Fact Check: 15 Biggest Lies in Trump’s Speech Attacking Hillary Clinton

Donald J. Trump goes on the attack after a very bad week in which, gasp, his poll numbers fell © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Donald J. Trump goes on the attack after a very bad week in which, gasp, his poll numbers fell © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Donald Trump’s 45 minute attack on Hillary Clinton on June 22 – a rebuttal of sort to her scathing attack on Trump as someone who would crash the economy rather than create jobs –  sounds like a desperate reaction to the building negatives his presidential campaign is facing as reporters begin to expose his hypocrisies and failures.

The New York Times today reported how he is funneling millions of dollars of campaign spending back to his own businesses and relatives: In May, the biggest-ticket item was Mr. Trump’s use of the Mar-a-Lago Club, his Florida resort, which was paid $423,000. The campaign paid $350,000 to TAG Air for his private airplanes, $125,000 to Trump Restaurants and more than $170,000 to Trump Tower, the Manhattan skyscraper that houses the campaign’s headquarters….” And said, “the presumptive Republican nominee, who points to his business acumen as a case for his candidacy, is trying to do what he has suggested he would in 2000 when he mulled making an independent run: ‘It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.’” (Donald Trump’s Self-Funding Includes Payments to Family and His Companies).

The New York Times, in an article fact-checking Trump’s speech on June 22, said, “Donald J. Trump has had a rough week, overseeing a shake-up of his campaign staff and reporting a dismal fund-raising total. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee tried to refocus his campaign on Wednesday with a speech attacking his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. But he took liberties with the truth, delivering a series of inaccurate and misleading statements.”

The Hillary for America Campaign also offered its own fact-checking.

Fact Check: 15 Biggest Lies in Trump’s Speech Attacking Hillary Clinton

In his speech attacking Hillary Clinton Wednesday, Donald Trump — Politifact’s reigning ‘Liar of the Year’ — resorted to a litany of hypocritical attacks, nutty conspiracy theories and outright lies.

Many of the most outrageous attacks were long ago discredited by independent fact checkers, but Trump is still peddling them.

Here is a breakdown of 15 of Trump’s biggest lies about Clinton in his Wednesday speech:

LIE: “Ambassador Stevens and his staff in Libya made hundreds of requests for security. Hillary Clinton’s State Department refused them all.”
FACT CHECK: Trump made a similar allegation before, and the Washington Post Fact Checker called it a “whopper.”

LIE: “Under her plan, we would admit hundreds of thousands of refugees from the most dangerous countries on Earth – with no way to screen who they are or what they believe.”
FACT CHECK: Hillary Clinton has called for being “vigilant in screening and vetting refugees from Syria.” Moreover, Politifact has rated the claim that there was no way to screen refugees from the Middle East as “false.”

LIE: “For the amount of money Hillary Clinton would like to spend on refugees, we could rebuild every inner city in America.”
FACT CHECK:  To date, the only financial commitment Hillary Clinton has specified along these lines is $15 million to broadly support the integration of immigrants, including refugees. And an independent analysis of the potential cost associated with resettling an additional 70,000 refugees–as Clinton proposed last year–has pegged the price tag at $582 million. By comparison, the cost to rebuild the city of Detroit alone is $1.25 billion, according to the city’s emergency manager.

LIE: “Thanks to Hillary Clinton, Iran is now the dominant Islamic power in the Middle East, and on the road to nuclear weapons.”
FACT CHECK: Politifact rated the claim that Iran is on the road to nuclear weapons “false,” saying, “the terms of the deal expressly forbid pursuing a militarized nuclear program.”

LIE: “Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved the transfer of 20% of America’s uranium holdings to Russia, while 9 investors in the deal funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation.”
FACT CHECK: According to Factcheck.org, “the author of ‘Clinton Cash’ falsely claimed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State had ‘veto power and ‘could have stopped’ Russia from buying a company with extensive uranium mining operations in the U.S.” In fact, the State Department was just one member of a nine-agency panel that reviewed this transaction. The panel was led by the Treasury Department, not State, and Hillary Clinton was never personally involved in the consideration of the deal.

LIE: “Hillary’s Wall Street immigration agenda will keep immigrant communities poor, and unemployed Americans out of work.”
FACT CHECK: Comprehensive immigration reform would boost economic growth and increase the size of the labor force.

LIE: Hillary Clinton “has even deleted this record of total support [for TPP] from her book.”
FACT CHECK: According to NBC News, “The cuts were part of 96 pages of cuts made to account for the paperback’s smaller size, according to a publisher’s note. But not all of them were cut: there’s still two pages praising the deal, or at least the idea of it.”

LIE: “Among the victims is our late Ambassador, Chris Stevens. He was left helpless to die as Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed — that’s right, when the phone rang at 3 o’clock in the morning, she was sleeping.”
FACT CHECK: According to Factcheck.org, “Trump is certainly entitled to his opinion, but the evidence shows Clinton was fully engaged in the immediate response, and subsequent congressional investigations concluded the government response to the attack — including Clinton’s — was appropriate.”

LIE: “She has pledged to grant mass amnesty and in her first 100 days, end virtually all immigration enforcement, and thus create totally open borders in the United States.”
FACT CHECK: While Hillary Clinton has pledged to push for comprehensive immigration reform in her first 100 days, Politifact has given a ruling of “Pants on Fire” to the claim that such a plan would equal “mass amnesty.” In fact, in her memoir, Hard Choices, Clinton wrote that she supported the 2013 Senate immigration bill, which included unprecedented investments in border security, along with a path to citizenship.

LIE: “To cover her tracks, Hillary lied about a video being the cause of his death.”
FACT CHECK: According to the Washington Post Fact Checker, “Clinton says that in speaking with the families, she did not blame the Benghazi attacks on the video. Most participants we interviewed (four out of six) back up her version, saying they do not recall her mentioning a video.”

LIE: “She helped force out a friendly regime in Egypt and replace it with the radical Muslim Brotherhood.”
FACT CHECK: According to the New York Times, “Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned on Sunday that removing President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt too hastily could threaten the country’s transition to democracy.”

LIE: Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy has “unleashed ISIS across the world.”
FACT CHECK: Politifact looked at a similar claim Jeb Bush made and rated it “Mostly False.”

LIE: “To cover-up her corrupt dealings, Hillary Clinton illegally stashed her State Department emails on a private server.”
FACT CHECK: Independent experts like Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists have said there was no criminal aspect to her use of a private email server.  Additionally the Wall Street Journal reported that federal officials do not expect criminal charges to be filed as part of the Justice Department’s ongoing review of the private email system.

LIE: “Her server was easily hacked by foreign governments – perhaps even by her financial backers in Communist China – putting all of America in danger.”
FACT CHECK: The New York Times reported that security logs show no evidence of foreign hacking.

LIE: “Hillary Clinton appointed a top donor to a national security board with top secret access – even though he had no national security credentials.”
FACT CHECK: Contrary to Trump’s claim, the appointee in question actually serves on the Board of Directors of the American Security Project, the Foreign Policy Program Leadership Committee at the Brookings Institution, and on the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney, a member of the national security board to which Fernando was appointed, said Fernando’s “expertise in cyber-security is a great asset to our national security.” Brookings executive vice president and former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk said of Fernando: “I’ve always valued his foreign policy insights.”

Hillary Clinton Eviscerates Myth of Donald Trump as Businessman, Warns Trump Would Blow Up Economy

Plaza Hotel, New York: “The myth of Donald Trump reached its zenith in 1988, the year that his book, The Art of the Deal, was published. That year, Trump bought the Plaza Hotel, a crown jewel of New York real estate; he also bought a 282-foot yacht, and a fleet of airplanes owned by Eastern Air, which he renamed the Trump Shuttle,” The New York Times reported. By December 1990, as all of his ventures neared collapse, he filed for bankruptcy on the Plaza (© 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com).
Plaza Hotel, New York: “The myth of Donald Trump reached its zenith in 1988, the year that his book, The Art of the Deal, was published. That year, Trump bought the Plaza Hotel, a crown jewel of New York real estate; he also bought a 282-foot yacht, and a fleet of airplanes owned by Eastern Air, which he renamed the Trump Shuttle,” The New York Times reported. By December 1990, as all of his ventures neared collapse, he filed for bankruptcy on the Plaza (© 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com).

On the same day as Donald Trump, who during the primary boasted that he was not accepting outside funding so would be unbeholden to anyone, issued his first email soliciting campaign contributions, declaring it will be “the most successful introductory fundraising email in modern political history,” Hillary Clinton delivered a speech detailing why “Donald Trump Is Unfit To Manage The U.S. Economy” and then followed up with “Here’s Why, Literally” documenting Trump’s actual record.

At the same time, his sycophants – the so-called Angry Voters who are desperate to look outside the “professional political class” for a new Leader of the Free World – point to his business acumen, thinking that would somehow translate into growing the economy (which is now the strongest in the world, even at the slow pace of growth) and creating jobs (“I’m going to be the greatest jobs president God ever created,” he boasted.)

Indeed, Trump’s entire record has consisted of doing whatever it takes to benefit himself, no matter who he hurts, from wealthy stockholders, to working class people just trying to get by, to the stooges he bilked out of thousands of dollars thinking Trump University would be their ticket to riches. Trump’s entire campaign so far has been one long advertorial for his businesses – he holds his press conferences in his hotels where he actually takes reporters on tour, holds up Trump steaks (not actually Trump steaks, of course), Trump wine, Trump water. But while he singular campaign strategy has been to “brand” Clinton as “Crooked Hillary,” he has time and again been shown to be the crook, the conman. (The New York Times reports how he was mentored in his tough-guy style by none other than the attorney Roy Cohn, who worked for Sen. Joe McCarthy and later for gangsters.)

Following Clinton’s major economic policy address, the Hillary for America Campaign issued an annotated release, documenting her core proposition:

“If Donald Trump were to get behind the wheel of the American economy, he would very likely drive us off a cliff, and working families would bear the brunt of the impact of lost jobs, lost savings, and lost livelihoods.

“That’s the natural conclusion when you look at Trump’s policy proposals, his rash and reckless temperament, and his record in the private sector of doing harm to working families and small businesses. Need proof? Just this week former McCain economic policy adviser Mark Zandi released a report saying that if Trump got his way he would lead our economy into a ‘lengthy recession’ that would cost millions of jobs, reduce growth, stagnate middle class incomes, and explode the debt.”

“See for yourself how the lines from Hillary’s Clinton’s speech today compare with Trump’s record:”

A few weeks ago, I said his foreign policy proposals and reckless statements represent a danger to our national security.

Hillary Clinton: He is not just unprepared — he is temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability, and immense responsibility

The Briefing: Trump Literally Said All Those Things
Liberals and conservatives say Trump’s ideas would be disastrous. The Chamber of Commerce and labor unions… Mitt Romney and Elizabeth Warren… and economists on the left, right and center all agree: Trump would throw us back into recession.
Politico: Economists savage Trump’s economic agenda

U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Does a recession sound ‘great’ to you? Does 7 million lost jobs sound like ‘winning?’ No probably, not. And yet, that’s exactly where our country would be headed under Trump’s trade policies, according to an analysis released last week.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: Trump’s policies would make life exponentially worse for those who count on a paycheck.

Mitt Romney: If Donald Trump’s plans were ever implemented, the country would sink into prolonged recession.

Elizabeth Warren: When the economy is in this kind of trouble, calling on Donald Trump for help is like if your house is on fire calling an arsonist to come help out.

One of John McCain’s former economic advisers actually calculated what would happen to our country if Trump gets his way.  He described the results of a Trump Recession: we’d lose 3.5 million jobs, incomes would stagnate, debt would explode, and stock prices would plummet.  And you know who’d be hit hardest:  the people who had the hardest time getting back on their feet after the 2008 crisis. 

Moody’s Analytics report by Mark Zandi, economic adviser to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign: By the end of [Trump’s] presidency, there are close to 3.5 million fewer jobs and the unemployment rate rises to as high as 7% … the average American household’s after-inflation income will stagnate, and stock prices and real house values will decline.

One of the leading firms that analyzes the top threats to the global economy – the Economist Intelligence Unit – comes out with a new list every month.  It includes things like terrorism and the disintegration of Europe.  And this month, #3 on the list is Donald Trump becoming president.  Just think about that. 

Politico: A Donald Trump presidency poses a top-10 risk event that could disrupt the world economy, lead to political chaos in the U.S. and heighten security risks for the United States, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The Economist: July 2016 – Trump has a score of 16 on the same list as a Eurozone breakup (15) and the “rising threat of jihadi terrorism destabilises the global economy” (12)

Every day, we see how reckless and careless Trump is.  He’s proud of it

TRUMP: I want to be unpredictable.

Donald Trump actually stood on a debate stage in November and said that wages are too high in this country.  He should tell that to the mothers and fathers working two jobs to raise their kids. 

The Week: Donald Trump kicks off GOP debate by saying American wages are ‘too high’

TRUMP: Our wages are too high

He said – quote – “having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country” – at a time when millions working full-time are still living in poverty.

TRUMP: I think having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country.

Center for Poverty Research of University of California, Davis: In 2013, 4.4 million people who usually work full-time were working poor

Back in 2006, before the financial crash, he said, quote, “I sort of hope” that the housing market crashes, because he’d make money off all of the foreclosures. 

TRUMP: I sort of hope that happens because then people like me would go in and buy

Over the years, he said all kinds of things about women in the workforce.  He called pregnant employees – quote – “an inconvenience.”  

TRUMP: Well you know, pregnancy…it’s certainly an inconvneince for a business. And whether people want to say that or not, the fact is it is an inconvenience for a person that is running a business.

He says women will start making equal pay as soon as they do as good a job as men – as if we aren’t already.  

QUESTION: So if you become president will a woman make the same as a man and will I get to choose what I do with my body? 
TRUMP: You’re going to make the same if you do as good a job. And I happen to be pro-life. OK? I’m pro-life.

And he clearly doesn’t know how much of our growth over the last 40 years is thanks to women.

McKinsey & Company: Since women’s participation in the workforce took off, in the 1970s, their productivity has accounted for about a quarter of current GDP

And he wants to end Obamacare, but he has no credible plan to replace it or to help keep costs down.  It wouldn’t be good for our economy if 20 million people lost their health insurance.  And it would be devastating to all those families. 

DonaldJTrump.com: On day one of the Trump Administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare.

TRUMP: Repeal and replace with something terrific

Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget: Trump’s health care plan “would nearly double the number of uninsured, causing almost 21 million people to lose coverage.”

What would Trump do?  He said he wants to wipe out the tough rules we put on big banks.

TRUMP: Dodd-Frank has made it impossible for bankers to function…[My plan] will be close to dismantling of Dodd-Frank.

He said they created – quote – “a very bad situation.” 

TRUMP: The regulators under Dodd-Frank have made it virtually impossible for the banks to lend money to those people, which is a very bad situation to be in.

He also wants to repeal the new consumer watchdog that Senator Warren helped create to protect families from unfair and deceptive business practices.  That new agency has already secured billions of dollars for people who’ve been ripped off.  He wants to get rid of it.

TRUMPOn repealing Dodd-Frank, which created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: “absolutely”  

Donald Trump would take us back to where we were before the crisis.  He’d rig the economy for Wall Street again. 

TRUMP: [My plan] will be close to dismantling of Dodd-Frank.

He calls himself the “King of Debt,” 

TRUMP: I am the king of debt. 

And his tax plan sure lives up to the name.  According to the independent Tax Policy Center, it would increase the national debt by more than 30 trillion dollars over 20 years.  That’s “trillion” with a “t.”  

Tax Policy Center: Trump’s plan “would add $11.2 trillion to the national debt by 2026 and $34.1 trillion by 2036”

It’s much, much more than any nominee of either party has ever proposed. 

Estimates of reducation of federal revenues under Republican candidates’ tax plans:

Trump Plan: $9.5 trillion

Romney Plan: $5 trillion

McCain Plan: $600 billion

Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama: This is the most risky, restless and regressive tax proposal ever put forward by a major presidential candidate

Economists describe it with words like “simply dangerous” and “not even in the universe of the realistic.”

