DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz issued the following statement on May 2013 being the eighth Jewish American Heritage Month: “This month, we are proud to recognize May as the annual Jewish American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate our nation’s strong and active Jewish community. With the deep contributions to the fabric of our nation, we have much to celebrate. “In November we re-elected a President who stands with the Jewish American community and has demonstrated that our priorities, the commitment to Israel’s safety and strength, our nation’s economic security, access to health care, and a woman’s right to choose, among many others, are his priorities too. I am incredibly proud of the leadership of the Jewish community, both inside and outside the government, on the Affordable Care Act, reducing gun violence, common sense immigration reform, LGBT equality, and other social justice issues. “And earlier this year, President Barack Obama made an historic visit to Israel as its citizens celebrate the 65th anniversary of a free and independent State of Israel. His trip was not just a symbol of our nation’s commitment to Israel as its strongest ally but gave him the chance to express why the relationship is so important to both our countries. “As the President said, ‘We stand together because we share a common story — patriots determined “to be a free people in our land,” pioneers who forged a nation, heroes who sacrificed to preserve our freedom, and immigrants from every corner of the world who renew constantly our diverse societies. We stand together because we are democracies. For as noisy and messy as it may be, we know that democracy is the greatest form of government ever devised by man.’ “This May, we recognize the American Jewish community whose story is America’s story, who have contributed in innumerable ways to the depth of our society, and who change our country for the better with their unwavering commitment to tikkun olam—repairing the world.”
Posts Tagged ‘military’
Washington, D.C. – DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement after Senate Republicans successfully blocked the Manchin-Toomey legislation to expand gun background checks: ”The failed vote today was inexcusable and Washington at its worst. Though 90 percent of the American people support expanding background checks for gun purchases, the U.S. Senate, led by the feckless Republican leadership, chose to ignore the will of the American people – blocking the common sense Manchin-Toomey legislation and not even affording the victims of gun violence and their families an up or down vote on the measure. Twenty children and six adults were killed in Newtown, Connecticut, and thousands more by gun violence since then, and the Republican approach to dealing with the issue is to do absolutely nothing. ”This is shameful. But it’s not the end. If Republicans believe they can slide this issue under the rug because they caved to the pressure from the gun lobby, they are sadly mistaken. This issue is not going away. The American people simply won’t allow it. President Obama has made it clear that after witnessing far too many tragedies, we have an obligation to try to do something. Republicans, however, seem to believe their only obligation is to obstruct the will of the American people and stand up for a small portion of the country. That’s not what the American people want – and Republicans will have to confront this issue again and again. And if they continue to stand in the way of these common sense reforms, they’ll pay the price with voters”
On Saturday, the Affordable Care Act turned 3 years old! The Affordable Care Act requires health care plans to cover preventative services like cancer screenings and birth control with no out-of-pocket costs. To celebrate the law’s anniversary, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius outlined the law’s future, including the new Health Insurance Marketplace: Because the Affordable Care Act outlaws discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing or chronic condition, as of January 1, 2014, no one can be turned away by plans in the Marketplace or charged more because they’re in poorer health—or just because they’re a woman. At last, being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition… And every health insurance plan in the Marketplace will cover a standard set of essential health benefits that includes, among other benefits, hospital stays, prescription drug coverage, preventive services, oral and vision care for kids. Check out the rest of the post here .
Yesterday, President Obama and the First Lady hosted a reception celebrating Women’s History Month at the White House. The event featured women such as fair-pay advocate Lilly Ledbetter, Baltimore Mayor and DNC Secretary Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and activist Dolores Huerta. During his remarks, the President talked about the historic battles that women have fought in the last century—from getting the right to vote, to fighting against pay discrimination, to passing the Family and Medical Leave Act, and to reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. And that’s what everybody deserves in this country-–the opportunity to make of their lives what they will, no matter who they are, what they look like, whether they are boys or girls, women or men. That’s why I ran for President in the first place—to put the same rights and opportunities within the reach of all of our daughters and sons. And while there’s still a lot of work to be done, I am confident that we can reach that goal, that we can make sure that every single door is open, every dream is within reach—for Malia, for Sasha, for your daughters, for your granddaughters—to make sure that they never feel like there are barriers in front of them, and that if they work hard, they can make it. Read more about the event and the President’s full remarks here .
As we mark the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war, Michelle and I join our fellow Americans in paying tribute to all who served and sacrificed in one of our nation’s longest wars. We salute the courage and resolve of more than 1.5 million service members and civilians who during multiple tours wrote one of the most extraordinary chapters in military service. We honor the memory of the nearly 4,500 Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice to give the Iraqi people an opportunity to forge their own future after many years of hardship. And we express our gratitude to our extraordinary military families who sacrificed on the home front, especially our Gold Star families who remain in our prayers. The last of our troops left Iraq with their heads held high in 2011, and the United States continues to work with our Iraqi partners to advance our shared interest in security and peace. Here at home, our obligations to those who served endure. We must ensure that the more than 30,000 Americans wounded in Iraq receive the care and benefits they deserve and that we continue to improve treatment for traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. With a strong Post 9/11 GI Bill, we must help our newest veterans pursue their education and find jobs worthy of their incredible talents. And all Americans can continue to support and honor our military families who are pillars of so many of our communities. On this solemn anniversary, we draw strength and inspiration from these American patriots who exemplify the values of courage, selflessness and teamwork that define our Armed Forces and keep our nation great.
The costs of the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) budget plans through 2021 would be much higher than the funding permitted under the Budget Control Act’s statutory caps. CBO examined four options to cut back on DoD’s forces and activities.
The House Republican budget claims to balance the budget in 10 years but the math just doesn’t add up. How does a plan that gives a new tax cut to the wealthiest Americans, without identifying a single tax loophole to close achieve any meaningful deficit reduction? The answer, while unfair, is not at all unfamiliar to GOP budgets—their plan requires a major tax increase on middle class families of more than $2000. The Ryan budget cuts taxes for the wealthy even more than Mitt Romney’s 2012 proposal, which could not have been paid for without raising taxes on the middle class. Paul Ryan is fond of saying his budget is all about tough choices. Again, Republicans and Paul Ryan has chosen to slash taxes for the wealthiest Americans and place the entire burden of deficit reduction on programs benefiting the middle class, seniors, and vulnerable Americans. THE RYAN BUDGET CUTS TAXES FOR THE WEALTHY THAT MUST BE PAID FOR WITH HIGHER MIDDLE CLASS TAXES, MORE DEBT, OR BOTH Michael Linden, Center for American Progress: The Ryan Budget “Has A Bigger Revenue Hole Than The Romney Budget Did, Meaning His Tax Increases on the Middle Would Have To Be Even Bigger.” “Last year the Tax Policy Center estimated that these provisions would generate revenue equaling just 15.8 percent of GDP in 2022. Extrapolating to 2023 suggests that Rep. Ryan is missing about $840 billion of revenue in 2023 alone, and approximately $7 trillion over the entire 10-year period from 2014 through 2023. After accounting for the added interest costs from all of these unpaid-for tax cuts, Ryan’s budget would still be about $1.2 trillion in the red in 2023. … If all of this sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because this is the same play that Rep. Ryan and his running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, ran in the 2012 election: promising enormous tax cuts with no way to pay for them except by raising taxes on the middle class. The only difference this time is that this version of Rep. Ryan’s budget has a bigger revenue hole than the Romney budget did, meaning his tax increases on the middle would have to be even bigger.” [Michael Linden, Center for American Progress, 3/12/13 ] Robert Greenstein, Center On Budget And Policy Priorities: The Ryan Budget Cuts Taxes For The Wealthy More Than Twice As Much As Romney Proposed And The Romney Proposal Could Not Have Been Paid For Without Raising Taxes On The Middle Class. “Governor Romney adopted a similar approach in his presidential campaign, arguing that he would use unspecified tax expenditure savings to offset the cost of cutting the top income tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent, or by 7 percentage points. Analysis by the Tax Policy Center indicated that Romney could not do that without raising taxes on middle class and working poor Americans. Yet now, Ryan proposes to cut the top rate by as much as 14.6 percentage points, or more than twice as much as Romney proposed, while still claiming to finance it through tax expenditure reforms that policymakers would identify later.” [Statement by Robert Greenstein, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/12/13 ] The Atlantic: “As Written, [The Ryan Budget] Is Almost Certainly A Plan To Raise Taxes On The Same Lower-Middle Class Which Is Also Getting Hit With Massive Spending Cuts.” “The tax plan would cut the top rate to 25 percent — a 15-point reduction for income above $450,000 — but somehow it would also collect the same amount of revenue as the president’s current policy. Quick math: If you cut tax rates for the top 0.1 percent in half, the only way to make the same amount of money is (a) to practically wipe out all of their tax advantages or (b) to raise taxes disproportionately on the bottom 99.9 percent. To be clear: As written, this [the Ryan budget] is almost certainly a plan to raise taxes on the same lower-middle class which is also getting hit with massive spending cuts.” [Derek Thompson, TheAtlantic.com, 3/12/13 ] Robert Reich: “The Reality, Of Course, Is That The Only Possible Way Ryan Could Pay For His Proposed Tax Cuts For The Wealthy And Corporations Would Be To Raise Taxes On The Middle Class.” “Meanwhile, it redistributes upward, cutting the top tax rate for individuals down to 25 percent — a bigger tax cut for the top than even Mitt Romney proposed — and the corporate tax rate down to 25 percent, from 35 percent today. Ryan would pay for these tax cuts by ‘closing tax loopholes,’ but — where did we hear this before? — his budget doesn’t say which loopholes, or even hint at what it would do with rates on capital gains and dividends. Like Romney’s plan, it leaves all the heavy lifting to Congress. The reality, of course, is that the only possible way Ryan could pay for his proposed tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations would be to raise taxes on the middle class.” [Robert Reich, Huffington Post, 3/12/13 ] Ezra Klein: Paul Ryan’s Plan “Will Require Either Huge, Deficit-Busting Tax Cuts Or Increasing Taxes On Poor And Middle-Class Households.” “Here is Paul Ryan’s path to a balanced budget in three sentences: He cuts deep into spending on health care for the poor and some combination of education, infrastructure, research, public-safety, and low-income programs. The Affordable Care Act’s Medicare cuts remain, but the military is spared, as is Social Security. There’s a vague individual tax reform plan that leaves only two tax brackets — 10 percent and 25 percent — and will require either huge, deficit-busting tax cuts or increasing taxes on poor and middle-class households, as well as a vague corporate tax reform plan that lowers the rate from 35 percent to 25 percent.” [Ezra Klein, Washington Post, 3/12/13 ] FLASHBACK: ROMNEY PROPOSED $5 TRILLION IN NEW TAX CUTS WHICH WOULD SHOWER MILLIONAIRES AND BILLIONAIRES WITH EVEN MORE BENEFITS WHILE RAISING TAXES ON THE MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES Center On Budget And Policy Priorities: Romney’s New Tax Cuts Would Cost $4.9 Trillion Over A Decade, On Top Of The Cost Of Extending The Bush Tax Cuts. “The Tax Policy Center estimates that the Romney tax plan would lose about $480 billion in tax revenue in calendar year 2015, beyond the revenues losses inherent in maintaining current policy (such as continuing all of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts). Over the 2014-2022 period, that implies a total reduction in revenues of about $4.9 trillion, relative to current tax policy.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 5/21/12 ] If Romney’s Tax Plan Was Paid For, Families With Kids Who Make Less Than $200,000 Would See An Average Tax Increase Of $2,041. [Tax Policy Center, On The Distributional Effects Of Base-Broadening Income Tax Reform, p. 18, 8/1/12 ] If Romney’s Tax Plan Was Paid For, The Top 0.1% Would See An Average Tax Cut Of $246,652. [Tax Policy Center, On The Distributional Effects Of Base-Broadening Income Tax Reform, p. 19, 8/1/12 ] Reuters Headline: “Romney Tax Plan Helps Rich, Hurts Middle Class-Study.” [Reuters, 8/1/12 ] Boston Globe Headline: “Mitt Romney’s Tax Plan Would Offer Big Cuts To Millionaires, Raise Taxes On Middle Class, Brookings Analysts Say.” [Boston Globe, 8/1/12 ] Washington Post Editorial: The Tax Policy Center Found That Under The Romney Plan “Even If Every Loophole For The Top Brackets Were Closed, There Wouldn’t Be Enough Revenue. The Middle Class Would Have To Pay More.” “The Tax Policy Center (TPC), a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, examined Mr. Romney’s claim and found that, even if every loophole for the top brackets were closed, there wouldn’t be enough revenue. The middle class would have to pay more.” [Editorial, Washington Post, 8/21/12 ]
Ongoing gun violence in the United States has galvanized women in ways few issues have in recent times. After the horrific tragedy in Tucson that almost took her life, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords stepped up to the plate to demand better gun control. Along with her husband astronaut Mark Kelly, Gabby founded Americans for Responsible Solutions, the first political action committee to support lawmakers willing to advance responsible gun policies. Standing beside Gabby, there are thousands of women—mothers, sisters, wives, and friends—who have stepped into the limelight and demanded change. These women are fierce and brave. Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America, a grassroots effort launched the day after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, has grown to 80,000 members and 80 chapters in just over two months. On March 13 they will converge in Washington, D.C. to “take the Hill” and demand immediate action on commonsense gun laws. This Women’s History Month, we are recognizing these types of contributions that women from all walks of life make every day. By becoming involved, many of them have turned deeply intimate and often painful experiences into collective action that is both positive and transformative. I identify with all of them because, for me, gun violence is both a personal and a public issue. My city of Chicago is too familiar with gun violence and so am I. Years ago, my uncle was catching up with the corner store owner who had just sold him milk when two gang members rushed in and killed both on the spot. When my daughter was six years old, we were caught in crossfire on our way to buy some ice cream. I threw her on the ground next to a car and shielded her with my body until the danger passed. It was scary, and it was rough. More recently my city became the source of unwelcomed news when 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was gunned down in her neighborhood a week after performing at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration with her high school’s majorette team. President Obama has proposed a series of initiatives to combat gun violence nationwide, because no locality can protect itself from gun violence by going at it alone. His proposal includes universal background checks, banning military-style assault weapons, and limiting gun magazine capacity. As a state senator, this is an approach that I have supported and will continue to support. Passing these laws won’t threaten our right to bear arms—but not passing them will threaten the safety of our neighborhoods and families. This Women’s History Month, I salute the women who have joined me in this cause and urge many more to do the same.
