy, but not to do so so abruptly with spending cuts that would hamper growth or prevent us from helping small businesses and middle-class families get back on their feet.

 

It was an approach that said we need to go through the budget line-by-line looking for waste, without shortchanging education and basic scientific research and road construction, because those things are essential to our future. And it was an approach that said we shouldn't balance the budget on the backs of the poor and the middle class; that for us to solve this problem, everybody, including the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations, have to pay their fair share.

 

Now, during the debt ceiling debate, I had hoped to negotiate a compromise with the Speaker of the House that fulfilled these principles and achieved the $4 trillion in deficit reduction that leaders in both parties have agreed we need -- a grand bargain that would have strengthened our economy, instead of weakened it. Unfortunately, the Speaker walked away from a balanced package. What we agreed to instead wasn’t all that grand. But it was a start -- roughly $1 trillion in cuts to domestic spending and defense spending.

 

Everyone knows we have to do more, and a special joint committee of Congress is assigned to find more deficit reduction. So, today, I’m laying out a set of specific proposals to finish what we started this summer -- proposals that live up to the principles I’ve talked about from the beginning. It’s a plan that reduces our debt by more than $4 trillion, and achieves these savings in a way that is fair -- by asking everybody to do their part so that no one has to bear too much of the burden on their own.

 

All told, this plan cuts $2 in spending for every dollar in new revenues. In addition to the $1 trillion in spending that we’ve already cut from the budget, our plan makes additional spending cuts that need to happen if we’re to solve this problem. We reform agricultural subsidies -- subsidies that a lot of times pay large farms for crops that they don't grow. We make modest adjustments to federal retirement programs. We reduce by tens of billions of dollars the tax money that goes to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We also ask the largest financial firms -- companies saved by tax dollars during the financial crisis -- to repay the American people for every dime that we spent. And we save an additional $1 trillion as we end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

These savings are not only counted as part of our plan, but as part of the budget plan that nearly every Republican on the House voted for.

 

Finally, this plan includes structural reforms to reduce the cost of health care in programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Keep in mind we've already included a number of reforms in the health care law, which will go a long way towards controlling these costs. But we're going to have to do a little more. This plan reduces wasteful subsidies and erroneous payments while changing some incentives that often lead to excessive health care costs. It makes prescriptions more affordable through faster approval of generic drugs. We’ll work with governors to make Medicaid more efficient and more accountable. And we’ll change the way we pay for health care. Instead of just paying for procedures, providers will be paid more when they improve results -- and such steps will save money and improve care.

These changes are phased in slowly to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid over time. Because while we do need to reduce health care costs, I’m not going to allow that to be an excuse for turning Medicare into a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry. And I'm not going to stand for balancing the budget by denying or reducing health care for poor children or those with disabilities. So we will reform Medicare and Medicaid, but we will not abandon the fundamental commitment that this country has kept for generations.

 

And by the way, that includes our commitment to Social Security. I've said before, Social Security is not the primary cause of our deficits, but it does face long-term challenges as our country grows older. And both parties are going to need to work together on a separate track to strengthen Social Security for our children and our grandchildren.

 

So this is how we can reduce spending: by scouring the budget for every dime of waste and inefficiency, by reforming government spending, and by making modest adjustments to Medicare and Medicaid. But all these reductions in spending, by themselves, will not solve our fiscal problems. We can’t just cut our way out of this hole. It’s going to take a balanced approach. If we’re going to make spending cuts -- many of which we wouldn’t make if we weren’t facing such large budget deficits -- then it’s only right that we ask everyone to pay their fair share.

 

You know, last week, Speaker of the House John Boehner gave a speech about the economy. And to his credit, he made the point that we can’t afford the kind of politics that says it’s “my way or the highway.” I was encouraged by that. Here’s the problem: In that same speech, he also came out against any plan to cut the deficit that includes any additional revenues whatsoever. He said -- I'm quoting him -- there is “only one option.” And that option and only option relies entirely on cuts. That means slashing education, surrendering the research necessary to keep America’s technological edge in the 21st century, and allowing our critical public assets like highways and bridges and airports to get worse. It would cripple our competiveness and our ability to win the jobs of the future. And it would also mean asking sacrifice of seniors and the middle class and the poor, while asking nothing of the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations.

 

So the Speaker says we can’t have it "my way or the highway," and then basically says, my way -- or the highway. (Laughter.) That’s not smart. It’s not right. If we’re going to meet our responsibilities, we have to do it together.

 

Now, I’m proposing real, serious cuts in spending. When you include the $1 trillion in cuts I’ve already signed into law, these would be among the biggest cuts in spending in our history. But they’ve got to be part of a larger plan that’s balanced –- a plan that asks the most fortunate among us to pay their fair share, just like everybody else.

 

And that’s why this plan eliminates tax loopholes that primarily go to the wealthiest taxpayers and biggest corporations –- tax breaks that small businesses and middle-class families don’t get. And if tax reform doesn't get done, this plan asks the wealthiest Americans to go back to paying the same rates that they paid during the 1990s, before the Bush tax cuts.

 

I promise it’s not because anybody looks forward to the prospects of raising taxes or paying more taxes. I don’t. In fact, I’ve cut taxes for the middle class and for small businesses, and through the American Jobs Act, we’d cut taxes again to promote hiring and put more money into the pockets of people. But we can’t afford these special lower rates for the wealthy -– rates, by the way, that were meant to be temporary. Back when these first -- these tax cuts, back in 2001, 2003, were being talked about, they were talked about temporary measures. We can’t afford them when we’re running these big deficits.

 

Now, I am also ready to work with Democrats and Republicans to reform our entire tax code, to get rid of the decades of accumulated loopholes, special interest carve-outs, and other tax expenditures that stack the deck against small business owners and ordinary families who can’t afford Washington lobbyists or fancy accountants. Our tax code is more than 10,000 pages long. If you stack up all the volumes, they’re almost five feet tall. That means that how much you pay often depends less on what you make and more on how well you can game the system, and that's especially true of the corporate tax code.

 

We’ve got one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, but it’s riddled with exceptions and special interest loopholes. So some companies get out paying a lot of taxes, while the rest of them end up having to foot the bill. And this makes our entire economy less competitive and our country a less desirable place to do business.

 

That has to change. Our tax code shouldn’t give an advantage to companies with the best-connected lobbyists. It should give an advantage to companies that invest in the United States of America and create jobs in the United States of America. And we can lower the corporate rate if we get rid of all these special deals.

 

So I am ready, I am eager, to work with Democrats and Republicans to reform the tax code to make it simpler, make it fairer, and make America more competitive. But any reform plan will have to raise revenue to help close our deficit. That has to be part of the formula. And any reform should follow another simple principle: Middle-class families shouldn’t pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires. That’s pretty straightforward. It’s hard to argue against that. Warren Buffett’s secretary shouldn’t pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett. There is no justification for it.

 

It is wrong that in the United States of America, a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker who earns $50,000 should pay higher tax rates than somebody pulling in $50 million. Anybody who says we can’t change the tax code to correct that, anyone who has signed some pledge to protect every single tax loophole so long as they live, they should be called out. They should have to defend that unfairness -- explain why somebody who's making $50 million a year in the financial markets should be paying 15 percent on their taxes, when a teacher making $50,000 a year is paying more than that -- paying a higher rate. They ought to have to answer for it. And if they’re pledged to keep that kind of unfairness in place, they should remember, the last time I checked the only pledge that really matters is the pledge we take to uphold the Constitution.

 

Now, we’re already hearing the usual defenders of these kinds of loopholes saying this is just “class warfare.” I reject the idea that asking a hedge fund manager to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or a teacher is class warfare. I think it’s just the right the thing to do. I believe the American middle class, who've been pressured relentlessly for decades, believe it’s time that they were fought for as hard as the lobbyists and some lawmakers have fought to protect special treatment for billionaires and big corporations.

 

Nobody wants to punish success in America. What’s great about this country is our belief that anyone can make it and everybody should be able to try -– the idea that any one of us can open a business or have an idea and make us millionaires or billionaires. This is the land of opportunity. That’s great. All I’m saying is that those who have done well, including me, should pay our fair share in taxes to contribute to the nation that made our success possible. We shouldn’t get a better deal than ordinary families get. And I think most wealthy Americans would agree if they knew this would help us grow the economy and deal with the debt that threatens our future.

