From the White House

President Obama in Flint: “This should not have happened”

President Obama Speaks to Community Members in Flint, MI

President Obama:

I do think that part of what contributed to this crisis was a broader mindset, a bigger attitude, a corrosive attitude that exists in our politics and exists in too many levels of our government.

And it’s a mindset that believes that less government is the highest good no matter what. It’s a mindset that says environmental rules designed to keep your water clean or your air clean are optional, or not that important, or unnecessarily burden businesses or taxpayers. It’s an ideology that undervalues the common good, says we’re all on our own and what’s in it for me, and how do I do well, but I’m not going to invest in what we need as a community. And, as a consequence, you end up seeing an underinvestment in the things that we all share that make us safe, that make us whole, that give us the ability to pursue our own individual dreams.”

Weekly Address: President Obama – It’s Time for the Senate To Do Its Job

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 repeated his call for Republicans in the United States Senate to give Chief Judge Merrick Garland a fair hearing and a vote. It has been 45 days since President Obama nominated Judge Garland to the Supreme Court. The President highlighted that Senate Republicans have said that Judge Garland is a man of experience, integrity and impeccable qualifications. Despite this, most Senate Republicans refused to do their job and give Judge Garland the consideration he deserves. The President made clear that the Supreme Court must remain above partisan politics, and that’s why the President did his job in nominating Merrick Garland. Now, it’s time for the Senate to do its job.

First Lady Michelle Obama: “The surest path to progress here in America runs straight through the voting booth”

Over the weekend, First Lady Michelle Obama addressed the graduating class and guests at Jackson State University, an historically black university in Jackson, Mississippi.

(Jackson State University YouTube: Michelle Obama’s Speech at 2016 JSU Spring Undergraduate Commencement)

Michelle Obama:

Now, back in 1950, when this stadium was built, it was one of the finest stadiums in the country, quickly became the pride of Mississippi. But the story of this beautiful complex also has a darker side. For years, it stood as a steel and concrete tribute to segregation, because Jim Crow laws meant that only white teams and fans were allowed through these gates.

Back in 1962, during an Ole Miss football game, this stadium became the site of what was essentially a pro-Jim Crow rally, with fans waving Confederate flags and singing a song called “Never No Never” to protest the admission of an African American student to their university. […]

That game was just one small moment in a struggle of civil rights that enflamed this entire country, but often burned hottest right here in Mississippi, the state where a 14-year-old boy named Emmett Till was beaten and murdered. Where NAACP leader Medgar Evers was assassinated. Where Freedom Riders overflowed the jails. Where gunshots would ring out here on your campus, killing young people and littering one of your dorms with bullet holes still seen today.[…]

Several months ago, I was meeting with a group of teenage girls from Washington, D.C., and one of them asked me, “Well, what do you think Dr. King would say about everything that’s going on today?” And I told her that none of us can really answer that question. But I said that Dr. King would probably answer it with a simple question –- and that is: “Did you vote?” (Applause.) Did you vote?

Dr. King understood was that one of the surest paths to progress here in America runs straight through the voting booth. That’s been the key to every single stride we have ever taken in this country –- from fighting discrimination to passing health care. It all starts with the ballot. […]

If we fail to exercise our fundamental right to vote, then I guarantee that so much of the progress we’ve fought for will be under threat. Congress will still be gridlocked. Statehouses will continue to roll back voting rights and write discrimination into the law. We see it right here in Mississippi — just two weeks ago -– how swiftly progress can hurtle backward, how easy it is to single out a small group and marginalize them because of who they are or who they love.

Full transcript below.

Weekly Address: President Obama – Building a Fairer and More Effective Criminal Justice System

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 his continued efforts to build a fairer and more equitable criminal justice system. The Department of Justice has designated the week of April 24-30 as National Reentry Week, during which the Administration will highlight how strong reentry programs can make our communities safer. In support of National Reentry Week, the President said his Administration will take additional steps to ensure applicants with a criminal history have a fair shot when competing for a federal job.

Additionally, the White House will call on businesses to commit to hiring those who have served their time, and it will issue a report on the economic costs of high incarceration rates in this country.The President emphasized that this is about more than what makes economic and practical sense – it’s about ensuring we live up to our Nation’s ideals.

Weekly Address: President Obama – Ensuring Our Free Market Works for Everyone

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 important steps the Administration has taken to encourage competition – the most essential ingredient in a healthy free market. Right now, too many companies are engaging in behaviors that stifle competition, stacking the deck against consumers, workers, and small businesses. The President emphasized that this isn’t fair – and that’s why he is doing everything he can to reverse this trend and to promote more competition. The President said that’s also why his Administration is encouraging the FCC to open up set-top cable boxes to competition, which will allow for companies to create new, innovative, higher-quality, lower-cost products – because it’s good for workers, businesses, and our economy.

President Obama: “I’m not here just to say we SHOULD close the wage gap. I’m here to say we WILL close the wage gap.”