In my professional career, Women’s History Month has always been about politics—electing more Democratic women to office, fighting for access to reproductive freedom, and defeating candidates who don’t value women’s rights. But this year, for me, Women’s History Month is about mothers: moms who are influencing our leaders to take action against gun violence. Moms who are getting organized—first online, but ultimately in town halls, state legislatures, and within the halls of Congress. These are the women who are standing up to the NRA and making sure their voices are heard by their representatives, some of them for the first time, to demand action to keep our kids safe. They’re pushing for commonsense proposals, like fixing a broken background check system to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, eliminating high-capacity magazines, and curtailing access to assault and other military-style weapons that don’t belong on the same streets America’s youth play on. One South Carolina mom organized a rally at the Columbia statehouse, bringing together victims, teachers, and parents to ask for simple, sensible changes. And the Washington Post recently wrote about a mom in North Dakota who, on her own, by walking around her community, very carefully started a conversation about reasonable solutions that would also preserve the 2nd amendment. These moms are amazing—and humbling. They are determined, passionate, brave—and realistic. They take their kids to the bus stop in the morning, then look for creative ways to urge our leaders, especially Congress, to take action, keeping our kids and communities safe. Moms constitute the core of the grassroots army that is taking on gun violence. And during Women’s History Month, when we remember the women who have made the historical advances we all benefit from, it’s satisfying and comforting for me to think about all the moms I know who are working to make history again.
Happy International Women’s Day! Today we have a lot to celebrate. From the recently strengthened Violence Against Women Act, to the establishment of the White House Council on Women and Girls, the Obama administration has been a leader on the road to gender equality for women and girls both here and abroad. President Obama released a statement today: ”Empowering women isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s the smart thing to do. When women succeed, nations are more safe, more secure, and more prosperous. Over the last year, we’ve seen women and girls inspiring communities and entire countries to stand up for freedom and justice, and I’m proud of my administration’s efforts to promote gender equality worldwide.” We are also celebrating women leaders from all corners of the world. Today, the State Department is hosting the International Women of Courage Awards , where Secretary Kerry will honor nine courageous women who are working hard to advocate women’s rights across the globe. This includes Tsering Woeser, a Tibetan poet, author, and social media activist, who is bravely speaking out against China’s human rights violations against Tibetan citizens. Nigerian advocate Dr. Josephine Odumakin is also being honored. Despite being arrested and detained 17 times, Dr. Odumakin has fearlessly handled over 2,000 cases of violations of women’s rights in her country. Women like Tsering Woeser and Dr. Odumakin remind us the importance of continuing to fight for a world where women and girls everywhere can be free to pursue their dreams. Click here to read more about the International Women of Courage Award winners.
In 1965, 600 Americans set out on foot toward Montgomery, Alabama, marching for a fairer America where all eligible citizens could register to vote and cast a ballot without fear or intimidation—and have their votes counted. But when they reached the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, the marchers were met by state troopers, who ordered the “unlawful assembly” to disperse. As they knelt to pray, the peaceful protesters were brutally attacked by 150 troopers with billy clubs and tear gas. Fifty-eight people, including a 25-year-old John Lewis, were sent to the hospital with injuries. March 7, 1965, became known as Bloody Sunday. In 2013, more than 15,000 citizens re-creating the march were joined by the Vice President of the United States, who crossed the bridge arm-in-arm with Congressman Lewis and many others who led the fight for voting rights. We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress in 48 years. But even in 2013, the fight continues. Right now, the Supreme Court is considering challenges to the Voting Rights Act, whose 1965 passage was spurred by the resolve of the marchers at Selma. The Voting Rights Act struck down Jim Crow laws and measures intended to disenfranchise African American voters. In the years since, this historic, still-vitally necessary piece of legislation has been reauthorized four times with tremendous bipartisan support. The provision in question says that any changes in voting laws or procedures in the 16 states and jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination must be pre-cleared with the federal government—but even in 2013, it’s necessary to ensure everyone who wants to cast a ballot can. Just last year, Republican governors, state legislatures, and conservative activists passed laws making it more difficult to vote—laws that would have a significantly disproportionate impact on minorities, the very populations whose access to the ballot has been protected by the Voting Rights Act for nearly half a century. Republicans tried a variety of tactics: slashing the amount of time available for early voting, enacting photo ID laws, and voter purges. Democrats and voting rights activists challenged many of these restrictions in court, and the courts blocked many of the worst measures. But what stood out the most in 2012 was the persistence of everyday citizens who were determined to cast their ballots. From the 300,000 Ohioans whose signatures fought back against attempts to change election rules to the 102-year-old voter in Florida who was told she’d have to wait in line for six hours to cast a ballot, the American people refused to let others trample on our rights—the rights that marchers, 48 years ago today, fought so hard for. As President Obama said just weeks ago in his second inaugural address, “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths—that all of us are created equal—is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth. “It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.” For more information on voting rights, check out the Voting Rights Institute and sign up for updates.
Today, President Obama signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act into law. This law strengthens the criminal justice system’s response to crimes against women, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and trafficking. The reauthorization removes barriers for LGBT victims to seek the help they need, and it provides young people and students with greater access to prevention and intervention. Immigrants who are victims of domestic violence will now be protected from their abusers, and the tribal justice system will be improved to better bring perpetrators of domestic violence to justice. Today and every day, President Obama and Democratic leaders are working tirelessly to advance progress for women at every level. Get the facts about the Violence Against Women Act here .
H.R. 933, the Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013
As introduced on March 4
Today, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement in honor of Women’s History Month, which is March: “As a woman, a mother, a daughter, a wife, and a friend, I couldn’t be more proud to celebrate Women’s History Month, a time for us to reflect on all the progress we’ve made as a nation, and to commit ourselves to the work that still is left to do for all the girls and women of our country and our world. Women in our country have achieved so much in spite of the odds. Our stories are woven into the fabric of America—inspiring generations to look to the future, dream impossible dreams, and take our country to new heights. “We’ve come so far, and in President Obama, women continue to have an ally in the White House. The first piece of legislation he signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, taking us one step closer to equal pay for equal work. He fought tirelessly until the Affordable Care Act became the law of the land—a law that prevents insurance companies from unfairly discriminating against women. He nominated two women to the Supreme Court, including the first Latina. And he’s done so much more. The President’s record is one we can all be proud of. “Just this week, we were reminded of how we must never lose focus of the important work left to do for women and all Americans. On Wednesday, we honored the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement Rosa Parks with one of the very few statues in our Capitol dedicated to a woman. And yesterday, the House came together and finally passed a bipartisan piece of legislation that will help protect more women and their families from violence. The reauthorized and strengthened Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) takes us forward in the fight against domestic violence and adds protections for LGBT Americans, Native American women, and immigrant women. The President made clear this was a priority for his Administration and that he will sign this legislation as soon as it hits his desk. “But we can’t stop now. Our work is not yet done. Women in our nation and our world still face so many challenges. This Women’s History Month, we must recommit ourselves to the struggle for true equality and opportunity. We must remind ourselves how hard we’ve fought to get where we are today, that it is our responsibility to carry on the legacy of those before us, and that it is our great honor to pave the way for those still to come.”