 

It comes down to this: We have to prioritize. Both parties agree that we need to reduce the deficit by the same amount -- by $4 trillion. So what choices are we going to make to reach that goal? Either we ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share in taxes, or we’re going to have to ask seniors to pay more for Medicare. We can’t afford to do both.

 

Either we gut education and medical research, or we’ve got to reform the tax code so that the most profitable corporations have to give up tax loopholes that other companies don’t get. We can’t afford to do both.

 

This is not class warfare. It’s math. (Laughter.) The money is going to have to come from someplace. And if we’re not willing to ask those who've done extraordinarily well to help America close the deficit and we are trying to reach that same target of $4 trillion, then the logic, the math says everybody else has to do a whole lot more: We’ve got to put the entire burden on the middle class and the poor. We’ve got to scale back on the investments that have always helped our economy grow. We’ve got to settle for second-rate roads and second-rate bridges and second-rate airports, and schools that are crumbling.

 

That’s unacceptable to me. That’s unacceptable to the American people. And it will not happen on my watch. I will not support -- I will not support -- any plan that puts all the burden for closing our deficit on ordinary Americans. And I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share. We are not going to have a one-sided deal that hurts the folks who are most vulnerable.

 

None of the changes I’m proposing are easy or politically convenient. It’s always more popular to promise the moon and leave the bill for after the next election or the election after that. That’s been true since our founding. George Washington grappled with this problem. He said, “Towards the payment of debts, there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; [and] no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant.” He understood that dealing with the debt is -- these are his words -- “always a choice of difficulties.” But he also knew that public servants weren’t elected to do what was easy; they weren’t elected to do what was politically advantageous. It’s our responsibility to put country before party. It’s our responsibility to do what’s right for the future.

 

And that’s what this debate is about. It’s not about numbers on a ledger; it’s not about figures on a spreadsheet. It’s about the economic future of this country, and it’s about whether we will do what it takes to create jobs and growth and opportunity while facing up to the legacy of debt that threatens everything we’ve built over generations.

 

And it’s also about fairness. It’s about whether we are, in fact, in this together, and we’re looking out for one another. We know what’s right. It’s time to do what’s right.

 

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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Guest LAW   
Guest LAW

Earlier this week, President Obama put forward a balanced approach to how we can reduce the deficit, grow the economy, and create jobs. Democrats are united behind the President. We appreciate his balanced approach to this and look forward to working with him on it.

 

As you know, last week we stood on the steps of the Capitol, united in the support of the American Jobs Act, asking Congress to pass that bill. The combination of the two, a job creating bill and a balanced approach to how we reduce the deficit, we think are what…is the way we should go and the way that that table of 12 should go.

 

What are we calling it? The Supercommittee? Is there any shorthand way that we reference the table of 12? It doesn't have a nickname? You know what I mean?

 

Yesterday the House in a bipartisan way rejected a bill that would be job destroying, not job creating. Don't take my word for it. Both the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers have written to Congress to oppose the Republican efforts in the CR to cut job creating initiatives putting Americans to work, promoting cleaner, more efficient American cars. If you haven't seen these letters, I'm sure we can make them available to you, one from the Chamber of Commerce, one from the National Association of Manufacturers.

 

As you know, we talk about the ABCs. American made. Made in America. “Make It In America,” as Mr. Hoyer would say. Very important. Stop the erosion of our industrial and manufacturing base.

 

B, build the infrastructure of America. Do so in a green way which creates good paying, green jobs for the future. Today the President is focusing on the infrastructure. So are our Members. It's always been part of how we would create jobs and keep America number one. C, community recovery. We've talked about that before. So important now in this time of natural disaster.

 

I've said that in order to do that, we have to have a strong public sector. The education of our children, the safety of our neighborhoods, etc. We also have to have a strong private sector. And we believe that the route to economic security, economic growth, personal success for American workers is our investments in small businesses.

 

We're so glad that the President placed an emphasis on small business in his remarks on Monday, and our Members stand ready to go home and continue the conversations they have been having with small businesses in their districts; to talk to them about availability of credit, availability of trained workforce, customers…that would be a big thing…to help small businesses strengthen and to grow. And also there to talk about creating small businesses as well.

 

Another part of that is…what the President mentioned was faster pay from the Federal Government for those who have government contracts. But we also believe that the SBA and many of its initiatives, whether it's mentoring, whether it's SBIR, any of those entities, the Department of Commerce to help with exports for these small businesses, whatever agencies of government that contract or can help small businesses grow, we want to make that link.

 

That's what Members will be spending a good deal of time next week when they go home to their districts. Many of them have models that they are sharing with their colleagues about how…I always say by air, by sea…one if by land, one if by sea. This is one if by air, cyberspace teleconferencing with small businesses in their offices in the communities around a roundtable, or going door to door listening one at a time to what small businesses have to say about all of this.

 

So we are very excited about that prospect, and it comes at this time. The President has made it…we have been talking about it for a very long time. The President made it a priority in his proposal. At some point soon the table of 12 will be talking about initiatives to grow the economy, reduce the deficit, create jobs, and we want a small business to be a central piece of it. We need to be that innovation, and we want it to be about an entrepreneurial spirit in our country.

 

So we, as you, are eagerly awaiting to see what the rest of the day's schedule will be here. In the meantime, I would be pleased to take any questions.

 

Q: Madam Leader, you have expressed concerns about the openness of the table of 12 in the past. They had a meeting today, another kind of informational kind of hearing. But in between those hearings, they have had some basically closed meetings among themselves, informal gatherings, I guess they are calling them. To what extent do you think that violates that spirit of openness and transparency that you expressed concerns about?

 

Leader Pelosi. It's always, let's look to results. What we want to make sure is that the American people know how these decision are being made by the table of…by the Supercommittee, for lack of a better name right now, and what the debate is around them.

 

I can see a scenario where they may need to have some conversations about what hearings they are going to have and this or that, but I think that should be kept to a minimum. I think it's important for the members of the committee to hear from the outside, whether it's the Simpson-Bowles, and Rivlin-Domenici, the Gang of Six, whatever the entity is, in a very public way. I think if there is a rejection of hearing from, for example, the mayors, and that was — I met with yesterday or the day before, the Conference of Mayors said, could we go before the committee? And I said, well, you are just going to have to ask them. How they make those decisions I think is very important to the American people.

 

But I don't think it means that they can never have a meeting where they plan how they go forward, but, as I said, kept to a minimum, not where any decisions are made that will affect achieving a balanced plan, as President Obama has called for.

 

Q: A group of about a dozen Senate Democrats say they want CBO to evaluate the Supercommittee's plan, their product, on job creation terms; that it should create jobs or at the very least not reduce employment by a net amount. Do you agree is that a good idea?

 

Leader Pelosi. Well, I think it is a good idea. The committee puts its rules together in a bipartisan way, and I was very proud of our House Democrats. I assume they were joined by the Senate, but I know that it was a priority for the House Democrats to go—in the writing of the rules to say that as they made judgments as to how these initiatives would reduce the deficit, that they should also demonstrate how each initiative would create jobs or not.

 

The word that was insisted upon to get it in the language was when it talked about a measure of how many jobs are created, where applicable…oh, no, no…practical? Some word like that. You will have to look it up. It had a little qualification on it.

 

What the possibility is of taking every initiative and passing it through the CBO for its job creating potential I think is a great idea. I don't know why anybody would want to make a judgment without that evaluation, especially at this time, because this table has to be quite different from any table that people have come to before because the situation is so urgent. And it is important that, again, it be about innovation and entrepreneurial spirit and not just the same old same old, what do you cut, and who pays for it and that. It has got to have a positive initiative about the future.

 

Q: Madam Leader, it seems the Republicans are coming up with a new strategy for their CR. Is there any type of offset that would be acceptable to the House Democratic Caucus?

