Weekly Address: President Obama – This Labor Day, Lets Talk About the Budget

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 recognized Labor Day by highlighting the economic progress our country has made, and underlining what needs to be done to continue that growth. Our businesses have created 13.1 million new jobs over the past five and a half years, the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in seven years, and seventeen states across the country have raised the minimum wage. The President stressed that to continue this progress, Congress needs to avoid a government shutdown that would hurt middle-class Americans and pass a responsible budget before the end of September. The President emphasized that Congress should not play games with our economy, and instead pass a budget that invests in our middle-class and helps those who work hard and play by the rules to get ahead.

Transcript: Weekly Address: This Labor Day, Lets Talk About the Budget

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address The White House September 5, 2015

Hello, everybody. I hope most of you are gearing up for a long weekend with family and friends – maybe some barbeques, road trips, or fantasy drafts. But I wanted to take a moment to talk to you about the real meaning of Labor Day – a day we set aside every year to honor the hardworking men and women who fought for so many of the rights that we take for granted today.

The eight-hour workday, 40-hour workweek, weekends. Overtime and the minimum wage. Safer workplaces. Health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, and retirement plans. All of those gains were fought for and won by the labor movement – folks who were working not just for a bigger paycheck for themselves, but for more security and prosperity for the folks working next to them as well. That’s how we built the great American middle class.

That’s the spirit we’ve been working to restore these past six and a half years. On Friday, we found out that the economy created another 173,000 jobs in August. Over the past five and a half years, our businesses have created 13.1 million new jobs in total – the longest streak of job creation on record. The unemployment rate dropped to 5.1%, the lowest it’s been in seven years. The American auto industry is on track to sell more cars and trucks this year than it has in more than a decade. Sixteen million Americans have gained the security of health insurance. Seventeen states and about 30 cities and counties have raised the minimum wage. And we’ve proposed extending overtime protections to as many as five million Americans. All of that is progress.

This month, Congress has an opportunity to continue that progress. As always, the deadline for Congress to pass a budget is the end of September. Every year. This is not new. And if they don’t, they’ll shut down the government for the second time in two years. At a time when the global economy faces headwinds and America’s economy is a relative bright spot in the world, a shutdown of our government would be wildly irresponsible. It would be an unforced error that saps the momentum we’ve worked so hard to build. Plain and simple, a shutdown would hurt working Americans.

It doesn’t have to happen. If Congress wants to support working Americans and strengthen our middle class, they can pass a budget that invests in, not makes cuts to, the middle class. If they pass a budget with shortsighted sequester cuts that harm our military and our economy, I’ll veto it. If they make smart investments in our military readiness, our infrastructure, our schools, public health, and research, I’ll sign that budget – and they know that.

So let’s get it done. Our economy doesn’t need another round of threats and brinksmanship. Nobody gets to play games with our economy – or the middle class I grew up in, and that you grew up in. So tell Congress to pass a budget that reflects the values we honor on Labor Day. Rewarding hard work. Giving everybody a fair shot. And working together to give all of our kids a better life. Thanks everybody. And enjoy your weekend.

Bolding added.




  1. The president trolls Congress:

    As always, the deadline for Congress to pass a budget is the end of September. Every year. This is not new.

    He will veto any budget that continues the incredibly destructive sequesters, a device intended to bring Republican congressional leaders to the table but which instead showed the resolve of the Republicans in Congress to cripple government and shred the safety nets so many people rely on in this fragile economy.

    Good. The sequester must go. It was a dangerous gambit that failed.

  2. In the News: No union mines left in Kentucky, where labor wars once raged

    Kentucky coal miners bled and died to unionize.

    Their workplaces became war zones, and gun battles once punctuated union protests. In past decades, organizers have been beaten, stabbed and shot while seeking better pay and safer conditions deep underground.

    But more recently the United Mine Workers in Kentucky have been in retreat, dwindling like the black seams of coal in the Appalachian mountains.

    And now the last union mine in Kentucky has been shut down.

  3. In the News: Walls of the world aim to keep unwanted foreigners out, hold prosperity in

    More than 25 years after the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, even bigger barriers today separate countries from one another. Walls in 2015 snake through many thousands of miles in efforts to monitor and control the movement of people with fences, watchtowers and border patrols.

    Contrary to a widely held notion that the 21st century is defined by the erosion of boundaries among nation-states, fresh barriers continue to be erected on the southern border of the U.S., on the southeastern periphery of Europe, and between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. From India and Uzbekistan to Botswana and Bulgaria, governments are raising barriers on their borders.

    Have the new walls succeeded in fostering security? Why are they being constructed at such a rapid rate on international lines between nation-states?

    These nations/regions all have walls and fences. The article describes each one.

