Sunday, December 12, 2010

New ! Must Read Book by
Professor Ishmael Reed

" Barack Obama
and the Jim Crow Media "

By Jill Nelson

Ishmael Reed is a novelist, playwright, poet, essayist, publisher, editor, composer, and teacher who taught at the University of California, Berkeley for 35 years. The recipient of numerous fellowships and wards, in 1998 he was given a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award.

Reed, a founder of the Before Columbus Foundation , which annually gives out the American Book Award, is a longtime champion of the work of other writers and has edited over a dozen anthologies. He is a regular contributor to, in which a number of these essays first appeared, and also edits and publishes the online zine, Konch. The father of two daughters, also writers, he lives in Oakland, Ca. with his wife, writer, choreographer and director Carla Blank.

Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media: The Return of the Nigger Breakers is Reed’s fourth book of media criticism. We talked to Reed while he was on the East Coast on a brief tour to promote a book whose publication and scathing critique of racist, corporate controlled media has largely and not surprisingly been ignored by those whom Reed labels the “Jim Crow Media.”

Q. Your latest book was published last month. Would you explain its sub-title: “The Return of the Nigger Breakers”?

A: Edward Covey was a member of a profession whose job was to tame unruly slaves. Frederick Douglass was one of those men who was sent to him, a Nigger Breaker, to be disciplined. Douglass turned the tables on him and thrashed him. I argue that this is the aim of the media, and other institutions that are opposed to Obama. Moreover, with the firing and buyouts of hundreds of minority journalists, black institutions, blacks in general, black celebrities and even the president are being judged by a mostly white media and a handful of acceptable right-wing blacks, a few of whom are farther to the right than the white right.

Q. The book was published by a Canadian-based publisher. Why were you unable to get this book published in the United States?

A: This is attributable to the state of black letters. Serious fiction and non-fiction by blacks are becoming extinct, except for those which uphold the current line coming from the media owners and the corporations: that all of the problems of Africans and African Americans are due to their behavior. Terry McMillan, interviewed in the latest issue of Konch ( says that black fiction that is selling is urban fiction that shows blacks at their worst. This is not to say that black criminals don’t exist. But that’s all we get from the mainstream media, television and movies. This is true not only for literature but for theater, film, art galleries and opinion columns as well.

At one time, blacks could respond through writing. James Baldwin served as a diamond megaphone for black aspirations and could debate critics of black people one on one. But with the disappearance of serious black fiction and non-fiction, this is no longer the case. Now this book, which my agent said no American publisher would publish, was published in Quebec. Between April 14 and 20, I did national media in Canada with front page stories in the major dailies and weeklies, a front page story in The Montreal Review of Books and was greeted by crowds in Montreal and Toronto. In Montreal, they had to turn people away. This must have been what it was like when the fugitive slaves traveled abroad and lectured. My advice to young writers is that they seek audiences elsewhere. It’s a big world.

Q. Much of your recent work has focused on media criticism. Why?

A: The segregated American media with its alliance with the right wing and racist forces like the tea party movement—which was created, organized, and amplified by the segregated Jim Crow media—are the most powerful opponents to black and Hispanic progress. It’s not surprising that they have, using the late Carl Rowan’s expression, “outpropagandized” blacks and white democrats and progressives as well. That’s because they have billions at their disposal.

The insurance companies put $350 million out to defeat health care reform and bank-rolled this faux grassroots movement, which is white men, among the most privileged groups in world history. The media have overblown the strength of this movement because racism is big business for them. The coverage of a gun rally that was held near Washington, D.C., on April 19 was typical. CNN didn’t do aerial shots because that would have revealed the small turnout. The media are the mob leaders. And they cater to a niche of people who are addicted to the need to believe in black pathology.

Q. On that point, you wrote very critically about the movie ‘Precious’, and took a good deal of heat for it. Did you feel compelled to speak out?

A: Most of the responses I received from whites and black men and women were 85 percent positive. This propaganda movie had to be challenged because powerful critics were saying that this family was the typical black family living in poverty. I never denied that child abuse occurs in American communities. What the supporters of this movie were suggesting is that incest is “prevalent” in African-American communities! And the media line was that only a few black angry men were opposed to the movie. I pointed out that a number of black women and even white women intellectuals spoke out against the film. In fact, the latest issue of my zine Konch publishes two articles written by white women who are vociferous in their opposition to the movie. Thirty years from now, Precious will seem like an odd throwback to the days when blacks were shown running away from the farmer’s shotgun with chickens in both hands.

Q. Ishmael, your information about the media seems encyclopedic. What do you read, watch, listen to, what sites on the internet?

A: I read three newspapers each day, where the typical portrait of a black man has him in an orange jumpsuit. I watch cable and monitor the opinion pages whose post-race line is usually challenged by reports and studies printed in the same newspapers. I do not come to criticism of the media empty-handed.

Q: Any advice on how to become more critical in news consumption?

A: I have an online magazine. I get useful information each day from those who write on Facebook,, Media Matters, FAIR. And Richard Prince’s “Journalisms” are essential.

Q: Do you think technology, particularly the Internet – is loosening the grip of corporate media?

A: Yes, that’s why they’re trying control it.

Q: Given your analysis in the “Jim Crow Media,” how do people of color, progressives and others critique Barack Obama without colluding with corporate America’s agenda?

A: I have some problems with some of Obama’s policies, but as long as these people are threatening to kill him and his family, and calling his mother, a distinguished Irish-American anthropologist, “white trash” and even worse, I’m on his side. All of the stored-up bile of white supremacy has exploded like airborne E-Coli as a result of Obama’s election. One Republican site just put up a photo depicting Obama and Michelle as characters in Sanford and Son. He’s not only the nation’s President but he’s also its chief exorcist, like a St.Patrick stoking the nation’s lizard brain.

The progressives are uncomfortable with Obama because they’ve been opposed to black leadership, historically. The progressive media is just as segregated as the corporate media which they are always criticizing from their glass houses. Richard Prince printed a photo of a Huffington Post Xmas party. One black staffer!! The opposition to Obama from people of color comes from the fringes. He has a 90 percent approval rating from blacks, over 60 percent from Hispanics and he carried the Asian-American vote. Yet these arrogant white progressives say they are his base and that he is obligated to them. (CLICK for rest of article)

B4B NOTE: Although I oppose the use of the 'N' word in the books title, this is absolutely THE BEST assessment of the current nature of the media ever written. We all see the daily, strategic media manipulation designed to tear-down/demean The President but other than a few like myself…there has been silence. This article should go viral and Professor Reed’s book should be on EVERY coffee table. p.s. The FORCES are already working hard to ‘re-write’ the history of this Presidency in hopes of labeling it as a failure….despite the FACT that THIS President has already accomplished more in 2 years than most in 2 full terms. And for those unaware…here’s the article I posted back in September entitled: " The 244 Accomplishments of President Barack Obama ". Thank You Professor and thank you Ms. Nelson. Of course, we have to share this article and encourage all to do as well.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I just received our latest reports from the field. Voter turnout is running ahead of expectations.

That's great news. But it also means that we need more volunteers to help us keep up and make sure we're talking to every single one of our voters.