 

Leader Pelosi. As we made our point yesterday, we believe that we should not go down a different path now than we have done on natural disaster assistance. That's why we fought so hard against what the Republicans put forth. They were going down a different path. On top of that, we didn't like the offset because it was a job killer. And as I say, taking it out of the plan that the Republicans put forth is supported by the National Association of Manufacturers and the Chamber of Commerce.

 

So my hope is that they will come out so we can resolve it. Assistance in the time of a natural disaster should not be a controversial issue. It hasn't been before. We all rally round. These people are not Democrats or Republicans or people who believe in a big role of government, small role of government. Americans have been hit hard. It's very hard to see how they will be made whole. We should remove all doubt that we will be there in a timely fashion and that we're not going to balance the budget on the backs of people who have already been hit by a disaster.

 

So, no.

 

Q: If Republicans go in an opposite direction…

 

Leader Pelosi. I'm sorry; I thought we were here. Then I will come there, and then I'll come there.

 

Q: Two things are going on. I know that you and many Democrats are opposed to any offsets, but at the same time my understanding is you don't want to see the government shut down. So the Republican leadership, in order to push this through, they are trying to thread the needle, as you well know when you were Speaker is what you have to do. Is there a scenario you could support an alternate offset in order to avoid the government shutting down?

 

Leader Pelosi. I think I answered that question. There has never been an offset for disaster assistance. You heard the distinguished chairman of the Appropriations Committee Mr. Rogers say: Oh, we have done this with emergencies all the time. It's a different word. There are many emergencies. A natural disaster is something else where people are directly hit. Immediately they want to see how we are going to be there for them. We want to remove all doubt that the funds are there without…what offset is next? What offset is next?

 

So especially when they went down the path that they did, they did the world a favor in the disfavor that they were proceeding on because they made it so egregious. It was like, well, this is creating tens of thousands of jobs at a time when jobs are needed, and now you are going to blunt the effectiveness of this initiative.

 

And let me just say this, because this isn't about paying for a disaster. They have said in my conversations with them, well, we want to pay for it. It is going to have to be paid for. That is not the complete story. This has been a very successful initiative. It's something that's very important to our competitiveness and our innovation in our own country. It has worked. The National Association of Manufacturers, Chamber of Commerce and others.

 

So billions of dollars have been used for this. There is a billion and a half dollars left in the till. People are waiting to qualify for loans. They take a billion of it to pay for the disaster, and they take a half a billion of it and rescind it. It was clear to us that this wasn't about paying for disaster; this was about destroying any initiative that is job creating.

 

Why would you take a half a billion dollars out of an initiative with the excuse that you need it for disaster and just rescind it, erase it from the possibility of people making loans?

 

So we shouldn't even be having this conversation. This is a conversation that never—we should never have gone down this path. The fact is when natural disasters strike, the American people are in need, they need to have the confidence that we are there. They don't need to have the fear that there's going to be a debate as to how this will be paid for.

 

Q: If Speaker Boehner decides to go in the opposite direction and include deeper cuts in order to garner the support of more conservatives in his conference, how would you interpret that? Would you say that they are going back on the debt ceiling agreement?

 

Leader Pelosi. Why don't we just see what they do. I don't really want to go into the theoretical. There are many consequences to going down that path. But let's just see what they do, okay?

 

Q: At this point we do know that they don't seem to have a strategy yet. They are still talking, trying to figure it out, maybe looking at replacing one offset with another. The one thing that some of the Republicans coming out of the meeting are saying is that Boehner is not really looking for Democratic support. At this point do you see any real risk of a shutdown? Do you think this can be resolved by next week?

 

Leader Pelosi. Well, it has to be. It has to be resolved by next week, and the burden is on the majority to make sure they put something forth that not only passes the House, but will be acceptable in the United States Senate. As you know, it is a bicameral Legislature, and if you are going to not shut down government, you have to have something that is going to be able to be passed in the Senate.

 

When we opposed the bill yesterday, we opposed it and our motion to—not to get too insider here, but our alternative was the Senate bill, which has much more money for disaster assistance right at this time. That's the bill that the Senate has been considering and for which Senator Reid had at least 60 votes. If all of his people showed up, he would have had more.

 

So that's where they are. They are well beyond us with even more money. That's what we would like to have done here. It would be my hope that there will be some split the difference, that the Republicans would come out and say, we're not going to go as high as you wanted in your motion on the floor to the Senate level, but we will go to 3.5 trillion, 3.6 trillion—excuse me, billion, and we will have no offset. That, I think, would be a reasonable place to be.

 

It's an easy path for them to go. This isn't philosophical, that they are going to make people have doubt about I don't think this has any political thread to it at all. The American people need help; we're there for them. This is a priority. It is a priority. And when we have to do other things to reduce the deficit and the rest, we are certainly prepared to do that.

 

Okay. One more question.

 

Q: You said how committed you are to the disaster relief.

 

Leader Pelosi. Yes.

 

Q: If the Republicans propose language that would prohibit funding to Planned Parenthood as they have in the past, how committed would be to opposing that?

 

Leader Pelosi. Well, let's hope they are not playing games with this.

 

Let me say this: Why don't we come back and have another press conference after they say what they are going to do. I think it is a waste of your time and my time to speculate on the horrors that they could come up with, because we know they are endless, and we could be here a long time.

 

So why don't we just say this: we wish them the best. We understand when you need to get 218 votes, you have to count on your own side of the aisle to do that if you don't want to do it in a bipartisan way. If you just want to do the best possible job that you can on something that is not controversial—why are we even having a debate over this? It's not controversial. This is the easiest place for us to join in a bipartisan way and remove all doubt the Federal Government will be there to honor the Federal compact that we have with the American people in a time of national disaster as we always have.

 

Thank you all very much. Good afternoon. We can come back later if you want.

 

Q: Will there be chocolates if we come back?

 

Leader Pelosi. You will have to come to my office for that.

 

Let me say this: I'm sure the views of the Democrats will be very well known once we see what the Republicans propose.

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Guest LAW   
Guest LAW

Nevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement tonight regarding the plans by the House of Representatives to vote on a Continuing Resolution that shortchanges the Federal Emergency Management Agency:

 

[House Bill] fails to provide the relief that our fellow Americans need as they struggle to rebuild their lives in the wake of floods, wildfires and hurricanes, and it will be rejected by the Senate.

 

I was optimistic that my House Republican colleagues would learn from their failure yesterday and move towards the middle. Instead, they moved even further towards the Tea Party. They insist on holding out on Americans who have suffered devastating losses. Americans are tired of this partisanship. They deserve to know that when disasters strike, we will be there to help them. The American people should not have to worry that the relief they need will get tied up in partisan gridlock.

 

“There is a clear solution. The Senate passed a bipartisan bill to get disaster relief to the people who need it as quickly as possible. The Federal Emergency Management Agency could run out of money as soon as Monday. People who need help will not get it. We cannot allow that to happen. House Republicans should stop playing political games, and pass the Senate’s bipartisan bill without delay.

 

“The Senate is ready to stay in Washington next week to do the work the American people expect us to do, and I hope the House Republican leadership will do the same.”

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Majority Leader Eric Cantor R-VA and other Republican leaders voted for over $120 billion to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan, funds that were used to construct and repair schools, roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure. But now these same Republicans are saying there’s not a penny left to help kids and jobless Americans, even as they continue to defend hundreds of billions of dollars in giveaways to the wealthiest Americans, Big Oil, hedge fund and billionaires.

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Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the American Jobs Act. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

 

Franklin Roosevelt said that no man can truly be free without economic security.

 

With 14 million people out of work in America, there are far too many people living in the richest nation in the world yet unable to enjoy the full freedom and independence for which America stands.

 

So this Congress has no greater challenge – and no more important responsibility – than to enact the policies that help American businesses flourish and grow, put American citizens to work and get our struggling economy back on the track to prosperity.

 

So I was disappointed yesterday when Republicans chose to play political games with not one but two pieces of important job-creating legislation.

 

The bill before the Senate would even the odds for American workers and manufacturers in the global marketplace by stopping unfair currency manipulation by the Chinese government.

 

It would support 1.6 million American jobs, and it has the support of Democrats, Republicans, labor leaders and business groups. We should pass it quickly, so we can move on to other important work facing the Senate this month.

