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News from the White House: President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address

President Barack Obama gave the 2015 State of the Union speech earlier this evening. Now you can watch the video, presentation, and read and translate his remarks. After you review these resources, you’re encouraged to share your constructive thoughts in the comments section below.



President Obama’s State of the Union Address
 — Remarks As Prepared for Delivery

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:

We are fifteen years into this new century. Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world. It has been, and still is, a hard time for many.

But tonight, we turn the page.

Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis. More of our kids are graduating than ever before; more of our people are insured than ever before; we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years.

Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over. Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, fewer than 15,000 remain. And we salute the courage and sacrifice of every man and woman in this 9/11 Generation who has served to keep us safe. We are humbled and grateful for your service.

America, for all that we’ve endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this:

The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.

At this moment — with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production — we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come.

Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?

Will we approach the world fearful and reactive, dragged into costly conflicts that strain our military and set back our standing? Or will we lead wisely, using all elements of our power to defeat new threats and protect our planet?

Will we allow ourselves to be sorted into factions and turned against one another — or will we recapture the sense of common purpose that has always propelled America forward?

In two weeks, I will send this Congress a budget filled with ideas that are practical, not partisan. And in the months ahead, I’ll crisscross the country making a case for those ideas.

So tonight, I want to focus less on a checklist of proposals, and focus more on the values at stake in the choices before us.

It begins with our economy.

Seven years ago, Rebekah and Ben Erler of Minneapolis were newlyweds. She waited tables. He worked construction. Their first child, Jack, was on the way.

They were young and in love in America, and it doesn’t get much better than that.

“If only we had known,” Rebekah wrote to me last spring, “what was about to happen to the housing and construction market.”

As the crisis worsened, Ben’s business dried up, so he took what jobs he could find, even if they kept him on the road for long stretches of time. Rebekah took out student loans, enrolled in community college, and retrained for a new career. They sacrificed for each other. And slowly, it paid off. They bought their first home. They had a second son, Henry. Rebekah got a better job, and then a raise. Ben is back in construction — and home for dinner every night.

“It is amazing,” Rebekah wrote, “what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.”

We are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.

America, Rebekah and Ben’s story is our story. They represent the millions who have worked hard, and scrimped, and sacrificed, and retooled. You are the reason I ran for this office. You’re the people I was thinking of six years ago today, in the darkest months of the crisis, when I stood on the steps of this Capitol and promised we would rebuild our economy on a new foundation. And it’s been your effort and resilience that has made it possible for our country to emerge stronger.

We believed we could reverse the tide of outsourcing, and draw new jobs to our shores. And over the past five years, our businesses have created more than 11 million new jobs.

We believed we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil and protect our planet. And today, America is number one in oil and gas. America is number one in wind power. Every three weeks, we bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008. And thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family this year should save $750 at the pump.

We believed we could prepare our kids for a more competitive world. And today, our younger students have earned the highest math and reading scores on record. Our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high. And more Americans finish college than ever before.

We believed that sensible regulations could prevent another crisis, shield families from ruin, and encourage fair competition. Today, we have new tools to stop taxpayer-funded bailouts, and a new consumer watchdog to protect us from predatory lending and abusive credit card practices. And in the past year alone, about ten million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage.

At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits. Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in fifty years.

So the verdict is clear. Middle-class economics works. Expanding opportunity works. And these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don’t get in the way. We can’t slow down businesses or put our economy at risk with government shutdowns or fiscal showdowns. We can’t put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance, or unraveling the new rules on Wall Street, or refighting past battles on immigration when we’ve got a system to fix. And if a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things, it will earn my veto.

Today, thanks to a growing economy, the recovery is touching more and more lives. Wages are finally starting to rise again. We know that more small business owners plan to raise their employees’ pay than at any time since 2007. But here’s the thing — those of us here tonight, we need to set our sights higher than just making sure government doesn’t halt the progress we’re making. We need to do more than just do no harm. Tonight, together, let’s do more to restore the link between hard work and growing opportunity for every American.

Because families like Rebekah’s still need our help. She and Ben are working as hard as ever, but have to forego vacations and a new car so they can pay off student loans and save for retirement. Basic childcare for Jack and Henry costs more than their mortgage, and almost as much as a year at the University of Minnesota. Like millions of hardworking Americans, Rebekah isn’t asking for a handout, but she is asking that we look for more ways to help families get ahead.

In fact, at every moment of economic change throughout our history, this country has taken bold action to adapt to new circumstances, and to make sure everyone gets a fair shot. We set up worker protections, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to protect ourselves from the harshest adversity. We gave our citizens schools and colleges, infrastructure and the internet — tools they needed to go as far as their effort will take them.

That’s what middle-class economics is — the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. We don’t just want everyone to share in America’s success — we want everyone to contribute to our success.

So what does middle-class economics require in our time?

First — middle-class economics means helping working families feel more secure in a world of constant change. That means helping folks afford childcare, college, health care, a home, retirement — and my budget will address each of these issues, lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year.

Here’s one example. During World War II, when men like my grandfather went off to war, having women like my grandmother in the workforce was a national security priority — so this country provided universal childcare. In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever. It’s not a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have. It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us. And that’s why my plan will make quality childcare more available, and more affordable, for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America — by creating more slots and a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.

Here’s another example. Today, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers. Forty-three million workers have no paid sick leave. Forty-three million. Think about that. And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home. So I’ll be taking new action to help states adopt paid leave laws of their own. And since paid sick leave won where it was on the ballot last November, let’s put it to a vote right here in Washington. Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave. It’s the right thing to do.

Of course, nothing helps families make ends meet like higher wages. That’s why this Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work. Really. It’s 2015. It’s time. We still need to make sure employees get the overtime they’ve earned. And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it. If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.

These ideas won’t make everybody rich, or relieve every hardship. That’s not the job of government. To give working families a fair shot, we’ll still need more employers to see beyond next quarter’s earnings and recognize that investing in their workforce is in their company’s long-term interest. We still need laws that strengthen rather than weaken unions, and give American workers a voice. But things like child care and sick leave and equal pay; things like lower mortgage premiums and a higher minimum wage — these ideas will make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of families. That is a fact. And that’s what all of us — Republicans and Democrats alike — were sent here to do.

Second, to make sure folks keep earning higher wages down the road, we have to do more to help Americans upgrade their skills.

America thrived in the 20th century because we made high school free, sent a generation of GIs to college, and trained the best workforce in the world. But in a 21st century economy that rewards knowledge like never before, we need to do more.

By the end of this decade, two in three job openings will require some higher education. Two in three. And yet, we still live in a country where too many bright, striving Americans are priced out of the education they need. It’s not fair to them, and it’s not smart for our future.

That’s why I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college — to zero.

Forty percent of our college students choose community college. Some are young and starting out. Some are older and looking for a better job. Some are veterans and single parents trying to transition back into the job market. Whoever you are, this plan is your chance to graduate ready for the new economy, without a load of debt. Understand, you’ve got to earn it — you’ve got to keep your grades up and graduate on time. Tennessee, a state with Republican leadership, and Chicago, a city with Democratic leadership, are showing that free community college is possible. I want to spread that idea all across America, so that two years of college becomes as free and universal in America as high school is today. And I want to work with this Congress, to make sure Americans already burdened with student loans can reduce their monthly payments, so that student debt doesn’t derail anyone’s dreams.

