From the White House

President Obama: “We must not allow ourselves to slip into comfortable silence again”

From the White House:

President Obama travels to the College of Charleston in South Carolina to deliver a eulogy for Reverend Clement Pinckney and 8 other congregation members of Emanuel AME who were killed on June 17, 2015. June 26, 2015.

President Obama:

Over the course of centuries, black churches served as “hush harbors” where slaves could worship in safety; praise houses where their free descendants could gather and shout hallelujah — rest stops for the weary along the Underground Railroad; bunkers for the foot soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement. They have been, and continue to be, community centers where we organize for jobs and justice; places of scholarship and network; places where children are loved and fed and kept out of harm’s way, and told that they are beautiful and smart — and taught that they matter. That’s what happens in church.

That’s what the black church means. Our beating heart. The place where our dignity as a people is inviolate. When there’s no better example of this tradition than Mother Emanuel — a church built by blacks seeking liberty, burned to the ground because its founder sought to end slavery, only to rise up again, a Phoenix from these ashes.

On the Confederate flag and its removal:

For many, black and white, that flag was a reminder of systemic oppression and racial subjugation. We see that now.

Removing the flag from this state’s capitol would not be an act of political correctness; it would not be an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be an acknowledgment that the cause for which they fought — the cause of slavery — was wrong — the imposition of Jim Crow after the Civil War, the resistance to civil rights for all people was wrong. […]

For too long, we’ve been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present. Perhaps we see that now. Perhaps this tragedy causes us to ask some tough questions about how we can permit so many of our children to languish in poverty, or attend dilapidated schools, or grow up without prospects for a job or for a career.

On the work ahead:

… it would be a betrayal of everything Reverend Pinckney stood for, I believe, if we allowed ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again. Once the eulogies have been delivered, once the TV cameras move on, to go back to business as usual — that’s what we so often do to avoid uncomfortable truths about the prejudice that still infects our society. To settle for symbolic gestures without following up with the hard work of more lasting change — that’s how we lose our way again.

Full transcript below …

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President Obama: “The Affordable Care Act is here to stay”

From the White House:

On March 23, 2010, I sat down at a table in the East Room of the White House and signed my name on a law that said, once and for all, that health care would no longer be a privilege for a few. It would be a right for everyone.

Five years later, after more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or weaken this law and multiple challenges before the Supreme Court, here is what we know today:

This law worked. It’s still working. It has changed and saved American lives. It has set this country on a smarter, stronger course.

And it’s here to stay.

If that means something to you today, add your voice here.

This morning, the Supreme Court upheld one of the most critical parts of health reform — the part that has made it easier for Americans to afford health insurance, no matter where you live.

If the challenges to this law had succeeded, millions would have had thousands of dollars in tax credits taken away. Insurance would have once again become unaffordable for many Americans. Many would have even become uninsured again. Ultimately, everyone’s premiums could have gone up.

Because of this law, and because of today’s decision, millions of Americans will continue to receive the tax credits that have given about 8 in 10 people who buy insurance on the new Health Insurance Marketplaces the choice of a health care plan that costs less than $100 a month.

If you’re a parent, you can keep your kids on your plan until they turn 26 — something that has covered millions of young people so far. That’s because of this law. If you’re a senior, or have a disability, this law gives you discounts on your prescriptions — something that has saved 9 million Americans an average of $1,600 so far. If you’re a woman, you can’t be charged more than anybody else — even if you’ve had cancer, or your husband had heart disease, or just because you’re a woman. Your insurer has to offer free preventive services like mammograms. They can’t place annual or lifetime caps on your care.

And when it comes to preexisting conditions — someday, our grandkids will ask us if there was really a time when America discriminated against people who got sick. Because that’s something this law has ended for good.

Five years in and more than 16 million insured Americans later, this is no longer just about a law. This isn’t just about the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

This is health care in America.

Today is a victory for every American whose life will continue to become more secure because of this law. And 20, 30, 50 years from now, most Americans may not know what “Obamacare” is. And that’s okay. That’s the point.

Because today, this reform remains what it always has been — a set of fairer rules and tougher protections that have made health care in America more affordable, more attainable, and more about you.

That’s who we are as Americans. We look out for one another. We take care of each other. We root for one another’s success. We strive to do better, to be better, than the generation before us, and we try to build something better for the generation that comes behind us.

And today, with this behind us, let’s come together and keep building something better. That starts right now.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

The president and vice president, Thursday morning:

Transcript below.