 

But yesterday Republicans threatened to derail this legislation – even though they overwhelmingly support it – and allow China to continue to tilt the playing field.

 

Also up for debate this work period – which ends in two short weeks – is common-sense jobs legislation proposed by President Obama.

 

His plan would invest in roads, bridges and dams.

 

It would put construction crews back to work building and renovating schools.

 

It would extend unemployment insurance for Americans who are still struggling to find work.

 

It would expand a popular payroll tax credit that will provide immediate relief to middle-class families and businesses.

 

And it would revitalize communities that have been devastated by foreclosures.

 

The President’s plan includes some ideas proposed by Republicans, and others offered by Democrats. And, no matter what, it will be fully paid for.

 

We may have different ideas for how to pay for it, but we know the President's legislation is a smart, effective way to spur job creation.

 

Democrats have listened to the American people, and they have been very clear: it is time for millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share to help this country thrive.

Americans from every corner of the country and every walk of life agree. Democrats, Republicans and Independents agree. Asked if they support a plan that would require people making more than $1 million a year to contribute a little more to ensure this country’s economic success, the results were resounding: three-quarters of Americans said yes.

 

Wealthy Americans agree. Two-thirds of people making more than $1 million a year said they would gladly contribute more.

A supermajority of Republicans agrees, with two-thirds saying they supported the idea.

 

And even a majority – 52 percent – of members of the Tea Party agreed.

 

So when Democrats bring this common-sense jobs legislation to the floor, we will also ask Americans who make more than $1 million a year to contribute a little more to help this country reduce its jobs deficit.

 

I am sure that my Republican colleagues would like the opportunity to debate how this Congress tackles the most important issue facing our nation today: the unemployment crisis. So I will happily work with Republican leadership to ensure a fair process that gives Senators the opportunity to be heard.

 

That is why I was so disappointed yesterday when my friend, the Republican Leader, attempted to snuff out debate and prevent a bipartisan discussion about how to move the American Jobs Act forward.

 

Rather than debating this bill on the floor, as we usually do, he wants to tack this important job creator onto an unrelated measure as an afterthought.

 

I was willing to proceed to debate on the legislation yesterday, but Republicans blocked that request. Instead, they demanded an immediate, up-or-down vote, with no opportunity for debate, amendments or discussion.

Again and again during the last few weeks, Republicans have rejected an “all or nothing approach” to this legislation. So imagine my surprise when they were unwilling to engage in the thoughtful debate this bill deserves.

Instead they took the very “all or nothing approach” they were so concerned with a only hours earlier.

 

M. President, This nation’s unemployment crisis is serious business. But Republicans are more interested in partisan games and political stunts than seriously legislating.

 

Fourteen million unemployed Americans deserve better.

 

We live in a nation founded on the principle that every American has a right to personal liberty.

 

But if Franklin Roosevelt was correct that no man is free who lacks economic security – and I believe he was – then we must do better as a Congress and as a country.

 

I assure you that Democrats will do whatever it takes to heal our ailing economy, even if it means the richest of the rich in American have to contribute a little bit more tomorrow than they do today.

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How Many American Jobs Did Your Senator Vote Against?

 

Yesterday evening, every single Republican senator and two Democrats — Sens. Ben Nelson (NE) and Jon Tester (MT) — voted against taking up the president’s jobs plan. Even though the plan enjoyed the support of 51 senators — a majority — it failed to advance because of the GOP’s filibuster.

 

One of the main elements of the president’s job plan is a $50 BILLION investment to rebuild America’s crumbling roads, bridges, transit systems, and airports. In addition to funding vital projects that will help keep America competitive, these investments will put thousands of people back to work in each and every state.

 

Here are some examples of what senators voted down:

 

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) voted against more than $1.37 BILLION in immediate investments that would put at least 17,900 Pennsylvanians back to work.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) voted against nearly $2.6 BILLION in immediate investments that would put at least 33,800 Texans back to work.

 

Voting Against Teachers

 

State and local budget crises, worsened by the GOP’s refusal to provide sufficient aid to states, have thrown tens of thousands of teachers, cops, and firefighters out of work across the country. The American Jobs Act would save 280,000 such jobs across the country.

 

Look at how many teachers these senators voted to take out of their states’ classrooms:

 

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) voted against keeping 25,900 teachers working in the Sunshine State.

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) voted against keeping 6,300 teachers in the Bay State’s schools.

 

Voting Against Good Schools For Our Kids

 

In addition to keeping teachers in the classroom, the president’s jobs plan also puts Americans back to work modernizing America’s schools, many of which are in a dire state of disrepair. The plan’s $30 BILLION investment would modernize a least 35,000 schools across the country – about one-third of all the schools in America.

 

Here’s how many construction workers these senators chose to keep unemployed rather than back to work fixing up schools in their communities:

 

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-NE) voted to keep 1,200 Mainers out of work.

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), whose state has the highest unemployment rate in the nation, voted to keep 2,200 Nevadans out of work.

 

 

Survey Says: Americans Strongly Support the President’s Jobs Plan & Higher Taxes for the Wealthy, Corporations

 

While Senate Republicans may have voted down the job plan, a new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll out today shows the plan is extremely popular:

 

63 PERCENT of Americans support the president’s jobs plan, with just 32 percent opposed.

64 PERCENT agree that it’s a “good idea” to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations, while just 31 percent disagree.

 

Notable Quotable: Sen. Reid v. Sen. McConnell

 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):

 

The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president. That’s my single most important political goal along with every active Republican in the country.

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV):

 

Republicans think that if the economy improves, it might help President Obama. So they root for the economy to fail and oppose every effort to improve it.

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The President fights on for jobs.

 

Remarks by the President on the American Jobs Act -- Jamestown, NC

 

Guilford Technical Community College

Jamestown, NC

 

11:20 A.M. EDT

 

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Thank you very much. Everybody, please have a seat. Have a seat. Hello, Jamestown! (Applause.) It is great to be here in North Carolina. (Applause.) Great to be here at the Ragsdale YMCA. (Applause.)

 

I want to, first of all, thank Linda for the outstanding introduction. Give her a big round of applause. (Applause.) I want to also acknowledge your congressman, Mel Watt, in the house. (Applause.) Mel is doing an outstanding job each and every day. I also want to acknowledge you mayor, Keith Volz, for the fine work that he's doing. (Applause.) He invited me back down here -- he said there are some pretty good golf courses down here -- (applause) -- and some fine restaurants. So I'm going to have to sample both the next time I'm here.

 

I had a chance to talk to Linda and a group of other teachers before I came out here. And I just want to say thank you to her, not only for the introduction but also for teaching. I got a chance to learn about the extraordinary work that Guilford Technical Community College is doing -- (applause) -- to train new teachers and place them in schools where kids need them the most. And one of the best ways to make a difference in the life of our nation is to make a difference in the life of every child. (Applause.) So I want to thank all the teachers who are in the audience for answering the call, because you are making our nation stronger. (Applause.)

 

Now, you may have heard we’re taking a little road trip this week. It’s a chance to get out of Washington. (Laughter.) I must admit I'm traveling not in the usual RV. The bus we got parked outside is -- Secret Service did a full going over, so it's decked out pretty good. (Laughter.) But it's a wonderful opportunity to get out of Washington and hit the road. We stopped for a little North Carolina barbecue and sweet tea along the way. (Applause.) Some hushpuppies. Don’t tell Michelle exactly what was on the menu. (Laughter.)

 

But the main reason we're out here, in addition to seeing the extraordinary views and meeting the wonderful people -- there's just something about North Carolina. People are just gracious and kind. Even the folks who don't vote for me are nice to me. (Laughter.) And that's just a -- that's a nice thing about this state.

 

The most important thing I wanted to do was to hear from people like you -- because it doesn’t seem like your voices are being heard in Washington right now. (Applause.) Times are tough for a lot of Americans. And here in North Carolina, there are a lot of folks who have been spending months looking for work and still haven’t found it yet. A lot of people are doing their best just to get by. Maybe they’ve been able to keep their job, but hours have been cut back, or some of their pay and benefits have been rolled back. There are people who are deciding you know what, we can’t afford taking that night out with the family because we’ve got to save on gas, or we’ve got to make the mortgage, or we’ve got to postpone our retirement to make sure that our child can go to college.

