Category Archives: US Congress

Trump Selling Tax Plan in Missouri, the Show Me State: This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing — believe me.

by Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

I was watching “The President’s Show” Christmas special (Anthony Atamanuik does a brilliant impersonation of Donald Trump)  and happened to switch back to MSNBC’s coverage of Trump’s speech in Missouri in which he extolls how great the Republican tax plan is and quite frankly, could not tell the difference between which was the satire and which the actual speech. See for yourself: President Trump Tax Reform Speech In St Louis 11/29/17 – YouTube

 46:09

Every fact checker has given Donald Trump’s speech at the St. Charles Convention Center in St. Charles, Missouri on the Republican tax cuts scheme four-Pinnochios, most especially for his absurd declarations that the proposed cuts would hurt him and his rich buddies. Here’s just a small sample:

President Trump says the tax bill will ‘cost me a fortune.’ That’s false.

Trump’s Claims Don’t Add Up

Here is the White House transcript highlighted and annotated:

Remarks by President Trump on Tax Reform

St. Charles Convention Center, St. Charles, Missouri

2:22 P.M. CST

THE PRESIDENT: I told you that we would be saying, merry Christmas again, right? (Applause.) And it’s great to be back in Missouri — a sign of a lot of good things because you’re doing really well.

And I want to thank Governor Greitens and Attorney General Hawley, who — by the way, Josh — where’s Josh? Josh, our next senator. Where is he? (Applause.) He’s going to be a great senator. And he wants to see a major tax cut. I think I can speak for him, right? (Applause.) And your current senator does not want to see a tax cut. That’s not good. That’s not good. She wants your taxes to go up.

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: Secretary Mnuchin, who’s doing such a fantastic job — (applause) — thank you — and Linda McMahon. Everybody knows Administrator — small business, became a big business under Linda. She’s helping a lot of people. Thank you very much, Linda. (Applause.)….

[Mnuchin claimed that he had a team of 100 specialists at US Treasury doing an analysis to show that the tax cuts would not add to national debt, now at $20 trillion. That was a lie – Treasury did not offer any analysis, but other nonpartisan and bipartisan agencies released reports that show that the Republican tax plan will add $1 trillion to the national debt and have only marginal benefit to increasing jobs, wages, or economic growth. What is more, the projections are “optimistic” and do not take into account the likelihood of a recession in the next decade.]

With your help, we can usher in a thrilling new era of opportunity and growth for this nation that we love so much. Tax cuts have already passed the House of Representatives. (Applause.) Big ones. Big ones. The eyes of the world now turn to the United States Senate.

A successful vote in the Senate this week will bring us one giant step closer to delivering an incredible victory for the American people. Massive tax cuts and reform. I don’t even mention the word reform because people don’t know exactly what we’re talking about.

You know, for years, they have not been able to get tax cuts — many, many years, since Reagan. And the problem was they talked about tax reform, not tax cuts. I said, don’t call it “reform,” call it “tax cuts and reform.” So every once in a while we’ll add the name “reform.” But it’s tax cuts.

[That’s true because it does not eliminate any of the loopholes that enable the wealthiest and biggest corporations to avoid paying taxes altogether; it only cuts taxes for the wealthiest, and makes up the lost revenue by taking away the credits and deductions that working class and middle class Americans use for home ownership, education, job training, and healthcare, for upward mobility.]

We cannot sit — (applause.) Right? The Governor agrees.

We cannot sit idly by and watch ourselves losing in competition to other countries as they continue to take away our jobs because their tax codes are more competitive and less burdensome than ours. That’s why we must cut our taxes, reduce economic burdens, and restore America’s competitive edge. We’re going to do that, too. And it’s already happening. Look what’s happening with our markets. People get it. (Applause.)

[It has been happening before Trump because of economic programs put into place by Obama, including trade deals, job training, summits designed to incentivize international businesses to locate here. As a result, corporations are flush with cash – $2 trillion worth – but have not raised wages. Trump’s tax plan has no incentives to raise wages and because consumer spending will be weak, and there are no rules to prevent companies from off-shoring jobs and profits, companies have no reason to invest here.]

If we do this, then America will win again like never, ever before. (Applause.) A vote to cut taxes is a vote to put America first again. We want to do that. We want to put America first again. (Applause.) It’s time to take care of our workers, to protect our communities, and to rebuild our great country. (Applause.)

You know, we’ve spent almost $7 trillion in the Middle East over the last 16 years — $7 trillion. Now, I’m taking care of it. We’re doing numbers like ISIS has never seen before. We’re wiping them out — terrorists, they’re bad. (Applause.)

And all of that, but we’ve spent almost $7 trillion. We could have rebuilt our country four times over. And we’re going to start spending here. We’re going to start spending here. (Applause.)

And with that being said, we’re going to protect our country, whether it’s North Korea or any — but we’re going to protect our country like never before. We’re going to build up our military and make our product here and make our planes, and our boats, and our everything here. But we’re going to build up our military. (Applause.)

But we’ve got to start focusing on our country. That’s why I’m saying America first. Make America great again — you’ve never heard that expression. (Applause.) All those hats. All those — they’ve never heard that expression before.

Oh, that was a good expression and it’s a true expression and it’s already happening and long ahead of schedule. And in fact, today, some numbers came out that people haven’t seen in many, many years.

This beautiful city of St. Charles is the perfect place to deliver the message that I want to deliver. It’s the place where America’s past and future come to life on its historic brick-lined Main Street. Nice street, do you agree? (Applause.)

It was along these very streets that, in 1804, the great American explorers, Lewis and Clark, gathered their final supplies before setting out on their very historic expedition of discovery. I have to say, I didn’t really know that until two days ago. (Laughter.)

See? See, now the world is watching. Look at all the fake news back there. They’re all —

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: They’re all watching.

Today, more than two centuries later, a new generation of American pioneers begins its own adventure, gathering inside the startups and the storefronts of main streets across the country, blazing new trails into totally uncharted territory of business and technology, and once again leading our nation into a future of limitless potential.

That’s what we have in this country. We have the greatest people. It’s the greatest country. I love this country so much. (Applause.)

Our country was not treated properly for a long time. We’re treating it properly. We’re treating it with love and with this. You got to treat it with this.

And today, just as it’s always been, Main Street is the heart of our economy, the soul of our community, and the birthplace of American dreams.

But over the years, crippling taxes, massive regulation, and totally disastrous trade deals — oh, the trade deals. Oh, I get a headache thinking about who made these deals. (Laughter.) One after another. WTO, NAFTA, the wonderful deal with South Korea — remember, they said it’s going to produce 200,000 jobs? And it did, for South Korea. (Laughter.) Didn’t produce — we lost 200,000 jobs. It turned some of our businesses’ main streets into empty ghost towns. You see what’s happened.

Now we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore American prosperity and reclaim America’s great destiny. We’ve already made tremendous progress — far greater than I would have thought. I will tell you this in a non-braggadocious way — (laughter) — there has never been a 10-month President that has accomplished what we have accomplished. That I can tell you. That I can tell you. (Applause.)

Today, again, the stock market has reached another record, all-time high. (Applause.) The unemployment rate nationwide is the lowest it’s been in 17 years — (applause) — and 13 states this year have seen unemployment drop to the lowest levels in the history of their state. And I hate to tell you, but Missouri happens to be one of them. (Applause.)

[Increases in stock market have nothing to do with jobs or wages or prosperity. In the first place, they are paper profits only realized when the stock is sold. In the second place, only 20% of Americans have a stake in the stock market. In the third place, sales of shares do not go to the company to invest or add jobs except when it is the Initial Public Offering. Fourth: the stock market only reflects short term, not long term, and today, with computer trading, will buy/sell based on small changes in market price. Fifth: Wall Street does not care about the well being of ordinary Americans – witness how the stock market rose on news that hundreds of thousands of jobs were being shed in the lead up to the 2008 financial collapse.]

We’ve created nearly 2 million jobs — 2 million jobs, think of that. We used to lose millions. Now we’ve created 2 million jobs since I won the election. And, I want to say, since you won the election. I didn’t win the election; you won the election. (Applause.)

And we will create countless more if we can sustain the 3 percent growth rate we have achieved for the past two quarters. But we’re going to do much better than that. Remember I used to say, we can hit 4 and we can hit 3? And they were all saying, forget it, forget it. It was 1.2. It was doing terribly. We were flat. We were even. In all fairness, the stock market was going this way.

[No credible economists expect the US, a mature economy, to grow by 3% a year.]

And now, we’re hitting numbers that nobody thought possible, certainly not in this time. And the numbers going up are going to be much better than anybody anticipates. In fact, they’re going to say that Trump is the opposite of an exaggerator — the exact opposite. (Laughter and applause.) They’re going to start saying, Governor, that he ought to be a little bit more optimistic because his predictions were low, can you believe it?

You know, a year and a half ago, they were saying, oh, he can’t do that. Now they’re saying, hm, that was quick. (Laughter.)

But by the way, the Commerce Department announced this morning that our GDP — that’s the big one — in the third quarter, grew even faster than they reported previously. They made a mistake, they were too low. They had it at 3 percent. By the way, 3 percent — did you ever think you’d hear that in less than a year?

AUDIENCE: No!

THE PRESIDENT: And now it comes in at 3.3 percent, which is the largest increase in many years. (Applause.)

And if we didn’t have the hurricanes, we would have been at 4 percent. The hurricanes were devastating. And I said, they’re worth a point. They said they were worth like .006, but I said they were worth a point. We would have been at 4 percent, maybe even over 4 percent, but we had hurricanes.

We took care of them. In Texas and Florida, they did a great, great job — amazing job, tremendous leadership. And we’re very proud.

[Where is the money coming from for disaster relief, which is all too common with climate change and increasing frequency of climate catastrophe?]

Puerto Rico has been a very tough situation because of the fact that it was in very, very bad shape before the storms ever hit. But they’re doing well there and it’s healing and it’s getting better. And we’re getting them power, and all of the things that they have to have.

But I want to tell you there are a lot of brave people in every state. We have great, great people, and it’s our number one resource, believe me. Really great. (Applause.)

But in order to achieve this bright and glowing future, the Senate must pass those tax cuts. Bring Main Street roaring back — and that’s what’s going to happen. This was all done without the tax cuts, and I’m not sure that people even believe the tax cuts. I want to see what happens….

So right now, America’s tax code is a total dysfunctional mess. The current system has cost our nation millions of American jobs, trillions and trillions of dollars, and billions of hours wasted on paperwork and compliance. It is riddled with loopholes that let some special interests — including myself, in all fairness. This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing — believe me.

Believe me, this is not good for me. (Laughter.) Me, it’s not so — I have some very wealthy friends — not so happy with me, but that’s okay. You know, I keep hearing Schumer, “This is for the wealthy.” Well, if it is, my friends don’t know about it. (Laughter.) I have to explain why.

[Like in poker, Trump has a “tell” when he is bluffing (lying): Whenever he says “Believe me,” especially when he repeats “Believe me” he is lying.]

Now it is great for companies, because companies are going to bring back jobs. And we’re lowering the rates very substantially. But right now, we’re bringing the rates down from 35 percent — which is totally non-competitive. The highest industrialized nation in the world, by far, and we’re bringing it all the way down to 20 percent. (Applause.)

[35% is the nominal tax rate before deductions and loopholes. The average rate paid by US companies is 18%, which is below average for industrialized nations, and profitable companies like Apple and General Electric pay little or no taxes.]

But that’s good for everybody in the room, whether you have company or whether you want a job, because we’re going to bring back jobs. (Applause.)

And what we’ve had is a massive giveaway to foreign countries, which encourage businesses to relocate offshore. And you’ve seen what’s happened.

Before this — this is, really, I’m most proud, because, as bad as our tax code is, we have Toyota, we have big car companies coming back in, building plants in Michigan and other places. We have a lot of businesses coming back in, and they see what’s happening. They see what’s going on.

[International companies have building factories in the US, predating and having nothing to do with Trump. Even the announcements he made after winning election were plans to expand made during Obama’s administration.]

That’s why they’re doing — our current code is a giant — and really it is — it’s a self-inflicted economic wound. It’s been that way for so many years and nobody wanted to do anything about it.

But all that will change and it will change immediately if Congress sends a tax cut and reform bill. The biggest tax cut in the history of our country — bigger than Reagan. If they send it to my desk, I promise all of the people in this room — my friends, so many friends in this room. It’s a great state. I promise you I will sign it. I promise. I will not veto that bill. There will be no veto. (Applause.)

Under the plan moving forward in the Senate, a typical family of four earning $75,000, as an example, will see their taxes go down by as much as $2,000. That’s a lot. (Applause.)

[Individual tax cuts are temporary; what is more, losing the deductions for state and local taxes, interest on school loans and the like, will wipe out any reduction in taxes because of the doubling in the personal exemption. And with the deal to eliminate the Obamacare individual mandate for health insurance – to appear to save $338 billion in government spending so that the tax plan can pass with only 51 Senate votes – everyone’s premiums will increase 10% a year.]