Republicans in Congress have made a choice—to put our economy at risk and sacrifice hundreds of thousands of jobs through their insistence on slashing vital services important to middle class Americans, our seniors, children, and men and women in uniform and their families, rather than agreeing to a balanced approach to reducing our deficit which includes smart spending cuts and eliminating tax loopholes for the wealthiest Americans. The GOP-forced sequester cuts threaten our national security, put hundreds of thousands of middle class jobs at risk, and they threaten our economy. Over the next few weeks middle class families will begin to feel the effects of this sequester. Seniors in need will not receive the food they count on, afterschool programs will be cut, thousands of teachers will be laid off, we’ll see reductions in treatment and support for mentally ill children, and Military families’ health care could be cut. The American people expect congressional Republicans to act and get something done consistent with what Americans want – as expressed in the polls and at the ballot box last November. #GOPSequester Effects News Roundup DEFENSE/ HOMELAND SECURITY St. Louis Defense Industry Braces For Sequester St. Louis Public Radio // By: Adam Allington In the St. Louis region the defense industry occupies a large footprint. According to the White House figures 8,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $40.3 million in total. Across the river in Illinois like Scott Air Force Base in nearby Mascoutah, IL employs over 5,000 civilians, many of whom have already received warning of impending one day per week furloughs for the remainder of the fiscal year (Oct 1.) Speaking at Scott AFB earlier this week Illinois Senator Dick Durbin pointed out that the sequester was never meant to be applied as actual policy. “Sequestration is not a budget strategy, it was budget threat,” said Durbin. “We said, when we passed sequestration, it will be so bad it will never happen.” As reported in the Marketplace Morning Report, giant defense contractors, such as Boeing would be somewhat buffered from the immediate impacts of the sequester. Boeing maintains a workforce of about 15,000 employees in the St. Louis region. “The way the Pentagon awards contracts, that money spends out over actually a longer period of time.” Says Roman Schweizer, Defense Policy Analyst at Guggenheim Securities. “So the brunt of that 9 percent cut would be spread over the course of anywhere from one to three to five years.” Sequester budget creates uncertainty, worry in Texas military communities Fort Worth Star Telegram // Alex Branch The federal budget ax is poised to chop $46 billion from defense spending, and communities around Texas military bases are bracing for the impact. Automatic budget cuts that could start Friday would furlough 52,000 civilian Defense Department employees and cause $275 million in lost gross annual pay in Texas, according to White House projections. The Army said its reductions could result in a $2.4 billion economic loss in Texas. Some Republicans question whether President Barack Obama and the Pentagon have overstated the effects of the budget sequester, but leaders in military communities say they expect fallout. “There is a lot of uncertainty right now, and that always causes concern,” said John Crutchfield, president of the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce, which sits next to Fort Hood. “Many of the people stationed at the base live in our community, so when something happens to them, it is felt in the community.” Furloughs could be coming soon for North Alabama WAAY 31 From small towns to big cities leaders around the nation are bracing for sequestration especially military communities like Huntsville. “DOD is very important to all of North Alabama,” said Battle, “It’s probably 50% of all of our gross domestic product that comes out of this area.” “Many of the defense industries and firms are furloughing their employees or considering that, which essentially means one day a week they won’t work and of course they won’t get paid for that one day a week,” explained Economist and UAH Professor Dr. Al Wilhite. He says the indiscriminate cuts make an already bad situation worse. “If we would eliminate lets say 2 or 3 of the attack submarines that we were going to build over the next 10 years that would have a much smaller impact on our economy than if we just say ‘Ok you people that are working right now are getting a pay cut.’” But with no compromise on the horizon it appears that the budget cuts will kick in at midnight Friday night. Mayor Battle says it is not only the department of defense that will feel the pain. “The overall affect even comes down to your school board it costs your school board about $1 million— $1, 700,000 here in the city of Huntsville.” And that could mean fewer positions available for teachers and teacher’s aids. A scene from Quantico, on the front line of ‘sequestration’s’ looming cuts Washington Post // By: Jeremy Borden Quantico or “Q-Town,” just 500 strong, sits in the center of the Marine Corps base, a picture of small town Virginia Defense contractors are more than a third of his business — and if their salary gets cut, he said he knows his barber chair is an afterthought. “It will trickle down to everybody, just like everything else,” Carr said. “We’re the bottom guys on the totem poll.” A Marine at the bar in his fatigues, munching on a salad and sipping a Coke, had a different view. Let the cuts come, he said. Eisenhower, he preached, warned against the growth of the “military industrial complex,” and the United States didn’t heed his words, said the Marine, who said he couldn’t be named because he wasn’t authorized to talk to the media. He said he’s got Marines under him that can get projects on base done in half the time he pays civilian contractors to do the same job. George Qura pushes back. Those civilians are the little guys. They’re raising families and working hard. They both agree on one thing: The contractors are Northern Virginia’s lifeblood. Cut them out, and “your civilian populace would go into shambles,” the Marine said. Naval shipyard workers in Maine anxious amid budget stalemate AP//STEVE PEOPLES Kittery, Maine — They don’t care which side caused Washington’s latest crisis. Five hundred miles from Capitol Hill, the men and women of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard are worrying about paying rent, searching for new jobs and caring for sick loved ones. Almost the entire workforce, a community of more than 5,000 along the Maine and New Hampshire seacoast, is preparing to lose the equivalent of a month’s pay because of Congress’ inability to resolve another budget stalemate. Orsom “Butch” Huntley, 63, a shipyard employee for three decades, is already living paycheck to paycheck while caring for his terminally ill wife. “Congress doesn’t look at the individual. They just look at the bottom line. And it just really makes it tough to think we’re just a number to them,” Huntley, a computer engineer, said this week in a restaurant outside the shipyard gate. “It’s going to be totally devastating.” The fear is consuming military communities as the nation braces for budget cuts designed to be so painful they would compel Congress to find better ways to cut the federal deficit. Preparing for a worst-case scenario, Navy officials have plans to force mandatory furloughs on roughly 186,000 civilian employees across the country. People like Huntley and Do would lose 22 paid days between April and October, or roughly 20 percent of their pay. Shipyards from coast to coast have outlined cost-cutting plans to delay huge maintenance contracts on nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers. Cuts Mean Veterans Wait Longer for Arlington Burial USNI// The ten percent sequestration cuts across the Department of Defense budget will increase wait times at Arlington National Cemetery, a cemetery spokesperson told USNI News on Thursday. Due to the cuts funerals will drop from 31 interments a day to 24, or about 160 less funerals a month, according to preliminary estimates from the cemetery. “That reduction would impact wait times as well, which currently range from 30-days for burials without honors to three months for full honors,” read a statement provided by the cemetery. SENIORS: Sequester cuts to impact SD senior meals KFSY ABC//COURTNEY COLLEN Passing the sequester deadline could mean $214,000 cut from Federal funding for meals provided to seniors. Over at Active Generations, those cuts translate into just under 11,000 meals cut for one year. If you did the math for 240 working days, that’s about 45 meals per day for one year. Nutrition Director Melissa Townsend said the idea of cuts to our state is troublesome especially when it comes to taking money away for senior meals. Active Generations has a donation-based program which relies heavily on, not just state and federal funding, but client donations along with additional fundraising. With today’s rising cost of gas and food, Townsend said those donations are hard to come by. A lingering sequestration only adds to that concern. Each meal provides 1/3 of the R.D.I’s or Recommended Dietary Intake for seniors. Vaccinations, seniors’ meals among health programs sequester would affect MINNPOST//SUSAN PERRY The across-the-board federal sequestration cuts that are set to occur automatically on Friday have the Minnesota Department of Health “very concerned,” according to MDH Commissioner Dr. Edward Ehlinger. “Over 50 percent of our state health department budget comes from federal dollars,” Ehlinger said Wednesday in a telephone response to a MinnPost inquiry. “We’re going to feel an impact on almost all of our programs.” In an effort to pressure Republications to come to the negotiation table about sequestration, the White House issued a report earlier this week that includes details of the effects that some of the health-related cuts will have in Minnesota this year alone. Analysis: DC Sequester Cuts Texas Seniors’ Medicare-Funded Nursing Home Care $51 Million PR NEWSWIRE// With federal sequester cuts scheduled to go into effect tomorrow, March 1st, an analysis by the nonpartisan health policy research firm Avalere Health for the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home finds Texas seniors’ Medicare funded skilled nursing facility (SNF) care will be reduced by $51 million for FY 2014. The U.S. total is $782.5 million. Combined with other federal budget and regulatory changes made since 2009, Texas’ Medicare funded nursing home care will be reduced $240 million annually as detailed by attached chart. “With the sequester just hours away, it is important to convey to Texas lawmakers that the sequester cuts are just one in a series of major federal budget and regulatory actions that add up to significant cumulative Medicare cuts to Texas seniors — and $65.6 billion cumulative Medicare reductions nationally over ten years,” stated Alan G. Rosenbloom, President of the Alliance. Sequester Cuts to Reach Seniors Twins Falls Times-News // Melissa Davlin Like all agencies dependent on federal money, the College of Southern Idaho Office on Aging is keeping a close eye on D.C. And like most agency managers, Director Jim Fields isn’t quite sure how the apparently inevitable budget cuts will shake out, or how big the reductions will be. But he and others are preparing for some tough decisions that will affect Magic Valley seniors in light of federal sequestration, which is expected to take effect today. The Office on Aging’s pool of money helps pay for multiple programs, including meals and food delivery at area senior centers, gas for volunteers who drive seniors to appointments, and respite care for full-time family caregivers. Fields said he has heard multiple figures on how much the state will lose in senior funding. Based on last year’s numbers, Fields calculated a maximum of $87,000 in cuts as the worst case, spread among his district’s eight counties. That will affect 15 senior centers and 3 satellite senior programs. HEALTH CARE: Medical Researchers in California Worry about Sequestration’s Effects CALIFORNIA HEALTHLINE// Medical researchers in California are concerned about the effect that mandated spending cuts under sequestration could have on federally funded research projects, KPCC’s “KPCC News” reports Under sequestration, $1.6 billion will be cut from NIH’s budget for funding research initiatives. Tom Otis — professor and vice chair of the Department of Neurobiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA — said that his federally funded $2 million research project on the cerebellum is in jeopardy. He said that NIH officials told him “that if the sequester went forward, the project wouldn’t be funded.” Stephen Gruber — director of the University of Southern California Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center — said he also is concerned about how the sequester will affect research efforts. He said, “Cancer rates are declining, and at this point and time we can’t afford to diminish our investment,” adding, “It’s just paying too many dividends to patients and to the public’s health to cut that funding.” Looming federal spending cuts will hit hospitals where it hurts MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS//TONY PUGH Hospitals across the country will face significant job losses, service reductions and other belt-tightening measures when President Barack Obama signs the order Friday implementing a series of automatic budget cuts. More than 4,200 hospitals that are among the largest employers in their communities would lose nearly $3 billion under the Medicare cuts this year, according to an analysis by iVantage Health Analytics, a Maine health care research firm. That could trigger the loss of 73,000 hospital jobs nationwide and tip the operating margins of nearly 100 hospitals from positive to negative, the company estimates. Even though most hospitals are designated as “not-for-profit,” it’s important that their revenue match or exceed their costs in order to remain financially viable. Personnel is where many hospitals will begin paring costs to offset the cuts, because wages and salaries account for about 60 percent of a typical hospital’s budget. The 110-bed Caldwell Memorial Hospital in rural Lenoir, N.C., expects to lose $1 million in Medicare payments because of the mandatory budget cuts. Various provisions of the 2010 health care overhaul law, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a drop in federal support for indigent care and other funding declines will chop another $3 million in federal support from Caldwell’s budget this year. At Loma Linda medical center, officials are weighing service cutbacks as they try to fill a $3.5 million to $4 million cut in their Medicare funding that could make the hospital unprofitable this year. With 7,000 employees, Loma Linda is also likely to cut jobs through attrition and other means, rather than through direct layoffs, said chief financial officer Steve Mohr. In Potosi, Mo., the 25-bed Washington County Memorial Hospital also will rely on attrition to thin the ranks. It faces a $144,000 cut in Medicare funds. Pending cuts hit close to home for local family FDL REPORTER//LAURIE RITGER Across-the-board federal spending cuts expected to kick in today threaten numerous positions and programs, including cancer research that has benefited a local teen. Fond du Lac High School senior Ian Lock, 18, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, when he was 16. He was injured while playing in a football game and the tumor was found in its early stages. Treatments were successful and Ian has resumed doing nearly everything he had done before the cancer. Ian Lock hopes there will be changes to the pending spending cuts. “I just think about, with my cancer story, how things could have been different (for the worse) if some of the research that went into my chemo treatment had never been done,” he said. “There are advances that could be made in the future with the funding they get now.” Ian said the cuts are “not just another budget,” and have become personal. “Feeling the benefits of these dollars that go toward (research) really puts it in a new perspective,” he said. “It could mean the lives of people that don’t get treatments that could be developed through this research.” Ian’s mother, Kay Lock, said her son has been part of three studies with his cancer and treatments. TRANSPORTATION: Sequester: Deadline arrives, O’Hare travelers’ concern grows FOX 32 NEWS//JOANIE LUM At O’Hare International Airport, travelers say they are concerned about the government budget cuts. TSA agents will be furloughed and that means there would be longer wait times at the airport. Travelers worry that the cuts will impact safety. Travelers at O’Hare Airport could experience delays of up to 90 minutes. A control tower and a runway could also be closed. The White House indicates other control towers around the state could close. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says safety will never be compromised. The budget cuts are expected to cause delays for air travelers. The Gary South Shore Air Show could also be one of the victims of sequestration. The air show executives said they would be making a decision soon about its fate this year. The air show relies on a majority of acts that come from the U.S. military. Under sequestration, the military would suspend its participation in all air shows. Sequester may shut down Punta Gorda airport tower SARASOTA HERALD TRIBUNE//MICHAEL POLLICK Punta Gorda Airport, whose $4 million air traffic control tower has only been operational for a little over a year, will have to shut it down in April as part of the far-reaching federal budget cuts that began taking effect Friday. Operations at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, where the Federal Aviation Administration runs the tower directly, are not expected to be impacted anytime soon, said chief executive Frederick “Rick” Piccolo. His biggest concern is that planned furloughs by the Transportation Safety Administration at larger airports could have a ripple effect here. Under already announced plans, the FAA intends to stop funding flight control staffing at Punta Gorda and 99 other smaller airport tower operations. The tower at Punta Gorda is manned by a private company, Robinson Aviation Inc., with funding from the FAA. 25 Texas airports face major sequester cuts; Bush Intercontinental fliers brace for 90 minute delays HOUSTON CHRONICLE Texas air travelers will encounter longer lines, cancelled flights and shuttered airports, in some cases, if Congress fails to act before the looming March 1 deadline. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today that major cuts will be made to the Federal Aviation Administration if the budget sequester takes effect on March 1. In preparing to reduce its expenditures by $600 million, LaHood outlined four major changes that would be made: Furlough 47,000 employees for approximately one day per pay period through September. Eliminate midnight shifts in over 60 towers. Close over 100 air traffic control towers. Reduce preventative maintenance and equipment provisioning and support for all NAS equipment. The budget cuts will also affect the larger state airports like George Bush Intercontinental and DFW International through flight delays. Local education, airports to be hurt by sequestration cuts PANTAGRAPH//KENNETH LOWE Among cuts in Illinois: $33.4 million for education, $27.4 million for teachers who help students with disabilities, $83.5 million in military salaries, and smaller cuts to public health and law enforcement programs. Those include downstate airports, Peace Meal home-delivered food and Showbus programs. Central Illinois Regional Airport and Decatur Airport are on the list for tower closures if the full cuts proceed. Paul Harmon, Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority Chairman, said the airport still can take flights if CIRA’s tower closes, but will have to cancel more of them in inclement weather. Michael O’Donnell, executive director of East Central Area Agency on Aging, said groups like his are faced with making a year’s worth of cuts in half the time. “A decision to cut funding is always difficult, but deferring it to a later date makes the administration of those cuts more difficult,” O’Donnell said. One beneficiary of those funds is the Peace Meal program, which delivers meals to elderly and disabled people in counties throughout Central Illinois. Assistant Director Barb Seagren said the organization receives as much as a third of its funding from state and federal money. Peace Meal helps elderly people to remain in their own homes. Airports big and small may feel effects of federal budget feud LOS ANGELES TIMES // HUGO MARTIN Get ready for longer lines at Los Angeles International Airport, slower delivery of packages and the possible shutdown of small Southern California airport control towers if a resolution isn’t reached on federal budget cuts. The good news is that the biggest effects probably will not take hold until April, giving President Obama and congressional leaders time to hammer out a deal to resolve the budget feud. But if no agreement is reached, the Federal Aviation Administration will be forced to cut its budget about $600 million. That could force the FAA to close more than 100 air traffic control towers across the country, primarily at smaller regional airports, including in Santa Monica, Victorville and Oxnard. The National Air Traffic Controllers Assn. expects the cuts to lead to fewer flights and increased delays of as long as 90 minutes during peak hours. The FAA has announced plans to shut down towers at airports with fewer than 150,000 landings and takeoffs a year. Santa Monica Airport, which is on the FAA closure list, operates about 105,000 landings and takeoffs a year. Van Nuys Airport, which is not on the list, has more than 250,000 landings and takeoffs. NATIONAL PARKS: Park cuts could hurt Jackson JACKSON HOLE NEWS//ANGUS M. THUERMER JR. Gateway communities such as Jackson could suffer significant economic impact as families alter summer vacation plans because of a budget impasse, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis warned in a memo to agency employees. The letter to all park employees, dated Tuesday, was the clearest outline to date of the agency’s view of effects to parks and neighboring towns. Press conferences, other leaked memos and interpretations of agency statements in recent days have sometimes been in conflict or caused confusion. In Jarvis’ memo, he lamented the state of the political struggle as he reviewed the “grim reality” of the looming crisis. If Congress and the White House haven’t come to an agreement over “sequestration” by today, the Park Service will lose 5 percent — $134 million — of the money it expected to get. An impasse “will have long-term and wide-ranging effects,” Jarvis wrote. “A drop in visitation could have devastating effects on the economies of gateway communities who depend on visitor spending and shut down park lodging, food, and other services provided by concessionaires who support 25,000 jobs,” the memo states. Sequestration designed to impact park experience TRAIL GAZETTE//WALT HESTER Pain is the whole point. When lawmakers agreed to the across-the-board budget cuts set to take effect on March 1, they knew going in that popular, as well as unpopular programs would get the ax. The law was designed to put the heat on Congress. Many in Congress, around the nation and in Estes Park, are not impressed. They believe it can be absorbed or worked around. George Carle, manager of the Rocky Mountain Gateway, for one, does not feel it will have much impact on the business, located about 1,000 feet from the Fall River entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. “I don’t know how it’s going to affect us here.” says Carle. “I know they factored in some cuts already. I think it’s anybody’s guess. The biggest impact will be psychological. Many, like Carle, feel that cuts within the national park can be found that won’t directly affect the public directly. The budget cuts, however, were intentionally designed to do just that. The cuts are across the board and effect everything within the park. The law that brought the cuts about give administrators almost no independence. As a result, everyone will feel the burden. “The amount to be sequestered for Rocky Mountain National Park is projected to be 5 percent ($623,200) of park funding, “said the park’s public information officer, Kyle Patterson. FEDERAL WORKERS Boston’s Federal Workers Fear Sequester Furloughs WBUR (NPR)//CURT NICKISCH Thousands of people work in the John F. Kennedy Federal Building at Boston’s Government Center. It’s actually twin 26-story buildings. Bethany Seed said she’s not looking forward to Monday, when she might be handed a furlough notice. “For me, personally, a furlough would be a problem because I’d still be paying for full-time child care,” Seed said. “And I’d be losing my pay from work. So it’s not something I would like to see happen.” Seed is an economist with the U.S. Department of Labor. When you hear things like jobless numbers, she works on those statistics. Her boss — not her director supervisor, but way up the chain — is Seth Harris, the acting U.S. labor secretary, who was visiting Boston Thursday. “Unfortunately, a sizable number of my workers are going to be subject to furloughs,” Harris said. “It’s going to vary from agency to agency across the department. We’re going to lose about six days of work from our employees on average. That’s a big loss.” Union leader says sequester will affect thousands of MI jobs WKZO KALAMAZOO// Karla Swift, the President of the Michigan State AFL-CIO, says that the federal budget sequester — deep automatic cuts brought on by Congress’ failure to reach a spending agreement — will affect over 30 thousand jobs in this state alone. That’s because federal workers will be sent on some furlough days, in some cases meaning a 20 percent reduction in their pay. Swift also says that a variety of services — from early childcare to food safety — will be hit. Two agencies send early-bird furlough notices WASHINGTON POST // ERIC YODER Two federal agencies that formally notified their employees of possible furloughs even in advance of sequestration taking effect warned of the potential for 14 and 22 unpaid days off. The Justice Department and the National Labor Relations Board both issued notices ahead of “furlough Friday,” with the former notifying at least some of its employees, in U.S. Attorney’s offices, as early as Feb. 20. According to that notice, those employees would be furloughed a total of 14 workdays, starting the week of April 21 through the end of the fiscal year in September. It also says that the number of furlough days could vary among the department’s components because of differences in budgets among them.The agency acted before March 1 in order to have “maximum flexibility,” she said. Furlough notices give employees 30 days of advance warning. EDUCATION Needham braces for potential sequester cuts GATEHOUSE NEWS SERVICE//WEI-HUAN CHEN Local officials are bracing for the impact a series of automatic federal budget cuts set for March 1, known as sequestration, would bring to Needham. Needham schools face losing $142,000 in federal grants next fiscal year if Congress allows across-the-board cuts in the federal government’s spending budget to go into effect. Either the programs that depend on those grants will be cut — resulting in layoffs to staff in special education, in programs for disadvantaged students and in teaching improvement — or the town will have to find another way to pay for them, most likely through taxpayer dollars, said officials. Town staff members aren’t sure what other direct impacts Needham faces, although they’re quick to name transportation, health services, employment and the state education budget as just some of the things in jeopardy if sequestration occurs. Sequester means big hit for education, but other local impacts minimal — for now ABC 9 CINCINNATI//KEVIN OSBORNE Many Tri-State residents won’t feel any immediate effects of the massive federal spending cuts known as the sequester begin taking effect Friday. But anyone with school age children likely will feel the pinch. The across-the-board cuts will have a quicker impact on teachers who are employed using some federal funds, meaning layoffs could occur. And some special education and preschool programs would be stopped. In fact, education is the biggest loser if the sequestration happens. Colleges and universities will face a significant loss of revenue as research grants are stopped. “We use federal funds to provide most of the programs for our disadvantaged students,” she added. One of the programs provides free or reduced price lunches for low-income students. Of the district’s 33,700 students, 73 percent live under the poverty line and qualify for those programs. Also, the White House has said 350 teachers would lose their jobs across Ohio. Nationally, 10,000 teachers would be affected, along with 7,500 support positions like teacher’s aides. Another sequester casualty will be Head Start early childhood education programs. It offers free preschool education for children ages 3-5. Locally, the program is operated by the Community Action Agency. It serves more than 3,600 children countywide. Agency officials estimate they could lose about $1.9 million, which means 300 children would be dropped from the program. Sequester just one of the financial issues Michigan schools face WKZO KALAMAZOO// The Sequester takes effect today and it’s reportedly going impact urban school districts that depend on federal funding for small classroom programs in poorer neighborhoods and special education. But Kalamazoo Schools finance Director Gary Start says he has never seen any specific figures on how it may affect the local district. They are still hoping that in a few weeks Congress will work something out. Start says they are far more concerned about the Governor’s recommendation to only increase their foundation grant by 2% this year, telling School Trustees last night that it amounts to a cut, because it doesn’t even cover their cost increases.
If President Obama Is Serious About Replacing His Sequester, He’ll Stop Campaigning & Urge His Democratic-Controlled Senate to Act
WASHINGTON, DC – At a press conference with Republican leaders today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) urged President Obama to stop campaigning on the effects of his sequester and start calling on his Democratic-led Senate to actually pass a credible plan to avert it. Following are Speaker Boehner’s remarks: “You know, the president proposed the sequester, yet he’s far more interested in holding campaign rallies than he is in urging his Senate Democrats to actually pass a plan. “Listen, we know there are smarter ways to cut spending and to continue to grow our economy. That’s why Republicans have acted twice, as Cathy said, to replace the sequester with what we would argue are smarter cuts. “Listen, the president says we have to have another tax increase in order to avoid the sequester. Well, Mr. President, you got your tax increase. It’s time to cut spending here in Washington. “Instead of using our military men and women as campaign props, if the president was serious he’d sit down with Harry Reid and begin to address our problems. The House has acted twice, we shouldn’t have to act a third time before the Senate begins to do their work.”