Glenn Hubbard, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush: Described Trump’s ideas on taxes and the budget as “unrealistic” and “simply dangerous”

Marc Goldwein, Center for a Responsible Federal Budget: “It’s not even in the universe of the realistic.

And how would he pay for all this debt?  He said, quote, “I would borrow, knowing if the economy crashed, you could make a deal.  It’s like, you know, you make a deal before you go into a poker game.” 

TRUMP: I would borrow knowing that if the economy crashed you could make a deal. And if the economy was good it was good so therefore you can’t lose. It’s like, you know, you make a deal before you go into a poker game, and your odds are so much better.

The full faith and credit of the United States is something we can just gamble away.  That would cause an economic catastrophe worse than anything we experienced in 2008.  

Michael Strain, economics fellow at American Enterprise Institute: When asked about Trump’s suggestion to default on the debt: “There are no merits to it. The extent to which U.S. Treasurys are kind of the  foundation on which the global financial system is built is really hard to overstate.”

Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama: Called Donald Trump’s idea of not fully repaying investors in U.S. Treasuries “borderline insane”

You don’t have to take it from me.  Ronald Reagan said, “We have a well-earned reputation for reliability and credibility – two things that set us apart from much of the world.”

President Ronald Reagan: The United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations. It means we have a well-earned reputation for reliability and credibility—two things that set us apart from much of the world.

Maybe Donald feels differently because he made a fortune filing bankruptcies and stiffing his creditors.  

New York Times: How Donald Trump Bankrupted His Atlantic City Casinos, but Still Earned Millions

Boston Globe: The Atlantic City savior who came up snake eyes

Trump also says, we can just print more money to pay our debt down

TRUMP: You never have to default because you print the money

The American dollar is the safest currency on the planet.  Why would he want to mess with that?

PolitiFact: The current system has secured the United States’ position as the world’s safest harbor for global money

Finally, the Trump campaign said that, if worst came to worst, we could just sell off America’s assets.

Trump senior campaign advisor Barry Bennett: The United States government owns more real estate than anybody else, more land than anybody else, more energy than anybody else. We can get rid of government buildings we’re not using, we can extract the energy from government lands, we can do all kinds of things to extract value from the assets that we hold.

First, really?  And second, even if we sold all our aircraft carriers and the Statue of Liberty – even if he let some billionaire turn Yosemite into a private country club – we still wouldn’t even get close.  That’s how much debt he’d run up.

Government Accountability Office: The federal government’s reported assets totaled about $3.2 trillion as of September 30, 2015.

Washington Post: Trump’s nonsensical claim he can eliminate $19 trillion in debt in eight years

Maybe this is what he means when he says “I love playing” with debt. 

TRUMP: I do love debt. I love debt. I love playing with it.

He’d give millionaires a three-trillion-dollar tax cut.  Corporations would get two trillion dollars.  He’s giving more away to the 120,000 richest American families than he would to 120 million hard-working people. 

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: Millionaires Would Gain Trillions Under Trump and Cruz Tax Plans 

Tax Policy Center: An Analysis of Donald Trump’s Tax Plan

The Briefing: The Trump Tax Plan – By the Billionaire, For the Billionaires

Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley and Garbiel Zucman of the London School of Economics: Wealth Inequality In The United States Since 1913

Now, before releasing his plan, Trump said, “Hedge fund guys are getting away with murder.” And, “They’ll pay more.”

TRUMP: Hedge fund guys are getting away with murder.

TRUMP: The hedge fund guys won’t like me as much as they like me right now. I know them all, but they’ll pay more. 

Then his plan came out.  And it actually makes the current loophole even worse.  It gives hedge-fund managers a special tax rate that’s lower than what many middle-class families pay.  I had to look twice because I didn’t believe it.  Under Donald Trump’s plan, these Wall Street millionaires will pay a lower tax rate than many working people.

Josh Barro, New York Times: The usual fee structure for a hedge fund is called “2-and-20”: a flat management fee (often 2 percent) on all assets, plus a performance fee (often 20 percent) on profits above a set threshold. Currently, the management fee is taxed at ordinary rates up to 39.6 percent, while the performance fee enjoys a preferential rate of 23.8 percent. Under Mr. Trump’s plan, all this income would be taxed at a maximum of 25 percent. The performance fee would be subject to a small tax increase, but that effect would be dwarfed by the large tax cut on ordinary management fees

Tax Policy Center: The highest-income 1.0 percent would get an average tax cut of over $275,000 (17.5 percent of after-tax income), and the top 0.1 percent would get an average tax cut worth over $1.3 million, nearly 19 percent of after-tax income. By contrast, the lowest-income households would receive an average tax cut of $128, or 1 percent of after-tax income. Middle-income households would receive an average tax cut of about $2,700, or about 5 percent of after-tax income.

And of course, Donald himself would get a huge tax cut from his own plan.  But we don’t know exactly how much – because he won’t release his tax returns. 

TRUMP: There’s nothing to learn from them

TRUMP: It’s none of your business, you’ll see it when I release. But I fight very hard to pay as little tax as possible

Every major presidential candidate in the last four decades has shown the American people their taxes. 

Washington Post: Trump “would be the first major-party nominee in 40 years to not release his returns.”

Donald actully told Mitt Romney to do it.  

TRUMP: On Romney’s tax returns: “I think it probably be better off just to release them now

And he said that if he ever ran for President, he’d release his.

TRUMP: If I run, you’ll see what a great job, because I’ll do a full disclosure of finances. … Maybe I’m going to do the tax returns when Obama does his birth certificate… I’d love to give my tax returns

TRUMP: Said he would “certainly” release his tax returns, saying he had “no objection” to the idea

What’s he afraid of?  That we’ll learn he hasn’t paid taxes on his huge income? We know that happened for at least a few years – he paid nothing, or close to it.  

Politico: Trump appears to have paid no taxes for two years in early 1990s

Daily Beast: New Evidence Donald Trump Didn’t Pay Taxes

PolitiFact: Public records show that Trump did not pay federal income taxes in two years — 1978 and 1979

Or maybe he isn’t as rich as he claims… 

Fortune: Why Donald Trump’s Tax Returns May Prove He’s Not That Rich

or hasn’t given away as much as he brags about.

Washington Post: Missing from Trump’s list of charitable giving: His own personal cash

The Republican primary featured the Trump immigration plan: round up and deport more than 11 million people – almost all of whom are employed or are children going to school – then build a wall across our border and force Mexico to pay for it.

TRUMP: We have many illegals in the country, and we have to get them out

CNN: Trump has called for deporting all of the undocumented immigrants in the United States

TRUMP: I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me —and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.

This policy is both un-American and very bad economics.  Kicking out 11 million immigrants would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, and it would shrink our economy significantly.  Some economists argue that just this policy alone would send us into a Trump Recession.  

American Action Forum: The federal government would have to spend roughly $400 billion to $600 billion to address the 11.2 million undocumented immigrants and prevent future unlawful entry into the United States.

Mark Zandi, economic adviser to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign: If Trump’s policies were enacted it would be some form of disaster for the economy. If you force 11 million undocumented immigrants to leave in a year, you would be looking at a depression.

Interestingly, Trump’s own products are made in a lot of countries that aren’t named America.  Trump ties are made in China; Trump suits, in Mexico; 

WALLACE: Your Trump Collection clothing line, some of it is made in Mexico – 
TRUMP:  It’s true.
WALLACE:  — and China.
TRUMP:  That’s true.

CNN: Donald Trump suits and ties are made in China

Trump furniture, in Turkey; 

Trump Home Press Release: The entire production process, from the moment the raw wood is cut until the product is finished or upholstered, occurs in Dorya’s Izmir, Turkey.

Trump picture frames in India; 

Donald Trump Park Avenue Collection picture frame 4 x 6: Origin: India

and Trump barware in Slovenia.

Trump Home by Rogaska: We preserve the art of almost 350 years of making crystal ware in Slovenia

I’d love him to explain how all that fits with his talk about America First. 

TRUMP: America First will be the major and overriding theme of my administration.

TRUMP: #AmericaFirst

TRUMP: #AmericaFirst

On the other hand, Donald Trump never misses a chance to say that  Americans are losers and the rest of the world is laughing at us.  

CNN: Donald Trump thinks pretty much everyone is a loser

Washington Post: Losers: A list by Donald Trump

TRUMP: The world is laughing at us.

Just the other day, he told a crowd that America is – quote – “not going to survive.”

TRUMP: It’s amazing that our country can continue to survive, but you know? Eventually it’s not going to survive. Just so you understand. Eventually it’s not.

The King of Debt has no real plan for making college debt free or addressing the student debt crisis that has people in their 40s and 50s still paying off loans. 

Trump campaign Co-Chair Sam Clovis: When asked whether Trump would have a plan to ensure debt-free college: “Unequivocally no…It’s absurd on the surface.”

He has no credible plan for rebuilding our infrastructure, apart from his wall.

Positions” listed on Donald Trump’s website: 

No ideas for how to strengthen Medicare and expand Social Security – in fact, his tax plan would endanger them. 

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: Under [Trump’s] plan, balancing the budget in 2026 would require cutting all government programs — including Social Security, Medicare and defense — by about two-fifths if all programs were cut by the same percentage.  Balancing the budget without cutting Social Security, Medicare, and defense would require eliminating essentially the rest of government under both plans. 

No real strategy for creating jobs, just a string of empty promises.

TRUMP: We’re going to save that coal industry, believe me.

Jason Bordoff, director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy: The U.S. coal industry has been in structural decline for decades, recently driven by things like weak global demand and cheap natural gas. And eliminating environmental rules protecting air and water is not going to bring those jobs back.

Maybe we shouldn’t expect better from someone whose most famous words are, “You’re fired.” 

TRUMP: You’re fired

He has no clean energy plan, even though that’s where many of the jobs of the future will come from and it’s the key to a safer planet.  He just says that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese.  

TRUMP: The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive

TRUMP: Obama’s talking about all of this with the global warming and … a lot of it’s a hoax. It’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a money-making industry, okay? It’s a hoax, a lot of it.

And he has no plan for helping urban and rural communities facing entrenched poverty and neglect. 

Positions” listed on Donald Trump’s website: 

Donald Trump says he’s qualified to be president because of his business record. 

TRUMP: I’ve been a world-class businessman…That’s the thinking that our country needs

A few days ago, he said, quote, “I’m going to do for the country what I did for my business.”  

TRUMP: I’m going to do for the country what I did for my business.

He’s written a lot of books about business – but they all seem to end at Chapter 11. 

PolitiFact: Trump’s four bankruptcies were Chapter 11 reorganizations

Over the years, he intentionally ran up huge amounts of debt on his companies and then defaulted.  He bankrupted those companies – not once, not twice, but four times. 

New York Times: His casino companies made four trips to bankruptcy court, each time persuading bondholders to accept less money rather than be wiped out.

Hundreds of people lost their jobs.  

Chris Wallace: In that case alone lenders to your company lost over $1 billion and more than 1,100 people were laid off.

Shareholders were wiped out.  Lenders lost money.  

Forbes: In the case of his casinos, Trump has screwed his shareholders three consecutive times by wiping out their investment.

Contractors – many of them small businesses – took heavy losses.  Many went bust.  But Donald Trump always came out fine. 

USA Today: Trump [offered] as little as 30 cents on the dollar to some of the contractors

New York Times: Triad Building Specialties nearly collapsed when Mr. Trump took the Taj into bankruptcy.

Here’s what he said about one of those bankruptcies: “I figured it was the bank’s problem, not mine.  What the hell did I care?”

TRUMP: I figured it was the bank’s problem, not mind. What the hell did I care?

He also says, “I play” with bankruptcy.

TRUMP: I play with the bankruptcy.

Just look at what he did in Atlantic City.  He put his name on buildings – his favorite thing to do.  He convinced other people that his properties were a great investment, so they would go in with him. But he arranged it so he got paid no matter how his companies performed.  So when his casino and hotel went bankrupt because of how badly he mismanaged them, he still walked away with millions.  Everyone else paid the price.  Today, his properties are sold, shuttered or falling apart.   So are a lot of people’s lives.  

New York Times: How Donald Trump Bankrupted His Atlantic City Casinos, but Still Earned Millions

USA Today: Hundreds allege Donald Trump doesn’t pay his bills

And here’s what he says about that: “Atlantic City was a very good cash cow for me for a long time.”

TRUMP: Atlantic City was a very good cash cow for me for a long time.

Those promises you’re hearing from him at his campaign rallies?  They’re the same promises he made to his customers at Trump University.  Now they’re suing him for fraud.  

CNN: Donald Trump still battling lawsuits from defunct Trump University


Fortune: How Bad Are the Charges Against Trump University? Really Bad

The New Yorker: Trump University: It’s Worse Than You Think

The Daily Beast: Maddings, an ex-marine now 32, who told The Daily Beast that he racked up around $45,000 in credit card debt to buy Trump University seminars and products. … “It was a con. I’m 25-years-old, barely making $3,000 a month and they told me to increase my credit limit. I just maxed out three credit cards and I’m supposed to be able to qualify for loans to buy real estate? Those stupid principles have led me to borrow $700,000 of other people’s money and lose it all. I’m still paying off some of that debt to this day.”

He’s been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits in the past 30 years.

USA Today: Trump’s 3,500 lawsuits unprecedented for a presidential nominee

A large number were filed by ordinary Americans and small businesses that did work for Trump and never got paid – painters, waiters, plumbers – people who needed the money, and didn’t get it – not because he couldn’t pay them, but because he could stiff them. 

USA Today: At least 60 lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings reviewed by the USA TODAY NETWORK, document people who have accused Trump and his businesses of failing to pay them for their work. Among them: a dishwasher in Florida. A glass company in New Jersey. A carpet company. A plumber. Painters. Forty-eight waiters.

USA Today: Juan Carlos Enriquez, owner of The Paint Spot, in South Florida, has been waiting more than two years to get paid for his work at the Doral. The Paint Spot first filed a lien against Trump’s course, then filed a lawsuit asking a Florida judge to intervene.

Sometimes he offered them 30 cents on the dollar for projects they had already completed.  

USA Today: Trump [offered] as little as 30 cents on the dollar to some of the contractors

Hundreds of liens have been filed against him by contractors, going back decades.  They all tell a similar story:  I worked for him, I did my job, he wouldn’t pay me what he owed.

USA Today: Hundreds allege Donald Trump doesn’t pay his bills

He says, he’s a businessman, and this is what businessmen do. 

TRUMP: Every major business leader, has used the – I never went bank bankrupt, by the way, as you know, everybody knows. But – hundreds of companies, hundreds of deals, I used the law four times and made a tremendous thing. I’m in business. I did a very good job.

Well, CNN pointed out that no major company has filed Chapter 11 more often in the last 30 years than Trump’s casinos.

CNN: No major U.S. company has filed for Chapter 11 more than Trump’s casino empire in the last 30 years

Now imagine Donald Trump sitting in the Oval Office the next time America faces a crisis. Imagine him being in charge when your jobs and savings are at stake.  Is this who you want leading us in an emergency? 

TRUMP: Happy #CincoDeMayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics! 

_________________________________

© 2016 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go towww.news-photos-features.com,  email krubin723@aol.com. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

Obama Mourns Passing of Muhammad Ali Who ‘Shook up the World, And the World is Better for It’

Muhammad Ali at the Clinton Global Initiative, 2008 © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Muhammad Ali at the Clinton Global Initiative, 2008 © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Obama and First Lady issued a statement mourning the passing of Muhammad Ali:

Muhammad Ali was The Greatest.  Period.  If you just asked him, he’d tell you.  He’d tell you he was the double greatest; that he’d “handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder into jail.”

But what made The Champ the greatest – what truly separated him from everyone else – is that everyone else would tell you pretty much the same thing.

Like everyone else on the planet, Michelle and I mourn his passing.  But we’re also grateful to God for how fortunate we are to have known him, if just for a while; for how fortunate we all are that The Greatest chose to grace our time.

