Thursday, April 14, 2011

Vertus Hardiman Reveals Radiation Experiments Were Conducted on Blacks

President Obama, Congress and Members of the Senate....Make This Right, Damn It!

An Open Letter to President Barack Obama, Members of U.S. Congress and the Senate

Mr. President, and esteemed members of Congress and the Senate:

I'm going to be brief, to the point and not pull any punches. My "G-Fans" and supporters would expect nothing less.

Now, I realize you're all bogged down with a number of fiscal and political issues, but I'm demanding that you find some time to click on the link below and watch this moving and extremely powerful three and a half minute video after reading my letter.

I ask that every resident of the United States, as well as people outside of our jurisdiction, do the same. Brace yourselves! For I assure you, you will be shocked after discovering the truth about an inhumane and unspeakable act of hatred that was committed against an American citizen, and others like him, on American soil.

Furthermore, I urge you -- Mr. President, members of Congress and the Senate -- to not turn away in horror or shame. Watch it!

When you're done, have enough compassion and respect to admit what was done to this man was a crime against humanity and issue a public apology to the family of Vertus Hardiman and all those affected by this tragedy. Make....this....right, Mr. President.

In closing, I want to serve notice to every Republican or Democratic that is thinking about running for president in 2012. If you so much as think about politicizing this situation for your own gain, as many of you often do in situations like this, I'm using this news blog to come after you with everything I've got. Know this, and check the "creds"!

You all may have power, but never underestimate the power of the people. Once America sees this video, I suspect they won't tolerate "politics as usual", with regard to the late Mr. Hardiman and his story, and neither will I.

Please, do the right thing, Mr. President. Hopefully, your colleagues on both sides of the aisle will follow suit.

This request is from the heart and.....From The G-Man.

Cuomo Launches "Recharge New York"

Program Will Allow Businesses to Buy Low Cost Power and Create Jobs

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has launched a new program that will give New York businesses the ability to buy low-cost power and spend the savings on retaining and creating jobs.

'Recharge New York' allocates discount power to companies across the state, an incentive that is proven to keep companies and jobs in the State.

The program replaces the Power for Jobs program, which had two flaws. First, the old program was reauthorized for only one year at a time by the Legislature, which made it difficult for any business to plan for the long term. Second, it did not accept new businesses into the program.

Recharge New York improves upon Power for Jobs by allowing businesses to enter into seven-year contracts and by opening it to new participants when power is available

Governor Cuomo was joined today by lawmakers in North Tonawanda where he toured Ascension Industries' factory and signed the 'Recharge New York' bill, which was approved in the 2011-2012 budget.

Ascension is a family-owned business that has employed western New Yorkers for decades. Ascension has been able to take advantage of the Power for Jobs program by receiving low-cost power, making it able to grow to more than 135 employees.

"One of my top priorities is to bring jobs to New York, and this program is one way to get that done," Governor Cuomo said.

"Recharge New York delivers savings and stability to businesses in the state so they can expand and innovate while providing good jobs for hard-working New Yorkers. Recharge New York is a prime example of how New York is open for business."

In addition, the program offers seven-year contracts for low-cost power and is backed by a dedicated block of sustainable hydropower. The Recharge New York Power Program provides 910 MW of power for participants in the program, is supported by 455 MW of hydroelectric power -- a clean, cost-effective and stable source of energy -- and 455 MW of market power, reserves at least 350 MW of the program for upstate businesses and institutions, reserves at least 200 MW for business attraction and expansion, and reserves up to 100 MW for not-for-profits.

The current Power for Jobs program provided discounts for power to approximately 500 businesses, employing nearly 300,000 people in the state.

Under Recharge New York, companies will be awarded power contracts based on capital investment commitments, job retention and creation, consistency with regional economic development council priorities, and other factors. Businesses participating in the program must also demonstrate a commitment to maximizing energy efficiency.

The following comments were provided regarding the new program.

"The best use of low-cost hydropower is to retain and create jobs. Recharge New York is built around this fundamental premise, and this program will be one of our best tools to turn around the economy of Western New York and the entire state. This reform is a long time coming, and now that a successor to Power for Jobs is in place, more businesses than ever will be able to capitalize the resources that make us unique--namely hydropower from Niagara Falls. I commend the Governor and all our partners in the public and private sectors for their advocacy and their commitment to New York's future."

Senator George Maziarz, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee

"Ascension Industries, like many other businesses, participated in the Power for Jobs Program. But participating industries noted that the program was flawed with its year-to-year power agreements that made it difficult to plan for future expansions. We listened to those concerns and we are here today to spread the word that Power for Jobs has been "reinvented." Its successor, Recharge New York, is much more in tune with the needs of businesses. The size of the program has doubled, making low-cost power available to more businesses, and long term contracts will provide price stability. Recharge New York holds the promise of being the spark that spurs greater economic development in Western New York and throughout the state."

Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, Chair of the Assembly's Economic Development Committee

"Recharge New York will be a powerful tool to energize job growth in Western New York. Our low-cost Niagara hydropower should be a major natural advantage for our region -- and electricity provided to businesses through Recharge New York will help assure that we put that advantage to work creating jobs for our people. This is an excellent example of what can be accomplished for New York when the Legislature and Governor work together for everyone's benefit."

