Category Archives: employment

President Obama observes Veterans Day, 11/11/13

THE PRESIDENT:

“Today, we gather once more to honor patriots who have rendered the highest service any American can offer this nation — those who fought for our freedom and stood sentry for our security. On this hillside of solemn remembrance and in veterans’ halls and in proud parades across America, we join as one people to honor a debt we can never fully repay….

They fought on a green at Lexington so that we could make independent the country they imagined. They fought on the fields of Gettysburg so that we could make whole a nation torn asunder. They fought on the beaches of Europe and across Pacific islands. And from their sacrifice we emerged the strongest and most prosperous nation in the history of the world. And this year, as we mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the fighting in Korea, we pay special tribute to all those who served in the Korean War….

On tour after tour after tour, in Iraq and Afghanistan, this generation — the 9/11 Generation — has met every mission we have asked of them. And today we can say that because of their heroic service, the core of al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, our nation is more secure, and our homeland is safer.

They’re men and women like the soldier — and soon to be veteran — I met a few months ago, Jacare Hogan. Jacare deployed to Iraq twice, and she survived not one, but two –- excuse me, three separate IED explosions. And when she was well enough, she deployed again, this time to Afghanistan, where she was often the only woman at our forward operating bases. She proudly wears the Combat Action Badge. And today, Jacare is committed to helping other wounded warriors recover from the trials of war. “Helping the troops,” she says, “is what I’m all about.” My fellow Americans, that’s what we should be all about.

Our work is more urgent than ever, because this chapter of war is coming to an end. Soon, one of the first Marines to arrive in Afghanistan 12 years ago — Brigadier General Daniel Yoo — will lead his Camp Pendleton Marines as they become one of the last major groups of Marines to deploy in this war. And over the coming months, more of our troops will come home. This winter, our troop levels in Afghanistan will be down to 34,000. And by this time next year, the transition to Afghan-led security will be nearly complete. The longest war in American history will end. (Applause.)

As is true after every conflict, there is a risk that the devoted service of our veterans could fade from the forefront of our minds; that we might turn to other things. But part of the reason we’re here today is to pledge that we will never forget the profound sacrifices that are made in our name. Today reminds us of our sacred obligations. For even though this time of war is coming to a close, our time of service to our newest veterans has only just begun….

And that’s why, as Commander-in-Chief, I’m going to keep making sure we’re providing unprecedented support to our veterans. (Applause.) Even as we make difficult fiscal choices as a nation, we’re going to keep making vital investments in our veterans. We’re going to keep improving veterans’ health care, including mental health care so you can stay strong. We’re making sure that veterans not covered by the VA can secure quality, affordable health insurance.

We’re going to keep reducing the claims backlog. We’ve slashed it by a third since March, and we’re going to keep at it so you can get the benefits that you have earned and that you need, when you need them. (Applause.) We’re going to keep helping our newest veterans and their families pursue their education under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. We just welcomed our one millionth student veteran, and we’re ready for all those who come next.

And we’re going to keep demanding that the rights and dignity of every veteran are upheld, including by pushing for the Disabilities Treaty so that our disabled veterans enjoy the same opportunities to travel and work and study around the world as everybody else. (Applause.) And with the help of Michelle and Dr. Jill Biden and Joining Forces, we’re going to keep fighting to give every veteran who has fought for America the chance to pursue the American Dream — a fair shot at the jobs and opportunity you need to help us rebuild and grow here at home. Because you’re bringing home the skills and the work ethic and leadership necessary to start companies and serve your communities and take care of your fellow veterans.

And that’s our promise to you and all who have served: to be there, to support you, when you come home — every step of the way. And as a nation, we will strive to be worthy of the sacrifices that you’ve made. That’s what we owe all our veterans. That’s what we owe veterans like Richard Overton, who served in the Army in World War II. He was there, at — (applause) — now, everybody, I want you to know a little something about Mr. Overton here. He was there at Pearl Harbor, when the battleships were still smoldering. He was there at Okinawa. He was there at Iwo Jima, where he said, “I only got out of there by the grace of God.”

