Monthly Archives: August 2011

Remarks by the President at 93rd Annual Conference of the American Legion

Release Time: 
For Immediate Release

Minneapolis Convention Center
Minneapolis, Minnesota

10:52 A.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT: Hello Legionnaires! It is wonderful to see all of you. Let me, first of all, thank Commander Foster for your introduction and for your lifetime of service to your fellow Marines, soldiers and veterans. On behalf of us all, I want to thank Jimmie and I want to thank your entire leadership team for welcoming me here today. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

Your National Adjutant, Dan Wheeler; your Executive Director, your voice in Washington, Peter Gaytan, who does just an extraordinary job; and the President of the American Legion Auxiliary, Carlene Ashworth — thank you for your extraordinary service. (Applause.) To Rehta Foster and all the spouses, daughters and sisters of the Auxiliary, and the Sons of the American Legion — as military families, you also serve, and we salute all of you as well.

There are some special guests here I want to acknowledge. They may have already been acknowledged, but they're great friends so I want to make sure that I point them out. First of all, the wonderful governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton, is here. (Applause.) Two senators who are working on behalf of veterans every single day — Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken. (Applause.) Congressman Keith Ellison — this is his district. (Applause.) Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, a great friend. (Applause.) To all the other members of Congress and Minnesota elected officials who are here, welcome.

It is wonderful to be back with the American Legion. Back in Illinois, my home state — (applause.) Hey! Illinois is in the house. (Laughter.) We worked together to make sure veterans across the state were getting the benefits they had earned. When I was in the U.S. Senate, we worked together to spotlight the tragedy of homelessness among veterans -— and the need to end it.

As President, I’ve welcomed Jimmie and your leadership to the Oval Office to hear directly from you. And I have been — (applause.) I've been honored to have you by my side when I signed advance appropriations to protect veterans' health care from the budget battles in Washington, — (applause) — when I signed legislation to give new support to veterans and their caregivers, and, most recently, when I proposed new initiatives to make sure the private sector is hiring our talented veterans.

So, American Legion, I thank you for your partnership. I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you today about what we need to do to make sure America is taking care of our veterans as well as you’ve taken care of us.

And I’m grateful to be with you for another reason. A lot of our fellow citizens are still reeling from Hurricane Irene and its aftermath. Folks are surveying the damage. Some are dealing with tremendous flooding. As a government, we’re going to make sure that states and communities have the support they need so their folks can recover. (Applause.)

And across the nation, we’re still digging out from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. It’s taking longer and it's been more difficult than any of us had imagined. And even though we’ve taken some steps in the right direction, we've got a lot more to do. Our economy has to grow faster. We have to create more jobs, and we have to do it faster. And most of all, we've got to break the gridlock in Washington that’s been preventing us from taking the action we need to get this country moving. (Applause.) That’s why, next week, I’ll be speaking to the nation about a plan to create jobs and reduce our deficit -– a plan that I want to see passed by Congress. We've got to get this done.

And here’s what else I know. We Americans have been through tough times before, much tougher than these. And we didn’t just get through them; we emerged stronger than before. Not by luck. Not by chance. But because, in hard times, Americans don’t quit. We don’t give up. (Applause.) We summon that spirit that says, when we come together, when we choose to move forward together, as one people, there’s nothing we can’t achieve.

And, Legionnaires, you know this story because it's the story of your lives. And in times like these, all Americans can draw strength from your example. When Hitler controlled a continent and fascism appeared unstoppable, when our harbor was bombed and our Pacific fleet crippled, there were those that declared that the United States had been reduced to a third-class power. But you, our veterans of World War II, crossed the oceans and stormed the beaches and freed the millions, liberated the camps and showed the United States of America is the greatest force for freedom that the world has ever known. (Applause.)

When North Korea invaded the South, pushing the allied forces into a tiny sliver of territory -— the Pusan Perimeter —- it seemed like the war could be lost. But you, our Korean War veterans, pushed back, fought on, year after bloody year. And this past Veterans Day, I went to Seoul and joined our Korean War veterans for the 60th anniversary of that war, and we marked that milestone in a free and prosperous Republic of Korea, one of our greatest allies.

When communist forces in Vietnam unleashed the Tet Offensive, it fueled the debate here at home that raged over that war. You, our Vietnam veterans, did not always receive the respect that you deserved —- which was a national shame. But let it be remembered that you won every major battle of that war. Every single one. (Applause.) As President, I’ve been honored to welcome our Vietnam veterans to the White House and finally present them with the medals and recognition that they had earned. It’s been a chance to convey, on behalf of the American people, those simple words with which our Vietnam veterans greet each other -— “Welcome home.” (Applause.)

Legionnaires, in the decades that followed, the spirit of your service was carried forth by our troops in the sands of Desert Storm and the rugged hills of the Balkans. And now, it's carried on by a new generation. Next weekend, we'll mark the 10th anniversary of those awful attacks on our nation. In the days ahead, we will honor the lives we lost and the families that loved them; the first responders who rushed to save others; and we will honor all those who have served to keep us safe these 10 difficult years, especially the men and women of our Armed Forces.

Today, as we near this solemn anniversary, it’s fitting that we salute the extraordinary decade of service rendered by the 9/11 Generation -— the more than 5 million Americans who've worn the uniform over the past 10 years. They were there, on duty, that September morning, having enlisted in a time of peace, but they instantly transitioned to a war footing. They’re the millions of recruits who have stepped forward since, seeing their nation at war and saying, “Send me.” They’re every single soldier, sailor, airman, Marine and Coast Guardsman serving today, who has volunteered to serve in a time of war, knowing that they could be sent into harm’s way.

They come from every corner of our country, big cities, small towns. They come from every background and every creed. They’re sons and daughters who carry on the family’s tradition of service, and they're new immigrants who’ve become our newest citizens. They’re our National Guardsmen and Reservists who've served in unprecedented deployments. They’re the record number of women in our military, proving themselves in combat like never before. And every day for the past 10 years, these men and women have succeeded together -— as one American team. (Applause.)

They're a generation of innovators, and they’ve changed the way America fights and wins at wars. Raised in the age of the Internet, they’ve harnessed new technologies on the battlefield. They’ve learned the cultures and traditions and languages of the places where they served. Trained to fight, they’ve also taken on the role of diplomats and mayors and development experts, negotiating with tribal sheikhs, working with village shuras, partnering with communities. Young captains, sergeants, lieutenants — they've assumed responsibilities once reserved for more senior commanders, and reminding us that in an era when so many other institutions have shirked their obligations, the men and women of the United States military welcome responsibility. (Applause.)

In a decade of war, they've borne an extraordinary burden, with more than 2 million of our service members deploying to the warzones. Hundreds of thousands have deployed again and again, year after year. Never before has our nation asked so much of our all-volunteer force -— that one percent of Americans who wears the uniform.

We see the scope of their sacrifice in the tens of thousands who now carry the scars of war, both seen and unseen -— our remarkable wounded warriors. We see it in our extraordinary military families who serve here at home -— the military spouses who hold their families together; the millions of military children, many of whom have lived most of their young lives with our nation at war and mom or dad deployed.

Most profoundly, we see the wages of war in those patriots who never came home. They gave their all, their last full measure of devotion, in Kandahar, in the Korengal, in Helmand, in the battles for Baghdad and Fallujah and Ramadi. Now they lay at rest in quiet corners of America, but they live on in the families who loved them and in a nation that is safer because of their service. And today we pay humble tribute to the more than 6,200 Americans in uniform who have given their lives in this hard decade of war. We honor them all. We are grateful for them.