On Tuesday, President Obama spoke at the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Museum to commemorate Equal Pay Day.

President Obama:

Equal pay for equal work should be a fundamental principle of our economy. It’s the idea that whether you’re a high school teacher, a business executive, or a professional soccer player or tennis player, your work should be equally valued and rewarded, whether you are a man or a woman. […]

Today, the typical woman who works full-time earns 79 cents for every dollar that a typical man makes. And the gap is even wider for women of color. The typical black woman makes only 60 cents, a Latino woman 55 cents for every dollar that a white man earns. […]

I’m not here just to say we should close the wage gap. I’m here to say we will close the wage gap. […]

One of the interesting things, as I was just looking through some of the rooms — there was Susan B. Anthony’s desk. You had Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s chair. And you realize that those early suffragists had proceeded Alice Paul by a generation. They had passed away by the time that the vote was finally granted to women. And it makes you realize — and I say this to young people all the time — that this is not a sprint, this is a marathon. It’s not the actions of one person, one individual, but it is a collective effort, where each generation has its own duty, its own responsibility, its own role to fulfill in advancing the cause of our democracy.

The Sewall-Belmont House, part of the National Park Service, is now “America’s newest national monument — the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument”.

Weekly Address: President Obama – Playing by the Same Rules

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 highlighted two specific steps the Administration took this week to make sure everyone plays by the same rules. First, in order to help more Americans retire with the security they have earned, the Department of Labor finalized a rule that will ensure retirement advisers compete based on the quality of advice they give rather than acting in their own financial interests. In addition, the Treasury Department took action this week to crack down on corporations that take advantage of inversions, a loophole that allows some businesses to avoid paying their fair share in taxes here at home. These actions underscore the President’s belief that we should continue to build an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, does their fair share, and plays by the same rules.

President Obama: “Republicans in the Senate have decided that placating their base is more important than upholding their constitutional and institutional roles.”

Yesterday, President Obama visited with some students and faculty at the University of Chicago Law School where he once taught constitutional law. The purpose of the visit was to discuss his nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the DC Circuit to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. The conversation ranged freely as he took questions from the audience.

President Obama on the unprecedented blockade in the Senate where the majority will not even have a hearing for the nominee:

There have been controversies in the past about how we should decide the balance between liberty and security, about how do we treat minority groups to assure that they are protected from majority rule. How do we make sure that the political process itself has integrity and that our votes count? Those are all issue where passions are real and people have opinions. And there’s nothing wrong with that. […]

I will say that there has not been a circumstance in which a Republican President’s appointee did not get a hearing, did not get a vote, and as a general proposition, they have been confirmed even where there have been strong objections.

So what you have here is, I think, a circumstance in which those in the Senate have decided that placating our base is more important than upholding their constitutional and institutional roles in our democracy in a way that is dangerous. And there are other examples of it, but this judicial nomination process I think has become an extreme example.[…]

What’s not acceptable is not giving him a vote, not giving him a hearing, not meeting with him. What’s not acceptable, I believe, is the increasing use of the filibuster for somebody who’s clearly within the mainstream, or to essentially say that we are going to nullify the ability of a President who is from another party from making an appointment. And we’re going to wait to see if maybe we can get a guy from our party to make the appointment. That is where you have a process foul that corrodes the ability of the Court to function effectively.

Full transcript below …

Michelle Obama’s Garden

First Lady Michelle Obama is planting her final White House Kitchen Garden. :(

Michelle Obama:

Well, this will be the last White House Kitchen Garden planting for me in this administration. It was eight years ago that we cooked up this really interesting idea that maybe we could dig up some dirt on the South Lawn, let them do that — maybe somebody would let us do that, and we would plant a wonderful garden that would be a space for us to talk about the food we eat. And it was always the idea that we would have kids very involved in everything that we do. […]

… in honor of the last planting, we’re going to be talking about community gardens all over the country. We’re going to talk about this growth in — community garden, and I’m going to be doing some surprise visits to community gardens around the nation. On Thursday, we’re setting out to do some surprise visits in a couple of states in our country.

Full Transcript Below …

Weekly Address: President Obama – Securing the World from Nuclear Terrorism

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 from the Nuclear Security Summit on one of the greatest threats to global security—terrorists getting their hands on a weapon of mass destruction, such as a nuclear weapon. He discussed the global effort we have been leading to secure the world’s nuclear materials and highlighted the fact that working with other nations, we have removed or secured enough nuclear material for more than 150 nuclear weapons—material that will now never fall into the hands of terrorists. The President also reiterated his commitment to making sure the world remains united and focused on destroying ISIL. He emphasized that defeating ISIL remains our top priority, and during the summit, he focused on ways to step up our efforts to disrupt terrorist attacks. Because of the progress of this week’s summit, and over recent years, more of the world’s nuclear material is secure, and the President will continue to do everything in his power to keep our nation safe and strong and free.