Thursday, April 30, 2009


Office of the Press Secretary


April 30, 2009



Grand Foyer

12:08 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Hey, guys. I know you haven't seen enough of me lately, so -- (laughter.)

One month ago, I spoke about some of the problems that have led to the crisis in the auto industry, and about what would be required to ensure that General Motors and Chrysler emerged from their current troubles stronger and more competitive. My team will continue working with General Motors as they strengthen their business plan and move towards restructuring that's consistent with the principles that I've laid out.

And today, after consulting with my Auto Task Force, I can report that the necessary steps have been taken to give one of America 's most storied automakers, Chrysler, a new lease on life.

This is a company that has a particular claim on our American identity. It's a company founded in the early years of the American automobile industry; a company that helped make the 20th century an American Century; and that came to embody, along with the two other members of the Big Three, the ingenuity, the industriousness, and the indomitable spirit of the American people.

Chrysler has not only been an icon of America's auto industry and a source of pride for generations of American workers; it's been responsible for helping build our middle class, giving countless Americans the chance to provide for their families, sending their kids to college, saving for a secure retirement. It's what hundreds of thousands of autoworkers and suppliers and dealers and their families rely on to pay their bills in communities across our industrial Midwest and across our country.

It's been a pillar of our industrial economy, but, frankly, a pillar that's been weakened by papering over tough problems and avoiding hard choices. For too long, Chrysler moved too slowly to adapt to the future, designing and building cars that were less popular, less reliable, and less fuel-efficient than foreign competitors. That's part of what has brought us to a point where they sought taxpayer assistance.

But as I've said from the start, we simply cannot keep this company, or any company, afloat on an endless supply of tax dollars. My job, as President, is to ensure that if tax dollars are being put on the line, they are being invested in a real fix that will make Chrysler more competitive.

That's why I rejected the original restructuring plan that Chrysler offered last month. It was clear that if we put tax dollars in that plan, it would be a bad deal for American taxpayers and would not put the company on a viable path. But it's also clear that if Chrysler was able to form a partnership with the international car company Fiat, there was a chance Chrysler could have a bright future.

After consulting with my Auto Task Force, industry experts, and financial advisors, I decided to give Chrysler and Fiat 30 days to reach an agreement. And the standard I set was high -- I challenged them to design a plan that would protect American jobs, American taxpayers, and the future of a great American car company. But over the past month, seemingly insurmountable obstacles have been overcome, and Chrysler's most important stakeholders -- from the United Auto Workers to Chrysler's largest lenders, from its own -- from its former owners to its suppliers -- have agreed to make major sacrifices.

So, today, I am pleased to announce that Chrysler and Fiat have formed a partnership that has a strong chance of success. It's a partnership that will save more than 30,000 jobs at Chrysler, and tens of thousands of jobs at suppliers, dealers and other businesses that rely on this company.

It's a partnership that the federal government will support by making additional loans that are consistent with what I outlined last month. As part of their agreement, every dime of new taxpayer money will be repaid before Fiat can take a majority ownership stake in Chrysler. In addition, considering Chrysler's extensive operations in Canada , the government of Canada is also committing resources to ensure that Chrysler has a chance to succeed, and we're working closely with them.

It's a partnership that will give Chrysler a chance not only to survive, but to thrive in a global auto industry. Fiat has demonstrated that it can build the clean, fuel-efficient cars that are the future of the industry, and as part of this agreement, Fiat has already agreed to transfer billions of dollars in cutting-edge technology to Chrysler to help them do the same. Fiat is also committed to working with Chrysler to build new fuel-efficient cars and engines right here in America .

Now, this partnership was only possible because of unprecedented sacrifices on the part of Chrysler's stakeholders, who are willing to give something up so that this company -- and all of the men and women whose livelihoods depend on it -- might see a better day. Chrysler's management, and in particular, its CEO, Robert Nardelli, have played a positive and constructive role throughout this process. The United Auto Workers, who had already made painful concessions, agreed to further cuts in wages and benefits; cuts that will help Chrysler survive, making it possible for so many workers to keep their jobs and about 170,000 retirees and their families to keep their health care.