Through their service, through their sacrifice, through their astonishing record of achievement, our forces have earned their place among the greatest of generations. Toppling the Taliban in just weeks. Driving al Qaeda from the training camps where they plotted 9/11. Giving the Afghan people the opportunity to live free from terror. When the decision was made to go into Iraq, our troops raced across deserts and removed a dictator in less than a month. When insurgents, militias and terrorists plunged Iraq into chaos, our troops adapted, they endured ferocious urban combat, they reduced the violence and gave Iraqis a chance to forge their own future.

When a resurgent Taliban threatened to give al Qaeda more space to plot against us, the additional forces I ordered to Afghanistan went on the offensive -— taking the fight to the Taliban and pushing them out of their safe havens, allowing Afghans to reclaim their communities and training Afghan forces. And a few months ago, our troops achieved our greatest victory yet in the fight against those who attacked us on 9/11 — delivering justice to Osama bin Laden in one of the greatest intelligence and military operations in American history. (Applause.)

Credit for these successes, credit for this progress, belongs to all who have worn the uniform in these wars. (Applause.) Today we're honored to be joined by some of them. And I would ask all those who served this past decade -— the members of the 9/11 Generation -— to stand and accept the thanks of a grateful nation. (Applause.)

Thanks to these Americans, we’re moving forward from a position of strength. Having ended our combat mission in Iraq and removed more than 100,000 troops so far, we’ll remove the rest of our troops by the end of this year and we will end that war. (Applause.)

Having put al Qaeda on the path to defeat, we won’t relent until the job is done. Having started to draw down our forces in Afghanistan, we’ll bring home 33,000 troops by next summer and bring home more troops in the coming years. (Applause.) As our mission transitions from combat to support, Afghans will take responsibility for their own security, and the longest war in American history will come to a responsible end.

For our troops and military families who've sacrificed so much, this means relief from an unrelenting decade of operations. Today, fewer of our sons and daughters are serving in harm’s way. For so many troops who’ve already done their duty, we’ve put an end to the stop loss. And our soldiers can now look forward to shorter deployments. That means more time at home between deployments, and more time training for the full range of missions that they will face.

Indeed, despite 10 years of continuous war, it must be said -— America’s military is the best that it’s ever been. (Applause.) We saw that most recently in the skill and precision of our brave forces who helped the Libyan people finally break free from the grip of Moammar Qaddafi. (Applause.) And as we meet the test that the future will surely bring, including hard fiscal choices here at home, there should be no doubt: The United States of America will keep our military the best-trained, the best-led, the best-equipped fighting force in history. It will continue to be the best. (Applause.)

Now, as today’s wars end, as our troops come home, we’re reminded once more of our responsibilities to all who have served. The bond between our forces and our citizens must be a sacred trust. And for me and my administration, upholding that trust is not just a matter of policy, it is not about politics; it is a moral obligation. That’s why my very first budget included the largest percentage increase to the VA budget in the past 30 years. (Applause.) So far, we’re on track to have increased funding for Veterans Affairs by 30 percent. And because we passed advanced appropriations, when Washington politics threatens to shut down the government, as it did last spring, the veterans' medical care that you count on was safe.

And let me say something else about VA funding that you depend on. As a nation, we’re facing some tough choices as we put our fiscal house in order. But I want to be absolutely clear: We cannot, we must not, we will not, balance the budget on the backs of our veterans. (Applause.) As Commander-in-Chief, I won’t allow it. (Applause.)

With these historic investments, we’re making dramatic improvements to veterans' health care. We’re improving VA facilities to better serve our women veterans. We’re expanding outreach and care for our rural veterans, like those that I met during my recent visit to Cannon Falls, including two proud Legionnaires -— Tom Newman of Legion Post 620 in Hugo, and Joseph Kidd, Post 164 in Stewartville. Are they here right now? They're out there somewhere. (Applause.) That was a good lunch, by the way. (Laughter.)

For our Vietnam veterans, because we declared that three diseases are now presumed to be related to your exposure to Agent Orange, we’ve begun paying the disability benefits that you need. (Applause.) For our veterans of the Gulf War, we’re moving forward to address the nine infectious diseases that we declared are now presumed to be related to your service in Desert Storm. (Applause.)

At the same time, our outstanding VA Secretary, Ric Shinseki, is working every day to build a 21st century VA. Many of our Vietnam vets are already submitting their Agent Orange claims electronically. Hundreds of you, from all wars, are requesting your benefits online. Thanks to the new “blue button” on the VA website, you can now share your personal health information with your doctors outside of the VA. And we’re making progress in sharing medical records between DOD and VA. We’re not there yet. I've been pounding on this thing since I came into office. We are going to stay on it, we're going to keep at it until our troops and our veterans have a lifetime electronic medical record that you can keep for your life. (Applause.)

Of course, we’ve still got some work to do. We got to break the backlog of disability claims. I know that over the past year, the backlog has actually grown due to new claims from Agent Orange. But let me say this — and I know Secretary Shinseki agrees — when our veterans who fought for our country have to fight just to get the benefits that you’ve already earned, that’s unacceptable. So this is going to remain a key priority for us. (Applause.)

We’re going to keep hiring new claims processors, and we’re going to keep investing in new paperless systems and keep moving ahead with our innovation competition in which our dedicated VA employees are developing new ways to process your claims faster. We want your claims to be processed not in months, but in days. So the bottom line is this -— your claims need to be processed quickly and accurately, the first time. We’re not going to rest until we get that done. We will not rest. (Applause.)

The same is true for our mission to end homelessness among our veterans. Already, we’ve helped to bring tens of thousands of veterans off the streets. For the first time ever, we’ve made veterans and military families a priority -— not just at the VA, not just at DOD, but across the federal government. And that includes making sure that federal agencies are working together so that every veteran who fought for America has a home in America. (Applause.)

We’re working to fulfill our obligations to our 9/11 Generation veterans, especially our wounded warriors. The constant threat of IEDs has meant a new generation of service members with multiple traumatic injuries, including Traumatic Brain Injury. And thanks to advanced armor and medical technologies, our troops are surviving injuries that would have been fatal in previous wars. So we’re saving more lives, but more American veterans live with severe wounds for a lifetime. That's why we need to be for them for their lifetime.

We’re giving unprecedented support to our wounded warriors -— especially those with Traumatic Brain Injury. And thanks to the veterans and caregivers legislation I signed into law, we’ve started training caregivers so that they can receive the skills and the stipends that they need to care for their loved ones. (Applause.)

We’re working aggressively to address another signature wound of this war, which has led to too many fine troops and veterans to take their own lives, and that’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. We’re continuing to make major investments — improving outreach and suicide prevention, hiring and training more mental health counselors, and treating more veterans than ever before.

The days when depression and PTSD were stigmatized — those days must end. That’s why I made the decision to start sending condolence letters to the families of service members who take their lives while deployed in a combat zone. These Americans did not die because they were weak. They were warriors. They deserve our respect. Every man and woman in uniform, every veteran, needs to know that your nation will be there to help you stay strong. (Applause.) It’s the right thing to do.