In my private study, just off the Oval Office, I keep a pair of his gloves on display, just under that iconic photograph of him – the young champ, just 22 years old, roaring like a lion over a fallen Sonny Liston.  I was too young when it was taken to understand who he was – still Cassius Clay, already an Olympic Gold Medal winner, yet to set out on a spiritual journey that would lead him to his Muslim faith, exile him at the peak of his power, and set the stage for his return to greatness with a name as familiar to the downtrodden in the slums of Southeast Asia and the villages of Africa as it was to cheering crowds in Madison Square Garden.

“I am America,” he once declared.  “I am the part you won’t recognize.  But get used to me – black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own.  Get used to me.”

That’s the Ali I came to know as I came of age – not just as skilled a poet on the mic as he was a fighter in the ring, but a man who fought for what was right.  A man who fought for us.  He stood with King and Mandela; stood up when it was hard; spoke out when others wouldn’t.  His fight outside the ring would cost him his title and his public standing.  It would earn him enemies on the left and the right, make him reviled, and nearly send him to jail.  But Ali stood his ground.  And his victory helped us get used to the America we recognize today.

He wasn’t perfect, of course.  For all his magic in the ring, he could be careless with his words, and full of contradictions as his faith evolved.  But his wonderful, infectious, even innocent spirit ultimately won him more fans than foes – maybe because in him, we hoped to see something of ourselves.  Later, as his physical powers ebbed, he became an even more powerful force for peace and reconciliation around the world.  We saw a man who said he was so mean he’d make medicine sick reveal a soft spot, visiting children with illness and disability around the world, telling them they, too, could become the greatest.  We watched a hero light a torch, and fight his greatest fight of all on the world stage once again; a battle against the disease that ravaged his body, but couldn’t take the spark from his eyes.

Muhammad Ali shook up the world.  And the world is better for it.  We are all better for it.  Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family, and we pray that the greatest fighter of them all finally rests in peace.

To Make Her Case, Hillary Clinton Quotes Back Donald Trump: ‘He Literally Said Those Things’

Hillary Clinton only had to use Donald Trump’s own literal quotes to make her case he is unfit as commander-in-chief, such as when he said, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.” © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Hillary Clinton only had to use Donald Trump’s own literal quotes to make her case he is unfit as commander-in-chief, such as when he said, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.” © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In her foreign policy speech, Hillary Clinton didn’t have to stretch or paraphrase to demonstrate her key point of how reckless, ignorant, and unhinged Donald Trump would be leading US foreign policy, making the crucial decisions, and having not just a twitter account to use when his thin skin was pierced but an entire arsenal. She just used his own quotes to make her case.

And yet, Donald Trump – when faced with the stupidity of his statements – likes to pretend he never said them – like when he lied that he never said he wanted Japan and South Korea to get nuclear weapons.

His Trumpites (Luddites) – who also cannot believe what he is saying – either excuse him by saying “he doesn’t really mean it,” or say he will “pivot” his rhetoric in the general election, so all those people he has terrified or insulted or attacked – like Hispanics, Muslims, the British – will simply forget and be swayed by the idea of a “tough guy”, a “wiseguy” (he identifies with in New Jersey),  a strongman like the tyrants he so admires, making America Great Again. But as Clinton pointed out, he is making many of the same statements he made – about how weak America is, how the world is “laughing at us” – even during Ronald Reagan’s term (much as he uses the same statements today to attack Obama).

And his criticism of Clinton’s speech? She used a teleprompter and didn’t sound sufficiently presidential– not to mention that he also used a teleprompter  when he delivered his so-called “foreign policy” speech, and at AIPAC, when he recited it as if a schoolboy giving his report.

The Clinton campaign provided an annotated list of Trump’s actual quotes:​​

Trump Literally Said All Those Things

Hillary Clinton just delivered a major national security address in which, among other things, she took aim at a wide-ranging catalogue of dangerous comments that Donald Trump has made. Some of the comments she referenced are so ignorant, incoherent or outrageous, it could be hard to believe they actually came out of the mouth of the GOP’s presidential nominee.

But they literally did. All of them. See for yourself — check out the lines from Clinton’s speech, and the Trump quotes behind them:

This is a man who said that more countries should have nuclear weapons, including Saudi Arabia.

ANDERSON COOPER: Saudi Arabia, nuclear weapons?

TRUMP: Saudi Arabia, absolutely.

This is someone who has threatened to abandon our allies in NATO – the countries that work with us to root out terrorists abroad before the strike us at home.

TRUMP: “We don’t really need NATO in its current form. NATO is obsolete… if we have to walk, we walk.”

He believes we can treat the U.S. economy like one of his casinos and default on our debts to the rest of the world, which would cause an economic catastrophe far worse than anything we experienced in 2008.

TRUMP: “I’ve borrowed knowing that you can pay back with discounts… I would borrow knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal.”

He has said that he would order our military to carry out torture…

TRUMP: “Don’t tell me it doesn’t work — torture works… Waterboarding is fine, but it’s not nearly tough enough, ok?”

and the murder of civilians who are related to suspected terrorists…

TRUMP: “The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families”

even though those are war crimes.

TRUMP: “They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me, If I say do it, they’re going to do it.”

He says he doesn’t have to listen to our generals or ambassadors, because he has – quote – “a very good brain.”

TRUMP: “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things…my primary consultant is myself”

He also said, “I know more about ISIS than the generals, believe me.”

TRUMP: “I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.”

You know what?  I don’t believe him.

TRUMP: “We don’t even really know who the leader [of ISIS] is.”

He believes climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese…

TRUMP: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

and has the gall to say prisoners of war like John McCain aren’t heroes.  

TRUMP: “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured, ok? I hate to tell you.”

He praises dictators like Vladimir Putin…

TRUMP: “I will tell you, in terms of leadership, he’s getting an ‘A,’ and our president is not doing so well.”

and picks fights with our friends – including the British prime minister…

TRUMP: “It looks like we are not going to have a very good relationship. Who knows?”

the mayor of London…

TRUMP: “Let’s take an I.Q. test… I think they’re very rude statements and frankly, tell him, I will remember those statements.”

the German chancellor…

TRUMP: “What Merkel has done is incredible, it’s actually mind boggling. Everyone thought she was a really great leader and now she’s turned out to be this catastrophic leader. And she’ll be out if they don’t have a revolution.”

the president of Mexico…

TRUMP: “I don’t know about the Hitler comparison [President Nieto made]. I hadn’t heard that, but it’s a terrible comparison. I’m not happy about that certainly. I don’t want that comparison, but we have to be strong and we have to be vigilant”

and the Pope.

TRUMP: “I don’t think [the Pope] understands the danger of the open border that we have with Mexico. I think Mexico got him to [criticize the wall] it because they want to keep the border just the way it is. They’re making a fortune, and we’re losing.”

He says he has foreign policy experience because he ran the Miss Universe pageant in Russia.

TRUMP: “I know Russia well. I had a major event in Russia two or three years ago, Miss Universe contest, which was a big, big, incredible event.”

And to top it off, he believes America is weak.  An embarrassment. 

TRUMP: “I think we’ve become very weak and ineffective.

He called our military a disaster.  

TRUMP: “Our military is a disaster.”

He said we’re – quote – a “third-world country.”

TRUMP: “We have become a third world country, folks.”

That’s why it’s no small thing when he talks about leaving NATO or says he’ll stay neutral on Israel’s security.  

TRUMP: “Let me be sort of a neutral guy.”

It’s no small thing when he calls Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers.

TRUMP: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

And it’s no small thing when he suggests that America should withdraw our military support for Japan, encourage them to get nuclear weapons…

TRUMP: “And frankly, the case could be made, that let them protect themselves against North Korea. They’d probably wipe them out pretty quick.”

and said this about a war between Japan and North Korea – and I quote – “If they do, they do.  Good luck, enjoy yourself, folks.”

TRUMP: “And if they fight, you know what, that would be a terrible thing, terrible. Good luck folks, enjoy yourself…if they do, they do”

Donald Trump doesn’t know the first thing about Iran or its nuclear program.  Ask him.  It’ll become clear very quickly.

TRUMP: “When those restrictions expire, Iran will have an industrial-size military nuclear capability ready to go.” (Politifact: False.)

There’s no risk of people losing their lives if you blow up a golf-course deal.  But it doesn’t work like that in world affairs.  Just like being interviewed on the same episode of “60 Minutes” as Putin is not the same as actually dealing with Putin.  

TRUMP: “I got to know him very well, because we were both on 60 minutes, we were stablemates and we did very well that night. You know that.”

He wants to start a trade war with China.

TRUMP: “These dummies say, ‘Oh, that’s a trade war. Trade war? We’re losing $500 billion in trade with China. Who the hell cares if there’s a trade war?”

And I have to say, I don’t understand Donald’s bizarre fascination with dictators and strongmen who have no love for America.  He praised China for the Tiananmen Square massacre; he said it showed strength.  

TRUMP: “When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength.

He said, “You’ve got to give Kim Jong Un credit” for taking over North Korea – something he did by murdering everyone he saw as a threat, including his own uncle, which Donald described gleefully, like he was recapping an action movie.

TRUMP: “And you’ve got to give him credit. How many young guys — he was like 26 or 25 when his father died — take over these tough generals…. It’s incredible. He wiped out the uncle. He wiped out this one, that one. I mean, this guy doesn’t play games.”

And he said that, if he were grading Vladimir Putin as a leader, he’d give him an A.

TRUMP: “I will tell you, in terms of leadership, he’s getting an ‘A,’

What’s Trump’s [ISIS plan]?  He won’t say.  He is literally keeping it a secret.  The secret, of course, is he has no idea what he’d do to stop ISIS.

TRUMP: “I do know what to do and I would know how to bring ISIS to the table or beyond that, defeat ISIS very quickly and I’m not going to tell you what is… All I can tell you it is a foolproof way of winning.”

Just look at the few things he actually has said on the subject. He actually said – quote – “maybe Syria should be a free zone for ISIS.”  That’s right – let a terrorist group have control of a major country in the Middle East.

TRUMP: It’s really rather amazing, maybe Syria should be a free zone for ISIS, let them fight and then you pick up the remnants.

Then he said we should send tens of thousands of American ground troops to the Middle East to fight ISIS.

TRUMP: “We really have no choice. We have to knock out ISIS. We have to knock the hell out of them… I would listen to the generals but I’m hearing numbers of 20,000 to 30,000. We have to knock them out fast.”

He also refused to rule out using nuclear weapons against ISIS, which would mean mass civilian casualties.

TRUMP: “I’m never going to rule anything out—I wouldn’t want to say [if I’d use nuclear weapons against ISIS.]”

Trump says over and over again, “The world is laughing at us.”  He’s been saying this for decades.  

TRUMP (1999): “[Saudi Arabians] take such advantage of us with the oil… and they laugh at this country.

TRUMP (2010): “I know many of the people in China, I know many of the big business people, and they’re laughing at us.”

TRUMP (2011): “We have become a laughingstock, the world’s whipping boy”

TRUMP (2012): “The world is laughing at us.”

TRUMP (2013): “After Syria, our enemies are laughing!”

TRUMP (2014): “Mexican leadership has been laughing at us for many years”

TRUMP (2015): “The Persians are great negotiators. They are laughing at the stupidity of the deal we’re making”

TRUMP (2016): “We can’t afford to be so nice and so foolish anymore. Our country is in trouble. ISIS is laughing at us.”

He bought full-page ads in newspapers across the country back in 1987, when Reagan was President, saying that America lacked a backbone and the world was – you guessed it – laughing at us.  

TRUMP (1987): “The world is laughing at America’s politicians as we protect ships we don’t own, carrying oil we don’t need, destined for allies who won’t help… “Let’s not let our great country be laughed at anymore.”

And it matters when he makes fun of disabled people…

TRUMP: “Now the poor guy — you oughta see this guy [imitating disabled reporter] ‘aaah, I don’t know what I said, aaah, I don’t remember.’”

calls women pigs…

TRUMP: “Does everybody know that pig named Rosie O’Donnell? She’s a disgusting pig, right?”

proposes banning an entire religion from our country…

TRUMP: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

or plays coy with white supremacists.

TRUMP: “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So I don’t know. I don’t know — did he endorse me, or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.”

 

 

Clinton in Major Foreign Policy Speech, Draws Contrast with Trump as ‘Unprepared, Misguided and Tempermentally Unfit’ for Commander-in Chief

America’s newest warplane, the F35. Hillary Clinton, in a major foreign policy speech, raises questions about Donald Trump’s fitness to be Commander-in-Chief: ‘Imagine if he had not just his Twitter account at his disposal when he’s angry, but America’s entire arsenal.’ © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
America’s newest warplane, the F35. Hillary Clinton, in a major foreign policy speech, raises questions about Donald Trump’s fitness to be Commander-in-Chief: ‘Imagine if he had not just his Twitter account at his disposal when he’s angry, but America’s entire arsenal.’ © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In a major speech on Thursday, Hillary Clinton painted a clear picture for the American people of the choice they will face this November — a choice between steady, principled American leadership, and a dangerously uncertain future governed by an unprepared, misguided and temperamentally unfit commander-in-chief.

Here are highlights from her remarks:

On Monday, we observed Memorial Day – a day that means a great deal to San Diego, home of so many active-duty and former military and their families.  We honor the sacrifice of those who died for our country in many ways – by living our values, by making this a stronger and fairer nation, and by carrying out a smart and principled foreign policy.

That’s what I want to speak about today – the challenges we face in protecting our country, and the choice at stake in this election.

It’s a choice between a fearful America that’s less secure and less engaged with the world, and a strong, confident America that leads to keep our country safe and our economy growing.

As Secretary of State, Senator and First Lady, I had the honor of representing America abroad and helping shape our foreign policy at home.  As a candidate for President, there’s nothing I take more seriously than our national security. I’ve offered clear strategies for how to defeat ISIS, strengthen our alliances, and make sure Iran never gets a nuclear weapon.  And I’m going to keep America’s security at the heart of my campaign.

Because as you know so well, Americans aren’t just electing a President in November.  We’re choosing our next commander-in-chief – the person we count on to decide questions of war and peace, life and death.

And like many across our country and around the world, I believe the person the Republicans have nominated for President cannot do the job.

Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different – they are dangerously incoherent. They’re not even really ideas – just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds, and outright lies.

He is not just unprepared – he is temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability and immense responsibility.

This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes – because it’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin.

We cannot put the security of our children and grandchildren in Donald Trump’s hands.  We cannot let him roll the dice with America.

This is a man who said that more countries should have nuclear weapons, including Saudi Arabia.

This is someone who has threatened to abandon our allies in NATO – the countries that work with us to root out terrorists abroad before they strike us at home.

He believes we can treat the U.S. economy like one of his casinos and default on our debts to the rest of the world, which would cause an economic catastrophe far worse than anything we experienced in 2008.

He has said that he would order our military to carry out torture and the murder of civilians who are related to suspected terrorists – even though those are war crimes.

He says he doesn’t have to listen to our generals or our admirals, our ambassadors and other high officials, because he has – quote –’a very good brain.’

He also said,  ​

‘I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.’​ ​

You know what? I don’t believe him.

He says climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese, and he has the gall to say that prisoners of war like John McCain aren’t heroes.

Exactly.

He praises dictators like Vladimir Putin and picks fights with our friends – including the British prime minister, the mayor of London, the German chancellor, the president of Mexico and the Pope.

He says he has foreign policy experience because he ran the Miss Universe pageant in Russia.

And to top it off, he believes America is weak.  An embarrassment.  He called our military a disaster.  He said we are – and I quote – a ‘third-world country.’​ ​

And he’s been saying things like that for decades.

Those are the words my friends of someone who doesn’t understand America or the world.

And they’re the words of someone who would lead us in the wrong direction. Because if you really believe America is weak – with our military, our values, our capabilities that no other country comes close to matching – then you don’t know America.

And you certainly don’t deserve to lead it.

That’s why – even if I weren’t in this race – I’d be doing everything I could to make sure Donald Trump never becomes President – because I believe he will take our country down a truly dangerous path.

Unlike him, I have some experience with the tough calls and the hard work of statecraft. I wrestled with the Chinese over a climate deal in Copenhagen, brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, negotiated the reduction of nuclear weapons with Russia, twisted arms to bring the world together in global sanctions against Iran, and stood up for the rights of women, religious minorities and LGBT people around the world.

