Category Archives: infrastructure

West Wing Week 11/15/13 or, “We Will Stand By Your Side”

Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that’s happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and beyond. This week, the First and Second Families honored Veterans Day, the President traveled to New Orleans and to Cleveland to speak on the importance of infrastructure to job creation, signed the EpiPen Law, discussed immigration reform with Faith Leaders and attended the 5th Annual Tribal Nations Conference. That’s November 8th to November 14th or “We Will Stand By Your Side.”

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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’s Weekly Address, 6/1/13: Congress Should Take Action to Continue Growing the Economy

In this week’s address, President Obama says that the economy is moving in the right direction, but there is still more work to do. He called on Congress to act to give every responsible homeowner the chance to save money on their mortgage by refinancing at historically low interest rates, put more Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, and fix our broken immigration system, so that we can continue to grow our economy and create good middle class jobs.

“Hi, everybody. Over the past four and a half years, we’ve been fighting our way back from an economic crisis and punishing recession that cost millions of Americans their jobs, their homes, and the sense of security they’d worked so hard to build.

And thanks to the grit and determination of the American people, our businesses have now created nearly 7 million new jobs over the past 38 months.

An auto industry that was flatlining is once again the heartbeat of American manufacturing – with Americans buying more cars than we have in five years.

Within the next few months, we’re projected to begin producing more of our own crude oil at home than we buy from other countries – the first time that’s happened in 16 years.

Deficits that were growing for years are now shrinking at the fastest rate in decades. The rise of health care costs is slowing, too.

And a housing market that was in tatters is showing new signs of real strength. Sales are rising. Foreclosures are declining. Construction is expanding. And home prices that are rising at the fastest rate in nearly seven years are helping a lot of families breathe a lot easier.

Now we need to do more.

This week, my administration announced that we’re extending a program to help more responsible families modify their mortgages so they can stay in their homes.

But to keep our housing market and our economy growing, Congress needs to step up and do its part. Members of Congress will be coming back next week for an important month of work. We’ve got to keep this progress going until middle-class families start regaining that sense of security. And we can’t let partisan politics get in the way.

Congress should pass a law giving every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage by refinancing at historically low interest rates.

Congress should put more Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, like the one that collapsed last week in Washington state. We’d all be safer, and the unemployment rate would fall faster.

And Congress should fix our broken immigration system by passing commonsense reform that continues to strengthen our borders; holds employers accountable; provides a pathway to earned citizenship; and also modernizes our legal immigration system so that we’re reuniting families and attracting the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers who will help our economy grow.

So there are a lot of reasons to feel optimistic about where we’re headed as a country – especially after all we’ve fought through together. We’ve just got to keep going. Because we’ve got more good jobs to create. We’ve got more kids to educate. We’ve got more doors of opportunity to open for anyone who’s willing to work hard enough to walk through those doors.

And if we work together, I’m as confident as I’ve ever been that we’ll get to where we need to be.

Thanks and have a great weekend.”

Source: http://1.usa.gov/15nT2H4

President Obama Speaks on Rebuilding the Jersey Shore, 5/28/13

But if anybody wondered whether the Shore could ever be all right again, you got your answer this weekend. (Applause.) From Sea Bright to Bay Head, from Belmar to Seaside Heights, folks were hanging out on balconies and beaches. Shows were sold out at the Stone Pony. (Applause.) Kids were eating ice cream and going on rides, going and eating some more ice cream. (Laughter.) Guys were trying to win those big stuffed animals to impress a special girl. So like I said, the Jersey Shore is back in business.

The work is not over, though. Seven months ago, I promised you that your country would have your back. I told you we would not quit until the job was done, and I meant it. I meant it. (Applause.)

Craig Fugate, the head of FEMA, he couldn’t be here today, but I want to thank him and his team for their ongoing work. FEMA was here before Sandy made landfall; they’re still here today. They’re working with the Governor’s team and with the task force I set up to support families and communities who still need help. Since the storm hit, we’ve provided billions of dollars to families and state and local governments across the region, and more is on the way.

And even as my team is helping communities recover from the last hurricane season, they’re already starting to prepare for the next hurricane season, which starts this Saturday — because if there’s one thing that we learned last year, it’s that when a storm hits, we’ve got to be ready. Education, preparation — that’s what makes a difference. That’s what saves lives. And anyone who wants to make sure they’re ready — for a hurricane or any other disaster — I want them to visit something — a website called Ready.gov. Make a plan. It’s never too early.

We’ve also got to remember that rebuilding efforts like these aren’t measured in weeks or months, but they’re measured in years. That’s why just this past Thursday, we announced billions of new relief aid for New York and New Jersey transit agencies. And that’s why the Army Corps of Engineers is working to restore beaches and strengthen the Shore’s natural defenses. That’s why last year I joined Governor Christie and your representatives, fighting to get a relief package through Congress. We’re going to keep doing what it takes to rebuild all the way and make it better than it was before, make it stronger than it was before, make it more resilient than it was before. (Applause.)