In recent months, we’ve heard new reports of some of our veterans not getting the prompt mental health care that they desperately need. And that, too, is unacceptable. If a veteran has the courage to seek help, then we need to be doing everything in our power to deliver the lifesaving mental care that they need. So Secretary Shinseki and the VA are going to stay on this. And we'll continue to make it easier for veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress to qualify for VA benefits, regardless of the war that you served in. If you served in a combat theater and a VA doctor confirms a diagnosis of PTSD, that's enough.

Which brings me to the final area where America must meet its obligations to our veterans, and this is a place where we need each other — and that’s the task of renewing our nation’s economic strength. After a decade of war, it’s time to focus on nation building here at home. And our veterans, especially our 9/11 veterans, have the skills and the dedication to help lead the way.

That’s why we’re funding the post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which is now helping more than 500,000 veterans and family members go to college, get their degrees, and play their part in moving America forward. (Applause.) It’s why, this fall, we’ll start including vocational training and apprenticeships as well, so veterans can develop the skills to succeed in today’s economy. And that’s why I’ve directed the federal government to hire more veterans, including more than 100,000 veterans in the past year and a half alone.

But in this tough economy, far too many of our veterans are still unemployed. That’s why I’ve proposed a comprehensive initiative to make sure we’re tapping the incredible talents of our veterans. And it’s got two main parts.

First, we’re going to do more to help our newest veterans find and get that private sector job. We’re going to offer — (applause) — we’re going to offer more help with career development and job searches. I’ve directed DOD and the VA to create what we’re calling a “reverse boot camp” to help our newest veterans prepare for civilian jobs and translate their exceptional military skills into industry — into industry-accepted licenses and credentials. And today I’m calling on every state to pass legislation that makes it easier for our veterans to get the credentials and the jobs for which they are so clearly qualified. This needs to happen, and it needs to happen now. (Applause.)

Second, we’re encouraging the private sector to do its part. So I’ve challenged companies across America to hire or train 100,000 unemployed veterans or their spouses. And this builds on the commitments that many companies have already made as part of the Joining Forces Campaign, championed by the First Lady and the Vice President’s spouse, Dr. Jill Biden: 100,000 jobs for veterans and spouses. And to get this done, I’ve proposed a Returning Heroes Tax Credit for companies that hire unemployed veterans and a Wounded Warrior Tax Credit for companies that hire unemployed veterans with a disability. (Applause.)

When Congress returns from recess, this needs to be at the top of their agenda. For the sake of our veterans, for the sake of our economy, we need these veterans working and contributing and creating the new jobs and industries that will keep America competitive in the 21st century.

These are the obligations we have to each other -— our forces, our veterans, our citizens. These are the responsibilities we must fulfill. Not just when it’s easy, not just when we’re flush with cash, not just when it’s convenient, but always.

That’s a lesson we learned again this year in the life and in the passing of Frank Buckles, our last veteran from the First World War. He passed away at the age of 110. Think about it. Frank lived the American Century. An ambulance driver on the Western Front, he bore witness to the carnage of the trenches in Europe. Then during the Second World War, he survived more than three years in Japanese prisoner of war camps. Then, like so many veterans, he came home, went to school, pursued a career, started a family, lived a good life on his farm in West Virginia.

Even in his later years, after turning 100, Frank Buckles still gave back to his country. He’d go speak to schoolchildren about his extraordinary life. He’d meet and inspire other veterans. And for 80 years, he served as a proud member of the American Legion. (Applause.)

The day he was laid to rest, I ordered the flags be flown at half-staff at the White House, at the government buildings across the nation, at our embassies around the world. As Frank Buckles lay in honor at Arlington’s memorial chapel, hundreds passed by his flag-draped casket in quiet procession. Most were strangers who never knew him, but they knew the story of his service, and they felt compelled to offer their thanks to this American soldier.

And that afternoon, I had the privilege of going over to Arlington and spending a few moments with Frank’s daughter, Susannah, who cared for her father to the very end. And it was a chance for me to convey the gratitude of an entire nation and to pay my respects to an American who reflected the best of who we are as a people.

And, Legionnaires, it was a reminder -— not just to the family and friends of Corporal Frank Buckles, but to the veterans and families of every generation — no matter when you serve, no matter how many years ago that you took off the uniform, no matter how long you live as a proud veteran of this country we love, America will never leave your side. America will never forget. We will always be grateful to you.

God bless you. God bless all our veterans. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

11:26 A.M. CDT

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President Obama Salutes the Extraordinary Decade of Military Service by the 9/11 Generation

President Obama today praised the extraordinary decade of service rendered by the 9/11 Generation of our military, the more than five million men and women – all of whom voluntarily joined the armed forces over the past ten years. He also paid special tribute to the more than 6,200 Americans who have given their lives in this hard decade of war.   

Speaking before the American Legion National Convention today in Minneapolis, the President said that America’s military is the best it’s ever been, and highlighted the ways in which this new generation has changed the way America fights and wins our wars:

Raised in the age of the Internet, they’ve harnessed new technologies on the battlefield.  They’ve learned the cultures, traditions and languages of the places they’ve served.  Trained to fight, they’ve taken on the role of diplomats, mayors and development experts, negotiating with tribal sheikhs, working with village shuras, and partnering with communities.  Young captains, sergeants and lieutenants have assumed responsibilities once reserved for more senior commanders, reminding us that in an era when so many other institutions have shirked their obligations, the men and women of the United States military welcome responsibility. 

The President touched on some of the most extraordinary achievements of the past ten years, in Iraq and Afghanistan, including “our greatest victory yet in the fight against those who attacked us on 9/11—delivering justice to Osama bin Laden in one of the greatest intelligence and military operations in American history.”

But much of the President’s remarks were focused on America’s responsibility to the troops and their families when they return home, including health care and support for the specific mental health needs of veterans, disability benefits and ending homelessness among the veteran population. President Obama vowed that in the coming budget negotiations, veterans can rest assured that America will not balance the budget on the backs of our veterans. 

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Statement by the President on the Occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr

Release Time: 
For Immediate Release

Michelle and I would like to send Eid greetings to Muslim communities in the United States and around the world. Ramadan has been a time for families and communities to share the happiness of coming together in intense devotion, reflection, and service. Millions all over the world have been inspired to honor their faith by reaching out to those less fortunate. This year, many have observed the month while courageously persevering in their efforts to secure basic necessities and fundamental freedoms. The United States will continue to stand with them and for the dignity and rights of all people, whether a hungry child in the Horn of Africa or a young person demanding freedom in the Middle East and North Africa.

As Ramadan comes to an end, we send our best wishes for a blessed holiday to Muslim communities around the world. Eid Mubarak.

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Obama Arrested ! Illegal Alien Obama Arrested

Obama Arrested ! Illegal Alien Obama Arrested! Unfortunately, it wasn’t the Illegal Alien ‘obama’ who lives on Federal welfare at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue…

Source: YouTube

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President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness to Hold Listening and Action Session in Dallas, Texas

Release Time: 
For Immediate Release

Jobs Council members, Administration officials, business and union leaders to discuss with local businesses, stakeholders and elected officials how the public and private sectors can partner to create opportunity and support job creation through infrastructure investment

 WASHINGTON, DC – On Thursday, September 1st in Dallas, Texas, the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness will hold the next in a series of Jobs and Competitiveness Listening and Action Sessions with local businesses and stakeholders to discuss how the public and private sectors can partner to create opportunity and support job creation.  The September 1st session will take place at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and will focus on the importance of infrastructure investment to creating jobs across sectors of the American economy.  Participating in the discussion will be US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, senior Administration officials, Members of the President’s Jobs Council and key business leaders and stakeholders. 

