|Yesterday evening, from the White House Briefing Room, President Obama delivered a statement on the passing of former South African President leader Nelson Mandela, calling him “a man who took history in his hands, and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice.”
|West Wing Week 12/06/13 or, “Olde English”
This week, the President spoke on the importance of addressing economic mobility and supporting implementation of the Affordable Care Act, visited fasting immigration reform activists, marked World AIDS Day, celebrated Hanukkah, and visited a local bookstore for Small Business Saturday.
On Wednesday, December 11th, Vice President Biden and Cecilia Muñoz, the President’s Domestic Policy Advisor, are sitting down to answer your questions about immigration reform. During the conversation hosted by Bing and Skype, the Vice President and Cecilia will speak with folks from around the country via live Skype Video Call, answer questions submitted through Skype Video and from social media.
Deputy Cabinet Secretary Michael Robertson discusses when doctors told him that he had stage IV colorectal cancer, and why the passing of the Affordable Care Act is personal to him.
Workers Fight for a Living Wage
Today marked the “biggest wave of job actions in the history of America’s fast-food industry,” as low-wage workers demanding a $15 per hour living wage walked off the job in 130 cities and related actions took place in dozens more.
One striking McDonald’s worker told ThinkProgress, “I’m hurting. I’m crying in my heart, my kids are starving. $8.25 is not enough to live in D.C., or anywhere for that matter, when the cost of living is constantly going up.” The $8.25 she makes at McDonald’s is not enough for her to support her two children. “I live in Capitol Hill and my rent is $1050. I work my butt off at work for a $300 check that I can’t even use to pay my rent. So, it’s saddening. It’s depressing, I’m seeing a therapist. It’s just a lot.”
The workers were joined by several Members of Congress, including Rep. Jan Schakowski (D-IL):
“We had a conversation last election about the makers and the takers, about the 1 percent and the 99 percent, and Barack Obama won that election,” she said. “They can be the makers if they have money in their pockets!”
Schakowski alludes to a very simple reality: it’s middle-class consumers, not the wealthy, who are America’s real job creators. Putting more money into the pockets of workers so they can buy things from businesses large and small creates a virtuous circle that grows our economy from the middle class out, not the top down.
As Pope Francis recently said, trickle-down economics has “never been confirmed by the facts.” Indeed, trickle-down economics has left decades of broken promises and growing income inequality in its wake. By contrast, raising the minimum wage would both help our economy and lift millions of the working poor out of poverty.
In addition to improving the lives of millions of families, raising the minimum wage would also reduce government spending on public assistance. Low-wage earners receive $243 BILLION in food stamps, Medicaid, and other public benefits every year. A recent report from the National Employment Law Project found that low wages at the top 10 largest fast food companies alone cost taxpayers $3.8 BILLION per year. By itself, McDonald’s, which recently advised its workers to find a second job and turn down the heat in order to make ends meet, is estimated to cost taxpayers $1.2 BILLION annually.
BOTTOM LINE: As President Obama said yesterday in his major speech on income inequality and upward mobility, “it’s well past the time to raise a minimum wage that in real terms right now is below where it was when Harry Truman was in office.”
As the Nation celebrated Thanksgiving with loved ones, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama took time to pray in solidarity with the brave “Fast for Families” fasters on the National Mall. Since November 12, these individuals abstained from all food except water in an effort to bring attention to the urgent need for commonsense, comprehensive immigration reform. The President and First Lady offered their support to the fasters’ fight for family unity and expressed their gratitude to Eliseo Medina, Dae Joong Yoon and others for their great sacrifice.
Though the fasters’ bodies were weak, their message remained clear: now is the time for the House to act on immigration reform. On December 3, the four leaders broke their 22 day fast and passed on their mission to seven new fasters, including Rep. Joe Kennedy and Jim Wallis of Sojourners, at an event attended by Secretary of Labor Tom Perez. The Administration thanks all of the fasters past and present for their dedication and leadership in the effort to fix our broken immigration system.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visits with a group staging a public fast for immigration on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Nov. 29, 2013. “Fast for Families” is seeking to pressure Congress into passing an immigration bill. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Earlier in the week, the President spoke at the Betty Ong Recreation Center in San Francisco’s Chinatown and reaffirmed his commitment to reforming our immigration laws. San Francisco’s economy is one of the fastest growing in the country, and 35 percent of its local business owners are immigrants. The President noted that this country’s success is rooted in the hard-work ethic and innovation demonstrated by generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. In his remarks he shared the triumphant story of Andrew Ly, a Vietnamese-American:
Andrew grew up in Vietnam, and he and his four brothers tried three times to flee to the United States….On the fourth try, their boat – filled with 140 refugees…was attacked by pirates. But the Lys and their family eventually made it to Malaysia, and then they eventually made it here to San Francisco. And they learned English, and they worked as handymen, and they worked as seamstresses. And eventually, Andrew and his brothers earned enough money to buy a small bakery. And they started making donuts, and they started selling them to Chinese restaurants. And with a lot of hard work and a little luck, the Sugar Bowl Bakery today is a $60 million business.
