Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Week Six

Presidential Archive    3/4 – 3/10/09

By Linnie Frank Bailey

As Barack Obama completes his first 50 days in office—and while critics are suggesting his agenda is too ambitious—the President continues to tackle the major issues of our time.  Introducing new proposals for health care reform, stem cell research, and an overhaul of the education system, Obama stressed the need for government leaders to multi-task. Acknowledging a change from business-as-usual in Washington, Obama insists all of these issues, as well as the economic crisis, need to be addressed simultaneously to move America forward.

Could it be this generation of Americans are not used to a working President?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Reforming Government Spending

The President signed a memorandum that will reform government contracting, particularly by the Defense Department, by strengthening oversight and management of taxpayer dollars, stating “The American people's money must be spent to advance their priorities -- not to line the pockets of contractors or to maintain projects that don't work.” He was joined by a bipartisan group of legislators including Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Carl Levin (D-MI), and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo), and Representatives Edolphus Towns (D-NY) and Peter Welch.(D-VT).

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bringing Everyone to the Table to Address Healthcare

In the East Room of the White House, President Obama addressed an assembled group consisting of medical personnel, members of Congress, health care lobbyists, business owners, insurers, and everyday Americans - all with a stake in the health reform effort. After joking, “This was the hottest ticket in town,” the President made the agenda clear to the invited guests, stressing, “Our goal will be to enact comprehensive health reform by the end of this year.” After the President’s remarks the attendees met in break-out sessions to plot their course.

The First Lady Serves Meals to DC Homeless

First Lady Michelle Obama served food at Miriam’s’ Kitchen in Washington, D.C. while discussing the need to support food banks and soup kitchens around the country.  The non-profit organization, located in the basement of Western Presbyterian Church, provides nutritious meals to the area’s poor and homeless.  Mrs. Obama, who surprised diners with her presence, lauded the organization saying, Miriam’s Kitchen “is an example of what we can do, as a country and as a community, to help folks when they’re down. We’re all going to need one another in these times. We’re going to need to keep lifting each other up, in prayer and in hope.”

Entertaining at “The People’s House”

The President and First Lady continued their ‘hospitality initiative’ by hosting another gathering in what they call “The People’s House.”  This dinner was for Congressional leaders from both parties and the President welcomed them explaining, “Given how hard so many of you are working on both sides of the aisle, day in, day out, we thought it was important for us to be able to step back for a moment, remind ourselves that we have things in common—family, friends, laughter—and hopefully, we'll have a chance to appreciate each other a little bit, take a timeout before we dive back into the game,” he said. “So we hope you have a wonderful evening—not to mention the fact that this is a pretty big house, so we get lonely.”

Friday, March 6, 2009

The President Visits Columbus, Ohio

President Obama went to Columbus, Ohio for the Graduation of the Columbus Police Division’s 114th Class.  Earlier in the year, it was doubtful the recruits would be hired by the police department due to budget restraints, however last week Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman announced that he would use money from the economic recovery package to pay for their salaries.  The city received funding from the Department of Justice as part of their $2 billion in Justice Assistance Grants from the recovery act.  The funding is for law enforcement, including personnel and equipment.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Happy Birthday to Ted Kennedy

In a surprise appearance, President Obama led a chorus of “Happy Birthday” for Senator Ted Kennedy at the Kennedy Center, celebrating the senator's 77th birthday this past February.  The event featured dignitaries from the world of politics and entertainment, including Bill Cosby, Lauren Bacall, and members of Senator Kennedy’s family.  Kennedy, who has been battling brain cancer, was presented the  Profile in Courage Award.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ban on Stem Cell Research Reversed

Fulfilling a campaign promise, President Barack Obama removed restrictions on the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research put in place by the Bush administration. Acknowledging that there are those that strongly oppose his move, the President stated, “Medical miracles do not happen simply by accident. They result from painstaking and costly research; from years of lonely trial and error, much of which never bears fruit; and from a government willing to support that work.” Continuing, he said, “As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering.” He also issued a presidential memorandum intended to further separate politics and science.

Invoking the memory of the paralyzed actor Christopher Reeve, and his late wife Dana, who both fought hard for stem cell research, the President stated, “we honor those we know, who used their influence to help others and bring attention to this cause – people like Christopher and Dana Reeve, who we wish could be here to see this moment.” 

Many believe the research will greatly improve the prognosis for patients with spinal cord injuries, as well as neuro-based diseases.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

President Speaks to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Speaking to members of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at their annual Conference, the President took on critics who say he is changing too much, too fast. Giving them a history lesson, he stated, “I know there are some who believe we can only handle one challenge at a time. They forget that Lincoln helped lay down the transcontinental railroad, passed the Homestead Act, and created the National Academy of Sciences in the midst of Civil War. Likewise, President Roosevelt didn’t have the luxury of choosing between ending a depression and fighting a war. President Kennedy didn’t have the luxury of choosing between civil rights and sending us to the moon. And we don’t have the luxury of choosing between getting our economy moving now and rebuilding it over the long term.”

Obama continued by explaining why, on education in particular, we cannot afford to wait, noting that even within a few years America will see a different reality: “By 2016, four out of every ten new jobs will require at least some advanced education or training.” He outlined a new approach to education that would reward good teachers, remove limits on charter schools, strengthen early-education, and lengthen both the school day and the school year. Obama acknowledged that some of his proposals would be unpopular with both parties, however he stated an over-hauling of the education system is “an economic imperative that can't wait despite the urgency of the financial crisis and other matters.”

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