Thanks to Vice President Biden’s great work to update our job training system, we’re connecting community colleges with local employers to train workers to fill high-paying jobs like coding, and nursing, and robotics. Tonight, I’m also asking more businesses to follow the lead of companies like CVS and UPS, and offer more educational benefits and paid apprenticeships — opportunities that give workers the chance to earn higher-paying jobs even if they don’t have a higher education.

And as a new generation of veterans comes home, we owe them every opportunity to live the American Dream they helped defend. Already, we’ve made strides towards ensuring that every veteran has access to the highest quality care. We’re slashing the backlog that had too many veterans waiting years to get the benefits they need, and we’re making it easier for vets to translate their training and experience into civilian jobs. Joining Forces, the national campaign launched by Michelle and Jill Biden, has helped nearly 700,000 veterans and military spouses get new jobs. So to every CEO in America, let me repeat: If you want somebody who’s going to get the job done, hire a veteran.

Finally, as we better train our workers, we need the new economy to keep churning out high-wage jobs for our workers to fill.

Since 2010, America has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and all advanced economies combined. Our manufacturers have added almost 800,000 new jobs. Some of our bedrock sectors, like our auto industry, are booming. But there are also millions of Americans who work in jobs that didn’t even exist ten or twenty years ago — jobs at companies like Google, and eBay, and Tesla.

So no one knows for certain which industries will generate the jobs of the future. But we do know we want them here in America. That’s why the third part of middle-class economics is about building the most competitive economy anywhere, the place where businesses want to locate and hire.

21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure — modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest internet. Democrats and Republicans used to agree on this. So let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline. Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than thirty times as many jobs per year, and make this country stronger for decades to come.

21st century businesses, including small businesses, need to sell more American products overseas. Today, our businesses export more than ever, and exporters tend to pay their workers higher wages. But as we speak, China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region. That would put our workers and businesses at a disadvantage. Why would we let that happen? We should write those rules. We should level the playing field. That’s why I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but fair.

Look, I’m the first one to admit that past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype, and that’s why we’ve gone after countries that break the rules at our expense. But ninety-five percent of the world’s customers live outside our borders, and we can’t close ourselves off from those opportunities. More than half of manufacturing executives have said they’re actively looking at bringing jobs back from China. Let’s give them one more reason to get it done.

21st century businesses will rely on American science, technology, research and development. I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine — one that delivers the right treatment at the right time. In some patients with cystic fibrosis, this approach has reversed a disease once thought unstoppable. Tonight, I’m launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes — and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.

I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world.

I want Americans to win the race for the kinds of discoveries that unleash new jobs — converting sunlight into liquid fuel; creating revolutionary prosthetics, so that a veteran who gave his arms for his country can play catch with his kid; pushing out into the Solar System not just to visit, but to stay. Last month, we launched a new spacecraft as part of a re-energized space program that will send American astronauts to Mars. In two months, to prepare us for those missions, Scott Kelly will begin a year-long stay in space. Good luck, Captain — and make sure to Instagram it.

Now, the truth is, when it comes to issues like infrastructure and basic research, I know there’s bipartisan support in this chamber. Members of both parties have told me so. Where we too often run onto the rocks is how to pay for these investments. As Americans, we don’t mind paying our fair share of taxes, as long as everybody else does, too. But for far too long, lobbyists have rigged the tax code with loopholes that let some corporations pay nothing while others pay full freight. They’ve riddled it with giveaways the superrich don’t need, denying a break to middle class families who do.

This year, we have an opportunity to change that. Let’s close loopholes so we stop rewarding companies that keep profits abroad, and reward those that invest in America. Let’s use those savings to rebuild our infrastructure and make it more attractive for companies to bring jobs home. Let’s simplify the system and let a small business owner file based on her actual bank statement, instead of the number of accountants she can afford. And let’s close the loopholes that lead to inequality by allowing the top one percent to avoid paying taxes on their accumulated wealth. We can use that money to help more families pay for childcare and send their kids to college. We need a tax code that truly helps working Americans trying to get a leg up in the new economy, and we can achieve that together.

Helping hardworking families make ends meet. Giving them the tools they need for good-paying jobs in this new economy. Maintaining the conditions for growth and competitiveness. This is where America needs to go. I believe it’s where the American people want to go. It will make our economy stronger a year from now, fifteen years from now, and deep into the century ahead.

Of course, if there’s one thing this new century has taught us, it’s that we cannot separate our work at home from challenges beyond our shores.

My first duty as Commander-in-Chief is to defend the United States of America. In doing so, the question is not whether America leads in the world, but how. When we make rash decisions, reacting to the headlines instead of using our heads; when the first response to a challenge is to send in our military — then we risk getting drawn into unnecessary conflicts, and neglect the broader strategy we need for a safer, more prosperous world. That’s what our enemies want us to do.

I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership. We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents. That’s exactly what we’re doing right now — and around the globe, it is making a difference.

First, we stand united with people around the world who’ve been targeted by terrorists — from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris. We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies.

At the same time, we’ve learned some costly lessons over the last thirteen years.

Instead of Americans patrolling the valleys of Afghanistan, we’ve trained their security forces, who’ve now taken the lead, and we’ve honored our troops’ sacrifice by supporting that country’s first democratic transition. Instead of sending large ground forces overseas, we’re partnering with nations from South Asia to North Africa to deny safe haven to terrorists who threaten America. In Iraq and Syria, American leadership — including our military power — is stopping ISIL’s advance. Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group. We’re also supporting a moderate opposition in Syria that can help us in this effort, and assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism. This effort will take time. It will require focus. But we will succeed. And tonight, I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL.

Second, we are demonstrating the power of American strength and diplomacy. We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small — by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies. Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, some suggested that Mr. Putin’s aggression was a masterful display of strategy and strength. Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters.

That’s how America leads — not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve.

In Cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. When what you’re doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to try something new. Our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere; removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba; stands up for democratic values; and extends the hand of friendship to the Cuban people. And this year, Congress should begin the work of ending the embargo. As His Holiness, Pope Francis, has said, diplomacy is the work of “small steps.” These small steps have added up to new hope for the future in Cuba. And after years in prison, we’re overjoyed that Alan Gross is back where he belongs. Welcome home, Alan.

Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material. Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran; secures America and our allies — including Israel; while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict. There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed, and I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran. But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails — alienating America from its allies; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again. It doesn’t make sense. That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress. The American people expect us to only go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.

Third, we’re looking beyond the issues that have consumed us in the past to shape the coming century.

No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids. We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism. And tonight, I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information. If we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable. If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe.

In West Africa, our troops, our scientists, our doctors, our nurses and healthcare workers are rolling back Ebola — saving countless lives and stopping the spread of disease. I couldn’t be prouder of them, and I thank this Congress for your bipartisan support of their efforts. But the job is not yet done — and the world needs to use this lesson to build a more effective global effort to prevent the spread of future pandemics, invest in smart development, and eradicate extreme poverty.

