Weekly Address: President Obama – Making Our Communities Stronger Through Fair Housing

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President discussed a new rule announced by his Administration earlier this week to make it easier for communities to implement the Fair Housing Act.

For nearly 50 years, the Fair Housing Act has prohibited landlords from turning away tenants because of race, religion, sex, national origin, or disability, and has made a big difference in this country. This week, the Administration announced new steps to provide communities with the tools they need to ensure that housing is fair, and that no American’s destiny is determined by a zip code.

Transcript: WEEKLY ADDRESS: Making Our Communities Stronger through Fair Housing

Hi, everybody. It’s our job as citizens to make sure we keep pushing this country we love toward our most cherished ideals – that all of us are created equal, and all of us deserve an equal shot.

This week, my Administration took new steps to bring us closer to that goal.

Almost 50 years ago, Republicans and Democrats in Congress came together to pass the Fair Housing Act. It’s a law that says landlords can’t turn away tenants solely because of their race, religion, sex, national origin, or disability. And it made a difference in this country.

Still, the work of the Fair Housing Act remains unfinished. Just a few weeks ago, the Supreme Court ruled that policies segregating minorities in poor neighborhoods, even unintentionally, are against the law. The Court recognized what many people know to be true from their own lives: that too often, where people live determines what opportunities they have in life.

In some cities, kids living just blocks apart lead incredibly different lives. They go to different schools, play in different parks, shop in different stores, and walk down different streets. And often, the quality of those schools and the safety of those parks and streets are far from equal – which means those kids aren’t getting an equal shot in life.

That runs against the values we hold dear as Americans. In this country, of all countries, a person’s zip code shouldn’t decide their destiny. We don’t guarantee equal outcomes, but we do strive to guarantee an equal shot at opportunity – in every neighborhood, for every American.

Now, the Fair Housing Act also says that this isn’t the responsibility of a landlord alone – local governments have a role to play, too. That’s why, this week, my Administration announced that we’ll make it easier for communities to implement this law. We’re using data on housing and neighborhood conditions to help cities identify the areas that need the most help. We’re doing more to help communities meet their own goals. Plus, by opening this data to everybody, everyone in a community – not just elected officials – can weigh in. If you want a bus stop added near your home, or more affordable housing nearby, now you’ll have the data you need to make your case.

These actions won’t make every community perfect. That’s something we all have to strive for in our own lives. But they will help make our communities stronger and more vibrant. And they’ll help keep this a country where kids from every background can grow up knowing that no matter who you are, what you look like, or where you live, you can write your own story.

That’s the America I love. And it’s the America I’ll keep fighting for. Thanks, and have a great weekend.

Bolding added.

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  9 comments for “Weekly Address: President Obama – Making Our Communities Stronger Through Fair Housing

  1. JanF
    July 11, 2015 at 10:06 am

    In the News: From New Hampshire – Hassan vetoes 30-day residency requirement to vote

    Gov. Maggie Hassan has vetoed legislation that would have required people to live in New Hampshire for 30 days before voting.

    She said Friday the bill would have unfairly burdened peoples’ constitutional right to vote. If the 30-day residency requirement became law, someone who moves to the state in August and planned to stay couldn’t vote in a September primary.

  2. JanF
    July 11, 2015 at 10:08 am

    In the News: North Carolina Voting Rights trial begins next week

    … civil rights advocates challenging the law say the measures disproportionately affect racial minorities and students. They filed a lawsuit to block the law during the 2014 elections. They lost in U.S. District Court, won in federal appeals court, and lost at the Supreme Court.

    The Rev. William Barber, head of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, has compared next week’s trial to the Selma, Alabama, march that led to the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. North Carolina legislators passed the voting restrictions in 2013, after the Supreme Court gutted key provisions of the law two months earlier.

    “This is our Selma,” Barber said in a press release. “North Carolina was the first state to pass a restrictive voting law after the Supreme Court weakened the Voting Rights Act in 2013, and it is the worst voter suppression law the country has seen since 1965. The people of North Carolina are standing up — in the courts and the streets — because we refuse to accept the revival of Jim Crow tactics used to block access to the ballot for African-American and Latino voters.”

    Barber said on a press call in June that the law was a “calculated effort” at ending voting practices that African-Americans use more frequently than white voters. According to state data, 70 percent of the state’s African-American voters in 2012 used early voting, compared with 56 percent of the voting population overall. While African-Americans make up about 22 percent of the state’s voting population, they accounted for 41 percent of voters who used same-day registration, and roughly 30 percent of those who cast ballots outside of their designated precinct.