Now, we’re doing that not just to help people. We’re doing that because it helps our country. You’re going to take that $2,000 and maybe you’ll save some, and you’re going to spend some. And we’re going to make product back in our country again. It’s going to be made here — going to be made elsewhere. But it’s going to be made here. We’re opening up plants. We’re opening up factories, and we’re going to be great to small business. Wait until you see the final product. Wait until you see what finally comes out in what I call the mixer.

The beating heart of our plan is a tax cut for working families. That’s what it is. We’re going to make sure — (applause) — that you keep more of your hard-earned money. We’re going to make sure, also, that you have a job that you want. You’re going to have choice. In education we now have choice. Good word. Here you’re going to have a choice. You’re not just going to have one — you’re going to have a choice of many jobs. People are moving back into our country.

Under our plan, the first $12,000 of income earned by a single individual will be totally income-tax-free — zero. (Applause.) And a married couple won’t pay one dime of income tax on their first $24,000 of income — zero. (Applause.)

Our plan will significantly increase the child tax credit and make it available to more middle-class families because the single most important investment our nation can make is in our children. Do we agree? You agree? You better agree. (Applause.)

Families will also benefit from a new credit for other dependents like a child in college, or an elderly loved one. We have our mothers, our fathers. You have your grandparents. You have people that are elderly that have done a fantastic job. They’ve grown old. You want to help them. Now we are going to help you help them. (Applause.)

We’re also going to eliminate tax breaks and complex loopholes taken advantage of by the wealthy. Who are they? I don’t know. (Laughter.) I think my accountants are going crazy right now. It’s all right. Hey, look, I’m President. (Laughter.) I don’t care. I don’t care anymore. I don’t care. (Laughter and applause.)

Some of my wealthy friends care. Me? I don’t care. This is a higher calling. Do we agree? (Applause.) As Hillary said, what difference does it make? It made a difference. It made a big difference. It made a big, big difference. (Applause.)

[If the tax plan isn’t going to give Trump and his family millions of dollars – by eliminating the AMT and Estate Tax – where are his tax returns to prove that?]

We want a tax code that is simple and fair, and that’s for all Americans. The plan that senators will be voting on this week — hopefully as soon as possible — closes the loopholes that corporations use to shift their profits to tax havens, and it eliminates deductions for CEO salaries over $1 million. You see what some of these people are making — a little ridiculous. (Applause.)

[NOT TRUE.]

I’m driving up their stock. They’re making a fortune. Then they go to their board, and they tell everybody what a great job they’re doing. But what am I going to do? (Laughter.) And many of them, honestly, I don’t like. (Laughter.) Oh, some of these bankers I don’t like them, and they’re making a fortune, and it’s one of those things.

Steve knows a couple of them that I’m talking about, doesn’t he? (Laughter.) They say what a great job they do. Right now anybody could do their job because we’re making it easy for them because we’re giving them a great and strong economy. And because we’ve cut regulations more than any President in the history of this country by far, and that’s for full terms. That’s not for 10 months. (Applause.)

And it allows builders to build, and it allows farmers to farm. You know what I’ve done for farmers. (Applause.) Where if you had a little puddle in the middle of your field, you go to jail if you touch it, right? You know what I’m talking about. Not anymore. Not anymore. Not anymore. (Applause.)

And it allows bankers to lend. It allows bankers to lend again. So many people came up to me, and they said, we had a 20-year relationship with a bank. We never had a default. We never had a bad loan. Now we go back to the bank, and they say, we can’t do business with you anymore.

Because they don’t qualify, even though they’re better than the people that do qualify. It’s incredible. But we’re back to the strong days of our banks. And not the days of trouble — pre-that — we’re back to the — where bankers can make loans and community bankers can make great loans to good people.

You saw what happened recently where the certain agency or bureau that was causing so much trouble to lenders, where they could not lend. They just couldn’t lend. It was devastating. They were going out of business. Well, we’re taking care of that. We’ve already taken care of a big part of it, and yesterday you saw we won the lawsuit. So that’s going to be taken care of automatically. (Applause.) Got to get back to business.

Our focus is on helping the folks who work in the mailrooms and machine shops of America — the plumbers, the carpenters, the cops, the teachers, the truck drivers, the pipe fitters — the people that like me best. (Laughter.) Actually, the rich people actually don’t like me, which is sort of interesting.

And that’s fine. You know what? I like that trade. (Laughter.) But really, the people that like me best are those people — the workers. They’re the people I understand the best. Those are the people I grew up with. Those are the people I worked on construction sites with. (Applause.)

All of the people who give their best each and every day to take care of their family and the country that they love — these are incredible people. They came out to vote for me. They came out to vote for us. People that worked hard, two jobs, three jobs, that hadn’t voted in many years because they never had anybody they wanted to vote for.

And they came out — I’ll never forget, in Tennessee, a great congressman told me — they had early voting — said, I’ll tell you what, we just went through four days of early voting. At that time, it was Mr. Trump. Now they say, Mr. President. But it was Mr. Trump.

He said, and if the other parts of the country are like what’s happening in Tennessee — people are coming from all over Tennessee. They haven’t voted in years, and now they’ve got Trump shirts and they’ve got Trump hats, and they’ve got Trump-Pence, and they’ve got everything Trump and Trump-Pence.

[Trump can’t get through a single speech without crowing over the 2016 Election.]

And he said, I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve been a politician for a lot of years. And if it’s anything like Tennessee, you’re going to have one hell of a victory. It turned out to be a lot like Tennessee, so — (applause). And it turned out to be a lot like Missouri. That I can tell you. (Applause.) Because we had a big one here.

And I promised Josh that, when he gets it going — and he’s got it in very good shape, from what I hear, he’s a popular — everybody said, Josh, got to be Josh. Everyone who saw me — I said, who’s going to run against her? Josh, Josh. I said, Josh, when you’re ready, you have my word, I’m going to come here and campaign with you. We got to get you in. Okay? (Applause.) Got to get you in.

It’s not enough for the middle class to keep getting by; we want them to start getting way ahead. (Applause.) We’re going to have them start getting way ahead.

Under our plan, middle-class families will not only see their tax bill go down, they will see their incomes go up by an average of around $4,000. (Applause.) And that’s because we’re going to cut taxes on American businesses so they will compete for workers, they’ll raise salaries. The business is going to be happy and the workers are going to be happy and the country is going to be a happy place.

Although, we’re going to have very strong borders. Please remember that, okay? Please remember. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Build the wall.

THE PRESIDENT: We’re going to have the wall. Don’t worry about it, we’re going to have the wall. (Applause.) We don’t forget that wall. A lot of people say, now that he got elected, is he going to build the wall? The answer is, absolutely — more so, I think more so. (Applause.)

It’s not easy dealing with the Democrats. They want to have people pour into our country — illegals. They don’t care where the hell they come from. They want to have them pour into our country, they want to raise your taxes, they don’t want to take care of your military, and all they’re good at, frankly, is obstructing. They want to obstruct.

But you know what? They may obstruct, but we have gotten through all of the obstruction so far. We’ll keep it going, believe me. (Applause.)

Today, America has one of the least competitive tax rates on planet Earth — 60 percent. Think of that: 60 percent higher than the average in the developed world. So our taxes are 60 percent higher.

On my recent trip to Asia, every single one of the countries I visited, even those with communist governments, have slashed its corporate tax rates and slashed them dramatically. And it’s very tough competition anyway. But when their taxes are a lot lower, it really makes it very tough.

And that trip was a tremendous success. You know, we brought back $250 billion in contracts. That’s going to be over a trillion dollars very soon. (Applause.) That’s a good week and a half’s work. Boeing came back with contracts. So many of our companies came back, and I’m very proud of them. And we’re doing great.

But at the same time, we’re going to fix trade because trade is unfair. We’re getting killed on trade. So we’re going to fix our trade. Unless anybody would like to continue with this horrible situation that we have.

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: Our plan gets America from the back of the pack and it’ll bring us right to number one, where we were for years but where we haven’t been for decades. We’re going to be right back at number one. (Applause.)

And we’re going to work on trade, but we’re also going to work on military. When we defend nations that are very wealthy, and we do it for almost nothing, I say, why are we defending them? We love them. I won’t mention names, but there are a lot of them. We love them. They’re wealthy.

One of them has a cash flow that they say is unsustainable, it’s so large. Think of that. How would you like to have an unsustainable cash flow? They don’t know what to do with their money. And we defend them. It’s going to change, folks. We’re going to defend them, but they’re going to treat us fairly. And they’re going to pay for their defense. Does that make sense? (Applause.)

And a lot of this is from many, many years ago, when we defended a defeated country and then they became strong and they became rich and we just kept the same defense. What happened? Why didn’t anybody go in and negotiate?

And when I was in Asia, I spoke to a couple of the countries about it, and they looked like this. Do you know what this is? (Laughter.) That means they know they’re getting away with murder and they got to start helping us out, okay? So if you don’t mind, I’ll start bringing that up with some of our good friends. (Applause.)

We’re going to lower our tax rate to the very competitive number of 20 percent, as I said. And we’re going to create jobs and factories will be pouring into this country, and they already are starting. A lot of people think it’s going to happen. I don’t want to say anything. I’m not going to talk about it. I thought we had healthcare, and we will have healthcare. It’s going to happen. As soon as we get the taxes, we work on the healthcare, we’re going to happen. Because we thought we had the votes and something happened a little strange — (laughter) — that’s okay.

When you lose by one vote, then it’s called — you go back. You know, some people said, oh, you failed with healthcare. I said, what do you mean we failed? We didn’t fail. And by the way, what happened — what happened is Obama took a long time — years — to get Obamacare, right? Again, ten months? We’ve had two runs at it. We’re coming closer, closer. I think now we have a plan that’s going to be great. But we’re not talking about it until after taxes. And then we take care of healthcare.

Then we will have done tax cuts, the biggest in history; healthcare, phenomenal healthcare. I know you don’t want this — welfare reform. Does anybody want welfare reform? (Applause.) And infrastructure. But welfare reform — I see it and I’ve talked to people. I know people, they work three jobs and they live next to somebody who doesn’t work at all. And the person who’s not working at all and has no intention of working at all is making more money and doing better than the person that’s working his and her ass off. And it’s not going to happen. Not going to happen. (Applause.)

So we’re going to go into welfare reform, unless Billy doesn’t want it. Billy, am I okay in saying that I speak for you? He said, yes.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Billy. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: You got a lot of friends out there, Bill.

Well, we’ll also cut taxes for the millions of small businesses that file as individuals, and that’s going to come out of the hopper. (Applause.) It’s getting there and it’s going to be better and better. We’re reducing the tax burden on businesses of all sizes and of every, single kind.

As a candidate, I pledged to fight for American jobs. I think it’s possibly the number one reason I got elected. And I think we’ve done a lot better, at this point, than anybody ever even thought possible. Think of that, two million jobs since the election — two million more jobs in this country since the election. Nobody expected that. Nobody expected that. Excuse me, I didn’t even expect that. (Laughter.)

But you cut those regulations and you give people spirit and incentive. And when you have the highest ratings, in terms of confidence, that the country has had in many, many years — maybe ever — things happen.

The tax cut will mean more companies moving to America, staying in America, and hiring American workers right here. So that’s so important, right? (Applause.)

Small business groups across our nation, retailers, restaurants, manufacturers, grocers, contractors support this plan. We have tremendous support for this plan. Tremendous. Because these massive tax cuts will be rocket fuel — (laughter) — Little Rocket Man — (laughter) — rocket fuel for the American economy. (Applause.) He is a sick puppy….

[Out of no where, a gratuitous dig at North Korea.]

We want to make it easier for loving families to pass on their life’s work to their children. Be nice. Be very nice, right? (Applause.)

That’s a tough one. The Democrats fight that one I think harder than any other thing that we’re doing. They fight the death tax. They don’t want it. They don’t like it. They don’t want it. It’s one of those things. But that is one of the hardest things. I have to be — I see people right here. They’re obviously very rich, and they love their children, right, in this group? (Laughter.) They love their children. They’re very rich. They want to pass on what they have without having to have the kids sell the property, mortgage up half of it. But the biggest problem we have on that one, these Democrats are being brutal. And I call them obstructionists, but they want to stop the estate tax. They want to stop the death tax from being rescinded. But we’re going to try our best on that one.

[Of course Trump and his donors, the Kochs, Mercers, Adelson, want to rescind the estate tax which impacts a few thousand individuals because the cap is so high: Trump’s kids stand to pocket an extra $1 billion when Donald kicks the bucket.]

Our economy will receive another enormous boost as trillions of dollars in wealth that’s parked overseas will be able to come back to our country.

Now, this one that’s interesting because for years Republicans and Democrats agreed. You have Apple, and you have these great companies having billions and billions of dollars overseas. Now who doesn’t want the money to come back?

But to show you the lack of leadership that this country had in the past, the Republicans want it, and the Democrats want it. And nothing ever happened. You could have passed that one easy. In fact, we’re just throwing it into this bill. I could have had a separate bill on that one — I think. Don’t you agree, fellas? I could have had a separate bill on that one and gotten it passed in record time. But I figured I’d put it here because it is actually popular.