Several major financial institutions, led by J.P. Morgan, agreed to reduce their debt to less than one-third of its face value to help free Chrysler from its crushing obligations. The German automaker, Daimler, agreed to give up its stake in Chrysler and contribute to the company's pension plan, further easing Chrysler's financial burden. And countless Americans across our country will be making major sacrifices, as well, as a result of plans to consolidate dealers, brands, and product lines.

While many stakeholders made sacrifices and worked constructively, I have to tell you some did not. In particular, a group of investment firms and hedge funds decided to hold out for the prospect of an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout. They were hoping that everybody else would make sacrifices, and they would have to make none. Some demanded twice the return that other lenders were getting. I don't stand with them. I stand with Chrysler's employees and their families and communities. I stand with Chrysler's management, its dealers, and its suppliers. I stand with the millions of Americans who own and want to buy Chrysler cars. I don't stand with those who held out when everybody else is making sacrifices. And that's why I'm supporting Chrysler's plans to use our bankruptcy laws to clear away its remaining obligations so the company can get back on its feet and onto a path of success.

No one should be confused about what a bankruptcy process means. This is not a sign of weakness, but rather one more step on a clearly charted path to Chrysler's revival. Because of the fact that the UAW and many of the banks, the biggest stakeholders in this whole process have already aligned, have already agreed, this process will be quick. It will be efficient. It's designed to deal with those last few holdouts, and it will be controlled. It will not disrupt the lives of the people who work at Chrysler or live in communities that depend on it. And it will not affect the ability of American consumers to buy a Chrysler, or to get it serviced and repaired. It's a process that has the full support of Chrysler's key stakeholders and the full backing of the United States government. And I have every confidence that Chrysler will emerge from this process stronger and more competitive.

I know that there are some who will insist that bankruptcy, even for these limited purposes, is a step that should not have been taken. But it was unsustainable to let enormous liabilities remain on Chrysler's books, and it was unacceptable to let a small group of speculators endanger Chrysler's future by refusing to sacrifice like everyone else. So I recognize that the path we're taking is hard. But as is often the case, the hard path is the right one.

The path we're taking also involves steps to shore up financing, because we cannot have viable car companies without strong car financing companies. It's now clear that Chrysler Financial -- the institution that finances Chrysler cars and dealers -- would on its own require an unacceptably large stream of taxpayer money to remain viable -- and that's something I refuse to provide. And that is why, as part of this agreement, GMAC, an independent bank holding company that finances General Motors, has agreed to finance new Chrysler sales. We will be providing additional capital to GMAC to help unlock our frozen credit markets and free up lending so that consumers can get auto loans and dealers can finance their inventories; a measure that will help stabilize not only our auto market, but the broader economy, as well. And tomorrow, the Small Business Administration will be announcing it is expanding eligibility for some loans to include more suppliers and dealers, including RV dealers.

So these are some of the steps that we're taking to make it easier for Americans to buy a car. If you are considering buying a car, I hope it will be an American car. I want to remind you that if you decide to buy a Chrysler, your warrantee will be safe -- because it is backed by the United States government. And to further boost demand for autos, we are working to accelerate the purchase of a federal fleet, and we're also working with Congress on fleet modernization legislation that can provide a credit to consumers who turn in old cars and purchase cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars.

As pleased as I am about today's announcement and about the opportunity Chrysler has to remake itself, we know that far too many Americans in far too many communities are still struggling, as a result of layoffs not only at plants that produce cars, but at the businesses that produce the parts that go into them and at the dealers that sell and repair them. And that's why, as I discussed the last time we gathered here to talk about autos, I've named Ed Montgomery to be the Director of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers. Ed will be traveling to Michigan next week with representatives from all the key government agencies represented here, reaching out to our hardest-hit areas, cutting through red tape, ensuring that the full resources of the federal government are getting to the workers, the families, and communities that need it the most.

Now, these are challenging times for America 's auto industry and for the American people. But I am confident that if we as a nation can act with the same sense of shared sacrifice and shared purpose that's been shown by so many of Chrysler's stakeholders, if we can embrace the idea that we're all in it together -- from the union hall to the boardroom to the halls of Congress -- then we will succeed not only with Chrysler, we will not only see our American auto industry rise again, but we will rebuild our entire economy and make the 21st century another American Century.

We have made great progress. We can make great American cars. Chrysler and GM are going to come back. And I am very confident that we're going to be able to make once again the U.S. auto industry the best auto industry in the world.