Can you spare a couple hours to help us in Cleveland today? We need volunteers at any of the following offices (You can just show up and get started! No need to RSVP):

West Park Campaign Office
11642 Lorain Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44111

Parma Campaign Office
5580 Ridge Rd.
Cleveland, OH 44129

Shaker Square Campaign Office
13100 Shaker Blvd.
Cleveland, OH 44120

Things are moving fast today - our volunteers are making an incredible 34 calls per second. We really need you to be part of that effort. Just find a staging location near you and drop by!

Luis Hernandez
Strickland for Governor

P.S. If you can't help out at these three offices, visit to find a different staging location near you. Please do not use the online form to sign up. You can just show up to the office!

B4B Home Page

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release October 13, 2010



Rose Garden

1:50 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Before we get to what we’re here to talk about -– which is education -– I just want to say a quick word about what so far appears to be a successful rescue of the trapped Chilean miners.

This is obviously something that's captivated the world’s attention and this rescue is a tribute not only to the determination of the rescue workers and the Chilean government, but also the unity and resolve of the Chilean people who have inspired the world. And I want to express the hopes of the American people that the miners who are still trapped underground will be returned home safely as soon as possible.

Let me also commend so many people of goodwill, not only in Chile, but also from the United States and around the world, who are lending a hand in this rescue effort -– from the NASA team that helped design the escape vehicle, to American companies that manufactured and delivered parts of the rescue drill, to the American engineer who flew in from Afghanistan to operate the drill.

Last night, the whole world watched the scene at Camp Esperanza as the first miner was lifted out from under more than 2,000 feet of rock and then embraced by his young son and family. And the tears they shed -– after so much time apart -– expressed not only their own relief, not only their own joy, but the joy of people everywhere. So it was a thrilling moment and we're hopeful that those celebrations duplicate themselves throughout the rest of today.

Behind me I've got the Mohan family -- Edward, Kathleen and Sarah -- raise your hands. There we go. (Laughter.) I've got the O’Mealia family -- Mary Ellen with her sons, Sean and Tom, and her daughters, Kelly and Leigh Anne. And we've got the Maynard family -- Philip and Joanne with son, Gregory, and daughters Katherine and Elizabeth.

We just had a wonderful visit. And the reason we're here today, all of us, is that one of the most important things that's going to determine our long-term success is education. Over the past 21 months, as we’ve climbed our way out of this recession, I’ve often said that if we want Americans –- and America itself –- to succeed in the 21st century, we need to offer all of our young people the best education the world has to offer.

At a time when the unemployment rate for folks who’ve never gone to college is almost double what it is for those who have gone to college, when most of the new jobs being created will require some higher education, when countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow, offering our children a world-class education isn’t just a moral obligation, it’s an economic imperative.

And that’s why, from the start of my administration, we’ve been doing everything we can to make that kind of education possible, from the cradle to the classroom, from college through a career. We’re reforming Head Start and challenging weak programs to compete for funds -– because if you’re receiving tax dollars you should be delivering results for our kids. We’re launching a Race to the Top in our states, which is raising standards and promoting excellence in teaching –- so our students, all of them, can graduate ready for college and a career.

We’re upgrading our undervalued community colleges so we can link students looking for work with businesses that are looking to hire. We’re eliminating tens of billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies for banks to profit as middlemen administering student loans, and we're using that money to make college more affordable for millions of additional students.

And we’re offering middle-class families what’s called an American Opportunity Tax Credit -– a college tuition tax credit worth up to $2,500 a year. I am calling on Congress to make this tax credit permanent so it’s worth up to $10,000 for four years of college –- because we’ve got to make sure that in good times or bad, our families can invest in their children’s future and in the future of our country.

Today, the Treasury Department is putting out a report showing what a difference these college tuition tax credits are making. Over our first year in office, we’ve increased tax cuts for higher education by over 90 percent, and we're helping the dream of a college degree -- putting that dream within reach of more than 12 million students from working families.

And I’m so pleased that the families standing behind me could join me here today. Mary Ellen O’Mealia is a single mom who’s been working hard to put each of her four kids -– Sean, Kelly, Leigh Anne, and Tom –- through college. And it hasn’t been easy, but it’s been a little easier thanks to what we’ve done. Like Mary Ellen, Joanne and Philip Maynard, are able to put their son, Gregory, and daughters, Katherine and Elizabeth, through UMass Amherst, in part because of this American Opportunity Tax Credit. And this tax credit is making possible Kathleen and Edward Mohan to give their daughter Sarah the education she needs to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.

So all these families have benefited directly from this tax credit and they represent families all across the country from every state. What we need to do is to make it possible for America’s working families to do what the O’Mealias, the Maynards, and the Mohans have been able to do, and that’s to send their kids to college.

Now, if the Republicans in Congress had their way that would be more difficult. They’ve proposed cutting back on education by 20 percent. That means reducing financial aid for eight million students and leaving our community colleges without the resources they need to prepare our students for the jobs of the future.

Nothing would be more shortsighted. There’s an educational arms race taking place around the world right now –- from China to Germany, to India to South Korea. Cutting back on education would amount to unilateral disarmament. We can’t afford to do that. The nation that educates its children the best will be the nation that leads the global economy in the 21st century.

Now, ultimately, this is not just about making our economy more competitive. It’s not just about preparing our kids for the jobs of the future –- though all those things are absolutely essential. It’s also about who we are as a people. It’s about building a brighter future where every child in this country has a chance to rise above any barriers of race or faith or station, and they can fulfill their God-given potential; where the American Dream is a living reality. By opening the doors of college to anyone who wants to go, that’s a future we can help build together.

These three families represent those core values, represent those beliefs. The parents who are standing here have worked extraordinarily hard to make sure that their children have opportunities. And we need to reward that sense of responsibility, that sense of commitment to the next generation, by making sure they’re not having to do it alone.

So thank you all for being here. Thank you very much, everybody.

END 1:58 P.M. EDT

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Statement by The President on the

Passing of Gospel Great Albertina Walker


Office of the Press Secretary



October 10, 2010

Statement by President Obama on the Passing of Albertina Walker

Michelle and I are saddened by the passing of gospel great Albertina Walker. Ms. Walker was known for her Grammy Award winning voice and recognized by many as the ‘Queen of Gospel.’ Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, she started singing in her church youth choir at just four years old where she learned to spread the ‘Good News’ through song. She also performed before President Bill Clinton and was honored at the White House by President George W. Bush for her contributions to Gospel music. And she never forgot to give back, impacting her community through the Albertina Walker Scholarship Fund and many other charitable endeavors.

Ms. Walker’s voice and message has touched congregations across the nation. Though we have lost an American icon, her influence on gospel music will continue for generations. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and the countless lives she touched.


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Tuesday, October 5, 2010


First ever White House Summit

for Community Colleges


Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release October 5, 2010




East Room

12:17 P.M. EDT

DR. BIDEN: Hello. Good afternoon, and welcome to the first ever White House Summit on Community Colleges. I’m Jill Biden, and I’m proud to stand here today as a community college professor.

This is an historic and exciting opportunity for all of us in the community college world. For years I have said that community colleges are one of America’s best-kept secrets. Well, with the President of the United States shining a light on us, I think that secret is out. (Laughter.)