But it used to be $2.5 trillion. You know what that is? Trillion. Money you can’t bring back in. It’s prohibitive — both in complexity and in the amount of tax you have to pay. So nobody brings back in — $2.5 trillion. But $2.5 [trillion] I’ve been saying for six years. I think now it’s $4 trillion to $5 trillion. All that money is coming back into the United States, and it’s going to be invested in our country, instead of sitting and helping others. We want our own help. (Applause.)

That’s sort of an easy one. Last year, American multinational companies left more than 70 percent of their foreign profits overseas because the current tax system penalizes them for bringing that money back home. They actually get penalized. Our plan switches to a territorial tax system that encourages companies to return their profits to America — right here to the United States — where that money belongs going back to work for you. Territorial. (Applause.)

[Democrats support the concept in theory, but not the way it will be abused. The Republican plan doesn’t prevent companies from continuing to offshore profits to avoid tax. Democrats including Obama were always in favor of lowering the corporate tax rate to the range of 20%, but removing the loopholes so they actually do pay tax.]

If we want America to thrive in the 21st century, then we must stop running from the competition. And instead, we must start totally winning and winning and winning again. Remember when I used to say: We’re going to win so much. We’re going to win — that the people of Missouri are going to go to your governor, and they’re going to say, Governor, please, go see the President. We can’t stand winning so much. Remember I used to say that? (Laughter.) Right? I used to say it, and that’s what’s happening. That’s what’s happening. (Applause.)

And then the governor is going to come to that beautiful historic Oval Office. He’s going to say to me, Mr. President, the people of Missouri cannot stand all this winning. (Laughter.) They don’t want to win so much. They love the old way where they had lousy job numbers, lousy economic numbers, lousy — yeah, they loved it. Please, Mr. President, please, not — and I’ll say, Governor, I don’t care what they say in Missouri, we’re going to keep winning and winning and winning. Remember? (Laughter.) That’s right. (Applause.)

I used to say that. I had fun with that. But we are winning. We’re winning again. We’re winning a lot bigger than anyone ever thought possible for such a short period of time.

For too long, our tax code has incentivized companies to leave our country in search of lower tax rates. It happens. Many, many companies — they’re going to Ireland. They’re going all over. They’re going all over Asia. But they’re stopping because they now want to take advantage of what’s happening and what we’re about to pass, hopefully.

My administration rejects the offshoring model. In other words, let’s build a factory in another country. Isn’t that wonderful? That really helps us a lot. Fire everybody, and let’s build a product, and let’s send it in, without tax, back into the United States.

That model doesn’t work for me. It never worked, and it shouldn’t have worked for any of our other past Presidents, believe me. (Applause.)

Our new model is the American model. Call it the Trump model, where we build it here. As much as possible, we build it here. Simply put, our tax plan is anti-offshoring and 100 percent worker, 100 percent worker, 100 percent pro-America. (Applause.)

Under the American model, we’re reducing burdens on our businesses as long as they do business in our country. Okay? They do business here.

Now, we love Mexico. It’s a wonderful place. But I don’t like when our car companies move to Mexico, fire everybody, build the same car in Mexico, send it through our borders with no taxes, no nothing, and we buy the car. Same price. We buy the car.

In the meantime, what do we get out of it? We get no tax and we get unemployment all over. That’s stopping. So now the plants are starting to move back. And now there’s a price to pay when they do that little number on us. (Applause.) That’s how we will all succeed and we grow together as one team, one people, as one American family. (Applause.)

This week’s vote can be the beginning of the next great chapter for the American worker.

To summarize: Our plan cuts taxes for the working and middle-income families; it nearly doubles the amount of income taxed at the rate of zero; it lowers tax rate; it expands the child tax credit; it provides relief from the estate tax, also known as the death tax; it cuts small business taxes; it reduces the corporate rate from 35 percent all the way down to 20 percent; and it provides a one-time low tax rate to return corporate money parked overseas — trillions and trillions of dollars.

This is the right plan. This is the right time. We have a moment in time. The Republicans have the Senate. The Republicans have the House. The Republicans have the White House. It’s very unusual. It’s very unusual. (Applause.)

This is our chance to free our economy from our workers — from the terrible tax burdens. We have workers that are so burdened with taxes. We’re freeing our workers from those terrible burdens.

Republicans in Congress campaigned on cutting taxes. We also campaigned on repeal and replace. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen. Take your time, it’s going to happen — going to happen. (Applause.)

Many Democrats have promised tax cuts that don’t mean anything because they really want major tax increases. Senator Claire McCaskill — have you ever heard of her?

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: — is doing you a tremendous disservice. She wants your taxes to go up. She’s weak on crime, she’s weak on borders, she’s weak on illegal immigrations, and she’s weak on the military. Other than that, I think she’s doing a fantastic job. (Laughter.)

[Trump uses this kneejerk attack on any Democrat or anyone he doesn’t like without regard for truth.]

But now comes the moment of truth. In the coming days, the American people will learn which politicians are part of the swamp and which politicians want to drain the swamp. (Applause.)

If you make your voices heard and call up your congressmen — and they’ve been terrific — and call up your senators — and they have been totally terrific. Most of them have been incredible. They really are. They’re friends of mine. They’ve been incredible.

But, it doesn’t take much. That’s why we need more. We need to have a larger number. But most of them have been incredible. But call your senators. Call you congressmen, because we have no choice. We have to act. We have to act as a country. This isn’t good for the Republican Party; this is good for the country and that’s ultimately what’s it all about. (Applause.)

So, this week, hopefully, the Senate can join the House and take that strong stand for middle-class families and for business, and for jobs, and for competition, and for bringing money back. Together, we will give the American people a big, beautiful Christmas present. (Applause.)

And remember, I was the one — when I was here last time, I said, we’re going to have Christmas again. I was the one that said, you go to the department stores and you see “Happy New Years,” and you see red, and you see snow, and you see all these things. You don’t see “Merry Christmas” anymore.

With Trump as your President, we are going to be celebrating Merry Christmas again, and it’s going to be done with a big, beautiful tax cut. (Applause.)

Thank you everybody. God bless you. Thank you. Thank you everybody. Thank you very much.

________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

 

Cuomo to Trump: ‘Do Not Use [Blue] New York as Piggybank for Other [Red] States’

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today issued a letter to President Donald J. Trump condemning the federal tax plan to eliminate or roll back state and local tax deductibility and calling on the President not to use New York as a piggybank for other states. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today issued a letter to President Donald J. Trump condemning the federal tax plan to eliminate or roll back state and local tax deductibility and calling on the President not to use New York as a piggybank for other states.

Here is text of the letter:

Dear President Trump, 

I write to you on an issue that impacts every single American: pending federal tax legislation. I am not writing as a Democratic Governor to a Republican President, but rather as one New Yorker who cares about New York and the country to another. I often say to the New York State legislature, “we are Democrats and we are Republicans, but we are New Yorkers first.” 

As you well know, the House is expected to release additional details of a “tax cut” plan this week that in reality amounts to a “tax increase” plan for states like New York. The current proposal primarily uses New York and California as the piggybank to make it possible to cut taxes for other states. By eliminating or rolling back state and local tax deductibility, Washington is sending a death blow to New York’s middle class families and our economy. 

I understand the politics at play here. California and New York are “blue states.” I also understand that the political map dictates that most Republican members of Congress come from outside the Northeast and West Coast and their primary motivation is to help their states at any cost, even when it comes at the cost of middle class New Yorkers. But when the economies of New York and California suffer, and they will, the nation follows.  

It’s clear this is a hostile political act aimed at the economic heart of New York with no basis on the merits. First, it is an illegal and unconstitutional double taxation that forces our middle class families to subsidize a tax cut for the rest of the nation, and it is contrary to every principle the Republican Party has always espoused. Second, it reverses all the bipartisan progress New York State has made in lowering taxes over these past few years. While we have lowered state income taxes, capped property taxes and are forcing local governments to consider shared services, this federal act would erase all those gains and in fact increase taxes. Eliminating state and local deductibility will result in a tax increase of $5,660 on average for one in three taxpayers in New York, or 3.3 million New Yorkers.

This backward tax plan has encountered much deserved resistance, including from Republicans in the Senate. Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch said “I don’t think that’s going to go anywhere,” adding that state and local tax deductibility is “a system that’s worked very well.” In the face of this pushback, Republican leadership is now trying to salvage their tax plan with a so-called “compromise.” Their scheme is to allow a property tax deduction, but do away with the deduction for state income taxes. For middle class New York families, the average tax increase attributable to losing that deduction would be $1,715.  And considering the original federal proposal would cost New York State taxpayers $18.6 billion, this “compromise” does little to help our state since it would still cost New York State taxpayers nearly $15 billion.

Another “compromise” that is being suggested, where only higher income individuals would lose the state and local deductibility, is a 3-card Monte game that could be played on 42nd Street in Manhattan. New Yorkers are not stupid. We know that if deductibility is eliminated on higher incomes it will have a ripple effect, forcing these New Yorkers to move out of the state, taking their tax revenue with them, thus increasing taxes on everyone else. New York will not be in a position to cut state taxes because both the original proposal, as well as the proposed compromise, will force the highest taxpayers from the state and deplete our revenue stream. As you know, five percent of New York State taxpayers account for nearly two thirds of our annual income tax revenue. 

I understand why Paul Ryan would seek to hurt New York, but to ask New York Republican members of Congress to vote to raise taxes on their constituents is a betrayal against their state and their constituents. In fact, seven of nine Republicans from New York are against it. The two representatives who support it—Congressmen Collins and Reed—are the Benedict Arnolds of their time because they are putting their own political benefit above the best interests of their constituents.

Speaker Ryan’s only justification is that other states subsidize New York. He is just wrong. They don’t. The opposite is true. New York subsidizes every other state in the nation. We are the highest donor state which means we send $48 billion more in tax dollars to the federal government than we receive back in federal spending. 

To be fair, this is not a new idea to pillage New York and California and send their wealth to other states. Congress tried it under President Reagan, but the gross injustice of it caused all but the most partisan and callous officials to drop support. Today’s proposals are no different. Our Congressional representatives should be saying it’s time New Yorkers get their money back. Instead, the current proposal would be taking even more revenue from the number one donor state. How unfair. 

There is no middle ground here. Any of the proposed “compromises” will still destroy New York’s economy and harm the middle class. There can be no elimination, no “compromise,” and no cap on state and local tax deductibility.

New York needs your help.  You can stop this. And you should not just as an American, but as a New Yorker.

Sincerely,

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Cc:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan

Obama’s 2017 Budget Aims at ‘Meeting Our Greatest Challenges’; Congressional GOP Says Don’t Bother

President Obama's 2017 budget reflects the initiatives he discussed in the State of the Union: the need to invest in infrastructure, education, research and development, climate action and the transition to clean, renewable energy. House Speaker Paul Ryan says the President's budget is dead on arrival © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
President Obama’s 2017 budget reflects the initiatives he discussed in the State of the Union: the need to invest in infrastructure, education, research and development, climate action and the transition to clean, renewable energy. House Speaker Paul Ryan says the President’s budget is dead on arrival © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Congressional Republicans have snubbed the President, refusing to even invite his representative to discuss his FY 2017 federal budget (See New York Times, Congressional Republicans Balk at Obama’s Budget, Sight Unseen”). It’s unprecedented. Here’s an overview from the White House of what is in it, how it addresses the great challenges this country faces – the imperative for climate action, infrastructure investment, job growth, income inequality, restoring opportunity – and see what you think:

FACT SHEET: The President’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget: Overview

Meeting Our Greatest Challenges

Under the President’s leadership, we have turned our economy around and created 14 million jobs. Our unemployment rate is below five percent for the first time in almost eight years. Nearly 18 million people have gained health coverage as the Affordable Care Act has taken effect. And we have dramatically cut our deficits by almost three-quarters and set our Nation on a more sustainable fiscal path.

Yet while it is important to take stock of our progress, this Budget is not about looking back at the road we have traveled. It is about looking forward and making sure our economy works for everybody, not just those at the top. It is about choosing investments that not only make us stronger today, but also reflect the kind of country we aspire to be – the kind of country we want to pass on to our children and grandchildren.

The Budget makes critical investments in our domestic and national security priorities while adhering to the bipartisan budget agreement signed into law last fall, and it lifts sequestration in future years so that we continue to invest in our economic future and our national security. It also drives down deficits and maintains our fiscal progress through smart savings from health care, immigration, and tax reforms.

The Budget shows that the President and the Administration remain focused on meeting our greatest challenges – including accelerating the pace of innovation to tackle climate change and find new treatments for devastating diseases; giving everyone a fair shot at opportunity and economic security; and advancing our national security and global leadership – not only for the year ahead, but for decades to come.

BUILDING ON OUR ECONOMIC AND FISCAL PROGRESS

The Budget makes critical investments while adhering to the bipartisan budget agreement signed into law last fall. It lifts sequestration in 2018 and beyond so that we continue to invest in our economic future and our national security. It also drives down deficits and maintains our fiscal progress through smart savings from health care, immigration, and tax reforms. 