President Barack Obama delivers remarks on immigration, at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco, Calif., Nov. 25, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
From the shores of California to the steps of the Capitol, your voices are being heard. Let’s continue to organize across the country to pass commonsense immigration reform so that the promise of this country endures for future generations.
Julie Chavez Rodriguez Deputy Director White House | Office of Public Engagement
Remarks by Ambassador Samantha Power at a Naturalization Ceremony in Brooklyn, NY December 4, 2013 Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, delivered remarks at a naturalization ceremony at the Eastern District Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn, NY.
November is National Adoption Month: A Dedicated Mother Brings Home Adopted Children After Years of Struggle November 29, 2013 USCIS shares the story of Christina Watson. Christina knew she wanted to be a mom to a child who didn’t have a parent. Her friends had adopted from Guatemala and told Christina about their wonderful experience and the country’s great need for adoptive parents. Christina contacted the adoption agency and was matched with her son Jake in Guatemala. While there in 2008, she had to go through a number of bureaucratic hurdles, which kept her in country for three months. In that time, she also met her future daughter, Mariela.
DHS and International Education: A Year in Review November 22, 2013 The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) joined our many partners across government, academia, and the private sector in observing the 14th annual International Education Week to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. DHS plays an important role in welcoming international students to the United States, and remains committed to ensuring America remains a destination of choice for students from around the world.
The Executive Office For Immigration Review Reminds Attorneys and Fully Accredited Representatives to Complete eRegistry Process November 21, 2013 This notice serves as a reminder to all attorneys and fully accredited representatives who practice before the immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to complete steps one and two of the eRegistry process by Dec. 10, 2013. On that date, registration becomes a requirement to appear before EOIR. Complete details on eRegistry are available here.
Gathering in the Spirit of Unity: The President and First Lady Visit Those Fasting for Immigration Reform November 29, 2013 The President and the First Lady visited the brave individuals who are fasting in the shadow of the Capitol, sacrificing their health in an effort to get Congress to act swiftly on commonsense immigration reform.
Why Immigration Reform Matters to the AAPI Community November 26, 2013 President Obama spoke to community members at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco’s Chinatown, calling for the urgent need to pass commonsense immigration reform.
No Matter Where You Come From, America Is a Place Where You Can Make It If You Try November 25, 2013 President Obama says that he is committed to fixing our broken immigration system to make sure we continue welcoming striving, hardworking immigrants who see America the same way many of our ancestors did when they came here generations ago – as a country where no matter who you are or what you look like or where you come from, you can make it if you try.
Time for Commonsense Immigration Reform November 25, 2013 San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee explains why now is the time for commonsense immigration reform.
White House Welcomes New American Leaders November 25, 2013 In November, the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs hosted officials from the New American Leaders Project to discuss immigration, education and healthcare.
Who: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) What: Opportunity to discuss the upcoming release of new and revised Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) for E-Verify users. When: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 from 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM (Eastern) Where: Stakeholder teleconference To RSVP: Register here.
Who: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) What: Opportunity to discuss the various relief options available to victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, and other serious crimes. When: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 from 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM (Eastern) Where: Webinar To RSVP: Access meeting room here.
A Conversation with USCIS U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services invites you to a free, nationwide Spanish-language event.
Who: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) What: Our representatives will share agency updates, discuss immigration-related topics and be available to answer your questions. When: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 from 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM (Eastern) Where: Teleconference (1-888-790-1962, Password: Enlace) or live web stream here. To RSVP: Submit your questions in advance via Twitter to @USCIS_es or during the event via email at OPE-Live@uscis.dhs.gov.
Obama Goes All In on Income Inequality & Upward Mobility
Today, as part of the Center for American Progress’ 10th anniversary celebrations, President Obama gave what some are are calling “one of the most important speeches of the Obama presidency.”
Just as he did in his landmark 2011 speech in Osawatomie, Kansas and throughout last year’s campaign, the president laid out why America needs an economy built from the middle class out that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.
Unfortunately, as the president said today, today’s economy is defined by “a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility that has jeopardized middle-class America’s basic bargain — that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead.” He called combating this growing inequality and lack of upward mobility the “defining challenge of our time.”
Here are the facts:
- Salaries for CEOs have skyrocketed in the past 50 years. In 2012, CEOS made 273 times more than the average worker.
- While the rich are getting ahead, workers are being left behind. If the minimum wage kept up with inflation, it would be $10.74 today.
- Millionaires are making more money but paying less taxes. In the past 50 years, the 400 richest families in America actually had their tax rates fall by 60 percent.
- The top 1 percent of Americans own 40 percent of our country’s wealth, while the bottom 80% owns less than 5 percent.
- The wealthiest among us are taking over the elections—28 percent of all campaign donations came from the wealthiest 0.01 percent.
- As union memberships fall, middle class incomes shrink. The drop in union membership over the past 40 years is accompanied by an equally sharp drop in the middle class’ share of the nation’s income.