And I want to thank my entire auto team who worked so diligently on what I consider to be a much better outcome than it looked like we were going to see 30 days ago.

Thank you very much, everybody.

END 12:20 P.M. EDT


Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Office of the First Lady


April 28, 2009



U.S. Capitol

Washington, D.C.

12:13 P.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you so much. I'm not going to talk long because everybody has said just about everything that can be said. But let me tell you something, I am proud to be here.

I want to congratulate everyone who was a part of making this day possible: the NCBW, all of the elected official, C. DeLores Tucker, her family, the family of Sojourner Truth. It is just a sheer delight to have you here witnessing this.

But let's just think about this day and this gathering. It is so good to see this hall filled with so many strong women -- a few brothers in here, a few people -- (applause) -- but such a diverse group of people crowding this hall. And one can only imagine what Sojourner Truth, an outspoken, tell-it-like-it-is kind of woman -- and we all know a little something about that, right -- (applause) -- just to imagine what she would have to say about this incredible gathering, just looking down on this day, and thinking about the legacy she has left all of us -- because we are all here because, as my husband says time and time again, we stand on the shoulders of giants like Sojourner Truth. (Applause.)

And just as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott would be pleased to know that we have a woman serving as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, I hope that Sojourner Truth would be proud to see me, a descendant of slaves, serving as the First Lady of the United States of America. (Applause.) So I am proud to be here. I am proud to be able to stand here on this day with this dedication.

And just as many young boys and girls have walked through this Capitol -- I see them now, and they see the bust of suffragists and hear the stories of the struggles of women, what they had to endure to gain the right to vote -- now many young boys and girls, like my own daughters, will come to Emancipation Hall and see the face of a woman who looks like them. (Applause.)

And all the visitors in the U.S. Capitol will hear the story of brave women who endured the greatest of humanities -- indignities. They'll hear the story of Sojourner Truth who didn't allow those indignities to destroy her spirit, who fought for her own freedom, and then used her powers, young people -- then she used her power to help others; who fought for the right to vote and for the rights of all women.

The power of this bust will not just be in the metal that delineates Sojourner Truth's face; it will also be in the message that defines her legacy.

Forever more, in the halls of one of our country's greatest monuments of liberty and equality, justice and freedom, Sojourner's Truth story will be told again and again and again and again. So now let's get on with unveiling this statue. Thank you so much. (Applause.)

END 12:18 P.M. EDT

President Obama on phone with Senator Arlen Specter

President Obama to Senator Arlen Specter:

'We Are Thrilled To Have You'

Sam Stein

White House aides said on Tuesday that they had no advanced knowledge that Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter would be switching party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. Once told, however, the president reached Specter to express his thrill at having him in the party and to offer his full support.

According to a White House aide, the president found out about the switch at 10:25 AM while in the Oval Office receiving his Economic Daily Briefing.

The president was handed a note, the aide said, that read: "Specter is announcing he is changing parties."

Seven minutes later, President Obama reached Specter to tell him, according to the aide, "You have my full support" and that we are "thrilled to have you."

The White House released a photo Tuesday of the president on the phone with Specter:

B4B Note: We congratulate Senator Arlen Specter for the strength it took to switch parties. Contact Senator Specter HERE to show your appreciation. Could Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe be next ?


Monday, April 27, 2009

SLIDESHOW: President Obama's 100 Days:
Behind-The-Scenes Photos

Photos by Callie Shell/Aurora for Time Magazine

To View Complete Historic Slideshow


Friday, April 24, 2009

President Obama's Plans to Make College Affordable


Office of the Press Secretary


April 24, 2009

President Obama Meets with Family Struggling with College Costs, Underscores Need to Eliminate Wasteful Spending in Federal Student Loan Program, Reinvest Savings in Making College More Affordable

WASHINGTON – Today, President Barack Obama met with a family struggling to afford the cost of college and underscored his commitment to cutting wasteful spending on federal student loans by ending taxpayer subsidies to banks. President Obama discussed the strain that rising tuition costs are placing on middle class families and his proposal to end the private Federal Family Education Loans program that lines the pockets of the banks who serve as middlemen while costing the American people $5 billion a year.