A Record of Job Growth and Economic Expansion. Under the President’s leadership, the U.S. economy has become an engine of job growth and economic expansion, outpacing other advanced economies in recovery from the Great Recession. American businesses have added 14 million jobs over the past 71 months – the longest streak of job growth on record. Our unemployment rate is below five percent for the first time in almost eight years. And the economy added 903,000 new manufacturing jobs in the last six years – the first sustained job growth in the sector since the 1990s. Nearly 18 million Americans have gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and our high school graduation rate is at an all-time high.

Reflecting on Our Fiscal Progress. We have made remarkable economic and fiscal progress, showing what’s possible when strategic investment to grow our economy is paired with smart reforms, for example to our health care system, that address the true drivers of our long-term fiscal challenges. Since 2009, under the President’s leadership, Federal deficits have fallen by nearly three-quarters – the most rapid sustained defi­cit reduction since just after World War II. The annual deficit in 2015 fell to 2.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the lowest level since 2007, and well below the average of the last 40 years.

Building on Our Success for a Stronger Economy. The President’s Budget continues that approach, investing in America’s future and laying out a path to address our greatest challenges. It builds on the bipartisan budget agreement secured last fall, adhering to the discretionary levels provided for 2017, while also putting forward paid-for mandatory investments that are critical to building durable economic growth in the future and maintaining America’s edge as the leader in innovation and cutting-edge science. The Budget proposes a number of reforms – including a detailed international tax reform plan – that would modernize the business tax code to make it fairer and more efficient, and to create jobs. The Budget also finishes the job the past two bipartisan agreements started by preventing the return of harmful sequestration funding levels in 2018 and beyond, replacing the savings by closing tax loopholes and reforming tax expenditures, and with smart spending reforms.

Investing in Economic Growth While Maintaining Fiscal Responsibility. The Budget more than pays for all new investments, achieving $2.9 trillion of deficit reduction over 10 years, from health, tax, and immigration reforms, and other proposals. The Budget includes roughly $375 billion of health savings that grow over time and builds on the ACA with further incentives to improve qual­ity and control health care cost growth. The Budget achieves more than $955 billion in deficit reduction from reducing tax benefits for high-income households, helping to bring in sufficient revenues to make vital investments while also helping to meet our promises to seniors.  The Budget reflects the President’s support for commonsense, comprehensive immigration reform along the lines of the 2013 bipartisan Senate-passed bill, which CBO has estimated would reduce the deficit by about $170 billion over 10 years and by almost $1 trillion over two decades.

The Budget keeps deficits below three percent of GDP while stabilizing debt and putting it on a declining path for most of the next decade – key measures of fiscal progress – showing that investments in growth and opportunity are compatible with putting the Nation’s finances on a strong and sustainable path.

INNOVATION TO FORGE A BETTER FUTURE

The Budget invests in accelerating the pace of American innovation, so we can create jobs and build the economy of the future while tackling our greatest challenges, including addressing climate change and finding new treatments and cures for devastating diseases. The Budget includes investments in: 

Building a 21st Century Transportation System. The Budget invests $320 billion over 10 years in a multi-agency initiative to build a clean transportation system for the 21st Century that speeds goods to market while reducing America’s reliance on oil, cutting carbon pollution, and strengthening our resilience to the effects of the changing climate.  Overall, the 21st Century Clean Transportation Plan will increase American investments in clean transportation infrastructure by roughly 50 percent above current levels while reforming the transportation investments already being made to move America to more sustainable, low-carbon investments. 

Prioritizing Research and Development. The Budget sustains the Administration’s consistent prioritization of R&D with an invest­ment of $152 billion for R&D overall through both discretionary and mandatory funding proposals, a four percent increase from 2016. 

  • Doubling Clean Energy R&D. Since the President took office, the Administration has made the largest investments in clean energy in American history. The Budget provides $7.7 billion government-wide, a 20 percent increase over 2016, for fundamental and transformative clean energy R&D across 12 agencies, a first step in support of Mission Innovation, the landmark agreement currently among 20 countries to double government funding for clean energy R&D over five years.
  • Supporting Basic Research. The Budget provides $14.6 billion in 2017, an increase of over $900 million over the 2016 enacted level, for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which invest in basic research – the type of R&D that is most likely to have spillover impacts to multiple endeavors and in which the private sector typically underinvests. 
  • Supporting a Cancer Moonshot. During his 2016 State of the Union Address, President Obama called on Vice President Biden to lead a new, national “Moonshot” initiative to eliminate cancer as we know it.  The Budget supports this effort with a $1 billion initiative to provide the funding necessary for researchers to accelerate the development of new cancer detection and treatments.  This includes $195 million in new cancer activities at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Fiscal Year 2016, $755 million in mandatory funds in the 2017 Budget for new cancer-related research activities at both NIH and the Food and Drug Administration, and support from other agencies such as the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. 
  • Advancing Biomedical Research. The Budget provides $33.1 billion to support biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), providing about 10,000 new and competing NIH grants that will help us better understand the fundamental causes and mechanisms of disease, like the BRAIN Initiative and Precision Medicine.
  • Revitalizing American Manufacturing. The Budget invests in coordinated, cutting-edge manufacturing R&D, while also expanding industry-driven workforce training and providing additional resources through the Manufacturing Extension Partnership to help America’s small manufacturers access the technology and expertise they need to expand. It includes investments to grow the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation, a national network of innovative R&D centers to help keep U.S. manufacturing in the lead on technology. 
  • Creating the Industries and Jobs of the Future.  The Budget invests in R&D that can help create the industries and jobs of the future, such as supercomputing, Big Data, robotics, advanced materials, nanotechnology, and synthetic biology. In addition, the Budget makes new investments to sustain America’s leading edge in the development of autonomous vehicle technologies and self-driving cars.
  • Investing in Civil Space Activities. The Budget provides robust funding to support space exploration, monitor the Earth’s weather and climate from space, develop new space technologies, and partner with the private sector to reinforce the Nation’s leadership and take the next step on the journey to Mars.
  • Addressing Challenges in Agriculture through R&D.Recognizing the importance of science and technology to meet challenges in agriculture, the Budget invests in three major ar­eas of agricultural R&D: the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative competitive research grants; the Agricultural Research Service intramural research; and construction and renovation of key infrastructure investments based on the Department of Agriculture’s facility modernization plan.
  • Simplifying and Expanding the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit. The Research and Experimentation (R&E) Tax Credit is an important Federal incentive for private-sector research investments, and last year, the President signed legislation to make the credit permanent and expand the incentive for R&D investments by small businesses. The Budget simplifies and expands the tax credit for companies investing in innovation. 

Protecting and Expanding the Nation’s Water Supply. The Budget supports the Administration’s two-part water innovation strategy to boost water sustainability and reduce the price and energy costs of new water supply technology to increase the resilience of our Nation’s water supplies to stressors like climate change and population growth, among others.

Supporting Adoption of Clean Energy. In addition to Mission Innovation funding, the Budget provides over $1.3 billion to accelerate the adoption of clean energy sources such as solar, wind, and low-carbon fossil fuels, and energy-efficiency technologies.

Partnering with Communities to Tackle Climate Risk. The Budget invests in programs that advance our scientific understanding of projected climate impacts, including changes in droughts, wildland fires, and coastal and inland flooding; assist communities in planning and preparing for future risks; and support risk-reduction and adaptation projects on the ground.

Protecting and Preserving Public Lands and Oceans. The Budget includes robust funding to support proven programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund that allow Federal agencies and their partners to enhance the resilience of our lands and waters, and continue to preserve and share our cultural and historical identity.

Leading Global Efforts to Cut Carbon Pollution and Enhance Climate Change Resilience. In support of the President’s Climate Action Plan, the Budget provides $1.3 billion to advance the goals of the Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI) through important multilateral and bilateral engagement with major and emerging economies. This amount includes $750 million in U.S. funding for the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which will help developing countries leverage public and private financing to invest in reducing carbon pollution and strengthening resilience to climate change.

OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL 

As the President stated in the 2016 State of the Union Address, one of the Nation’s key challenges is how to give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and economic security. In today’s global economy, our competitiveness depends on tapping the full potential of all Americans. To address this challenge, the Budget supports education; training and support for workers and their families; access to health care; and other investments to ensure that all Americans contribute to and benefit from our economic growth.

Improving Access to High-Quality Child Care and Early Education.High-quality child care and early education for young children support parents in the workforce and help foster healthy child development and school readiness. The Budget aims to ensure that children have access to high-quality learning starting at birth by:

  • Expanding access to quality child care for working families. The Budget ensures that all low- and moderate-income working families with young children have access to quality, affordable child care, as opposed to the small share of children who receive this help today. Overall, this will expand access to high-quality care for more than 1.1 million additional children under age four by 2026.
  • Cutting taxes for families paying for child care with a credit of up to $3,000 per child. The Budget triples the maximum Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) for families with children under age five and makes the full CDCTC available to families with incomes of up to $120,000, benefiting families with young children, older children, and dependents who are elderly or have disabilities.
  • Increasing the duration of Head Start programs, while maintaining access to Head Start. The Budget includes $9.6 billion for Head Start, an increase of $434 million over 2016 enacted. Within this total, the Budget provides an additional $292 million in 2017 to increase the number of children attending Head Start in a full school-day and -year program, which research shows is more effective than programs of shorter duration and also helps meet the needs of working parents.
  • Supporting universal preschool. The Preschool for All initiative, in partnership with the States, provides all four-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families with access to high-quality preschool, while encouraging States to expand those programs to reach additional children from middle-class families and establish full-day kindergarten policies.  The Budget increases funding for Preschool Development Grants (PDGs), which lay the groundwork for universal preschool. With the support of Federal funding made available through the PDG program, 18 States are currently developing and expanding high-quality preschool programs in targeted, high-need communities.
  • Investing in voluntary, evidence-based home visiting. The Budget extends and expands evidence-based, voluntary home visiting programs, which enable nurses, social workers, and other professionals to connect families to services to support children’s healthy development and learning.
  • Invests in early learning for children with disabilities. The Budget provides increased funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Preschools Grants and the IDEA Infants and Families program, an increase of $80 million compared to 2016, including funding to help identify, develop and scale-up evidence-based practices for early identification of and intervention for learning and developmental delays. 

Putting All Students on a Path to College and Careers. We have made significant progress in expanding educational opportunities and we are getting results: high school graduation rates are up, drop-out rates are down, and far more students are attending college than in 2008. But there’s more we must do to ensure that all children get a high-quality education that allows them to reach their full potential.  The Budget focuses on providing equity and opportunity for all students in elementary and secondary education and expanding college opportunity and quality by:

  • Helping Students Prepare for College and Careers. The Budget increases funding for Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies, the cornerstone of Federal efforts to ensure that all students, including poor and minority students, students with disabilities, and English learners, graduate from high school prepared for college and careers.
  • Supporting Computer Science for All. The Budget invests $4 billion in mandatory funding over three years for the new Computer Science for All initiative, which would support State efforts to expand access for all students to computer science instruction and programs of study. The Budget invests discretionary resources in a Computer Science for All Development Grants program for school districts to promote innovative strategies to provide high-quality instruction and other learning opportunities in computer science. 
  • Providing Tuition-Free Community College for Responsible Students. The Budget funds America’s College Promise (ACP), which would create a new partnership with States to make two years of community college free for responsible students, letting students earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree and acquire skills needed in the workforce at no cost. America’s College Promise would also provide grants to four-year HBCUs and MSIs to provide first-time low-income students, including community college transfers, with up to two years of college at zero or significantly reduced tuition.
  • Strengthening Pell Grants. Pell Grants are central to our efforts to help low- and moderate- income students afford college. The Budget supports and encourages on-time and accelerated completion through year-round Pell availability to low-income students who have completed a full-time course load and through a $300 increase in the maximum Pell Grant for students who take 15 or more credits. The Budget also continues to index the grant to inflation indefinitely for future generations. The Second Chance Pell proposal expands opportunity to incarcerated individuals eligible for release with the goals of helping them get jobs and strengthen their communities.
  • Simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The Budget eliminates burdensome and unnecessarily complex student aid application questions to make it easier for students and families to access Federal student aid and afford a college education.
  • Simplifying and expanding education tax benefits. The Budget streamlines and expands education tax benefits by consolidating the Lifetime Learning Credit into an expanded American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), which would be available for five years and refundable up to $1,500; exempting Pell Grants from taxation and the AOTC calculation; and eliminating tax on student loan debt forgiveness, while repealing the complicated student loan interest deduction for new borrowers. 