    • United States and Mexico
    • European Union
    • Middle East
    • Arabian Peninsula
    • Morocco
    • South Asia
    • North and South Korea
    • Southern Africa
    • Central Asia
  4. President Obama speaking last year at Laborfest in Milwaukee:


    … we’re here to celebrate something that sometimes the American people take for granted — the 40-hour workweek, overtime pay, a minimum wage, weekends like this one. All that didn’t happen by accident. It happened because America’s workers organized for it, fought for it. History shows that working families can get a fair shot in this country, but only if we’re willing to fight for it. […]

    America is stronger because of the decisions we made to rescue our economy and rebuild it on a new foundation asking the simple question, is this good for ordinary Americans, is this good for working people — not just a few, but for everybody. And over the past 53 months, our business have created nearly 10 million new jobs. (Applause.) We’re on a streak where, the last six months, we’ve created more than 200,000 jobs each month -– that’s the first time that’s happened since 1997. (Applause.) […]

    So I just want everybody to understand — because you wouldn’t always know it from watching the news — (laughter) — by almost every measure, the American economy and American workers are better off than when I took office. (Applause.) We’re better off by almost every measure. But, look, none of this progress has come easy. Every inch of it we have had to fight for. Every inch of it we’ve had to work against a lockstep opposition that is opposed to everything we do.

    But it was worth it. Every gray hair is worth it. (Applause.) Every gray hair is worth it — and at least I’ve still got some hair. (Applause.) […]

    I believe in the American Dream because I have lived it. (Applause.) And I ran for this office to restore it for everybody so no matter what you look like, and no matter where you came from, no matter how you started, you can make it in America if you try. (Applause.)

    So that’s what’s at stake right now. That’s what’s at stake: making sure the economy works for everybody. I’ve got a vision of an economy where opportunity is open to everybody who’s willing to work hard. […]

    I want an economy where your hard work pays off with higher wages, and higher incomes, and fairer pay for women, and workplace flexibility for parents, and affordable health insurance, and decent retirement benefits. (Applause.) I’m not asking for the moon, I just want a good deal for American workers. (Applause.)

    Sometimes when I talk about this stuff to some of my folks on the other side of the aisle, they’re all like, well, why are you stirring up class resentments? I’m not stirring up class resentment.

    Let me tell you something, working families, they’re fine that folks are rich. The average person, they’re not looking for a yacht. They’re not looking for their own plane. They’re not looking for a mansion. They don’t need to be vacationing in St. Bart’s. All they’re looking for is that if they work hard, they can pay the bills; that they can send their kids to school; they can retire with some dignity, maybe take a vacation once in a while … […]

    America is that dad who punches in every morning to put food on the table. America is the mom who’s working the graveyard shift to provide for her kids. America is the child who dreams of being the first in his family to go to college. America is the teacher who stays after work and dips into her own pocket for supplies to help that child get there. America is the autoworker who thought she’d never make another car again, and now she can’t make them fast enough. America is the construction worker who’s helping build more homes and businesses to get solar panels on the top. America is on the move. America is on the move. (Applause.)

    America is not the party we belong to, but the values we share. America is hard work. America is responsibility. America is sacrifice. America is looking out for one another. Let’s embrace some economic patriotism that says we rise or fall together as one nation, as one people. […]

    Hope, the belief that there are better days ahead; the belief that together, we can build up our middle class and hand down something better to our kids — that’s what built America. And America’s best days are still ahead. I believe it. You need to believe it, too. Let’s get to work.

  5. Labor Secretary Tom Perez via USA Today:

    Q: It’s almost Labor Day, but a lot of American workers aren’t celebrating. Unemployment is down but wages remain stagnant. Is this the new normal?

    Perez: Absolutely not. We’ve made a lot of progress. We’ve had 65 consecutive months of private-sector job growth, to the tune of 13 million jobs. But there are still way too many people who either want a job and don’t have one or people like those I met in Detroit just a few days ago, fast-food workers. I met a woman working 30 hours a week, trying to make ends meet, three children. And she slept the night before I met her in her car because she’s homeless. We can do better. We can build a nation of shared prosperity. And that’s the unfinished business, making sure the wind that’s at our back economically results in shared prosperity.

    Q: What can government do?

    Perez: We need tighter labor markets; we still have slack in the labor markets. … We’re fighting hard to increase the minimum wage. … We’ve doing an overtime regulation, so that potentially 5 million people who are working overtime but not getting paid can benefit.

    On labor and trade agreements:

    Q: The administration had a knock-down drag-out fight with organized labor over Trade Promotion Authority. Labor lost. What does that tell us about the power of labor?

