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Obama: BP To Put $20 Billion In Spill Escrow Fund

Emphasizing it was “not a cap”, President Obama announced this afternoon after meeting with BP executives that the company would put $20 Billion into an escrow fund to compensate victims of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to the escrow account, BP is putting $100 million into a fund to help unemployed oil workers. Continue Reading →

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Leaders Agree:Oil Spill Laws Need Revamping

Transcript:

 THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I want to thank all these leaders for engaging in a very substantive conversation, and I’m going to be relatively brief in summarizing it.  Obviously the top of our list was our continued response to the crisis in the Gulf and what’s happening with the oil spill.  We gave them an update on all the measures that are being taken, the single largest national response in United States history to an environmental disaster.  But we had a frank conversation about the fact that the laws that have been in place have not been adequate for a crisis of this magnitude.  The Oil Pollution Act was passed at a time when people didn’t envision drilling four miles under the sea for oil.  
     And so it’s going to be important that, based on facts, based on experts, based on a thorough examination of what went wrong here and where things have gone right, but also where things have gone wrong, that we update the laws to make sure that the people in the Gulf, the fishermen, the hotel owners, families who are dependent for their livelihoods in the Gulf, that they are all made whole and that we are in a much better position to respond to any such crisis in the future.  
     So that was a prominent part of the discussion, and I was pleased to see bipartisan agreement that we have to deal with that in an aggressive, forward-leaning way.  
     Even as we deal with that crisis, we’ve still got an economy that’s on the mend, but there are a lot of people out there who are still out of work.  There are a lot of families who are still struggling to pay the bills.  And so a major part of our discussion was how could we continue to build on the progress that’s been made in the economy and, in particular, how can we make sure that that has an impact on job growth and the day-to-day improvements that people are seeing in their own lives.  
     A couple of things that we discussed was passing the package of tax extenders and unemployment insurance and so forth that is important to give families confidence that they’re going to be able to get back on their feet but also give businesses confidence in terms of what their tax structure is going to look like going forward. Continue Reading →

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Obama Supports Iran Nuke Sanctions

 
Key quote from President Obama:
 
Today, the United Nations Security Council voted overwhelmingly to sanction Iran for its continued failure to live up to its obligations. This resolution will put in place the toughest sanctions ever faced by the Iranian government, and it sends an unmistakable message about the international community’s commitment to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons.  
For years, the Iranian government has failed to live up to its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It has violated its commitments to the International Atomic Energy Agency. It has ignored U.N. Security Council resolutions. Continue Reading →

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Obama: BP Will Pay “Every Dime” For Damage, Promises Justice

Key quote from President Obama:

We’ve also ordered BP to pay economic injury claims, and we will make sure they pay every single dime owed to the people along the Gulf Coast. The Small Business Administration has stepped in to help businesses by approving loans and allowing deferrals of existing loan payments. And this week, the federal government sent BP a preliminary bill for $69 million to pay back American taxpayers for some of the costs of the response so far. In addition, after an emergency safety review, we’re putting in place aggressive new operating standards for offshore drilling. And I’ve appointed a bipartisan commission to look into the causes of this spill. Continue Reading →

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Obama:More Job Gains For US In May

Key quote from President Obama:
 

A lot of businesses were hit hard during this downturn, but they’re starting to hire again. Workers who were laid off, they’re starting to get their jobs back. Companies that were almost forced to close their doors are making plans to expand and invest in new equipment.  
And this progress is reflected in the monthly jobs reports that we get each month. We received one today. Continue Reading →

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Obama Orders BP To Pay For Damage

 
Key quote from President Obama:
 
We’ve ordered BP to pay economic injury claims, and we will make sure they deliver. The Small Business Administration has stepped in to help businesses by approving loans and allowing deferrals of existing loan payments. We’ve stationed doctors and scientists across the region to look out for people’s health and monitor any ill effects felt by cleanup workers and residents. And we will absolutely continue to hold BP and any other responsible parties accountable for financial losses borne by the people in the region.  
 