 

It’s tough. It’s hard. And I think most Americans know that our economic problems weren’t caused overnight, so they recognize they won’t be solved overnight. (Applause.) Even before the most recent economic crisis -- a lot of these challenges took a decade to build up -- in some cases, longer than a decade. Before the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, wages and incomes had been flat for the vast majority of Americans for a decade. So people were struggling even before the crisis hit.

 

What that means is it’s going to take time for us to rebuild an America where hard work and responsibility are rewarded. It will take time to rebuild an America where we restore security and opportunity for folks who are in the middle class or trying to get into the middle class. It’s going to take time to rebuild an economy that’s built to last and built to compete; an economy that works for everybody, not just for folks at the top. (Applause.)

 

Rebuilding this America where everybody has got a fair shake and everybody gives their fair share; an economy where you know if you do the right thing and you’re looking after your family and you’re working hard and you educate yourself and you’re educating your kids and you’re contributing back to the community, that you know that you will be able to enjoy that piece of the American Dream -- restoring that economy will take some time. But we are going to get it done, Jamestown. (Applause.) We are going to keep fighting and we’re going to keep working to put people back to work, to help middle-class Americans get ahead, and to give our economy the jolt that it needs.

 

There are things we can do right now to help our economy. And that’s why I sent Congress the American Jobs Act. (Applause.) Now, this is a jobs bill with proposals of the sort that in the past have been supported by Democrats and Republicans. It’s paid for by asking our wealthiest citizens -- folks who make more than a million dollars a year -– to pay their fair share. (Applause.) Independent economists have said this jobs bill would create nearly 2 million jobs. That’s not my opinion, that’s not the opinion of people who work for me. The people who study the economy for a living are telling us that this jobs bill would put people back to work right away, and grow our economy at a time when the recovery has weakened.

 

But some folks in Washington don’t seem to be listening. They don’t seem to be listening. Just last week, all the Republicans in the Senate got together and blocked this jobs bill. They refused to even debate it. Now, keep in mind, one poll found that 63 percent of Americans support the ideas in this jobs bill –- (applause) -- but 100 percent of Republicans in the Senate voted against it. So the majority of the American people think it makes sense for us to put teachers back in the classroom and construction workers back to work, and tax breaks for small businesses, and tax breaks for folks who are hiring veterans. (Applause.) But we got a 100 percent “no” from Republicans in the Senate.

 

AUDIENCE: Booo --

 

THE PRESIDENT: Now, that doesn’t make any sense. Some people asked me yesterday why I was visiting Republican areas of North Carolina. I said, well, first of all, it’s because I just like North Carolina. (Laughter and applause.) Second of all, I’m not the Democratic President or Republican President -- I’m the President. (Applause.) And third of all, I don’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat -- (applause) -- because we're all Americans and we are in this together. We don’t need a Republican jobs act, or a Democratic jobs act; we need a jobs act. (Applause.) We need to put people back to work right now.

 

As I said, the ideas we put forward are ideas that in the past have been supported by Democrats and Republicans. So the question is what makes it different this time -- other than I proposed it? (Applause.)

 

Now, let me try to be fair. The Republicans did put out their own jobs bill. They called it the “Real American Jobs Act.” (Laughter.) So they don't get points for originality -- (laughter) -- but they put out the plan. And I said, okay, let’s see what you got -- because I want -- nobody has a bigger interest than me in seeing Democrats and Republicans cooperate to get some stuff done. I want that to happen. (Applause.)

 

So I said, let's see what you got. And here's what the plan boils down to: We're going to gut environmental regulations. We're going to drill more. We're going to roll back Wall Street reform.

 

AUDIENCE: Booo --

 

THE PRESIDENT: And we're going to repeal health care reform.

 

AUDIENCE: No!

 

THE PRESIDENT: Now, that's a plan, but it's not a jobs plan. And if you're wondering, I mean, we can just do a little bit of comparison shopping right now. We'll lift the hood and kick the tires and see our plan and their plan.

 

The Republican plan says that what’s standing between us and full employment is that we're preventing companies from polluting our air and our water too much. We, on the other hand, have said that let's put teachers back in the classroom here in North Carolina and all across the country -- (applause) -- who've been laid off because budgets have been tight at the state or local level. Let's put construction workers back to work rebuilding roads and bridges and schools all across North Carolina and all across the country. (Applause.) And lets put veterans back on the job. (Applause.) All right, so those are two choices.

 

Their plan says we’ll be better off if we deny 30 million Americans affordable health care choices, and kick young people off their parent's health insurance plans. Our plan says we’re better off if we give virtually every small business and worker in America a tax cut so that they've got more money in their pockets to hire more workers -- and to spend more at those wonderful restaurants that the Mayor talked about. (Applause.)

 

Their plan says we need to go back to the good old days before the financial crisis when Wall Street wrote its own rules. Our plan says we need to make it easier for small businesses on Main Street to grow and to hire and to push the economy forward. (Applause.)

 

So there's a contrast in approaches here. But here’s the kicker. Remember that group of economists who said our jobs plan would create jobs? Well, one of those same economists took a look at the Republican plan and said that it could actually cost us jobs; that it wouldn’t do much to help the economy right now when folks are hurting so bad.

 

So, look, we can have an argument about how much regulation we should have. We can have an argument, if you want, about health care -- I think we did the right thing. (Applause.) But don't pretend -- but you can’t pretend that creating dirtier air and water for our kids and fewer people on health care and less accountability on Wall Street is a jobs plan. (Applause.)

 

I think more teachers in the classroom is a jobs plan; more construction workers rebuilding our schools is a jobs plan; tax cuts for small business owners and working families is a jobs plan. (Applause.)

 

That’s the choice we face. And it’s up to you to decide which plan is the real American Jobs Act.

I want to emphasize I want to work with Republicans on ways to create jobs right now. I’m open to any serious idea. Just last week, Congress passed on a bipartisan basis a trade agreement that will allow us to start selling more goods into Korea -- because we buy an awful lot of Hyundais and Kias; I want them to buy some Fords and Chevys and Chryslers. (Applause.) Wherever we have the possibility to work together to move this economy forward, I’m going to seize on that opportunity. That’s the kind of progress on the economy we can keep on making.

 

But to do so, we’ve got to focus less on trying to satisfy one wing of one party. We’ve got to focus more on doing what it takes to help the American people. (Applause.)

 

And that’s why we’re going to give folks in Congress another chance. (Laughter.) They said no the first time, but we’re going to give them another chance to listen to you, to step up to the plate and do the right thing. We are going to give them another chance to do their jobs, and look out for your jobs.

 

And it may be that just the bill was too big the first time -- there was just too much stuff, and they weren't clear about what the jobs act would do. It was confusing to them. So what we're going to do is we’re going to break it up into separate pieces -- (laughter) -- and we're going to let them vote on each piece, one at a time. (Applause.) That way you can be crystal clear on where you stand on all the elements of the jobs bill.

 

The first vote that we asked Congress to take is scheduled for later this week. It’s a vote that would put hundreds of thousands of police officers back on the beat, firefighters back on the job, and teachers like Linda back in the classroom where they belong. (Applause.) All right? So that's the first part.

 

All over the country, budget cuts are forcing schools to lay off teachers in startling numbers. Here in North Carolina, nearly 2,000 classroom positions have been eliminated for this school year. I visited a school in Millers Creek yesterday where they’ve had to increase class sizes. There’s almost no money for things like textbooks.

 

I can tell you, the last thing a superintendent wants to do is lose teachers. Your governor has been fighting these education cuts. (Applause.) But it is unfair to our kids, and it undermines our future not to invest in education. (Applause.)

 

I had the President of South Korea here, and they are hiring teachers in droves. He's importing teachers from other countries to teach their kids. Their attitude is, we want our kids learning English when they're in first grade -- and we're laying off teachers here in North Carolina? We're not going to be able to compete. Our kids will fall behind.