Assemblyman Jim Hayes, Ranking Member of the Assembly's Ways and Means Committee

"On behalf of the Partnership's 2,500 employer members, I commend Governor Cuomo and the Legislature for approving Recharge NY; a thoughtful and impactful economic development initiative as part of a thoughtful and impactful budget. Over 14,000 jobs in Buffalo Niagara are currently tied to Power for Jobs, and Recharge NY reforms and expands that program to ensure low cost hydropower is used for real job retention and creation. Recharge NY can, and will, provide predictability and stability in hydropower for economic development in Upstate New York for years to come."

Andrew J. Rudnick, President & CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership

"While the passage of Recharge New York is due to the hard work and dedication of many, it is important to acknowledge the efforts of Governor Cuomo and Senate Energy Chair George Maziarz. Together they guided this critical legislation forward. With Senator Maziarz leading the charge in the Senate, we witnessed this program of historic proportions receive unanimous support. Governor Cuomo inserted it as part of the State budget which demonstrated his commitment to achieving a long term energy economic development program. On behalf of the State's manufacturing community, we thank you both for listening to our needs. Manufacturers look forward to utilizing the new program and an improved business climate you have set forth for them, and doing what manufacturing companies do best: create quality manufactured goods, support good paying jobs, and invest in our state and communities."

Randy Wolken, President of the Manufacturer's Association of Central New York

"RECHARGE NY will more permanently provide for low-cost power to help businesses such as mine compete in today's world economy, where every penny counts. Thanks to this bill, Ascension will be able to hire more New Yorkers. What pleases me most is to see people from both parties support this piece of legislation, especially since it includes creating jobs and reducing energy costs in New York. I believe Governor Cuomo means business for businesses in NY."

Jack Kopczynski, President of Ascension Industries, Inc.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

President Issues Statement on Fiscal Policy



George Washington University

Washington, D.C.

1:48 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. (Applause.) Please have a seat. Please have a seat, everyone.

It is wonderful to be back at GW. I want you to know that one of the reasons that I worked so hard with Democrats and Republicans to keep the government open was so that I could show up here today. I wanted to make sure that all of you had one more excuse to skip class. (Laughter.) You’re welcome. (Laughter.)

I want to give a special thanks to Steven Knapp, the president of GW. I just saw him -- where is he? There he is right there. (Applause.)

We've got a lot of distinguished guests here -- a couple of people I want to acknowledge. First of all, my outstanding Vice President, Joe Biden, is here. (Applause.) Our Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner, is in the house. (Applause.) Jack Lew, the Director of the Office of Mangement and Budget. (Applause.) Gene Sperling, Chair of the National Economic Council, is here. (Applause.) Members of our bipartisan Fiscal Commission are here, including the two outstanding chairs -- Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson -- are here. (Applause.)

And we have a number of members of Congress here today. I'm grateful for all of you taking the time to attend.

What we’ve been debating here in Washington over the last few weeks will affect the lives of the students here and families all across America in potentially profound ways. This debate over budgets and deficits is about more than just numbers on a page; it’s about more than just cutting and spending. It’s about the kind of future that we want. It’s about the kind of country that we believe in. And that’s what I want to spend some time talking about today.

From our first days as a nation, we have put our faith in free markets and free enterprise as the engine of America’s wealth and prosperity. More than citizens of any other country, we are rugged individualists, a self-reliant people with a healthy skepticism of too much government.

But there’s always been another thread running through our history -– a belief that we’re all connected, and that there are some things we can only do together, as a nation. We believe, in the words of our first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, that through government, we should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves.

And so we’ve built a strong military to keep us secure, and public schools and universities to educate our citizens. We’ve laid down railroads and highways to facilitate travel and commerce. We’ve supported the work of scientists and researchers whose discoveries have saved lives, unleashed repeated technological revolutions, and led to countless new jobs and entire new industries. Each of us has benefitted from these investments, and we’re a more prosperous country as a result.

Part of this American belief that we’re all connected also expresses itself in a conviction that each one of us deserves some basic measure of security and dignity. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, hard times or bad luck, a crippling illness or a layoff may strike any one of us. “There but for the grace of God go I,” we say to ourselves. And so we contribute to programs like Medicare and Social Security, which guarantee us health care and a measure of basic income after a lifetime of hard work; unemployment insurance, which protects us against unexpected job loss; and Medicaid, which provides care for millions of seniors in nursing homes, poor children, those with disabilities. We’re a better country because of these commitments. I’ll go further. We would not be a great country without those commitments.

Now, for much of the last century, our nation found a way to afford these investments and priorities with the taxes paid by its citizens. As a country that values fairness, wealthier individuals have traditionally borne a greater share of this burden than the middle class or those less fortunate. Everybody pays, but the wealthier have borne a little more. This is not because we begrudge those who’ve done well -– we rightly celebrate their success. Instead, it’s a basic reflection of our belief that those who’ve benefited most from our way of life can afford to give back a little bit more. Moreover, this belief hasn’t hindered the success of those at the top of the income scale. They continue to do better and better with each passing year.

Now, at certain times -– particularly during war or recession -– our nation has had to borrow money to pay for some of our priorities. And as most families understand, a little credit card debt isn’t going to hurt if it’s temporary.

But as far back as the 1980s, America started amassing debt at more alarming levels, and our leaders began to realize that a larger challenge was on the horizon. They knew that eventually, the Baby Boom generation would retire, which meant a much bigger portion of our citizens would be relying on programs like Medicare, Social Security, and possibly Medicaid. Like parents with young children who know they have to start saving for the college years, America had to start borrowing less and saving more to prepare for the retirement of an entire generation.