Prior to the session, Secretary LaHood, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Southwest Airlines President & CEO Gary Kelly will also visit a Love Field Modernization Program construction site. 

This Infrastructure Investment Listening and Action session is part of a series of regional Council Listening and Action Sessions that are taking place around the country as a result of the President’s challenge that the Council bring new voices to the table and ensure that everyone can participate and inform the Council’s work and recommendations.    The ideas and information exchanged at these events will help inform the future policy work of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which meets with President Obama each quarter to recommend critical steps that both the private and public sectors can take to create jobs and help strengthen the economy. 

President Obama formed the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness  in January of 2011 for the purpose of bolstering the United States economy by fostering job creation, innovation, growth, and competitiveness as the country enters a new phase of economic recovery.  The core mission of the Council is to promote growth by investing in American businesses to encourage hiring, to educate and train American workers to compete in the global economy, and to attract the best jobs and businesses in the world to the United States.

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President Obama Signs Pennsylvania Emergency Declaration

Release Time: 
For Immediate Release

The President today declared an emergency exists in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and ordered federal aid to supplement commonwealth and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from Hurricane Irene beginning on August 26, 2011, and continuing.

The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Sullivan, Wayne, and Wyoming.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.  Emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding. 

W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Ed Smith as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. 


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[JailBreak] PS3 3.70 with a USB Stick and Make an MW2 CL

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Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, 8/29/2011

Release Time: 
For Immediate Release

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:21 P.M. EDT
MR. CARNEY: Welcome to the White House, everyone. This is your daily briefing. For those of you who were at Martha's Vineyard last week or on vacation, welcome back. That includes me. For those of you who were here, my condolences.

Before I get started on taking questions on other issues, I have with me today the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Craig Fugate. As you know, Mr. Fugate has extensive emergency management experience. He was the former director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, appointed to that position in 2001 by then governor Jeb Bush, and then later reappointed by Governor Bush's successor, Charlie Crist. He held that position until President Obama asked him to lead FEMA.

He is here to take your questions and give you an update on Hurricane Irene and its consequences. So why don't we have Mr. Fugate make a few points, take your questions on all issues related to Irene, and then I will take your questions on other issues.

Thanks very much.

ADMINISTRATOR FUGATE: Well, good afternoon. I think first, our condolences for the families who have lost loved ones. Unfortunately, Irene was a deadly storm. Reports are still coming in — I think open source — we've seen in the media about 21. We also know that there are several people still missing. And one of the things about these types of storms we know, unfortunately, the death toll may continue to go up in the recovery phase through accidents and other things that happen.

It's been my experience from Florida where, again, as we urge people to use common sense and be cautious — don't drive through flooded areas; we've got a lot of power lines down, and as crews are reenergizing, again, be very careful. We don't want any more people to lose their lives.

But to the families that have lost ones, our condolences and our prayers are with them.

Tropical Storm Irene dissipated and moved into Canada, but in its path as a hurricane we started out in the Virgin Isles and Puerto Rico, which most of the damages were in Puerto Rico. The President has declared Puerto Rico a major disaster area. We are providing assistance there. And then our attentions turned to the Carolinas as the storm began moving towards the East Coast.

Prior to the arrival of Hurricane Irene we had what we call an incident management team — these are federal employees of FEMA that are trained to go in, link up with the state prior to the storm getting there so that we are prepared to support them both in the preparation phase but also in the immediate response phase — 18 of those teams deployed across the East Coast, as far south as Florida all the way up to Maine. And again, as we saw the track of the storm adjust we repositioned teams and we became increasingly concerned about possible impacts in the New England states. We put liaisons into those states as the storm moved north.

We pre-positioned water, food, generators, tarps and other supplies in incident staging bases based along the path of the storm. We were sitting, ready to activate our urban search and rescue teams. We put our teams on alert. Three of those teams have actually been now activated, on standby and support in New York and in Vermont, based upon the flooding there. But again, a lot of the rescue operations are being conducted by state and local officials — National Guard, men and women that were called out by their governors, Coast Guard and other rescue officials in those areas.

As it stands now, we are still supporting in North Carolina requests for assistance as they go to the recovery phase and begin damage assessments — a lot of power outages, roads that were heavily damaged by storm surge, particularly in the Outer Banks, as well as a lot of debris in the eastern part of the state.

As you move up the coastline, I'm sure you're all aware of the large numbers of power outages. Those numbers have come down since yesterday. The Department of Energy is working with the private sector as they track those numbers. But we went from over 6 million down to 5 million. And again, those numbers look to continue to come down, but some areas are going to have some time to get all the power back up.

Probably the real story was as Irene was exiting and many people were focused along the coast we did get some impacts of coastal storm surge but not to the degree that we were concerned about. But heavy rain did occur along the interior parts of the path. That was a big concern we had as the storm moved north, and so we have seen record flooding in Vermont, record flooding in New York. We still have rivers that have yet to crest. The River Forecast Center for the Northeast was reporting that some of these rivers may not crest for two to three days.

So the extent of impacts we still won’t know, but, again, many of these areas have been dealing with very dangerous flooding. Some of it has resulted in the loss of life. To give you some idea of how fast this occurred, the rivers and the flooding were so intense that the Vermont Emergency Operations Center, their state emergency operations center, had to evacuate last night and relocate. We had already been working disasters in Vermont, so we had a joint field office that they were able to relocate to, and so they were able to continue their operations after moving. But they did experience these damages and they are working to get their center back up.

But, again, from a storm that I think — a lot of folks on the coastal areas also showed that inland the heavy rains produced quite a bit of damages and are continuing to produce damages. So we’re working with the governors now as they begin the assessment.

The question I’ve been getting a lot is how much damage. We don’t know; we’re still assessing. A lot of the states are just finishing the response operations — are beginning that, particularly the further south you are, as you move north. But in Vermont and in New York, they’re very actively still engaged in response operations, as well as Massachusetts and New Jersey — which are also experiencing flooding — New Hampshire and Maine.

So with that I’m open for questions.

Q Do you have any figures to attach to the damage yet, any idea how much the storm will cost?

ADMINISTRATOR FUGATE: No, and I don’t really estimate — I don’t like to give estimates, because one of the things you’re looking at is a lot of power outages. You see a lot of damages that are not going to be covered by federal dollars — we don’t cover insurance losses. So some of the numbers you’ll get from, like, insurance industry projects are actually what their exposure will be. Those won’t translate into what the federal cost will be.

So this will be — we do formal damage assessments with the states. We go in and look at those things that would be the responsibility of state and local government. We look at those damages. We look primarily at the uninsured losses. So until we actually get out there and do the damage assessments, we won’t have numbers. But also understand that’s not the total dollar figure. So you’ll get lots of impacts.

You’re also going to have significant agricultural impacts in North Caroline and other states. And so USDA will be working with the state ag commissioners as they compile those costs. So the total dollar figure is actually from several different sources. What we will report will be the damages that will be eligible if there was a presidential disaster declaration for major reimbursement assistance.

Q What’s the total number without power?

ADMINISTRATOR FUGATE: The total number — and, again, this number is fluctuating and it’s coming down, but the Department of Energy at our 12:30 p.m. conference call was reporting a little over 5 million. And that number had come down from a number that was a little over 6 million. But Department of Energy is tracking that very closely, working with the states and utilities, and putting that number together as it changes through the days.