    In eliminating a week of early voting, the legislation also got rid of voting on the Sunday during which Black church congregations led “Souls to the Polls” drives.

    The NAACP, with support from the Advancement Project, contends the law violates the constitutional right to vote and the Voting Rights Act’s Section 2 ban on discrimination against racial minorities in elections. The Supreme Court’s controversial Shelby v. Holder decision in 2013 struck down the Voting Rights Act’s Section 4, which mandated that states with a history of discrimination, like North Carolina, get pre-approval for changes to their voting procedures from the federal government or a federal court.

    “These measures likely would not have survived federal pre-clearance,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her dissent from the Supreme Court’s decision allowing the law to go in effect last year.

  3. JanF
    July 11, 2015 at 10:10 am

    In the News: Greece appears poised to find deal on debt relief

    July 9, 2015 4:32PM ET Updated 7:20PM ET

    Greece made a series of sweeping proposals Thursday that its creditors say they needed by midnight to set off a mad rush toward a weekend deal to stave off a financial collapse of the nation.

    The package met longstanding demands by creditors to impose wide-ranging sales-tax hikes and cuts in state spending for pensions that the left-leaning Greek government had long resisted.

    It raised hopes that Greece can get the rescue deal that will prevent an exit from the euro after key creditors said they were open to discussing how to ease the country’s debt load, a long-time sticking point in their talks.

    In exchange for its proposed concessions, Athens will seek $59 billion in bailout funds from the eurozone bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, or ESM, according to draft legislation submitted to parliament Friday.

    • JanF
      July 12, 2015 at 11:26 am

      No help on the horizon for Greece: 24 hours to save the euro: Germany prepares for a ‘temporary’ Greek exit as euro project on the brink of collapse

      The German government has begun preparations for Greece to be ejected from the eurozone, as the European Union faces 24 hours to rescue the single currency project from the brink of collapse.

      Finance ministers failed to break the deadlock with Greece over a new bail-out package, after nine hours of acrimonious talks as creditors accused Athens of destroying their trust. It leaves the future of the eurozone in tatters only 15 years after its inception.

      Other Eurozone countries do not want to be part of the Greek bailout with only France emerging as an ally.

      France remains Greece’s most powerful ally in the divisive talks, having made frantic diplomatic efforts to convince smaller and poorer eurozone members that they should provide more money to rescue Greece. These efforts may now be in vain.

      Michel Sapin, the French finance minister, however commended the Greek government for taking a “brave” step towards compromise. “Now we need to have confidence again, to have certainty that decisions announced are decisions which are actually taken by the Greek government,” he said.

      Creditors are demanding Athens adopt even tougher austerity measures in return for the release of funds that would allow Greece to reopen its banks and avoid defaulting on its debts.

      Tsipras will have trouble keeping his coalition together:

      Greece’s economics minister George Stathakis admitted that even with a new deal, the country would not see an easing of capital controls such as ATM withdrawals, currently at €60-a-day, for another two months.

      Mr Tsipras’s last gasp attempt to secure a deal has split his Left-wing Syriza party. At least 17 of his own MPs voted against the plan or abstained when it came before parliament on Friday night.

      The package was eventually passed with the support of the opposition, with 251 out of 300 MPs voting in favour.

      There appear to be as many ideas as there are countries.

      The International Monetary Fund has recommended a bold program of debt forgiveness, placing it at odds with European creditors. Washington has been forced to step in to push the Europeans to agree to lower interest rates and prolong repayments on Greek debt into the middle of the century.

  4. JanF
    July 11, 2015 at 10:13 am

    In the News: Psychologists Group Apologizes For Backing Post-Sept. 11 Interrogation Tactics

    The American Psychological Association has apologized for actions that may have enabled brutal interrogation techniques used by the U.S. government after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

    NPR’s Jon Hamilton, who is reporting on the story for our Newscast unit, says the apology comes in response to an independent report commissioned by the APA itself. He says:

    “The 542-page report by former federal prosecutor David Hoffman found evidence that top officials of the association had colluded with government officials. The goal of the collusion was to ensure that APA ethics policies were consistent with Bush administration policies on interrogation techniques.

    “Those policies allowed waterboarding, sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation, practices the APA now specifically condemns.”

    The APA called the report’s findings “deeply disturbing” and promised measures to prevent future mistakes, but the group did not say it planned to punish APA officials involved in the collusion.

  5. JanF
    July 11, 2015 at 10:16 am

    In the News: Meet The Immigrants Who Are Asking The 5th Circuit To Stop Their Families’ Deportation

    Immigrant advocates gathered for a vigil on the steps of the federal courthouse in New Orleans on Thursday night, just one day before judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard arguments on whether to let President Obama’s executive action to shield upwards of five million undocumented immigrants from deportation take effect. A preliminary injunction was put in place in February by a federal judge, effectively blocking the deportation relief from taking place.