To meet this challenge, our leaders came together three times during the 1990s to reduce our nation’s deficit -- three times. They forged historic agreements that required tough decisions made by the first President Bush, then made by President Clinton, by Democratic Congresses and by a Republican Congress. All three agreements asked for shared responsibility and shared sacrifice. But they largely protected the middle class; they largely protected our commitment to seniors; they protected our key investments in our future.

As a result of these bipartisan efforts, America’s finances were in great shape by the year 2000. We went from deficit to surplus. America was actually on track to becoming completely debt free, and we were prepared for the retirement of the Baby Boomers.

But after Democrats and Republicans committed to fiscal discipline during the 1990s, we lost our way in the decade that followed. We increased spending dramatically for two wars and an expensive prescription drug program -– but we didn’t pay for any of this new spending. Instead, we made the problem worse with trillions of dollars in unpaid-for tax cuts -– tax cuts that went to every millionaire and billionaire in the country; tax cuts that will force us to borrow an average of $500 billion every year over the next decade.

To give you an idea of how much damage this caused to our nation’s checkbook, consider this: In the last decade, if we had simply found a way to pay for the tax cuts and the prescription drug benefit, our deficit would currently be at low historical levels in the coming years.

But that’s not what happened. And so, by the time I took office, we once again found ourselves deeply in debt and unprepared for a Baby Boom retirement that is now starting to take place. When I took office, our projected deficit, annually, was more than $1 trillion. On top of that, we faced a terrible financial crisis and a recession that, like most recessions, led us to temporarily borrow even more.

In this case, we took a series of emergency steps that saved millions of jobs, kept credit flowing, and provided working families extra money in their pocket. It was absolutely the right thing to do, but these steps were expensive, and added to our deficits in the short term.

So that’s how our fiscal challenge was created. That’s how we got here. And now that our economic recovery is gaining strength, Democrats and Republicans must come together and restore the fiscal responsibility that served us so well in the 1990s. We have to live within our means. We have to reduce our deficit, and we have to get back on a path that will allow us to pay down our debt. And we have to do it in a way that protects the recovery, protects the investments we need to grow, create jobs, and helps us win the future.

Now, before I get into how we can achieve this goal, some of you, particularly the younger people here -- you don't qualify, Joe. (Laughter.) Some of you might be wondering, “Why is this so important? Why does this matter to me?”

Well, here’s why. Even after our economy recovers, our government will still be on track to spend more money than it takes in throughout this decade and beyond. That means we’ll have to keep borrowing more from countries like China. That means more of your tax dollars each year will go towards paying off the interest on all the loans that we keep taking out. By the end of this decade, the interest that we owe on our debt could rise to nearly $1 trillion. Think about that. That's the interest -- just the interest payments.

Then, as the Baby Boomers start to retire in greater numbers and health care costs continue to rise, the situation will get even worse. By 2025, the amount of taxes we currently pay will only be enough to finance our health care programs -- Medicare and Medicaid -- Social Security, and the interest we owe on our debt. That’s it. Every other national priority -– education, transportation, even our national security -– will have to be paid for with borrowed money.

Now, ultimately, all this rising debt will cost us jobs and damage our economy. It will prevent us from making the investments we need to win the future. We won’t be able to afford good schools, new research, or the repair of roads -– all the things that create new jobs and businesses here in America. Businesses will be less likely to invest and open shop in a country that seems unwilling or unable to balance its books. And if our creditors start worrying that we may be unable to pay back our debts, that could drive up interest rates for everybody who borrows money -– making it harder for businesses to expand and hire, or families to take out a mortgage.

Here’s the good news: That doesn’t have to be our future. That doesn’t have to be the country that we leave our children. We can solve this problem. We came together as Democrats and Republicans to meet this challenge before; we can do it again.

But that starts by being honest about what’s causing our deficit. You see, most Americans tend to dislike government spending in the abstract, but like the stuff that it buys. Most of us, regardless of party affiliation, believe that we should have a strong military and a strong defense. Most Americans believe we should invest in education and medical research. Most Americans think we should protect commitments like Social Security and Medicare. And without even looking at a poll, my finely honed political instincts tell me that almost nobody believes they should be paying higher taxes. (Laughter.)

So because all this spending is popular with both Republicans and Democrats alike, and because nobody wants to pay higher taxes, politicians are often eager to feed the impression that solving the problem is just a matter of eliminating waste and abuse. You’ll hear that phrase a lot. “We just need to eliminate waste and abuse.” The implication is that tackling the deficit issue won’t require tough choices. Or politicians suggest that we can somehow close our entire deficit by eliminating things like foreign aid, even though foreign aid makes up about 1 percent of our entire federal budget.

So here’s the truth. Around two-thirds of our budget -- two-thirds -- is spent on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and national security. Two-thirds. Programs like unemployment

insurance, student loans, veterans’ benefits, and tax credits for working families take up another 20 percent. What’s left, after interest on the debt, is just 12 percent for everything else. That’s 12 percent for all of our national priorities -- education, clean energy, medical research, transportation, our national parks, food safety, keeping our air and water clean -- you name it -- all of that accounts for 12 percent of our budget.

Now, up till now, the debate here in Washington, the cuts proposed by a lot of folks in Washington, have focused exclusively on that 12 percent. But cuts to that 12 percent alone won’t solve the problem. So any serious plan to tackle our deficit will require us to put everything on the table, and take on excess spending wherever it exists in the budget.