Q Did Vermont take you by surprise completely? And I didn’t hear any warnings about Vermont.

ADMINISTRATOR FUGATE: No, we knew they were in the area of heavy rainfall. And this is one thing that Director Bill Reed was trying to get people not to focus just on the center of circulation or on the coast. The heavy rainfall — particularly this storm had a lot of rain ahead of it as it was moving ashore — the concern was where we could expect rainfall.

In fact, if you went back to the Hydromet Prediction Center, they were putting out forecasts of these types of measures that we could see as far as rainfall, so it was something we were expecting. But the reality is with flash flooding, much of this occurred very quickly. In fact, in many of these rivers in Vermont, they’ve already gone back down. It was just a very quick response rate from the rain, the flooding, and now we’re looking at the damages.

Q What happened in (inaudible) New York?

ADMINISTRATOR FUGATE: Just — I don't have anything specific right now.

Q Given that this is the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and you’ve talked about some of the lessons of Hurricane Katrina, can you speak specifically about what was learned then that helped you and the federal government to be better prepared for Hurricane Irene?

ADMINISTRATOR FUGATE: Well, you got to give credit to Congress who, one, passed the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act that clarified and gave clarity to FEMA’s mission, but also cleared up some issues that were considered issues: Should we wait till a governor has exceeded all of their resources to then ask for federal assistance, and at that point do we respond? Or are we able to get things going earlier, not wait for that declaration without waiting for the state to be overwhelmed to get ready?

And this is I think — one of the keys we’ve learned is when we know there’s a disaster that could occur — and again, we’re working off that forecast — is not to wait until the state says we’re going to need help. Part of it is by getting our teams into those states with the counterparts of the governor’s team working early. Not only are we there in case they need our help, we have a better idea of what to anticipate and we have built that team so if we do have the impact, we can right to work.

That, as well as the ability to pre-position resources, move them into areas before the states make formal requests. A lot of this was the mechanics that we learned from Katrina. But I think some of the other things that was directed into legislation was we needed to look beyond just what FEMA’s role is; that we’re not the team, we’re part of a team. We really had to look at things such as how do you better integrate the volunteers and the NGOs and their capabilities, as well as the private sector.

I mean, I was in Florida doing a lot of hurricanes. And quite honestly, when you get to the point where you find yourself setting up distribution points in the parking lot of an open grocery store because they brought a generator in, brought in emergency crews and got their store open, but you weren’t talking, I could have probably gone where there was a greater need.

So right now one of the things we’ve done in this administration is we brought the private sector into FEMA’s headquarters. We have a representative on a rotating basis in the private sector representing them, so we work as a team. And so right now we’re getting reports of stores opening — first in Puerto Rico, when the initial storm hit, looking at big block stores that were able to get open — had a better sense that a lot of the things that we were concerned about, the private sector was able to get up and running, so we could focus on the areas that were flooded, mainly smaller towns and communities in the more mountainous areas of Puerto Rico.

Q It was six years ago today when Katrina came ashore. FEMA’s reputation was not enhanced by the operation there. Is there one single lesson from Katrina that has kind of reshaped FEMA and their response to this?

ADMINISTRATOR FUGATE: We can’t wait to know how bad it is before we get ready. We have to go fast. We have to base it upon the potential impacts. That's why we look at these forecasts we get from the Hurricane Center and we make the decisions based upon what the potential impacts could be. If you wait till you know how bad it is, it becomes harder to change the outcome.

Q And how good was the forecast? Did you expect Hurricane Irene to be what she turned out to be? Was the forecasting good enough?

ADMINISTRATOR FUGATE: The track of the forecast, I think they’ve looked back and the National Hurricane Center will give you that update of what they saw, but I think the track was only about 10 miles off of where they actually thought it was going to come ashore.

But the intensity of the wind speed — but that's something — I’m going to be honest with you folks. Of all the things we know about hurricanes, the track forecast, we have the greatest — we’ve seen the science has really improve that in my career to where if this had been 10 to 15 years ago, Florida would have had to evacuate based upon this track.

You remember seeing the satellite how big that storm was and how close it was to the state of Florida? We would not have been able to not evacuate. But the science is that good on track. But where we know where we still have a lot of work to do is intensity forecasts — what goes up and goes down.

Remember Hurricane Charlie in Florida? It went from a category one in Cuba, crossing over, became a category four in less than 24 hours. We’ve seen a lot of these storms that the smaller storms, rapid anticipation. We also see storms that weaken. And that is an area that — that skill we still need to work on. But based on the forecast, that's what we prepare for.

Q Looking at the current scenario, does Vermont need more federal resources?

ADMINISTRATOR FUGATE: Again, the response phase — and we were talking to — we have a conference call each day with all the state directors that are impacted. The state director reported they have what they need. They're beginning to look at their damage assessments, and it is likely we’ll be doing damage assessments with them to determine if they're going to need more assistance to recover. But in the response phase, they advised us they had what they needed, and they appreciate the fact that we had resources standing by.

Q Administrator Fugate, since you worked Katrina six years ago and this hurricane, what did you personally see the differences? Has the red tape actually been cutting up where you felt easier to be able to maneuver to get assistance to people this hurricane versus Katrina?

ADMINISTRATOR FUGATE: You talk about the processes and a lot of mechanics behind it. I think in this administration, from my earliest events when I came onboard — America Samoa, supporting USAID Haiti, the floods in Tennessee, and obviously this year — the one thing that's been impressed upon me by the President is we go as a federal team and we bring all our resources together.

I think there is a lot of things that when we do it as a team and we understand that you cannot have separate — you can’t look at local government, state government, federal government, the volunteers and the private sector as distinct entities and be successful. You got to look as a team.

And so one of the things that's been impressed upon me and the thing that we’ve learned and try to practice here is we’re not the team, we’re part of the team. We have to bring all of our resources together. We have to work as a team. We have to be focused on the survivors, and the emphasis on speed — to get there, get stabilized, to figure out what the next steps are without waiting to ask all the questions, well, how bad is it, what do you need? We know generally in these types of events what most likely is going to be required. Let’s get moving it. If we don't need it, we can turn it off. But you don't get time back in a disaster.

Look at what was happening at Katrina in the first 72 hours, that once you got past that point, there was not much more you could do to change that outcome, and then things were just cascading one on top of the other.

Q So would you say that six years ago people weren’t working as a team?

ADMINISTRATOR FUGATE: I think there was a lot of things at the federal level that Congress addressed in the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act that has certainly made my job easier to work in that team environment.

Q Do you have an exact figure on the amount that's left in the disaster relief fund?

ADMINISTRATOR FUGATE: No, not today. I think earlier in the week we had gone below a billion dollars and were around $900 million. And I’m not sure what today’s figure is. But that's one of the reasons why we implemented immediate needs funding, was to preserve funding for the existing disaster. This is one thing I want to make clear: We said we went to immediate needs funding, and a lot of people thought, well, the people that had been impacted by the tornados and floods, we’re going to take that money away from them. The survivors that are eligible for assistance are still getting funds. Individual assistance programs were not affected by this, nor was any protective measures, or any debris clearance or any project that had already been approved.

The only thing that we have postponed is new projects that are permanent work that had not been started when we go into immediate needs funding. And that is to ensure that we still have funds to do this response, continue to meet the needs of the survivors of the previous disasters, while supporting the initial response to Hurricane Irene.

Q So the criticism from Congressman Blunt out of Missouri is inaccurate?

