Tag Archives: Speeches and Remarks

Remarks by the President in Selection of Jack Lew to be Director of OMB

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Diplomatic Reception Room

12:18 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon.  Before I begin, I just want to note a breakthrough that we’ve had on our efforts to pass the most comprehensive reform of Wall Street since the Great Depression.  Three Republican senators have put politics and partisanship aside to support this reform, and I’m grateful for their decision, as well as all the Democrats who’ve worked so hard to make this reform a reality — particularly Chairman Dodd and Chairman Barney Frank.

What members of both parties realize is that we can’t allow a financial crisis like this one that we just went through to happen again.  This reform will prevent that from happening.  It will prevent a financial crisis like this from happening again by protecting consumers against the unfair practices of credit card companies and mortgage lenders.  It will ensure that taxpayers are never again on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes.  And it will end an era of irresponsibility that led to the loss of eight million jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth.  This reform is good for families; it’s good for businesses; it’s good for the entire economy.  And I urge the Senate to act quickly so that I can sign it into law next week.

Now, as we finish our work on Wall Street reform, we’re also mindful that we’ve got significant work to do when it comes to reforming our government and reducing our deficit.  As part of that work, today I am proud to announce the nomination of Jack Lew to be our nation’s next Director of Office of Management and Budget — or OMB.

Before telling you a little bit about Jack, I just want to say a few words about the man that he will be replacing at the helm of OMB, and that’s Mr. Peter Orszag.  A few weeks ago, Peter told me that after more than a year and a half of tireless, around-the-clock service in what is one of the toughest jobs around, Peter was ready to move on to a job that offers a little more sanity and fewer line items.

Putting a budget together for the entire federal government is an enormously difficult task, no matter what the state of the economy, but Peter’s job was even tougher.  When we walked through the doors of the White House, we not only faced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, we also faced a $1.3 trillion deficit — a deficit that was caused both by the recession and nearly a decade of not paying for key policies and programs.

In light of these challenges, Peter’s accomplishments as Director of OMB are even more impressive.  He was instrumental in designing and helping us pass an economic plan that prevented a second depression — a plan that is slowly but surely moving us in the right direction again.  Thanks to his innovative ideas and gritty determination, we passed a health insurance reform plan that is not only paid for, but will significantly lower the cost of health care as well as our deficit over the next several decades.  In fact, a recent report by independent experts say this reform will cut the deficit even more than the Congressional Budget Office first estimated.

Peter has also helped us single out more than a hundred programs for elimination that have outlived their purposes, and made hard decisions that will save tens of billions of dollars.  And he helped draft a budget for next year that freezes all discretionary government spending outside of national security for three years — something that was never enacted in the prior administration.  It’s a budget that would reduce the deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next decade, which is more than any other budget in a decade.  And I expect that freeze to become a reality next year.

Peter also shares my view that the long-running debate between big government and small government misses the point; it isn’t relevant to today’s challenges.  The real debate is about how we make government smarter, more effective, and more efficient in the 21st century.  It’s easy for any institution to get in the habit of doing things the way they’ve always been done.  We in government can’t afford that habit — not only because it wastes taxpayer dollars, but because it erodes people’s belief that their government can actually work for them.

Over the last year and a half we’ve been able to employ new technology to make government more responsive and customer-friendly — the same way that so many businesses have used technology to make better products and provide better services.

As a result of these efforts, today we’re creating a single electronic medical record for our men and women in uniform that will follow them from the day they enlist until the day they are laid to rest.  We’re cutting down the time that it takes to get a patent approved by cutting out unnecessary paperwork and modernizing the process.  We’re working to give people the chance to go online and book an appointment at the Social Security office or check the status of their citizenship application.  We’re cutting waste by getting rid of federal office space that hasn’t been used in years.  We’re closing the IT gap in the federal government, and have created mobile apps that provide nutrition information for your favorite foods or wait times at the airport.  And the examples go on and on.

Now, inertia is a powerful thing.  Constituencies grow around every agency and department with a vested interest in doing things the same way.  And that’s why we have to keep on challenging every aspect of government to rethink its core mission — to make sure we’re pursuing that mission as effectively and efficiently as possible, and to ask if that mission is better achieved by partnering with the civic, faith, and private sector communities.

This is a mission that requires some special leadership.  And Jack Lew is somebody who has proven himself already equal to this extraordinary task.

You know, if there was a fall — if there was a Hall of Fame for budget directors, then Jack Lew surely would have earned a place for his service in that role under President Clinton, when he helped balance the federal budget after years of deficits.  When Jack left that post at the end of the Clinton administration, he handed the next administration a record $236 billion budget surplus.  The day I took office, eight years later, America faced a record $1.3 trillion deficit.

