Presidential Archive 4/15 – 4/21/09
By Linnie Frank Bailey
“Teabaggers”, most of whom will benefit from the President’s tax cuts, held protest rallies across the country on tax day, as the President’s economic stimulus money continued to boost state and local coffers. Also this week, President Obama, representing the United States at the Summit of the Americas, reminded leaders: “I didn't come here to debate the past -- I came here to deal with the future.” While signaling a break from the approach of the past, Obama made clear his support of Democratic ideals and common purpose.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tax Cuts and Tea Parties
As many Americans rushed to meet the April 15th deadline for filing their 2008 taxes, critics of the President held rallies across the country protesting his fiscal policies. These GOP-led events were called ‘tea parties’ in reference to the protests over taxation many years ago that led to the Revolutionary War and the founding of our country. Meanwhile, President Obama used Tax Day in America to highlight his administration’s tax relief for working families, stating: “I know that April 15th 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 responsibilities to the people who sent us here and who pay the bills.”
Addressing those who practice divisive politics, Obama continued: “For too long, we've seen taxes used as a wedge to scare people into supporting policies that actually increased the burden on working people instead of helping them live their dreams.” He reinforced his campaign pledge that “families that earn less than $250,000 a year 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.”
Thursday, April 16, 2009
High-Speed Rail in America
Rail trips between Los Angeles and San Francisco, or from Anaheim to Las Vegas, may get a lot faster in the coming years if President Obama has his way. Citing France as an example, and stating that his vision for high-speed rail is not “some fanciful, pie-in-the-sky vision of the future,” the President described the possibility of “whisking through towns at speeds over 100 miles an hour, walking only a few steps to public transportation, and ending up just blocks from your destination. Imagine what a great project that would be to rebuild America.”
Obama in Mexico
The President arrived in Mexico, where he met with President Felipe Calderon. The two men discussed their upcoming trip to the Summit of Americas and US-Mexico economic and border concerns.
Obama in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago,
President Obama attended the Summit of the Americas where he met with leaders from the Americas (North, Central, and South) and the Caribbean, to discuss shared concerns—particularly the global economy and erasing poverty. Signaling a change in approach from past administrations, the President told the leaders they faced 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.” In an op-ed column by the President that appeared in 15 newspapers across the Americas, Obama stated his intention to increase U.S. partnerships with Latin America and the Caribbean.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Torture Documents Released
The President directed the U.S. Justice Department to release C.I.A. memos describing interrogation techniques used in secret overseas prisons, including waterboarding, forced nudity, keeping detainees awake for more than 10 days straight, and putting them in boxes with insects. President Obama banned such interrogation techniques in a February executive order and in defending the release of the documents stated: “Withholding these memos would only serve to deny facts that have been in the public domain for some time.” While assuring that the C.I.A. operatives involved will not be prosecuted, the President reminded Americans, “This is a time for reflection, not retribution. We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history. But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.”
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which contains well over 100 questions on income, assets, family characteristics, personal characteristics, and other items—will get a major overhaul by the Obama Administration. Calling the complicated form “another obstacle to federal student aid” and citing statistics that well over one million students who could qualify for aid went without it because of the form, the administration has begun efforts to simplify the financial aid application process.
Monday, April 20, 2009
First Cabinet Meeting
The President held his first cabinet meeting, and used the occasion to remind his cabinet members of the importance of cutting waste and streamlining their departments. Obama praised the work done thus far, but reiterated: “There are a host of efficiencies that can be gained without increasing our personnel or our budget, but rather decreasing the amount of money that's spent on unnecessary things…. And in the next few weeks we expect to cut at least 100 current programs in the federal budget so that we can free up those dollars in order to put them to use for critical areas like health care, education, energy, our foreign policy apparatus, which is so important.” The President expects $100 million in cuts within ninety days.