Helping Workers Get the Skills They Need for the 21st Century Economy. A nation’s ability to ensure a steady and consistent pipeline of highly skilled workers is one key ingredient to helping its economy grow and thrive.  One of the surest paths to ensuring that the economy works for everyone is to expand access to job training and education for in-demand skills.  The Budget supports this agenda by:

  • Expanding Technical Training Programs for Middle Class Jobs. The Budget proposes a new American Technical Training Fund to provide competitive grants to support evidence-based, tuition-free job training programs in high-demand fields. 
  • Expanding the Proven Learn-and-Earn Strategy of Apprenticeship. The Budget establishes a $2 billion mandatory Apprenticeship Training Fund to help meet the President’s goal to double the number of apprentices across the United States, giving more workers the opportunity to develop job-relevant skills while earning a paycheck.
  • Creating a Talent Compact to Keep and Attract Jobs to the United States. The Budget includes $3 billion in competitive funding to create more than 50 “Talent Hotspots” across the United States that would prioritize a sector and make a commitment to recruit and train the workforce to help local businesses grow and thrive, attract more jobs from overseas, and fuel the talent needs of entrepreneurs. This proposal would produce a pipeline of about half a million skilled workers over the next five years.
  • Empowering Workers, Training Providers, and Employers with Better Information on Jobs, Skills and Training.  The Budget proposes a new Workforce Data Science and Innovation Fund that would recruit to the Department of Labor (DOL) a best-in-class team to help States find new ways to use technology and data analytics to improve training programs and consumer choice. And similar to HHS’s Open Health Data Initiative, DOL would partner with the Department of Commerce to develop new open source data on jobs and skills to spur the creation of new products to help match workers to better jobs.
  • Opening Doors to a First Job for More Young Americans. The Budget invests $5.5 billion in mandatory funding to help more than one million young people gain the work experience, skills and networks that come from having a first job.
  • Creating Pathways to High-Growth Jobs. The Budget builds on the progress in the bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) by funding the core DOL WIOA formula grants at their full authorized level and by investing $3 billion in mandatory competitive funding for regional partnerships that bring together employers, education and training providers, and workforce boards with the goal of training a half million people and placing them into jobs in high-demand sectors.
  • Investing in Health Professions Education to Improve Access to Health Care Providers and Services. The Budget invests in growing the health care workforce, including expanding and extending funding for the National Health Service Corps through FY 2020 to increase the number of providers serving in the areas across the country that need them most.

Helping Americans Thrive in the 21st Century Economy. The Budget invests in programs that help ensure workers in the 21st century economy can balance work and family obligations, stay healthy, save for retirement, and are protected during temporary periods of unemployment and upon return to work. The Budget also supports evidence-based efforts to reduce poverty and help those who are struggling to get back on their feet. 

  • Tax Reform that Promotes Growth and Opportunity. The Budget’s tax proposals support work by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without qualifying children, and creating a Second Earner Tax Credit for married couples in which both spouses work.  
  • Strengthening Efforts to Help Low-Income Families Succeed.The Budget funds proposals designed to reduce poverty, assist families in deep poverty or experiencing a financial crisis, and improve efforts to help parents find and keep jobs. These proposals include establishing an Emergency Aid and Service Connection Grants program, strengthening the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF), creating a permanent Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children program, expanding opportunity for Native American Youth, and building on current efforts to better serve Native youth.
  • Expanding Paid Leave. The Budget encourages States to establish paid leave programs, providing more than $2 billion for the Paid Leave Partnership Initiative to help up to five States launch paid family and medical leave programs, as well as small grants to help States and localities conduct analyses to inform the development of paid family and medical leave programs. These investments complement the President’s executive actions to expand paid sick leave for employees of Federal contractors.
  • Modernizing the Unemployment Insurance Safety Net. The Budget proposes a cost-neutral set of reforms to strengthen and modernize the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program to reflect the modern economy and workforce. These reforms ensure more hardworking Americans have access to UI if they lose a job, provide new protections for workers who take a pay cut in order to get back into work, strengthen the program’s connection to work, make the program more responsive to economic downturns, and ensure State programs have enough resources to protect workers in the midst of a recession. 
  • Helping All Workers Save for Retirement. The Budget includes a package of proposals aimed at increasing access to retirement plans and increasing the portability of retirement savings and benefits.  These proposals aim to ensure near-universal access to workplace retirement savings accounts and test new approaches to making retirement benefits more portable across jobs. 
  • Partnering with Communities to Expand Opportunity.Initiatives such as Promise Zones, Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership, Partnership for Sustainable Communities, and Performance Partnership Pilots for Disconnected Youth have supported holistic, local responses to pressing issues. The Budget continues the Administration’s place-based approach to coordinating programs that help create jobs and opportunity, promote resilience and sustainability, and implement local visions in communities across the Nation.
  • Ending Homelessness. The Budget sustains funding to support programs dedicated to ending veteran homelessness, while also funding housing vouchers and rapid rehousing over the next ten years to reach and maintain the goal of ending homelessness among all of America’s families in 2020. This significant investment is based on recent rigorous research that found that families who utilized vouchers – compared to alternative forms of assistance to the homeless – had fewer incidents of homelessness, child separations, intimate partner violence and school moves, less food insecurity, and generally less economic stress.

Ensuring Access to Quality, Affordable Health Care. The Budget supports the Affordable Care Act, which is already providing coverage for millions of Americans through the Health Insurance Marketplaces, the delivery of financial assistance to make coverage affordable, and the expansion of Medicaid.  It also supports:

  • Expanding Access to Mental Health Care. One in five American adults experience a men­tal health issue at some point in their life, yet millions do not receive the care they need. The Budget includes $500 million in new mandatory funding to help engage individuals with serious mental illness in care, improve access to care by increasing service capacity and the behavioral health workforce, and ensure that behavioral health care systems work for everyone.
  • Addressing the Prescription Drug and Heroin Overdose Epidemic. More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do in motor vehicle crashes. The Budget takes a two-pronged approach to address this epidemic.  First, it includes $1 billion in new mandatory funding over two years to expand access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use and help ensure that every American who wants treatment can access it and get the help they need.  Second, it includes funding to continue and increase current efforts to expand State-level prescription drug overdose prevention strategies, increase the availability of medication-assisted treatment programs, improve access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone, and support targeted enforcement activities.

Incentivizing Justice Reform with the 21st Century Justice Initiative.The Administration continues to support criminal justice reform that enhances public safety, avoids excessive punishment and unnecessary incarceration, and builds trust between the justice system and the community. The Budget includes a $5 billion investment for a new 21st Century Justice Initiative that will focus on achieving three objectives: reducing crime, reversing practices that have led to unnecessarily long sentences and unnecessary incarceration, and building community trust.

NATIONAL SECURITY AND GLOBAL LEADERSHIP 

Economic growth and opportunity can only be achieved if America is safe and secure. The Budget provides the resources to address security threats wherever they arise and continue to demonstrate American leadership around the world.

Destroying ISIL. The President’s highest priority is keeping the American people safe. That is why the United States is leading the global coalition that will de­stroy the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The Budget provides over $11 billion for the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of State to support U.S. efforts to continue to hunt down terrorists; provide training and equipment to forces fighting ISIL on the ground; help stabilize communities liberated from ISIL in Syria and Iraq; disrupt ISIL’s financing and recruitment; strengthen our regional partners, provide humanitarian assistance to those impacted by the conflict; and support a political solution to the Syrian civil war. 

Countering Violent Extremism. The President’s Budget includes funding for innovative, community-based approaches that seek to discourage violent extremism and to improve the ability of communities to identify potential extremists and intervene where necessary to thwart radical behavior that may lead to violence.

Securing the Digital Economy for All Americans Through Strengthened Cybersecurity. The Budget invests $19 billion in overall Federal resources for cybersecurity to support a broad-based cybersecurity strategy for securing the Government, enhancing the security of critical infrastructure and important technologies, investing in next-generation tools and workforce, and empowering Americans. In particular, this funding will support the Cybersecurity National Action Plan, which takes near-term actions and puts in place a long-term strategy to enhance cybersecurity awareness and protections, protect privacy, maintain public safety as well as economic and national security, and empower Americans to take better control of their digital security.

Supporting the Transition in Afghanistan. The Budget includes resources to reinforce Afghanistan’s security and development by supporting military training and assistance, as well as health, education, justice, economic growth, governance, and other civilian assistance programs necessary to promote stability and strengthen diplomatic ties with the international community. The Budget also supports the U.S. military mission to train, advise, and assist the Afghan National Security Forces and maintain a counterterrorism capability.

Countering Russian Aggression and Supporting European Allies. The Budget includes $4.3 billion for political, economic, public diplomacy, and military support to build resilience and reduce vulnerabilities to Russian aggression among NATO allies and partner states in Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia. As part of that effort the Budget includes $3.4 billion for the Department of Defense’s European Reassurance Initiative (ERI).

Providing Further Support for the Central American Regional Strategy. The Budget provides necessary resources to further support the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America by investing in a long-term, comprehensive approach designed to address the root causes of migration of unaccompanied children and families from the region.

Advancing the Rebalance to Asia and the Pacific. The Budget supports the Administration’s commitment to a comprehensive regional strategy in Asia and the Pacific that reinforces a rules-based order and advances security, prosperity, and human dignity across the region. For instance, the Budget provides the necessary resources to implement the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a historic, high-standard trade agreement with 11 countries of the region that levels the playing field for American workers and American businesses.

Growing Partnerships in Africa. The Budget provides funding to ensure United States will uphold the commitments it made during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in 2014, including with respect to Power Africa, Trade Africa, the Security Governance Initiative (SGI), the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership (APRRP), and the Early Warning and Response Partnership (EWARP). It also provides resources for implementing the peace agreement in South Sudan. 

Preparing for the Future. In addition to addressing today’s changing security environment, the Budget makes sig­nificant investments to maintain our military’s superiority and ensure the United States always has an operational advantage over any potential adversary. The Budget does this by driving smart and essential innovation: pursuing new research and technology development; supporting updates and refinements to operational concepts and warfighting strategies; supporting capaci­ty building among local partners; building the Force of the Future; and pursuing additional enterprise reform.

Sustaining the President’s Development and Democracy Agenda. The Budget continues to advance the Administration’s development and democracy initiatives and activities as it seeks to reduce extreme poverty, encourage broad-based economic growth, and support democratic governance and human rights – and to drive progress toward meeting the global development vision and priorities adopted in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  This includes investments in Feed the Future, the President’s food security initiative; development programs that mobilize the private sector to deliver tangible results and advance U.S. interests; food aid and other humanitarian assistance programs; the First Lady’s Let Girls Learn Initiative; and effective global health programs, including for the President’s Malaria Initiative and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Honoring Our Commitment to Veterans. The Budget ensures continued investment in the five pillars the President has outlined for supporting the Nation’s veterans: providing the resources and funding they deserve; ensuring high-quality and timely health care; getting veterans their earned benefits quickly and efficiently; ending veteran homelessness; and helping veterans and their families get good jobs, an education, and access to affordable housing. It also puts forward a proposal to fundamentally reform the broken appeals process for disability claims so that it can best serve our veterans. 

A GOVERNMENT OF THE FUTURE

The President is committed to driving last­ing change in how Government works – change that makes a significant, tangible, and positive difference in the economy and the lives of the American people. Over the past seven years, the Administration has launched successful efforts to modernize and improve citizen-facing services, eliminate wasteful spending, reduce the Federal real property footprint, improve the use of evidence to improve program performance, and spur innova­tion in the private sector by opening to the public tens of thousands of Federal data sets and inno­vation assets at the national labs.

Supporting the President’s Management Agenda. The Budget includes investments to continue driving the President’s Management Agenda by improving the service we provide to the American public; leveraging the Federal Government’s buying power to bring more value and efficiency to how we use taxpayer dollars; opening Government data and research to the private sector to drive innovation and economic growth; promoting smarter information technology; modernizing permitting and environmental review processes; creating new Idea Labs to support employees with promising ideas; and, attracting and retaining the best talent in the Federal workforce.  

Supporting Digital Service Delivery for Citizens. In 2014 the Administration piloted the U.S. Digital Service, a unit of innovators, entrepreneurs, and engineers. This team of America’s best digital experts has worked in collaboration with Federal agencies to implement streamlined and effective digital technology practices on the Nation’s highest priority programs. This work includes collaborating with the Department of Education to launch the new College Scorecard to give stu­dents, parents, and their advisors most reliable national data to help with college choice and supporting the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) transition to launch the new myUSCIS which makes it easier for users to access information about the immigration process and immigration ser­vices. To institutionalize the dramatic improve­ments that this approach has demonstrated, the Budget supports the Administration’s aggressive goal of hiring and placing 500 top technology and design experts to serve in the Government by January 2017.

Strengthening Federal Cybersecurity. As outlined above, the Budget provides $19 billion in resources for cybersecurity. This includes the creation of a new $3.1 billion revolving fund, the Information Technology Modernization Fund (ITMF), to retire the Government’s antiquated IT systems and transition to more secure and efficient modern IT systems, funding to streamline governance and secure Federal networks, and investments to strengthen the cybersecurity workforce and cybersecurity education across society.  

Building Evidence and Encouraging Innovation. The President has made it clear that policy decisions should be driven by evidence so that the Federal government can do more of what works and less of what does not. The Administration’s evidence-based approaches have resulted in important gains in areas ranging from reducing veteran homelessness, to improving educational outcomes, to enhancing the effectiveness of international development programs. The Budget invests in expanding evidence-based approaches, developing and testing effective practices, and enhancing government’s capacity to build and use evidence, in particular by expanding access to administrative data and further developing Federal, State, local, and tribal data infrastructure.