When the war ended, Richard headed home to Texas to a nation bitterly divided by race. And his service on the battlefield was not always matched by the respect that he deserved at home. But this veteran held his head high. He carried on and lived his life with honor and dignity. He built his wife a house with his own two hands. He went back to work in the furniture business. In time, he served as a courier in the Texas State Capitol, where he worked for four governors, and made more friends than most of us do in a lifetime.

And today, Richard still lives in the house that he built all those years ago. He rakes his own lawn. And every Sunday he hops in his 1971 Ford truck and drives one of the nice ladies in his neighborhood to church. (Laughter and applause.) This is the life of one American veteran — living proud and strong in the land he helped keep free.

And earlier this year, the great folks at Honor Flight Austin brought Richard to Washington, D.C. for the first time. And he and his fellow veterans paid their respects at the World War II Memorial. And then they visited the memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. And as Richard sat in a wheelchair beneath that great marble statue, he wept. And the crowd that gathered around him wept, too, to see one of the oldest living veterans of World War II bear witness to a day — to the progress of a nation — he thought might never come.

Richard Overton, this American veteran, is 107 years old. (Applause.) And we are honored that he’s here with us today. So let’s ask Richard to stand again — because he can stand. (Applause.)

And this is how we’ll be judged. Not just by how well we care for our troops in battle, but how we treat them when they come home — and by the America we build together; by what we do with the security and peace that they have helped grant us; by the progress that allows citizens from Richard Overton to Jacare Hogan to play their part in the American story.

Today, our message to all those who have ever worn the uniform of this nation is this: We will stand by your side, whether you’re seven days out or, like Richard, seventy years out. Because here in America, we take care of our own. We honor the sacrifice that has been made in our name, for this nation that we love. And we commit ourselves to standing by these veterans and their families, for as long as we’re blessed to walk this Earth.”

Complete text: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/11/08/remarks-president-veterans-day

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President’s Weekly Address: Honoring America’s Veterans, 11/9/13

The President:

“Hello everyone. Veterans’ Day Weekend is a chance for all of us to say two simple words: “Thank you.” Thank you to that greatest generation who fought island by island across the Pacific, and freed millions from fascism in Europe. Thank you to the heroes who risked everything through the bitter cold of Korea and the stifling heat of Vietnam. And thank you to all the heroes who have served since, most recently our 9/11 Generation of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now that more of them are coming home, we need to serve them as well as they served us. That requires more than a simple “thank you” – especially from those of us who’ve been elected to serve.

I’ve often said that my top priority is growing the economy, creating new jobs, and restoring middle-class security. And a very important part of that is making sure that every veteran has every chance to share in the opportunity he or she has helped defend. In addition to the care and benefits they’ve earned – including good mental health care to stay strong – that means a good job, a good education, and a home to call their own.

If you fight for your country overseas, you should never have to fight for a job when you come home. I’ve made sure the federal government leads by example, and since I took office, we’ve hired about 300,000 veterans to keep serving their country. Our new transition assistance program is helping veterans and their spouses find that new job and plan their career. And I’m going to keep calling on Congress to do the right thing and pass the Veterans Jobs Corps. Put our veterans to work rebuilding America.

Our troops gain unmatched skills while serving in harm’s way. So we’re also doing everything we can to connect more businesses with highly-skilled veterans. More help with job searches. More tools to connect veterans to job openings. More chances to earn licenses and credentials for civilian jobs. And new tax credits for companies that hire veterans and wounded warriors – tax credits which Congress should make permanent.

And America’s businesses have worked with Michelle and Jill Biden’s Joining Forces campaign to help returning heroes find jobs in the private sector. They’ve already hired or trained 290,000 veterans and military spouses, and they’ve committed to hiring over 400,000 more.

We’re also committed to giving today’s veterans and their families the same shot at a great education this country gave my grandfather when he came home from World War II. We’re helping more of them earn their degrees under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. We’ve worked with thousands of schools across the country to set new standards to protect against dishonest recruiting and predatory lending practices that target our veterans. And we’re helping hundreds of community colleges and universities do more to welcome and encourage our veterans on campus.