Jack’s challenge over the next few years is to use his extraordinary skill and experience to cut down that deficit and put our nation back on a fiscally responsible path.  And I have the utmost faith in his ability to achieve this goal as a central member of our economic team.

Jack is the only budget director in history to preside over a budget surplus for three consecutive years.  When Jack was deputy director at OMB, he was part of the team that reached a bipartisan agreement to balance the budget for the first time in decades.  He was a principal domestic policy advisor to Tip O’Neill, and worked with him on the bipartisan agreement to reform Social Security in the 1980s.

He was executive vice president at New York University, where he oversaw budget and finances.  And for the past year and a half, he’s been successful in overseeing the State Department’s extremely complex and challenging budget as Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources.  I was actually worried that Hillary would not let him go.  I had to trade a number of number-one draft picks — (laughter) — to get Jack back at OMB.

But I am grateful that Hillary agreed to have Jack leave, and I’m even more thrilled that Jack agreed to take on this challenge at this moment.  Jack is going to be an outstanding OMB director.  We know it because he’s been one before.  At a time when so many families are tightening their belts, he’s going to make sure that the government continues to tighten its own.  He’s going to do this while making government more efficient, more responsive to the people it serves.

And, Jack, I am looking forward to working with you on your critical mission.  Thank you so much.  And thanks to Jack’s family, who has been putting up with him in multiple, very difficult jobs over and over again.  We appreciate his service to our country and we appreciate yours as well.

Thank you, everybody.

12:26 P.M. EDT

Remarks by the First Lady at Panama City Beach

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The Boardwalk Hotel
Panama City Beach, Florida

5:22 P.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA:  Well, thank you, guys.  Good afternoon.  I have sand in my shoes.  (Applause.)  Which means that I have to come back, right?  (Applause.)

I want to thank all of you for the warm and wonderful welcome here to Panama City Beach.  It is truly beautiful out here.  I mean, these beaches are gorgeous.

I want to start by thanking your mayor, Gayle, who has just been a terrific supporter of this community, and she has been a wonderful host to me.  Thank you, Gayle, for everything that you’re doing for the people of this city.  Let’s give her a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

And I want to thank a few other people that I got a chance to meet today.  Commissioner Dozier, who’s here, let’s give him a round of applause.  And we have the Panama City mayor, Scott Clemons, here as well.  (Applause.)

So there’s one thing that I’ve learned after spending a very short time here, but I’ve learned it in that quick time, is that this is really a friendly place with a lot of warm and open people.  It’s welcoming, it’s pristine, and everybody should come here.  (Applause.)

But it wasn’t always this way, as I have been told.  Back in 1935, in the heart of the Great Depression, most people came to Panama City to focus on growing crops.  Did you all know that?  I’ll give you a little history lesson.  (Laughter.)  Planting fruit trees and making a living in the soil instead of the sand.

And then there was this one man, a developer named Gideon Thomas, who had a different plan in mind.  He saw things a little bit differently.  He built the Panama City Hotel to attract tourists to the Florida coast.  And many people thought he was crazy for staking the claim on the beaches rather than in the fields, but Gideon didn’t listen, thank God.  He said, “I’m not attempting to grow vegetables here.”  He said, “I’m going to grow people.”  And that’s exactly what he did.

Things took a while to get going, but pretty soon folks from all over the country were doing what many of you do.  They’re bringing their families down here.  They staked a claim, and they found out that this is one of the most beautiful stretches of land not just in the country but in the world.  As one newspaper wrote, “Panama City has a destiny as sure as the sun will shine tomorrow.”

But I know that today, for a lot of folks here in Florida and along the Gulf Coast, that destiny doesn’t seem as certain anymore.  The oil spill in the Gulf is the worst environmental disaster in our nation’s history.  And over the last few months, oil spewing from the well a mile beneath the surface of the ocean has polluted our beaches, it’s endangered our wildlife, and it’s threatened the livelihoods of fishermen and small business owners from Biloxi all the way to Pensacola.

I also know that this community is home to many military families, as Gayle mentioned, including the men and women in the Coast Guard and the National Guard who mobilized in response to this crisis.

And I just want to say to you and your families, for the military servicemen and women who are here, again, you have always made extraordinary sacrifices, and I want to thank you all, all across the Armed Forces, for everything that you do to serve and protect us.  We continue to be proud of you all.  (Applause.)