Full text of speech:
 
 THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  I just met with these gentlemen, former Senator Bob Graham of Florida and former EPA Administrator, Bill Reilly.  They will lead the National Commission on the BP oil spill in the Gulf, which is now the greatest environmental disaster of its kind in our history.  Their job, along with the other members of the commission, will be to thoroughly examine the spill and its causes, so that we never face such a catastrophe again. Continue Reading →

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Obama On “Nobility” Of Memorial Day

Key quote from President Obama:
 
The families that I met with know in their hearts what every American must never forget. ; At its core, the nobility and the majesty of Memorial Day can be found in the story of ordinary Americans who become extraordinary for the most simple of reasons: They loved their country so deeply, so profoundly, that they were willing to give their lives to keep it safe and free.  
In another time, they might have led a life of comfort and ease. But a revolution needed to be won. Or a Union needed to be preserved. Continue Reading →

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Obama:Why We Have Memorial Day

Key quote from President Obama:
Our calling on Memorial Day is different. On this day, we honor not just those who’ve worn this country’s uniform, but the men and women who’ve died in its service; who’ve laid down their lives in defense of their fellow citizens; who’ve given their last full measure of devotion to protect the United States of America. These are the men and women I will be honoring this weekend, and I know many of you are doing the same. Continue Reading →

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Obama:BP “Fully Accountable” For Disaster – Full Video

Key quote from President Obama:
“As far as I’m concerned, BP is responsible for this horrific disaster, and we will hold them fully accountable on behalf of the United States as well as the people and communities victimized by this tragedy. We will demand that they pay every dime they owe for the damage they’ve done and the painful losses that they’ve caused. And we will continue to take full advantage of the unique technology and expertise they have to help stop this leak.” Continue Reading →

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Obama Pushes Small Business Jobs Package

White House press release:

Today, at an event honoring Small Business Owners of the Year from across the country, the President urged Congress to pass a Small Business Jobs Package, including a proposal he put forth in early February to create a new Small Business Lending Fund to provide small businesses with the tools to access capital so they can grow and hire. Continue Reading →

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Obama:Gov’t, Business, Illegals All Need To Take Responsibility

Key quote from President Obama: I’m also going to fight — have been fighting and will keep on fighting for comprehensive immigration reform that respects our nation’s heritage. (Applause.) We have to respect our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. And that means that everybody is going to have to take responsibility. Government has a responsibility to secure the border and enforce laws. Washington has an obligation to set clear, common-sense rules, including rules that no longer punish and divide families that are doing the right thing and following the law. Continue Reading →

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Obama Appoints Oil Spill Commission, BP & DC Too “Cozy”

 

President Obama announces that he has signed an executive order establishing the bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling with former two-term Florida Governor and former Senator Bob Graham and former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency William K. Reilly serving as co-chairs.   Continue Reading →

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Obama:Stop Banks From Threatening Economy Again

President Obama corrects some of the misinformation that’s been circulating about banking and Wall Street reform. Key quote at 3:02
“With reform, we’ll make our financial system more transparent by bringing the kinds of complex, backroom deals that helped trigger this crisis into the light of day. We’ll prevent banks from taking on so much risk that they could collapse and threaten our whole economy. And we’ll give shareholders more of a say on pay to help change the perverse incentives that encouraged reckless risk-taking in the first place. Put simply, Wall Street reform will bring greater security to folks on Main Street.” Continue Reading →

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Obama nominates Kagan To Suprme Court- Full Video

President Obama nominates US Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the US Supreme Court. Transcript:
 THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, hello, hello!  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Good morning, everybody.  Of the many responsibilities accorded to a President by our Constitution, few are more weighty or consequential than that of appointing a Supreme Court justice — particularly one to succeed a giant in the law like Justice John Paul Stevens. For nearly 35 years, Justice Stevens has stood as an impartial guardian of the law, faithfully applying the core values of our founding to the cases and controversies of our time.    He has done so with restraint and respect for precedent — understanding that a judge’s job is to interpret, not make law  — but also with fidelity to the constitutional ideal of equal justice for all.  He’s brought to each case not just mastery of the letter of the law, but a keen understanding of its impact on people’s lives.  And he has emerged as a consistent voice of reason, helping his colleagues find common ground on some of the most controversial and contentious issues the Court has ever faced. While we can’t presume to replace Justice Stevens’ wisdom or experience, I have selected a nominee who I believe embodies that same excellence, independence, integrity, and passion for the law — and who can ultimately provide that same kind of leadership on the Court:  our Solicitor General, and my friend, Elena Kagan.  (Applause.) Elena is widely regarded as one of the nation’s foremost legal minds.  She’s an acclaimed legal scholar with a rich understanding of constitutional law.  She is a former White House aide with a lifelong commitment to public service and a firm grasp of the nexus and boundaries between our three branches of government.  She is a trailblazing leader — the first woman to serve as Dean of Harvard Law School — and one of the most successful and beloved deans in its history.  And she is a superb Solicitor General, our nation’s chief lawyer representing the American people’s interests before the Supreme Court, the first woman in that position as well.  And she has won accolades from observers across the ideological spectrum for her well-reasoned arguments and commanding presence.  But Elena is respected and admired not just for her intellect and record of achievement, but also for her temperament — her openness to a broad array of viewpoints; her habit, to borrow a phrase from Justice Stevens, “of understanding before disagreeing”; her fair-mindedness and skill as a consensus-builder.  These traits were particularly evident during her tenure as dean.  At a time when many believed that the Harvard faculty had gotten a little one-sided in its viewpoint, she sought to recruit prominent conservative scholars and spur a healthy debate on campus.  And she encouraged students from all backgrounds to respectfully exchange ideas and seek common ground — because she believes, as I do, that exposure to a broad array of perspectives is the foundation not just for a sound legal education, but of a successful life in the law. Continue Reading →