Thanks to these efforts, and the efforts of the private sector, we’ve made progress getting our vets back to work. But we’ve got a lot more to do. And as more than a million of our troops return to civilian life, we’re going to have to work even harder. Because the skill, dedication, and courage of our troops is unmatched – and when they come home, we all benefit from their efforts to build a stronger America and a brighter future for our kids.

So to all our veterans, on behalf our entire nation, thank you for everything you’ve done and will continue to do for our country. As your Commander-in-Chief, I’m proud of your service, and grateful for your sacrifice. And as long as I’m your President, I will make it my mission to make sure that America has your back, not just on one day or one weekend, but 365 days a year.

Thanks. God bless you, and have a great weekend.”

First Lady speaks at Careers in Film Symposium, 11/8/13

The First Lady:

“So you all have had a chance to learn the nuts and bolts of the movie business from some of Hollywood’s most respected leaders. But here’s the thing: These folks know that it doesn’t just take technical knowledge to succeed in the movie business. That’s one of the important points we want you all to take away. It’s not just about being a good actor or knowing how to create the best special effects. It’s also about things like grit. It’s about determination, resilience. Because all of those character traits — the ability to overcome adversity — all of that are some of the traits and skills that have made the folks on this stage successful in life. And that’s what I want you guys to understand.

Talent comes and goes. But it’s your ability to dig deep when things are hard and make things happen for yourself — that’s the difference between just an average life and success. And there are many examples up on this stage….

Because no matter what kind of neighborhood you come from, no matter what obstacle you are facing in your path right now — I don’t care what’s happening to you today, you can always find something that you’re passionate about. You can always find something worth working for in your life.

And once you find that passion, whether it’s film — maybe it’s science or business, maybe it’s teaching — anything, you have got to get your education…. And getting your education means doing everything you can. It is on you….

….And if you do that, if you own your education and you don’t let any excuses get in your way, no obstacle block you, then I guarantee you can achieve anything that you put your mind to. As Gayle once said — she said, “Confidence comes by doing and doing and doing. That’s the secret.” And she said, “You can’t get confident without working hard. That’s the key to everything.”

The President works hard. Everybody in this room — every intern, every person with a light or a camera, they get up and they work hard. That’s the difference. So I want you all to have that confidence for yourself.

And I hope that this day here in the White House showed you that if you can walk into the White House and sit in the East Room with all these stars and greats, that you can do anything. Do you realize that? You have been in this room in this house with all of us. So you can do anything. Can you just own that for a minute? Stand up a little straighter. (Laughter.) Own it. I spent the day at the White House with the First Lady and with all these stars and actors, and I held it together. (Laughter.)….

And promise me that you will do everything you can in your powers to get the education that is right before you. Because there are kids all over the world that would love to trade places with any single one of you, because they don’t have a fraction of the opportunities that kids in America do, kids like all of you. So promise me that you will take this seriously. Take your lives seriously. Own your futures, because we all did.”

President Obama speaks in New Orleans on the economy and exports, 11/8/13

The President:

“We should not be injuring ourselves every few months — we should be investing in ourselves. We should be building, not tearing things down. Rather than refighting the same old battles again and again and again, we should be fighting to make sure everybody who works hard in America and hard right here in New Orleans, that they have a chance to get ahead. That’s what we should be focused on. (Applause.)

Which brings me to one of the reasons I’m here at this port. One of the things we should be focused on is helping more businesses sell more products to the rest of the world…. every $1 billion in exports supports nearly 5,000 jobs, including jobs right here at this port. So we’re working on new trade deals that will mean more jobs for our workers, and more business for ports like this one….

Number one, Congress needs to pass a farm bill that helps rural communities grow and protects vulnerable Americans. For decades, Congress found a way to compromise and pass farm bills without fuss. For some reason, now Congress can’t even get that done. Now, this is not something that just benefits farmers. Ports like this one depend on all the products coming down the Mississippi. So let’s do the right thing, pass a farm bill. We can start selling more products. That’s more business for this port. And that means more jobs right here. (Applause.)