Today’s summit is an important next step in our efforts to meet the President’s goal of having the best-educated, most competitive workforce in the world by the end of this decade.

As we meet here today, families all across our country are struggling. We see that struggle firsthand in community colleges. We see people who are determined to build a better life for themselves and their families, no matter how hard it is. Today, community colleges are the largest, fastest-growing, most affordable segment of America’s higher education system. For generations, these schools have been an option for many students who didn’t have other options: recent immigrants, working adults, or students who could not afford or were not quite ready for a four-year institution.

Community colleges are uniquely American -- places where anyone who walks through the door is one step closer to realizing the American Dream. These schools are flexible and innovative. For that reason, countries around the world are looking at community colleges as a model to increase workforce preparedness and college graduation among their own citizens.

Community colleges are uniquely positioned to provide the education and training that will prepare students for the jobs in the 21st century.

Schools are forming partnerships with businesses in their communities, ensuring that students are trained for jobs that need to be filled.

Getting Americans back to work is America’s great challenge. And community colleges are critically important to preparing graduates for those jobs. We are here today because community colleges are entering a new day in America, and here’s why: For more and more people, community colleges are the way to the future. They’re giving real opportunity to students who otherwise wouldn’t have it. They’re giving hope to families who thought the American Dream was slipping away. They are equipping Americans with the skills and expertise that are relevant to the emerging jobs of the future. They’re opening doors for the middle class at a time when the middle class has seen so many doors close to them.

As the President said, the nations that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow. That is why he is committed to increasing the number of college graduates in America, so that we will once again lead the world in the percentage of our citizens with a college degree.

Community colleges are absolutely critical to reaching this goal, and to ensuring out country’s economic prosperity in the future. That is why the President has also challenged all of us to graduate an additional 5 million community college graduates by 2020.

Reaching that goal will take the commitment of everyone in this room, and all of the hardworking community college leaders, faculty and students you represent.

Community college students and graduates across the country are working in jobs that will enable us to expand our green economy, provide Americans with the excellent health care they deserve, and rebuild our country’s infrastructure.

These are the students like the ones I visited in their state-of-the-art radiology lab last spring at Delgado Community College in New Orleans. Or the woman I met who, after 16 years as a lab tech, came to Kingsborough Community College in New York for retraining, and graduated in nursing with a job offer waiting.

I meet students and learn about industry partnerships on every campus I visit that reinforce what we in this room know well: Community colleges are at the center of Americans’ effort to educate our way to a better economy.

I’ve been a teacher for nearly three decades, and I have spent the past 17 years teaching at a community college. I know the power of community colleges to change lives.

I have seen the wisdom of Yeats who said that, “Education is not the filling of the pail, but the lighting of a fire.” All of the teachers here today know the magic of lighting that fire in the soul of a student.

But as I work hard every day to inspire students, it is ultimately they who inspire me. I’m inspired by students who overcome significant odds just to show up, workers who have returned to school to improve their job prospects, mothers who juggle jobs and childcare while preparing for a new career, and students who spend two years at a community college before transferring to a four-year school.

At the President’s request, I have visited community colleges around the country to see innovative job partnerships and creative student support programs. At each school, I hear stories about the perseverance of community college students to make a better life for themselves and their families -- students like Albert, who inspire me and who I am thrilled to welcome here today. You’re amazing, Albert.

The programs are different, the students are different, but the aspirations are the same. These students are working hard to get the training and education they need to make their lives better. They know that education can open the door to a world of new opportunities.

They are students like the mother who shared her experience with us on the White House website of working towards a degree while raising three children and straddling financial challenges. Now employed and the holder of a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree, she wrote, “Community colleges didn’t just change my life, they gave me my life.”

Community colleges do that every day. With the support and the attention of the people in this room, we can serve more students and serve them better than ever.

Our challenge is not just to get students into college, but to keep them there and to graduate them faster with the skills they need to succeed in the American workforce. This is the moment for community colleges to shine.

Teaching is my life’s work. I am grateful and tremendously proud to work with a President and Vice President who value that work. President Obama is committed to restoring the promise of the American education system. He recognizes the value of community colleges and is investing in them so that they are the best that they can be. His leadership is inspiring to all of us who believe that each and every American deserves the opportunity to realize his full potential.

I am honored to introduce a leader who shares our belief in the power of the community college, President Barack Obama. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you so much. Thank you, everybody. Thank you very much. Everybody please have a seat. Thank you so much.

I want to acknowledge some of the folks who are here who are making an incredible contribution to this effort. First of all, our Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, is here. (Applause.) Our Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, is here. (Applause.) Someone who cares deeply about our veterans and the education that they receive, our Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, and his wife, Ms. Mullen, are here. (Applause.) Representative Brett Guthrie, Republican of Kentucky, is in the house, and has been doing great work on this. And obviously I am thrilled to not only see Jill Biden here but also Albert Ojeda, who introduced Jill Biden, because I think the story he tells is representative of so many incredible stories all across the country.

I’m so grateful for Jill being willing to lead today’s summit, first of all because she has to spend time putting up with Joe. (Laughter.) And that’s a big enough task. Then to take this one on, too, on behalf of the administration is extraordinarily significant. I do not think she’s doing it for the administration. She’s doing it because of the passion she has for community colleges.

Jill has devoted her life to education. As she said, she’s been a teacher for nearly three decades, although you can’t tell it by looking at her -- (laughter) -- a community college professor for 17 years. I want it on the record Jill is not playing hooky today. The only reason she’s here is because her college president gave her permission to miss class. (Laughter.) And this morning, between appearing on the Today Show, receiving briefings from her staff and hosting the summit, she was actually grading papers in her White House office. (Laughter.)

So I think it’s clear why I asked Jill to travel the country visiting community colleges -– because, as she knows personally, these colleges are the unsung heroes of America’s education system. They may not get the credit they deserve. They may not get the same resources as other schools. But they provide a gateway to millions of Americans to good jobs and a better life.

These are places where young people can continue their education without taking on a lot of debt. These are places where workers can gain new skills to move up in their careers. These are places where anyone with a desire to learn and to grow can take a chance on a brighter future for themselves and their families -- whether that’s a single mom, or a returning soldier, or an aspiring entrepreneur.

And community colleges aren’t just the key to the future of their students. They’re also one of the keys to the future of our country. We are in a global competition to lead in the growth industries of the 21st century. And that leadership depends on a well-educated, highly skilled workforce.

We know, for example, that in the coming years, jobs requiring at least an associate’s degree are going to grow twice as fast as jobs that don’t require college. We will not fill those jobs -– or keep those jobs on our shores –- without community colleges.

So it was no surprise when one of the main recommendations of my Economic Advisory Board -– who I met with yesterday -– was to expand education and job training. These are executives from some of America’s top companies. Their businesses need a steady supply of people who can step into jobs involving a lot of technical knowledge and skill. They understand the importance of making sure we’re preparing folks for the jobs of the future.

In fact, throughout our history, whenever we’ve faced economic challenges, we’ve responded by seeking new ways to harness the talents of our people. And that’s one of the primary reasons that we have prospered. In the 19th century, we built public schools and land grant colleges –- transforming not just education, but our entire economy. In the 20th century, we passed the G.I. Bill and invested in math and science –- helping to unleash a wave of innovation that helped to forge the great American middle class.