 

One North Carolina teacher said, “We didn’t cause the poor economy. If anything, we built the good parts.” And that teacher is absolutely right. Our teachers build the good parts of our economy. It gives our children the skills they need to compete. It gives our children a future that is bright. We've got to invest in our education system. (Applause.)

 

So our plan would mean about 13,000 education jobs right here in North Carolina alone. (Applause.) That's why I need you all to tell the Senate let’s put our teachers back to work.

 

All right, so that’s part number one. Part number two: We’re going to give members of Congress a chance to vote on whether our construction workers should sit around doing nothing while China builds the newest airports and the fastest railroads. That doesn’t seem to me like the American way. We used to always have the best stuff. (Applause.) Right? People from all around the world would come to America to see the Golden Gate Bridge and the Hoover Dam -- (applause) -- and Grand Central Station and the interstate highways. We have dropped in terms of infrastructure in this country. We’re no longer number one. And that’s not how we -- that’s not how we built ourselves into a great economic superpower.

 

So Congress will have a chance to say whether unemployed Americans should continue to struggle -- or whether we are going to put them back to work, making our schools state-of-the-art; making sure that our roads and bridges aren’t crumbling. They’re going to have a chance to vote on whether or not we’re going to give people who are long-term unemployed a chance to get back on the job and reform our unemployment insurance system, and build a better life. They’re going to get a chance to take a stand on whether we should ask people like me to pay our fair share so that middle-class families and small businesses can get a tax cut. (Applause.)

 

I want to -- Linda, let me just say this. I’m going to make a point here about taxes, because there's been a lot of misinformation out there. I was watching the football game last night, and they had some ad that didn’t really make much sense. (Laughter.) So let me just be crystal clear just in case your friends or neighbors ask about this. What we have said is, in order to pay for the jobs plan and to close our deficit we should ask the very wealthiest Americans, top 2 percent, to pay a little bit more. I can afford it. Warren Buffett, he can afford it. And the fact of the matter is, is that some of the wealthiest Americans pay a lower tax rate than middle-class Americans.

 

AUDIENCE: Booo --

 

THE PRESIDENT: So the question is, are we going to set up a tax system that is fair, that helps us shrink the deficit, helps us to pay off our debts, and helps put people back to work? But I want to be clear. The vast majority of Americans would see a tax cut under this jobs bill. We’ve been cutting taxes. We haven’t been raising taxes, we’ve been cutting taxes. (Applause.) And we can continue to keep taxes low for middle-class and working families if we ask those at the very top to do their fair share. And a lot of them are willing to do it if they feel like it’s going to make the country stronger and reduce our deficit and put people back to work. (Applause.)

 

So don’t be bamboozled. (Laughter.) Don’t fall for this notion that somehow the jobs act is proposing to raise your taxes. It’s just not true. Under this -- here’s what will happen. If we don't pass the American Jobs Act, if we do not pass the provision in there that extends the payroll tax cut that we passed in December, most people here, your taxes will go up by $1,000. So voting no against the jobs bill is voting in favor of middle-class families’ income taxes going up. And that’s a fact. Don't take my word for it -- all the reporters here, they can check on the facts on this thing. That’s the truth.

 

And I’ve got to emphasize this: When you talk to most people who’ve done well, who’ve been blessed by this country, they’re patriots. They want to do the right thing. They’re willing to do more. They want their money well spent; they want to make sure that it’s not being wasted. That’s why we cut a trillion dollars out of the federal budget this summer. It’s why I’m proposing to cut more to close the deficit. But people are willing to do a little bit more because everybody understands we are in this together. That's how America has always moved forward. (Applause.)

 

So here’s the bottom line. Congress has a choice to make in the coming weeks. If they vote against the proposals I’m talking about, if they vote against taking steps that we know will put Americans back to work right now, they don't have to answer to me -- they’re going to have to answer to you. (Applause.) They’re going to have to come down here to North Carolina and tell kids why they can’t have their teachers back in the classroom. They’re going to have to tell those construction workers, look them in the eye and say, you know what, sorry, we can’t afford to rebuild those broken-down roads and those crumbling bridges. They’re going to have to explain to working families why their taxes are going up while the richest Americans and the largest corporations keep on getting a sweet deal.

 

And that’s where you come in. You are the ones who are going to be able to persuade them to think differently. We need your voices heard. I need you to give Congress a piece of your mind. Mel Watt is already doing fine, so you don't need to talk to Mel, he’s on the program. But these members of Congress, they work for you. And if they’re not delivering, it’s time you let them know. You’ve got to get on the phone or pay them a visit or write them a letter or tweet -- whatever you do -- (laughter) -- and remind them to do the right thing.

 

Remind them of what’s at stake here. Remind them that “no, we can’t” is no way to face tough times. When a depression hit we didn't say, “No, we can’t.” When World War II came, we didn't say, “No, we can’t.” Our grandparents and great-grandparents, they didn't say, “Nothing we can do about this. Let’s just spend all our time arguing in Washington.” They didn't say, “It’s too hard.” They didn't say, “We give up.” They said, “Let’s roll up our sleeves; let’s fight back.” And American won. (Applause.) When the space race started, Kennedy didn't say, “We can’t go to the moon; that’s too far.” He said, “Come on, America. Let’s go.” America won. We can win the space race. When we confront tough times, we don't give in to what is; we think about what ought to be.

 

There are too many Americans who are hurting right now for us to just sit by and do nothing. Now is the time to act. Now is the time to say, “Yes, we can.” We can create jobs. We can restore the middle class. We can reduce our deficits. We can build an economy that works for everybody. We are not a people who just sit around doing nothing when things aren't right. We are Americans, and we stand up, and we decide that the problem is going to be fixed. And that's the spirit we need to muster right now. (Applause.)

 

Let's meet this moment. Let's get to work. And let's remind everybody just why the United States of America is the greatest country on Earth.

 

Thank you. God bless you. God bless North Carolina. God bless the United States of America. Thank you. (Applause.)

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U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement on the Senate floor Tuesday regarding the President’s failed stimulus and the need for a new approach to solve the jobs crisis:

 

It’s no secret that the vast majority of Americans aren’t happy with Washington right now. They say that 13 percent of the public approve of Congress, but I for one haven’t met many of them.

 

It’s also no secret that the President of the United States is trying to use this displeasure with Washington for political gain. And I think that’s a pretty sad commentary on the state of affairs over at the White House these days.

 

“As the only person elected to represent every American, the President should speak for all Americans, especially in times of crisis, not divide them for short-term partisan political gain.

 

“But it’s perfectly obvious why the President would find the path of division appealing — because on the number one issue we face, jobs and the economy, the President’s policies haven’t worked as advertised.

 

After nearly three years in office, he’s failed to make good on his promises to turn the jobs crisis around. And I think you can pretty much sum up that failure with a single number: 1.5 million. That’s how many fewer jobs there are right now in America since the President signed his first stimulus, according to the Obama administration’s own Labor Department: 1.5 million.

 

So he’s trying to change the topic.

 

He wants to deflect attention from that record.

 

He wants people to think that the problem isn’t his policies. It’s those mean Republicans in Congress who oppose them.

 

“But the President leaves a few things out of the reelection script that he brought along on his bus tour.

 

First of all, it wasn’t just the Republicans who defeated his latest stimulus bill last week.

 

The only reason a majority of Democrats voted to debate it is they knew they wouldn’t have to vote for it.

 

That’s why the Majority Leader repeatedly moved to block a vote on the measure itself.

 

Second: we’re now living under economic policies that President Obama himself put in place.

 

This isn’t something you’ll hear on the bus tour, but let’s be clear: the President got everything he wanted from a Democrat-controlled Congress during the first two years of his Presidency.

Now we’re living with the hard reality that those policies have brought to bear on the American worker.

 

“So at this point, anytime the President says ‘pass this bill,’ people have very good reason to be skeptical.

 

“Because this isn’t the first time President Obama’s demanded that Congresses pass what he calls a ‘jobs bill.’

 

“But if this one were to pass, and it worked as advertised, then it would be the first one that did.

 

Again and again, the President’s response to America’s ongoing jobs crisis has been to insist that Congress pass some urgent piece of legislation right away, or an even worse calamity would result. Those bills were supposed to create jobs and prevent layoffs too. But he keeps coming back for more.