And I have, I have sat in the Situation Room and advised the President on some of the toughest choices he faced.

So I’m not new to this work.  And I’m proud to run on my record, because I think the choice before the American people in this election is clear.

I believe in strong alliances; clarity in dealing with our rivals; and a rock-solid commitment to the values that have always made America great.  And I believe with all my heart that America is an exceptional country – that we’re still, in Lincoln’s words, the last, best hope of earth.  We are not a country that cowers behind walls.  We lead with purpose, and we prevail.

And if America doesn’t lead, we leave a vacuum – and that will either cause chaos, or other countries will rush in to fill the void.  Then they’ll be the ones making the decisions about your lives and jobs and safety – and trust me, the choices they make will not be to our benefit.

That is not an outcome we can live with.

As I see it, there are some important things our next President must do to secure American leadership and keep us safe and our economy growing in the years ahead.  These are all areas in which Donald Trump and I profoundly disagree.  And they are all critical to our future.

First, we need to be strong at home.

That means investing in our infrastructure, education and innovation – the fundamentals of a strong economy.  We need to reduce income inequality, because our country can’t lead effectively when so many are struggling to provide the basics for their families.  And we need to break down the barriers that hold Americans back, including barriers of bigotry and discrimination.

Compare that with what Trump wants to do.  His economic plans would add more than $30 trillion – that’s trillion with a ‘t’ – $30 trillion to our national debt over the next 20 yearsHe has no ideas on education.  No ideas on innovation.  He has a lot of ideas about who to blame, but no clue about what to do.

None of what Donald Trump is offering will make America stronger at home.  And that would make us weaker in the world.

Second, we need to stick with our allies.

America’s network of allies is part of what makes us exceptional.  And our allies deliver for us every day.

Our armed forces fight terrorists together; our diplomats work side by side.  Allies provide staging areas for our military, so we can respond quickly to events on the other side of the world.  And they share intelligence that helps us identify and defuse potential threats.

Take the threat posed by North Korea – perhaps the most repressive regime on the planet, run by a sadistic dictator who wants to develop long-range missiles that could carry a nuclear weapon to the United States.

When I was Secretary of State, we worked closely with our allies Japan and South Korea to respond to this threat, including by creating a missile defense system that stands ready to shoot down a North Korean warhead, should its leaders ever be reckless enough to launch one at us.  The technology is ours.  Key parts of it are located on Japanese ships.  All three countries contributed to it.  And this month, all three of our militaries will run a joint drill to test it.

That’s the power of allies.

And it’s the legacy of American troops who fought and died to secure those bonds, because they knew we were safer with friends and partners.

Now Moscow and Beijing are deeply envious of our alliances around the world, because they have nothing to match them.  They’d love for us to elect a President who would jeopardize that source of strength.  If Donald gets his way, they’ll be celebrating in the Kremlin.  We cannot let that happen.

That’s why it is no small thing when he talks about leaving NATO, or says he’ll stay neutral on Israel’s security.

It’s no small thing when he calls Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers. We’re lucky to have two friendly neighbors on our land borders.  Why would he want to make one of them an enemy?

And it’s no small thing when he suggests that America should withdraw our military support for Japan, encourage them to get nuclear weapons, and said this about a war between Japan and North Korea – and I quote –​ ​

‘If they do, they do. Good luck, enjoy yourself, folks.’

I wonder if he even realizes he’s talking about nuclear war.

Yes, our friends need to contribute their fair share. I made that point long before Donald Trump came onto the scene – and a number of them have increased their defense spending.  The real debate here is whether we keep these alliances strong or cut them off.  What he says would weaken our country.

Third, we need to embrace all the tools of American power, especially diplomacy and development, to be on the frontlines solving problems before they threaten us at home.

Diplomacy is often the only way to avoid a conflict that could end up exacting a much greater cost.  It takes patience, persistence and an eye on the long game – but it’s worth it.

Take the nuclear agreement with Iran. When President Obama took office, Iran was racing toward a nuclear bomb. Some called for military action.  But that could have ignited a broader war that could have mired our troops in another Middle Eastern conflict.

President Obama chose a different path.  And I got to work leading the effort to impose crippling global sanctions.  We brought Iran to the table.  We began talks. And eventually, we reached an agreement that should block every path for Iran to get a nuclear weapon.

Now we must enforce that deal vigorously. And as I’ve said many times before, our approach must be ‘distrust and verify.’​ ​

The world must understand that the United States will act decisively if necessary, including with military action, to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.  In particular, Israel’s security is non-negotiable.  They’re our closest ally in the region, and we have a moral obligation to defend them.

But there is no question that the world and the United States, we are safer now than we were before this agreement.  And we accomplished it without firing a single shot, dropping a single bomb or putting a single American soldier in harm’s way.

Donald Trump says we shouldn’t have done the deal.  We should have walked away.  But that would have meant no more global sanctions, and Iran resuming their nuclear program and the world blaming us.  So then what?  War?  Telling the world, good luck, you deal with Iran?

Of course Trump doesn’t have answers to those questions.  Donald Trump doesn’t know the first thing about Iran or its nuclear program.  Ask him.  It’ll become very clear, very quickly.

There’s no risk of people losing their lives if you blow up a golf-course deal.

But it doesn’t work like that in world affairs. Just like being interviewed on the same episode of “60 Minutes” as Putin was, is not the same thing as actually dealing with Putin.

So the stakes in global statecraft are infinitely higher and more complex than in the world of luxury hotels. We all know the tools Donald Trump brings to the table – bragging, mocking, composing nasty tweets – I’m willing to bet he’s writing a few right now.

But those tools won’t do the trick. Rather than solving global crises, he would create new ones.

He has no sense of what it takes to deal with multiple countries with competing interests and reaching a solution that everyone can get behind. In fact, he is downright contemptuous of that work. And that means he’s much more likely to end up leading us into conflict.

Fourth, we need to be firm but wise with our rivals.

Countries like Russia and China often work against us. Beijing dumps cheap steel in our markets. That hurts American workers. Moscow has taken aggressive military action in Ukraine, right on NATO’s doorstep. Now I’ve gone toe-to-toe with Russia and China, and many other different leaders around the world. So I know we have to be able to both stand our ground when we must, and find common ground when we can.

That’s how I could work with Russia to conclude the New START treaty to reduce nuclear stockpiles, and with China to increase pressure on North Korea. It’s how our diplomats negotiated the landmark agreement on climate change, which Trump now wants to rip up.

The key was never forgetting who we were dealing with – not friends or allies, but countries that share some common interests with us amid many disagreements.

Donald doesn’t see the complexity.  He wants to start a trade war with ChinaAnd I understand a lot of Americans have concerns about our trade agreements – I do too.  But a trade war is something very different. We went down that road in the 1930s. It made the Great Depression longer and more painful. Combine that with his comments about defaulting on our debt, and it’s not hard to see how a Trump presidency could lead to a global economic crisis.

And I have to say, I don’t understand Donald’s bizarre fascination with dictators and strongmen who have no love for America. He praised China for the Tiananmen Square massacre; he said it showed strength.  

He said, ‘You’ve got to give Kim Jong Un credit’ for taking over North Korea – something he did by murdering everyone he saw as a threat, including his own uncle, which Donald described gleefully, like he was recapping an action movie. And he said if he were grading Vladimir Putin as a leader, he’d give him an A.

Now, I’ll leave it to the psychiatrists to explain his affection for tyrants.

I just wonder how anyone could be so wrong about who America’s real friends are. Because it matters. If you don’t know exactly who you’re dealing with, men like Putin will eat your lunch.

Fifth, we need a real plan for confronting terrorists.

As we saw six months ago in San Bernardino, the threat is real and urgent. Over the past year, I’ve laid out my plans for defeating ISIS.

We need to take out their strongholds in Iraq and Syria by intensifying the air campaign and stepping up our support for Arab and Kurdish forces on the ground. We need to keep pursuing diplomacy to end Syria’s civil war and close Iraq’s sectarian divide, because those conflicts are keeping ISIS alive.  We need to lash up with our allies, and ensure our intelligence services are working hand-in-hand to dismantle the global network that supplies money, arms, propaganda and fighters to the terrorists. We need to win the battle in cyberspace.

And of course we need to strengthen our defenses here at home.

That – in a nutshell – is my plan for defeating ISIS.

What’s Trump’s?  Well he won’t say. He is literally keeping it a secret. The secret, of course, is he has no idea what he’d do to stop ISIS.

Just look at the few things he’s actually said on the subject.

He’s actually said – and I quote –’maybe Syria should be a free zone for ISIS.​’  

Oh, okay – let a terrorist group have control of a major country in the Middle East.

Then he said we should send tens of thousands of American ground troops to the Middle East to fight ISIS.

He also refused to rule out using nuclear weapons against ISIS, which would mean mass civilian casualties.

It’s clear he doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. So we can’t be certain which of these things he would do. But we can be certain that he’s capable of doing any or all of them. Letting ISIS run wild. Launching a nuclear attack. Starting a ground war. These are all distinct possibilities with Donald Trump in charge.

And through all his loose talk, there’s one constant theme: demonizing Muslims and playing right into the hands of ISIS’. His proposal to ban 1.5 billion Muslims from even coming to our country doesn’t just violate the religious freedom our country was founded on.  It’s also a huge propaganda victory for ISIS.  And it alienates the very countries we need to actually help us in this fight.

A Trump Presidency would embolden ISIS. We cannot take that risk.

This isn’t reality television – this is actual reality.

And defeating global terrorist networks and protecting the homeland takes more than empty talk and a handful of slogans. It takes a real plan, real experience and real leadership. Donald Trump lacks all three.

And one more thing. A President has a sacred responsibility to send our troops into battle only if we absolutely must, and only with a clear and well-thought-out strategy. Our troops give their all. They deserve a commander-in-chief who knows that.

I’ve worked side-by-side with admirals and generals, and visited our troops in theaters of war.  I’ve fought for better health care for our National Guard, better services for our veterans, and more support for our Gold Star families. We cannot put the lives of our young men and women in uniform in Donald Trump’s hands.

Sixth, we need to stay true to our values.

Trump says over and over again, ​ ​

‘The world is laughing at us.’​ ​

He’s been saying this for decades, he didn’t just start this year. He bought full-page ads in newspapers across the country back in 1987, when Ronald Reagan was President, saying that America lacked a backbone and the world was – you guessed it – laughing at us. He was wrong then, and he’s wrong now – and you’ve got to wonder why somebody who fundamentally has so little confidence in America, and has felt that way for at least 30 years, wants to be our President.

The truth is, there’s not a country in the world that can rival us. It’s not just that we have the greatest military, or that our economy is larger, more durable, more entrepreneurial than any in the world. It’s also that Americans work harder, dream bigger – and we never, ever stop trying to make our country and world a better place.

So it really matters that Donald Trump says things that go against our deepest-held values.  It matters when he says he’ll order our military to murder the families of suspected terrorists.  During the raid to kill bin Laden, when every second counted, our SEALs took the time to move the women and children in the compound to safety. Donald Trump may not get it, but that’s what honor looks like.

And it also matters when he makes fun of disabled people, calls women pigs,
proposes banning an entire religion from our country, or plays coy with white supremacists.  America stands up to countries that treat women like animals, or people of different races, religions or ethnicities as less human.

What happens to the moral example we set – for the world and for our own children – if our President engages in bigotry?

And by the way, Mr. Trump – every time you insult American Muslims or Mexican immigrants, remember that plenty of Muslims and immigrants serve and fight in our armed forces.

Donald Trump, Donald Trump could learn something from them.

That brings me to the final point I want to make today – the temperament it takes
to be Commander-in-Chief.

Every President faces hard choices every day, with imperfect information and conflicting imperatives.  That’s the job.

A revolution threatens to topple a government in a key region, an adversary reaches out for the first time in years – what do you do?

Making the right call takes a cool head and respect for the facts.  It takes a willingness to listen to other people’s points of view with a truly open mind.  It also takes humility – knowing you don’t know everything – because if you’re convinced you’re always right, you’ll never ask yourself the hard questions.

I remember being in the Situation Room with President Obama, debating the potential Bin Laden operation. The President’s advisors were divided.  The intelligence was compelling but far from definitive. The risks of failure were daunting. The stakes were significant for our battle against al Qaeda and our relationship with Pakistan.  Most of all, the lives of those brave SEALs and helicopter pilots hung in the balance.

It was a decision only the President could make. And when he did, it was as crisp and courageous a display of leadership as I’ve ever seen.

Now imagine Donald Trump sitting in the Situation Room, making life-or-death decisions on behalf of the United States.  Imagine him deciding whether to send your spouses or children into battle.  Imagine if he had not just his Twitter account at his disposal when he’s angry, but America’s entire arsenal.

Do we want him making those calls – someone thin-skinned and quick to anger, who lashes out at the smallest criticism?  Do we want his finger anywhere near the button?

I have a lot of faith that the American people will make the right decision.  This is a country with a deep reservoir of common sense and national pride.  We’re all counting on that.

Because making Donald Trump our commander-in-chief would be a historic mistake. It would undo so much of the work that Republicans and Democrats alike have done over many decades to make America stronger and more secure. It would set back our standing in the world more than anything in recent memory. And it would fuel an ugly narrative about who we are – that we’re fearful, not confident; that we want to let others determine our future for us, instead of shaping our own destiny.

That’s not the America I know and love.

So yes, we have a lot of work to do to keep our country secure. And we need to do better by American families and American workers – and we will. But don’t let anyone tell you that America isn’t great.  Donald Trump’s got America all wrong. We are a big-hearted, fair-minded country.

There is no challenge we can’t meet, no goal we can’t achieve when we each do our part and come together as one nation.

Every lesson from our history teaches us that we are stronger together. We remember that every Memorial Day.

This election is a choice between two very different visions of America.

One that’s angry, afraid, and based on the idea that America is fundamentally weak and in decline.

The other is hopeful, generous, and confident in the knowledge that America is great – just like we always have been.

Let’s resolve that we can be greater still. That is what I believe in my heart.

I went to 112 countries as your Secretary of State.  And I never lost my sense of pride at seeing our blue-and-white plane lit up on some far-off runway, with ‘The United States of America’  emblazoned on the side.  That plane – those words – our country represents something special, not just to us, to the world.  It represents freedom and hope and opportunity.

I love this country and I know you do too. It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve America and I’m going to do everything I can to protect our nation, and make sure we don’t lose sight of how strong we really are.

Clinton Lays Out Plan to Support Veterans, Troops, and Their Families

Brigadier General John Douglass: “Hillary Clinton knows how things work internationally, how the elements of national security work together - much more complicated than people realize – balancing the views of State, Defense, CIA, etc. – national security very complex – she is ready to serve as commander in chief, far more so than Sanders or Trump.” © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Brigadier General John Douglass: “Hillary Clinton knows how things work internationally, how the elements of national security work together – much more complicated than people realize – balancing the views of State, Defense, CIA, etc. – national security very complex – she is ready to serve as commander in chief, far more so than Sanders or Trump.” © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Hillary Clinton believes that supporting our veterans is a sacred responsibility. By fulfilling that responsibility, we not only ensure that veterans receive the opportunity, care, and support they earned by serving our country.  Prioritizing their reintegration also ensures that they bring their unique skills and experience to the success of their communities and our nation after their service is over.  Yet too often, we as a nation failed to uphold our end of the bargain.  As Commander-in-Chief, she will personally commit to fulfilling America’s promise to our veterans, our troops, and their families – a commitment driven by her recognition not just of the extraordinary sacrifices they make, but also of how essential that promise is to our long-term national security and our vitality and prosperity at home.

“Secretary Clinton has fought for our veterans throughout her career.  This issue is deeply personal for her, and her approach is rooted in her upbringing as the daughter of a World War II veteran and decades of experience working with military members and their families.  As First Lady, she fought to have Gulf War Syndrome recognized.  As Senator on the Armed Services Committee, she fought to establish new services for military members and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).  She regularly worked across the aisle to expand military benefits, including to ensure that all members of the Reserves and National Guard and their families had access to health benefits; to expand benefits afforded to surviving spouses; and to broaden protections afforded by the Family and Medical Leave Act to the family members of wounded service members.  And as Secretary of State, she was at the table in the Situation Room, providing advice to the President on the most grave decision a Commander-in-Chief makes: whether and how to send our military personnel in to harm’s way.