A serious plan doesn’t require us to balance our budget overnight –- in fact, economists think that with the economy just starting to grow again, we need a phased-in approach –- but it does require tough decisions and support from our leaders in both parties now. Above all, it will require us to choose a vision of the America we want to see five years, 10 years, 20 years down the road.

Now, to their credit, one vision has been presented and championed by Republicans in the House of Representatives and embraced by several of their party’s presidential candidates. It’s a plan that aims to reduce our deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years, and one that addresses the challenge of Medicare and Medicaid in the years after that.

These are both worthy goals. They’re worthy goals for us to achieve. But the way this plan achieves those goals would lead to a fundamentally different America than the one we’ve known certainly in my lifetime. In fact, I think it would be fundamentally different than what we’ve known throughout our history.

A 70 percent cut in clean energy. A 25 percent cut in education. A 30 percent cut in transportation. Cuts in college Pell Grants that will grow to more than $1,000 per year. That’s the proposal. These aren’t the kind of cuts you make when you’re trying to get rid of some waste or find extra savings in the budget. These aren’t the kinds of cuts that the Fiscal Commission proposed. These are the kinds of cuts that tell us we can’t afford the America that I believe in and I think you believe in.

I believe it paints a vision of our future that is deeply pessimistic. It’s a vision that says if our roads crumble and our bridges collapse, we can’t afford to fix them. If there are bright young Americans who have the drive and the will but not the money to go to college, we can’t afford to send them.

Go to China and you’ll see businesses opening research labs and solar facilities. South Korean children are outpacing our kids in math and science. They’re scrambling to figure out how they put more money into education. Brazil is investing billions in new infrastructure and can run half their cars not on high-priced gasoline, but on biofuels. And yet, we are presented with a vision that says the American people, the United States of America -– the greatest nation on Earth -– can’t afford any of this.

It’s a vision that says America can’t afford to keep the promise we’ve made to care for our seniors. It says that 10 years from now, if you’re a 65-year-old who’s eligible for Medicare, you should have to pay nearly $6,400 more than you would today. It says instead of guaranteed health care, you will get a voucher. And if that voucher isn’t worth enough to buy the insurance that’s available in the open marketplace, well, tough luck -– you’re on your own. Put simply, it ends Medicare as we know it.

It’s a vision that says up to 50 million Americans have to lose their health insurance in order for us to reduce the deficit. Who are these 50 million Americans? Many are somebody’s grandparents -- may be one of yours -- who wouldn’t be able to afford nursing home care without Medicaid. Many are poor children. Some are middle-class families who have children with autism or Down’s syndrome. Some of these kids with disabilities are -- the disabilities are so severe that they require 24-hour care. These are the Americans we’d be telling to fend for themselves.

And worst of all, this is a vision that says even though Americans can’t afford to invest in education at current levels, or clean energy, even though we can’t afford to maintain our commitment on Medicare and Medicaid, we can somehow afford more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks for the wealthy. Think about that.

In the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90 percent of all working Americans actually declined. Meanwhile, the top 1 percent saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. That’s who needs to pay less taxes?

They want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that’s paid for by asking 33 seniors each to pay $6,000 more in health costs. That’s not right. And it’s not going to happen as long as I’m President. (Applause.)

This vision is less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the basic social compact in America. Ronald Reagan’s own budget director said, there’s nothing “serious” or “courageous” about this plan. There’s nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. And I don't think there’s anything courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don’t have any clout on Capitol Hill. That's not a vision of the America I know.

The America I know is generous and compassionate. It’s a land of opportunity and optimism. Yes, we take responsibility for ourselves, but we also take responsibility for each other; for the country we want and the future that we share. We’re a nation that built a railroad across a continent and brought light to communities shrouded in darkness. We sent a generation to college on the GI Bill and we saved millions of seniors from poverty with Social Security and Medicare. We have led the world in scientific research and technological breakthroughs that have transformed millions of lives. That’s who we are. This is the America that I know. We don’t have to choose between a future of spiraling debt and one where we forfeit our investment in our people and our country.

To meet our fiscal challenge, we will need to make reforms. We will all need to make sacrifices. But we do not have to sacrifice the America we believe in. And as long as I’m President, we won’t.

So today, I’m proposing a more balanced approach to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction over 12 years. It’s an approach that borrows from the recommendations of the bipartisan Fiscal Commission that I appointed last year, and it builds on the roughly $1 trillion in deficit reduction I already proposed in my 2012 budget. It’s an approach that puts every kind of spending on the table -- but one that protects the middle class, our promise to seniors, and our investments in the future.

The first step in our approach is to keep annual domestic spending low by building on the savings that both parties agreed to last week. That step alone will save us about $750 billion over 12 years. We will make the tough cuts necessary to achieve these savings, including in programs that I care deeply about, but I will not sacrifice the core investments that we need to grow and create jobs. We will invest in medical research. We will invest in clean energy technology. We will invest in new roads and airports and broadband access. We will invest in education. We will invest in job training. We will do what we need to do to compete, and we will win the future.

The second step in our approach is to find additional savings in our defense budget. Now, as Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than protecting our national security, and I will never accept cuts that compromise our ability to defend our homeland or America’s interests around the world. But as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen, has said, the greatest long-term threat to America’s national security is America’s debt. So just as we must find more savings in domestic programs, we must do the same in defense. And we can do that while still keeping ourselves safe.