In the Asia Pacific, we are modernizing alliances while making sure that other nations play by the rules — in how they trade, how they resolve maritime disputes, and how they participate in meeting common international challenges like nonproliferation and disaster relief. And no challenge — no challenge — poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.

2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record. Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does — 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.

I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what — I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities. The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it.

That’s why, over the past six years, we’ve done more than ever before to combat climate change, from the way we produce energy, to the way we use it. That’s why we’ve set aside more public lands and waters than any administration in history. And that’s why I will not let this Congress endanger the health of our children by turning back the clock on our efforts. I am determined to make sure American leadership drives international action. In Beijing, we made an historic announcement — the United States will double the pace at which we cut carbon pollution, and China committed, for the first time, to limiting their emissions. And because the world’s two largest economies came together, other nations are now stepping up, and offering hope that, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to protect the one planet we’ve got.

There’s one last pillar to our leadership — and that’s the example of our values.

As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained. It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world. It’s why we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims — the vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace. That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer.

As Americans, we have a profound commitment to justice — so it makes no sense to spend three million dollars per prisoner to keep open a prison that the world condemns and terrorists use to recruit. Since I’ve been President, we’ve worked responsibly to cut the population of GTMO in half. Now it’s time to finish the job. And I will not relent in my determination to shut it down. It’s not who we are.

As Americans, we cherish our civil liberties — and we need to uphold that commitment if we want maximum cooperation from other countries and industry in our fight against terrorist networks. So while some have moved on from the debates over our surveillance programs, I haven’t. As promised, our intelligence agencies have worked hard, with the recommendations of privacy advocates, to increase transparency and build more safeguards against potential abuse. And next month, we’ll issue a report on how we’re keeping our promise to keep our country safe while strengthening privacy.

Looking to the future instead of the past. Making sure we match our power with diplomacy, and use force wisely. Building coalitions to meet new challenges and opportunities. Leading — always — with the example of our values. That’s what makes us exceptional. That’s what keeps us strong. And that’s why we must keep striving to hold ourselves to the highest of standards — our own.

You know, just over a decade ago, I gave a speech in Boston where I said there wasn’t a liberal America, or a conservative America; a black America or a white America — but a United States of America. I said this because I had seen it in my own life, in a nation that gave someone like me a chance; because I grew up in Hawaii, a melting pot of races and customs; because I made Illinois my home — a state of small towns, rich farmland, and one of the world’s great cities; a microcosm of the country where Democrats and Republicans and Independents, good people of every ethnicity and every faith, share certain bedrock values.

Over the past six years, the pundits have pointed out more than once that my presidency hasn’t delivered on this vision. How ironic, they say, that our politics seems more divided than ever. It’s held up as proof not just of my own flaws — of which there are many — but also as proof that the vision itself is misguided, and naïve, and that there are too many people in this town who actually benefit from partisanship and gridlock for us to ever do anything about it.

I know how tempting such cynicism may be. But I still think the cynics are wrong.

I still believe that we are one people. I still believe that together, we can do great things, even when the odds are long. I believe this because over and over in my six years in office, I have seen America at its best. I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates from New York to California; and our newest officers at West Point, Annapolis, Colorado Springs, and New London. I’ve mourned with grieving families in Tucson and Newtown; in Boston, West, Texas, and West Virginia. I’ve watched Americans beat back adversity from the Gulf Coast to the Great Plains; from Midwest assembly lines to the Mid-Atlantic seaboard. I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that seven in ten Americans call home.

So I know the good, and optimistic, and big-hearted generosity of the American people who, every day, live the idea that we are our brother’s keeper, and our sister’s keeper. And I know they expect those of us who serve here to set a better example.

So the question for those of us here tonight is how we, all of us, can better reflect America’s hopes. I’ve served in Congress with many of you. I know many of you well. There are a lot of good people here, on both sides of the aisle. And many of you have told me that this isn’t what you signed up for — arguing past each other on cable shows, the constant fundraising, always looking over your shoulder at how the base will react to every decision.

Imagine if we broke out of these tired old patterns. Imagine if we did something different.

Understand — a better politics isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine.

A better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears.

A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other; where we talk issues, and values, and principles, and facts, rather than “gotcha” moments, or trivial gaffes, or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people’s daily lives.

A better politics is one where we spend less time drowning in dark money for ads that pull us into the gutter, and spend more time lifting young people up, with a sense of purpose and possibility, and asking them to join in the great mission of building America.

If we’re going to have arguments, let’s have arguments — but let’s make them debates worthy of this body and worthy of this country.

We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose, but surely we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows, and that every woman should have access to the health care she needs.

Yes, passions still fly on immigration, but surely we can all see something of ourselves in the striving young student, and agree that no one benefits when a hardworking mom is taken from her child, and that it’s possible to shape a law that upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

We may go at it in campaign season, but surely we can agree that the right to vote is sacred; that it’s being denied to too many; and that, on this 50th anniversary of the great march from Selma to Montgomery and the passage of the Voting Rights Act, we can come together, Democrats and Republicans, to make voting easier for every single American.

We may have different takes on the events of Ferguson and New York. But surely we can understand a father who fears his son can’t walk home without being harassed. Surely we can understand the wife who won’t rest until the police officer she married walks through the front door at the end of his shift. Surely we can agree it’s a good thing that for the first time in 40 years, the crime rate and the incarceration rate have come down together, and use that as a starting point for Democrats and Republicans, community leaders and law enforcement, to reform America’s criminal justice system so that it protects and serves us all.

That’s a better politics. That’s how we start rebuilding trust. That’s how we move this country forward. That’s what the American people want. That’s what they deserve.

I have no more campaigns to run. My only agenda for the next two years is the same as the one I’ve had since the day I swore an oath on the steps of this Capitol — to do what I believe is best for America. If you share the broad vision I outlined tonight, join me in the work at hand. If you disagree with parts of it, I hope you’ll at least work with me where you do agree. And I commit to every Republican here tonight that I will not only seek out your ideas, I will seek to work with you to make this country stronger.

Because I want this chamber, this city, to reflect the truth — that for all our blind spots and shortcomings, we are a people with the strength and generosity of spirit to bridge divides, to unite in common effort, and help our neighbors, whether down the street or on the other side of the world.

I want our actions to tell every child, in every neighborhood: your life matters, and we are as committed to improving your life chances as we are for our own kids.

I want future generations to know that we are a people who see our differences as a great gift, that we are a people who value the dignity and worth of every citizen — man and woman, young and old, black and white, Latino and Asian, immigrant and Native American, gay and straight, Americans with mental illness or physical disability.

I want them to grow up in a country that shows the world what we still know to be true: that we are still more than a collection of red states and blue states; that we are the United States of America.

I want them to grow up in a country where a young mom like Rebekah can sit down and write a letter to her President with a story to sum up these past six years:

“It is amazing what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.”

My fellow Americans, we too are a strong, tight-knit family. We, too, have made it through some hard times. Fifteen years into this new century, we have picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and begun again the work of remaking America. We’ve laid a new foundation. A brighter future is ours to write. Let’s begin this new chapter — together — and let’s start the work right now.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless this country we love.