“Secretary Clinton is committed to a strong and resilient military, built by the extraordinary men and women who volunteer to serve and the families who serve alongside them.  And she believes that issues affecting current service members and veterans are inseparable.  As President, she’ll continue to support the needs and talents of all who have served and who serve us still, whether Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen, including active duty, reserve, and National Guard, and every race, creed, gender, and sexual orientation.  And she will have no tolerance for failure to put veterans first.”

Secretary Clinton’s comprehensive plan will:

  • Fundamentally reform veterans’ health care to ensure veterans’ access to timely and high quality health care and block efforts to privatize the VHA
  • Modernize and refocus the full spectrum of veterans’ benefits across the federal government
  • Overhaul VA governance to create a new veteran-centric model of excellence
  • Empower veterans and strengthen our economy and communities by connecting their unique skills to the jobs of the future
  • Sustain and strengthen the all-volunteer force
  • Strengthen services and support for military families

Veterans Agenda

The systemic failures of the VA to uphold its core mission underscore the need for fundamental reforms and focused leadership.  Long wait times for health care, crippling claims backlogs, and lack of coordination among agencies represent government at its worst.  Secretary Clinton recognizes the gravity of these challenges, and as President will pursue a veteran-centric reform agenda that tackles problems head-on and revitalizes the VA.  She will end the excuses and ensure our veterans receive the timely health care they deserve. She will oppose the privatization of the VA system, which would undermine our veterans’ ability to get the unique care that only the VA can provide while leaving them vulnerable to a health care market poorly suited to their needs.  And she will lead a national effort to invest in and empower veterans to apply their considerable skills in their communities.

ENSURE VETERANS’ ACCESS TO TIMELY AND HIGH QUALITY HEALTH CARE

Veterans must have access to a system that puts their needs first. But in order to build such a system, prepared for the unique and growing needs of the twenty-first century, we cannot simply throw more money at the problem or tell veterans to go get private care, as the VA’s implementation of the Veterans’ Choice Act has shown.  We also cannot throw our veterans at the mercy of the private insurance system without any care coordination, or leave them to fend for themselves with health care providers who have no expertise in the unique challenges facing veterans. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) must embrace comprehensive process and systems integration across its health care enterprise to ensure a fully-networked and financially-sustainable organization that is dedicated to best practices and continual improvement in everything it does. Specifically, Secretary Clinton will:

Create a new framework for VHA health care delivery by refocusing, reorganizing, and streamlining the VHA to best serve veterans in the 21stcentury.  The VHA must be transformed from primarily a provider of services into an integrated health care system that responsibly balances its role as health care provider, partner, and payer for veteran-directed care.  And it must have the health care providers necessary to ensure it is able to provide quality and timely care.  At the same time, the VA must maintain the ultimate responsibility of coordinating and ensuring comprehensive and quality health care for every veteran and the specialized services that they deserve – critical functions that would disappear if the VA were privatized.  The VHA must:

  • Refocus as a veteran-centric provider of service-connected care. The VHA should focus its resources on what it can do best, particularly health care for service-connected conditions. This is especially important in areas where veterans lack access to the necessary care outside of the VHA, such as prosthetics and traumatic brain injury.
  • Synchronize and coordinate VHA care with other available programs, including coverage already provided to veterans, such as private or employer-provided insurance, TRICARE, Medicare, federally-qualified health centers, Indian Health Service, and the Affordable Care Act, to ensure the most responsible use of taxpayer dollars;
  • Strategically purchase private-sector care when it makes sense to do so, such as for some specialty inpatient or surgical procedures, expanded access to mental health and substance abuse treatment, or when the VA cannot provide timely access to necessary care.  Secretary Clinton would present and advocate for legislation that allows the VA to pursue provider agreements to do this in the most effective and efficient manner;
  • Establish a VHA Strategic Oversight and Governance Board of health care and management leaders. In line with the best practices of modern hospital systems across the country, the board will be empowered to provide oversight of VHA management processes, monitor accountability, promulgate best practices, and ensure the VHA remains true to its mission of putting veterans first.  This Board would include strong veterans representation.

Personally convene the Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense regularly in the Oval Office and direct them to develop, execute, and report on an effort that integrates their health care operations to create a more efficient and a sustainable system. She will direct them to:

  • Streamline the DoD-VA health care footprint by identifying opportunities to co-locate and better coordinate inpatient services across federal health delivery programs, while stripping out costly and redundant bureaucratic functions, and developing a plan to ensure the VA has the facilities needed to provide 21st century care;
  • Synchronize procurement to find cost savings by negotiating and procuring a single formulary of pharmaceuticals along with medical and office supplies and information systems to ensure compatibility and eliminate waste and redundancy;
  • Streamline VA and DoD IT, ending the years of delay in developing an electronic health record (EHR) system that is fully interoperable. The VA has over 100 different versions of its own EHR system, making it difficult enough to communicate between different VA clinics, let alone with DoD.  DoD and VA must also eliminate bureaucratic barriers to seamless coordination and information-sharing.  And the new system must also link to private sector providers to enable full information sharing, care coordination, and integrated billing and payments.

Improve health care for women at the VHA to ensure all veterans are fully and equally supported after serving our nation. Women veterans are the fastest growing population served by the VA, highlighting the importance of proactively addressing the VHA’s ability to meet their needs. Secretary Clinton would work to pass bipartisan legislation that requires VA medical facilities to meet the health care needs of women veterans. In addition, Secretary Clinton calls for:

  • New funding to ensure women equal and respectful, going beyond simply modifying facilities and increasing the number of OBGYNs employed by the VHA, to include expanding provider training, ensuring culturally-competent VHA staff and policies, and providing other gender-specific health services – including mental health services;
  • Requiring the provision of reproductive services across the VHA to ensure women have access to the full spectrum of medical services they need;
  • Broadening initiatives to provide childcare at VA medical facilities so that parents, particularly single mothers, don’t have to choose between taking care of their child and taking care of their health.

End the veteran suicide epidemic and ensure that every veteran has access to world-class medical and counseling services whenever and wherever they are needed. To do this, Secretary Clinton will:

  • Increase funding for mental health providers and training to ensure timely and ongoing identification and triage of mental health issues, and ongoing access to quality mental health care and substance abuse treatment, particularly for alcohol and opiate abuse, including private-sector care when necessary.
  • Expand programs targeted at providing effective mental health treatment for veterans that have participated in classified or sensitive missions without compromising non-disclosure requirements,working with Congress to pass needed legislation;
  • Promote better prescriber and treatment practices by promulgating guidelines that recommend treatments for pain management other than opioids, so that prescribers can consider those alternatives, particularly for patients without chronic physical pain;
  • Ensure that Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is acknowledged as a valid form of PTS, setting a burden of proof for MST that is no higher than for any form of trauma, and that men and women who suffer from it are uniformly eligible for disability compensation and treatment;
  • Educate and encourage state veterans affairs departments to include veteran mental health programs in state requests for federal grants as part of Secretary Clinton’s initiative to combat drug and alcohol addiction;
  • Provide proper legal assistance to review and upgrade other-than-honorable discharge categorizations for service members who were improperly separated from service due to service-connected mental health and cognitive issues, such as TBI, PTS, and addiction.

Continue efforts to identify and treat invisible, latent, and toxic wounds of war that continue to affect veterans, family members, and caregivers long after their service.  This includes Agent Orange, Gulf War syndrome, burn pits, and – two issues that Secretary Clinton has long worked to better address – PTS and TBI. Secretary Clinton will:

  • Maintain presumptions of service-connection for latent and invisible wounds from the Vietnam War, Gulf War, Iraq war, and Afghanistan war while directing the VA to consider additional presumptions of service connection for disabilities arising from toxic exposure;
  • Expand the current VA burn pit registry to become a comprehensive registry for all post-9/11 deployment veterans exposed to environmental dangers, toxic hazards, and other conditions.
  • Dedicate research funding and provide mechanisms for collaborative efforts to facilitate the development and expansion of evidence-based diagnostic tools and treatments for veteran-centric conditions, including mental health issues and other invisible, latent, and toxic wounds of war, and direct the VA, HHS, and DoD to collaborate and integrate portfolios when it makes sense to do so.

MODERNIZE AND REFOCUS THE FULL SPECTRUM OF VETERANS BENEFITS ACROSS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SYSTEM BY IMPLEMENTING A “NEW BRADLEY PLAN”

In the years following World War II, 16 million returning service members were able to rely on the health care and educational opportunities afforded by an adaptable VA organization, headed at the time by General Omar Bradley. General Bradley worked effectively with Congress and stakeholders to build the system that cared for those returning troops. In a similar spirit, aimed at address the VA’s current limitations, Secretary Clinton will direct a national, multi-sector effort to streamline and modernize the veterans’ benefits system. The “New Bradley Plan” will address the shortcomings of today, while ensuring the nation can meet the needs of tomorrow’s veterans. To implement this plan, Secretary Clinton will:

End the disability benefits and appeals backlog through overtime work, productivity improvements, and new initiatives. Secretary Clinton will:

  • Streamline and simplify the claims process by integrating DoD and VA medical evaluations, using “fully developed claims” from private providers, allowing rules-based automatic adjudication for the simplest of applications, and by ensuring veterans have an effective appeals process to make sure the VA gets it right.
  • Improve the VA’s partnership with DOD to anticipate and prepare for future waves of VA claims across the government, and surge resources to the system before claims backlogs grow out of control.
  • Launch an Innovation Initiative led by a team with diverse backgrounds and expertise to connect the VA with leaders in the nation’s leading businesses, universities, and non-profits to develop innovative solutions for sustainably managing the claims and appeals process and to address unforeseen challenges.

Bring Sustained and Focused White House Leadership and Attentionto coordinate the programs supporting our veterans across the U.S. government, ensure continued consultation and engagement with the veteran community, and leverage the private sector to ensure the entire nation is mobilized to meet this challenge.  To do so she will:

  • Create a standing President’s Council on Veterans, coordinated by a Senior White House official responsible for Veterans Integration. The council will be an all-of-government approach to supporting veterans, comprised of the heads of all 17 agencies involved in this mission to synchronize and integrate the patchwork of programs and benefits.
  • Conduct an end-to-end evaluation to optimize the full scope of benefitsafforded to our veterans and provide recommendations to ensure that greater investments in services and support for veterans are smart, effective, and will best meet the needs of veterans today and for generations to come;
  • Convene a White House Summit on Veterans to personally address progress on veterans’ issues with all stakeholders directly, meet early and regularly with a cross-section of veterans to understand their needs and ensure we meets our promises, and work with state governors to ensure that veterans and National Guard issues are addressed at the state level given their important role;
  • Continue to engage private and philanthropic sectors with this effort by ensuring that companies know the value of hiring veterans and by amending federal ethics and acquisition regulations to allow VA, DoD, and other federal agencies to effectively partner with the private and nonprofit sectors, including better data sharing, more open access to federal facilities, and sharing of resources.

EMPOWER VETERANS BY CONNECTING THEIR UNIQUE SKILLS TO THE JOBS OF THE FUTURE

Secretary Clinton recognizes that America’s veterans are an enormous asset for the future of the country and our economic growth.  Veterans bring unique skills from their time in the military that can move America’s economy forward.  From their commitment to service and teamwork to specific job skills from computer science to welding, investment in our veterans can power a workforce for the future.  Secretary Clinton is committed to the programs and supports that will strengthen pipelines of veterans and service members into higher education and industry.  Specifically, Secretary Clinton will:

Support and broaden initiatives that provide educational benefits, job training, and support for veteran entrepreneurs.  Secretary Clinton will build on First Lady Michelle Obama’s Joining Forces Initiative with a national push to improve the pipeline of our nation’s veterans into the workforce.  To do this, she will:

  • Make the Post-9/11 GI Bill a lasting part of the nation’s social contract with those who serve, working with Congress to pass legislation that solidified existing benefits, preserves and extends family transferability (including to non-traditional families), and expands qualified uses for use in the 21st century economy, such as at approved coding academies, entrepreneurship programs, and apprenticeship programs with America’s leading companies and labor organizations;
  • Expand tax credits for veterans’ employment through reauthorizing and making permanent the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for veterans and expanding it to provide credits to businesses that hire disabled veterans.
  • Improve concurrent certification and credentialing programs by increasing funds available to state and local governments to process military certificates, and by expanding the concurrent credentialing program to all appropriate military career fields, to ensure that our veterans can seamlessly transfer their skills from the military to the community;
  • Strengthen veteran entrepreneurship programs, including expanding the efforts of the Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development to provide entrepreneurship training and counseling and small business loan guarantees;
  • Create pathways and platforms for service members to enter growing career fields, including jobs in clean energy, cyber, and information technology, and areas of critical need by improving integration between these opportunities and the military’s Transition Assistance Program;

Protect veterans from discrimination and predatory companies that unfairly target veterans and their families, in the spirit of Secretary Clinton’s broader efforts to protect consumers and bolster the middle class, she will:

  • Fight back against schools that prey on veterans, including through legislation that closes the 90-10 loophole exploited by for-profit schools, and by banning schools from receiving federal student aid (including DoD tuition assistance and VA GI Bill funding) if they are found guilty of fraudulently recruiting students;
  • Enforce zero tolerance for firms that overcharge service members and veterans by banning bill collectors and loan servicers from contracts to service federal loans, and help defrauded students discharge debt from fraudulent schools;
  • Strengthen non-discrimination laws protecting veterans and military families by expanding the Uniformed Services Reemployment and Readjustment Act (USERRA) and Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), adding veteran status to the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to protect veterans from discrimination in the housing market.

Move decisively to end veteran homelessness by building on successful initiatives and expanding programs that help ensure long-term success.

  • Increase funding for reducing homelessness while expanding public-private partnerships, with an emphasis on regions with the greatest need. Leverage federal resources to support community-based organizations, including by reallocating excess and unused federal property for use by veteran-focused non-profit organizations;
  • Expand complementary programs and services including outreach, especially in locations involving high densities of homeless veterans, and programs that prepare veterans for independent living to prevent recidivism, such as counseling, job training, disability benefits, and transportation;
  • Address the needs of homeless women veterans and homeless veteran families by clarifying language in the Fair Housing Act that removes ambiguities in the law regarding gender and family-specific housing, and providing shelter options that account for local demographic conditions.

Support Veterans Treatment Courts nationally using block grants to state and local governments while also directing the VA to expand its current pilot programs for “medical legal partnerships” to offer space to community legal organizations in VHA clinics.  Veterans Treatment Courts provide an alternate to the traditional criminal justice system for veterans with minor offenses aggravated by mental health or substance abuse issues, ensuring these veterans are rehabilitated while getting the treatment they need.

Recognize the honorable service of LGBT veterans by proactively reviewing and upgrading discharge records for veterans who were discharged because of their sexual orientation; and honoring their service by continuing efforts to improve the support and care they receive at the VHA to ensure respectful and responsive health care.

OVERHAUL VA GOVERNANCE TO CREATE NEW VETERAN-CENTRIC MODEL OF EXCELLENCE

Fulfilling the nation’s duty of taking care of our veterans requires effective performance by the VA and other federal agencies that support veterans. As part of a broader effort to promote good governance, Secretary Clinton will reform management within the Department of Veterans Affairs, ensure fair and transparent accountability, and set us on a path to excellence for our nation’s veterans for generations to come. Secretary Clinton will:

Create a culture of accountability, service, and excellence at the VA.Secretary McDonald has done a commendable job of refocusing the VA on its core mission: putting veterans first. But Secretary Clinton believes more must be done to reform and improve the VA from the top-down, and from the bottom-up. Secretary Clinton supports legislation that will:

  • Hold every employee accountable for their performance and conduct. From the top leadership to mid-level managers to entry-level employees, everyone at the VA must embody the highest workplace standards. Supervisors must be empowered to suspend or remove underperforming employees in accordance with due process not only for the good of the organization, but in service of our nation’s veterans.
  • Revamp the performance evaluation system to recognize and advance high-performing employees to create a thriving, effective, and sustainable organizational culture, while also establishing processes to ensure managers are held accountable for taking action to deal with poorly performing employees.
  • Bolster critical whistleblower protections. Individuals who sound the alarm over wasteful programs or question inefficient practices embody the spirit of reform and management excellence that the VA must champion. Whistleblower protections are key to ensuring these employees are empowered and their voices heard, not silenced.