But their families make up this community as well.  So there’s no question that this is a difficult time for anyone who lives or works on the coast.  And that’s why my husband and his administration are doing everything they can to get that cap on that well, to clean up the mess, and to make sure that BP is held accountable for the damages that they’ve caused and the disruption that they’ve caused in so many lives.  (Applause.)

But it’s also important to remember that there are many places along the Gulf Coast, like right here in Panama City Beach, that as you can still — these places are still clean, they are safe, and they are open for business.  (Applause.)

That’s one of the reasons why I’m here.  It’s important for the rest of the country to know that these places are just as vibrant and just as beautiful as they’ve always been.  And folks here in Florida and across the Gulf Coast are still depending on visitors and tourist dollars to put food on their tables and to pay their mortgages and to send their kids to college — because everybody’s going to college, right?  (Applause.)  All right.

Today I got the chance to meet some of the business owners and restaurant owners here in Panama City Beach — a wonderful group of determined and dedicated men and women who care deeply about this community.  And many of them have been a part of this community for generations.  The stories you hear — I’ve met grandchildren and sons and daughters who have been building their lives here for a very long time, and they hope that their children and grandchildren can stick around for generations to come and carry on these traditions.

But it’s not just the folks who own the businesses who make up this community but it’s also folks who come here on vacation — the families that have rented that same condo or visited the same stretch of beach for as long as they can remember.  Who falls into that category?  How many kids just come here and play on the beach every summer?  Yeah, yeah, don’t point to him, you look like you could still play.  (Laughter.)

The parents who packed up the van with the kids and the dog and headed south for a little slice of paradise, which this is — these people, the residents and the visitors, are the lifeblood of the Gulf Coast.  And that’s why it’s so important to spread the word that despite what everyone is seeing on TV and reading in the newspaper, that most of the coast is still open for business.  It is truly important for people to understand that.  Most of these beaches are perfectly clean.

And there’s so many wonderful places all across the coast — Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas — that are ready to welcome visitors like they have every summer.

And I know that there have been lots of questions lately about how we can best help people here on the Gulf Coast who’ve been affected by the oil spill.  And to be honest, truly, one of the best ways that fellow Americans can help is to come on down here and spend some money.  (Applause.)

And that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to come this summer.  I mean, my husband has been down here several times.  We’ve got administrative officials.  But I wanted to shed a light on the terrific people and the great places to come and relax and have fun, because that’s the time of year that we’re in.  People are looking for that place to go, their kids are driving them crazy.  (Laughter.)  They want them out of the house.  And this is a great option.

Right now my husband and so many members of his administration are working tirelessly to help make the Gulf Coast whole again.  And part of that means ensuring that the leak is plugged, and they’re making progress on that front.  Part of it is ensuring that residents are compensated for their losses, and that’s happening.  And part of it is ensuring that the beaches are clean and the ecosystem is restored so kids can come back and bring their kids and their kids and remember the beauty that this coast has to offer.

So that will always be the first priority of this administration — making sure that those components continue to happen.

But it’s also our responsibility to help the people of the Gulf return to the lives that they love.  And it’s our job to make sure that visitors who have enjoyed this beautiful coastline for generations can keep the tradition alive.

And it’s up to us to let Americans everywhere know about the extraordinary hospitality and about all the wonderful places to bring your families and enjoy yourselves right here on the Gulf where the future will always be bright.

And just driving around, I saw golf courses, I saw that upside-down house.  (Laughter.)  It’s a whole building that’s upside-down.  I don’t know what’s going on there, but if I’m a kid, I want to go in that house.  Water parks, beautiful beaches, there’s so much to do here, and I can guarantee you that people will be ready to welcome all of America with open arms.

So on behalf of my family and the administration, know that we are working on your behalf.  We care deeply about getting things right here.  And I look forward to coming back down to the coast and getting some more sand in my shoes.

But for now, I’m going to come down and shake some hands.  (Applause.)  Thank you all so much.

5:32 P.M. EDT

Remarks by the First Lady at a “Let’s Move!” Baseball Clinic with Major League Baseball at Camden Yards

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Camden Yards
Baltimore, Maryland

11:22 A.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, man, those were cool.  Pretty cool.  That’s my first, like, major PSA.  What do you think, kids?  Good?  Two thumbs up?  Would you listen?  Yes, I thought so.  Okay.  (Laughter.)

Well, good afternoon, everybody.  And thank you, Tim, thank you for that introduction.  Thank you for all your support.  I want to join the thank yous to the entire Baltimore Orioles organization; to Pete Angelos and his family for hosting us today.