But in recent years, we’ve failed to live up to this legacy, especially in higher education. In just a decade, we’ve fallen from first to ninth in the proportion of young people with college degrees. That not only represents a huge waste of potential; in the global marketplace it represents a threat to our position as the world’s leading economy.

As far as I’m concerned, America does not play for second place, and we certainly don’t play for ninth. So I’ve set a goal: By 2020, America will once again lead the world in producing college graduates. And I believe community colleges will play a huge part in meeting this goal, by producing an additional 5 million degrees and certificates in the next 10 years.

That’s why last year I launched the American Graduation Initiative. I promised that we would end wasteful subsidies to big banks for student loans, and instead use that money to make college more affordable, and to make a historic investment in community colleges. And after a tough fight, we passed those reforms, and today we’re using this money towards the interest of higher education in America.

And this is helping us modernize community colleges at a critical time -– because many of these schools are under pressure to cut costs and to cap enrollments and scrap courses even as demand has soared. It’s going to make it possible for colleges to better harness technology in the classroom and beyond. And it’s going to promote reform, as colleges compete for funding by improving graduation rates, and matching courses to the needs of local businesses, and making sure that when a graduate is handed a diploma it means that she or he are ready for a career.

We’re also helping students succeed by making college more affordable. So we’ve increased student aid by thousands of dollars. We’ve simplified the loan application process. And we’re making it easier for students to pay back their loans by limiting payments to 10 percent of their income. But reaching the 2020 goal that I’ve set is not just going to depend on government. It also depends on educators and students doing their part. And it depends on businesses and non-for-profits working with colleges to connect students with jobs.

So that’s why we’re holding this summit. That’s why I’m asking my Economic Advisory Board to reach out to employers across the country and come up with new ways for businesses and community colleges to work together. Based on this call to action, yesterday we announced a new partnership called Skills for America’s Future. And the idea is simple: Businesses and community colleges work together to match the work in the classroom with the needs of the boardroom. And already, businesses from PG&E, to UTC, to the Gap have announced their support, as have business leaders like my friend Penny Pritzker, and the Aspen Institute’s Walter Isaacson. I hope that the companies, schools and nonprofits that all of you lead will take part.

Today, we can also announce the Gates Foundation is starting a new five-year initiative to raise community college graduation rates. This is critically important because more than half of those who enter community colleges fail to either earn a two-year degree or transfer to a earn a four-year degree. So we want to thank Melinda Gates, who’s here, for that terrific contribution. And the Aspen Institute and several leading foundations are launching a competitive prize for community college excellence. It’s going to shine a spotlight on community colleges delivering truly exceptional results –- places that often don’t get a lot of attention, but make a tremendous difference in their students’ lives.

So we’re investing in community colleges. We’re making college more affordable. And we’re bringing together businesses, nonprofits and schools to train folks for the jobs of a new century. Now, all of this will help ensure that we continue to lead the global economy -– but only if we maintain this commitment to education that’s always been central to our success.

That’s why I so strongly disagree with the economic plan that was released last week by the Republican leaders in Congress, which would actually cut education by 20 percent. It would reduce or eliminate financial aid for 8 million college students. And it would leave community colleges without the resources they need to meet the goals we’ve talked about today.

Instead, this money would help pay for a $700 billion tax cut that only 2 percent of the wealthiest Americans would ever see –- an average of $100,000 for every millionaire and billionaire in the country. And that just doesn’t make sense -– not for students, not for our economy.

Think about it. China isn’t slashing education by 20 percent right now. India is not slashing education by 20 percent. We are in a fight for the future -– a fight that depends on education. And cutting aid for 8 million students, or scaling back our community -- our commitment to community colleges, that’s like unilaterally disarming our troops right as they head to the frontlines.

So we obviously have to get serious about our deficit. That’s why, after decades of profligacy, my administration report pay-as-you-go rules, proposed a three-year freeze on non-security spending. That’s why we’ve formed a bipartisan deficit reduction commission.

But what we can’t do is fund tax cuts for those who don’t need it by slashing education for those who do. There’s a better way for us to do this. And I want to work together with everybody concerned -- Republican and Democrat -- to figure that out.

To use an expression familiar to those of you who are from the Midwest: You don’t eat your seed corn. (Laughter.) We can’t accept less investment in our young people if our country is going to move forward. It would mean giving up on the promise of so many people who might not be able to pursue an education, like the millions of students at community colleges across this country.

So I just want to use as an example Derek Blumke, who’s here today. Where’s Derek? Right here. Derek spent six years in the Air Force, three deployments in the Afghan theater, putting his life at risk to keep this country safe. And when he returned, he started classes at his local community college in northern Michigan. Now, apparently, what I’m told is, he wasn’t sure whether he was smart enough to do the work, and he also was concerned that he wouldn’t get the support that he needed.

And he was wrong on both fronts. His professors not only helped him transition from the military -– even as he continued to serve in the Michigan Air National Guard -– but also helped him to earn his associate’s degree with honors. Then he transferred to the University of Michigan -- Go Blue -- (laughter) -- where he graduated just a few weeks ago. And while he was there, he co-founded Student Veterans of America to help returning veterans like himself. So congratulations, Derek. (Applause.)

Or we can look to the example set by Albert Ojeda, who just spoke to you. He didn’t have any advantages in life -- grew up in a tough neighborhood in Phoenix, lost his father to violence, lost his mother to prison. But that didn’t stop him from pursuing an education. It didn’t stop him from attending community college, become an honor student, become the first member of his family to graduate from college.

There are so many folks out there like Derek and Albert. And I think about the many community college students who’ve written letters to me or emails through about how important community college has been to them. One person said he had been laid off and decided to return to school after 17 years. And attending community college “literally helped save my life” -- that’s what he said. “I can not only see an associate’s degree next year, but a new future filled with possibilities for the first time.”

A new future filled with possibilities. That’s why we’re here today. That’s the promise of an education not just for any one student, but for our entire country. And that’s why it’s so important that we work together on behalf of community colleges

-– and an education system that harnesses the talents and hard work of every single American.

So thank you for the incredible work that each and every one of you do out there in schools, business folks who are supporting these community colleges, the students who are doing so much to contribute to our country. Let’s get busy. Thank you very much.