Provide budgetary certainty to facilitate reforms and enable long-term planning. The recent budget deal reached between the Congress and the White House is a promising first step in providing government agencies with much needed fiscal stability. But we must go further by ending the sequester for both defense and non-defense spending in a balanced way, and prioritizing full-funding and advance appropriations for the entire Department of Veterans Affairs.

Ensure our veterans are buried with the honor, distinction, and integrity they deserve, directing the VA to clean up problems that have led to unacceptable indignities for our veterans and their families.

Military Personnel and Families Agenda

Our obligation to our veterans cannot be separated from our broader commitment to take care of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, coast guardsmen –active duty, reserve, and National Guard – and their families. Our men and women in uniform have volunteered to put their lives on the line to serve our country in operations that keep our people safe and ensure peace and security across the globe.  As President, Secretary Clinton will make sure the United States supports the men and women who make the US military the best-trained, best-equipped, and strongest military the world has ever known.

Secretary Clinton believes that no individual should have to choose between serving their country and taking care of their family, while on active duty or afterward.  She will continue to work with civilian and military national security leaders to ensure that our nation’s armed forces are trained, equipped, and ready for the full spectrum of challenges they will face, including those still over the horizon.

SUSTAIN AND STRENGTHEN THE ALL-VOLUNTEER FORCE

The All-Volunteer Force (AVF) has been stressed by fourteen years of continuous combat and is endeavoring to rebuild and reset, while facing growing instability and complexity around the world, reduced end-strength, and an uncertain fiscal environment.  Secretary Clinton is developing a broad strategy on DOD budget and reform measures grounded in permanently ending the damaging sequester while making smart reforms in both defense and non-defense spending.  Included in that plan will be military personnel policies that support and promote total force readiness by:

Supporting smart compensation and benefits reform that attracts the best and brightest new recruits to the AVF. Secretary Clinton’s unwavering commitment to our military men and women includes policies that will:

  • Ensure reforms to military compensation and retirement benefits improve readiness and quality-of-life, and working with Congress and the services to ensure that ongoing improvements to the system, such as plans to modernize the commissary system, are accomplished in a smart and comprehensive manner, guaranteeing the strength and sustainability of the force for generations to come.
  • Modernize the military health system by ensuring service members, military retirees, and their families robust access to health care by changing the incentive structure of the TRICARE contracts to produce better health outcomes with better patient satisfaction, expanding access to mental health care through telemedicine and non-traditional treatments, and ensuring the health needs of military women – including reproductive health care – are fully supported.

Adopting modern and inclusive personnel policies that serve to bolster and enhance the finest fighting force the world has ever seen. Secretary Clinton’s plan will both take advantage of America’s strengths while embodying its values. This includes:

  • Attracting millennials to military service by building on ‘force of the future’ initiatives, to include emphasizing military opportunities in science and technology and promoting smarter and more flexible DoD policies on tour lengths and assignments, which give military families greater stability and increase retention.
  • Aggressively Combat Military Sexual Assault and Harassment by strengthening protections to ensure that our women and men in uniform can serve without fear of sexual assault or harassment, and without fear of retaliation for reporting.
  • Welcoming women to compete for all military positions provided they meet the requisite standards, in line with the ongoing DoD policy review. From piloting fighter jets to serving on submarines to earning respect as an Army Ranger, merit and performance should determine who serves in the military’s combat specialties and units, not gender.
  • Supporting the DoD policy review on transgender service, anticipating that transgender people will soon be allowed to serve openly alongside their comrades in arms in a military where everyone is respected enough to let them serve with dignity.

STRENGTHEN MILITARY FAMILY SERVICES AND SUPPORT

Secretary Clinton recognizes that military family readiness is a critical part of total force readiness, and she understands that military families face unique concerns and challenges, especially after fourteen years of continuous deployments. To tackle these challenges, Secretary Clinton will:

Promote family policies that provide military families with additional opportunities and much-needed flexibility in juggling multiple challenges. This includes:

 

  • Increasing access to child care both on- and off-base, including options for drop-in services, part-time child care, and the provision of extended-hours care, especially at Child Development Centers, while streamlining the process for re-registering children following a permanent change of station (PCS);
  • Creating flexibility around military moves by allowing families to continue receiving their housing allowance for up to six months after a military member’s PCS move under common-sense circumstances; for example, when the service member has a spouse enrolled in a degree-granting program or one or more children enrolled in a local school;
  • Expand military spouse employment initiatives by developing resources and high quality portable or work-from-home positions for spouses while expanding public hiring preferences and credentialing programs to assist military spouses.

Champion efforts to care for our military members and families, and ensure that our nation honors and respects them throughout their service and beyond. Secretary Clinton will:

 

  • Ensure continued focus on mental health for military members and families by enhancing DoD programs to help remove the stigma of mental health issues and by developing a comprehensive whole-of-life approach with the DoD Suicide Prevention Office that includes education, training, counseling resources, and family outreach;
  • Remain committed to extended leave policies that are critical to military families, whether preparing for a service member’s deployment or caring for a wounded warrior, and expanding paid maternity and paternity policies across all of the services;
  • Continue to support Gold Star Families and recognize their sacrifice through enhanced gratuity payments to surviving spouses and ongoing access to benefits in recognition of their sacrifice.

 

 

Memorial Day Spotlights Trump, Clinton Differences on Veterans, Military Families

Veterans march in the Great Neck Memorial Day Parade. Trump and Clinton offer starkly different proposals for how America should care for veterans and military families © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Veterans march in the Great Neck Memorial Day Parade. Trump and Clinton offer starkly different proposals for how America should care for veterans and military families © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

There is nothing more disgusting than the scene of Donald Trump headlining the Rolling Thunder rally in Washington DC over Memorial Day weekend– a rally that ostensibly supports veterans. A man who used his wealth and position to obtain five deferments from serving in Vietnam when so many others without privilege were sent into that hell hole- 2.7 million served in that terrible war,  58,000 never returning home, another 75,000 severely disabled. In all, some 42 million Americans have served in the military since the American Revolution, more than 1.1 million making the ultimate sacrifice.

This is a man who has shown nothing but disrespect for the military and veterans, even as he fear-mongers the lie that the American military is weak and, he crows, we need Trump to restore its greatness. To the extent that defense spending – still the biggest chunk of the budget, amounting to more than the rest of the world spends on its military – has been cut, it is because of the Sequester that was put into place because Republicans in Congress refused to accept Obama’s budget compromise. Trump’s fight is with Congress, not Obama, but that does not stop him (or his supporters) from misdirecting the blame.

In fact, Obama has done more for veterans – and the military and their families – than any other president, including passing the post 9/11 GI Bill, Michele Obama and Jill Biden’s Joining Forces campaign, an all-out drive to improve employment opportunities for veterans and military families, improving services at the Veterans Administration hospitals.

This week, with great fanfare, Trump held a press conference to explain where the $6 million he claimed to have raised for veterans groups in a fundraiser (his excuse for skipping out on a GOP presidential debate), was allocated, including, he said, $1 million of his own money.

He tried to weasel out of paying up – only being forced by media attention.

Let’s consider Trump’s actual record (something that his minions fail to do):

He has indicated he would not support the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which the VA has said has benefited more than 700,000 veterans and their family members who have so far received $20 billion in benefits, saying : “No. I want to bring jobs back to our country.”

He has advocated privatizing the VA when the vast majority of veterans appreciate the specialized services they obtain.

He showed contempt for prisoners of war, as when he dissed Sen. John McCain, who spent five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam (refusing the opportunity to be freed until his men also were freed), saying, “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured, ok? I hate to tell you.”

Who does Trump consider a war hero? Trump, as when he referred to his sex life and the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases as his “personal Vietnam,” and that though he never actually served in the military, he wrote that he “always felt that I was in the military” because he was sent to a military-themed boarding school. And last year, he downplayed the dangers of war with modern technology, claiming that if an armored Humvee is hit with an explosive, our soldiers just “go for a little ride upward and they come down.” He also has called for expanding the use of torture, which would put US servicemembers at severe risk.

While Trump thinks he can buy veterans’ affection by throwing a few million dollars in their direction, in contrast, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate who as Senator served on the Armed Services Committee, has an actual record of supporting the military, veterans, and military families and has shown time and time again that she understands their needs.

  • Joined efforts to build veterans rehabilitation center. Senator Clinton joined with Republican Senator John McCain to personally raise money for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund which led to building the Center for the Intrepid, a $50 million state-of-the-art physical rehabilitation facility in San Antonio, Texas, designed specifically to help seriously wounded service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Expanded health care coverage for Reservists and National Guard members. Senator Clinton worked with Senator Lindsey Graham to expand veterans’ access to military health insurance, ensuring that all members of the Reserves and National Guard—and their families—had access to military health benefits even when they were not deployed.
  • Protected family members caring for wounded warriors. Senator Clinton collaborated with Senator Chris Dodd to author and introduce new legislation that aimed to broaden protections afforded by the Family and Medical Leave Act to the family of wounded service members. The legislation was enacted as part of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act.

[You can read the full, 12-page veterans plan and her new, expanded agenda to support military families.]

On Tuesday, as Trump was holding his mock press conference listing where $6 million in contributions for veterans were allocated and spending more time bashing Clinton and the press, Hillary Clinton released wide-ranging set of proposals to better support military families:

  • Ensuring that family leave policies meet the needs of our military families and increasing access to child care for all service members in the Active Duty and Reserve who need it, both on- and off-base.
  • Enhancing opportunities for military spouse employment and breaking down antiquated rules, such as onerous state credentialing, that lead to military spouse under-employment. A recent study showed that unemployment and under-employment of military spouses costs the U.S. economy almost $1 billion per year.
  • Creating flexibility around military moves by allowing families to continue receiving their housing allowance for up to six months after a military member’s Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move under common-sense circumstances.
  • Standing side-by-side with families through transition out of the military, making jobs services and transition programs more widely available to loved ones during the months and years after a service member leaves the service.
  • Establish “Joining Forces,” launched by the Obama administration, as a permanent part of the Executive Office of the President, to continue building partnerships between the public, private and nonprofit sectors in support of the military and veteran community.
  • Ensuring military children receive a high-quality education and the resources to succeed. This includes preserving and protecting the Post-9/11 GI Bill, making it a lasting part of the nation’s social contract for those who serve and their families, including its provisions for transfer of educational benefits to spouses and children of military personnel.

You can read the full fact sheet for Hillary Clinton’s military families agenda.

 

 

 

Obama in Hiroshima: ‘The start of our own moral awakening’

 

President Obama with President Abe of Japan at the Peace Memorial, Hiroshima (White House pool)
President Obama with President Abe of Japan at the Peace Memorial, Hiroshima (White House pool)

President Obama, the first sitting American President to visit Hiroshima, japan, the site of the world’s only use of an atomic weapon, struck just the right tone in a speech thoughtfully, and carefully constructed to inspire reconciliation, rather than apologize for a decision made in a different time and context. And he made it about the future, the task and the challenge ahead in face of mankind’s scientific and technological know-how to destroy all humanity. The man who won a Nobel Prize for Peace in 2009, who struggled to extract the US from two wars, who worked to secure loose nukes and negotiated a nuclear agreement with Iran has nonetheless been stymied in his goal to reduce the nuclear menace. Here is the text of his remarks, highlighted, strangely idealistic and realistic at the same time:

 

Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Hiroshima, Japan

 

5:45 P.M. JST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Seventy-one years ago, on a bright, cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed.  A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself.

Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima?  We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in a not so distant past.  We come to mourn the dead, including over 100,000 in Japanese men, women and children; thousands of Koreans; a dozen Americans held prisoner.  Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and what we might become.

It is not the fact of war that sets Hiroshima apart. Artifacts tell us that violent conflict appeared with the very first man.  Our early ancestors, having learned to make blades from flint and spears from wood, used these tools not just for hunting, but against their own kind.  On every continent, the history of civilization is filled with war, whether driven by scarcity of grain or hunger for gold; compelled by nationalist fervor or religious zeal.  Empires have risen and fallen. Peoples have been subjugated and liberated.  And at each juncture, innocents have suffered, a countless toll, their names forgotten by time.

The World War that reached its brutal end in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was fought among the wealthiest and most powerful of nations.  Their civilizations had given the world great cities and magnificent art.  Their thinkers had advanced ideas of justice and harmony and truth.  And yet, the war grew out of the same base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes; an old pattern amplified by new capabilities and without new constraints.  In the span of a few years, some 60 million people would die — men, women, children no different than us, shot, beaten, marched, bombed, jailed, starved, gassed to death.

There are many sites around the world that chronicle this war — memorials that tell stories of courage and heroism; graves and empty camps that echo of unspeakable depravity.  Yet in the image of a mushroom cloud that rose into these skies, we are most starkly reminded of humanity’s core contradiction; how the very spark that marks us as a species — our thoughts, our imagination, our language, our tool-making, our ability to set ourselves apart from nature and bend it to our will — those very things also give us the capacity for unmatched destruction.

How often does material advancement or social innovation blind us to this truth.  How easily we learn to justify violence in the name of some higher cause.  Every great religion promises a pathway to love and peace and righteousness, and yet no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill.  Nations arise, telling a story that binds people together in sacrifice and cooperation, allowing for remarkable feats, but those same stories have so often been used to oppress and dehumanize those who are different.

Science allows us to communicate across the seas and fly above the clouds; to cure disease and understand the cosmos.  But those same discoveries can be turned into ever-more efficient killing machines.

The wars of the modern age teach this truth.  Hiroshima teaches this truth.  Technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us.  The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of an atom requires a moral revolution, as well.

That is why we come to this place.  We stand here, in the middle of this city, and force ourselves to imagine the moment the bomb fell.  We force ourselves to feel the dread of children confused by what they see.  We listen to a silent cry.  We remember all the innocents killed across the arc of that terrible war, and the wars that came before, and the wars that would follow.

Mere words cannot give voice to such suffering, but we have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.  Someday the voices of the hibakusha will no longer be with us to bear witness.  But the memory of the morning of August 6th, 1945 must never fade.  That memory allows us to fight complacency.  It fuels our moral imagination.  It allows us to change.

And since that fateful day, we have made choices that give us hope.  The United States and Japan forged not only an alliance, but a friendship that has won far more for our people than we could ever claim through war.  The nations of Europe built a Union that replaced battlefields with bonds of commerce and democracy.  Oppressed peoples and nations won liberation.  An international community established institutions and treaties that worked to avoid war and aspire to restrict and roll back, and ultimately eliminate the existence of nuclear weapons.

Still, every act of aggression between nations; every act of terror and corruption and cruelty and oppression that we see around the world shows our work is never done. We may not be able to eliminate man’s capacity to do evil, so nations –- and the alliances that we’ve formed -– must possess the means to defend ourselves.  But among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear, and pursue a world without them.

We may not realize this goal in my lifetime.  But persistent effort can roll back the possibility of catastrophe.  We can chart a course that leads to the destruction of these stockpiles.  We can stop the spread to new nations, and secure deadly materials from fanatics.

And yet that is not enough.  For we see around the world today how even the crudest rifles and barrel bombs can serve up violence on a terrible scale.  We must change our mindset about war itself –- to prevent conflict through diplomacy, and strive to end conflicts after they’ve begun; to see our growing interdependence as a cause for peaceful cooperation and not violent competition; to define our nations not by our capacity to destroy, but by what we build.

And perhaps above all, we must reimagine our connection to one another as members of one human race.  For this, too, is what makes our species unique.  We’re not bound by genetic code to repeat the mistakes of the past.  We can learn.  We can choose. We can tell our children a different story –- one that describes a common humanity; one that makes war less likely and cruelty less easily accepted.