This is certainly a beautiful park.  Kids, don’t you think this is cool?  (Applause.)  You’re sitting in the middle of a ballpark!  Okay.  (Laughter.)

I also want to thank the Tampa Bay Rays and owner Stuart Sternberg and his family for their support.  Also thanks to Tony Clark and the entire MLB Players Association and all 30 players who agreed to be part of the public service advertising campaign.  So that’s — it just means so much to these kids to see you guys joining in this.  Your voice means so much more to them than anything we could say, and we’re just proud to have you on board.  So thank you so much.

I also want to thank the First Lady of Maryland, Katie O’Malley.  Also, Baltimore’s mayor, Mayor Rawlings-Blake, thank you so much for being here today.  Thank you for your support.  Thank you for making this city a strong one and letting us launch this in your city.  We really appreciate it.

And I want to thank Commissioner Selig and his wife Sue and their family for being here.  As Sue said, they sent the women to do the job today.  I think we’re handling it, right, Sue?  (Laughter.)

And last but not least, to you guys, the kids, all the Major League Baseball RBI program participants and all those supporters from the Boys and Girls Clubs all around the country who’ve helped millions of kids lead happier, healthier lives because, kids, I know you’re hot out there, I know there are cameras, but we’re here because of you.  Truly, this is all about you.  Everything we’re doing is about you kids sitting here, and it’s important for you to know that.

The truth is that lots of kids just aren’t getting enough healthy foods and they’re not getting enough exercise.  And that’s going to make it hard for them to pay attention in class, it’s going to make it hard for them to keep up with their friends on the playground, and it’s going to make it difficult for young kids to grow up to be the kind of strong athletes that we see here.

So we needed to do something about it.  So when I became First Lady, we started planting a garden and doing some things around healthy eating, but it led to the launch of a broader conversation, a campaign called “Let’s Move!”  And “Let’s Move!” has a simple goal:  We’re trying to end childhood obesity in a generation so that kids born today grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams.

We’re doing a lot of things.  We’re trying to get parents and teachers and mayors and governors and athletes and doctors.  We need everyone involved in this effort on behalf of our kids.

The campaign is going to do four things.  First, we’re helping parents to make better choices — we’re trying to get companies to provide healthier foods for you guys to eat.  The second thing, we’re trying to help schools like yours offer healthier meals so that you get good food at school.  The third thing, we’re making sure that all families can get healthy, affordable food in the communities where they live.  One of the biggest problems in this country is that lots of children live in neighborhoods that don’t have a supermarket at all, not a single supermarket.  That means that healthy fruits and vegetables are harder to find, and we’re trying to change that.

And number four, which is why we’re here today, is that we’re trying to get you kids moving!  (Applause.)  The whole campaign is about “Let’s Move!” because the truth is, guys, you are supposed to be getting at least 60 minutes of active play every single day.  Are you guys doing that right now?  How many kids are getting 60 minutes, a whole hour, every day just to play?  Let me see some hands.  (Laughter.)  All right, we got these two.  I know I’m getting mine in.

But that’s what led athletes to be the great players that they are today, because they never stop moving.  If you talk to your mothers — right, you guys?  You never stop moving.  Never.  And that’s what you guys need to do, and that’s why we’re here.  We’ve got to get you kids focused and moving, and we’ve got organizations all across the country ready to help.

At first, when these players were kids, they found a sport that they loved.  And they practiced and practiced and practiced until they were better at it than anybody else.  So we want you guys to do the same thing.

So that’s why we’re here.  I know you guys are hot.  But we’re going to get you guys moving today.  And one of the things we want you to think about doing — this is a challenge that I have from the President of the United States — are you ready?  He’s going to give out some awards, an Active Life Award, for kids who are committed to doing activity every day of the week, or at least five days a week, okay?  And if you can commit to doing that and get your parents involved and your schools involved, you’ll get one of those awards.  Maybe you’ll get to come to the White House.  But you have to commit to do that.  Do you think you’re ready to compete?


MRS. OBAMA:  This could be the start of it.  Are you ready to be healthier?


MRS. OBAMA:  Are you ready to eat more vegetables?


MRS. OBAMA:  Are you ready to drink more water?


MRS. OBAMA:  Are you ready to jump up and down?


MRS. OBAMA:  Throw some balls?


MRS. OBAMA:  Sweat?


MRS. OBAMA:  Scream?


MRS. OBAMA:  All right, let’s do it, let’s move!  Thank you guys.  I’m going to get out there with you.  I got my shoes on.  All right, let’s get going.  (Applause.)

11:29 A.M. EDT