END 12:40 P.M. EDT

Back-B4B Home Page

Tuesday, September 28, 2010





• Ordered the White House and all federal agencies to respect the Freedom of Information Act and overturned Bush-era limits on accessibility of federal documents (2009)

• Instructed all federal agencies to promote openness and transparency as much as possible (2009)

• Placed limits on lobbyists’ access to the White House (2009)

• Placed limits on White House aides working for lobbyists after their tenure in the administration (2009)

• Signed a measure strengthening registration and reporting requirements for lobbyists (2009)

• Ordered that lobbyists must be removed from and are no longer permitted to serve on federal and White House advisory panels and boards (2009) * Note: After saying he would not hire lobbyists, a few have been hired in the Administration

• Companies and individuals who are delinquent on their taxes or owe back taxes are no longer allowed to bid for federal contracts (2009)

• Initiated the “e-Rulemaking Initiative” (in cooperation with Cornell University) to allow for online public “notice and comment” of federal laws and initiatives (2010)

• Issued the “Open Gov Directive” ordering all Cabinet departments to promote transparency and citizen participation in their policies (2010)

• Signed extensions on banning lobbyists from serving on agency boards (2010)

• Developed the “Don Not Pay List” with data on contractors and recipients of federal funds who are deemed to be ineligible because of fraud and abuse (2010)


• The White House website now provides information on all economic stimulus projects and spending, along with an unprecedented amount of information on our government (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era practice of circumventing established FDA rules for political reasons (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era practice of having White House staff rewrite the findings of scientific and environmental regulations and reports when they disagreed with the results (2009)

• Limited the salaries of senior White House aides (salaries cut to $100,000) (2009)

• Has urged Congress to adopt “Pay-Go” (whereby each dollar of spending is offset by a dollar in cuts or revenues, which was used in the `90s but abandoned in the `00s) (2010)

• Has been holding open meetings with Republican leaders, although they complain of a lack of access and information (2010)

• Signed the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (2010) * Note: To curb wasteful spending

• Tasked federal agencies to develop plans for disposing of unneeded real estate and then to eliminate unnecessary or non-economical lands, properties, etc. (2010)


• Phasing out the expensive F-22 war plane (which wasn’t even used in Iraq/Afghanistan) and other outdated weapons systems (2009)

• Announced his intention to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay (2009) * Note: The closure has been delayed due to massive opposition but it remains on the agenda.

• Stated his interest in housing terrorists at a new federal “super max” facility in the US (2009) * Note: this has been delayed in the face of massive opposition but it remains on the agenda

• Cut the expensive Reagan era missile defense program, saving $1.4 billion in 2010 (2009)

• Cancelled plans to station anti-ballistic missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic (2009)

• Replacing long-range, expensive missile systems with more efficient smaller systems (2009)

• Increased US Navy patrols off the Somali coast in response to pirating (2009)

• Established a new cyber security office and appointed a cyber security czar (2009)

• Ordered the first nation-wide comprehensive cyber threat assessment (2009)

• Instituted a new Nuclear Posture Review, revising US nuclear deterrence policy to encourage more nations to join the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (2010) * Note: Components of the policy include: a pledge to stop nuclear testing; a pledge to not build a new generation of nucs; identifying nuclear terrorism, rather than a launch from another nuclear state, as the major threat; a pledge to not use nucs on a non-nuclear state in a conventional conflict; etc.

• Executive orders to block payment, transfers, exports, etc… of individuals and organizations support the regimes of North Korea, Iran, Somali pirates, and other foreign threats (2010)

• Presidential Memoranda to extend certain provisions of The Trading with Enemies Act which was to expire in September 2010 (2010) * Note: This includes freezing assets and banning trade that benefits the Cuban regime; however further efforts at normalizing travel to Cuba are supported

• Signed bill for southwest border security and increased funds and agents on the Mexican border (2010)

• Signed the Comprehensive Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act to deal with foreign regimes like Iran and North Korea (2010)


• Began the phased withdrawal of US troops from Iraq (2009); continuing the withdrawal (2010)

• Changed the US military command in the Afghan conflict (2009)

• Tasked the Pentagon to reorganize US policy in Afghanistan; the new policy includes 30,000 additional troops deployed, priority training of Afghan forces, developing agriculture and infrastructure, limiting aerial bombing, etc. (2009)

• Ordered the Pentagon to send additional helicopters to assist US Marine units and Special Forces in Afghanistan (2009)

• Increased unmanned drone strikes on Taliban and al-Qaeda targets in Afghanistan (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era “stop-loss” policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date (2009)


• Ordered the Pentagon to cover expenses of families of fallen soldiers if they wish to be on site when the body arrives back in the US (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era “blackout” imposed on media coverage of the return of fallen US soldiers (2009) * Note: The media is now permitted to cover the story pending adherence to respectful rules and with the approval of the fallen soldier’s family

• Ended the Bush-era “black out” policy on media coverage of war casualties (2009) * Note: Full information is now released for the first time in the War on Terror

• Ordered better body armor to be procured for US troops (2009)

• Funding new Mine Resistant Ambush Vehicles (2009) * Note: The old Hummers were very vulnerable to roadside explosives and an alarming percentage of our soldiers lost in Iraq were on account of IEDs

• Working to increase pay and benefits for military personnel (2009)

• Improving housing for military personnel (2009)

• Initiating a new policy to promote federal hiring of military spouses (2009)

• Ordered that conditions at Walter Reed Military Hospital and other neglected military hospitals be improved (2009)

• Beginning the process of reforming and restructuring the military to a post-Cold War, modern fighting force (2009) * Note: Bush announced in 2001 his intention to do this but backed off the reforms after 9/11, which include: new procurement policies; increasing the size of Special Ops units; deploying new technologies; creating new cyber security units; etc.

• Ended the Bush-era practice of awarding “no-bid” defense contracts (2009)

• Improving benefits for veterans as well as VA staffing, information systems, etc. (2009)

• Authorized construction of additional health centers to care for veterans (2009)

• Suspended the Bush-era decision to purchase a fleet of Marine One helicopters from suppliers in favor of American made helicopters (2009)

• Ordered a review of the existing “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military (2010)

• New GI Bill for returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan (2009)

• Signed bill providing assistance for caregivers of veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan (2010) * Note: The omnibus bill does the following: Training, funding, and counseling for caregivers; promoting pilot childcare programs for women vets under treatment at the VA; independent oversight to prevent abuse; readjustment counseling for National Guard and reservist units; etc.

• Eliminated co-payments for veterans who are catastrophically disabled (2010)

• Fulfilled campaign promise to have combat troops (90,000) out of Iraq by August 31, 2010 (2010)

• Established a new interagency task force to assist veterans owning small businesses (2010) * Note: The efforts include promoting federal contract opportunities, improve access to loans and capital, mentor assistance programs, etc.

• Signed The Families of Fallen Heroes Act, which covers the moving costs of immediate family members of those lost in service (military, intelligence, and security personnel) (2010)


• Closed the Bush-era “secret detention” facilities in Eastern Europe (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era policy allowing “enhanced interrogation” (torture); the US is again in compliance with Geneva Convention standards (2009) * Note: Obama has permitted some controversial interrogation techniques to continue

• Restarted international nuclear non-proliferation talks and reestablished international nuclear inspection protocols (2009) * Note: Bush withdrew from non-proliferation talks and dismantled the inspection infrastructure

• Reengaged in the treaties/agreements to protect the Antarctic (2009) * Note: These were suspended under Bush

• Reengaged in the agreements/talks on global warming and greenhouse gas emissions (2009) * Note: These were suspended under Bush

• Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any president in his first six months in office (2009)

• Banned the export of cluster bombs (2009)

• Overturned Bush-era plans to increase the US nuclear arsenal (2009)

• Authorized the Navy SEALS operation that freed by force the US shipping captain held by Somali pirates (2009)

• Restored the US commitment to the UN population fund for family planning; overturned the ban on providing funds internationally for family planning (2009) * Note: The family planning efforts were suspended under Bush