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Health Care Reform Already Working

Transcript:
 
It has now been a little over a month since I signed health insurance reform into law.  And while it will take some time to fully implement this law, reform is already delivering real benefits to millions of Americans.  Already, we are seeing a health care system that holds insurance companies more accountable and gives consumers more control.    Two weeks ago, four million small business owners and organizations found a postcard in their mailbox informing them that they could be eligible for a health care tax cut this year – a tax cut potentially worth tens of thousands of dollars; a tax cut that will help millions provide coverage to their employees.    Starting in June, businesses will get even more relief for providing coverage to retirees who are not yet eligible for Medicare.  And a little over a month from now, on June 15th, senior citizens who fall into the prescription drug coverage gap known as the “donut hole” will start receiving a $250 rebate to help them afford their medication.    Aside from providing real, tangible benefits to the American people, the new health care law has also begun to end the worst practices of insurance companies.  For too long, we have been held hostage to an insurance industry that jacks up premiums and drops coverage as they please.  But those days are finally coming to an end.    After our administration demanded that Anthem Blue Cross justify a 39% premium increase on Californians, the company admitted the error and backed off its plan.  And this week, our Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, wrote a letter to all states urging them to investigate other rate hikes and stop insurance companies from gaming the system.  To help states achieve this goal, we’ve set up a new Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, and will provide grants to states with the best oversight programs.    In the next month, we’ll also be putting in place a new patients’ bill of rights.  It will provide simple and clear information to consumers about their choices and their rights.  It will set up an appeals process to enforce those rights.  And it will prohibit insurance companies from limiting a patients’ access to their preferred primary care provider, ob-gyn, or emergency room care.    We’re holding insurance companies accountable in other ways, as well.  As of September, the new health care law prohibits insurance companies from dropping people’s coverage when they get sick and need it most.  But when we found out that an insurance company was systematically dropping the coverage of women diagnosed with breast cancer, my administration called on them to end this practice immediately.  Two weeks ago, the entire insurance industry announced that it would comply with the new law early and stop the perverse practice of dropping people’s coverage when they get sick.    On Monday, we’ll also be announcing the new rule that allows young adults without insurance to stay on their parents’ plan until they’re 26 years old.  Even though insurance companies have until September to comply with this rule, we’ve asked them to do so immediately to avoid coverage gaps for new college graduates and other young adults.  This also makes good business sense for insurance companies, and we’re pleased that most have agreed.  Now we need employers to do the same, and we’re willing to work with them to make this transition possible.  These changes mean that starting this spring, when young adults graduate from college, many who do not have health care coverage will be able to stay on their parents’ insurance for a few more years.  And you can check healthreform.gov to find a list of all the insurance carriers who have agreed to participate right away.     I’ve said before that implementing health insurance reform won’t happen overnight, and it will require some tweaks and changes along the way.  Ultimately, we’ll have a system that provides more control for consumers, more accountability for insurance companies, and more affordable choices for uninsured Americans.  But already, we are seeing how reform is improving the lives of millions of Americans.  Already, we are watching small businesses learn that they will soon pay less for health care.  We are seeing retirees realize they’ll be able to keep their coverage and seniors realize they’ll be able to afford their prescriptions.  We’re seeing consumers get a break from unfair rate hikes, patients get the care they need when they need it, and young adults get the security of knowing they can start off life with one less cost to worry about.  At long last, this is what health care reform is achieving.  This is what change looks like.  And this is the promise we will keep as we continue to make this law a reality in the months and years to come.    Thanks so much. Continue Reading →

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Obama:Largest Monthly Job Increase In 4 years

 
President Obama talks about the encouraging April employment figures. The vast majority of the jobs created in April came from the private sector and it was the largest job increase in four years. Transcript:

 
THE PRESIDENT:  All right.  Good morning, everybody.  On what seems like a daily basis, we’re barraged with statistics and forecasts and reports and data related to the health of the economy.  But from the first days of this administration, amidst the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, I’ve said that the truest measure of progress would be whether or not we were creating jobs.  That’s what matters in people’s lives.  What matters is whether someone who needs a job can find work — whether people can provide for their families and save for the future and achieve some measure of economic security. 
 