ADMINISTRATOR FUGATE: Well, again, for the individuals that were helping, for the cleanup, and for the emergency costs, we’re continuing that. But for any projects that have not come in for approval, we’re not going to be able to fund those as this point. We’re going to postpone those. They're still eligible, but we won’t be able to start new permanent work such as permanent construction repairing damages from those tornados.

Q If I can follow up on the money question. I mean, we’ve had the earthquake, we had the tornados, now we’ve got this hurricane. Is there any risk — do you have a bottomless pool of money for state assistance? Or do you run out?

ADMINISTRATIOR FUGATE: Well, that's one of the things we’ve been working on, and that's why we went to immediate needs funding. There was too much unknown about Irene, and looking at how many states were going to be impacted, we knew and we had actually — knew that going into our end of the fiscal year, we were going to get close to the point where we would have to look at immediate needs funding at some point.

Our goal was to continue to be able to respond to the open disasters and maintain enough reserves for any new disasters until we get into the next fiscal year. But Irene was obviously something — we felt it was just prudent. We weren’t out of money, but we wanted to make sure we had enough money available to continue supporting the survivors from the past disasters, as well as start the response to Irene.

Q Your goal was a billion, and then after that, you’re done?

ADMINISTRATOR FUGATE: No, we actually had more money earlier this year. We also had — the Disaster Relief Fund is something that's an appropriation that we get. It’s also something that because of older disasters we close out, we put money back in. But it is — we generally look at that — when we get down to about a billion dollars, we want to make sure that we can continue supporting the survivors for all the old disasters, as well as any new responses. Going into September being the peak part of hurricane season, and with Irene, we didn't want to get to the point where we would not have the funds to continue to support the previous impacted survivors as well as respond to the next disaster.

MR. CARNEY: Okay. Thank you all very much. Administrator Fugate, we appreciate it. Thank you.

Now, let’s go to other issues. Erica.

Q Can you talk about Alan Krueger’s appointment today? He’s a previous member of the administration who seems to be viewed as a continuity pick. Does that suggest that the President likes how his economic team is composed and doesn’t see the need to shake it up?

MR. CARNEY: I think he picked Dr. Krueger because he’s an excellent economist whose particular skills are more relevant than ever in the economic environment we find ourselves in. He brings a lot of experience to the table both as an academic and through his service in the Treasury Department of this administration, the Labor Department of the Clinton administration. His expertise in the labor market is particularly relevant as we focus on the need to grow the economy and increase job creation. So he looked for the best possible choice and found him in Dr. Krueger.

Q Do you believe that he’ll bring new ideas to the table?

MR. CARNEY: I believe that he’s an excellent economist and a dynamic economist with a lot of experience, and will be an important member of the economic team, yes.

Q And on the President’s job speech, he shared with us that it will be next week. What day is it going to be?

MR. CARNEY: We don't have a date to announce. I will repeat what the President said, that you can expect it next week, but I don't have a date or location to give to you today.

Q What is the reason for not telling us when it’s going to be?

MR. CARNEY: It could be because we haven’t finally decided. (Laughter.) And when we have an announcement to make, we’ll make it. That would be the –

Q Heated debate?

MR. CARNEY: No debate, just figuring out the best time for it, best location.

Q So you don't know when or where it’s going to be at this point?

MR. CARNEY: Actually, the decision has not been finally made.

Q Thank you.


Q Jay, does the White House have any more information or ideas about where Qaddafi is?

MR. CARNEY: No, we have no indication that he has left Libya. We are obviously working with the TNC and with our NATO partners on that. But if we have — if we knew where he was, we would pass that information along to the opposition forces.

Q Will the White House and will the United States government ask the rebels to hand over the Lockerbie bomber?

MR. CARNEY: Extradition issues are something you should address to the Department of Justice. I think that he was tried in Scotland, not here. But we are monitoring that situation, as well.

Q On the scope of the jobs package, is this something that the White House thinks can have sweeping change on the employment picture in the United States?

MR. CARNEY: The President will propose, as he has said in the past, initiatives that will have a direct impact on economic growth and job creation — substantial impact — as measured by middle-of-the-road, unaffiliated, nonpartisan economists. They will be measures that should have bipartisan support and that he expects will have bipartisan support, because everyone's focus in Washington, whether you're a member a of Congress or a member of this administration, ought to be on getting this economy moving faster and the need to hire more people faster.

So it will have a measurable impact. And if the entirety of his proposals were passed by Congress and signed into law, that impact would be very beneficial to the economy and to employment.

Q Given that emphasis on the bipartisan nature of these proposals, has he consulted with Republican members of Congress as they develop these ideas?

MR. CARNEY: I don't have specific conversations or meetings to read out to you. The President has consulted widely, beyond the administration. He has spoken to you about a number of specific ideas that he has that you can assume will be part of this that would have a direct impact on job creation and economic growth. But there will be other ideas that will be new to you as part of this package.

Q And finally, given the administration's statements lately about the intransigence of Republicans in Congress, is this in any way a measure that the White House expects to be dead on arrival and is essentially a political package?

MR. CARNEY: I don't because — it's not a political package because it is actually the precisely opposite of it. We're talking about September of 2011, more than a year before the next election. This package will be focused precisely on job creation and economic growth. It will be made up of components that should have, based on historical experience, bipartisan support.

And to the extent that politics is involved — and we hope involved in a helpful way — it will be in the sense of immediate urgency that members of Congress have upon returning from their states and districts, having heard from their constituents the amount of frustration that is so palpable out in America with the partisan posturing and political bickering that's taking place here, that's getting in the way of — obstructing our ability to do the things that the American people want us to get done. I mean, we saw this during the deficit and debt negotiations, the debt ceiling crisis.

There's an enormous opportunity here to accomplish big things that the American people want accomplished and that could be done in a bipartisan way. And that includes job creation measures, economic growth measures, and fiscal soundness measures. And our hope and expectation is that the members of Congress from both parties will come back with a heightened sense of urgency to put the American people ahead of party, ahead of politics, and to do something right for the economy.

Q When will the President go visit any of the areas that have been hit by the hurricane?

MR. CARNEY: Ann, I don't have a scheduling announcement for you at this point. I don't have an announcement of that nature to make.

Q And he put out a statement on Katrina six years later. Does he feel that the federal government is significantly better in its reaction now than it was six years ago?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I think Administrator Fugate addressed that and addressed it from firsthand experience, and I think his answer was, yes, basically.

Q But President Obama, particularly — does he feel that on his watch — yesterday he said he took — if you need something, tell me about it. Does he really think that the federal government is in a keener position?

MR. CARNEY: He thinks that his administration has from day one tried to be proactively responsive in the case of national disasters like hurricanes, floods, tornados, and that that posture has been the right one to take. Others will judge whether or not FEMA's response, the federal government's response, has been adequate. We are certainly — the President is making sure that all resources available, all aspects of the federal family, are focused on this, led by Administrator Fugate and, again, the assessments will be made by others. We have heard some positive ones, but as the President said yesterday and as Administrator Fugate made clear today, this is not over. There are still impacts to be felt in certain states and a lot of recovery to be done.

Q The President has given at least half a dozen job speeches already this year by a CBS News count. What's different about this speech?

MR. CARNEY: Well, you make a good point in that the focus on jobs has been unbroken in this administration since the day he was sworn into office — the President was sworn into office — in a month where the American economy experienced more than 700,000 jobs lost; where that quarter, that first quarter of 2009, the economy contracted at I believe it's over 8 percent is not the — that was the fourth quarter of '08, but an incredible amount of shrinkage. So this has been the primary focus of this President and this administration since we came in January 2009.