• Instituted a new policy on Cuba, allowing Cuban families to return “home” to visit families (2009)

• Extended an offer of engagement (free from sanctions and penalties) to Iran through December 31, 2009 (Iran did not accept the offer) (2009)

• Sent envoys to the Middle East and other parts of the world, reengaging in multilateral and bilateral talks and diplomacy (2009)

• Authorized discussions with North Korea and the private mission by former president, Bill Clinton, to secure the release of two Americans held in prisons (2009)

• Authorized discussions with Myanmar and the mission by Senator Jim Web to secure the release of an American held captive (2009)

• Renewed loan guarantees for Israel (2009)

• Signed the USIFTA trade agreement with/for Israel (2009)

• Authorized a $550m advance for Israel (six months prior to the scheduled date) in order to accommodate Israeli’s economic and financial needs (2009)

• Continued agreements with Israel for cultural exchanges, immigration, etc. (2009)

• Spoke on Arab television, spoke at an Egyptian university, and met with Arab leaders in an effort to change the tone of US-Arab relations (2009)

• Ordered the US to finally pay its dues to the United Nations (2009)

• Attended the Summit of America’s meeting in Trinidad and Tobago (2010)

• Dispatched several envoys and initiated talks with numerous nations (2010)

• Signed a nuclear limitation treaty with Russia (2010) * Note: The agreement calls for both countries to reduce their nucs by one-third (1,500) and launch systems by half (800)

• Hosted nuclear non-proliferation summit for several nations (2010)

• Executive Order to establish support offices in the State Department to assist the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan (2010)

• Presidential Memoranda to continue drug interdiction support with Columbia (2010)


• Increased infrastructure spending (roads, bridges, power plants…) (2009) * Note: Bush was the first president since Herbert Hoover to not make infrastructure a priority

• Authorized the US auto industry rescue plan and two GMAC rescue packages (2009)

• Authorized the housing rescue plan and new FHA residential housing guarantees (2009)

• Authorized a $789 billion economic stimulus plan (2009) * Note: 1/3 in tax cuts for working-class families; 1/3 to states for infrastructure projects; 1/3 to states to prevent the layoff of police officers, teachers, etc. at risk of losing their jobs because of state budget shortfalls

• Instituted a new rule allowing the public to meet with federal housing insurers to refinance (in as quickly as one day) a mortgage if they are having trouble paying (2009)

• Authorized a continuation of the US financial and banking rescue plans initiated at the end of the Bush administration and authorized TARP funds to buy “toxic assets” from failing financial institutions (2009)

• Authorized the “Cash for Clunkers” program that stimulated auto sales and removed old, inefficient, polluting cars from the road (2009)

• Convened a “jobs summit” to bring experts together to develop ideas for creating jobs (2009)

• Ordered the FDIC to beef up deposit insurance (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era policy of protecting credit card companies (2009) * Note: In place of the old policy, new consumer protections were instituted and the industry’s predatory practices were banned

• Authorized the federal government to make more loans available to small businesses and ordered lower rates for federal loans to small businesses (2009)

• Placed a 35% tariff on Chinese tires and a few other products such as pipes after China was found to be illegally “dumping” exports below cost (2009) * Note: Clinton, Bush I, and Reagan all refused to “get tough” on China’s predatory trade practices; Bush II refused four times during his presidency

• In November 2009, Obama extended unemployment benefits for one million workers

and expanded coverage for some existing homeowners who are buying again (2009)

• Called on Congress to deliver a “Jobs bill” (2010)

• Credit card companies are prohibited from raising rates without advance notification or arbitrarily if customers are paying bills on time (2010)

• Signed a bill to extend unemployment benefits set to expire (2010)

• Signed historic Wall Street reform bill (2010) * Note: Designed to reregulate and end abusive practices and promote consumer protections

• Signed the HIRE Act to stimulate the economic recovery (2010) * Note: The bill includes: tax cuts for small businesses who hire someone unemployed for at least two months; small businesses can write off their investments in equipment this year; etc.

• National Export Initiative established to enhance federal support (technical assistance, training, trade missions, etc.) and coordination efforts to help US businesses export products and services (2010)

• Initiatives to promote a “Wireless Broadband Revolution” (2010) * Note: Among other things, broadband is finally being considered as necessary infrastructure, with efforts to expand use, access, and spectrum…

• Expanded agricultural credit to farmers during current economic crisis (2010)

• Signed bill - US Manufacturing Enhancement Act (2010)

• Signed bill - Single Family Housing Mortgage Insurance (2010)


• Negotiated a deal with Swiss banks to permit the US government to gain access to records of tax evaders and criminals (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era policy of offering tax benefits to corporations who outsource American jobs (2009) * Note: The new policy promotes in-sourcing investments to brings jobs back to the US

• Signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which provides small tax cuts for 95% of “working families” (2009) * Note: The tax cuts were not as big as was suggested during the 2008 campaign

• Convened an advisory board that is looking into simplifying the tax code (2009)

• Ordered the closing of offshore tax safe havens (for individual and business tax evaders) (2009)

• Reduced taxes for some small businesses to stimulate the economic recovery (2009)

• Extended the Home Buyers Credit for first-time home buyers (2009)

• Proposed doubling the child tax credit (2010)

• Called for the repeal of the capital gains tax for small businesses (2010)

• Proposed rolling back the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans (2010) * Note: This would be for families earning over $250,000/year and would return their tax rates to the 1990’s level


• Ordered all federal agencies to undertake a study and make recommendations for ways to cut federal spending (2009)

• Ordered a review of all federal operations to identify wasteful spending and practices (2009)

• Established a National Performance Officer charged with saving the federal government money and making federal operations more efficient (2009)

• Overturned the Bush-era practice of not listing certain federal programs in the federal budget (2009) (2010) * Note: Bush did this (so did Reagan) in an effort to hide programs and make the budget look smaller; such “off budget” items are now included in the annual budget

• Full appropriations for war are now included in the budget (2009) (2010) * Note: Bush did not list many of the appropriations for Iraq, Afghanistan, and War on Terror

• Funds for emergency appropriations are now included in the budget (2009) (2010)

• Proposed a three-year freeze on federal discretionary spending beginning in 2011 (2010)

• Is in the process of cutting 120 federal programs identified as either wasteful or unnecessary (2010)

• Established a bipartisan commission on fiscal responsibility, staffed by House and Senate members and private citizens, tasked with submitting proposals to balance the budget (2010) * Note: In the face of Republican opposition, the powers of the commission were watered down

• Established a bipartisan commission on the future of Social Security, tasked with submitting proposals to preserve and strengthen Social Security (2010) * Note: In the face of Republican opposition, the powers of the commission were watered down

• Cut $20 billion from federal budget and has pledged to cut at least this much every year (2010)

• Ultimately decided to cancel planned new presidential helicopter fleet and stick with marine One (2010)

• Freezing all discretionary spending for next three years, except on national security (2010)

• Presidential Memoranda to freeze discretionary awards, bonuses, etc. for federal political appointees (2010)

• Beginning to use “Pay-As-You-Go” (Pay-Go) to offset budget expenditures with budget cuts or revenue enhancements (2010)