Number two, we should fix our broken immigration system. (Applause.) This would be good for our national security, but it would also be good for our economic security. Over the next two decades, it would grow our economy by $1.4 trillion. It would shrink our deficits by nearly a trillion dollars. This should not be a partisan issue. President Bush proposed the broad outlines of common-sense immigration reform almost a decade ago. When I was in the Senate, I joined 23 of my Republican colleagues to back those reforms. This year, the Senate has already passed a bill with broad bipartisan support.

So all we’re doing now is waiting for the House to act. I don’t know what the holdup is. But if there’s a good reason not to do it, I haven’t heard it. There’s no reason both parties can’t come together and get this done this year. Get it done this year. (Applause.)

Number three, Democrats and Republicans should work together on a responsible budget that sets America on a stronger course for the future….

So what we have to do now is do what America has always done: Make some wise investments in our people and in our country that will help us grow over the long term. We should close wasteful tax loopholes that don’t help our jobs, don’t grow our economy, and then invest that money in things that actually do create jobs and grow our economy. And one of those things is building new roads and bridges and schools and ports….

So the bottom line is, New Orleans, we can work together to do these things, because we’ve done them before. We did not become the greatest nation on Earth just by chance, just by accident. We had some advantages — really nice real estate here in the United States. But what we also had were people who despite their differences — and we come from everywhere and look different and have different traditions — we understand that this country works best when we’re working together. And we decided to do what was necessary for our businesses and our families to succeed. And if we did it in the past, we can do it again.”

Complete text: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/11/08/remarks-president-economy-port-new-orleans

President Obama Speaks on Immigration Reform, 6/11/13

“This week, the Senate will consider a common-sense, bipartisan bill that is the best chance we’ve had in years to fix our broken immigration system. It will build on what we’ve done and continue to strengthen our borders. It will make sure that businesses and workers are all playing by the same set of rules, and it includes tough penalties for those who don’t. It’s fair for middle-class families, by making sure that those who are brought into the system pay their fair share in taxes and for services. And it’s fair for those who try to immigrate legally by stopping those who try to skip the line. It’s the right thing to do.

Now, this bill isn’t perfect. It’s a compromise. And going forward, nobody is going to get everything that they want — not Democrats, not Republicans, not me. But this is a bill that’s largely consistent with the principles that I and the people on this stage have laid out for common-sense reform.

First of all, if passed, this bill would be the biggest commitment to border security in our nation’s history. It would put another $6.5 billion — on top of what we’re already spending — towards stronger, smarter security along our borders. It would increase criminal penalties against smugglers and traffickers. It would finally give every employer a reliable way to check that every person they’re hiring is here legally. And it would hold employers more accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers. So it strengthens border security, but also enforcement within our borders.

I know there’s a lot of talk right now about border security, so let me repeat — today, illegal crossings are near their lowest level in decades. And if passed, the Senate bill as currently written and as hitting the floor would put in place the toughest border enforcement plan that America has ever seen. So nobody is taking border enforcement lightly. That’s part of this bill.

Number two, this bill would provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are in this country illegally. So that pathway is arduous. You’ve got to pass background checks. You’ve got to learn English. You’ve got to pay taxes and a penalty. And then you’ve got to go to the back of the line behind everybody who’s done things the right way and have tried to come here legally.

So this won’t be a quick process. It will take at least 13 years before the vast majority of these individuals are able to even apply for citizenship. So this is no cakewalk. But it’s the only way we can make sure that everyone who’s here is playing by the same rules as ordinary families — paying taxes and getting their own health insurance.

That’s why, for immigration reform to work, it must be clear from the outset that there is a pathway to citizenship. If we’re asking everybody to play by the same rules, you got to give people a sense of certainty that they go through all these sacrifices, do all this, that there’s at the end of the horizon, the opportunity — not the guarantee, but the opportunity — to be part of this American family. And by the way, a majority of Americans support this idea.

Number three, this bill would modernize the legal immigration system so that, alongside training American workers for the jobs of tomorrow, we’re also attracting the highly skilled entrepreneurs and engineers from around the world who will ultimately grow our economy. And this bill would help make sure that our people don’t have to wait years before their loved ones are able to join them here in America….