     Everything we’ve done has been with this goal in mind.  And today, I’m happy to report that we received some very encouraging news.  In April, the economy added 290,000 jobs, with the vast majority — approximately 230,000 — coming from the private sector.  This is the largest monthly increase in four years.  And we created 121,000 more jobs in February and March than previously estimated, which means we’ve now seen job growth for four months in a row.  These numbers are particularly heartening when you consider where we were a year ago, with an economy in freefall.  At the height of the downturn, around the time that I took office, we were losing an average of 750,000 jobs per month.  
     So this news comes on the heels of a report last week that the overall output of our economy — our GDP — is increasing.  We now know that the economy has been growing for the better part of a year.  And this steady growth is starting to give businesses the confidence to expand and to hire new people. 
 
     I should also note that the unemployment rate ticked up slightly from 9.7 to 9.9 [percent].  Given the strength of these job numbers, this may seem contradictory, but this increase is largely a reflection of the fact that workers who had dropped out of the workforce entirely are now seeing jobs again and — are now seeking jobs again, encouraged by better prospects.  
     Now, I want to emphasize:  The economic crisis we’ve faced has inflicted a lot of damage on families and businesses across our country, and it’s going to take time to repair and rebuild.  Over the course of this recession, more than 8 million jobs were lost.  So there are a lot of people out there who are still experiencing real hardship.  And we’ve got to be mindful that today’s jobs numbers, while welcome, leave us with a lot of work to do.  It’s going to take time to achieve the strong and sustained job growth that is necessary.  And of course, long before this recession hit, for a decade middle-class families had been experiencing a sense of declining economic security. 
 
     So, yes, we’ve got a ways to go.  But we’ve also come a very long way.  And we can see that the difficult and at times unpopular steps that we’ve taken over the past year are making a difference.  Productivity is up.  The hours people are working are up.  Both are signs the company may be hiring more workers in the months to come.  We saw the largest increase in manufacturing employment since 1998.  And we can see the benefits of our Recovery Act in the strong employment reports from construction and other sectors, where we’ve made key investments in creating and saving jobs. 
 
     Of course, there are limits to what the government can do.  The true engine of job growth in this country will always be the private sector.  That’s why we are very pleased to see the strong employment growth on the private sector side. Continue Reading →

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Obama: AZ Immigration Law “misconcieved action”

 
Transcript:
So today reminds us that America’s diversity is America’s strength.  That’s why I spoke out against the recently passed law in Arizona.  (Applause.)  Make no mistake, our immigration system is broken.  And after so many years in which Washington has failed to meet its responsibilities, Americans are right to be frustrated, including folks along border states.  But the answer isn’t to undermine fundamental principles that define us as a nation.  We can’t start singling out people because of who they look like, or how they talk, or how they dress.  We can’t turn law-abiding American citizens —- and law-abiding immigrants —- into subjects of suspicion and abuse.  We can’t divide the American people that way.  That’s not the answer.  That’s not who we are as the United States of America. 
 
And that’s why I’ve instructed my administration to closely monitor the new law in Arizona, to examine the civil rights and other implications that it may have.  That’s why we have to close the door on this kind of misconceived action by meeting our obligations here in Washington.   
 
So I want to say it again, just in case anybody is confused. The way to fix our broken immigration system is through common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform.  (Applause.)  That means responsibility from government to secure our borders, something we have done and will continue to do.  It means responsibility from businesses that break the law by undermining American workers and exploiting undocumented workers -— they’ve got to be held accountable.  It means responsibility from people who are living here illegally.  They’ve got to admit that they broke the law, and pay taxes, and pay a penalty, and learn English, and get right before the law — and then get in line and earn their citizenship.       
 
Comprehensive reform —- that’s how we’re going to solve this problem.  And I know there’s been some commentary over the last week since I talked about this difficult issue:  Well, is this politically smart to do?  Can you get Republican votes?  Look, of course, it’s going to be tough.  That’s the truth.  Anybody who tells you it’s going to be easy or I can wave a magic wand and make it happen hasn’t been paying attention how this town works. (Laughter.)
 
We need bipartisan support.  But it can be done.  And it needs to be done.  So I was pleased to see a strong proposal for comprehensive reform presented in the Senate last week —- and I was pleased that it was based on a bipartisan framework.  I want to begin work this year, and I want Democrats and Republicans to work with me — because we’ve got to stay true to who we are, a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.  Continue Reading →

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