• Removed Bush era restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research (2009)

• Federal support for stem-cell and new biomedical research (2009)

• Expanded the SCHIP program to cover health care for 4 million more children (2009)

• Established an independent commission to make recommendations on slowing the costs of Medicare (2009)

• Reversed some of the Bush-era restrictions that prevented Medicare from negotiating with pharmaceutical firms for cheaper drugs, allowing government to again competitively bid (2009) * Note: Obama had promised to lift all restrictions but, while he did negotiate with drug companies for them to lower their costs the deal only lifted some restrictions

• Expanding government vaccination programs (2009)

• Issued new disease prevention guidelines and priorities for the CDC (2009)

• Authorized the FDA to finally begin regulating tobacco (2009)

• Tasked federal labs to prioritize research on and deployment of H1N1 vaccines (2009)

• Asked multiple congressional committees to bring forward a healthcare reform bill; held dozens of public hearings and town halls on the issue (2009) (2010)

• Established a new council on National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health to be chaired by Surgeon General and charged with promoting healthy lifestyles and integrative healthcare (2010)

• When accusations to the contrary arose, an Executive Order was signed to reaffirm that federal funds are not to be used for abortion services (2010)

• Historic healthcare reform bill signed - $940 billion over 10 years (2010) * Note: 32 million additional Americans will receive healthcare coverage and costs will be lowered for most Americans, but many of the goals are phased in over four years

Components of the bill

- Prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals/family members with pre-existing health conditions; a temporary plan is being developed to cover high-risk individuals with pre-existing conditions until the full reforms go into effect in 2014

- Prevents insurance companies from placing lifetime limits on benefits

- Bans “rescission” so insurance companies can’t cancel coverage if individuals keep their policies current or if they become ill

- An individual’s out-of-pocket healthcare expenses are capped

- Closes the “donut hole” (Part D) for Medicare prescription drug coverage (under Bush, Medicare helped pay for drugs up to $2,600 and above $4,550, but individuals had to pay 100% of the costs in between these amounts); now Medicare helps cover costs irrespective of the amount – seniors will now pay only 25% of drug costs up to $4,550 and only 5% of drug costs above that amount

- In 2010, an emergency provision will offer seniors a $250 rebate on the costs incurred within the “donut hole”

- Individuals living at or below the poverty line were eligible for healthcare under Medicaid, but by 2014 individuals/families living slightly above (making up to $14,404/$29,327) the poverty line will also be eligible for benefits

- Individuals/families making less than $43,320/$88,200 per year will qualify for government subsidies to help purchase health insurance

- All individuals must have health insurance or face a government fine; all large (over 50 employees) employers must offer health insurance to employees or pay a fine

- Small businesses can get a tax credit if they offer health care

- There are hardship exemptions if individuals can’t afford health insurance

- Families can keep their children in college on their plans through age 26

- Promotes health insurance “exchanges” so consumers can buy “wholesale”

- Creates consumer assistance offices to help consumers file complaints or appeal decisions from insurance companies; beginning in 2011, insurance companies can no longer make excessive rate hikes without justification and approval, and those doing so may be barred from participating in new health insurance exchanges

Funding sources:

- Large employers (over 50 workers) that don’t offer health benefits will be charged a $2,000/worker fee; if the employer offers coverage but employees instead purchase federally subsidized insurance the fee is $3,000/worker receiving federal subsidies or $750/worker (whichever is lower)

- Annual fees on pharmaceutical companies ($27 billion), health insurance companies ($60 billion), and medical device-makers ($20 billion)

- Annual penalties on individuals who do not have health insurance (up to a maximum of $695/person)

- Increase in the Medicare payroll tax from 1.45% to 2.35% for individuals making $200,000+ and families making $250,000+

- 3.8% tax on unearned income for millionaires

- Insurance companies will be subject to a tax on each high-end insurance plan (so-called “Cadillac” plans) they offer


- Illegal immigrants are not eligible for insurance or subsidies

- By Executive Order, such federal funding can’t be used for abortion

- The federal government will assist states by covering all of the increased expenses of expanding Medicaid coverage (90% of costs after 2020)


• Removed a ruling that now allows individual states to enact automotive fuel efficiency standards above federal standards (2009)

• Offered attractive tax write-offs for those who buy hybrid automobiles (2009)

• Overturned Bush-era rule that weakened the Endangered Species Act (2009)

• Announced plans to purchase fuel efficient American-made fleet for the federal government (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era policy of not regulating and labeling carbon dioxide emissions (2009)

• Signed a measure requiring energy producing plants to begin producing 15% of their energy from renewable sources (2009)

• Announced that the federal government would reengage in the long-delayed effort to clean up “Superfund” toxic waste sites (2009)

• Announced the long-term development of a national energy grid with renewable sources and cleaner, efficient energy production (2009) * Note: Much of Obama’s energy reform was killed by Senate Republicans

• Proposed a new refuge for wild mustangs (2009)

• Cancelled several Bush-era mountain-top removal and mining permits (2009)

• Reengaged in international treaties and agreements to protect the Antarctic (2009)

* Note: Bush had withdrawn from such efforts

• Asked Congress for an energy reform and “cap and trade” bill (2009) * Note: The Congress failed to pass such a bill

• Developing plan to lease US coastal waters for wind and water-current energy production (2009)

• Overturned Bush-era policies that allowed uranium mining near national parks such as the Grand Canyon (2009)

• Expanded the Petrified Forest National Park (2009)

• Signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act that protects millions of acres of scenic, historic, and recreational lands and trails (2009)

• Requiring that government buildings and facilities be retrofitted to save energy costs (2009) * Note: These green retrofits are moving very slowly

• Authorized studies in several western states to determine how to support large-scale solar installations (2009)

• Attended the Copenhagen talks and, after the talks were stalled, negotiated an international (voluntary) agreement on reducing carbon emissions and raising funds to assist developing nations in offsetting carbon emissions (2009)

• Banned importation of pythons in response to a growing population of pythons damaging the Florida Everglades (2009)

• Committing the federal government to increasing research and use of renewable, clean energy sources such as wind, biomass, etc. (2009)

• Executive orders establishing a federal initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all federal operations (2009) (2010)

• Called for exploring the possibility of additional off-shore oil drilling in the Gulf, Atlantic, and off Alaska (but not in ANWR) (2010)

• Agreed to consider increases in nuclear energy production and requested a study on the feasibility of nuclear power plant construction (2010) * Note: Nearly all energy initiatives were defeated by Republican opposition in Congress

• Increased investment in clean energy projects (2010)

• Executive Order to develop a new strategy for and commitment to ocean and lake resources, and for scientific research on water quality (2010)


• Instituted enforcements for equal pay for women (Lilly Ledbetter Bill) (2009)

• Appointed Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina, to the Supreme Court (2009)

• Held the first Seder in White House (2009)

• Appointed a diverse Cabinet and diverse White House staff (2009)

• Spoke at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization (2009)

• Signed the first major piece of federal gay rights legislation that includes acts of violence against gays under the list of federal hate crimes (2009)

• Reversed the Bush-era practice of politicizing Justice Department investigations and prosecutions against political opponents (2009)