So, Jersey, you’ve still got a long road ahead, but when you look out on this beach — this beautiful beach here, even in the rain, it looks good. You look out over the horizon, you can count on the fact that you won’t be alone. Your fellow citizens will be there for you — just like we’ll be there for folks in Breezy Point and Staten Island — (applause) — and obviously, we’re going to be there for the folks in Monroe [sic], Oklahoma, after the devastation of last week. (Applause.)

Part of the reason I wanted to come back here was not just to send a message to New Jersey, but send a message to folks in Oklahoma: When we make a commitment that we’ve got your back, we mean it — (applause) — and we’re not going to finish until the work is done. Because that’s who we are. We help each other as Americans through the bad times, and we sure make the most of the good times. (Applause.)”

Full text: http://1.usa.gov/17nK4O6

Weekly Address: The President Talks About How to Build a Rising, Thriving Middle Class, 5/18/13

President Obama talks about his belief that a rising, thriving middle class is the true engine of economic growth, and that to reignite that engine and continue to build on the progress we’ve made over the last four years, we need to invest in three areas: jobs, skills and opportunity.

“More than anything, the American people make me optimistic about where we’re headed as a nation. Especially after all we’ve been through the past several years. And that should encourage us to work even harder on the issues that matter to you.

In a little over three years, our businesses have created more than 6.5 million new jobs. And while our unemployment rate is still too high, it’s the lowest it’s been since 2008. But now we need to create even more good, middle-class jobs, and we need to do it faster.

Corporate profits have skyrocketed to all-time highs. But now we need to get middle-class wages and incomes rising too.

Our housing market is healing. But we still need to help a lot more families stay in their homes, or refinance to take advantage of historically low rates.

And our deficits are shrinking at the fastest rate in decades. But now we need to budget in a smarter way that doesn’t hurt middle-class families or harm critical investments in our future.

So in a lot of sectors, things are looking up. The American auto industry is thriving. American energy is booming. And American ingenuity in our tech sector has the potential to change the way we do almost everything.”

Full text: http://1.usa.gov/19JA79I

President Obama Speaks on Rebuilding Our Nation’s Infrastructure at Ellicott Dredges, Baltimore, May 17, 2013

The President:

“But we’ve had a little difficulty getting our Republican friends to work with us to find a steady funding source for these projects that everybody knows needs to happen. But in fairness, one of the problems we’ve had in the past is, is that sometimes it takes too long to get projects off the ground. There are all these permits and red tape and planning, and this and that, and some of it’s important to do, but we could do it faster.

So a while back, what I did was I ordered everybody who was involved in approving projects to speed up the permitting process for 50 different big projects all across the country, from the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York to the Port of Charleston in South Carolina. And we’ve been able to, in some cases, cut approval times from seven years down to a year. So we’ve made progress. (Applause.)

Today, I’m directing agencies across the government to do what it takes to cut timelines for breaking ground on major infrastructure projects in half. And what that will mean is, is that construction workers get back on the jobs faster. It means more money going back into local economies, and it means more demand for outstanding dredging equipment that is made right here in Baltimore….

So those are some of the ways that we can create the conditions for businesses like this one to generate even more good jobs. And these are the kinds of ideas that we have to stay focused on every single day. This should be our principal focus: How are we making ourselves more competitive; how are we training our workers so that they can do the jobs that need to be done; how can we make sure that we stay on the cutting edge in terms of technology; how are we making it easier for businesses to succeed….

I think about a woman here, Myrna LaBarre. Myrna LaBarre — where is Myrna? (Applause.) There’s Myrna right here. (Applause.) Myrna LaBarre. Myrna has been at Ellicott for more than 50 years. (Applause.) Now, that means she started when there were no child labor laws, because it was clearly illegal. (Laughter.) She was about four or five, and they started putting her to work, put a broom in her hand. But when somebody asked Myrna what lessons she learned after 50 years working at the same company, she said, “Be honest, be helpful, accept your mistakes and improve upon them, be good to people, keep a good sense of humor, have the best work ethic possible, and handle the good times and get over the bad.” That’s a pretty good recipe for success right there. That’s who we are. That’s who we are. (Applause.) Thank you, Myrna.

I mean, that pretty much sums up everything. (Laughter.) That’s who we like to understand America to be, who we are as Americans. We’re honest and helpful. We work hard. We’re good to others. We handle the good times, and we get over the bad times. If we keep that in mind, if we just all keep Myrna’s advice in mind, keep plugging away, keep fighting, we’ll build an even better America than we’ve got right now.”

Full text: http://1.usa.gov/16rPVl9