Reorganizing Government to Succeed in the Global Economy. The Budget also includes proposals to consolidate and reorganize Government agencies to make them leaner and more efficient, and it increases the use of evidence and evaluation to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely on programs that work.

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

In Final SOTU, Obama Summons Americans to Take Back the Political Process

House Speaker Paul Ryan suppresses a smile and otherwise sits on his hands, stony faced, during President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address, a poor sign in light of Obama's call for the need for bipartisan cooperation and compromise © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
House Speaker Paul Ryan suppresses a smile and otherwise sits on his hands, stony faced, during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address, a poor sign in light of Obama’s call for the need for bipartisan cooperation and compromise © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

by Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union Address evoked the Obama of 2008 and 2009 – eager, enthusiastic, passionate.  The themes were echoes of all his major speeches – evoking the values that make America great, the vision of what American could be, and the path we can take to toward that “more perfect union.”

“Progress is not inevitable,” he said. “It’s the result of choices we make together.  And we face such choices right now.  Will we respond to the changes of our time with fear, turning inward as a nation, turning against each other as a people?  Or will we face the future with confidence in who we are, in what we stand for, in the incredible things that we can do together?” 

And again, he said, “The future we want — all of us want — opportunity and security for our families, a rising standard of living, a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids — all that is within our reach.  But it will only happen if we work together.  It will only happen if we can have rational, constructive debates.  It will only happen if we fix our politics.” 

Instead of focusing on the past, he looked to the future, clear-eyed and realistic, armed with the experience of seven years as President and Commander-in-Chief, and listed “four big questions that I believe we as a country have to answer — regardless of who the next President is, or who controls the next Congress:

“First, how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy?

“Second, how do we make technology work for us, and not against us — especially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change?

“Third, how do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman?

“And finally, how can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?”

He began so matter-of-factly, listing the transformational accomplishments of his administration tripping off the tongue – rescuing the economy from the brink of collapse, record increases in private sector jobs creation (more than 14 million new jobs), cutting the unemployment rate in half, reducing the federal deficit by 70%, raising the percentage of Americans with health care to record levels, raising America’s standing in the world and leading on an unprecedented Climate Agreement signed by 196 nations. But he ended with a fascinating admission of regret and his own failing at the corrosive partisanship, a warning of threat to the body politic and a call to action by the American people to rescue their democracy before it is too late.

“Our public life withers when only the most extreme voices get all the attention.  And most of all, democracy breaks down when the average person feels their voice doesn’t matter; that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some special interest.

“Too many Americans feel that way right now,” he said, confessing “It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency — that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better.  I have no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I’ll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.” 

In fact, throughout his presidency, he has reached out, pleaded for the “good ideas” that Republicans might want to offer instead of just tearing down – immigration reform, health care (that’s why it took 18 months), gun safety, climate action. The list goes on and on and on. 

“But, my fellow Americans, this cannot be my task — or any President’s — alone.  There are a whole lot of folks in this chamber, good people who would like to see more cooperation, would like to see a more elevated debate in Washington, but feel trapped by the imperatives of getting elected, by the noise coming out of your base.  I know; you’ve told me.  It’s the worst-kept secret in Washington.  And a lot of you aren’t enjoying being trapped in that kind of rancor.” 

Vice President Joe Biden rises, but House Speaker Paul Ryan sits on his hands during President Barack Obama's final State of the Union address © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Vice President Joe Biden rises, but House Speaker Paul Ryan sits on his hands during President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But the signs weren’t good, because throughout his speech, with the exception of a shout-out to the troops and when he said, “I think outdated regulations that need to be changed,” the Republicans and House Speaker Paul Ryan sat steely throughout the speech, looking angry and disagreeable. 

Looking passed the Senators, Congressmen, Supreme Court Justices, cabinet members, military leaders that filled the Capitol, straight to the American people, he warned of the corruption of the political process, swallowed by rich donors and well-funded special interests, policies that make it harder, not easier to vote, and a system of gerrymandering where politicians get to select their voters, rather than voters selected their elected officials. 

“But that means if we want a better politics — and I’m addressing the American people now — if we want a better politics, it’s not enough just to change a congressman or change a senator or even change a President.  We have to change the system to reflect our better selves.  I think we’ve got to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters, and not the other way around.  (Applause.)  Let a bipartisan group do it.  (Applause.)

“We have to reduce the influence of money in our politics, so that a handful of families or hidden interests can’t bankroll our elections.  (Applause.)  And if our existing approach to campaign finance reform can’t pass muster in the courts, we need to work together to find a real solution — because it’s a problem.  And most of you don’t like raising money.  I know; I’ve done it.  (Applause.)  We’ve got to make it easier to vote, not harder.  (Applause.)  We need to modernize it for the way we live now.  (Applause.)  This is America:  We want to make it easier for people to participate.  And over the course of this year, I intend to travel the country to push for reforms that do just that.

“But I can’t do these things on my own.  (Applause.)  Changes in our political process — in not just who gets elected, but how they get elected — that will only happen when the American people demand it.  It depends on you.  That’s what’s meant by a government of, by, and for the people.”

Evoking President Dwight Eisenhower’s warning of the impending threat of the military-industrial complex to democracy, Obama said:

“What I’m suggesting is hard.  It’s a lot easier to be cynical; to accept that change is not possible, and politics is hopeless, and the problem is all the folks who are elected don’t care, and to believe that our voices and actions don’t matter.  But if we give up now, then we forsake a better future.  Those with money and power will gain greater control over the decisions that could send a young soldier to war, or allow another economic disaster, or roll back the equal rights and voting rights that generations of Americans have fought, even died, to secure.  And then, as frustration grows, there will be voices urging us to fall back into our respective tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don’t look like us, or pray like us, or vote like we do, or share the same background.

“We can’t afford to go down that path.  It won’t deliver the economy we want.  It will not produce the security we want.  But most of all, it contradicts everything that makes us the envy of the world.

After attending the White House Kids’ “State Dinner” as part of Let’s Move! and hearing the President and First Lady’s challenge for kids to make a difference in their own communities, 12-year old Braeden Mannering of Bear, DE, started his own nonprofit, Brae’s Brown Bags (3B), which provides healthy food to homeless and low-income individuals in his community. His mission is also to raise awareness about the problems of food insecurity and poverty, and to empower and inspire youth across the nation to become part of the solution. © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
After attending the White House Kids’ “State Dinner” as part of Let’s Move! and hearing the President and First Lady’s challenge for kids to make a difference in their own communities, 12-year old Braeden Mannering of Bear, DE, started his own nonprofit, Brae’s Brown Bags (3B), which provides healthy food to homeless and low-income individuals in his community. His mission is also to raise awareness about the problems of food insecurity and poverty, and to empower and inspire youth across the nation to become part of the solution. © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“So, my fellow Americans, whatever you may believe, whether you prefer one party or no party, whether you supported my agenda or fought as hard as you could against it — our collective futures depends on your willingness to uphold your duties as a citizen.  To vote.  To speak out.  To stand up for others, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable, knowing that each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, stood up for us. (Applause.)  We need every American to stay active in our public life — and not just during election time — so that our public life reflects the goodness and the decency that I see in the American people every single day.”  

Obama began the speech veritably skipping over the big legislative items that remain to be done, that a President would normally lay out for Congress in the State of the Union, but showed his recognition that a Republican Congress that has obstructed for seven years is  unlikely to undertake anything significant in the mere 80 days the Republicans have scheduled to be in session during this election year. Still, they tripped over the tongue: immigration reform, criminal justice, gun safety, finally shuttering Guantanamo prison as he has tried to do since his first day in office. He held out some hope that the Republicans might support criminal justice reform and the Trans Pacific Partnership because these align with the Republicans’ corporate sponsors’ agenda and got big applause from the right when he said there are regulations that are outdated.

But then he came back with, “But after years now of record corporate profits, working families won’t get more opportunity or bigger paychecks just by letting big banks or big oil or hedge funds make their own rules at everybody else’s expense.  Middle-class families are not going to feel more secure because we allowed attacks on collective bargaining to go unanswered.  Food Stamp recipients did not cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did.  (Applause.)  Immigrants aren’t the principal reason wages haven’t gone up; those decisions are made in the boardrooms that all too often put quarterly earnings over long-term returns.  It’s sure not the average family watching tonight that avoids paying taxes through offshore accounts… in this In new economy, workers and start-ups and small businesses need more of a voice, not less.  The rules should work for them.”

Then he proceeded to lay out a clear-eyed, realistic vision of what could happen, what must happen in light of the realities in which we live – framed by economic and social change that is happening whether or not people accept it, and, yes, terrorism.

Making it clear he does not intend to be a lame-duck president, frittering away the last year of his presidency, he listed specific programs that he hopes to see action on – the most significant being a “moonshot”-style initiative to marshal resources and research through the National Institutes of Health to cure cancer, naming Vice President Joe Biden, who lost his son Beau Biden to cancer months ago, to head it.

Similarly, citing the dramatic gains in developing clean, renewable energy, he hinted at a carbon tax to accelerate the transition away from old, dirtier energy sources, and move toward putting a price on carbon.  “Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future — especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels.”

He listed a number of education initiatives including:  providing Pre-K for all; offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes “that make them job-ready on day one”; “recruit and support more great teachers for our kids”; make college affordable for every American; provide two years of community college at no cost for every responsible student.

And noting that despite the improvements in the economy, so many Americans feel left behind and fearful of the changes swirling about them, he focused on easing the economic security of the beleaguered middle class, saying “we must strengthen, not weaken Social Security and Medicare.” Also, “make [retirement] benefits portable and protect against losses;” and “promote economic security by offering retraining in the event of job loss and wage insurance.” 

Among the issues glossed over, clearly mindful that the Republican-dominated Congress would not act, was reference to gun violence prevention measures or the executive orders he announced in absence of any Congressional action. He simply included “protecting our kids from gun violence” in the list of unfinished items of concern. The camera did not even have time to pan to the empty chair left between First Lady Michelle Obama and Connecticut Governor Daniel P. Malloy, left for the countless thousands victims of gun violence.

“We leave one seat empty in the First Lady’s State of the Union Guest Box for the victims of gun violence who no longer have a voice – because they need the rest of us to speak for them,” the White House stated prior to the address. “To tell their stories. To honor their memory. To support the Americans whose lives have been forever changed by the terrible ripple effect of gun violence – survivors who’ve had to learn to live with a disability, or without the love of their life. To remind every single one of our representatives that it’s their responsibility to do something about this.”

He gave a steely, no-nonsense declaration of America’s military strength and leadership in the world, and its commitment to defend Americans and prosecute terrorists.

            “No nation attacks us directly, or our allies, because they know that’s the path to ruin.  Surveys show our standing around the world is higher than when I was elected to this office, and when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead — they call us.

“I know this is a dangerous time.  But that’s not primarily because of some looming superpower out there, and certainly not because of diminished American strength.  In today’s world, we’re threatened less by evil empires and more by failing states.”

But he affirmed the success of the so-called Obama Doctrine, elevating diplomacy over a shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later strategy, particularly with the Iran nuclear agreement and in opening up Cuba after 50 years of fruitless isolation that did not produce a democratic Cuba, and glossed over the success in leading the way to a historic Climate Action Agreement signed by 196 countries.

And with a clear arrow sent in the direction of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, and the extreme rhetoric of the Republican presidential candidates, he warned, “But as we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands.  Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks, twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages — they pose an enormous danger to civilians; they have to be stopped.  But they do not threaten our national existence.  That is the story ISIL wants to tell.  That’s the kind of propaganda they use to recruit.” 

Obama could have crowed more than he did in saying,With nearly 10,000 air strikes, we’re taking out their leadership, their oil, their training camps, their weapons.  We’re training, arming, and supporting forces who are steadily reclaiming territory in Iraq and Syria.” By some reports, ISIL has lost control over 40% of the territory it had held at its peak, but Obama did not mention this.

But he challenged Congress to act instead of criticize: “If this Congress is serious about winning this war, and wants to send a message to our troops and the world, authorize the use of military force against ISIL.  Take a vote.”

“The world will look to us to help solve these problems, and our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet-bomb civilians.  That may work as a TV sound bite, but it doesn’t pass muster on the world stage.”

“The point is American leadership in the 21st century is not a choice between ignoring the rest of the world — except when we kill terrorists — or occupying and rebuilding whatever society is unraveling.  Leadership means a wise application of military power, and rallying the world behind causes that are right.  It means seeing our foreign assistance as a part of our national security, not something separate, not charity.”

“When politicians insult Muslims, whether abroad or our fellow citizens, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid is called names, that doesn’t make us safer.  That’s not telling it like it is.  It’s just wrong.  It diminishes us in the eyes of the world.  It makes it harder to achieve our goals.  It betrays who we are as a country.”