We are constantly looking at ways to continue to grow the economy and create jobs, and we obviously — for a variety of reasons, the economy slowed and experienced headwinds, and we have not been chipping away at unemployment at the rate that we need to be. And the President feels very passionately that we need to take new measures to ensure that jobs are created and the economy grows.

So your point is well made in that this has been a consistent focus of the President's. But that focus will not diminish at all in the coming months or years.

Q I was asking a question, not making a point. But his focus is unbroken on jobs, but unemployment is up 25 percent since the President took office. What's his record in terms of creating jobs?

MR. CARNEY: I understand that you're not making a point, Norah, but I think –

Q — Jay, the question is what is different in this new speech? What is going to be different?

MR. CARNEY: Well, you will see what the President proposes to enhance growth, enhance hiring, and you will judge then what's different about the new ideas that are contained within it as well as ideas that you've heard about. But I can't let the premise go uncommented on when you talk about the amount of job loss in the time since the President took — was sworn into office. I don't think anybody except the most fervent partisan would suggest that the 8 million jobs lost because of this recession were lost because of actions that this President took. Those jobs were lost within the four months — in the months prior to his swearing-in, his inauguration, and in the months thereafter.

Since this President’s economic policies had a chance to take effect there have been more than 2 million private sector jobs created. The economy has grown, albeit not at a pace that satisfies him or any of us here in the administration. And that’s just a matter of absolute record and fact — indisputable.

The fact is that we inherited a terrible situation, a terrible economy, and an economy that threatened to become far worse than it did become — because of the actions that this administration took with Congress in 2009 and perpetually since then in different measures that have been taken, as well as — including December of last year.

Q The President and you’ve made the case that the President inherited this economy. When does it become his economy?

MR. CARNEY: Look, he’s responsible every day for this economy. He absolutely understands that and makes it clear. And he’s responsible for working directly and with Congress to take every measure possible to improve the economic situation in this country to increase growth and job creation. But it has to be absolute –

Q Is he responsible for the economy?

MR. CARNEY: — he is not — what has to be clear when you phrase a question like that in the way that you did, it has to be clear the situation that we have been — the hole that we have been climbing out of as a country — Democrats, independents, Republicans — Americans have all been climbing out of because of the terrible, great recession that this country has endured.

So he is on the job and responsible every day. And that’s why he is — to go back to your first question — why he is coming forward in the coming days with new proposals to further job creation and economic growth.

Q It appears the VFW is unhappy with the White House now over the decision to send Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs to address the convention in Texas. Should they be?

MR. CARNEY: I’m not aware of that.

Q The national commander called it an insult of the highest magnitude — not getting a first-tier speaker from the administration.

MR. CARNEY: I’ll have to take that question. As you know, the President has a speech tomorrow. But I don’t have any specific response to that.

Q There's no political connection here because Rick Perry is also addressing the same convention?

MR. CARNEY: I hardly think so, since we make scheduling decisions like this well in advance. No.


Q Given that Dr. Krueger has been a part of the administration before, how confident are you that he will be confirmed?

MR. CARNEY: Well, we think it’s absolutely essential that Congress act quickly to confirm Dr. Krueger, precisely because of the importance of the economy, the need to take measures to grow the economy and create jobs. So we expect that Congress will do that and will act quickly. And it is also true that he has been confirmed in the past, so — within the last few years as a member of this administration. So we’re optimistic that his confirmation will be speedy.

Q And I noticed we didn’t hear from him today. Do you know how soon he’ll be made available to do interviews or speak to the public?

MR. CARNEY: I don’t, except I would say that, as a matter of normal course, nominees do not take questions from the press or give interviews during the process of their being nominated. And in fact, the President today signaled his intent to nominate; I think the formal nomination takes place once Congress is back.

Q And I know — I was on Martha’s Vineyard — we talked about the fact that the President was working on his jobs plan while he was on Martha’s Vineyard. At this point, is he finished with his jobs plan?

MR. CARNEY: He is still having conversations and meetings as he works to finalize his plan. So the answer is, no, he’s not complete with that process. The process continues and decisions, aspects of it still need to be decided.

Q Any chance of you bringing on any new senior staff members during this period, while he’s working on his jobs plan — this period of transition?

MR. CARNEY: Not that I’m aware of. I mean, within what — it’s a big administration, so I don’t know. Did you have anybody in mind?

Q No, but I mean, just any — is he thinking about bringing on anyone new?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I think he announced today a new member of his economic team. But beyond that, I don’t have any — I don’t anticipate any announcements.

Q Just finally, according to the latest Gallup poll, the federal government’s — the people who have a positive view of the federal government is at 17 percent, which is an all-time low. I’m just wondering what the administration’s reaction is to that.

MR. CARNEY: I think that is a measure of the frustration that the American people feel about the gridlock and partisanship that they witness when they pay attention to what’s going on in Washington. And it’s a frustration the President understands. He’s talked about it a lot recently, including on his trip through the Midwest — the upper Midwest the week before last.

And that number sends the message or should send the message to everyone who is chosen by their constituents to represent them here in Washington to get things done, to do exactly what their constituents want them to do, which is to represent them and get things done. We have a divided government; we have one party in control of one house of Congress, another in control of the other, the President here in the White House. We need to work together to get things done.

And there is no — we don’t have the luxury of — at least the American people certainly don’t believe that we have the luxury of spending a lot of time bickering and posturing when there are obvious and essential things that we can do to grow the economy and create jobs. And that’s what the President is focused on. That’s what he will put forward next week, as he said. And he expects that, coming back from their recess, members of Congress will feel that sense of urgency as well.

Q Just quickly, back on that disaster relief fund — will the White House request any additional funds for that?

MR. CARNEY: We are still in the process, as Administrator Fugate said, of getting a calculation for what the overall cost in damage is caused by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene. So we don’t know yet, to be honest. So we — it’s hard to say, until we know what the cost is, what kind of funds will be necessary.

Q Has the President talked about the concerns with the — about the economic impact that this is going to have and also about what impact this is going to have on the recovery for some of those areas that –

MR. CARNEY: The President’s focus in the last week, as we’ve known this storm was coming and marshaled our resources to respond to it and then dealt with it as it passed up the coast, has been on the need to respond effectively. His concern has been focused on individual Americans and the risk to them, to their lives and their property, and then on the need to begin the process of recovery.

I have not heard him express a concern related directly to its overall economic impact. That’s obviously something that will be assessed once we know what the cost is. But his primary focus has been on the emergency response and making sure that Americans are safe.

Q Do you have an update on when we'll get –

MR. CARNEY: Later this week.

Q Do you have a date?

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have a date for you.

Q Jay, can you preview the American Legion speech tomorrow?

MR. CARNEY: I cannot. I confess I have not read it yet, so I don’t have any — I don’t have a preview for it.

Q Could you send it to me so I can — (laughter) –

MR. CARNEY: I could, but I won’t.

Q Just in the broad — what’s the subject matter, just in a general sense?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I’m sure that he will talk about issues that are relevant to the American Legion. But I don’t have –

Q Duh. (Laughter.)

Q Is it a foreign policy speech or an economics –

MR. CARNEY: I think that there will be, obviously, a large national security component to it.

Q That's it?

MR. CARNEY: That’s all I have for you.

