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Monthly Archives: July 2012
On behalf of the American people, I extend my congratulations to the people of Libya for another milestone on their extraordinary transition to democracy. After more than 40 years in which Libya was in the grip of a dictator, today’s historic election underscores that the future of Libya is in the hands of the Libyan people. Across Libya today, voters turned out to exercise their hard-earned freedoms, most participating in an election for the first time in their lives. They cast ballots for representatives of a National Congress that will lead the next stage of Libya’s transition.
The United States is proud of the role that we played in supporting the Libyan revolution and protecting the Libyan people, and we look forward to working closely with the new Libya – including the elected Congress and Libya’s new leaders. We will engage as partners as the Libyan people work to build open and transparent institutions, establish security and the rule of law, advance opportunity, and promote unity and national reconciliation. There are still difficult challenges ahead and voting needs to be completed in some areas. As they begin this new chapter, the Libyan people can count on the continued friendship and support of the United States.
President Obama discusses legislation he signed on Friday that does two important things: It keeps thousands of construction workers on the job rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, and it stops interest rates on federal loans from doubling this year for more than seven million students.
One year ago today, July 6, 2011, President Obama participated in the first-ever Twitter Town Hall held at the White House. The event, which was moderated by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, was an opportunity for people across the Twitterverse to send questions directly to the President on topics that were important to them – including health care, the economy, education, and even space exploration.
Watch as President Obama becomes the first President to "live tweet" from the East Room of the White House:
You can see the full list of questions President Obama answered during the event here.
The White House uses Twitter to share breaking news, provide updates and engage with Americans across the country. Join the 2.95 million @whitehouse followers, and be sure to check out all of our official accounts below:
5:25 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you. Everybody, please have a seat. I apologize for keeping you waiting a little bit, and I hope everybody is staying hydrated — (laughter) — because it is hot.
Welcome to the White House. We wouldn’t normally keep you this late on a Friday afternoon unless we had a good reason — and the bill that I’m about to sign is a pretty good reason.
I want to very much thank the members of Congress who are here. We got a number in the front row, but, in particular, I want to recognize Senator Boxer and Congressman Mica, whose leadership made this bill a reality. And although Barbara couldn’t make it, we want to make sure that everybody acknowledges the hard work that John did on this on bill. (Applause.)
Now, we’re doing this late on Friday afternoon because I just got back from spending the past two days talking with folks in Ohio and Pennsylvania about how our challenge as a country isn’t just to reclaim all the jobs that were lost to the recession — although obviously that's job number one. It’s also to reclaim the economic security that so many Americans have lost over the past decade.
And I believe with every fiber of my being that a strong economy comes not from the top down but from a strong middle class. That means having a good job that pays a good wage; a home to call your own; health care, retirement savings that are there when you need them; a good education for your kids so that they can do even better than you did.
And that’s why — for months — I’ve been calling on Congress to pass several common-sense ideas that will have an immediate impact on the economic security of American families. I’m pleased that they’ve finally acted. And the bill I’m about to sign will accomplish two ideas that are very important for the American people.
First of all, this bill will keep thousands of construction workers on the job rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. Second, this bill will keep interest rates on federal student loans from doubling this year — which would have hit nearly 7.5 million students with an average of a thousand dollars more on their loan payments.
These steps will make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans — some of whom are standing with us here today. But make no mistake — we’ve got a lot more to do. The construction industry, for example, was hit brutally hard when the housing bubble burst. So it’s not enough just to keep construction workers on the job doing projects that were already underway. We've got Mayor Villaraigosa and Governor O'Malley here as representatives of organizations of mayors and governors who know how desperate we need to do some of this work.
And for months, I’ve been calling on Congress to take half the money we’re no longer spending on war and use it to do some nation-building here at home. There’s work to be done building roads and bridges and wireless networks. There are hundreds of thousands of construction workers that are ready to do it.
The same thing is true for our students. The bill I’m about to sign is vital for millions of students and their families. But it’s not enough just to keep interest rates from doubling.
I've asked Congress to reform and expand the financial aid that’s offered to students. And I’ve been asking them to help us give 2 million Americans the opportunity to learn the skills that businesses in their areas are looking for right now through partnerships between community colleges and employers.
In today’s economy, a higher education is the surest path to finding a good job and earning a good salary, and making it into the middle class. So it can't be a luxury reserved for just a privileged few. It’s an economic necessity that every American family should be able to afford.
So this is an outstanding piece of business. And I'm very appreciative of the hard work that Congress has done on it. My hope is, is that this bipartisan spirit spills over into the next phase, that we can start putting more construction workers back to work — not just those that were already on existing projects who were threatened to be laid off, but also getting some new projects done that are vitally important to communities all across the nation and that will improve our economy, as well as making sure that now that we've prevented a doubling of student loan rates, we actually start doing more to reduce the debt burden that our young people are experiencing.
I want to thank all the Americans — the young or the young at heart — who took the time to sit down and write a letter or type out an email or make a phone call or send a tweet, hoping that your voice would be heard on these issues. I promise you, your voices have been heard. Any of you who believed your voice could make a difference — I want to reaffirm your belief. You made this happen.
So I’m very pleased that Congress got this done. I’m grateful to members of both parties who came together and put the interests of the American people first. And my message to Congress is what I've been saying for months now — let's keep going. Let's keep moving forward. Let's keep finding ways to work together to grow the economy and to help put more folks back to work. There is no excuse for inaction when there are so many Americans still trying to get back on their feet.
With that, let me sign this bill. And let's make sure that we are keeping folks on the job and we're keeping our students in school.
Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)
(The bill is signed.)
5:30 P.M. EDT
This afternoon, President Obama signed legislation that accomplishes two important goals — keeping thousands of construction workers on the job rebuilding America's infrastructure and preventing interest rates on federal student loans from doubling.
"These steps will make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans — some of whom are standing with us here today," the President said. "But make no mistake — we’ve got a lot more to do."
The President addressed an audience of students and construction workers from the East Room of the White House.
"[Let's] make sure that we are keeping folks on the job and we're keeping our students in school," he said.
Earlier, we shared a video with young people who helped to push for this bill describing why it's so important to speak out. Give it a watch.
Ed. Note: Aviation High School in New York City is a uniquely specialized, co-educational high school that prepares students for careers in aviation maintenance and the aerospace industry. Students complete both rigorous vocational and academic programs that provide excellent preparation for both college and aviation-related careers. In support of the Summer Jobs+ initiative, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), the nation’s largest airline union, expanded its annual mentoring partnership with New York City’s Aviation High School. This April, the IAM flew the group of Aviation High School seniors to Washington, D.C. for a four-day program that also included the students receiving career advice from a major airline’s Vice President of Human Resources, learning the responsibilities of being an aviation technician from a veteran airline mechanic, and a visit to the National Transportation Safety Board. This year’s program also included discussions between 28 seniors and officials from the Department of Education, the National Mediation Board and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Jimmy was one of the students who made the trip.
When I began school, English was my second language. It took me five years, from kindergarten to fourth grade, to move out of the ESL program, and I had to work twice as hard to keep up with my English-speaking classmates.
But in the end, that kind of dedication was an excellent way to prepare for Aviation High School.
Although it wasn’t my first choice of high schools, I have come to learn about all the great opportunities Aviation has to offer. As a sophomore, I saw my school’s hangar for the first time and was amazed by how big it was and the variety of planes it held. I asked my teachers if we would work on them and they replied “Yes of course, someone has to fix those birds.” I was more excited than ever about working in the hangar and set my goals towards that.