 

I guess the President is counting on the American people to forget that part. He’s counting on us to forget about the other stimulus legislation he’s already signed into law, and that it’s failed to live up to the hype every time.

 

“Again and again, the President has demanded that Congress do something to create jobs — and the only thing we seem to end up with at the end of the day is more debt, more government, and fewer jobs.

 

“Let’s just review the record for a second.

 

Two and a half years ago, President Obama went down to Florida and said the first stimulus — the nearly one trillion dollar government spending bill he signed shortly after taking office — would save or create millions of jobs, including jobs for firefighters, nurses, police officers, and teachers.

 

“What happened?

 

“Well, the states got their bailout, the national unemployment rate didn’t budge, and a year and a half later, the President was back asking for another one.

 

“That’s right, a year and a half after the first stimulus, the White House was back last August, saying they needed another $26 billion right away or else 160,000 teachers would get pink slips, and police and firefighters across the country would be off the job. And what happened then?

 

Well, the states got another bailout, the unemployment rate didn’t budge, and now the President’s riding around on a bus saying that if they don’t get another one, teachers, police and firefighters will lose their jobs. Again.

 

Anybody notice a pattern here?

 

“We’ve been doing this for nearly three years now. It doesn’t work as advertised.

 

“Bailouts don’t solve the problem. They perpetuate it.

 

“Yet all we get from the President and Democrats in Congress is ‘Do it again — or else!’

 

“We’ve been mired in a jobs crisis for three years now, and all Democrats ever want to do is throw more taxpayer money at it.

 

“It never works the way they claim it will.

 

“And yet they want to keep doing it with other people’s money.

 

“Just throw another bailout together, slap the word ‘jobs’ on the cover page, and dare people to vote against it.

 

“That’s the Democrats’ governing philosophy — three years into this jobs crisis.

 

“It wouldn’t be irresponsible to oppose an approach like this; it would be irresponsible to consider it.

 

It didn’t work the first time. It didn’t work the second time.

 

“The third time won’t be the charm.

 

“And that’s why Republicans, and a growing number of our Democrat friends, want a different approach.

 

“There is growing bipartisan opposition to trying the same failed policies again.

 

“And there’s bipartisan opposition to raising taxes, especially at a time when 14 million Americans are out of work.

 

“I mean, if there’s one thing we should agree on right now it’s that we should be making it easier for businesses to hire, not harder.

 

“So, the President should drop his obsession with raising taxes.

 

“And if he really wants to create jobs, maybe he should consider doing something different.

 

“They’ve tried the bailout approach.

 

“They’ve tried more regulations, more debt and more taxes.

 

“Let’s try a new idea for a change.

 

“One that has bipartisan support.

 

“One that isn’t a two-time proven failure.

 

“Let’s try something that might actually work.

 

“Because the American people didn’t send us here to kick our problems down the road. And they certainly didn’t send us here to repeat the same mistakes over and over again — and then stick them and their children with the tab. That might be how you maintain a sense of urgency, by failing to solve the problem the first two times around. But it isn’t how you solve a jobs crisis.

 

“The American people deserve better than this.

 

“They deserve better than false promises they’re getting.

 

The President got everything he wanted from a Democrat-led Congress for two years.

 

A health care law that was designed to take over of one-sixth of the entire U.S. economy.

 

A financial reform bill that punishes businesses that had nothing to do with the financial crisis.

 

“Out-of-control regulations that are forcing otherwise healthy businesses to shut down — businesses like Smart Papers in Hamilton Ohio, a paper mill that said last week it’s shutting down because of onerous new federal regulations that make it too costly to do business.

 

“And a trillion dollar stimulus that was supposed to solve this jobs crisis two and half years ago.

 

“For two years, when he said ‘Pass this bill right away,’ Democrats acted. And here’s what we got despite all that: trillions in debt and more than a million and a half fewer jobs.

 

“We don’t need more of that. We can’t afford more of the same.”

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Guest LAW

Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding state and local cuts to education in Nevada. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

 

America’s education system is under siege. The terrible recession that has put millions of families in our country in a desperate economic situation has also put our schools at risk.

 

Since 2008, this country has lost 300,000 education jobs, including nearly 200,000 in the last year alone. And without talented, dedicated teachers and support staff, our schools cannot provide the world-class education students need to succeed in today’s difficult economic climate.

 

As state and local governments are forced to slash education funding again and again, it jeopardizes the futures of millions of children – regardless of where they live or how much money their parents make.

 

Nevada is facing a $1.2 billion budget shortfall in 2013, practically ensuring further cuts to state and local education. But Nevada can ill afford to lose more teachers, police and first responders.

 

The state has already slashed state education funding below pre-recession levels. And additional cuts will place thousands of Nevada teacher jobs at risk.

 

School districts in Nevada have already made difficult cuts – laying off teachers, eliminating programs and reducing the number of hours children spend in school.

 

The state has delayed expansion of all-day kindergarten, eliminated resources for gifted and talented programs and cut a magnet program for students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

 

Further cuts will affect the basic pillars of American education.

 

Already the school board in Lyon County, a rural part of Nevada, has considered moving to a four-day school week.

 

Students in the United States already spend much less time in school than students in other countries, including those with whom we compete for jobs. Most American pupils spend a month less in the classroom than those in South Korea and Japan, whose students are among the highest performing in the world.

 

At a time when Nevadans are competing for jobs with graduates from countries around the world as well as those in neighboring states, school districts shouldn’t be forced to make decisions like the one facing Lyon County.

 

The Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act, filed last night and led by Senator Menendez, will ensure the Lyon County School District won’t have to choose between laying teachers off and reducing the school year.

 

And it will protect gains made by school districts like the one in Washoe County, which increased its graduation rate from 55 percent to nearly 70 percent.

 

Budget cuts would threaten that progress. The district can’t expect to improve on these gains if it has to jam more students in every class and lay off literacy and math specialists.

 

The Teachers and First Responders legislation will stem the loss of education jobs and help districts like Washoe continue to improve.

 

This legislation will provide Nevada with an additional $260 million to keep teachers in the classroom and maintain class sizes. It will support 3,600 education jobs in the state and give the economy a jolt.

 

And it won’t add a dime to the deficit. Instead, it asks millionaires and billionaires to contribute a tiny fraction more – one half of one percent more – to help turn our economy around. That’s an idea two-thirds of Americans and a majority of Republicans support.

This nation’s schools have already been hit hard by state and local budget cuts. We cannot afford to lose more teachers, or to lay off more police or first responders.

 

In Nevada, local governments have already made the difficult choice to cut 8,800 jobs. These unprecedented layoffs have extended the recession and slowed the recovery in Nevada.

 

And further budget shortfalls threaten thousands more jobs. Nationwide, state and local budget cuts could cost as many as 280,000 teacher jobs next year unless we act.

 

This Teachers and First Responders legislation will invest $30 billion to create or save nearly 400,000 teacher jobs. That money will help states and school districts stop more layoffs, and rehire tens of thousands of teachers laid off since this severe recession began.

It will also invest $5 billion to retain and rehire the police, firefighters and first responders who have protected our communities throughout tough economic times.

 

That is why it is so important that the Senate move quickly to this legislation.

 

I hope that we will be able to work together to finish the three appropriations bills before the Senate this week without the kind of obstructionism we have seen over the last 10 months.

 

Teachers out of work through no fault of their own and students who desperately need a good education are relying on us to act.

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Guest LAW

“All Roads”: New Infographic Looks at @WhiteHouse Plan to #PassTheBill

Posted by Don Seymour, Michael Ricci, & Bryant Avondoglio on October 06, 2011

 

All roads seem to be leading nowhere for the president’s economic bill amid questions the White House lacks a “clear strategy” to pass it. All roads, that is, except the House. With the White House failing to make any headway with job creators, the American people, and Senate Democrats, will President Obama finally work with Republicans to find common ground on removing barriers to job growth?

 

After President Obama addressed a Joint Session of Congress, Republican leaders issued a memo outlining possible areas of common ground, including extension of 100 percent bonus depreciation, small business capital formation, and payroll tax relief.