We see these stories in the hibakusha –- the woman who forgave a pilot who flew the plane that dropped the atomic bomb, because she recognized that what she really hated was war itself; the man who sought out families of Americans killed here, because he believed their loss was equal to his own.

My own nation’s story began with simple words:  All men are created equal, and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Realizing that ideal has never been easy, even within our own borders, even among our own citizens.

But staying true to that story is worth the effort. It is an ideal to be strived for; an ideal that extends across continents, and across oceans.  The irreducible worth of every person, the insistence that every life is precious; the radical and necessary notion that we are part of a single human family -– that is the story that we all must tell.

That is why we come to Hiroshima.  So that we might think of people we love — the first smile from our children in the morning; the gentle touch from a spouse over the kitchen table; the comforting embrace of a parent –- we can think of those things and know that those same precious moments took place here seventy-one years ago.  Those who died -– they are like us.  Ordinary people understand this, I think. They do not want more war. They would rather that the wonders of science be focused on improving life, and not eliminating it.

When the choices made by nations, when the choices made by leaders reflect this simple wisdom, then the lesson of Hiroshima is done.

The world was forever changed here.  But today, the children of this city will go through their day in peace.  What a precious thing that is.  It is worth protecting, and then extending to every child.  That is the future we can choose -– a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare, but as the start of our own moral awakening.  (Applause.)

 

Obama Addresses Rutgers University Commencement: ‘You’ve got the tools to lead us’

President Obama gets standing ovation after addressing the 250th anniversary Rutgers University Commencement © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
President Obama gets standing ovation after addressing the 250th anniversary Rutgers University Commencement © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

It’s commencement season. Speakers typically offer bromides to the newly minted graduates, about to take their first independent steps into an uncertain future, outside the protected confines of these lofty institutions. But President Obama’s commencement speech at Rutgers University was not like that. It was a sober reflection formed from the wisdom and experience of nearly eight years at the pinnacle of power – his own valedictory address. It was meaningful and important and real. And in the end, optimistic.

Rutgers was the perfect place for his address – not just because it was celebrating its 250th anniversary of its founding in 1766 – but that it has become one of the largest universities in the country, with 67,000 students (15,000 graduating on this day, alone) and arguably, the most diverse and more importantly, inclusive. These students left their own neighborhoods that formed the boundaries of a world view and entered this United Nations of ethnicities and backgrounds and found they could live together, learn from each other, create a new community.

Indeed, Rutgers is the worst nightmare for the brand of Know Nothingism, nativism, America Firstism that has taken hold of presidential politics.

“You’re not only better educated, you’ve been more exposed to the world, more exposed to other cultures,” he said. “You’re more diverse.  You’re more environmentally conscious.  You have a healthy skepticism for conventional wisdom…. You’ll look at things with fresher eyes, unencumbered by the biases and blind spots and inertia… So you’ve got the tools to lead us.”

Obama’s speech was a lesson in civics, in democracy, in personal responsibility. He called for critical thinking, participation, civil discourse. Fitting for a university founded before the Revolutionary War, he evoked the Founding Fathers, steeped in the Enlightenment, “rational thought and experimentation, and the capacity of informed citizens to master our own fates.”

President Obama gives the commencement address at Rutgers University, May 15, 2016.
President Obama gives the commencement address at Rutgers University, May 15, 2016.

Obama was warmly welcomed to Rutgers – indeed, the school lobbied him for three years to come, and he was the first sitting president to visit the university – and his speech was frequently interrupted with applause and cheers.

Here are highlights from his address:

Today, you join a long line of Scarlet Knights whose energy and intellect have lifted this university to heights its founders could not have imagined.  Two hundred and fifty years ago, when America was still just an idea, a charter from the Royal Governor — Ben Franklin’s son — established Queen’s College.  A few years later, a handful of students gathered in a converted tavern for the first class.  And from that first class in a pub, Rutgers has evolved into one of the finest research institutions in America.  (Applause.)

This is a place where you 3D-print prosthetic hands for children, and devise rooftop wind arrays that can power entire office buildings with clean, renewable energy.  Every day, tens of thousands of students come here, to this intellectual melting pot, where ideas and cultures flow together among what might just be America’s most diverse student body.  (Applause.)  Here in New Brunswick, you can debate philosophy with a classmate from South Asia in one class, and then strike up a conversation on the EE Bus with a first-generation Latina student from Jersey City, before sitting down for your psych group project with a veteran who’s going to school on the Post-9/11 GI Bill.  (Applause.)

America converges here.  And in so many ways, the history of Rutgers mirrors the evolution of America — the course by which we became bigger, stronger, and richer and more dynamic, and a more inclusive nation. 

But America’s progress has never been smooth or steady.  Progress doesn’t travel in a straight line.  It zigs and zags in fits and starts.  Progress in America has been hard and contentious, and sometimes bloody.  It remains uneven and at times, for every two steps forward, it feels like we take one step back.

But progress is bumpy.  It always has been.  But because of dreamers and innovators and strivers and activists, progress has been this nation’s hallmark.  I’m fond of quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”  (Applause.)  It bends towards justice.  I believe that.  But I also believe that the arc of our nation, the arc of the world does not bend towards justice, or freedom, or equality, or prosperity on its own.  It depends on us, on the choices we make, particularly at certain inflection points in history; particularly when big changes are happening and everything seems up for grabs. 

And, Class of 2016, you are graduating at such an inflection point.  Since the start of this new millennium, you’ve already witnessed horrific terrorist attacks, and war, and a Great Recession.  You’ve seen economic and technological and cultural shifts that are profoundly altering how we work and how we communicate, how we live, how we form families.  The pace of change is not subsiding; it is accelerating.  And these changes offer not only great opportunity, but also great peril. 

Fortunately, your generation has everything it takes to lead this country toward a brighter future.  I’m confident that you can make the right choices — away from fear and division and paralysis, and toward cooperation and innovation and hope.  (Applause.)  Now, partly, I’m confident because, on average, you’re smarter and better educated than my generation..You’re not only better educated, you’ve been more exposed to the world, more exposed to other cultures.  You’re more diverse.  You’re more environmentally conscious.  You have a healthy skepticism for conventional wisdom.  

So you’ve got the tools to lead us.  And precisely because I have so much confidence in you, I’m not going to spend the remainder of my time telling you exactly how you’re going to make the world better.  You’ll figure it out.  You’ll look at things with fresher eyes, unencumbered by the biases and blind spots and inertia and general crankiness of your parents and grandparents and old heads like me.  But I do have a couple of suggestions that you may find useful as you go out there and conquer the world.

President Obama gives the commencement address at Rutgers University, May 15, 2016 © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
President Obama gives the commencement address at Rutgers University, May 15, 2016 © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Point number one:  When you hear someone longing for the “good old days,” take it with a grain of salt.  (Laughter and applause.)  Take it with a grain of salt.  We live in a great nation and we are rightly proud of our history.  We are beneficiaries of the labor and the grit and the courage of generations who came before.  But I guess it’s part of human nature, especially in times of change and uncertainty, to want to look backwards and long for some imaginary past when everything worked, and the economy hummed, and all politicians were wise, and every kid was well-mannered, and America pretty much did whatever it wanted around the world. 

Guess what.  It ain’t so.  (Laughter.)  The “good old days” weren’t that great.  Yes, there have been some stretches in our history where the economy grew much faster, or when government ran more smoothly.  There were moments when, immediately after World War II, for example, or the end of the Cold War, when the world bent more easily to our will.  But those are sporadic, those moments, those episodes.  In fact, by almost every measure, America is better, and the world is better, than it was 50 years ago, or 30 years ago, or even eight years ago.  (Applause.)

And by the way, I’m not — set aside 150 years ago, pre-Civil War — there’s a whole bunch of stuff there we could talk about.  Set aside life in the ‘50s, when women and people of color were systematically excluded from big chunks of American life.  Since I graduated, in 1983 — which isn’t that long ago — (laughter) — I’m just saying.  Since I graduated, crime rates, teenage pregnancy, the share of Americans living in poverty — they’re all down.  The share of Americans with college educations have gone way up.  Our life expectancy has, as well.  Blacks and Latinos have risen up the ranks in business and politics.  (Applause.)  More women are in the workforce.  (Applause.)  They’re earning more money — although it’s long past time that we passed laws to make sure that women are getting the same pay for the same work as men.  (Applause.)

Meanwhile, in the eight years since most of you started high school, we’re also better off.  You and your fellow graduates are entering the job market with better prospects than any time since 2007.  Twenty million more Americans know the financial security of health insurance.  We’re less dependent on foreign oil.  We’ve doubled the production of clean energy.  We have cut the high school dropout rate.  We’ve cut the deficit by two-thirds.  Marriage equality is the law of the land.  (Big applause.)    

And just as America is better, the world is better than when I graduated.  Since I graduated, an Iron Curtain fell, apartheid ended.  There’s more democracy.  We virtually eliminated certain diseases like polio.  We’ve cut extreme poverty drastically.  We’ve cut infant mortality by an enormous amount.  (Applause.)   

Now, I say all these things not to make you complacent.  We’ve got a bunch of big problems to solve.  But I say it to point out that change has been a constant in our history.  And the reason America is better is because we didn’t look backwards we didn’t fear the future.  We seized the future and made it our own.  And that’s exactly why it’s always been young people like you that have brought about big change — because you don’t fear the future. 

That leads me to my second point:  The world is more interconnected than ever before, and it’s becoming more connected every day.  Building walls won’t change that.  (Applause.)

Look, as President, my first responsibility is always the security and prosperity of the United States.  And as citizens, we all rightly put our country first.  But if the past two decades have taught us anything, it’s that the biggest challenges we face cannot be solved in isolation.  (Applause.)  When overseas states start falling apart, they become breeding grounds for terrorists and ideologies of nihilism and despair that ultimately can reach our shores.  When developing countries don’t have functioning health systems, epidemics like Zika or Ebola can spread and threaten Americans, too.  And a wall won’t stop that. (Applause.)

President Obama gives the commencement address at Rutgers University, May 15, 2016 © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
President Obama gives the commencement address at Rutgers University, May 15, 2016 © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

If we want to close loopholes that allow large corporations and wealthy individuals to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, we’ve got to have the cooperation of other countries in a global financial system to help enforce financial laws.  The point is, to help ourselves we’ve got to help others — (applause) — not pull up the drawbridge and try to keep the world out.  (Applause.)

And engagement does not just mean deploying our military.  There are times where we must take military action to protect ourselves and our allies, and we are in awe of and we are grateful for the men and women who make up the finest fighting force the world has ever known.  (Applause.)  But I worry if we think that the entire burden of our engagement with the world is up to the 1 percent who serve in our military, and the rest of us can just sit back and do nothing.  They can’t shoulder the entire burden.  And engagement means using all the levers of our national power, and rallying the world to take on our shared challenges. 

You look at something like trade, for example.  We live in an age of global supply chains, and cargo ships that crisscross oceans, and online commerce that can render borders obsolete.  And a lot of folks have legitimate concerns with the way globalization has progressed — that’s one of the changes that’s been taking place — jobs shipped overseas, trade deals that sometimes put workers and businesses at a disadvantage.  But the answer isn’t to stop trading with other countries.  In this global economy, that’s not even possible.  The answer is to do trade the right way, by negotiating with other countries so that they raise their labor standards and their environmental standards; and we make sure they don’t impose unfair tariffs on American goods or steal American intellectual property.  That’s how we make sure that international rules are consistent with our values — including human rights.  And ultimately, that’s how we help raise wages here in America.  That’s how we help our workers compete on a level playing field.  

Building walls won’t do that. (Applause.)  It won’t boost our economy, and it won’t enhance our security either.  Isolating or disparaging Muslims, suggesting that they should be treated differently when it comes to entering this country — (applause) — that is not just a betrayal of our values — (applause) — that’s not just a betrayal of who we are, it would alienate the very communities at home and abroad who are our most important partners in the fight against violent extremism.   Suggesting that we can build an endless wall along our borders, and blame our challenges on immigrants — that doesn’t just run counter to our history as the world’s melting pot; it contradicts the evidence that our growth and our innovation and our dynamism has always been spurred by our ability to attract strivers from every corner of the globe.  That’s how we became America.  Why would we want to stop it now?  (Big cheers, applause.)   

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  Can’t do it.  (Laughter.)

Journalist Bill Moyers receives honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Rutgers President Robert Barchi © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Journalist Bill Moyers receives honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Rutgers President Robert Barchi © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Which brings me to my third point:  Facts, evidence, reason, logic, an understanding of science — these are good things.  (Applause.)  These are qualities you want in people making policy.  These are qualities you want to continue to cultivate in yourselves as citizens.  (Applause.)  That might seem obvious. (Laughter.)  That’s why we honor Bill Moyers or Dr. Burnell.  We traditionally have valued those things.  But if you were listening to today’s political debate, you might wonder where this strain of anti-intellectualism came from.  (Applause.)  So, Class of 2016, let me be as clear as I can be.  In politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue.  (Applause.)  It’s not cool to not know what you’re talking about.  (Applause.)  That’s not keeping it real, or telling it like it is.  (Laughter.)  That’s not challenging political correctness.  That’s just not knowing what you’re talking about.  (Applause.)  And yet, we’ve become confused about this.    

Look, our nation’s Founders — Franklin, Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson — they were born of the Enlightenment.  They sought to escape superstition, and sectarianism, and tribalism, and no-nothingness.  (Applause.)  They believed in rational thought and experimentation, and the capacity of informed citizens to master our own fates.  That is embedded in our constitutional design.  That spirit informed our inventors and our explorers, the Edisons and the Wright Brothers, and the George Washington Carvers and the Grace Hoppers, and the Norman Borlaugs and the Steve Jobses.  That’s what built this country. 

And today, in every phone in one of your pockets — (laughter) — we have access to more information than at any time in human history, at a touch of a button.  But, ironically, the flood of information hasn’t made us more discerning of the truth. In some ways, it’s just made us more confident in our ignorance. (Applause.)  We assume whatever is on the web must be true.  We search for sites that just reinforce our own predispositions. Opinions masquerade as facts.  The wildest conspiracy theories are taken for gospel. 

Now, understand, I am sure you’ve learned during your years of college — and if not, you will learn soon — that there are a whole lot of folks who are book smart and have no common sense.  (Applause.)  That’s the truth.  You’ll meet them if you haven’t already.  (Laughter.)  So the fact that they’ve got a fancy degree — you got to talk to them to see whether they know what they’re talking about.  (Laughter.)  Qualities like kindness and compassion, honesty, hard work — they often matter more than technical skills or know-how.  (Applause.)

But when our leaders express a disdain for facts, when they’re not held accountable for repeating falsehoods and just making stuff up, while actual experts are dismissed as elitists, then we’ve got a problem.  (Applause.)

You know, it’s interesting that if we get sick, we actually want to make sure the doctors have gone to medical school, they know what they’re talking about.  (Applause.)  If we get on a plane, we say we really want a pilot to be able to pilot the plane.  (Laughter.)  And yet, in our public lives, we certainly think, “I don’t want somebody who’s done it before.”  (Laughter and applause.)  The rejection of facts, the rejection of reason and science — that is the path to decline.  It calls to mind the words of Carl Sagan, who graduated high school here in New Jersey — (applause) — he said:  “We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depths of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.”

The debate around climate change is a perfect example of this….climate change is not something subject to political spin.  There is evidence.  There are facts.  We can see it happening right now.  (Applause.)  If we don’t act, if we don’t follow through on the progress we made in Paris, the progress we’ve been making here at home, your generation will feel the brunt of this catastrophe. So it’s up to you to insist upon and shape an informed debate…

Look, I’m not suggesting that cold analysis and hard data are ultimately more important in life than passion, or faith, or love, or loyalty.  I am suggesting that those highest expressions of our humanity can only flourish when our economy functions well, and proposed budgets add up, and our environment is protected.  And to accomplish those things, to make collective decisions on behalf of a common good, we have to use our heads.  We have to agree that facts and evidence matter.  And we got to hold our leaders and ourselves accountable to know what the heck they’re talking about.  (Applause.) ..