News from the White House: Remarks by President Obama on Housing on January 8, 2015

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
January 08, 2015
Remarks by the President on Housing — Phoenix, AZ

Central High School
Phoenix, Arizona

11:06 A.M. MST

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Arizona! (Applause.) Hey! (Applause.) Happy New Year, Arizona. (Applause.) Go, Bobcats. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you!

THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. (Applause.)

It’s good to be in Phoenix. (Applause.) And I mean that, because I was in Detroit yesterday, which is a great city but it was 60 degrees colder. (Laughter.) So it feels pretty good, this weather right here. I had a couple staff people who said, we’re going to miss the plane. (Laughter.) They’re just going to try to get stranded here for a while. (Laughter.)

But I went to Detroit, I went here — I guess between the Lions and the Cardinals, this is my post-wild card consolation tour. (Laughter.) As a Bears fan, I want you to know that, first of all, you guys did a lot better than we did. (Laughter.) You got a great coach; you got a great team. You had some bad luck. And there’s always next year. So keep your chin up. Keep your chin up.

I want to thank Secretary Castro not just for the terrific introduction, but for the great job he’s doing every day. (Applause.) I want to thank your Congressman, Ruben Gallego. (Applause.) Where’s Ruben? Where is he? Ruben, I already liked him, and then he told me he was from Chicago originally, before he got smart and moved to warmer weather (Laughter.)

I want to thank your Mayor, Greg Stanton. (Applause.) He was there. There he is. Greg is doing a great job. I want to thank your principal, John Biera, Jr. (Applause.) And your superintendent, Kent Scribner. (Applause.) And I want to thank all the students and staff and faculty who may be here. We really appreciate your hospitality.

One last acknowledgement. I had a chance to meet a couple of really good friends — Mark Kelly and Gabby Giffords. (Applause.) This was a remarkable meeting for me because it was four years ago today that Gabby and some other wonderful Arizonans were gunned down outside a supermarket in Tucson. It’s a tough day for a lot of folks down there. We keep them in our thoughts and prayers.

But Gabby is doing great. She looks wonderful, and she’s got the same energy and passion that she always has had. Even as she’s waged her own fight to recover, she’s fought to prevent the next tragedies from happening to others. She’s a hero, and she is a great Arizonan. (Applause.) So we’re really proud of her. And her brother, who is also an astronaut — her brother-in-law, who’s also an astronaut, is going to be in space for a year. He was just on the cover of Time Magazine, which I know there’s some folks in Washington who wish I was going to be in space for a year, but — (laughter) — but I’m still around. (Applause.) Because I got some work to do.

Now, I am here because one of my New Year’s resolutions is to make sure more Americans in Phoenix and in Arizona and all across the country feel like they’re coming back. Because the country is coming back, but I want everybody to feel like things are getting better and we are moving in the right direction. And let there be no doubt — thanks to the steps we took early on to rescue our economy, to rebuild it on a new foundation, America is coming back. (Applause.)

And that’s not just my own opinion. Here are the facts. 2014 was the strongest year for job growth since the 1990s. (Applause.) We’ve had 57 straight months of private sector job growth, created nearly 11 million new jobs. (Applause.) Since 2010, we’ve put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and every advanced economy combined. (Applause.) American manufacturing is growing at the fastest pace since the ‘90s. We’re now the number-one producer of oil, of gas. And by the way, you’re saving about a buck-ten a gallon at the pump over this time last year. (Applause.)

Although I was in Detroit and I told folks yesterday, gas prices aren’t going to be low forever, so don’t start suddenly saying you don’t have to worry about fuel efficiency. If you’re going out shopping for a new car, don’t think it’s always going to be this low, because then you’ll be surprised and you’ll be mad at me later — (laughter) — and I’ll be able to say, I told you don’t get a gas guzzler because gas is going to go back up. But while it’s low, enjoy it. And feel free to spend some of that money on local businesses, who then will hire more people and put more folks back to work. (Applause.)

Meanwhile, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, about 10 million Americans have gained health insurance in the past year alone. (Applause.)

We’ve done all this while cutting our federal deficit by about two-thirds. And I’m going to repeat that, because they did a poll the other day and like 70 percent of the people think the deficit is going up. No, 70 percent of the people. You stop people on the street — 7 out of 10 think the deficit is going up. The deficit has gone down by two-thirds since I was President of the United States. (Applause.) So we’re doing all this in a fiscally responsible way. (Applause.)

And maybe closest to my heart, after 13 long years, our war in Afghanistan has come to a responsible end, which means more of our brave troops spent time with their families this holiday season, right here back home. (Applause.)

So these last six years required hard work and sacrifice by everybody. But as a country, we have a right to be proud that all that hard work paid off. America’s resurgence is real. And now that we’ve got some calmer waters out there, if everybody does their part, if we all work together, we can make sure that the tide starts lifting all boats again. We can get wages and incomes growing faster. We can make sure the middle class is growing, that the ladders of the middle class for folks who are struggling are firm and steady and have a lot of rungs to them. Because it’s the middle class, it’s working families that power America’s prosperity. That’s always been the case; that will be true for decades to come. (Applause.)

And I’ve got a State of the Union address in about two weeks and that’s what I want to talk about — building on the progress we’ve made. But of course, why wait for the State of the Union? It’s sort of like you’ve got presents under the tree, you kind of start shaking them a little bit. (Laughter.) I want to kind of give you a little sense of what I want to talk about. So we’re going to start this week laying out some of the agenda for the next year.

And here in Phoenix, I want to talk about helping more families afford their piece of the American Dream, and that is owning their own home. (Applause.)

Now, let me just say, right now Michelle and I live in rental housing. (Laughter.) We don’t own where we live. We’ve got two years remaining on our lease. (Laughter.) I’m hoping I get my security deposit back. (Laughter.) Although Bo and Sunny have been tearing things up occasionally — we’re going to have to clean things up a little bit. (Laughter.)

But I’ll never forget the day we bought our first place, a place of our own — a condo, back in Chicago. And for us, and millions of Americans like us, buying a home has always been about more than owning a roof and four walls. It’s about investing in savings, and building a family, and planting roots in a community. So we bought this place — it was about, I guess, probably about 2,000 square feet. It was in this complex called East View Park. It was sort of like a railway apartment. And it felt huge when we moved in. And then Malia and Sasha were born, and their toys got everywhere. (Laughter.) And then it felt small because they basically took over the whole dining room with their toys.

But I have such good memories not just about the place itself, but all the work we had to do to save to get in there, and then to fix it up, and that sense of accomplishment that you were building something for your family and for your future.

And that’s always been true. When my grandfather came back from World War II, this country gave him the chance to buy his first home with a loan from the FHA. For folks like him, a home was proof that America was a place where if you worked hard, if you were responsible, it was rewarded.

But we all know what happened in the last decade when responsibility gave way to recklessness. Families who did the right thing and bought a home that they could afford, and made their payments each month, and did everything right, when the market plummeted they got hurt. Even though somebody else was acting irresponsibly — whether on Wall Street, or folks who weren’t responsible in terms of how they were dealing with their real estate — ordinary families got hurt bad. And that was especially true here in Arizona.

There were folks who borrowed more than they should have. There were lenders who really were just worried about making profits and not whether the people they were lending to were going to be able to keep up their homes. So home values plunged. Americans sank underwater. Foreclosures skyrocketed. Builders stopped building. Construction workers lost their jobs.