Delivering the Weekly Republican Address, Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) calls on President Obama and Senate Democrats to join House-led efforts to replace his harmful sequester – not with more tax increases, but with better, responsible spending cuts that put our budget on a path to balance in 10 years. Rep. Roby, now in her second term representing Alabama’s Second Congressional District, serves on the House Armed Services Committee. NOTE: The Weekly Republican Address is embargoed until 6:00 a.m. ET, Saturday, February 16, 2013. The audio is accessible now , and video of the address will be available to view and download once the embargo is lifted. A full transcript follows. “Hello, I’m Martha Roby. It is my honor to represent Alabama’s Second Congressional District. “As you may know, a series of deep, across-the-board military spending cuts known as ‘the sequester’ will go into effect in less than two weeks. In his State of the Union address, President Obama himself admitted that these cuts were a ‘really bad idea.’ What the President failed to mention was that the sequester was his idea, proposed by his administration during the debt limit negotiations in 2011. And now we in the House, on behalf of our constituents, are calling on the president to join us in replacing his sequester with better, more responsible spending cuts. “Just this week, top military commanders testified on Capitol Hill and confirmed what I had feared from the beginning about how the president’s sequester will hurt military installations in Alabama and around the country. “My district is home to Fort Rucker, the primary flight training base for Army Aviation. If the president’s sequester takes effect, Fort Rucker would lose 500 students training to be combat aviators and roughly 37,000 hours of aviation training. These numbers are astounding. And remember, this is just one set of cuts at one base. “There is a smarter way to reduce the size of government than to slash defense spending, threaten national security and hurt military families. In fact, the Republican-led House has already voted twice to replace the president’s sequester with targeted spending cuts based on real budget priorities. “Unfortunately, the Democratic-run Senate never acted on either bill. And, as the clock is ticking towards his devastating sequester, the President has failed to put forward a plan to prevent it. Why? Because President Obama and Senate Democrats see his sequester as an opportunity to push through another tax increase. If you’re feeling a sense of déjà vu, you’re not alone. After all, the ink has barely dried on the tax hikes the president pushed through in January. “No one in Washington should be talking about raising your taxes when the federal government is still spending billions of dollars on things like giving people free cell phones. And it is a shame that our Commander-in-Chief is using the military he leads as leverage in an ideological crusade for higher taxes. These games have got to stop. “Our goal every day in Washington should be coming together on issues like creating jobs for hardworking American families, reining in our out-of-control debt, and ensuring America maintains a strong national defense. To meet these goals, we can come together now to replace the president’s sequester – not with more tax increases, but with better, more responsible spending cuts that put our budget on a path to balance in 10 years. “Thank you for your time. May God bless the men and women of our Armed Forces and may God continue to bless the United States of America.”
President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address is over—and now it’s time to get to work on turning the agenda he laid out into law. Read the email the President just sent out to Democrats, then chip in whatever you can to help us accomplish his vision. Friend — Last night, I laid out my plan to create jobs and grow the economy — making America a magnet for jobs, equipping every American with the skills they need for those jobs, ensuring hard work leads to a decent living, and cutting the deficit in a balanced way. But we can’t do it without you. Democrats are going to need your support for the many fights ahead. Can I count on you? Donate $5 or more today: https://my.democrats.org/Help-Democrats-Fight Together, we can do this. Barack
Hello, everyone! Thank you, Marjorie, for hosting us here today and for your ongoing collaboration as we support our service men and women and their families. As Second Lady, and as a military mom, I have been honored to spend time with our troops, and our recovering service members—and I am so inspired by the strength and resilience of both British and American military families and veterans. Major Peter Norton, thank you for your service. I know a spirit of service is deeply ingrained in all of you … that the warrior mentality doesn’t leave you when you return from war – or when you separate from the military. Over the past few days, I have visited with Wounded Warriors and medical staff at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center … and spent the day with soldiers and their families at a US Army base in Germany. With each visit, I am reminded that our service members and their families have done so much for us … and we can all do something in return. That spirit is what fuels the Joining Forces initiative the First Lady and I started to support and honor our troops and military families. And I am very pleased to not only visit with some of the heroes that make the British military so strong, but also all the organizations here that support them. I know that over the past 10 years, you have all worked so hard to improve the lives of the men and women who have sacrificed so much. It is your dedication and support that has made all the difference for so many veterans and their families. You are truly Joining Forces. The bonds that British and American troops share are unbreakable. You have served alongside one another every step of the way. Over 250,000 British troops have served alongside Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. You are brothers and sisters in combat, but also in healing. In 2010, a soldier named Brian attended a holiday gathering Joe and I hosted in our home. Brian was newly injured at the time, and he and his young family were adjusting to his new normal – walking on prosthetics … separating from the military … and caring for a newborn while healing from amputations and internal injuries sustained during a blast in Iraq. Almost a year later, I was visiting wounded warriors at Walter Reed hospital when I met another young soldier who had just been injured in Afghanistan. He told me that he had been struggling to adjust to losing his legs, and to the long healing process ahead of him. But he said he was feeling much better because a fellow injured soldier had reached out to him and was mentoring him. That soldier was Brian. Just a year after being injured, Brian was thriving. He gave other wounded warriors confidence that they too would once again be whole. I use Brian as an example of that same inner strength we have seen in you as many of you have pursued physical challenges beyond what you ever imagined you could accomplish after your injuries. Not only do you inspire countless other recovering warriors, you inspire me … my husband Joe … President Barack Obama … First Lady Michelle Obama … and all Americans. To our heroes and your families, thank you for your sacrifice and service, and to our British partners and friends, thank you for your ongoing commitment to our service men and women.
In 2012, the Republican Party led a coordinated campaign to disenfranchise millions of voters through burdensome voter ID laws and shortened early voting periods—with the express purpose of sending Mitt Romney to the White House. They failed. Republicans lost their battle to suppress the vote in our nation’s courts, and they lost on the issues at the ballot box, as African Americans, Latinos, and young voters turned out in record numbers. But instead of learning the lessons of 2012 and working to appeal to our growing electorate, Republicans are fixated on finding new ways to undermine the majority of voters and keep another Democrat from winning in 2016. Their philosophy is simple: “If you can’t beat ‘em, rig the game.” Tomorrow in Virginia—where President Obama won decisively in 2012—a state Senate committee will vote on a bill that would rig the 2016 election in favor of Republican candidates by changing how the Electoral College appropriates votes. Currently in Virginia, Electoral College votes are allocated on a winner-take-all basis. But Republicans want them allocated by congressional district—ensuring their heavily gerrymandered Republican districts will deliver for the Republican candidate in the next presidential election. If this scheme had been in place in 2012, President Obama would have won only four out of 13 electoral votes in Virginia—even though he received 140,000 more votes from Virginia voters than Romney did. It’s too extreme even for Virginia’s Bob McDonnell, one of the most far-right governors in the country. A spokesman for McDonnell said last week, “The governor does not support this legislation. He believes Virginia’s existing system works just fine as it is.” But another Tea Party governor, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, thinks election rigging is an “interesting” idea—something “worth looking at.” This is only the beginning. Virginia and Wisconsin are just the first of several states President Obama won in 2012 whose Republican governors and legislatures are considering rigging their Electoral College votes in favor of the GOP. And the head of the party, Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus, has endorsed the plan, saying, “I think it’s something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red ought to be looking at.” But if we learned anything in 2012, it’s that the American people will not stand by and watch Republican politicians manipulate our electoral process and trample on our hard-won voting rights. We’ll fight to make our voices heard and our ballots counted—and oppose any and all attempts to rig our electoral process. For more information on the Republican-sponsored efforts to rig the next presidential election, sign up for updates from the Democratic Party.
Surgeons using robots in the operating room at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the nation’s largest military medical treatment facility, ensure many patients experience less pain, less blood loss, and shorter recovery times, according to the physicians and patients.
Unmanned aerial vehicles soared through the sky under the control of 16 “Raider” Brigade Soldiers during QR-11 Raven training on Fort Carson, Colo., Jan. 7-18, 2013.
Pilots throughout the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade “Pegasus” use the Southeast Regional Flight Simulation Training Center at Simmons Army Airfield at Fort Bragg, N.C., to help maintain and enhance their aviation skills.
Researchers from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory Human Research and Engineering Directorate are developing robot intelligence that will enable robots to successfully navigate (move around) in their environment when given a voice command (instruction) by a human.
How Will Older People’s Participation in the Labor Force Be Affected by the Coming Increase in the Full Retirement Age for Social Security?
CBO expects that the share of older people who work will increase in the latter part of this decade in response to the scheduled increase in the full retirement age (FRA) for Social Security. As a result, economic output will be slightly greater and budget deficits slightly smaller than would otherwise be the case. This blog entry explains CBO’s estimate of the effect of the change in Social Security on the size of the U.S.
President Barack Obama delivers remarks as he and First Lady Michelle Obama visit with members of the military and their families at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, Dec. 25, 2012. (by Pete Souza) Continuing what has become an annual tradition that is a highlight of their holiday celebrations, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama spent some time on Christmas Day at the Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. The First Couple was there to visit with military families, and to thank them for the extraordinary work they do each and every day : Obviously, the greatest honor I have as President is being Commander-in-Chief. And the reason it’s an honor is because not only do we have the finest military in the world but we also have the finest fighting men and women in the world. And so many of you make sacrifices day in, day out on behalf of our freedom, on behalf of our security. And not only do those in uniform make sacrifices, but I think everybody here understands the sacrifices that families make each and every day as well. And Michelle, working with Dr. Jill Biden, has done a lot of work to focus attention on our military families to make sure that you get the support that you have earned and that you deserve. So I’m not going to make a long speech. Obviously, we’re still in a wartime footing. There are still folks, as we speak, who are overseas, especially in Afghanistan, risking their lives each and every day. Some of you may have loved ones who are deployed there. Some of you may be about to be deployed there. And so we know that it’s not easy. But what we also want you to know is that you have the entire country behind you, and that all of us understand that we would be nowhere without the extraordinary service that you guys provide. And so we want to say thank you, we love you. Watch the President’s full remarks
Experts in the U.S. Army Public Health Command’s Health Hazard Assessment Program completed an occupational health assessment of the new protective outer garments and undergarments, and provided recommendations on how to minimize any risks.