Over the last two years, Secretary Bob Gates has courageously taken on wasteful spending, saving $400 billion in current and future spending. I believe we can do that again. We need to not only eliminate waste and improve efficiency and effectiveness, but we’re going to have to conduct a fundamental review of America’s missions, capabilities, and our role in a changing world. I intend to work with Secretary Gates and the Joint Chiefs on this review, and I will make specific decisions about spending after it’s complete.

The third step in our approach is to further reduce health care spending in our budget. Now, here, the difference with the House Republican plan could not be clearer. Their plan essentially lowers the government’s health care bills by asking seniors and poor families to pay them instead. Our approach lowers the government’s health care bills by reducing the cost of health care itself.

Already, the reforms we passed in the health care law will reduce our deficit by $1 trillion. My approach would build on these reforms. We will reduce wasteful subsidies and erroneous payments. We will cut spending on prescription drugs by using Medicare’s purchasing power to drive greater efficiency and speed generic brands of medicine onto the market. We will work with governors of both parties to demand more efficiency and accountability from Medicaid.

We will change the way we pay for health care -– not by the procedure or the number of days spent in a hospital, but with new incentives for doctors and hospitals to prevent injuries and improve results. And we will slow the growth of Medicare costs by strengthening an independent commission of doctors, nurses, medical experts and consumers who will look at all the evidence and recommend the best ways to reduce unnecessary spending while protecting access to the services that seniors need.

Now, we believe the reforms we’ve proposed to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid will enable us to keep these commitments to our citizens while saving us $500 billion by 2023, and an additional $1 trillion in the decade after that. But if we’re wrong, and Medicare costs rise faster than we expect, then this approach will give the independent commission the authority to make additional savings by further improving Medicare.

But let me be absolutely clear: I will preserve these health care programs as a promise we make to each other in this society. I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry, with a shrinking benefit to pay for rising costs. I will not tell families with children who have disabilities that they have to fend for themselves. We will reform these programs, but we will not abandon the fundamental commitment this country has kept for generations.

That includes, by the way, our commitment to Social Security. While Social Security is not the cause of our deficit, it faces real long-term challenges in a country that’s growing older. As I said in the State of the Union, both parties should work together now to strengthen Social Security for future generations. But we have to do it without putting at risk current retirees, or the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market. And it can be done.

The fourth step in our approach is to reduce spending in the tax code, so-called tax expenditures. In December, I agreed to extend the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans because it was the only way I could prevent a tax hike on middle-class Americans. But we cannot afford $1 trillion worth of tax cuts for every millionaire and billionaire in our society. We can’t afford it. And I refuse to renew them again.

Beyond that, the tax code is also loaded up with spending on things like itemized deductions. And while I agree with the goals of many of these deductions, from homeownership to charitable giving, we can’t ignore the fact that they provide millionaires an average tax break of $75,000 but do nothing for the typical middle-class family that doesn’t itemize. So my budget calls for limiting itemized deductions for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans -- a reform that would reduce the deficit by $320 billion over 10 years.

But to reduce the deficit, I believe we should go further. And that’s why I’m calling on Congress to reform our individual tax code so that it is fair and simple -- so that the amount of taxes you pay isn’t determined by what kind of accountant you can afford.

I believe reform should protect the middle class, promote economic growth, and build on the fiscal commission’s model of reducing tax expenditures so that there’s enough savings to both lower rates and lower the deficit. And as I called for in the State of the Union, we should reform our corporate tax code as well, to make our businesses and our economy more competitive.

So this is my approach to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 12 years. It’s an approach that achieves about $2 trillion in spending cuts across the budget. It will lower our interest payments on the debt by $1 trillion. It calls for tax reform to cut about $1 trillion in tax expenditures -- spending in the tax code. And it achieves these goals while protecting the middle class, protecting our commitment to seniors, and protecting our investments in the future.

Now, in the coming years, if the recovery speeds up and our economy grows faster than our current projections, we can make even greater progress than I’ve pledged here. But just to hold Washington -- and to hold me --- accountable and make sure that the debt burden continues to decline, my plan includes a debt failsafe. If, by 2014, our debt is not projected to fall as a share of the economy -– if we haven’t hit our targets, if Congress has failed to act -– then my plan will require us to come together and make up the additional savings with more spending cuts and more spending reductions in the tax code. That should be an incentive for us to act boldly now, instead of kicking our problems further down the road.

So this is our vision for America -– this is my vision for America -- a vision where we live within our means while still investing in our future; where everyone makes sacrifices but no one bears all the burden; where we provide a basic measure of security for our citizens and we provide rising opportunity for our children.

There will be those who vigorously disagree with my approach. I can guarantee that as well. (Laughter.) Some will argue we should not even consider ever -- ever -- raising taxes, even if only on the wealthiest Americans. It’s just an article of faith to them. I say that at a time when the tax burden on the wealthy is at its lowest level in half a century, the most fortunate among us can afford to pay a little more. I don’t need another tax cut. Warren Buffett doesn’t need another tax cut. Not if we have to pay for it by making seniors pay more for Medicare. Or by cutting kids from Head Start. Or by taking away college scholarships that I wouldn’t be here without and that some of you would not be here without.

And here’s the thing: I believe that most wealthy Americans would agree with me. They want to give back to their country, a country that’s done so much for them. It’s just Washington hasn’t asked them to.