Q Did the House action this summer, coming in for pro forma sessions — did it preempt any plans by the President to make any recess appointments?


Q So Krueger has said that raising the minimum wage may boost employment. Is that something that the President agrees with and could that be part of the jobs package?

MR. CARNEY: Well, again, without getting into elements of what may or may not be in the package beyond what the President himself has said already, the President sets economic policy. And any economist worth his or her salt has written extensively on a number of issues, had different proposals, examined different ideas. There’s not one or the other expressed by Dr. Krueger that the President is adopting over any other. He sets the economic policy. Dr. Krueger will be an important member of the economic team going forward, once he’s confirmed.

Q Does the administration, though, think that raising the minimum wage –

MR. CARNEY: I haven’t heard anybody in the administration discuss that at all. So you might ask economists whether they agree with that assessment. I’m not even aware of that one. But, again, I think the important point to make here is that the President sets economic policy. He makes the decisions. And he believes Dr. Krueger will be an excellent member of the economic team.

Q A question about Irene. When the President was on his bus trip, before the hurricane, he was talking about the difference between government and politics and explaining that government is troops in Afghanistan, government is FEMA. Now that Irene has happened and FEMA has gotten widely praised for their response, is he going to use the Hurricane Irene experience to bolster his argument about the role of government, and how might he do it?

MR. CARNEY: I haven’t had that conversation with him. I don’t know whether he will or not. I don’t think — I think his overall point applies before and after any specific natural disaster. I think that the government does a lot of things that are important to the American people, whether it’s disaster relief or keeping our country safe through our military, or various other things that are important services.

Q — use as an example that would drive the point home?

MR. CARNEY: Again, I think that we’ve been focused on the storm itself, recovery from the storm — responding to the storm, recovering from the storm. I don’t have a — I can’t anticipate that at this point.

Q Jay, last weekend an Associated Press report revealed that a $2.2 million federal grant went to an Iowa group in its efforts to undo same-sex marriage in that state. Does the administration have a problem with federal resources being used for this purpose?

MR. CARNEY: I wasn’t aware of that. I’ll have to take the question.

Q Just a follow-up on that. Does the administration see value in an executive order barring the use of federal funds to discriminate against LGBT Americans — the use of federal money is unacceptable?

MR. CARNEY: Could you restate that? Sorry.

Q Does the administration see value in an executive order barring the use of federal funds to discriminate against LGBT Americans as a –

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have any — I mean, you’re asking a hypothetical about an executive order that doesn’t exist.

Q Just one. Just one. Just one. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said — and this is a quote — “One of the reasons the President has moved so far to the right is there is no primary opposition to him.” And my question: Why is the President certain that Hillary won’t run against him? (Laughter.)

MR. CARNEY: You win the award for originality today.

Q Thank you very much.

MR. CARNEY: The President is focused not on any election — he’s focused right now on doing his job to grow the economy, create jobs, ensure that Americans who are in the path of this hurricane are taken care of. That's what he’s focused on.

Q I understand. You're running away from this question. I mean, can you guarantee that — are you sure that –

MR. CARNEY: You’d have to ask –

Q — Hillary is not going to run?

MR. CARNEY: You’d have to ask her. We’re fairly confident –

Q That she won’t?

MR. CARNEY: — that we need to focus on the task at hand.

Q All right, thank you.

Q In terms of the jobs package, can you say how much it might be worth? Tens of billions of dollars or hundreds of billions of dollars?

MR. CARNEY: I could. Look, the President — again, I don't have specifics for you — or I don't have specifics I will give you today on what the President will propose. You’ve heard some of the ideas that are likely to be part of it. There will be other ideas that you have not heard. I anticipate that. I don't have figures for you. I’m not going to preempt the President by putting that forward.

Q And the new nominee for CEA, can he have — since he’s just a nominee now, can he have any role, or has he had any role in the jobs deliberations, either before the nomination today or through –

MR. CARNEY: Well, he’s not had any role up to now. He’s been at Princeton University since he left the administration, the Treasury Department. And my understanding is the way this process works that he will not have a role until he’s confirmed. I can check that for you, but that's my understanding.

Q Jay, is New Orleans a special-case city six years out? Or is it an American city that still has challenges, a regular American city?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I think New Orleans is a unique city in many ways that are separate and apart from what happened to New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina. I’m not sure what specifically your question goes to. I think that it was an historically terrible hurricane with historically disastrous after-effects, and that's how it’s viewed by this administration even this many years after.

Q And also, last week with the earthquake, we never got word about if this White House actually was shaken. If there — anything happened. Could you give us a readout on the earthquake effects here at the White House?

MR. CARNEY: I’d have to get back to you. I wasn’t here. I did get a phone call in the middle of the night where I was to learn about it. But my understanding is that, for those who were here — I have friends who were in Washington — you could definitely feel it. But I believe Secret Service — there was an evacuation. Assessments were made that everything was fine, and people came back.

Q Did anything happen structurally to the building? That's what I’m asking.

MR. CARNEY: Not that I’m aware of. I can check on that.

Q Jay.


Q Those new glasses? (Laughter.)

MR. CARNEY: They are — the better to see you with. (Laughter.)

Q Do we look any better, or worse? (Laughter.)

MR. CARNEY: You guys look great, actually. You see — people seemed to have gotten a little — I needed, as the ravages of age have taken their toll, I needed a new prescription, so I threw in new frames, as well.

Q But they're hipster.

Q They look good.

MR. CARNEY: Really? I thought they were sort of retro-nerdy. (Laughter.)

Q You look like Clark Kent.

MR. CARNEY: I like that. That's good.

Q Yes, you look like Clark Kent.

Q Thanks, Jay.

Q Jay, within a couple of minutes of the President’s announcement this morning, the RNC was putting out talking points, pretty much portraying Alan Krueger as a wild-eyed liberal, sort of leaning towards Lenin. (Laughter.) And so what I’m wondering is why would you think that the Republicans in the Senate would be wanting to confirm him, particularly considering how much gridlock there already is in the Senate with confirmations?

MR. CARNEY: Well, having confirmed him before — that might be one reason. But another reason might be the assessment of former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush, Greg Mankiw. Krueger, he said, is a “excellent choice.” And he endorsed the forthcoming announcement as “an excellent choice by President Obama.”

Another endorsement came from President Reagan’s CEA chair, Martin Feldstein: “His experience” — this is referring to Dr. Krueger — “at the Treasury will give him a running start in his new job. Alan is an expert.” And there have been numerous others who have weighed in with a similar assessment, that Dr. Krueger is an excellent economist, an experienced one, whose background is particularly suited to the current economic environment, and his advice will be very welcome.
Thanks very much.

3:06 P.M. EDT 

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PS Jailbreak 3.70 (PLAYSTATION 3 Jailbreak 3.70) USB DONGLE MODCHIP

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President Obama on the Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

President Barack Obama visits the National Response Coordination Center at FEMA HQ

President Barack Obama visits the National Response Coordination Center at FEMA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., to monitor the latest on Hurricane Irene, Aug. 27, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today, as cities and towns along the East Coast begin to recover from the destructive power of Hurricane Irene, we also reflect on the six year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Both storms remind us of the need to take precautions and be prepared before disasters strike. or are resources with easy-to-follow steps on how to plan ahead for disasters that might affect your area.  

In a statement observing the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the President highlighted the importance of enhancing our preparedness efforts and the Administration's commitment to supporting communities as they rebuild:

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