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President Obama: “I refuse to act as if this is the new normal”

The president spoke at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco on Friday. One of the topics was gun violence.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Obviously, the entire country has been shocked and heartbroken by what happened in Charleston. The nature of this attack — in a place of worship, where congregants invite in a stranger to worship with them, only to be gunned down — adds to the pain. The apparent motivations of the shooter remind us that racism remains a blight that we have to combat together. We have made great progress, but we have to be vigilant because it still lingers. And when it’s poisoning the minds of young people, it betrays our ideals and tears our democracy apart. […]

More than 11,000 Americans were killed by gun violence in 2013 alone — 11,000. […] At the very least, we should be able to talk about this issue as citizens, without demonizing all gun owners who are overwhelmingly law-abiding, but also without suggesting that any debate about this involves a wild-eyed plot to take everybody’s guns away.[…]

I remarked that it was very unlikely that this Congress would act. And some reporters, I think, took this as resignation. I want to be clear — I am not resigned. I have faith we will eventually do the right thing. (Applause.) I was simply making the point that we have to move public opinion. […]

We need a change in attitudes among everybody — lawful gun owners, those who are unfamiliar with guns. […]

And ultimately, Congress acts when the public insists on action.

Another “normal” that we should not accept: that people of color should always fear for their basic safety. This comment, by David Remnick at the New Yorker, highlights the issue:

No small part of our outrage and grief—particularly the outrage and grief of African-Americans—is the way the Charleston murders are part of a larger picture of American life, in which black men and women, going about their day-to-day lives, have so little confidence in their own safety. One appalling event after another reinforces the sense that the country’s political and law-enforcement institutions do not extend themselves as completely or as fairly as they do for whites.

THAT is what needs to change. Until people of color can feel safe going about their day, until the benefit of the doubt is extended to them … and their children … things will not be right. We need to demand a New Normal for fairness in America and shift public opinion so that protections are extended to all people of all races and genders and sexual orientations.

(Full context of the president’s remarks on gun violence are below …)

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Weekly Address: President Obama – Creating New Pathways of Opportunity for Americans Like You

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 spoke to his priority of growing the economy and opening new avenues of opportunity for hardworking Americans. While the United States has already made economic progress, with more than 12 million new private sector jobs created over the past five years, there’s still more to be done. That’s why the President has continued to press for strong, high-standard trade agreements that are good for American workers and good for American businesses. And it’s why his Administration has partnered with mayors and governors across the country on issues such as minimum wage and paid leave that impact hardworking Americans. The President discussed impactful initiatives like these in his address before the Conference of Mayors on Friday.

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President Obama: “Hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals”

The President:

There is something particularly heartbreaking about the death happening in a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace, in a place of worship.

Mother Emanuel is, in fact, more than a church. This is a place of worship that was founded by African Americans seeking liberty. This is a church that was burned to the ground because its worshipers worked to end slavery. When there were laws banning all-black church gatherings, they conducted services in secret. When there was a nonviolent movement to bring our country closer in line with our highest ideals, some of our brightest leaders spoke and led marches from this church’s steps. This is a sacred place in the history of Charleston and in the history of America. […]

… just over 50 years ago, after four little girls were killed in a bombing in a black church in Birmingham, Alabama … Dr. King said … “we must be concerned not merely with who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers.”

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Mobilizing Private-Sector Support for Homegrown Clean Energy

From the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz:

Ingenuity is one of our country’s greatest assets. America’s entrepreneurs and innovators have a legacy of unleashing their creativity, grit, and imagination to invent, discover, and build solutions that not only contribute to our growing economy, but also solve some of the toughest challenges facing the nation. Investing in homegrown innovation, including the development of new, clean-energy technologies, is a crucial part of the fight against climate change – and is key to keeping America on the leading edge of the world’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

That’s why today, we’re hosting a Clean Energy Investment Summit at the White House, where we’re announcing $4 billion in independent commitments by major foundations, institutional investors, and others to fund innovative solutions to help fight climate change, including technologies with breakthrough potential to reduce carbon pollution.

Taken together, these commitments far surpass the initial $2 billion goal set at the launch of the Administration’s Clean Energy Investment Initiative last February. And we look forward to seeing this initiative continue to build momentum in the months ahead.

Vice President Biden:

Biden touts clean energy to investors

[T]he vice president addressed the White House Clean Energy Investment Summit, rallying charitable groups and large investors to commit $4 billion toward clean energy technologies.

“To state the obvious, I’m not an investment banker,” Biden said. “I wouldn’t go long on investments that lead to carbon pollution. I’d bet on clean energy.”

Biden said even China was beginning to understand the escalating health effects of carbon pollution.

“In the United States, even the climate deniers are preparing for greater impacts from more extreme weather, from heat waves wildfires, superstorms, droughts — all of which drastically effect local security and local economies,” he said.

(Transcript of Vice President Biden’s speech will be added when it becomes available.)

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Weekly Address: President Obama – Stand Up for American Workers and Pass TAA

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

WASHINGTON, DC — In this week’s address, the President reiterated that his top priority is to grow the American economy and ensure that every hardworking American has a fair shot at success. It’s because of this commitment that the President has worked to enact smart new trade agreements that level the playing field for our workers, open new markets for our businesses, and hold other countries to the kinds of high standards that Americans are proud to hold ourselves to here at home. On Friday, Republicans and Democrats in the House took an important step by voting to help the United States negotiate and enforce high-standard trade deals. But they also failed to renew Trade Adjustment Assistance, despite the fact that it provides vital support to about 100,000 workers, and passed the Senate with bipartisan support. The President urged the House to pass TAA without delay so that more middle-class workers can earn the chance to participate and succeed in our global economy.