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:) I am providing this supplemental consolidated report, prepared by my Administration and consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148), as part of my efforts to keep the Congress informed about deployments of U.S. Armed Forces equipped for combat. MILITARY OPERATIONS AGAINST AL-QA’IDA, THE TALIBAN, AND ASSOCIATED FORCES AND IN SUPPORT OF RELATED U.S. COUNTERTERRORISM OBJECTIVES Since October 7, 2001, the United States has conducted combat operations in Afghanistan against al-Qa’ida terrorists, their Taliban supporters, and associated forces. In support of these and other overseas operations, the United States has deployed combat-equipped forces to a number of locations in the U.S. Central, Pacific, European, Southern, and Africa Command areas of operation. Previously such operations and deployments have been reported, consistent with Public Law 107-40 and the War Powers Resolution, and operations and deployments remain ongoing. These operations, which the United States has carried out with the assistance of numerous international partners, have been successful in seriously degrading al-Qa’ida’s capabilities and brought an end to the Taliban’s leadership of Afghanistan. United States Armed Forces continue to pursue and engage remaining al-Qa’ida and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan while transitioning to an Afghan security lead. The Afghanistan Force Management Level is approximately 66,000, under the 68,000 level directed by June 2011 Presidential guidance. Approximately 61,000 of these forces are assigned to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. The U.N. Security Council most recently reaffirmed its authorization of ISAF for a 12-month period until October 13, 2013, in U.N. Security Council Resolution 2069 (October 9, 2012). The mission of ISAF, under NATO command and in partnership with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for international terrorists. Fifty nations, including the United States and all NATO members, contribute forces to ISAF. These forces, including the U.S. “surge” forces, all of which had redeployed by the end of last summer, broke Taliban momentum and trained additional Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). The ANSF are now increasingly assuming responsibility for security on the timeline committed to at the 2010 NATO Summit in Lisbon by the United States, our NATO allies, ISAF partners, and the Government of Afghanistan. United States Armed Forces are detaining in Afghanistan approximately 946 individuals under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) as informed by the law of war. On March 9, 2012, the United States signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Afghan government under which the United States is to transfer Afghan nationals detained by U.S. forces in Afghanistan to the custody and control of the Afghan government within 6 months. Since the MOU was signed, approximately 3,100 detainees have been transferred to Afghan control. The combat-equipped forces, deployed since January 2002 to Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, continue to conduct secure detention operations for the approximately 166 detainees at Guantanamo Bay under Public Law 107-40 and consistent with principles of the law of war. In furtherance of U.S. efforts against members of al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, and associated forces, the United States continues to work with partners around the globe, with a particular focus on the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility. In this context, the United States has deployed U.S. combat-equipped forces to assist in enhancing the counterterrorism capabilities of our friends and allies, including special operations and other forces for sensitive operations in various locations around the world. In Somalia, the U.S. military has worked to counter the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa’ida and associated elements of al-Shabaab. In a limited number of cases, the U.S. military has taken direct action in Somalia against members of al-Qa’ida, including those who are also members of al-Shabaab, who are engaged in efforts to carry out terrorist attacks against the United States and our interests. The U.S. military has also been working closely with the Yemeni government to operationally dismantle and ultimately eliminate the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the most active and dangerous affiliate of al-Qa’ida today. Our joint efforts have resulted in direct action against a limited number of AQAP operatives and senior leaders in that country who posed a terrorist threat to the United States and our interests. The United States is committed to thwarting the efforts of al-Qa’ida and its associated forces to carry out future acts of international terrorism, and we have continued to work with our counterterrorism partners to disrupt and degrade the capabilities of al-Qa’ida and its associated forces. As necessary, in response to the terrorist threat, I will direct additional measures against al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, and associated forces to protect U.S. citizens and interests. It is not possible to know at this time the precise scope or the duration of the deployments of U.S. Armed Forces necessary to counter this terrorist threat to the United States. A classified annex to this report provides further information. MILITARY OPERATIONS IN CENTRAL AFRICA In October and November 2011, U.S. military personnel with appropriate combat equipment deployed to Uganda to serve as advisors to regional forces that are working to apprehend or remove Joseph Kony and other senior Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leaders from the battlefield, and to protect local populations. The total number of U.S. military personnel deployed for this mission, including those providing logistical and support functions, is approximately 79. United States forces are working with select partner nation forces to enhance cooperation, information-sharing and synchronization, operational planning, and overall effectiveness. Elements of these U.S. forces have deployed to forward locations in the LRA-affected areas of the Republic of South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Central African Republic to enhance regional efforts against the LRA. These forces, however, will not engage LRA forces except in self-defense. It is in the U.S. national security interest to help our regional partners in Africa to develop their capability to address threats to regional peace and security, including the threat posed by the LRA. The United States is pursuing a comprehensive strategy to help the governments and people of this region in their efforts to end the threat posed by the LRA and to address the impacts of the LRA’s atrocities. MARITIME INTERCEPTION OPERATIONS As noted in previous reports, the United States remains prepared to conduct maritime interception operations on the high seas in the areas of responsibility of each of the geographic combatant commands. These maritime operations are aimed at stopping the movement, arming, and financing of certain international terrorist groups, and also include operations aimed at stopping proliferation by sea of weapons of mass destruction and related materials. MILITARY OPERATIONS IN EGYPT Approximately 694 military personnel are assigned to the U.S. contingent of the Multinational Force and Observers, which have been present in Egypt since 1981. U.S.-NATO OPERATIONS IN KOSOVO The U.N. Security Council authorized Member States to establish a NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) in Resolution 1244 on June 10, 1999. The original mission of KFOR was to monitor, verify, and, when necessary, enforce compliance with the Military Technical Agreement between NATO and the then-Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (now Serbia), while maintaining a safe and secure environment. Today, KFOR deters renewed hostilities in cooperation with local authorities, bilateral partners, and international institutions. The principal military tasks of KFOR forces are to help maintain a safe and secure environment and to ensure freedom of movement throughout Kosovo. Currently, 22 NATO Allies contribute to KFOR. Eight non-NATO countries also participate. The United States contribution to KFOR is approximately 760 U.S. military personnel out of the total strength of approximately 5,989 personnel, which includes a temporarily deployed operational reserve force. REGIONAL SECURITY OPERATIONS As noted in my report of September 14, on September 12 a security force deployed to Libya to support the security of U.S. personnel in Libya. Further, on September 13, an additional security force arrived in Yemen in response to security threats there. These forces will remain in place until the security situation no longer requires them. I have directed the participation of U.S. Armed Forces in all of these operations pursuant to my constitutional and statutory authority as Commander in Chief (including the authority to carry out Public Law 107-40 and other statutes) and as Chief Executive, as well as my constitutional and statutory authority to conduct the foreign relations of the United States. Officials of my Administration and I communicate regularly with the leadership and other Members of Congress with regard to these deployments, and we will continue to do so. Sincerely, BARACK OBAMA
Rangoon, Burma 2:39 P.M. MMT PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. (Applause.) Myanmar Naingan, Mingalaba! (Laughter and applause.) I am very honored to be here at this university and to be the first President of the United States of America to visit your country. I came here because of the importance of your country. You live at the crossroads of East and South Asia. You border the most populated nations on the planet. You have a history that reaches back thousands of years, and the ability to help determine the destiny of the fastest growing region of the world. I came here because of the beauty and diversity of your country. I have seen just earlier today the golden stupa of Shwedagon, and have been moved by the timeless idea of metta — the belief that our time on this Earth can be defined by tolerance and by love. And I know this land reaches from the crowded neighborhoods of this old city to the homes of more than 60,000 villages; from the peaks of the Himalayas, the forests of Karen State, to the banks of the Irrawady River. I came here because of my respect for this university. It was here at this school where opposition to colonial rule first took hold. It was here that Aung San edited a magazine before leading an independence movement. It was here that U Thant learned the ways of the world before guiding it at the United Nations. Here, scholarship thrived during the last century and students demanded their basic human rights. Now, your Parliament has at last passed a resolution to revitalize this university and it must reclaim its greatness, because the future of this country will be determined by the education of its youth. I came here because of the history between our two countries. A century ago, American traders, merchants and missionaries came here to build bonds of faith and commerce and friendship. And from within these borders in World War II, our pilots flew into China and many of our troops gave their lives. Both of our nations emerged from the British Empire, and the United States was among the first countries to recognize an independent Union of Burma. We were proud to found an American Center in Rangoon and to build exchanges with schools like this one. And through decades of differences, Americans have been united in their affection for this country and its people. Above all, I came here because of America’s belief in human dignity. Over the last several decades, our two countries became strangers. But today, I can tell you that we always remained hopeful about the people of this country, about you. You gave us hope and we bore witness to your courage. We saw the activists dressed in white visit the families of political prisoners on Sundays and monks dressed in saffron protesting peacefully in the streets. We learned of ordinary people who organized relief teams to respond to a cyclone, and heard the voices of students and the beats of hip-hop artists projecting the sound of freedom. We came to know exiles and refugees who never lost touch with their families or their ancestral home. And we were inspired by the fierce dignity of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as she proved that no human being can truly be imprisoned if hope burns in your heart. When I took office as President, I sent a message to those governments who ruled by fear. I said, in my inauguration address, “We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” And over the last year and a half, a dramatic transition has begun, as a dictatorship of five decades has loosened its grip. Under President Thein Sein, the desire for change has been met by an agenda for reform. A civilian now leads the government, and a parliament is asserting itself. The once-outlawed National League for Democracy stood in an election, and Aung San Suu Kyi is a Member of Parliament. Hundreds of prisoners of conscience have been released, and forced labor has been banned. Preliminary cease-fires have been reached with ethnic armies, and new laws allow for a more open economy. So today, I’ve come to keep my promise and extend the hand of friendship. America now has an Ambassador in Rangoon, sanctions have been eased, and we will help rebuild an economy that can offer opportunity for its people, and serve as an engine of growth for the world. But this remarkable journey has just begun, and has much further to go. Reforms launched from the top of society must meet the aspirations of citizens who form its foundation. The flickers of progress that we have seen must not be extinguished — they must be strengthened; they must become a shining North Star for all this nation’s people. And your success in that effort is important to the United States, as well as to me. Even though we come from different places, we share common dreams: to choose our leaders; to live together in peace; to get an education and make a good living; to love our families and our communities. That’s why freedom is not an abstract idea; freedom is the very thing that makes human progress possible — not just at the ballot box, but in our daily lives. One of our greatest Presidents in the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, understood this truth. He defined America’s cause as more than the right to cast a ballot. He understood democracy was not just voting. He called upon the world to embrace four fundamental freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. These four freedoms reinforce one another, and you cannot fully realize one without realizing them all. So that’s the future that we seek for ourselves, and for all people. And that is what I want to speak to you about today. First, we believe in the right of free expression so that the voices of ordinary people can be heard, and governments reflect their will — the people’s will. In the United States, for more than two centuries, we have worked to keep this promise for all of our citizens — to win freedom for those who were enslaved; to extend the right to vote for women and African Americans; to protect the rights of workers to organize. And we recognize no two nations achieve these rights in exactly the same way, but there is no question that your country will be stronger if it draws on the strength of all of its people. That’s what allows nations to succeed. That’s what reform has begun to do. Instead of being repressed, the right of people to assemble together must now be fully respected. Instead of being stifled, the veil of media censorship must continue to be lifted. And as you take these steps, you can draw on your progress. Instead of being ignored, citizens who protested the construction of the Myitsone dam were heard. Instead of being outlawed, political parties have been allowed to participate. You can see progress being made. As one voter said during the parliamentary elections here, “Our parents and grandparents waited for this, but never saw it.” And now you can see it. You can taste freedom. And to protect the freedom of all the voters, those in power must accept constraints. That’s what our American system is designed to do. Now, America may have the strongest military in the world, but it must submit to civilian control. I, as the President of the United States, make determinations that the military then carries out, not the other way around. As President and Commander-In-Chief, I have that responsibility because I’m accountable to the people. Now, on other hand, as President, I cannot just impose my will on Congress — the Congress of the United States — even though sometimes I wish I could. The legislative branch has its own powers and its own prerogatives, and so they check my power and balance my power. I appoint some of our judges, but I cannot tell them how to rule, because every person in America — from a child living in poverty to me, the President of the United States — is equal under the law. And a judge can make a determination as to whether or not I am upholding the law or breaking the law. And I am fully accountable to that law. And I describe our system