And when I came into office, I believed we could not let this crisis play itself out. If we could save more families from losing everything they had worked so hard to build, we had to make the effort. So less than a month after I took office, I came here to Arizona to lay out my plan to get responsible homeowners back on their feet. And I said that healing our housing market wouldn’t be easy, it would not be quick. But we were going to act swiftly, we were going to act boldly, we were going to try everything that we could to help responsible homeowners. If something didn’t work, we’d try something else. But we were going to try to keep folks in their homes.

And we ended up helping millions stay in their homes. We helped millions more save thousands of dollars each year by refinancing. We helped folks who didn’t want to buy a home or who weren’t ready to buy find an affordable place to rent. We kept up our fight against homelessness. And by the way — there’s some homeless advocates here — since 2010, we’ve helped bring one in three homeless veterans off the streets. (Applause.) And I want to make sure everybody knows — under Mayor Stanton, Phoenix is leading the way in that effort. (Applause.) Phoenix is doing a great job. (Applause.)

So as a result of all these efforts, today, home sales are up nearly 50 percent from where they were in the worst of the crisis. Homebuilding has more than doubled. That’s created hundreds of thousands of construction jobs. New foreclosures are at their lowest level since 2006. Since 2012, nearly 10 million fewer Americans have their homes underwater. Rising home prices have put hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth back in the pockets of middle-class families.

Now, I want everybody to be clear — this progress is not an accident. It is not luck. It’s what happens when you have policies that put middle-class families first. (Applause.)

And what’s true in Arizona is true all across the country: We’ve still got some more work to do, our job is not done, but what we’re doing is working. And we’ve got to keep at it. We’ve got to stay at it.

Today, here in Phoenix, I’m going to take a new action to help even more responsible families stake their claim on the middle class and buy their first new home. Starting this month, the Federal Housing Authority will lower its mortgage insurance premium rates enough to save the average new borrower more than $900 a year. (Applause.) Now, that’s $900 that can go towards paying the groceries, or gas, or a child’s education. Or, depending on what your mortgage is, it might be a month’s mortgage payment.

And for those who aren’t familiar with FHA, FHA underwrites, it guarantees, it’s the backstop for a lot of loans around the country, especially for middle-class folks. So a lot of people pay these fees, and if they’re saving $900 that’s money that’s going to be going throughout the economy.

Over the next three years, these lower premiums will give hundreds of thousands more families the chance to own their own home, and it will help make owning a home more affordable for millions more households overall in the coming years.

And just to give you an example, earlier today, Secretary Castro and I visited Nueva Villas. It’s a new neighborhood here in Phoenix where a lot of families are buying homes with the help of the FHA. And we actually — this was a big development that wasn’t finished or wasn’t all sold; the crisis came, half the homes were still unsold. Folks lost their homes. It started getting boarded up. People were feeling insecure. It was starting to get depressed. Nonprofits, with the help of HUD, came in, purchased some of the properties, hired local residents to rehab them. Now people are building them — beautiful homes. And with the help of the FHA, we can now make sure that more people are getting access to these homes. And today’s action will mean more money in the pockets of families like the ones that we’ve met.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: Is this about housing? (Laughter.) All right.

And keep in mind, hundreds of thousands of new buyers is going to mean a healthier housing market for everybody. So how many people here own their own home? (Applause.) All right. So even though you’ve already got your mortgage or your loan, already have your home, if your neighbors are buying more homes, that’s lifting the whole market here, which means the value of your home starts going up. And that’s good for you. (Applause.) It means fewer foreclosure signs as people fix up old properties. It means more construction, which means more jobs, which means a better economy. So this is the kind of boost that we need to keep the momentum that we have seen over the last several years — keep it going here in Phoenix and all across the country.

So I want to be clear. If you’re looking to take advantage of these lower rates, that’s great. On the other hand, don’t buy something you can’t afford. (Applause.) You’re going to be out of luck. These rates are for responsible buyers. We’re not going down the road again of financing folks buying things they can’t afford. We’re going to be cracking down on that. We put in place tough rules on Wall Street and we created a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and we’re really policing irresponsible lenders luring folks into buying stuff they can’t afford. (Applause.)

And we designed a mortgage form that’s written in simple language so that people understand what the commitments are when you buy a home. We’re cracking down on some of the worst practices that led to the housing crisis. We’re going to protect middle-class families from getting ripped off.

And that’s why we had the Justice Department fight for buyers who were discriminated against or preyed upon, and we won a settlement that awarded more money to victims in one year than in the previous 23 years combined. (Applause.) That’s why we worked with states to force big banks to repay more than $50 billion to more than 1.5 million borrowers who had been treated wrongly — and that was the largest lending settlement in history. (Applause.) And that’s why I’ve called on Congress to wind down the government-backed companies known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

So the bottom line is we don’t think there’s anything wrong with pursuing a profit, but we want to make clear the days of making bad bets on the backs of taxpayer money and then getting bailed out afterwards — we’re not going back to that. (Applause.) We’ve worked too hard, and everything we’ve done to heal the housing markets we want to preserve. But we do want to make sure that the housing market is strong and that responsible homeowners can get a good deal. For people who have saved, done the right thing, now are looking to buy their first home, we want to make sure that they get a little bit of help.

In the end, everything we’ve done to heal the housing market is about more than just restoring housing values. It’s about restoring our common values. It’s about who we are as a country and who we are as communities.

And I want to just tell you a quick story. Lorraine Cona, from Sun City, next door, she did everything right. She had a good job as a librarian. She bought a home she could afford. She wanted to retire in that home. She made her payments on time. Then, five years ago, through no fault of her own, she was laid off, and she started falling behind in her payments. She knew foreclosure was coming. She said, “I’d look out the window and I’d see somebody taking pictures of my house.”

But when things seemed darkest, Lorraine learned about something called the Hardest Hit fund –- it’s a program that we created to help folks in states like Arizona that had been especially hard hit by the real estate crash. And they helped her make her late payments — because she had a great track record until she had lost her job. They set her up with financial counseling so she could stay on track. It wasn’t easy, but Lorraine repaired her credit. She refinanced her mortgage. And today, after a lifetime of hard work, Lorraine is retired, she’s back to making her payments every single month. She’s in her home. She was able to accomplish that. Even though it was scary at times, she got it done. Lorraine came back, just like Phoenix has come back. (Applause.) Just like Arizona has come back. Just like America has come back. (Applause.)

It’s not just the economy turning around. It’s turning around the lives of hardworking people, making sure that that hard work finally pays off. (Applause.) It’s making sure you finally get that job you’re looking for, or the raise you deserve, or a little bit of security, or the retirement that you’ve earned, or being able to send your kid to college so their lives are better than yours. (Applause.) That’s what this is about.

So I just want everybody to know that we have been through some tough times, but we are moving. There are workers today with jobs who didn’t have jobs last year. There are families who have got health insurance who didn’t have health insurance before. (Applause.) There are students who are in college right now who didn’t think they could afford it before. (Applause.) There are heroes who had served tour after tour who are finally home with their families. There are autoworkers who are building great American cars now when they thought that those plants were going to shut down.