President Obama signs autographs after finishing the State of the Union Address, with Congressman Steve Israel © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
President Obama signs autographs after finishing the State of the Union Address, with Congressman Steve Israel © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Obama’s State of the Union message, ending with the riveting phrase so well placed at the end –  resounded like the Obama of 2008 and 2009 – the themes and tones of unity and his confidence in the spirit of the American people and the values that underlie this nation still dominant, his passion, energy and enthusiasm for his role as President and Commander-in-Chief roaring to the surface. But instead of being overtaken by cynicism under the unprecedented personal attacks and disrespect he has been shown since the very first State of the Union address in 2009, Obama seemed incredibly relaxed and comfortable in his own skin, still filled with optimism, excitement, if sharpened by his experience:

He described America’s spirit of discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship, its diversity and cherished freedom.

“That’s the America I know.  That’s the country we love.   Clear-eyed.  Big-hearted.  Undaunted by challenge.  Optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.  (Applause.)  That’s what makes me so hopeful about our future.  I believe in change because I believe in you, the American people.

“And that’s why I stand here confident as I have ever been that the State of our Union is strong.”

See the speech, highlighted. 

See also: See Who Will Be Guests in First Lady’s Box for Obama’s Final State of the Union Address

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© 2015 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go towww.news-photos-features.com,  

Obama to Sign Every Student Succeeds Act, Replacing No Child Left Behind

High School graduation. Congress has passed the Every Student Succeeds Act which is intended to improve upon No Child Left Behind © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
High School graduation. Congress has passed the Every Student Succeeds Act which is intended to improve upon No Child Left Behind © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Senate voted 85-12 today to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which would finally replace the badly broken No Child Left Behind law. The House passed this bill last week 359-64 (with every Democrat voting yes),

The White House announced that President Obama  will deliver remarks and sign the Every Student Succeeds Act tomorrow, Dec. 10.

“This bipartisan bill will cement the progress made in elementary and secondary education over the last seven years and fix the No Child Left Behind Act to reduce over-testing and one-size-fits-all federal mandates,” the White House stated.

The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Patty Murray (D-WA), who wrote, “For years, I’ve heard from students, parents, teachers, and small business owners about the need to fix the broken No Child Left Behind law. It wasn’t working for our kids, it wasn’t working for our schools, and it wasn’t working for our state. So when I became the top Democrat on the Senate Education Committee this year, I got to work, and I wasn’t going to stop until this broken law was fixed. It wasn’t easy in this Republican Congress, but I made it clear that I was willing to work with anyone, from any party, who was willing to put students and their education above partisanship and politics.

It will:

  • Reduce reliance on high-stakes testing – No Child Left Behind over-emphasized test scores to judge how students and schools were performing. The new law will allow students and teachers to spend less time on test prep​ and more time on learning. ​
  • ​Expand access to preschool programs so more kids can start kindergarten on strong footing.​
  • End the need for state waivers and “fail” letters – No Child Left Behind‘s one-size-fits-all mandates were so burdensome that the Obama administration began giving states waivers from the law’s requirements, which otherwise would have resulted in most schools being labeled as “failing.” ESSA ends the need for these state waivers, which will give students, parents, and teachers some much-needed certainty about how ​schools are​​ performing.​

Help ensure all students have access to a good education – For so many Americans, a good education can be a ticket to the middle class. ESSA will help ensure all students have access to a quality education, no matter their ZIP code or their background.

The White House issued a Fact Sheet on the background of the Every Student Succeeds Act, providing more detail:

FACT SHEET: Congress Acts to Fix No Child Left Behind

“We are a place that believes every child, no matter where they come from, can grow up to be anything they want… And I’m confident that if we fix No Child Left Behind, if we continue to reform American education, continue to invest in our children’s future, that’s the America we will always be.”– Remarks by the President on the No Child Left Behind Act, March 14, 2011, Kenmore Middle School, Arlington, Virginia

ESSA rejects the overuse of standardized tests and one-size-fits-all mandates on our schools, ensures that our education system will prepare every child to graduate from high school ready for college and careers, and provides more children access to high-quality state preschool programs.

The bipartisan bill passed by the House includes many of the key reforms the Administration has called on Congress to enact and encouraged states and districts to adopt in exchange for waivers offering relief from the more onerous provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The bill helps ensure educational opportunity for all students by:

  • Holding all students to high academic standards that prepare them for success in college and careers.
  • Ensuring accountability by guaranteeing that when students fall behind, states redirect resources into what works to help them and their schools improve, with a particular focus on the very lowest-performing schools, high schools with high dropout rates, and schools with achievement gaps.
  • Empowering state and local decision-makers to develop their own strong systems for school improvement based upon evidence, rather than imposing cookie-cutter federal solutions like the No Child Left Behind Act did.
  • Reducing the often onerous burden of testing on students and teachers, making sure that tests don’t crowd out teaching and learning, without sacrificing clear, annual information parents and educators need to make sure our children are learning.
  • Providing more children access to high-quality preschool.
  • Establishing new resources for proven strategies that will spur reform and drive opportunity and better outcomes for America’s students.

In recognition of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)’s legacy as a civil rights law, the bipartisan bill upholds critical protections for America’s disadvantaged students. It ensures that states and school districts will hold schools to account for the progress of all students and prescribes meaningful reforms to remedy underperformance in those schools failing to serve all students. It excludes harmful “portability” provisions that would siphon funds away from the students and schools most in need, and maintains dedicated resources and supports for America’s vulnerable children – including students with disabilities, English Learners, Native American students, homeless children, neglected and delinquent children, and migrant and seasonal farmworker children. It also ensures that states and districts continue the work they’ve begun this year to ensure that all students – including students from low-income families and students of color – have equitable access to excellent educators.

EMBRACING THE ADMINISTRATION’S PRINCIPLES FOR REFORM

College and Career-Ready Standards for America’s Learners: The bill affirms the path taken by 48 states and the District of Columbia to hold all students to challenging academic content standards that will prepare them to graduate from high school prepared for success in college and the workforce. In 2008, America’s governors and state education officials came together to develop a new set of college- and career-ready standards for their schools. The Obama Administration supported those efforts through its Race to the Top grant program and the federal-state partnership established in its ESEA flexibility agreements.

Rigorous Accountability for All Students: Consistent with the Administration’s legislative proposals and the policies in place under the Administration’s ESEA flexibility agreements, the bill builds on the federal-state partnerships in place in over 40 states to require meaningful goals for the progress of all students, and to ensure that every student subgroup makes gains toward college and career-readiness. States must set ambitious targets to close student achievement and graduation rate gaps among subgroups of students in order to meet their goals. In schools where too many students consistently fail to reach the goals and other indicators set by the state, school districts will ensure they receive tailored interventions and supports proportionate to the needs of those schools and the students they serve.

Reform and Resources for America’s Struggling Schools and Students: The bill will target resources, attention, and effort to make gains for our students attending schools most in need of help. Consistent with the policies in place under the Administration’s ESEA flexibility agreements, the bill moves away from NCLB’s one-size-fits-all accountability and ensures that states undertake reforms in their lowest performing schools, in high schools with high dropout rates, and in schools where subgroups are falling behind. It includes provisions that would require districts to use evidence-based models to support whole-school interventions in the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools and schools where more than a third of high school students do not graduate on time, and includes dedicated funding to support interventions in these schools. In schools where subgroups of students persistently underperform, school districts must mount targeted interventions and supports to narrow gaps and improve student achievement. If such schools are not showing improvement, the state will ensure more rigorous strategies are put in place. Moreover, the Department of Education has the authority it needs to ensure that states carry out their responsibilities.

New Incentives to Improve Opportunities and Outcomes for Students: The bill includes initiatives modeled after the Administration’s programs to:

  • Establish or expand access to high-quality, state-funded preschool for children from low- and moderate-income families, building from the Administration’s Preschool Development Grants program.
  • Develop, refine, and replicate innovative and ambitious reforms to close the achievement gap in America’s schools, similar to the Administration’s existing Investing in Innovation (i3) program.
  • Expand incentives to prepare, develop, and advance effective teachers and principals in America’s schools.
  • Leverage resources to address the significant challenges faced by students and families living in high-poverty communities through the Promise Neighborhoodseffort, supporting a full continuum of services from early learning through college.
  • Expand support for high-performing public charter schools for high-need students.

A Smart and Balanced Approach to Testing: The bill maintains important statewide assessments to ensure that teachers and parents can mark the progress and performance of their children every year, from third to eighth grade and once in high school. The bill encourages a smarter approach to testing by moving away from a sole focus on standardized tests to drive decisions around the quality of schools, and by allowing for the use of multiple measures of student learning and progress, along with other indicators of student success to make school accountability decisions. It also includes provisions consistent with the Administration’s principles around reducing the amount of classroom time spent on standardized testing, including support for state efforts to audit and streamline their current assessment systems.

Promoting Equity in State and Local Funding: The Administration has called repeatedly for states and school districts to more equitably distribute state and local dollars to schools with the greatest need. The bill includes a pilot program – similar to a proposal put forward by the Administration this year in the FY16 budget – that provides for weighted student funding. Under the pilot, districts must demonstrate a commitment to equitable distribution of state and local dollars—based on actual per-pupil expenditures—to their highest poverty schools. In exchange, districts would be allowed to allocate and use Title I and other federal formula funds in a more flexible manner to support comprehensive plans that improve achievement and outcomes for their neediest students. The bill also includes provisions that require reporting on actual school-level expenditures, allowing the public for the first time to see the amount of federal, state, and local funding distributed to each and every school.  The bill rejects so-called “portability” provisions in the House-passed bill that would have allowed states to shift federal funds away from the schools that need them most.

See also:

Hate over-testing? NYS’s Common Core Task Force needs to hear from you

Back to the drawing board for nation’s schools wrestling with Common Core

Teaching in America: Education reform should start with empowering teachers

OMB: Obama Would Veto GOP-Led Land Grab, ‘Red River Private Property Protection Act’

GOPWatch: This is who they are. Republican Thornberry (TX) and 7 cosponsors are pushing the “Red River Private Property Protection Act”, which would reduce federal control of federally owned lands. Essentially, it is a land grab to benefit specific donors. 

The OMB (Office of Management and Budget) says President Obama would veto. Here’s why:

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 2130, which would set aside existing Federal surveys, divest the Secretary of the Interior of responsibility as surveyor of record for the United States, and transfer lands out of Federal ownership without ensuring a fair return to the taxpayer.

H.R. 2130 would set aside existing Federal surveys of land along the Red River in Texas and would require the Secretary to commission and to accept, without Federal participation, surveys of the land approved by the Texas General Land Office. This legislation would require the Secretary to delegate her authority for determining Federal estate to a state agency, would be counter to nearly 100 years of settled law, and could reduce mineral revenue opportunities for the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache Tribes and the State of Oklahoma.

The Administration shares the goal of providing legal certainty to property owners along the Red River, but strongly opposes the approach of voiding or nullifying Federal surveys.

If the President were presented with H.R. 2130, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

 

OMB: Obama Would Veto Latest Effort to Dismantle Obamacare, McConnell’s ‘Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act’

 

They’re at it again! For like the 60th time, Republicans are pushing to dismantle Obamacare. 

The latest is the sickly named “Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015” sponsored by none other than that Darth Vader of anything that actually helps people, the Senate Leader himself, Sen. Mitch McConnell. 

The only thing standing in the way is President Obama’s veto, which the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) says he would. 

Here’s how the OMB explains the Administration’s position:

The Administration strongly opposes Senate passage of the Senate amendment to H.R. 3762.  By repealing numerous, key elements of current law, this legislation would take away critical benefits and health care coverage from hard-working middle‑class families.  The bill also would remove policies that are expected to help slow the growth in health care costs and that have improved the quality of care patients receive.  The Senate amendment to H.R. 3762 detracts from the work the Congress could be doing to foster job creation and economic growth.

The Affordable Care Act is working and is fully integrated into an improved American health care system.  Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions is a thing of the past.  And under the law, health care prices have grown at the slowest rate in 50 years, benefiting all Americans.

Repealing key elements of the Affordable Care Act would result in millions of individuals remaining uninsured or losing the insurance they have today.  An estimated 17.6 million Americans gained coverage as several of the Affordable Care Act’s coverage provisions have taken effect – 15.3 million since the beginning of the first open enrollment in October 2013.  The Senate amendment to H.R. 3762 would roll back coverage gains and would cost millions of hard-working middle-class families the security of affordable health coverage they deserve.

Repealing the health care law would have implications far beyond these Americans who have or will gain insurance.  More than 150 million Americans with employer-based insurance would be at risk of higher premiums and lower wages, or losing their coverage altogether.  It would raise taxes on certain middle‑class families.  The Senate amendment to H.R. 3762 also would defund the Prevention and Public Health Fund, limit women’s health care choices, and disproportionately impact low-income individuals.

This legislation is being considered by the Senate just days ahead of the December 15 deadline for Marketplace coverage that starts on January 1, 2016. Rather than refighting old political battles by once again voting to repeal basic protections that provide security for the middle class, Members of Congress should be working together to grow the economy, strengthen middle‑class families, and create new jobs.

If the President were presented with H.R. 3762, as amended by the Senate amendment, he would veto the bill.