in the United States because that’s how you must reach for the future that you deserve — a future where a single prisoner of conscience is one too many. You need to reach for a future where the law is stronger than any single leader, because it’s accountable to the people. You need to reach for a future where no child is made to be a soldier and no woman is exploited, and where the laws protect them even if they’re vulnerable, even if they’re weak; a future where national security is strengthened by a military that serves under civilians and a Constitution that guarantees that only those who are elected by the people may govern. On that journey, America will support you every step of the way — by using our assistance to empower civil society; by engaging your military to promote professionalism and human rights; and by partnering with you as you connect your progress towards democracy with economic development. So advancing that journey will help you pursue a second freedom — the belief that all people should be free from want. It’s not enough to trade a prison of powerlessness for the pain of an empty stomach. But history shows that governments of the people and by the people and for the people are far more powerful in delivering prosperity. And that’s the partnership we seek with you. When ordinary people have a say in their own future, then your land can’t just be taken away from you. And that’s why reforms must ensure that the people of this nation can have that most fundamental of possessions — the right to own the title to the land on which you live and on which you work. When your talents are unleashed, then opportunity will be created for all people. America is lifting our ban on companies doing business here, and your government has lifted restrictions on investment and taken steps to open up your economy. And now, as more wealth flows into your borders, we hope and expect that it will lift up more people. It can’t just help folks at the top. It has to help everybody. And that kind of economic growth, where everybody has opportunity — if you work hard, you can succeed — that’s what gets a nation moving rapidly when it comes to develop. But that kind of growth can only be created if corruption is left behind. For investment to lead to opportunity, reform must promote budgets that are transparent and industry that is privately owned. To lead by example, America now insists that our companies meet high standards of openness and transparency if they’re doing business here. And we’ll work with organizations like the World Bank to support small businesses and to promote an economy that allows entrepreneurs, small businesspeople to thrive and allows workers to keep what they earn. And I very much welcome your government’s recent decision to join what we’ve called our Open Government Partnership, so that citizens can come to expect accountability and learn exactly how monies are spent and how your system of government operates. Above all, when your voices are heard in government, it’s far more likely that your basic needs will be met. And that’s why reform must reach the daily lives of those who are hungry and those who are ill, and those who live without electricity or water. And here, too, America will do our part in working with you. Today, I was proud to reestablish our USAID mission in this country, which is our lead development agency. And the United States wants to be a partner in helping this country, which used to be the rice bowl of Asia, to reestablish its capacity to feed its people and to care for its sick, and educate its children, and build its democratic institutions as you continue down the path of reform. This country is famous for its natural resources, and they must be protected against exploitation. And let us remember that in a global economy, a country’s greatest resource is its people. So by investing in you, this nation can open the door for far more prosperity — because unlocking a nation’s potential depends on empowering all its people, especially its young people. Just as education is the key to America’s future, it is going to the be the key to your future as well. And so we look forward to working with you, as we have with many of your neighbors, to extend that opportunity and to deepen exchanges among our students. We want students from this country to travel to the United States and learn from us, and we want U.S. students to come here and learn from you. And this truth leads me to the third freedom that I want to discuss: the freedom to worship — the freedom to worship as you please, and your right to basic human dignity. This country, like my own country, is blessed with diversity. Not everybody looks the same. Not everybody comes from the same region. Not everybody worships in the same way. In your cities and towns, there are pagodas and temples, and mosques and churches standing side by side. Well over a hundred ethnic groups have been a part of your story. Yet within these borders, we’ve seen some of the world’s longest running insurgencies, which have cost countless lives, and torn families and communities apart, and stood in the way of development. No process of reform will succeed without national reconciliation. (Applause.) You now have a moment of remarkable opportunity to transform cease-fires into lasting settlements, and to pursue peace where conflicts still linger, including in Kachin State. Those efforts must lead to a more just and lasting peace, including humanitarian access to those in need, and a chance for the displaced to return home. Today, we look at the recent violence in Rakhine State that has caused so much suffering, and we see the danger of continued tensions there. For too long, the people of this state, including ethnic Rakhine, have faced crushing poverty and persecution. But there is no excuse for violence against innocent people. And the Rohingya hold themselves — hold within themselves the same dignity as you do, and I do. National reconciliation will take time, but for the sake of our common humanity, and for the sake of this country’s future, it is necessary to stop incitement and to stop violence. And I welcome the government’s commitment to address the issues of injustice and accountability, and humanitarian access and citizenship. That’s a vision that the world will support as you move forward. Every nation struggles to define citizenship. America has had great debates about these issues, and those debates continue to this day, because we’re a nation of immigrants — people coming from every different part of the world. But what we’ve learned in the United States is that there are certain principles that are universal, apply to everybody no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter what religion you practice. The right of people to live without the threat that their families may be harmed or their homes may be burned simply because of who they are or where they come from. Only the people of this country ultimately can define your union, can define what it means to be a citizen of this country. But I have confidence that as you do that you can draw on this diversity as a strength and not a weakness. Your country will be stronger because of many different cultures, but you have to seize that opportunity. You have to recognize that strength. I say this because my own country and my own life have taught me the power of diversity. The United States of America is a nation of Christians and Jews, and Muslims and Buddhists, and Hindus and non-believers. Our story is shaped by every language; it’s enriched by every culture. We have people from every corners of the world. We’ve tasted the bitterness of civil war and segregation, but our history shows us that hatred in the human heart can recede; that the lines between races and tribes fade away. And what’s left is a simple truth: e pluribus unum — that’s what we say in America. Out of many, we are one nation and we are one people. And that truth has, time and again, made our union stronger. It has made our country stronger. It’s part of what has made America great. We amended our Constitution to extend the democratic principles that we hold dear. And I stand before you today as President of the most powerful nation on Earth, but recognizing that once the color of my skin would have denied me the right to vote. And so that should give you some sense that if our country can transcend its differences, then yours can, too. Every human being within these borders is a part of your nation’s story, and you should embrace that. That’s not a source of weakness, that’s a source of strength — if you recognize it. And that brings me to the final freedom that I will discuss today, and that is the right of all people to live free from fear. In many ways, fear is the force that stands between human beings and their dreams. Fear of conflict and the weapons of war. Fear of a future that is different from the past. Fear of changes that are reordering our societies and economy. Fear of people who look different, or come from a different place, or worship in a different way. In some of her darkest moments, when Aung San Suu Kyi was imprisoned, she wrote an essay about freedom from fear. She said fear of losing corrupts those who wield it — “Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it, and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” That’s the fear that you can leave behind. We see that chance in leaders who are beginning to understand that power comes from appealing to people’s hopes, not people’s fears. We see it in citizens who insist that this time must be different, that this time change will come and will continue. As Aung San Suu Kyi wrote: “Fear is not the natural state of civilized man.” I believe that. And today, you are showing the world that fear does not have to be the natural state of life in this country. That’s why I am here. That’s why I came to Rangoon. And that’s why what happens here is so important — not only to this region, but to the world. Because you’re taking a journey that has the potential to inspire so many people. This is a test of whether a country can transition to a better place. The United States of America is a Pacific nation, and we see our future as bound to those nations and peoples to our West. And as our economy recovers, this is where we believe we will find enormous growth. As we have ended the wars that have dominated our foreign policy for a decade, this region will be a focus for our efforts to build a prosperous peace. Here in Southeast Asia, we see the potential for integration among nations and people. And as President, I have embraced ASEAN for reasons that go beyond the fact that I spent some of my childhood in this region, in Indonesia. Because with ASEAN, we see nations that are on the move — nations that are growing, and democracies that are emerging; governments that are cooperating; progress that’s building on the diversity that spans oceans and islands and jungles and cities, peoples of every race and every religion. This is what the 21st century should look like if we have the courage to put aside our differences and move forward with a sense of mutual interest and mutual respect. And here in Rangoon, I want to send a message across Asia: We don’t need to be defined by the prisons of the past. We need to look forward to the future. To the leadership of North Korea, I have offered a choice: let go of your nuclear weapons and choose the path of peace and progress. If you do, you will find an extended hand from the United States of America. In 2012, we don’t need to cling to the divisions of East, West and North and South. We welcome the peaceful rise of China, your neighbor to the North; and India, your neighbor to the West. The United Nations — the United States will work with any nation, large or small, that will contribute to a world that is more peaceful and more prosperous, and more just and more free. And the United States will be a friend to any nation that respects the rights of its citizens and the responsibilities of international law. That’s the nation, that’s the world that you can start to build here in this historic city. This nation that’s been so isolated can show the world the power of a new beginning, and demonstrate once again that the journey to democracy goes hand in hand with development. I say this knowing that there are still countless people in this country who do not enjoy the opportunities that many of you seated here do. There are tens of millions who have no electricity. There are prisoners of conscience who still await release. There are refugees and displaced peoples in camps where hope is still something that lies on the distant horizon. Today, I say to you — and I say to everybody that can hear my voice — that the United States of America is with you, including those who have been forgotten, those who are dispossessed, those who are ostracized, those who are poor. We carry your story in our heads and your hopes in our hearts, because in this 21st century with the spread of technology and the breaking down of barriers, the frontlines of freedom are within nations and individuals, not simply between them. As one former prisoner put it in speaking to his fellow citizens, “Politics is your job. It’s not only for [the] politicians.” And we have an expression in the United States that the most important office in a democracy is the office of citizen — not President, not Speaker, but citizen. (Applause.) So as extraordinary and difficult and challenging and sometimes frustrating as this journey may seem, in the end, you, the citizens of this country, are the ones who must define what freedom means. You’re the ones who are going to have to seize freedom, because a true revolution of the spirit begins in each of our hearts. It requires the kind of courage that so many of your leaders have already displayed. The road ahead will be marked by huge challenges, and there will be those who resist the forces of change. But I stand here with confidence that something is happening in this country that cannot be reversed, and the will of the people can lift up this nation and set a great example for the world. And you will have in the United States of America a partner on that long journey. So, cezu tin bad de. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.) END 3:10 P.M. MMT
In its fiscal year 2013 budget request, the Department of Defense (DoD) requested about $150 billion to fund the pay and benefits of current and retired members of the military. That amount is more than one-quarter of DoD’s total base budget request (the request for all funding other than for military operations in Afghanistan and related activities). Today CBO released a report, Costs of Military Pay and Benefits in the Defense Budget , that describes the elements of military compensation and their costs in the 2013 budget request.
I am Captain Todd Veazie, and I am pleased to introduce myself as the new Executive Director of Joining Forces. As an active duty Naval Special Warfare officer with 26 years of service, I am proud to follow a long line of citizen soldiers dating back to the birth of our Republic. It is a special privilege for me to join First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden in their important work to give back to those who have given so much. For 93 years Americans have come together on November 11th to honor the valor and sacrifice of those who have served in our Armed Forces. Originally, the day was set aside to celebrate the veterans of the First World War. Later, it was broadened to include every man and woman who has worn the uniform of the United States. And today, we continue that tradition by honoring the service and sacrifice of our troops, our veterans and their families. They are the treasure of our nation and the greatest of every generation. read more
Check out a slideshow of photos from Election Night 2012, as Team Obama celebrates the President’s re-election in Chicago.
If this state was in play (it wasn’t!), it ain’t now. Michael Barbaro @mikiebarb “We’ve got to get out! My daughter is frostbitten,” begs mom, asking to leave Romney rally. Staffer replies: “It’s not cold enuf for that.” Sabrina Siddiqui @SabrinaSiddiqui . @JFKucinich is live tweeting more about the frustrated folks wanting to leave Romney rally. Jackie Kucinich @JFKucinich People are literally streaming through the gates – Romney still speaking. Ashley Parker @AshleyRParker This is a big rally for Romney in PA, but dozens of people — cold and angry — are begging to be let out. Michael Barbaro @mikiebarb W/ Romney more than an hour late (but now speaking), dozens of people stuck in the cold, begging staffers to leave, use the bathroom… Michael Barbaro @mikiebarb Rally in PA just went eerily quiet for 3 mins after a man collapsed in the audience. No music. No speaker. He’s. Okay now tho. MoveOn.org @MoveOn BREAKING: USA Today reporter says @MittRomney staffers are trapping people at rally in #PA. Won’t let them leave. pic.twitter.com/M6svk9qN Andrew Kaczynski @BuzzFeedAndrew It looks staffers at the Romney event refused originally let ppl leave, despite their begging. https://twitter.com/mikiebarb/statuses/265241615558406145 … https://twitter.com/JFKucinich/status/265241932295438338 … Jackie Kucinich @JFKucinich Man just pulled me aside and said “My son is on the verge of hypothermia” just as staffer starts letting people out a few at a time.
The Army plans to have a new, easy-to-use method for Soldiers to access manuals and other military publications by 2015.