    At least 3.5 million parents would have been granted relief under the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program. The executive action also expanded on the president’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, granting relief to undocumented immigrants who came in as children.

    Lawmakers like Reps. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) were in attendance outside the courthouse, along with immigrant rights advocates, who hope that the judges allow the programs to take effect. If the court rules against them, millions of families could be separated.

  6. JanF
    July 11, 2015 at 10:18 am

    In the News: Hawaiian Natives have been waiting since 1920 for promised land

    Native Hawaiians were a landless and dying people when Congress passed the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act in 1920, creating a 200,000-acre land trust to serve as farms, ranches and neighborhoods for those who could prove at least 50 percent Hawaiian ancestry. But the federal rule-making process that typically follows the passage of a law never happened, leaving the law’s administration open to wide interpretation. This absence of rules has led to severe mismanagement.

    In the 95 years since the land trust was established, about half the awarded acreage has gone to non-Hawaiians. Meanwhile, there are 29,000 Hawaiians on a waitlist for homesteads. Thousands of acres lie vacant. […]

    In May the U.S. Department of Interior proposed two new federal rules that aim to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the DHHL, which administers the trust, and the Department of Interior, which has oversight responsibility, when considering land exchanges and amendments to the law. The goal, said Kris Sarri, the principal deputy assistant secretary for the interior, is to better support the health and strength of the Hawaiian community, especially the beneficiaries who live on trust lands or are on the waitlist for a homestead lease.

  7. JanF
    July 12, 2015 at 6:28 am

    Commentary from NPR: Kudos To Sanders, With A Wink To Clinton, Too

    … in the long run, “the Sanders summer” is likely to boost [Hillary Clinton’s] bid for the White House. Indeed, from her perspective, Sanders may be the ideal rival en route to the nomination.

    He’s a man, he’s 73, and he’s well to her left on most issues. Moreover, he starts from a low base of national recognition, lacks conventional media appeal and hails from a tiny northeastern state that is totally lopsided politically. […]

    Clinton would have had far more to fear from the candidate dynamics had another senator, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, made the race. Even if Clinton prevailed, the inevitable wounds would be felt in the fall campaign.

    Warren would have equal claim to Clinton’s magic demographic wand: the prospect of being the nation’s first female president. Warren is also eight years younger than Sanders, and two years younger than Clinton. […] Her issue profile would match the economic equality mood of the moment without stretching the point. […]

    … halfway through the critical pre-election year, the Democratic field consists of Clinton, Sanders and three other white males who have failed to make much of a dent. It is possible one of them will catch fire, but Sanders is in their way. It is also possible other candidates will emerge, but Sanders is in their way, too.

    And that helps Clinton.

    Ultimately, though, Sanders’ greatest boon to Clinton may be in making her work harder to connect — both with the party’s activist left and with its traditional lunch-bucket issues. Rooting her in what Dean liked to call “the democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”

  8. JanF
    July 12, 2015 at 6:47 am

    Hillary Clinton will speak Monday on economic issues at The New School, a university in New York City.

    The Democratic front-runner’s choice of venue may be telling: She’ll be delivering her address in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood at The New School, a university whose economics department takes a decidedly leftist tilt. Her campaign announced the speech with a press release promising that Clinton would be offering an “economic vision” and a “framework for an economy that grows faster, fairer and more sustainably.”

    U.S. firms’ thirst for quick profits hurts workers, Clinton will say

    Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will argue in a speech on Monday that U.S. businesses are too fixated on short-term profits, especially on Wall Street, and she will pledge to help workers get better pay and more family-friendly workplaces.

    Clinton, the favorite to win the Democratic Party’s nomination for the November 2016 election, intends the speech to outline the economic theory underpinning her campaign, in which she has promised to be a champion for “everyday Americans.”[…]

    Clinton will say that laws and the tax codes reward financial trading too generously, while undervaluing other industries, such as construction and manufacturing.

    Ghilarducci said a draft of the speech given to her by the campaign has Clinton calling for the closing of the carried interest tax loophole that allows many fund managers to pay a lower tax rate on much of their earnings. Clinton took this position in her last presidential campaign in 2007.

    The financial services industry is also too focused on short-term growth and quarterly reports, which creates economic bubbles that leave the middle class in the lurch, Clinton will say.

    Creating new rules on shareholder activism will help counter this, and she will argue for greater investment in infrastructure through an infrastructure bank and in research, including development of new sustainable energy sources.

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