The banks and lenders who have reaped a windfall from these subsidies have mobilized an army of lobbyists to try and keep things the way they are,” President Obama said. “They are gearing up for a battle. And so am I. They will fight for their special interests. I will fight for America ’s students, and their families.”

Below is information on President Obama’s proposal.

Reforming Student Loans to Make College Affordable

We will provide the support necessary for you to complete college and meet a new goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.”

-- President Barack Obama, February 24, 2009

America’s future economic strength depends on the quality of our education. Countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow. America once had one of the most educated workforces in the world, but it has now slipped to the middle of the pack. Only 38 percent of young workers have a college degree, a lower percentage than nine other countries and no higher than a generation ago. At the same time, we do not provide enough financial aid, partly because the student loan program spends $5 billion more than necessary subsidizing banks and other lenders to make student loans.

Today, President Obama met with a family struggling to afford the cost of college and released a new analysis of the impact of his plans to increase student aid. He will take on the special interests to eliminate wasteful and unreliable guaranteed student loans and invest more in helping students succeed in college and complete their degree. And he will make a historic investment in college affordability: together, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the President’s Budget provide about $200 billion in Pell Grant scholarships and tax credits over the next decade.

· Reforming Student Loans: The guaranteed student loan program pays banks and other lenders a guaranteed rate of return and reimburses them for defaults, giving them large profits set by the political process rather than won in a competitive marketplace. The Obama-Biden Administration will expand the alternative Direct Loan program, which is administered by private sector companies selected through a competitive process and paid based upon performance. Direct loans have essentially the same terms for students and are more reliable and efficient. They will save $48 billion over the next decade according to the Office of Management and Budget, which will be reinvested in Pell Grant scholarships for students.

· Restoring Pell Grants to a Strong Foundation for Student Aid: The value of Pell Grants have fallen from 77 percent of the cost of attending a public university to 33 percent over the past three decades. The ARRA invested $17 billion, making it possible to increase Pell by $619 for 7 million students. But these funding increases are only temporary, and without additional resources the value of the maximum Pell Grant will fall by $1,400 in 2011. President Obama is committed to a strong, reliable Pell Grant program. He will make Pell an entitlement, provide $116 billion over the next decade to prevent any drop in the size of Pell Grants, ensure that they continues to grow faster than inflation, and eliminate the frequent budget shortfalls that have plagued the program.

· Cut Taxes on College Tuition: The ARRA created the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which will give millions of families up to $2,500 each to help pay for college. The credit was also expanded to help families too poor to owe income taxes. But the credit expires at the end of 2010. The President’s Budget would make it permanent.

· Make a New Commitment to College Access and Completion: Only 65 percent of students starting at four-year colleges – and 38 percent of students starting at two-year colleges – earn a degree within six years. The President’s Budget includes a five-year, $2.5 billion fund to improve college access and help America ’s colleges and universities graduate more students. The fund will identify, test, and promote what works in boosting college enrollment and persistence.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


On April 16, 2009, the Department of Justice released four secret memos used by the Bush administration to justify torture.

A 18-page memo, dated August 1, 2002, from Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
A 46-page memo, dated May 10, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
A 20-page memo, dated May 10, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
A 40-page memo, dated May 30, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]


Office of the Press Secretary


April 23, 2009




Roosevelt Room

1:52 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I just had a constructive meeting with the heads of many of the leading credit card issuers here in the country. Obviously we're at a time where issues of credit and how businesses and families are able to finance everything from a car loan to a student loan to just paying their bills every day is on a lot of people's minds. And Secretary Geithner and our economic team has worked diligently to try to restore confidence in the credit markets, to assure that the non-bank financial sector is stronger, to ensure that banks have the capital they need, and that that money is getting out the door to the ultimate end user -- the American businessperson and individual.

We're still seeing some problems, although we think that we've begun to make progress.

One of the areas, as we move forward and look at financial regulation, how do we create a framework where this kind of crisis doesn't happen again, and how do we create a sustainable model for economic growth and debt that is not based on bubbles and overleveraging on the part of businesses and consumers is the issue of credit cards and how they're used and how we can create a more stable, more effective, more consumer-friendly system.