We don’t have to tell you why it’s imperative that we re-elect our President 15 days from now—you know how much is at stake. But it’s important to remember this: It’s not enough just to vote for President Obama and Vice President Biden. If we want to create real, lasting change for the next four years and the next generation, we need to send a team of Democrats to Washington and to statehouses across the country who will work with President Obama to keep us moving forward. That’s why today, we’re excited to roll out the first nationwide digital slate card that either political party has deployed online. We’ve been working closely with state Democratic parties to bring you slatecard.democrats.org , where you can access a handy list of federal and state Democratic candidates for most states—and even some party-endorsed ballot issues. Today, we’re excited to roll out the first nationwide digital slate card that either political party has deployed online. We’ve been working closely with state Democratic parties to bring you slatecard.democrats.org, where you can access a handy list of federal and state Democratic candidates for most states—and even some party-endorsed ballot issues. The digital slate card is simple to use. Just provide the ZIP code and address where you’re registered to vote, and we’ll pull publicly available data to create a list of Democratic candidates in your area, information on when and where early voting is available, and a list of what to bring to the polls. We’ll also include easy-to-find links to your state board of elections and your state Democratic Party for more information about casting your ballot. You can share the slate card with your friends on all your social networks to make sure they know who to vote for, too. And when you’re ready to head to the polls, you can bring your personalized slate card with you on your mobile phone or tablet—or print out a copy right from the site. Early voting has already begun in many states across the country, so get started right now at slatecard.democrats.org .
It’s pretty clear to these North Carolinians who won the debate last night. Janet from Winston-Salem: “President Obama was so engaged. He made good points about health care, especially points about women’s issues. Mitt Romney’s not really for women’s issues. His explanation of his stance on equal pay was so bizarre—and the one thing that stuck out for me was how he said he understood it because he had a woman who had to leave early to make dinner for her kids. I thought, he just doesn’t get it at all.” Tony from High Point: “Last night, Barack Obama was the president we elected in ’08—the president who will continue to do the job from 2012–2016. The President stood toe to toe with Romney and spoke about that 47 percent. There’s an old passage, what you do in the dark will come to light. Romney spoke something behind closed doors that was the true heart of the man. Then, in public, he says something else. You cannot trust a guy like that. The President has been consistent. It’s a tough job, but he’s done well.” Dan from Winston-Salem: “President Obama did a great job last night. I watched it all. The moment when Romney tried and failed to nail him on his comment [on Libya] in the Rose Garden was priceless. To me, it showed how Romney comes across as hard and uncaring and Obama comes across as caring for the people.” Jo from High Point: “President Obama did excellent. He showed he’s presidential, but he got Romney on Libya, he got him on immigration, he got him on health care. He showed Romney for who he is: someone who tells everyone what they want to hear and then lets his surrogates walk it back. That is not what a candidate for president is supposed to do.” Ellen from Winston-Salem: “Romney was flustered last night. The President was much more clear. He just stated his case so much more succinctly, especially on women’s issues. Romney’s been back and forth—women can’t trust him. I think we have to go with someone who’s actually done what’s in our best interest.”
On the debate stage last week, Mitt Romney shamelessly misled the American people when he said he has a plan to insure people with pre-existing conditions. Like so much of the rhetoric that comes out of Romney’s mouth, it’s simply not true—even his campaign admitted it after the debate. Our chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a breast cancer survivor, says this latest example of say-anything dishonesty is personally offensive to her, and she wants all of us to set the record straight. Check out the email she sent to Democrats today, and chip in $5 or whatever you can to help us make sure everyone knows the truth. Friend — At the debate, Mitt Romney looked the American public in the eye and said: “I do have a plan that deals with people with pre-existing conditions. That’s part of my health care plan.” His campaign quietly admitted afterwards that, no, it is not, in fact, a part of his health care plan. As a breast cancer survivor and someone living with a pre-existing condition, this statement was more personally offensive than any of his repeated promises to repeal Obamacare. This kind of say-anything dishonesty is typical from Mitt Romney and the Republicans. You can do something. Please give $5 or more today to help Democrats set the record straight about Romney and his allies. Voters need to know. When the other side makes empty, dishonest promises like this one, it’s not only the worst kind of politics, it’s toying with real people’s lives. As a cancer survivor, I know just how much we used to be at the mercy of insurance providers. Obamacare protects us from unfair practices like lifetime caps on your coverage, denial of coverage because of pre-existing conditions, and being dropped from your policy exactly when you need it most. Mitt Romney will take that all away — but when he’s asked point-blank about it, he won’t admit it. We deserve better. But we need to work harder than ever for it. Time to suit up and fight back. Please donate $5 or more today — let’s stand together and keep Mitt Romney and Republicans in Congress away from our health care: Thanks, Debbie Debbie Wasserman Schultz Chair Democratic National Committee P.S. — Your donation will do more today than tomorrow or any day after. The election is in just 28 days. Please donate today .
Army Reserve military police with 200th Military Police Command spend their battle assembly weekends in remote locations fine-tuning their unmanned aerial vehicle flying skills.
DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement on tonight’s presidential debate in Denver, Colorado: “Throughout this election, voters have been offered the clearest choice they’ve seen in a generation—and tonight, the contrast could not have possibly been any greater. During tonight’s debate, President Obama laid out his vision for continuing to move America forward with an economy that grows from the middle out, not the top down. We didn’t see the same specifics from Mitt Romney, and there’s one simple reason for that: if the American people knew the details on how Romney would accomplish his plans and policies, they’d go running in the other direction. “At no point tonight did Mitt Romney say how the math adds up on his $5 trillion tax cut favoring the wealthiest few and paid for on the backs of the middle class. He wants to repeal Obamacare but refused to provide a single idea to protect hardworking families from the worst abuses of big insurance companies, and his promise to do away with Wall Street reform was not accompanied by even one new rule he’d put in place to keep America’s consumers protected. Tonight, Mitt Romney made a full-fledged commitment to double down on the same failed policies that crashed the economy and brought the middle class to its knees—and that’s the very last thing the American people can afford.”
Last night, Mitt Romney revealed just how willing he is to lie to the American people. As our chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, put it in an email today, “Romney may have impressed the pundits with his performance, but he sure lost on facts.” If you don’t want a president who lies repeatedly and blatantly just to win over a few voters, help us fight back. Read the chair’s email, then chip in $5 or whatever you can to make sure Romney and his lies stay far away from the White House. Friend — Last night, President Obama and Mitt Romney debated for the first time — and it’s clearer than ever before that President Obama is the right choice for our country. Romney repeatedly and blatantly lied to the American people about his plans and the President’s record. He failed to deliver the specifics that voters deserve to hear, and he doubled down on the same failed policies that hurt the middle class and led to the economic crisis. Look, Mitt Romney may have impressed the pundits with his performance, but he sure lost on facts. It’s up to us to make sure President Obama and Democrats across the country have the resources they need to fight back — and win. Make a donation of $5 or more . President Obama clearly outlined how he’ll continue to keep America on the right track by strengthening the middle class, investing in education, working to grow small business, and continuing to create jobs. There’s only one way forward, and the outcome is in your hands . Thanks, Debbie Debbie Wasserman Schultz Chair Democratic National Committee P.S. — Your donation will do more today than tomorrow or any day after. The election is in just 33 days. Please donate today .
In an election year partisan politics can often seem to be at their worst. There are many issues up for debate, but there is one we can all agree on: breast cancer should not be able to take any more of the women we love. As we mark the start of National Breast Cancer Awareness month, we are once again reminded that this is a disease that knows no boundaries. Breast cancer strikes women from all backgrounds, races, and ethnicities, the rich and the poor, the old and the young. In the United States, women have a 1 in 8 chance of developing invasive breast cancer during their lifetime, and a 1 in 35 chance that the disease will take their life. In the fall of 2007, at the age of 41, I heard the words no woman wants to hear: “You have breast cancer.” To me, it was like getting hit with an anvil—a huge weight that crashes down on you. In 2008, I had the first of seven surgeries. I spent that year in recovery, in and out of the hospital. I remember sitting in the hospital after one of my surgeries, waiting for a test to come back, wondering how many more birthdays I would get with my kids? How many more anniversaries would I get to celebrate with my husband? I don’t care how strong you are: it’s scary. Fortunately, we have more hope for survival than ever before. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more women have access to comprehensive health care coverage and new treatments for breast cancer. Preventative services like mammograms are now available for no co-pay, so women don’t have to worry about being able to afford a test that could save their life. An important first step in the battle against cancer is educating people about how to detect any abnormalities. As one of the 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in our country today, I wanted to use my own experiences with breast cancer to help other young women deal with the pain and difficulty of diagnosis and treatment. After I experienced the importance of early detection first hand, I knew that I had to introduce legislation to help other young women facing this terrible disease. That’s why I introduced the Breast Health Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young Act, or the EARLY Act. The EARLY Act, which became law as part of the Affordable Care Act, focuses on a central tenet: that we must empower young women to understand their bodies and speak up for their health. It also creates an education and outreach campaign that will highlight the breast cancer risks facing young women 45 and under, and empower them with the tools they need to fight this deadly disease. Together, we can support our mothers, sisters, daughters, and sister-friends, and eradicate breast cancer once and for all. We can help the women in our lives get a head start by talking to them today. By sharing with more women the knowledge we possess—about risk, about early detection, about practicing good breast health—we can give more women the power to stand up, the power to speak up and the power to survive. When we passed the Affordable Care Act, and when the Supreme Court upheld it this summer, it was personal to me. And when Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan talk about repealing critical reforms for millions of women across the country, I take that personally, too. They’re asking the women in those waiting rooms to continue paying more for health care coverage, just because they’re women. And they’re allowing insurers to continue denying coverage to breast cancer survivors like me, who are only here because a screening caught their cancer in time. I won’t accept it for myself, for my daughters, for women, or for any family in this country. And I know you won’t, either. Step up today and commit to vote to protect our health and our future.
Right now, it’s just 46 days until we have the chance to reelect President Obama and send Democrats to office all over this country. But the excitement has already begun: Absentee ballots are now available in North Carolina, Virginia, and elsewhere. (To learn more about voting in your state, go to www.gottavote.com .) Tomorrow, September 22, is another important milestone in this election. By then, states must send absentee ballots to military and overseas voters. By the end of next week, in-person early voting will be underway in several states, including Iowa. There are many ways to cast your ballot this election. It is our responsibility to exercise those rights that our men and women in uniform and generations of voting-rights activists made sure we can enjoy. If you’re not registered yet, get registered today. Go to www.gottaregister.com right now, and make sure that you are eligible to have your voice heard this election. We all have an obligation to honor our past, and help decide our future. Let’s get started today.
Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee: Romney’s Tax Returns Sho
Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee released the following statement today reacting to the release of Mitt Romney’s 2011 tax returns which show Romney has paid an effective tax rate much lower than the hardworking middle class Americans he wrote off this week: “Governor Romney’s tax returns drive home just how disconnected he is from working families across our nation. For the past two years, he paid a lower effective tax rate than many of the 47 percent of Americans he disparaged last week. And under the Ryan Roadmap, he’d pay even less. No wonder Mr. Romney likes the Republican plan—it gives additional tax breaks to millionaires like him and companies like Bain Capital. Unfortunately, it hits everyone and everything else much harder as a result.”
DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz: One Year After the Official End of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Lesb
DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement today on the one-year anniversary of the official end of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which prohibited lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans from serving their country openly in the military: “One year ago today, our nation took a historic step forward and affirmed once again that we truly are greater together, as we officially wiped the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy off the books. From its enactment in 1993 to its hard-won repeal, this discriminatory policy led to the unjust discharge of thousands of patriotic Americans—brave men and women who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country even as they were forced to hide who they love. It needlessly undermined our nation’s military readiness, costing us significantly with the loss of mission-critical service members, military personnel, linguists and other key specialists. In so many fundamental ways, it was dishonorable, indefensible and contrary to who we are as a country—and we remain proud to say it’s a relic of the past. “On the one-year anniversary of the official end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ we celebrate the incredible leadership of those who made this day possible: President Obama and the hard working members of his Administration, a fair-minded majority in the Congress that I was proud to join in voting to repeal this reprehensible policy, and all of the tireless champions for LGBT equality across the country—including the many brave servicemen and women who were unfairly discharged and those who still serve today. Today, we are honored to stand together as a nation where lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans can serve proudly and openly, and we salute all of America’s service members for their unparalleled dedication to our country.”