- From 1947 to 1979, when the middle class received 54 percent of the nation’s total income on average, the economy grew at a steady clip of 3.7 percent per year. But from 1980 to 2010, when the middle class’s share of the nation’s total income fell to only 46 percent, growth fell by 1 percentage point to 2.7 percent.
- Between 1979 and 2007, the richest top 1 percent of American households saw their income nearly triple. On average, the wealthy saw an increase of $973,100 per household. In contrast, the middle class saw their incomes rise by less than 40 percent.
- Despite enacting taxes cuts for the rich and for corporations, both Reagan and George W. Bush saw slower economic growth and job growth during their presidency than President Clinton. In contrast to Reagan and George W. Bush, President Clinton actually raised taxes in 1993.
The president laid out a five key action areas:
- Making sure our economy is growing faster. We must “relentlessly push a pro-growth agenda,” the president said.
- Making sure we empower more Americans with the skills and education they need to compete in a highly competitive global economy. That includes making higher education affordable and reducing the crushing burden of student loans, as well as making investments in early childhood education.
- Empowering our workers. That means protecting union rights, ending pay discrimination against women, and, finally, making it illegal to fire LGBT people just for who they are. It also means raising the minimum wage to put more money into the pockets of workers so they can buy things from businesses large and small, which creates a virtuous circle that grows the economy.
- Providing targeted programs for the communities and workers that have been hit hardest by economic change and the Great Recession. That means making sure that “a child’s course in life should not be determined by the zip code he’s born in, but by the strength of his work ethic and the scope of his dreams.”
- Revamping retirement to protect Americans in their golden years. That means shoring up both private and public retirement programs to make sure people can live out their golden years in dignity.
The president also took his argument straight to top Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):
And as people in states as different as California and Kentucky sign up every single day for health insurance, signing up in droves, they’re proving they want that economic security. If the Senate Republican leader still thinks he is going to be able to repeal this someday, he might want to check with the more than 60,000 people in his home state who are already set to finally have coverage that frees them from the fear of financial ruin, and lets them afford to take their kids to see a doctor. (Applause.)
And House Republican Budget guru Rep. Paul Ryan (WI), who attacked safety net programs like food stamps as unemployment benefits as “a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency”:
The point is these programs are not typically hammocks for people to just lie back and relax. These programs are almost always temporary means for hardworking people to stay afloat while they try to find a new job or go into school to retrain themselves for the jobs that are out there, or sometimes just to cope with a bout of bad luck.
Finally, the president challenged Republicans, who still have not offered an alternative to Obamacare after relentlessly attacking it for more than four years, to put out their own ideas:
If you still don’t like Obamacare — and I know you don’t — (laughter) — even though it’s built on market-based ideas of choice and competition in the private sector, then you should explain how, exactly, you’d cut costs, and cover more people, and make insurance more secure. You owe it to the American people to tell us what you are for, not just what you’re against. (Applause.) That way we can have a vigorous and meaningful debate. That’s what the American people deserve. That’s what the times demand. It’s not enough anymore to just say we should just get our government out of the way and let the unfettered market take care of it — for our experience tells us that’s just not true. (Applause.)
BOTTOM LINE: While Republicans were attacking Obamacare and holding a hearing on space aliens today, the president laid out a sweeping agenda to expand the middle class, extend ladders of opportunity, and build an economy for the 21st century.
I am a wife, a mother of three boys, and long-standing member of my community in Omaha, Nebraska. But despite President Obama’s declaration that people like me should be low-priority for deportation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office, is trying to deport me. Please, help me stay in the U.S. with my family by signing this petition asking ICE to close my case.
I came here to the United States at the age of 16 as a high school exchange student. I lived with my host family for ten months and graduated from high school, after which I was accepted into college. I lived here over 16 years, and this is where I graduated from college, learned to drive, bought my first car, got married, bought our first home and most of all had our sons. Brandon 9, Nike 5, avid basketball lovers. Jordan, my youngest, is only two years old. This is the country I grew up, and became the person who I am today. I mourn and cry when horrific happens, or celebrate the remarkable events, because I consider this great nation as my home.
I maintained my immigration status for years , but in 2009, I met a person who I thought was an immigration attorney, and she agreed to file my case. Later, I found out not only she didn’t file my case within a reasonable time, but also wasn’t an attorney, even though I was paying very high fee. I hired another attorney who later filed a complaint with State Bar Association on my behalf, because she said that there are a lots of people like her out there who take advantage of people.
My case was initially denied by Immigration Officer because not filing my case in timely manner. When my case was heard by Immigration Judge, it was denied because he didn’t think I had good reason to get my permanent residency granted based on information I provided. We appealed the case with BIA, and it was denied October of this year, and gave me 60 days to leave the country or face deportation. I am requesting Department of Homeland Security and ICE to grant me prosecutorial discretion.
Now, my precious boys might have to grow up without their mother around or leave the only home they have ever known. And I can’t let that happen.
Please, help me keep my family together. Join me in asking DHS/ICE to grant me prosecutorial discretion ( my alien number is 076768406) and remove me from deportation proceedings.