If you’re not serious about it, if you think that a broken system is the best America can do, then I guess it might make sense to try to block it. But if you’re actually serious and sincere about fixing a broken system, this is the vehicle to do it. And now is the time to get it done.”

Full text: http://1.usa.gov/14Twifx

Remarks by the President Nominating Jason Furman as Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, 6/10/13

“It’s now been nearly five years since an economic crisis and a punishing recession came together to cost far too many Americans their jobs, and their homes, and the sense of security that they had built up over time. And by the time I took office, my team and I were facing bubbles that had burst; markets that had cratered; bank after bank on the verge of collapse. And the heartbeat of American manufacturing, our auto industry, was flatlining. And all this meant that hundreds of thousands of Americans were losing their jobs each month. So this was a scary time. And nobody had any idea where the bottom would be.

Four and a half years later, our businesses have created nearly 7 million new jobs over the past 36 months. The American auto industry has come roaring back. We’re producing more of our own energy, we’re consuming less that we import from other countries. Our deficits are shrinking rapidly. The cost of health care is slowing. The housing market is rebounding. People’s retirement savings are growing. The wealth that was lost from that recession has now been recovered.

All of this progress is a testament to the grit and resolve of the American people, most of all. But it’s also due in some measurable way to the incredible dedication of the men and women who helped to engineer America’s response. And two of those people are standing next to me, two very smart economists: Alan Krueger and Jason Furman….

And Alan is driven by the basic bargain at the heart of our economy — the idea that hard work should be rewarded. He’s motivated by the principle that no one who works full-time in the greatest nation on Earth should have to raise their families in poverty or below poverty levels….

I’m also proud to nominate another outstanding economist to take his place. Jason Furman is one of the most brilliant economic minds of his generation, don’t take my word for it — you can talk to other economists who know a lot more than I do about it. He’s won the respect and admiration from his peers across the political spectrum. His Ph.D. thesis advisor, Greg Mankiw, chaired the Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush. Nobel Prize Winner Joe Stiglitz, on the other side of the economic spectrum, hired Jason to work for the CEA under President Clinton.

After leaving President Clinton’s White House, Jason finished his Ph.D. in economics, quickly acquired a reputation as a world-class scholar and researcher. But public service kept calling, and Jason kept answering that call because he believes deeply in it. So from working at the World Bank on issues of inequality and international finance to developing new proposals to strengthen our health and retirement programs, he helped to shape some of our most important economic policy debates.

…. And over the last five years I’ve come to trust not only his head, but also his heart, because Jason never forgets who it is that we’re fighting for: middle-class families, folks who are working hard to climb their way into the middle class, the next generation.

And when the stakes are highest, there’s no one I’d rather turn to for straightforward, unvarnished advice that helps me to do my job. He understands all sides of an argument, not just one side of it. He’s worked tirelessly on just about every major economic challenge of the past four and a half years, from averting a second depression, to fighting for tax cuts that help millions of working families make ends meet, to creating new incentives for businesses to hire, to reducing our deficits in a balanced way that benefits the middle class….

So a growing economy that creates good middle-class jobs, that rewards hard work and responsibility, that’s our North Star. Jason shares that focus. I know Alan shares that passion. And Jason’s new role as the Chairman of the Economic — Council of Economic Advisors, he’ll be working with some of our country’s leading economists, including Jim Stock, who has joined us. And I’m relying on them to provide analysis and recommendations with just one thing in mind: What’s going to do the most good for the most people in this country — not what’s best for a political party, not what’s best for a special interest. I don’t have another election. It’s not what’s best for me — what’s best for our middle class, and everybody who is working hard to get there. That’s what the American people deserve.”

Full text: http://1.usa.gov/11DtqWe

The Right to Equal Pay for Equal Work

Did You Know That Women Are Still Paid Less Than Men?

In 1963, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act but till this day full-time working women are still paid, on average, less than men. This significant gap is more than a statistic — it has real life consequences. When women, who make up nearly half the workforce, bring home less money each day, it means they have less for the everyday needs of their families, and over a lifetime of work, far less savings for retirement.

Learn more about how President Obama is tackling this issue:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/equalpay