Others will say that we shouldn’t even talk about cutting spending until the economy is fully recovered. These are mostly folks in my party. I’m sympathetic to this view -- which is one of the reasons I supported the payroll tax cuts we passed in December. It’s also why we have to use a scalpel and not a machete to reduce the deficit, so that we can keep making the investments that create jobs. But doing nothing on the deficit is just not an option. Our debt has grown so large that we could do real damage to the economy if we don’t begin a process now to get our fiscal house in order.

Finally, there are those who believe we shouldn’t make any reforms to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security, out of fear that any talk of change to these programs will immediately usher in the sort of steps that the House Republicans have proposed. And I understand those fears. But I guarantee that if we don’t make any changes at all, we won’t be able to keep our commitment to a retiring generation that will live longer and will face higher health care costs than those who came before.

Indeed, to those in my own party, I say that if we truly believe in a progressive vision of our society, we have an obligation to prove that we can afford our commitments. If we believe the government can make a difference in people’s lives, we have the obligation to prove that it works -– by making government smarter, and leaner and more effective.

Of course, there are those who simply say there’s no way we can come together at all and agree on a solution to this challenge. They’ll say the politics of this city are just too broken; the choices are just too hard; the parties are just too far apart. And after a few years on this job, I have some sympathy for this view. (Laughter.)

But I also know that we’ve come together before and met big challenges. Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill came together to save Social Security for future generations. The first President Bush and a Democratic Congress came together to reduce the deficit. President Clinton and a Republican Congress battled each other ferociously, disagreed on just about everything, but they still found a way to balance the budget. And in the last few months, both parties have come together to pass historic tax relief and spending cuts.

And I know there are Republicans and Democrats in Congress who want to see a balanced approach to deficit reduction. And even those Republicans I disagree with most strongly I believe are sincere about wanting to do right by their country. We may disagree on our visions, but I truly believe they want to do the right thing.

So I believe we can, and must, come together again. This morning, I met with Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress to discuss the approach that I laid out today. And in early May, the Vice President will begin regular meetings with leaders in both parties with the aim of reaching a final agreement on a plan to reduce the deficit and get it done by the end of June.

I don’t expect the details in any final agreement to look exactly like the approach I laid out today. This a democracy; that’s not how things work. I’m eager to hear other ideas from all ends of the political spectrum. And though I’m sure the criticism of what I’ve said here today will be fierce in some quarters, and my critique of the House Republican approach has been strong, Americans deserve and will demand that we all make an effort to bridge our differences and find common ground.

This larger debate that we’re having -- this larger debate about the size and the role of government -- it has been with us since our founding days. And during moments of great challenge and change, like the one that we’re living through now, the debate gets sharper and it gets more vigorous. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a good thing. As a country that prizes both our individual freedom and our obligations to one another, this is one of the most important debates that we can have.

But no matter what we argue, no matter where we stand, we’ve always held certain beliefs as Americans. We believe that in order to preserve our own freedoms and pursue our own happiness, we can’t just think about ourselves. We have to think about the country that made these liberties possible. We have to think about our fellow citizens with whom we share a community. And we have to think about what’s required to preserve the American Dream for future generations.

This sense of responsibility -- to each other and to our country -- this isn’t a partisan feeling. It isn’t a Democratic or a Republican idea. It’s patriotism.

The other day I received a letter from a man in Florida. He started off by telling me he didn’t vote for me and he hasn’t always agreed with me. But even though he’s worried about our economy and the state of our politics -- here’s what he said -- he said, “I still believe. I believe in that great country that my grandfather told me about. I believe that somewhere lost in this quagmire of petty bickering on every news station, the ‘American Dream’ is still alive…We need to use our dollars here rebuilding, refurbishing and restoring all that our ancestors struggled to create and maintain… We as a people must do this together, no matter the color of the state one comes from or the side of the aisle one might sit on.”

“I still believe.” I still believe as well. And I know that if we can come together and uphold our responsibilities to one another and to this larger enterprise that is America, we will keep the dream of our founding alive -- in our time; and we will pass it on to our children. We will pass on to our children a country that we believe in.

Thank you. God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

END 2:31 P.M. EDT

NSA Donilon Meets with Saudi Leaders

Coat of Arms of Saudi Arabia

Statement from NSC Spokesman Tommy Vietor on Donilon's Visit to Saudi Arabia and UAE

Today, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon concluded a positive and productive two-day visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

On April 12, Mr. Donilon met with King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud in Riyadh to discuss the broad range of shared strategic interests between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah and Mr. Donilon held comprehensive discussions on political, security, and economic issues. The discussions highlighted the importance of the U.S.-Saudi partnership rooted in strong historical ties and shared interests. On the subject of Yemen, Mr. Donilon commended the GCC’s efforts to facilitate a peaceful transfer of power.

On April 13, Mr. Donilon met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi for a wide-ranging discussion. They addressed U.S. and UAE common strategic interests in the region, and the ongoing importance of the broad partnership between their two countries. They also discussed the UAE’s important role as a member of the coalition enforcing UN Security Council Resolution 1973 in Libya. Mr. Donilon conveyed an invitation from President Obama for the Crown Prince to meet in Washington later this month, which the Crown Prince accepted.

In his meetings in both Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Mr. Donilon and his hosts agreed upon the importance of continued frequent consultations between our countries.

Photo source: Own work
Permission: Public Domain

First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Biden Address Marines at Camp Lejeune



Goettge Memorial Field House

Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

10:02 A.M. EDT

DR. BIDEN: Good morning. I’m Jill Biden and I am a proud military mom. I’m delighted to be back here at Camp Lejeune, and I’m especially fortunate to be here today with General Dunford and Bonnie Amos, wife of the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Looking out at this crowd of Marines and their amazing families, one word comes to mind: Oo-rah!