    Perez: Trade is an issue that has always had bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition. So what we saw in the most recent conversation and debate was not new. … We agree on 98% of the agenda for building shared prosperity in America. This happens to be that 2%.

    Q: Are there lasting wounds?

    Perez: I have four siblings. I love my siblings unconditionally. We have a lot of disagreements. At the end of the day, we understand that what unites us far outweighs the things that we disagree on. The relationships and the values that we share are so strong with our friends in labor that we continue to move forward in very constructive ways on really important issues.

  6. President Obama to require paid leave for federal contractors:

    WASHINGTON — President Obama will sign an executive order Monday requiring federal contractors to give their employees seven paid sick days a year.

    It’s the latest in a series of presidential actions on workplace issues, as Obama has taken unilateral action to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors, offer paid paternal leave for federal workers and encourage cities and states to enact similar policies.

    Obama will announce the executive order in a Labor Day speech to a labor group in Boston, where the City Council passed an ordinance requiring up to six weeks of parental leave in April.

  7. From the White House: President Obama Delivers Remarks at the Greater Boston Labor Council Labor Day Breakfast, Boston, Massachusetts at 11:00am Eastern


    • Joe Biden speaks up for unions:

      Biden donned a United Steel Workers of America cap in Pittsburgh and launched into a passionate, populist speech in which he declared, “I’m mad, I’m angry,” as he talked about how 1% of America owns 40% of the wealth.

      He said the tax code is not fair and wealthy people aren’t paying their fair share.

      “The level playing field doesn’t exit,” Biden said.

      He said that eliminating tax breaks for “trust fund babies” would pay for everyone who wants to go to community college to go for free.

      The vice president said he would never have been elected to the Senate in 1972 if it wasn’t for the support of the steel workers’ union. Then Biden was a 29-year-old local official challenging an incumbent Republican senator; he won in an upset.

      “We have an expression where I grew up, you go home with them that brung you to the dance,” Biden said.

  8. It was painful watching the Tweets of clueless right-wingers yesterday saying what a wonderful Labor Day it was for workers in right-to-work states because they got to keep more of their money! True that … union dues had to be paid. But you start with a bigger paycheck to pay them from when you have a union to bargain for you. And look what it does for the gender/race gap!

    According to a recent report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), while there is an overall 11.3 percent wage boost for being in a union, women get a much larger leg up. Women who work full-time and are represented by a union make about 30 percent more a week, on average, than women who aren’t unionized; men see a smaller 20 percent boost. They also have a much smaller gender wage gap: unionized women make about 89 percent of what unionized men make, compared to an overall 78 percent wage gap.

    The same is true for people of color. In 2012, Asian workers saw a nearly 15 percent wage boost for being in a union, black workers got an extra 17 percent, and Hispanic workers saw an even larger 23 percent premium. And women of color get an even greater wage improvement: according to IWPR’s current research, Hispanic women in a union see a 42 percent wage advantage, compared to a 40 percent one for Hispanic men, while black women get a nearly 34 percent leg up versus 28.5 percent for black men. Asian women can expect about 15 percent more. That helps reduce their gender wage gap, which is much larger than what white women experience.

  9. In the News: Money in Politics, Hillary Clinton to announce policy proposal

    Hillary Clinton will outline Tuesday a series of proposals designed to curb the influence of outside spending groups that have poured billions of dollars into U.S. political campaigns since the Supreme Court issued its 2010 Citizens United ruling.

    The Democratic front runner is pledging to go beyond appointing justices committed to overturning the 5-4 ruling that led to a torrent of unlimited spending by corporations, unions and so-called “dark money’’ groups that don’t disclose their donors, a campaign aide told USA TODAY. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because the proposal has not been announced publicly.

    She’ll also push for a Constitutional amendment to restrict the influence of special interests and legislation to require public disclosure of significant political spending.

    This paragraph makes no sense.

    Even as she has decried the influence of money in elections, Clinton’s also benefiting from spending by two super PACs that are supporting her candidacy and have collected seven-figure checks from wealthy Democrats, such as billionaire financier George Soros.

    What do they expect her to do, throw down her “weapons” and then say “your turn”??? Decry the money and lose the election to the Republicans as they are pounding her with ads from their unlimited deep pockets? Duh.

    We get elected and then we start draining the swamp. Until then, some of the alligators need to be ours.

  10. Hillary Clinton’s Labor Day:

    Clinton continued her focus on labor topics at the Quad City Federation of Labor’s Salute to Labor Chicken Fry in Hampton. She spoke about the importance of organized labor and its historical relevance. She pledged to support labor unions if she is elected president. While in Hampton, Clinton also received an endorsement from Iowa Representative Dave Loebsack. A video from Clinton’s speech in Hampton is below.

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