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President Obama Speaks on Health Care in America

The President spoke about health care in America on Tuesday, June 9, 2015.

(Transcript: Remarks by the President at the Catholic Hospital Association Conference)

From President Obama:

On a day in early September of 2009, I received the following letter from Senator Edward Kennedy. He’d written in May of that year, shortly after he learned that his illness was terminal. He asked that it be delivered to me upon his death.

It is a letter about the cause of his career — what he called “that great unfinished business of our society” — health care reform.

“What we face,” he writes, “is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.”

Senator Kennedy never stopped asking what he could do for his country. Today, tens of millions of Americans are better for it.

And while Teddy didn’t live to see his life’s work signed into law, more than five years after its passage, the spirit of his words ring true. This is, fundamentally, about the character of our country. Doing right by one another.

It’s who we are.

Tomorrow, I will deliver remarks about health care in America. Get a history of where we’ve been, and let me know you’ll be watching.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

From the White House: Health Care in America

News about the latest attacks on the president’s health care initiatives are below …

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President Obama: “The world noticed”

On Saturday, June 6, President Obama delivered a eulogy in honor of Beau Biden, the son of his friend and vice-president, Joe Biden.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

Without love, life can be cold and it can be cruel. Sometimes cruelty is deliberate –- the action of bullies or bigots, or the inaction of those indifferent to another’s pain. But often, cruelty is simply born of life, a matter of fate or God’s will, beyond our mortal powers to comprehend. To suffer such faceless, seemingly random cruelty can harden the softest hearts, or shrink the sturdiest. It can make one mean, or bitter, or full of self-pity. Or, to paraphrase an old proverb, it can make you beg for a lighter burden.

But if you’re strong enough, it can also make you ask God for broader shoulders; shoulders broad enough to bear not only your own burdens, but the burdens of others; shoulders broad enough to shield those who need shelter the most.

To know Beau Biden is to know which choice he made in his life. To know Joe and the rest of the Biden family is to understand why Beau lived the life he did.

Like his father, Beau did not have a mean bone in his body. The cruelty he’d endured in his life didn’t make him hard, it made him compassionate, empathetic. But it did make him abhor bullies.

Beau’s grandfather, Joe’s father, believed that the most egregious sin was to abuse your power to inflict pain on another. So Beau squared his broad shoulders to protect people from that kind of abuse. He fought for homeowners who were cheated, seniors who were scammed. He even went after bullying itself. He set up a Child Protector — Predator Task Force, convicted more than 200 of those who targeted vulnerable children.

You know, anyone can make a name for themselves in this reality TV age, especially in today’s politics. If you’re loud enough or controversial enough, you can get some attention. But to make that name mean something, to have it associated with dignity and integrity –- that is rare. There’s no shortcut to get it. It’s not something you can buy. […]

That’s what our country was built on –- men like Beau. That’s who built it –- families like this. We don’t have kings or queens or lords. We don’t have to be born into money to have an impact. We don’t have to step on one another to be successful. We have this remarkable privilege of being able to earn what we get out of life, with the knowledge that we are no higher than anybody else, or lower than anybody else. We know this not just because it is in our founding documents, but because families like the Bidens have made it so, because people like Beau have made it so.

As hard as it is right now, through all the heartache and through all the tears, it is our obligation to Beau to think not about what was and what might have been, but instead to think about what is, because of him. Think about the day that dawns for children who are safer because of Beau, whose lives are fuller, because of him. Think about the day that dawns for parents who rest easier, and families who are freer, because of him. Some folks may never know that their lives are better because of Beau Biden. But that’s okay. Certainly for Beau, acclaim was never the point of public service.

Jill, Joe, Hallie, Hunter and Natalie — the world noticed. They noticed. They felt it, his presence. And Beau lives on in the lives of others. And isn’t that the whole point of our time here? To make this country we love fairer and more just, not just for Natalie and Hunter, or Naomi, or Finnegan, or Maisy, or Malia, or Sasha, but for every child? Isn’t that what this amazing journey we’ve been on is all about -– to make life better for the next generation?

Full transcript below.

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Weekly Address: President Obama – Celebrating Immigrant Heritage Month

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 Immigrant Heritage Month, an occasion that allows us to celebrate our origins as a nation of immigrants. The basic idea of welcoming people to our shores is central to our ancestry and our way of life. That’s why the President asked everyone to visit whitehouse.gov/NewAmericans and share stories of making it to America.

And as we celebrate our heritage and our diversity, the President promised to continue to fight to fix our current broken immigration system and make it more just and more fair, strengthening America in the process.

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