DR. BIDEN: I love that. (Laughter.)

When I visited two years ago, I was struck by what an amazing community you have here. I’ve had the honor of spending precious time with some of the Marines and family members of the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion who were about to deploy to Afghanistan.

I shared their pride, their concern and even their tears. And as always, it was the mothers who sought me out. They knew that I understood the powerful mix of emotions they were feeling at that moment.

As I greeted the mother of a young Marine, she gave me a tight hug. I encouraged her to hang in there, hang in there. And in that strong way only a Blue Star mom could, she said something to me I'll never forget. She said, “Every day. Every day.”

I understood exactly what she meant because my son, Beau, has been a member of the Delaware Army National Guard for the last 10 years. In 2009, he served a year in Iraq. I’m very proud of him, but I also know how tough it can be when a family member is in a war zone thousands of miles away. I know how much you worry. I know how much you pray.

So to each of you and to your families, please accept our heartfelt thanks for your service to our nation.

While I was here, I also had the privilege of visiting the Wounded Warrior Battalion where I met injured Marines whose overriding concern was when they could return to their units. And while we can never repay these brave soldiers for their sacrifice, we can and must always make sure that we never forget them.

And I visited some dedicated students at Coastal Community College just down the road -- students like Julia Frost who in addition to being a former active duty Marine and a wife of a current Marine, was taking courses to become a teacher.

Every person I met demonstrated that you are real heroes, service-members and families alike, from the moms and dads who keep your families together while your loved ones are serving overseas, to the grandparents who step in with much needed support, to the children who are so strong and brave while their mom or dad is away from home.

You go about your business every day, lifting up your communities, volunteering at your schools, lending a hand to your neighbors. And you do it all while carrying a heavier burden than most folks can imagine. You are truly remarkable.

And you are not doing it alone. The people in the surrounding Lejeune community who are supporting our troops and their families are showing all Americans that there are countless ways to help -- some large and many small, but all are important.

And I can tell you, from personal experience, all appreciate it. We can all join forces.

That's why the First Lady and I are here today, because we need all Americans to support our military families the way you do it here.

With that, I'd like to introduce my dear friend, my Joining Forces partner, and our amazing First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama. (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you all. Thanks so much.

(Applause.) Thank you. And thank you, Jill. I am so grateful to have such a magnificent friend and partner in Jill. She’s just been amazing in so many ways. And I am grateful, grateful.

I also want to recognize General Dunford; Major General Jensen; Mrs. Bonnie Amos, the wife of the Commandant of the Marine Corps; Mrs. Liz Kent, the wife of the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. I also want to recognize Senator Kay Hagan who is here with us today. Please, Kay, stand, because she flew all the way back here from Washington to be here. (Applause.) And I am so grateful to Kay for all her support. And of course North Carolina’s First Gentleman Bob Eaves, as well, thank you so much for taking the time to be here. (Applause.) And thank you for your work on behalf of the military and their families.

And of course, I want to thank all of you -- all of you -- here at Camp Lejeune.

Now, the stories like the ones that Jill told are exactly why we’re here today. We can’t tell you how much it has meant to us to have the chance to meet all of you, to hear your stories, and quite frankly to steal a few hugs from your kids, because they’re all so cute! It’s usually the best part of the visit.

All of you -– the Marines, the Sailors, the spouses, the children, the grandparents and everyone else out there –- you all are incredible. You all are incredible. Your strength and spirit inspire me every single day. And I mean that. And I’m so thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to learn from so many of you over the past few years.

No matter whether it’s been meeting with soldiers and families at Fort Bragg or other military bases, or sitting down at policy meetings with your commanders, or seeing the courage of our wounded warriors in hospitals all over this great nation, or feeling the strength of the families of one of our fallen heroes, you all have opened your arms, you’ve opened your hearts. You’ve shown me what being in a military family is all about.

And I know that every single member of a military family is serving this country, whether you’re wearing fatigues or whether you’re wearing hospital scrubs or a business suit or an elementary school uniform.

For all of you out there who might be spouses or moms or dads, I know that you’re doing it all. I know that you’re cooking breakfast before dawn. I know that you’re shuffling the kids off to school and heading off to work for a full day yourself.

I know that you’re trying to balance your own career. Many of you are hitting the books, trying to complete your own degrees at the same time.

I know that you’re getting your kids off to their Little League teams, helping them with their school projects, hosting birthday parties.

And while all of this is enough to fill any family’s plate, yours is also full of so much more. It includes everything that comes with having a family member in the military. And America needs to know.

With each move, you know that means yet another school for your kids. You know it means another new job for yourselves.

With each deployment, you run your household by yourself and you watch as your kids grow up just a little bit faster because mom or dad is away.

And night after night, you pray, you pray that the next newscast or the next knock on the door will bring only good news.

And you do it all with such dignity, with such grace that most Americans don’t even realize what you’re going through.

Military families are so good at keeping everything together that it’s almost like you’re wearing camouflage, even though you’re not the ones on the battlefield. People can’t always see your special brand of service because you don’t wear it on your sleeve.

Take Tanya Queiro, for instance, from right here at Camp Lejeune. A Marine for 12 years herself, Tanya is married to another Marine who’s still on active duty. Together, they have three kids between the ages of 10 and 14. And she’s pursuing a doctorate in organizational psychology. She works full-time as a human resource specialist, while also volunteering as a mentor to other military spouses. And she’s done it all through at least eight of her husband’s deployments, which last more than six months at a time.