 

The president, however, demanded an “all or nothing” vote and vowed to take his plan to “every corner of the country.” The reception has been chilly. Economists and fiscal watchdogs have balked at the plan. An estimated 750,000 small businesses are threatened by the proposed tax hikes, and the Arizona Republic talked with small business owners who are “wary” and “skeptical” about the president’s latest proposal, fearing it could be little more than “another stimulus plan.” Fox News reported that “a majority of Americans don’t believe” his “plan will help lower the unemployment rate…” And the president has been greeted by tough front pages in city after city.

 

When the president demanded Congress “pass this bill” now, Democratic leaders in the Senate blocked a vote on it (just minutes before he railed against Republicans for standing in the way). And if there’s one thing the Senate does well, it’s stall jobs bills; swapping in different tax hikes won’t help.

 

So it’s back to the House. The House is focused on the people’s priorities, and none rank higher than removing government barriers to job creation. If the president is serious, he’ll work with Republicans on areas of common ground. If not, then perhaps this jobs bill really is “a political weapon rather than as a means of fixing the nation's economic woes and putting Americans back to work.”

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Guest Ben Cardin   
Guest Ben Cardin

What if we could shrink the nation’s debt by more than $21 billion without causing hardship for a single senior, without raising taxes on one middle-class family and without losing a single job?

 

We can.

 

Over the last decade, the five largest oil companies received $21 billion in taxpayer-funded subsidies, despite the fact that they raked in $1 trillion in profits and are projected to make $144 billion more this year.

 

This is absurd, particularly when you consider all the Americans who are struggling in this difficult economy. It’s got to stop.

 

This week, I signed a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction urging its members to stop providing billions of taxpayer-funded handouts to Big Oil. Join me today in calling for an end to this absurd practice.

 

It makes no sense to ask students, seniors, soldiers and working-class families to bear the brunt of this economic crisis while wealthy oil companies reap billions of dollars in profits and get massive tax subsidies to boot. There is nothing wrong with making a reasonable profit, but not at taxpayers' expense. We must demand they pay their fair share.

 

Big Oil argues that cutting their tax breaks would raise gas prices, but that simply isn’t true. Oil and gas prices are set by the world market and have nothing to do with federal subsidies. What’s more, these subsidies do not create any jobs and do not benefit consumers in any way. All they’re good for is bolstering the already enormous profits of Big Oil.

 

The bottom line is this: BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron and ConocoPhillips can survive with $142 billion in profits this year rather than $144 billion. But our nation can no longer afford these wasteful subsidies. The choice is clear.

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Guest American4Progress   
Guest American4Progress

Republicans Vote Down American Jobs — AGAIN

 

In their never-ending quest to protect millionaires and billionaires, Senate Republicans once again voted down American Jobs. Last week, they joined together to unanimously oppose the millions of jobs that would be created by the American Jobs Act. Last night, the Senate took up one part of the president's jobs plan — a provision for nearly 400,000 jobs for teachers, firefighters, and cops — and Senate Republicans had another chance to go on record. And again they all voted no.

 

Here's the rundown.

 

WHAT:

 

The Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act

 

THE INVESTMENT:

 

$35 BILLION ($30 BILLION for teachers and $5 BILLION for first responders)

 

HOW IT WAS PAID FOR:

 

By a one-half of 1 percent surtax on any income above $1 MILLION (the first million dollars is still taxed today's low rates)

 

HOW MANY AMERICAN JOBS THE GOP VOTED AGAINST:

 

At least 392,100 — with jobs in all 50 states

 

HOW MANY JOBS YOUR SENATOR VOTED AGAINST:

 

Some examples:

 

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) voted against 6,300 jobs to protect the 0.6 percent of Massachusetts taxpayers who are millionaires.

 

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) voted against 25,900 jobs to protect the 0.2 percent of Florida taxpayers who are millionaires.

 

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) voted against 4,100 jobs to protect the 0.1 percent of Arkansas taxpayers who are millionaires.

 

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) voted against 1,800 jobs to protect the 0.1 percent of Maine taxpayers who are millionaires.

 

WHAT'S NEXT:

 

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the Rebuild America Act today. The bill will invest billions in our crumbling roads, bridges, airports, and other infrastructure projects across the country, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. The Senate is on recess next week and will attempt to take up the bill when it returns.

 

 

IN ONE SENTENCE: Republicans had a choice between American jobs or protecting millionaires, and once again Republicans chose to protect millionaires and billionaires instead of keeping teachers, cops, and firefighters on the job.

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Luke_Wilbur    5

I think Americans need to realize Social Security is not the problem. In fact if you take away the revenue the government takes from Social Security then you realize our elected officials have been not telling the full truth.

 

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Guest LAW

U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) issued the following statement on President Obama’s Call for Consolidation Authority:

 

“In last year’s State of the Union, President Obama pledged to shrink the federal government and eliminate government waste by proposing to merge and consolidate federal agencies. Yet until now, he has remained silent on the issue while Senate Republicans introduced bills that would dramatically reduce the staggering amount of money wasted annually on duplicative programs within the federal government.

 

“Last May, I introduced two bills that would advance the President’s proposal – a bill to consolidate the Department of Labor and the Department of Commerce into a single, new agency called the Department of Commerce and the Workforce (DOCW), and a bill that would consolidate the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency into a single, new agency called the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE). These bills would provide cost savings by combining duplicative functions while improving the administration of economic, energy and environmental policies by ensuring a comprehensive, coordinated approach.

 

“We welcome the President back to the conversation, and look forward to Senator Reid allowing votes on these important bills that would initiate permanent reorganization of agencies.”

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Guest Law

The Facts on the Senate Highway Bill's Funding

 

The Senate Highway Bill Supports 1.6 Million Jobs, Reduces the Deficit, Ensures the Highway Trust Fund Remains Solvent

 

The Senate Highway Bill (S. 1813) reauthorizes and fully funds the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) for two years, investing $9.2 billion over that timespan in job-creating infrastructure projects to ensure safety and mobility, help businesses operate, reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. The Senate bill also makes a long-term down payment for future highway improvements, investing nearly $14 billion in our highway infrastructure over the next decade.

 

Not only does the Senate bill not add a single cent to the deficit, it actually reduces the deficit by $10 billion.

 

The Senate bill reauthorizes the Highway Trust Fund and guarantees it will remain fully-funded through 2013.

  • The Senate reached broad, bipartisan agreement on funding sources that would fully cover the highway bill’s two-year life. The Senate passed the bill 74-22.

The Senate bill invests more than $9.2 billion into the Highway Trust Fund over the bill’s two-year span.

  • A bipartisan proposal immediately transfers to the HTF $3 billion in surplus funds from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank trust fund (LUST fund), which relies on fuel taxes for funding.
  • It also routes a third of the future LUST Fund fuel taxes into the HTF, contributing nearly another $700 million.
  • The bill transfers fees on cars that don’t comply with fuel efficiency standards, as well as tariffs on foreign auto imports. Together, these provisions contribute nearly $5 billion to the HTF.

The Senate bill leaves the Highway Trust Fund with a surplus, or “cushion,” at the end of the two-year reauthorization in 2013.

  • The Department of Transportation requested the Senate bill leave a cushion in the Highway Trust Fund that would last beyond the two-year reauthorization.
  • The Senate bill raises enough funding to leave a $3.6 billion cushion at the end of its two-year life.
  • The House has failed to pass any Highway Bill besides a 90-day, short-term extension. Unless action is taken beyond short-term extensions, the Highway Trust Fund will be insolvent by early 2013.

The Senate bill also makes an additional long-term investment, raising its ten-year total to nearly $14 billion invested in our highway infrastructure.

  • The additional investment comes from bipartisan funding provisions that last beyond the two-year HTF reauthorization.

The Senate bill does not add to the deficit or debt, and it replenishes every dime transferred from the government’s General Fund.

  • The bill replenished the General Fund for the amounts moved into the Highway Trust Fund.
  • The largest provision to replenish the General Fund stabilizes contributions into pension plans and raises nearly $9.5 billion over ten years. Other funding provisions crack down on tax cheats and increase penalties on unscrupulous Medicare providers.
  • In total, these provisions replenish every penny transferred from the General Fund.

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