America is coming back. (Applause.) And the key, Arizona, is for us all to work together to make sure we keep it going.

Thank you, everybody. God bless you. God bless America. (Applause.)

News from the White House: Statement by President Obama on the Attack in France

Statement by the President on the Attack in France

I strongly condemn the horrific shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris that has reportedly killed 12 people. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this terrorist attack and the people of France at this difficult time. France is America’s oldest ally, and has stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States in the fight against terrorists who threaten our shared security and the world. Time and again, the French people have stood up for the universal values that generations of our people have defended. France, and the great city of Paris where this outrageous attack took place, offer the world a timeless example that will endure well beyond the hateful vision of these killers. We are in touch with French officials and I have directed my Administration to provide any assistance needed to help bring these terrorists to justice

News from the White House: President Obama’s Weekly Address: It’s Time to Help Women and Working Families

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
November 1, 2014

Hi, everybody. On Friday, I had a discussion with working women in Rhode Island about the economic challenges they face in their own lives — challenges shared by many of you.

Thanks to the work we’ve all put in, our economy has come a long way these past six years. Over the past 55 months, our businesses have added 10.3 million new jobs. For the first time in six years, the unemployment rate is below 6 percent. And on Thursday, we learned that over the past six months, our economy has grown at its fastest pace since 2003.

But the gains of a growing economy aren’t yet felt by everyone. So we’ve got to harness this momentum, and make the right choices so that everyone who works hard can get ahead.

In recent weeks, I’ve talked about these choices, from raising the minimum wage to creating new jobs in construction and manufacturing. Today, I want to focus on what I discussed with those women — the choices we need to make to help more women get ahead in today’s economy.

Right now, women make up almost half of our workers. More women are their family’s main breadwinner than ever before. So the simple truth is, when women succeed, America succeeds. And we should be choosing policies that benefit women — because that benefits all of us.

Women deserve fair pay. Even though it’s 2014, there are women still earning less than men for doing the same work. We don’t have second-class citizens in this country — we shouldn’t in the workplace, either. So let’s make sure women earn equal pay for equal work, and have a fair shot at success.

Women deserve to be able to take time off to care for a new baby, an ailing parent, or take a sick day for themselves without running into hardship. So let’s make sure all Americans have access to paid family leave.

Pregnant workers deserve to be treated fairly. Even today, women can be fired for taking too many bathroom breaks, or forced on unpaid leave just for being pregnant. That’s wrong — and we have to choose policies that ensure pregnant workers are treated with dignity and respect.

New parents deserve quality, affordable childcare. There’s nothing like the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your kids are safe while you’re at work. And the benefits that children get out of early enrichment can pay off for a lifetime. But in many states, sending your kid to daycare costs more than sending them to a public university. So let’s start demanding Pre-K for our kids.

And when most low-wage workers are women, but Congress hasn’t passed a minimum wage increase in seven years, it’s long past time that women deserve a raise. About 28 million workers would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage to ten dollars and ten cents an hour. And more than half of those workers are women. The local businesses where these workers spend their money would benefit, too. So let’s do this — let’s give America a raise.

All of these policies are common sense. All of them are within our reach. We’ve just got to speak up and choose them. Because they’ll build a stronger America for all of us.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

News from the White House: President Obama’s Weekly Address: ” We Do Better When the Middle Class Does Better”

President Obama communicates weekly with his constituents, the American people, through his weekly address.

In this week’s address, the President highlighted that six years after the Great Recession, thanks to the hard work of the American people and the President’s policies, our economy has come back further and faster than any other nation on Earth. With 10.3 million private-sector jobs added over 55 straight months, America’s businesses have extended the longest streak of private-sector job gains on record.

But even with this progress, too many Americans have yet to feel the benefits. The President reiterated the vision he set out earlier this week for steps that can lay a new foundation for stronger growth, rising wages, and expanded economic opportunity for middle-class families.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Princeton, Indiana
October 4, 2014

Hi, everybody. I’m at Millennium Steel in Princeton, Indiana, to have a town hall with workers on National Manufacturing Day. Because in many ways, manufacturing is the quintessential middle-class job. And after a decade of losing jobs, American manufacturing is once again adding them – more than 700,000 over the past four and a half years.

In fact, it’s been a bright spot as we keep fighting to recover from the great recession. Last month, our businesses added 236,000 new jobs. The unemployment rate fell to under six percent for the first time in more than six years. Over the past 55 months, our businesses have added 10.3 million new jobs. That’s the longest uninterrupted stretch of private sector job creation in our history. And we’re on pace to make 2014 the strongest year of job growth since the 1990s.

This progress has been hard, but it has been steady, and it is real. It is a direct result of the American people’s drive and determination, and decisions made by my administration.

During the last decade, people thought the decline in American manufacturing was inevitable. But we chose to invest in American auto industry and American workers. And today, an auto industry that was flatlining six years ago is building and selling new cars at the fastest pace in eight years. American manufacturing is growing almost twice as fast as the rest of the economy, with new factories opening their doors at the fastest pace in decades. That’s progress we can be proud of.

What’s also true is that too many families still work too many hours with too little to show for it. And the much longer and profound erosion of middle-class jobs and incomes isn’t something we’re going to reverse overnight. But there are ideas we should be putting into place that would grow jobs and wages faster right now. And one of the best would be to raise the minimum wage.

We’ve actually begun to see some modest wage growth in recent months. But most folks still haven’t seen a raise in over a decade. It’s time to stop punishing some of the hardest-working Americans. It’s time to raise the minimum wage. It would put more money in workers’ pockets. It would help 28 million Americans. Recent surveys show that a majority of small business owners support a gradual increase to ten dollars and ten cents an hour. The folks who keep blocking a minimum wage increase are running out of excuses. Let’s give America a raise.

Let’s do this – because it would make our economy stronger, and make sure that growth is shared. Rather than just reading about our recovery in a headline, more people will feel it in their own lives. And that’s when America does best. We do better when the middle class does better, and when more Americans have their way to climb into the middle class.

And that’s what drives me every single day. Thanks, and have a great weekend.

Update on the Ebola Outbreak from President Obama

President Obama met with his Cabinet yesterday to discuss how the United States is preparing for the Ebola outbreak outside and inside the United States of America.

Here is an official news release from the White House which identifies the steps taken to minimize risk of Ebola infection in the United States of America and beyond.

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
October 06, 2014
FACT SHEET: The U.S. Response to the Ebola Epidemic in West Africa

Since the first cases of Ebola were reported in West Africa in March 2014, the United States has mounted a whole-of-government response to contain and eliminate the epidemic at its source, while also taking prudent measures at home. The President last month outlined a stepped-up U.S. response, leveraging more thoroughly the unique capabilities of the U.S. military to support the civilian-led response in West Africa. Domestically, we have prepared for the diagnosis of an Ebola case on U.S. soil and have measures in place to stop this and any potential future cases in their tracks.

Specifically, our strategy is predicated on four key goals:

Controlling the epidemic at its source in West Africa;
Mitigating second-order impacts, including blunting the economic, social, and political tolls in the region;
Engaging and coordinating with a broader global audience; and,
Fortifying global health security infrastructure in the region and beyond, including within the United States.