Senate Republicans Push Two Resolutions to Nullify Clean Power Plan; Obama Vows Veto

A majority of Americans favor cutting carbon emissions to protect air and water and address the impacts of climate change and global warning. 400,000 joined the People's Climate March in New York City in 2014. Republicans in Congress are trying to nullify Obama's Clean Power Plan in advance of the Climate Summit in Paris © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
A majority of Americans favor cutting carbon emissions to protect air and water and address the impacts of climate change and global warning. 400,000 joined the People’s Climate March in New York City in 2014. Republicans in Congress are trying to nullify Obama’s Clean Power Plan in advance of the Climate Summit in Paris © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Office of Management & Budget is vowing that President Obama would veto two resolutions proposed by Senate Republicans intended to nullify his Clean Power Plan and undermine the international climate summit that gets underway in December in Paris.

“Senate Leader, and King Coal cohort, Mitch McConnell and his fellow Senate coal cronies will introduce two resolutions via the Congressional Review Act, a rarely used, filibuster-proof legislative scheme that only requires a simple majority to pass,” writes Anthony Rogers-Wright of Environmental Action.

“Even though President Obama has promised to veto any resolution that attempts to block his climate agenda, senators from coal-y rolling states are pushing ahead. Why the rush if they can’t get this legislation signed into law, you ask? Their real agenda is to reduce international confidence in the president’s ability to deliver on U.S. climate commitments2 – it’s a classic case of Paris sabotage. Should these senators succeed, it would send the wrong message to the world and reduce the U.S.’s standing as a global leader.”

Sally King added, “Moments after the Clean Power Plan was formally published last month, opponents of the rule filed suit to strike it down. In a congressional hearing last month the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) critics continued to claim the plan will create economic catastrophe and violates the constitution. Although they can’t stop Obama’s plan, they’re hoping that the clamor will embolden governors and state policymakers to resist complying with the rule.

“But these claims should be taken for what they are: noise. The EPA’s flexible, cost-minimizing approach to reducing carbon pollution from power plants is consistent with the Clean Air Act and the Constitution.”

The OMB explains its objections to the resolutions and why the President would veto:

S.J.Res. 23 – Disapproving EPA Rule on Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New, Modified, and Reconstructed Electric Utility Generating Units

(Sen. McConnell, R-KY, and 47 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly opposes S.J.Res. 23, which would undermine the public health protections of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and stop critical U.S. efforts to reduce dangerous carbon pollution from power plants.  In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that the CAA gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution.  In 2009, EPA determined that GHG pollution threatens Americans’ health and welfare by leading to long-lasting changes to the climate that can, and are already, having a range of negative effects on human health and the environment.  This finding is consistent with conclusions of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and numerous other national and international scientific bodies.  Power plants account for roughly one-third of all domestic GHG emissions.  While the United States limits dangerous emissions of arsenic, mercury, lead, particulate matter, and ozone precursor pollution from power plants, the Carbon Pollution Standards and the Clean Power Plan put into place the first national limits on power plant carbon pollution.  The Carbon Pollution Standards will ensure that new, modified, and reconstructed power plants deploy available systems of emission reduction to reduce carbon pollution.

S.J.Res. 23 would nullify carbon pollution standards for future power plants and power plants undertaking significant modifications or reconstruction, thus slowing our country’s transition to cleaner, cutting-edge power generation technologies.  Most importantly, the resolution could enable continued build-out of outdated, high-polluting, and long-lived power generation infrastructure and impede efforts to reduce carbon pollution from new and modified power plants – when the need to act, and to act quickly, to mitigate climate change impacts on American communities has never been more clear.

Since it was enacted in 1970, and amended in 1977 and 1990, each time with strong bipartisan support, the CAA has improved the Nation’s air quality and protected public health. Over that same period of time, the economy has tripled in size while emissions of key pollutants have decreased by more than 70 percent.  Forty-five years of clean air regulation have shown that a strong economy and strong environmental and public health protection go hand-in-hand.

Because S.J.Res. 23 threatens the health and economic welfare of future generations by blocking important standards to reduce carbon pollution from the power sector that take a flexible, common sense approach to addressing carbon pollution, if the President were presented with S.J.Res. 23, he would veto the bill.

S.J.Res. 24 – Disapproving EPA Rule on Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Electric Utility Generating Units

(Sen. Capito, R-WV, and 48 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly opposes S.J.Res. 24, which would undermine the public health protections of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and stop critical U.S. efforts to reduce dangerous carbon pollution from power plants.  In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that the CAA gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution.  In 2009, EPA determined that GHG pollution threatens Americans’ health and welfare by leading to long-lasting changes to the climate that can, and are already, having a range of negative effects on human health and the environment.  This finding is consistent with conclusions of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and numerous other national and international scientific bodies.  Power plants account for roughly one-third of all domestic GHG emissions.  While the United States limits dangerous emissions of arsenic, mercury, lead, particulate matter, and ozone precursor pollution from power plants, the Clean Power Plan and the Carbon Pollution Standards put into place the first national limits on power plant carbon pollution.  The Clean Power Plan empowers States to cost-effectively reduce emissions from existing sources and provides States and power plants a great deal of flexibility in meeting the requirements.  EPA expects that under the Clean Power Plan, by 2030, carbon pollution from power plants will be reduced by 32 percent from 2005 levels.

By nullifying the Clean Power Plan, S.J.Res. 24 seeks to block progress towards cleaner energy, eliminating public health and other benefits of up to $54 billion per year by 2030, including thousands fewer premature deaths from air pollution and tens of thousands of fewer childhood asthma attacks each year.  Most importantly, the resolution would impede efforts to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants – the largest source of carbon pollution in the country – when the need to act, and to act quickly, to mitigate climate change impacts on American communities has never been more clear.

Since it was enacted in 1970, and amended in 1977 and 1990, each time with strong bipartisan support, the CAA has improved the Nation’s air quality and protected public health.  Over that same period of time, the economy has tripled in size while emissions of key pollutants have decreased by more than 70 percent.  Forty-five years of clean air regulation have shown that a strong economy and strong environmental and public health protection go hand-in-hand.

Because S.J.Res. 24 threatens the health and economic welfare of future generations by blocking important standards to reduce carbon pollution from the power sector that take a flexible, common sense approach to addressing carbon pollution, if the President were presented with S.J.Res. 24, he would veto the bill.

 

 

OMB: Obama Would Veto 2 Laws Proposed by Senate Republicans to Weaken Clean Water Protections

Capitol Building, Washington DC © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Capitol Building, Washington DC © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Obama would veto two laws coming out of the Senate which would weaken federal Clean Water Act protections, according to The Office of Management and Budget. The OMB has issued Statements of Administration Policy regarding S. 1140, the Orwellian named “Federal Water Quality Protection Act” sponsored by Sen. Barrasso, R-WY, and 46 co-sponsors) and S.J.Res. 22 – Disapproving EPA/Army Rule on Waters of the United States being proposed by Sen. Ernst, R-IA, and 49 cosponsors, that state the President would veto the laws if they make it to his desk.

 S. 1140″Federal Water Quality Protection Act”

The Administration strongly opposes S. 1140, which would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) to withdraw and re-propose specified regulations needed to clarify the jurisdictional boundaries of the Clean Water Act (CWA).  The agencies’ rulemaking, grounded in science and the law, is essential to ensure clean water for future generations, and is responsive to calls for rulemaking  from the Congress, industry, and community stakeholders as well as decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.  The final rule has been through an extensive public engagement process.

Clean water is vital for the success of the Nation’s businesses, agriculture, energy development, and the health of our communities.  More than one in three Americans get their drinking water from rivers, lakes, and reservoirs that are at risk of pollution from upstream sources.  The protection of wetlands is also vital for hunting and fishing.  When Congress passed the CWA in 1972 to restore the Nation’s waters, it recognized that to have healthy communities downstream, we need to protect the smaller streams and wetlands upstream.

Clarifying the scope of the CWA helps to protect clean water, safeguard public health, and strengthen the economy.  Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 focused on specific jurisdictional determinations and rejected the analytical approach that the Army Corps of Engineers used for those determinations, but did not invalidate the underlying regulation.  This has created ongoing questions and uncertainty about how the regulation is applied consistent with the Court’s decisions.  The final rule was developed to address this uncertainty.

If S. 1140 were enacted, any revisions to the CWA regulations would require the agencies to define waters of the United States in a manner inconsistent with the CWA as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court, resulting in more confusion, uncertainty, and inconsistency.

S.1140 would require the agencies to expend scarce resources to duplicate the transparent rulemaking process just completed, which involved extensive public outreach and participation, including over 400 public meetings, and 1 million public comments.  The agencies met with States, municipalities, small businesses, farmers, ranchers, miners, foresters, conservation groups, and many others to solicit input and reflect that input in a final rule.  A regulation as prescribed in S. 1140 would raise costs for landowners and businesses seeking a CWA permit and increase delays in the permit process.  S. 1140 also would reduce protection of the Nation’s water quality and result in higher drinking water treatment costs, increased contamination of fish and shellfish, loss of recreational opportunities including hunting and fishing, and more frequent algal blooms that choke rivers and lakes and make waters unhealthy as a drinking water source or to swim and fish in.  Wetlands serve as a natural buffer to reduce flooding, and by ignoring this important role, S.1140 also would lead to more frequent and more damaging losses from floods.  Families, communities, and businesses will have no choice but to pay for increased flood protection that natural wetlands currently provide for free.

If the President were presented with S. 1140, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

S.J.Res. 22 – Disapproving EPA/Army Rule on Waters of the United States

The Administration strongly opposes S.J.Res. 22, which would nullify a specified Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) final rule clarifying the jurisdictional boundaries of the Clean Water Act (CWA).  The agencies’ rulemaking,  grounded in science and the law, is essential to ensure clean water for future generations, and is responsive to calls for rulemaking from the Congress, industry, and community stakeholders as well as decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.  The final rule has been through an extensive public engagement process.

Clean water is vital for the success of the Nation’s businesses, agriculture, energy development, and the health of our communities.  More than one in three Americans get their drinking water from rivers, lakes, and reservoirs that are at risk of pollution from upstream sources.  The protection of wetlands is also vital for hunting and fishing.  When Congress passed the CWA in 1972 to restore the Nation’s waters, it recognized that to have healthy communities downstream, we need to protect the smaller streams and wetlands upstream.

Clarifying the scope of the CWA helps to protect clean water, safeguard public health, and strengthen the economy.  Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 focused on specific jurisdictional determinations and rejected the analytical approach that the Army Corps of Engineers used for those determinations, but did not invalidate the underlying regulation.  This has created ongoing questions and uncertainty about how the regulation is applied consistent with the Court’s decisions.  The final rule was developed to address this uncertainty and it should remain in place.

If enacted, S.J.Res. 22 would nullify years of work and deny businesses and communities the regulatory certainty needed to invest in projects that rely on clean water.  EPA and Army have sought the views of and listened carefully to the public throughout the extensive public engagement process for this rule.

Simply put, S.J.Res. 22 is not an act of good governance.  It would sow confusion and invite conflict at a time when our communities and businesses need clarity and certainty around clean water regulation.

If the President were presented with S.J.Res. 22, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

 

 

OMB: Obama Administration Would Veto ‘Retail Investor Protection Act’

The Office of Management and Budget has issued a Statement of Administration Policy regarding HR 1090, the “Retail Investor Protection Act” sponsored by Rep. Wagner (R-MO) and 34 co-sponsors, because as is typical of such bills that have come from the Republican Majority, their title is the very opposite of their actual intent:

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 1090 because the bill would derail an important Department of Labor rulemaking critical to protecting Americans’ hard-earned savings and preserving their retirement security.

H.R. 1090 prohibits Labor from issuing a rule to protect investors until the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) acts.  It also impinges on the SEC’s ability to move forward with its own rulemaking by requiring the SEC to take the misguided step of providing definitive findings before promulgating a rule.

Further, the bill ignores the fact that significant study has already been conducted by both agencies and that Labor has had extensive engagement with the public, industry, and numerous stakeholders in its rulemaking process.  This includes more than 140 days of public comment period, four days of public hearings, and approximately 100 meetings with stakeholders after the proposal was published in April.  Moreover, Labor and the SEC are already working closely to ensure the smooth operation of the proposed safeguards, and this legislation would hamper effective coordination between the two agencies.

Under existing, outdated rules, savers cannot count on receiving the unbiased advice that they need and expect.  This bill would effectively block action to protect working and middle-class families from the harmful conflicts of interest that lead to biased advice.  The Council of Economic Advisers estimates that these conflicts cost savers $17 billion every year.

The Administration is committed to ensuring that American workers and retirees are able to receive advice about how to invest their money in safe, secure, and transparent financial products that are free from harmful conflicts of interest.  Labor’s ongoing rulemaking is designed to protect the retirement savings of millions of workers and retirees by ensuring that paid advisors and other entities do not place their own financial interests over those of their customers.  This legislation puts a roadblock in the way of preventing such harmful conflicts, which hurts businesses, consumers, and retirees and their families.

If the President were presented with H.R. 1090, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

(www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislative/sap/114/saphr1090r_20151026.pdf)