President Obama gives the commencement address at Rutgers University, May 15, 2016 © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
President Obama gives the commencement address at Rutgers University, May 15, 2016 © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Point four:  Have faith in democracy.  Look, I know it’s not always pretty.   Really, I know.  (Laughter.)  I’ve been living it.  But it’s how, bit by bit, generation by generation, we have made progress in this nation.  That’s how we banned child labor.  That’s how we cleaned up our air and our water.  That’s how we passed programs like Social Security and Medicare that lifted millions of seniors out of poverty.  (Applause.)

None of these changes happened overnight.  They didn’t happen because some charismatic leader got everybody suddenly to agree on everything.  It didn’t happen because some massive political revolution occurred.  It actually happened over the course of years of advocacy, and organizing, and alliance-building, and deal-making, and the changing of public opinion.  It happened because ordinary Americans who cared participated in the political process.  

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Because of you!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, that’s nice.  I mean, I helped, but — (applause.)

Look, if you want to change this country for the better, you better start participating.  I’ll give you an example on a lot of people’s minds right now — and that’s the growing inequality in our economy.  Over much of the last century, we’ve unleashed the strongest economic engine the world has ever seen, but over the past few decades, our economy has become more and more unequal.  The top 10 percent of earners now take in half of all income in the U.S.  In the past, it used to be a top CEO made 20 or 30 times the income of the average worker.  Today, it’s 300 times more.  And wages aren’t rising fast enough for millions of hardworking families.  

Now, if we want to reverse those trends, there are a bunch of policies that would make a real difference.  We can raise the minimum wage.  (Applause.)  We can modernize our infrastructure. We can invest in early childhood education.  We can make college more affordable.  (Applause.)  We can close tax loopholes on hedge fund managers and take that money and give tax breaks to help families with child care or retirement.  And if we did these things, then we’d help to restore the sense that hard work is rewarded and we could build an economy that truly works for everybody.  (Applause.)  

Now, the reason some of these things have not happened, even though the majority of people approve of them, is really simple. It’s not because I wasn’t proposing them.  It wasn’t because the facts and the evidence showed they wouldn’t work.  It was because a huge chunk of Americans, especially young people, do not vote. 

In 2014, voter turnout was the lowest since World War II.  Fewer than one in five young people showed up to vote — 2014.  And the four who stayed home determined the course of this country just as much as the single one who voted.  Because apathy has consequences.  It determines who our Congress is.  It determines what policies they prioritize.  It even, for example, determines whether a really highly qualified Supreme Court nominee receives the courtesy of a hearing and a vote in the United States Senate.  (Applause.)    

And, yes, big money in politics is a huge problem.  We’ve got to reduce its influence.  Yes, special interests and lobbyists have disproportionate access to the corridors of power. But, contrary to what we hear sometimes from both the left as well as the right, the system isn’t as rigged as you think, and it certainly is not as hopeless as you think.  Politicians care about being elected, and they especially care about being reelected.  And if you vote and you elect a majority that represents your views, you will get what you want.  And if you opt out, or stop paying attention, you won’t.  It’s that simple. (Applause.)  It’s not that complicated.

Now, one of the reasons that people don’t vote is because they don’t see the changes they were looking for right away.  Well, guess what — none of the great strides in our history happened right away.  It took Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP decades to win Brown v. Board of Education; and then another decade after that to secure the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.  (Applause.)  And it took more time after that for it to start working.  It took a proud daughter of New Jersey, Alice Paul, years of organizing marches and hunger strikes and protests, and drafting hundreds of pieces of legislation, and writing letters and giving speeches, and working with congressional leaders before she and other suffragettes finally helped win women the right to vote.  (Applause.)

Each stage along the way required compromise.  Sometimes you took half a loaf.  You forged allies.  Sometimes you lost on an issue, and then you came back to fight another day.  That’s how democracy works.  So you’ve got to be committed to participating not just if you get immediate gratification, but you got to be a citizen full-time, all the time.    

And if participation means voting, and it means compromise, and organizing and advocacy, it also means listening to those who don’t agree with you.  I know a couple years ago, folks on this campus got upset that Condoleezza Rice was supposed to speak at a commencement.  Now, I don’t think it’s a secret that I disagree with many of the foreign policies of Dr. Rice and the previous administration.  But the notion that this community or the country would be better served by not hearing from a former Secretary of State, or shutting out what she had to say — I believe that’s misguided.  (Applause.)  I don’t think that’s how democracy works best, when we’re not even willing to listen to each other.  (Applause.)  I believe that’s misguided.

If you disagree with somebody, bring them in — (applause)— and ask them tough questions.  Hold their feet to the fire.  Make them defend their positions.  (Applause.)  If somebody has got a bad or offensive idea, prove it wrong.  Engage it.  Debate it.  Stand up for what you believe in.  (Applause.)  Don’t be scared to take somebody on.  Don’t feel like you got to shut your ears off because you’re too fragile and somebody might offend your sensibilities.  Go at them if they’re not making any sense. Use your logic and reason and words.  And by doing so, you’ll strengthen your own position, and you’ll hone your arguments.  And maybe you’ll learn something and realize you don’t know everything.  And you may have a new understanding not only about what your opponents believe but maybe what you believe.  Either way, you win.  And more importantly, our democracy wins.  (Applause.) 

President Obama greets Rutgers University class president Matthew Panconi at the 250th anniversary commencement © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
President Obama greets Rutgers University class president Matthew Panconi at the 250th anniversary commencement © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

So, anyway, all right.  That’s it, Class of 2016 — (laughter) — a few suggestions on how you can change the world. Except maybe I’ve got one last suggestion.  (Applause.)  Just one.  And that is, gear yourself for the long haul.  Whatever path you choose — business, nonprofits, government, education, health care, the arts — whatever it is, you’re going to have some setbacks.  You will deal occasionally with foolish people.  You will be frustrated.  You’ll have a boss that’s not great.  You won’t always get everything you want — at least not as fast as you want it.  So you have to stick with it.  You have to be persistent.  And success, however small, however incomplete, success is still success.  I always tell my daughters, you know, better is good.  It may not be perfect, it may not be great, but it’s good.  That’s how progress happens — in societies and in our own lives. 

So don’t lose hope if sometimes you hit a roadblock.  Don’t lose hope in the face of naysayers.  And certainly don’t let resistance make you cynical.  Cynicism is so easy, and cynics don’t accomplish much. 

Is it any wonder that I am optimistic?  Throughout our history, a new generation of Americans has reached up and bent the arc of history in the direction of more freedom, and more opportunity, and more justice.  And, Class of 2016, it is your turn now — (applause) — to shape our nation’s destiny, as well as your own.  

So get to work.  Make sure the next 250 years are better than the last.  (Applause.)

Good luck.  God bless you.  God bless this country we love.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

See slideshow of Rutgers University’s 250th anniversary commencement

_________________

News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. For editorial feature and photo information, emaileditor@news-photos-features.com. ‘Like’ us onfacebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Obama Administration Channels $90 Million through Apprenticeship USA to Expand Proven Pathways into the Middle Class

 

by Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

“An apprenticeship has to be one of the most sturdy, fortified on-ramps to the middle class,” Labor Secretary Perez said in a press call announcing $90 million in new funding for ApprenticeshipUSA. “Apprenticeship is the ‘other’ college, but without the debt.” © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“An apprenticeship has to be one of the most sturdy, fortified on-ramps to the middle class,” Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said in a press call announcing $90 million in new funding for ApprenticeshipUSA. “Apprenticeship is the ‘other’ college, but without the debt.” © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

With the media obsessively focused on the presidential contest, Republicans with a stake in convincing Americans how bad off they are and promising to “bring back jobs”, and the Republican-controlled Congress determined to block any positive initiative President Obama might offer – including blocking the creation of an Infrastructure Bank and the American Jobs Act, and increasing the federal minimum wage, though the President did act to raise the wage to $10.10 for federal jobs and contractors, and passing comprehensive Immigration Reform – most Americans are unaware of what the President has done using his executive powers to create job opportunities. For the past few years, he has worked to ease the pathway between schools and employers, ease access and affordability to college, relieve student debt, and expand job training and apprenticeships.

When President Obama came into office in January, 2009, the United States had plunged into the deepest recession since the Great Recession, shedding over 800,000 jobs a month.

Since the beginning of his Administration, President Obama has focused on creating an economy that works for every American. Under President Obama, our economy has added 14.4 million jobs over 73 straight months, the longest streak of job creation on record.

“That’s more new jobs than all the other industrial nations combined,” Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said. Unemployment, which went as high as 10%, is down to 5%, “but the President is not satisfied. Our primary function to restore and maintain the middle class, and the way do that is access to good paying jobs, where can benefit from productivity.”

But the jobs available today, and the jobs of the future, are higher-skill jobs that require more education and advanced skills.

“An apprenticeship has to be one of the most sturdy, fortified on-ramps to the middle class,” Labor Secretary Perez said in a press call announcing $90 million in new funding for ApprenticeshipUSA. “Apprenticeship is the ‘other’ college, but without the debt.”

Job-driven apprenticeships are among the surest pathways to provide American workers from all backgrounds with the skills and knowledge they need to acquire good-paying jobs and grow the economy. In fact, 87 percent of apprentices are employed after completing their programs, with an average starting wage above $50,000. The return on investment for employers is also impressive — international studies suggest that for every dollar spent on apprenticeship, employers may get an average of $1.47 back in increased productivity, reduced waste and greater front-line innovation. As a result, the President has made expanding apprenticeship a priority for his Administration.

Since the President’s 2014 State of the Union call to action, the U.S. has added more than 75,000 new apprenticeships, the largest increase in nearly a decade. And last year, the President signed into law the first-ever annual funding for apprenticeship in the Fiscal Year 2016 spending bill, following a bipartisan agreement based on the President’s budget request.

The Department of Labor just announced the Administration’s latest step to increase access to apprenticeship – using the $90 million provided in that spending bill for new investments through ApprenticeshipUSA to expand apprenticeship in the United States, including:

  • $60 million to support state strategies to expand apprenticeship, including funding for regional industry partnerships and innovative strategies that diversify apprenticeship locally;
  • $30 million to catalyze industry partnerships in fast-growing and high-tech industries, to support organizations focused on increasing diversity, and to launch national efforts to make it easier for employers to start and for workers to find apprenticeship opportunities.

Building on the bipartisan support for apprenticeship, the Department of Labor intends to make multi-year grants and contract awards to winning states, non-profits, workforce intermediaries, and industry associations subject to the availability of funding through the appropriations process using the $90 million provided through bipartisan support in the FY2016 spending bill for the first year of the awards.

Investing $60 Million to Support Smart State Strategies to Expand Apprenticeship

Today, the Department of Labor is announcing a first step in investing in state apprenticeship strategies.  Recognizing Governors’ unique ability to create smart statewide strategies to expand apprenticeship, the Department is making up to $9.5 million available for ApprenticeshipUSA State Accelerator Grants, for states to develop strategic plans and build partnerships for apprenticeship expansion and diversification.  States will also receive support to develop comprehensive game plans for encouraging businesses to launch apprenticeship programs in a variety of industries including advanced manufacturing, health care, IT, construction, and transportation.

These state accelerator grants will be followed this spring by a $50 million ApprenticeshipUSA State Expansion Grants Competition to scale-up state efforts to expand apprenticeship.  The expansion grants will help states integrate apprenticeship into their education and workforce systems; engage industry and other partners at scale to expand apprenticeship to new sectors and new populations; support state capacity to conduct outreach and work with employers to start new programs; provide support to promote greater inclusion and diversity in apprenticeship; and implement state innovations, incentives and system reforms.  By investing in state strategies for growing apprenticeship opportunities, these funds will help strengthen the foundation for the rapid and sustained expansion of quality apprenticeship nationwide.

The ApprenticeshipUSA state investments build on the demonstrated success several states have already shown in expanding apprenticeship.  With the leadership of Governors across the country, 14 states have increased the number of apprentices in their state by over 20 percent – including:

  • Iowa, which tripled state funds to support apprenticeship across key industries
  • California, which unlocked additional funds to cover training costs,
  • Georgia, which brought together its workforce development and community college systems to partner with over thirty major employers on apprenticeship,
  • Connecticut, which launched a Manufacturing Innovation Fund to support employers engaged in apprenticeship expansion. 

Providing $30 Million for Industry Partnerships, Innovations to Enhance Diversity, andAccess to Apprenticeship

Through ApprenticeshipUSA, the Department of Labor will also make investments to help more employers start or grow apprenticeship programs, particularly in high-growth and high-tech industries like health care, IT and advanced manufacturing where apprenticeship has not been as broadly adopted.  Through industry-driven partnerships, these investments will focus on leveraging collaborations with workforce development organizations, industry associations, labor groups, and training providers to help multiple employers at a time accelerate the expansion of apprenticeship nationwide.

Industry and training intermediaries can provide support for individual employers and entire industries as they seek to start or expand apprenticeship.  For example, through one such partnership, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and healthcare employers ranging from Pfizer to the Seattle Children’s Hospital joined forces to create an industry-recognized apprenticeship preparing workers for careers in healthcare services and hospital IT, leveraging common industry-approved curriculum and training solutions. The Department of Labor’s investments will help spur similar collaborations across growing, high-skills industries. 

Expanding Registered Apprenticeship also means opening up opportunities to traditionally underrepresented populations including women, minorities, and people with disabilities, tapping into the full range of America’s talent. While all of theApprenticeshipUSA investments include a focus on making apprenticeships more inclusive, the Department of Labor, through ApprenticeshipUSA, will invest in strategies specifically focused on building pathways to apprenticeship, expanding recruiting and other strategies for attracting diverse participants, and in national innovations that promote greater access to apprenticeships for traditionally underrepresented groups.

These national investments will complement investments made at the state level, ensuring that state strategies embrace diversity in apprenticeship. They will also support national efforts to engage community-based organizations, workforce intermediaries and other non-profits in the development and implementation of pathways to apprenticeship including pre-apprenticeship, supportive services, and youth apprenticeships. In addition, the Department of Labor will invest in national activities to increase access to apprenticeship including strategic marketing and outreach, technology improvements and innovations that make it easier for employers to start apprenticeships and for job-seekers to connect with apprenticeship opportunities.

For more information on the timeline of additional investments and deadlines for proposals, please visit http://www.dol.gov/apprenticeship

Building on Success in Expanding Apprenticeship and Increase Access to Jobs-Driven Training

Today’s announcement builds on the Obama Administration’s previous efforts to increase access to apprenticeship and jobs-driven training to prepare workers for high-skill jobs available today, including:

  • Investing an unprecedented $175 million in American Apprenticeship Grants.
    In September 2015, the Department of Labor announced $175 million in grants to 46 public-private partnerships between employers, organized labor, non-profits, local governments, and educational institutions that are expanding high-quality apprenticeships. The grantees are well on their way to creating and filling more than 34,000 new apprentices in high-growth and high-tech industries including health care, IT and advanced manufacturing over the next five years.
  • Highlighting the value of apprenticeships through LEADERS. More than 170 employers, colleges, and labor organizations have signed on to be ApprenticeshipUSA LEADERS (Leaders of Excellence in Apprenticeship Development, Education and Research) by starting or expanding their own work-based learning programs and encouraging their peers to follow. Together, employers in the LEADERS program have pledged to create nearly 20,000 new apprenticeship positions.
  • Expanding opportunities for apprentices to earn college credit towards a degree.
    More than 200 colleges nationwide have joined the Registered Apprenticeship-College Consortium, which allows graduates of Registered Apprenticeship programs to turn their on-the-job and classroom training into college credits toward an associate or bachelor degree.
  • Directing training investments into job-driven strategies. Following the Vice President’s Job-Driven Training review, federal agencies have taken actions to make programs serving over 21 million Americans every year more effective and accountable for preparing Americans for good jobs that employers need to fill. These actions include ensuring training investments include essential elements that matter most for getting Americans into better jobs— such as strong employer engagement, work-based learning approaches like apprenticeship, better use of labor market information, and accountability for employment outcomes. More details on the Administration’s progress on Job-Driven Training can be found here.

See also:  

White House Announces New Actions to Help More Americans Manage Student Debt

Obama Administration Launches New $100 Million Petition to Expand Tuition-Free Community College Programs