International Response

In support of national government efforts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea—and alongside the international community—the U.S. response builds upon the measures we have had in place since the first cases of Ebola were reported. The United States already has committed more than $350 million toward fighting the outbreak in West Africa, including more than $111 million in humanitarian aid, and the Department of Defense (DoD) is prepared to devote more than $1 billion to the whole-of-government Ebola response effort. As a further indication of our prioritization of this response, the United States convened a special UN Security Council session on the epidemic, and President Obama called the world to action during a subsequent UN session called by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. These U.S. actions have galvanized millions of dollars in international funding and in-kind support.

Among the specific response efforts, the United States has:

Deployed to West Africa more than 130 civilian medical, healthcare, and disaster response experts from multiple U.S. government departments and agencies as part of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Disaster Assistance Response Team as well as approximately 350 U.S. military personnel, constituting the largest U.S. response to an international public health challenge;
Increased the number of Ebola treatment units (ETU) in the region, including supporting ETUs in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and one of our new ETUs in Liberia discharged its first four Ebola survivors last week;
Increased to 50 the number of safe burial teams, which are now working across every county in Liberia to safely and respectfully dispose of bodies;
Deployed and commenced operation of five mobile Ebola testing labs in the region, two of which opened this week in Liberia and have doubled lab capacity in the country—reducing from several days to just a few hours the time needed to determine if a patient has Ebola;
Provided more than 10,000 Ebola test kits to the Liberian Institute of Biological Research and Sierra Leone’s Kenema Government Hospital;
Received and passed to interested humanitarian organizations information from nearly 2,200 volunteers willing to provide healthcare in the affected countries;
Delivered approximately 2,200 rolls of USAID heavy-duty plastic sheeting for use in constructing Ebola treatment units across the region;
Procured 140,000 sets of personal protective equipment, 10,000 of which have already been delivered, along with hundreds of thousands of medical gloves and thousands of protective coveralls, goggles, face shields, and other personal protective supplies;
Delivered an initial 9,000 of 50,000 community care kits to Liberia;
Supported aggressive public education campaigns reaching every Liberian county with life-saving information on how to identify, treat and prevent Ebola;
Administered nutritional support to patients receiving care at Ebola treatment units and in Ebola-affected communities across the region; and
Provided technical support to the Government of Liberia’s national-level emergency operation center.

In the days and weeks to come, U.S. efforts will include:

Scaling-up the DoD presence in West Africa. Following the completion of AFRICOM’s assessment, DoD announced the planned deployment of 3,200 troops, including 700 from the 101st Airborne Division headquarters element to Liberia. These forces will deploy in late October and become the headquarters staff for the Joint Forces Command, led by Major General Gary Volesky. The total U.S. troop commitment will depend on the requirements on the ground;
Overseeing the construction of and facilitating staffing for at least 17 100-bed Ebola treatment units across Liberia;
Deploying additional U.S. military personnel from various engineering units to help supervise the construction of ETUs and provide engineering expertise for the international response in Liberia;
Establishing a training site in Liberia to train up to 500 health care providers per week, enabling them to provide safe and direct supportive medical care to Ebola patients;
Setting up and facilitating staffing for a hospital in Liberia that will treat all healthcare workers who are working in West Africa on the Ebola crisis should they fall ill;
Operating a training course in the United States for licensed nurses, physicians, and other healthcare providers intending to work in an ETU in West Africa;
Leveraging a regional staging base in Senegal to help expedite the surge of equipment, supplies, and personnel to West Africa;
Continuing outreach by all levels of the U.S. government to push for increased and speedier response contributions from partners around the globe; and,
Sustaining engagement with the UN system to coordinate response and improve effectiveness.

Domestic Response

We have been prepared for an Ebola case in the United States and have the healthcare system infrastructure in place to respond safely and effectively. Upon confirming the Ebola diagnosis, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and our interagency team activated plans that had been developed.

Our public health officials have led the charge to prepare and fortify our national health infrastructure to respond quickly and effectively to Ebola cases domestically. Their efforts include:

Enhancing surveillance and laboratory testing capacity in states to detect cases; in the last three months, 12 Laboratory Response Network labs have been validated to perform Ebola diagnostic testing throughout the United States;
Authorizing the use of a diagnostic test developed by DoD to help detect the Ebola virus.
Providing guidance and tools for hospitals and health care providers to prepare for and manage potential patients, protect healthcare workers, and respond in a coordinated fashion;
Developing guidance and tools for health departments to conduct public health investigations;
Providing recommendations for healthcare infection control and other measures to prevent disease spread;
Disseminating guidance for flight crews, Emergency Medical Services units at airports, and Customs and Border Protection officers about reporting ill travelers to CDC;
Providing up-to-date information to the general public, international travelers, healthcare providers, state and local officials, and public health partners;
Advancing the development and clinical trials of Ebola vaccines and antivirals to determine their safety and efficacy in humans;
Monitoring by the Food and Drug Administration for fraudulent products and false product claims related to the Ebola virus and implementing enforcement actions, as warranted, to protect the public health; and,
Issuing by the U.S. Department of Transportation, in coordination with CDC, an emergency special permit for a company to transport large quantities of Ebola-contaminated waste from Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas as well as from other locations in Texas for disposal.

Passenger Screening

On top of these domestic measures, we recognize that passenger screening efforts in West Africa and at domestic airports represent another line of defense. We have developed and supported a stringent screening regimen both at home and abroad, and we are constantly evaluating the effectiveness of these and other potential measures. We will make adjustments as deemed prudent by health professionals and the appropriate U.S. departments and agencies.

Exit screening measures are routinely implemented in the affected West African countries, and U.S. government personnel have worked closely with local authorities to implement these measures. Since the beginning of August, CDC has been working with airlines, airports, ministries of health, and other partners to provide technical assistance for the development of exit screening and travel restrictions in countries with Ebola. This includes:

Assessing the capacity to conduct exit screening at international airports;
Assisting countries with procuring supplies needed to conduct exit screening;
Supporting with development of exit screening protocols;
Developing tools such as posters, screening forms, and job-aids;
Training staff on exit screening protocols and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) use; and,
Preparing in-country staff to provide future trainings.

All outbound passengers are screened for Ebola symptoms in the affected countries. Such primary exit screening involves travelers responding to a travel health questionnaire, being visually assessed for potential illness, and having their body temperature measured.

If a person has a fever above 101.5 or is suspected to be ill, the passenger will be taken aside for a more detailed health assessment – a secondary screening – to determine if he or she should be isolated.
Airport employees must wear latex gloves, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and monitor their own body temperature daily, among other measures.

Once passengers arrive in the United States they are subject to additional measures.