But even with all these achievements and contributions, do you know what Tanya says? And these are her words. She says, “I don’t think I’m a super-woman and I don’t think I really do anything extra-ordinary.”

And that’s just it. That's just it. Your ordinary is extraordinary. Your ordinary is extraordinary for anyone.

And that’s why Jill and I are here today. We want everyone in this country to know just how extraordinary military families are.

And that’s why we’ve launched the Joining Forces campaign. Now, this is a nationwide effort to bring Americans together to recognize, honor and serve our nation’s military families. And we’re going to focus on the things that military families like yours have told us that you care about most; things like employment and education and wellness and mental health. These are the issues military spouses brought up as we’ve been traveling around the country. They’re the concerns we’ve heard from troops who just want to make sure their families are taken care of when they’re deployed.

And so we’ve put out a call; a call to action to every sector of our society so that everyone mobilizes to do what we can to make a real commitment to support military families like yours.

And our motto is simple: Everyone can do something. Everyone can do something. Everyone can ask themselves, “What can I do to give back to these families that have given our country so much?”

And I am pleased that Americans of all kinds are already stepping up to answer that call. And you all should know that. People are excited to help. They’re pumped up.

We’re joining forces across the federal government. My husband directed his federal agency -- all of them; not just the Departments of Defense and the VA, but all of them, to identify ways that they could make life easier for all of you. And in January, they came back with nearly 50 commitments –- everything from improving access to mental health care and childcare, to helping spouses and veterans find jobs.

We’re joining forces with businesses and non-profit organizations across the country. Companies like Sears, and Kmart and Sam’s Club, they’ve promised us that if a military spouse who works at their stores has to move to a new duty station, they’ll do their best to have a job waiting for those spouses.

Siemens told us that they’ll set aside 10 percent of their open positions for veterans.

The SCORE Foundation and partners like Wal-Mart, and Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft said that they’ll provide materials and services to 16,000 veterans and spouses to help them start successful small businesses.

Reach Out and Read will distribute 400,000 books to military kids.

The PTA and the Military Child Education Coalition have committed to help schools across the country better understand the unique challenges that military children face.

And let me tell you, the list goes on and on and on. And after today’s launch, we’ve gotten even more calls from more businesses and more non-profits across this country.

We’re joining forces with individuals and communities, so that each of us finds our own way to serve the military families who are our neighbors and our co-workers and our classmates, because mostly, this is about joining forces with you. We want to make sure that these commitments make a real difference in your lives.

And this isn’t going to be a one-way street, because we really need to hear back from you so that we can keep finding ways to work together and lighten the load for our military families. We need to hear from you. This doesn’t matter if it’s not hitting you where you live. So we’re going to need to know.

And that’s something that all of you here in Jacksonville know a whole lot about, stepping up in a community, because the military and civilian communities here have been joining forces for decades. We’re here because this is a model of what can happen.

I’ve heard about how the Beirut Memorial outside of town was built. I’ve heard about how, in the face of a tragedy, the citizens and businesses of Jacksonville came together to raise funds and gather donations in order to honor our fallen heroes and their families.

And in the decades since that time, this community’s commitment has never wavered. That's what I’ve been told.

To this day, this community is holding fish fries and selling hot dogs out of backs of trucks to raise money for military causes. I hear that the local businesses here give donations to military families in need. The car dealerships sponsor scholarships for kids of Marines. I know that the YMCA here has worked with your schools on programming to help children adjust to the transitions of military life.

And I know that your own young people are getting involved in very special ways, like 17-year-old Margaret Rochon, who was honored as one of the nation’s military children of the year just last week. I got to meet her. Very special young woman.

Margaret single-handedly convinced six nationally recognized experts to come lead a seminar for some of your schoolteachers about the effects of PTSD on military families. This young girl did this. Now it’s part of the formal annual training for teachers in Onslow County, I’m told. And she did it all while volunteering more than 500 hours right here in this community. That's what Margaret did. And she’s a kid.

So, all these stories -- and there are so many more -- all these stories are beautiful. They’re inspiring. And they show something very important. They show the rest of the nation that you don’t have to be the First Lady of the United States, you don't have to be a CEO, you don't have to be a General to get involved in this effort.

And that’s exactly what we want to accomplish with Joining Forces. Our goal is for every community in America to feel like this one feels. This is the model -- for every school to understand the challenges of being a military child. We want every business to do something, to do anything, to show their support; for community groups, and faith communities, and individuals to take every step they can so that military families know that they never have to go it alone.

And we want to make sure that these commitments last, no matter who the President is, who controls Congress, no matter if we’re in a time of war or in a time of peace, because the truth is, showing our gratitude to those who serve this nation, whether they’re on the battlefield or right here at home, is something that every single one of us, as an American, can and should get behind.

This is something that we all can believe in –- as neighbors, as community members, but most importantly, as Americans.

So I truly hope that this initiative makes a real impact in your lives. I really hope it does. And I hope that this is worthy of the strength and the service and the commitment that your families demonstrate every single day. That is our hope.

And so to all of you here, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for setting that example for the rest of us. And thank you for being so extraordinary.

May God bless you all, and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you. (Applause.)

END 10:23 A.M. EDT

Photo source: The Department of Defense

Author: U.S. Government

Permission: Public Domain