We had a discussion with some of the top issuers here, and what I communicated to them is that I think credit cards are an important convenience for a lot of people. They are a source of unsecured debt for a lot of individuals and small businesses who are creating jobs; a lot of startups may use credit cards for that purpose. We think that's important, and so we want to preserve the credit card market.

But we also want to do so in a way that eliminates some of the abuses and some of the problems that a lot of people are familiar with -- people finding themselves starting off with a low rate and the next thing they know their interest rates have doubled; fees that they didn't know about that are suddenly tacked on to their bills; a whole lack of clarity and transparency in terms of the terms and conditions of their credit cards.

And so there's going to be action in Congress. Our administration is going to be pushing for reform in this area. We think it's important that we get input from the credit card issuers as we shape this reform, but there -- and I'm going to leave it up to my economic team to work with Congress to evaluate all the various proposals and to get some very definitive language in place.

There are going to be some core principles, though, that I want to adhere to, and I mentioned these to all the credit card issuers involved.

First of all, I think that there has to be strong and reliable protections for consumers -- protections that ban unfair rate increases and forbid abusive fees and penalties. The days of any time, any reason rate hikes and late fee traps have to end.

Number two, all the forms and statements that credit card companies send out have to be written in plain language and be in plain sight. No more fine print, no more confusing terms and conditions. We want clarity and transparency from here on out.

Number three, we have to make sure that people can comparison shop when it comes to credit cards without being afraid that they're going to be taken advantage of. So we believe that it's important to require firms to make all their contract terms easily accessible online in a fashion that allows people to shop for the best deal for their needs.

Not every consumer is going to have the same needs. And some may want to take on a higher interest rate because it provides them more convenience or it provides them with a higher credit line. But we want to make sure that they can make those comparisons themselves easily. And we think that one of the things that needs to be explored is the possibility that every credit card issuer has to issue a plain vanilla, easy to understand, simplest terms possible credit card as a default credit card that the average user can feel comfortable with.

Finally, we think we need more accountability in the system. And that means more effective oversight and more effective enforcement so that people who are issuing credit cards but violate law, they will feel the full weight of the law.

So we are confident that we can arrive at something that is commonsensical, something that allows the industry to continue to provide loans and to run a stable business model that's not dependent on bubbles, that's not dependent on people getting over-extended or finding themselves in over their heads. I trust that those in the industry who want to act responsibly will engage with us in a constructive fashion and that we're going to be able to get this done in short order.

All right. Thank you very much, everybody.

Q Is there a balance between protecting consumers and letting the credit card companies have revenue here?

THE PRESIDENT: We think that it's been out of balance. And so we think we need to create a new equilibrium where credit is slowing, those who are issuing credit are able to make a reasonable profit -- but they're doing so in a way that is responsible and consumers are not finding themselves in a bad situation that they didn't anticipate.

All right. Thank you.

END 1:58 P.M. EDT


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

President Obama Calls On All Americans to Serve

The President has just signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, joined by Senator Kennedy, President Bill Clinton, the Congressional leaders who supported the legislation, and countless others dedicated to passage of the bill at the SEED School, where service is a core part of the curriculum. Appropriately, the President announced a major call to service:
A week from tomorrow marks the 100th day of my administration. In those next eight days, I ask every American to make an enduring commitment to serving your community and your country in whatever way you can. Visit to share your stories of service and success. And together, we will measure our progress not just in number of hours served or volunteers mobilized – but in the impact our efforts have on the life of this nation.
Find the right opportunity for you, or tell us your story of service – then come back in the coming days and weeks and we will highlight some of the best of what we hear.
He spoke to Senator Kennedy, and his entire family, commending them as an icon of service and self-sacrifice in America. He spoke to Republican Senator Orrin Hatch for his role in conceiving of the bill. And he spoke to those in Chicago who taught him the virtues of service as a community organizer.
He spoke to the youth, and all those who are already engaged:
I’ve met countless people of all ages and walks of life who want nothing more than to do their part. I’ve seen a rising generation of young people work and volunteer and turn out in record numbers. They’re a generation that came of age amidst the horrors of 9/11 and Katrina; the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; an economic crisis without precedent. And yet despite all this, or more likely because of it, they have become a generation of activists possessed with that most American of ideas – that people who love their country can change it.
He spoke to those who are not yet engaged:
It’s as simple as that. All that’s required on your part is a willingness to make a difference. That is, after all, the beauty of service. Anyone can do it. You don’t need to be a community organizer, or a Senator -- or a Kennedy – or even a President to bring change to people’s lives.
And he spoke to the larger moment our country faces:
We need your service, right now, at this moment in history. I’m not going to tell you what your role should be; that’s for you to discover. But I’m asking you to stand up and play your part. I’m asking you to help change history’s course. Put your shoulder up against the wheel. And if you do, I promise you – your life will be richer, our country will be stronger, and someday, years from now, you may remember it as the moment when your own story and the American story converged, when they came together, and we met the challenges of our new century.
As the President explained, the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act is about "connecting deeds to needs" – it will open tremendous new avenues of opportunity for Americans to help their country get back on the right track in those many areas where government cannot do it all.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