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the CDC have closely coordinated to develop policies, procedures, and protocols to identify travelers who may have a communicable disease, responding in a manner that minimizes risk to the public. These procedures have been utilized collaboratively by both agencies on a number of occasions with positive results. Among these measures:

CBP personnel review all travelers entering the United States for general overt signs of illnesses (visual observation, questioning, and notification of CDC as appropriate) at all U.S. ports of entry, including all federal inspection services areas at U.S. airports that service international flights.
When a traveler is identified with a possible communicable disease or identified from information that is received from the CDC, CBP personnel will take the appropriate safety measures by referring the traveler to a secondary, isolating the traveler from other travelers, and referring to CDC or public officials for a medical assessment. CBP personnel may don personal protective equipment (PPE), to include gloves and surgical masks, which are readily available for use in the course of their duties.
CBP personnel receive training in illness recognition, but if they identify an individual believed to be infected, CBP will contact CDC along with local public health authorities to help with further medical evaluation.
CBP is handing out fact sheets to travelers arriving in the U.S. from Ebola- affected countries, which detail information on Ebola, health signs to look for, and information for their doctor should they need to seek medical attention in the future.
Secretary Johnson has also directed Transportation Security Administration to issue an Information Circular to air carriers reinforcing the CDC’s message on Ebola and providing guidance on identifying potential passengers with Ebola. DHS is closely monitoring the situation and Secretary Johnson will consider additional actions as appropriate.

News from the White House: Remarks by President Obama at 9/11 Memorial

Here is the video and text of the remarks made by President Barack Hussein Obama at the 9/11 Memorial on September 11th, 2014.

September 11, 2014
Remarks by the President at 9/11 Memorial

The Pentagon

9:45 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good morning. Scripture tells us, “We count as blessed those who have persevered.”

Secretary Hagel, General Dempsey, members of our Armed Forces, and, most of all, the survivors of that September day and the families of those we lost –- Michelle and I are humbled to be with you once again.

It has now been 13 years. Thirteen years since the peace of an American morning was broken. Thirteen years since nearly 3,000 beautiful lives were taken from us, including 125 men and women serving here at the Pentagon. Thirteen years of moments they would have shared with us. Thirteen years of memories they would have made.

Here, once more, we pray for the souls of those we remember, for you, their families, who love them forever, and for a nation that has been inspired by your example — your determination to carry on, your resolve to live lives worthy of their memories.

As Americans, we draw strength from you. For your love is the ultimate rebuke to the hatred of those who attacked us that bright, blue morning. They sought to do more than bring down buildings or murder our people. They sought to break our spirit and to prove to the world that their power to destroy was greater than our power to persevere and to build. But you, and America, proved them wrong.

America endures in the strength of your families who, through your anguish, kept living. You have kept alive a love that no act of terror can ever extinguish. You, their sons and daughters, are growing into extraordinary young men and women they knew you could be. By your shining example, your families have turned this day into something that those who attacked us could never abide, and that is a tribute of hope over fear, and love over hate.

America endures in the tenacity of our survivors. After grievous wounds, you learned to walk again and stand again. After terrible burns, you smiled once more. For you, for our nation, these have been difficult years. But by your presence here today, in the lives of service that you have led, you embody the truth that no matter what comes our way, America will always come out stronger.

America endures in the dedication of those who keep us safe. The firefighter, the officer, the EMT who carries the memory of a fallen partner as they report to work each and every day, prepared to make the same sacrifice for us all. Because of these men and women, Americans now work in a gleaming Freedom Tower. We visit our great cities, we fill our stadiums and cheer for our teams. We carry on, because, as Americans, we do not give in to fear — ever.

America endures in the courage of the men and women who serve under our flag. Over more than a decade of war, this 9/11 Generation has answered our country’s call, and three months from now, our combat mission in Afghanistan will come to an end. Today, we honor all who have made the ultimate sacrifice these 13 years, more than 6,800 American patriots. And we give thanks to those who serve in harm’s way to keep our country safe and meet the threats of our time.

America endures in that perennial optimism that defines us as a people. Beginning tomorrow, there will be teenagers –- young adults –- who were born after 9/11. It’s remarkable. And while these young Americans did not know the horrors of that day, their lives have been shaped by all the days since — a time that has brought us pain, but also taught us endurance and strength; a time of rebuilding, of resilience, and of renewal. What gives us hope –- what gives me hope -– is that it is these young Americans who will shape all the days to come.

Thirteen years after small and hateful minds conspired to break us, America stands tall and America stands proud. And guided by the values that sustain us, we will only grow stronger. Generations from now, Americans will still fill our parks, our stadiums, our cities. Generations from now, Americans will still build towers that reach toward the heavens; still serve in embassies that stand for freedom around the world; still wear the uniform and give meaning to those words written two centuries ago: Land of the free. Home of the Brave. Generations from now, no matter the trial, no matter the challenge, America will always be America.

“We count as blessed those who have persevered.”

May God bless your families, who continue to inspire us all. May God bless our Armed Forces and all who serve to keep us safe. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.

END
9:52 A.M. EDT

News from the White House: President Obama Presents on the ISIL Threat

Here is an e-mail sent by President Barack Hussein Obama on September 10th, 2014, after a speech he made on the ISIL threat to world peace. You’re encouraged to read it carefully and make a list of the words you find most difficult to understand. You’re encouraged to use our online English dictionary to look up the dictionary meanings for the English words you need to learn. What are your thoughts about the danger behind ISIL? Share your constructive thoughts with us in the comments section below:

Good evening,

I just addressed the nation about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.

Let’s be clear: While this group may call itself the “Islamic State,” it is not “Islamic.” No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. Nor is it a “state.” It is not recognized by any government, nor by the people it subjugates.

This is nothing but a terrorist organization with no vision or goal other than to slaughter all who stand in its way. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, these terrorists have threatened America and our allies. And the United States will meet this threat with strength and resolve.

Already, our military has conducted more than 150 successful airstrikes over the past month against ISIL targets in Iraq — strikes that have protected American personnel and facilities, killed hundreds of ISIL fighters, and helped save the lives of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

Going forward, our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.

Here is what that strategy looks like.

First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists. Working alongside the Iraqi government, we’ll expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people to hit ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense. And we will continue to hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, whether in Iraq or Syria. They will learn what leaders of other terrorist organizations have already learned: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.

Second, we will increase our support to the forces fighting these terrorists on the ground. We will send an additional 475 service members to Iraq to support Iraqi and Kurdish security forces. These American forces will not have a combat mission. But they are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence, and equipment — and tonight, I again called on Congress to give our military the additional authorities and resources it needs to train and equip the Syrian opposition fighters.

Third, working with our partners, we will continue to draw on our substantial counterterrorism capabilities to prevent ISIL attacks. Working with our partners, we will redouble our efforts to cut off its funding, counter its warped ideology, improve our intelligence, strengthen our defenses, and stem the flow of foreign fighters into and out of the Middle East.

And fourth, we will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the innocent civilians displaced by this terrorism organization. This includes Sunni and Shia Muslims who have borne the brunt of this terror, as well as tens of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities.

I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL. But I believe we are strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together. So I welcome congressional action to support this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.

This mission will not be like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This effort will be a steady and relentless approach to take out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting our partners on the front lines.

This is American leadership at its best: We stand with people who fight for their own freedom. And we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity.

When American forces helped prevent the massacre of civilians trapped on Mt. Sinjar, here is what one of them said:

“We owe our American friends our lives. Our children will always remember that there was someone who felt our struggle and made a long journey to protect innocent people.”

That is what the United States of America does. That is the difference we make in the world. And moving forward, our own safety and security depends upon our willingness to do what it takes to defend this nation, and uphold the values that we stand for.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

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