• Pushing for some of the 9/11 perpetrators to be tried in federal court (2009) * Note: The process has moved at a snail’s pace and, in the face of opposition, Obama has remained quiet

• Signed an extension of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Bill to provide federal research and support for treating the disease (2009)

• Allowed the State Department of offer same-sex benefits for employees (2009)

• Proposed that the Pentagon repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy; placed a “freeze” on current efforts to remove alleged homosexuals from the military (2009)

• After eight years of neglect, the Justice Department and EEOC are again enforcing employment discrimination laws (2009)

• Convened the White House Tribal Nations Conference, inviting representatives from 564 federally-recognized Indian tribes (2009)

• Provided increased school projects for Indian lands and increased funds for the Indian Health Service (2009)

• Signed an Executive Order mandating that his Cabinet develop plans to work with and consult Indian tribes on issues impacting Indian lands (2009)

• Commissioned a study to develop alternatives to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (2010)

• Called for federal agencies to look into recognizing gay partnerships in terms of benefits (2010)

• Signed an Executive Order for the President’s Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (2010)

• Increased funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (2010)

• Signed Executive Order to promote the federal government as a “model employer” when it comes to hiring the disabled (2010) * Note: This includes new efforts to increase the recruitment, hiring, and training for the disabled

• Programs to assist Spanish speakers with the US Census (2010)

• Elena Kagen appointed to Supreme Court (2010)

• Tasked all federal agencies to develop new strategies to address HIV/AIDS (2010)

• After organizing studies on the topic in 2009, tasked the Pentagon to eliminate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (2010)

• Signed Fair Sentencing Act (2010) * Note: The Administration continues to deescalate marijuana interdiction and raids; increased dramatically the amount of cocaine one must possess to be sentenced to jail; eliminated mandatory sentencing for first-time drug abusers and simple possession


• Authorized construction funds for high-speed, broadband Internet access in K-12 public schools (2009)

• Increased funding for school construction (2009)

• Increased funding available for student loans (2009)

• Expanded the national youth service program (2009)

• Streamlined the federal student loan process to save $87 billion over the next 10 years (2009)

• Changed the rule to allow students struggling to make college loan payments to refinance their loans (2009)

• Beginning discussions with Congress for education reform (2009) * Note: Much of Obama’s education reform has been sidelined by opposition in Congress

• Initiated a “Race to the Top” competitive federal grant program for states who develop innovative policies (2009)

• Instituted a “judgment review” allowing families with student loans to petition to have their current financial status determine the loan rather than the previous year’s finances (2009)

• Launched “Educate to Innovate,” a public/private partnership making $236 million available for science, mathematics, and technology education programs (2009)

• Proposed capping the maximum amount students must pay on student loans (as percentage of their income) (2010)

• Proposed reducing student loan obligations for individuals going to work in community and public service jobs (2010)

• The federal government will offer direct student loans, cutting out the cost of private banks (“middle man”) who increase the costs in order to make a profit (2010)

• Increased investment in technologies for schools/education (2010)


• Ordered a review of hurricane and natural disaster preparedness (2009)

• FEMA once again reports directly to the president (2009) * Note: Bush removed FEMA (prior to the Hurricane Katrina disaster) from this status

• Demonstrated an immediate and efficient response to the floods in North Dakota and other natural disasters (2009)

• Ordered that funds be released and red tape be streamlined for the ongoing Hurricane Katrina recovery effort in the Gulf Coast (2009)

• Timely and massive relief effort in response to the January 2010 earthquake and ensuing humanitarian crisis (2010)

Components of the response:

- The FBI’s National Center for Disaster Fraud was tasked to look into possible fraud with organizations soliciting funds for relief

- Announced the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund

- Established an emergency Haiti Task Force in the State Department

- Established a website with information, resources, and a posting of a “person finder” online to help families and friends to locate loved ones

- Joint aid and relief planning with the U.K.

- Sponsored a resolution in the UN Security Council for additional security and police forces in Haiti

- Dispatched the US Navy floating hospital (USNS Comfort) and, within 5 days, 9 naval and relief ships, 5 Coast Guard cutters, 8 Coast Guard aircraft, and 12,000 US military personnel

- Initial dispatch of several ships and cargo planes full of humanitarian aid and supplies, 6 search/rescue teams (500 personnel), and 265 Department of Health & Human Services personnel for emergency medical and aid support

- Established a mobile US air traffic control center at the destroyed airport in Port-au-Prince

• After the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a freeze was placed on new deep water projects (2010)

• Executive Order to establish new security measures to minimize accidental release of bio and chemical agents; new strategies for public health and bioterrorism response (2010)

• Established a national commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon spill to examine facts and report a plan of action; new efforts to prevent offshore spills (2010)

• After a slow start in responding to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the White House is promoting a long-term plan to reconstruct the damaged Gulf and negotiated with BP the establishment of a multi-billion dollar trust fund for victims of the spill (2010)

• Extended national flood insurance program for those in need during current economic crisis (2010)


• New federal funding for science and research labs (2009)

• Signed national service legislation; expanded national youth service program (2009)

• Increasing opportunities in AmeriCorps program (2009)

• Instituted a new focus on mortgage fraud (2009)

• Ordered the DEA to stop raids on medical marijuana usage (2009)

• Ordered a review of existing “mandatory minimum” prison sentencing (2009)

• Signed an order to limit airport tarmac delays and the time passengers had to sit in the plane/on the tarmac during delays (2009)

• Restored the EPA to “Cabinet level” status (2009) * Note: Bush removed the EPA from this status

• Beginning discussions with Congress for comprehensive immigration reform (2010)

* Note: Much of Obama’s immigration reform had been stalled by opposition in Congress

• Commissioned expert panels and reports from NASA; announced a new direction for human space flight that involves funding a new heavy lift-launcher and jettisoning the Ares 1 program; boosting NASA’s budget by $1 billion in 2011 (2010)

• Ordered a ban on text-messaging for all commercial truck and bus drivers (2010)

• Signed bill – FAA Air Transportaiton Modernizatin and Safety Improvement Act (2010)


• The Obamas paid for the renovations of the private living quarters in the White House with their own money rather than using the funds provided to all new first families (2009)

• The Obamas reused many Christmas ornaments from previous White House trees rather than buy new ones (2009)

• The Obamas used LED energy-saving lights on White House Christmas tree (2009)

• Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; donated the award money for the prize to several charities (2009)

• Planted a garden for the White House’s vegetables and flowers (2009)

• Installed a swing set/playground for the Obama daughters and children of White House employees (2009)

• Held over 150 public town halls, press conferences, interviews, etc. in first year in office (2009) * Note: Official numbers are not available on such things, but this seems to be a new record high

• Less than 30 days of vacation in first year in office (2009) * Note: Official numbers are not readily available on such things, but this seems to be a new record low


B4B NOTE: Special Thanks to Robert P. Watson, Ph. D., Professor of American Studies, Lynn University who compiled this list and writes " Like all presidents, Barack Obama has made mistakes. But, as a presidential historian, I have been struck by claims being put forward by Obama’s many critics and the news media that he has accomplished little when, in fact, his presidency is easily one of the most active in history." And Thanks to our friend Sherry Lou Meeks.

Thank You Mr. President !

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