President Obama's Weekly Address

With the process of going through the budget line by line in full swing, the President uses his Weekly Address to give some examples, big and small, of how the Administration is working to cut costs and eliminate waste.

If Video Does Not appear Click B4B
Hugo Chavez to President Obama:
'I Want To Be Your Friend'

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad - Presidents Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez have met for the first time, shaking hands as the Summit of the Americas gets under way in Trinidad and Tobago.

Photos released by the Venezuelan government show the two smiling and Obama touching Chavez on the shoulder.

The Venezuelan presidency says Obama initiated the handshake. It quotes Chavez as telling Obama he hopes for better relations between their nations.

Chavez also reportedly said Friday: "With this same hand I greeted Bush eight years ago. I want to be your friend."

As recently as last week, Chavez expressed a desire to "reset" relations with Washington.

It's A New Day !


Thursday, April 16, 2009

President Obama and Mexico's President Calderone


Office of the Press Secretary


April 16, 2009

Op-ed by President Barack Obama:

‘Choosing a Better Future in the Americas ’

The op-ed below by President Barack Obama appeared this morning in the following newspapers:

Trinidad Express (Trinidad & Tobago)

St. Petersburg Times ( USA )

Miami Herald ( USA )

El Nuevo Herald ( USA )

The op-ed also ran in the following GRUPO DE DIARIOS AMÉRICA (GDA) affiliates across the hemisphere:

La Nación ( Argentina )
O Globo ( Brazil )
El Mercurio ( Chile )
El Tiempo ( Colombia )
La Nación ( Costa Rica )
El Comercio ( Ecuador )
El Universal (México)
El Comercio (Perú)
El Nuevo Día ( Puerto Rico )
El País ( Uruguay )
El Nacional ( Venezuela )

Choosing a Better Future in the Americas

President Barack Obama

As we approach the Summit of the Americas , our hemisphere is faced with a clear choice. We can overcome our shared challenges with a sense of common purpose, or we can stay mired in the old debates of the past. For the sake of all our people, we must choose the future.

Too often, the United States has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors. We have been too easily distracted by other priorities, and have failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas . My Administration is committed to the promise of a new day. We will renew and sustain a broader partnership between the United States and the hemisphere on behalf of our common prosperity and our common security.

In advance of the Summit , we have begun to move in a new direction. This week, we amended a Cuba policy that has failed for decades to advance liberty or opportunity for the Cuban people. In particular, the refusal to allow Cuban Americans to visit or provide resources to their families on the island made no sense – particularly after years of economic hardship in Cuba , and the devastating hurricanes that took place last year. Now, that policy has changed.

The U.S.-Cuba relationship is one example of a debate in the Americas that is too often dragged back to the 20th century. To confront our economic crisis, we don’t need a debate about whether to have a rigid, state-run economy or unbridled and unregulated capitalism – we need pragmatic and responsible action that advances our common prosperity. To combat lawlessness and violence, we don’t need a debate about whether to blame right-wing paramilitaries or left-wing insurgents – we need practical cooperation to expand our common security.

We must choose the future over the past, because we know that the future holds enormous opportunities if we work together. That is why leaders from Santiago to Brasilia to Mexico City are focused on a renewed partnership of the Americas that makes progress on fundamental issues like economic recovery, energy, and security.

There is no time to lose. The global economic crisis has hit the Americas hard, particularly our most vulnerable populations. Years of progress in combating poverty and inequality hangs in the balance. The United States is working to advance prosperity in the hemisphere by jumpstarting our own recovery. In doing so, we will help spur trade, investment, remittances, and tourism that provides a broader base for prosperity in the hemisphere.

We also need collective action. At the recent G-20 Summit, the United States pledged to seek nearly half a billion dollars in immediate assistance for vulnerable populations, while working with our G-20 partners to set aside substantial resources to help countries through difficult times. We have called upon the Inter-American Development Bank to maximize lending to restart the flow of credit, and stand ready to examine the needs and capacity of the IDB going forward. And we are working to put in place tough, clear 21st century rules of the road to prevent the abuses that caused the current crisis.

While we confront this crisis, we must build a new foundation for long-term prosperity. One area that holds out enormous promise is energy. Our hemisphere has bountiful natural resources that could make renewable energy plentiful and sustainable, while creating jobs for our people. In the process, we can confront climate change that threatens rising sea levels in the Caribbean, diminishing glaciers in the Andes, and powerful storms on the Gulf Coast of the United States .

Together, we have both the responsibility to act, and the opportunity to leave behind a legacy of greater prosperity and security. That is why I look forward to pursuing a new Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas that will help us learn from one another, share technologies, leverage investment, and maximize our comparative advantage.

Just as we advance our common prosperity, we must advance our common security. Too many in our hemisphere are forced to live in fear. That is why the United States will strongly support respect for the rule of law, better law enforcement, and stronger judicial institutions.

Security for our citizens must be advanced through our commitment to partner with those who are courageously battling drug cartels, gangs and other criminal networks throughout the Americas . Our efforts start at home. By reducing demand for drugs and curtailing the illegal flow of weapons and bulk cash south across our border, we can advance security in the United States and beyond. And going forward, we will sustain a lasting dialogue in the hemisphere to ensure that we are building on best practices, adapting to new threats, and coordinating our efforts.

Finally, the Summit gives every democratically-elected leader in the Americas the opportunity to reaffirm our shared values. Each of our countries has pursued its own democratic journey, but we must be joined together in our commitment to liberty, equality, and human rights. That is why I look forward to the day when every country in the hemisphere can take its seat at the table consistent with the Inter-American Democratic Charter. And just as the United States seeks that goal in reaching out to the Cuban people, we expect all of our friends in the hemisphere to join together in supporting liberty, equality, and human rights for all Cubans.

This Summit offers the opportunity of a new beginning. Advancing prosperity, security and liberty for the people of the Americas depends upon 21st century partnerships, freed from the posturing of the past. That is the leadership and partnership that the United States stands ready to provide.


VIDEO: Bo Bama's First Day !

Absolutely Wonderful to see the First Family enjoying their new lives !

Click here if video does not appear


Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Office of the Press Secretary


April 15, 2009

President and First Lady Release

2008 Income Tax Returns

Today, the President released his 2008 federal income tax returns. He and the First Lady filed their income tax returns jointly and reported an adjusted gross income of $2,656,902. The vast majority of the family’s 2008 income is the proceeds from the sale of the President’s books. The Obamas paid $855,323 in federal income tax.

The President and First Lady also reported donating $172,050 – or about 6.5% of their adjusted gross income – to 37 different charities. The largest reported gifts to charity were $25,000 contributions to CARE and the United Negro College Fund.

The President and First Lady also released their Illinois income tax return and reported paying $77,883 in state income taxes.



Office of the Press Secretary


April 15, 2009

Remarks of President Obama

Tax Day Event

Washington, DC

As Prepared for Delivery

Good morning. I know that April 15 isn’t exactly everyone’s favorite date on the calendar. But it is an important opportunity for those of us in Washington to consider our responsibility to the people who sent us here and who pay the bills.

Across America , families like the folks who have joined me here today have had tough choices forced upon them by this economic downturn. Many have lost a job or are fighting to keep their business open. Many more are struggling to make payments, to stay in their home, or to pursue a college education. These Americans are the backbone of our middle class. They are the workers, innovators, and students who must power our recovery. Their dreams must be our own. And they need a government that is working to create jobs and opportunity for them, rather than simply giving more and more to those at the very top in the false hope that wealth will trickle down.

That is why my Administration has taken far-reaching action to give tax cuts to the Americans who need them, while jump-starting growth and job creation in the process. We start from the simple premise that we should reduce the tax burden on working people, while helping Americans go to college, own a home, raise a family, start a business and save for retirement. Those goals are the foundation of the American Dream, and they are the focus of my tax policy.

First, we have passed a broad and sweeping tax cut for 95 percent of American workers. This tax cut was a core focus of my campaign, it was a core component of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and it is the most progressive tax cut in American history. And starting April 1st, Americans saw this tax cut in the extra money that they took home with each paycheck.

Make no mistake: this tax cut will reach 120 million families and put $120 billion directly into their pockets, and it includes the most American workers ever to get a tax cut. This will boost demand, and save or create over half a million jobs. And the Congressional Budget Office has found that tax cuts like these for American workers are more than three times more effective in stimulating recovery than tax breaks for the very wealthiest Americans.

This tax cut also keeps a fundamental promise: that Americans who work hard should be able to make a decent living. It lifts more than two million Americans out of poverty. And together with the child tax credit, it ensures that a working parent will be able to support their family.

Second, we are helping small businesses keep their doors open so they can weather this economic storm and create good jobs. Instead of the normal two years, small businesses are now allowed to offset their losses during this downturn against the income they’ve earned over the last five years. This could provide a record number of refunds for small businesses, which will provide them with the lifeline that they need to maintain inventory and pay their workers.

Third, we are helping Americans get the education they need to succeed in a global economy. For years, we have seen the price of tuition skyrocket at the same time that it became more and more important to earn a college degree. That is why we are making college more affordable for every American that needs a hand. That is why we are committed to simplifying the student loan process so more families can get the help they need. And that is why our $2,500 tax credit for all four years of college will help us reach a goal that will help our country lead in the 21st century: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

Fourth, we are helping more Americans purchase homes that they can afford. Just as we must put an end to the irresponsible lending and borrowing that created the housing bubble, we must restore the home as a source of stability and an anchor of the American dream. That is why we are providing a tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time home buyers. This will put a home within reach for hard-working Americans who are playing by the rules and making responsible choices.

Fifth, we know that tax relief must be joined with fiscal discipline. Americans are making hard choices in their budgets, and we have to tighten our belts in Washington as well. That’s why we have identified two trillion dollars in deficit-reductions over the next decade. That’s why we’re cutting programs that don’t work, contracts that aren’t fair, and spending that we don’t need.

We’re also doing away with the unnecessary giveaways that have thrown our tax code out of balance. We need to stop giving tax breaks to corporations that stash profits or ship jobs overseas so that we can invest in job creation at home. And we need to end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans, so that folks like me are paying the same rates that the wealthiest 2% of Americans paid when Bill Clinton was President.

Finally, we need to simplify a monstrous tax code that is far too complicated for most Americans to understand, but just complicated enough for the insiders who know how to work the system. I’ve started by asking Paul Volcker and my Economic Recovery Board to do a thorough review of how to simplify our tax code, and to report back to me by the end of this year. It will take time to undo the damage of years of carve-outs and loopholes. But I want every American to know that we will rewrite the tax code so that it puts your interests over any special interest. And we will make it quicker, easier, and less expensive for you to file a return, so that April 15 is not a date that is approached with dread each year.

The folks I’ve talked to aren’t looking for a free ride. They work hard and deserve a chance to get ahead. They’re families like the Kirkwoods, who just want to own their own business and put some money away for their kids’ tuition. They’re workers like Clark Harrison, who has worked hard and wants to be able to purchase that first home. They’re business owners like Alan Givens, who wants his company to sustain itself through the bad times as well as the good.

For too long, we’ve seen taxes used as a wedge to scare people into supporting policies that increased the burden on working people instead of helping them live their dreams. That has to change, and that’s the work that we’ve begun. We’ve passed tax cuts that will help our economy grow. We’ve made a clear promise that families that earn less than $250,000 will not see their taxes increase by a single dime. We’ve given tax relief to the Americans who need it and the workers who have earned it. And we’re helping more Americans move towards their American Dream by going to school, owning a home, keeping their business and raising their family.

So on this April 15, we are reminded of the enormous responsibility that comes with handling the peoples’ tax dollars. And we are renewing our commitment to a simpler tax code that rewards work and the pursuit of the American dream.