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President Obama Says “She Gets Embarrassed” of First Lady Michelle at State of the Union Address

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama received some applause of her own during last night’s State of the Union for her efforts to curb childhood obesity in one of the fattest countries on Earth.

As President Obama discussed his plans for health insurance, he paused to acknowledge the First Lady’s agenda, gesturing to her and saying:

“I want to acknowledge our First Lady, Michelle Obama, who this year is creating a national movement to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity and make our kids healthier. Thank you.”

The crowd rose to its feet for a standing ovation. Remaining seated, the First Lady gestured with both hands and mouthed, “sit down.”

Pausing before he continued, Mr. Obama then said, “She gets embarrassed,” prompting chuckles. It was a very cute moment between the first couple.

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Holiday Season at the White House with the Obama’s ~ 2009

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November 27, 2009

First Lady Michelle Obama and First Daughters Kick Off Christmas at White House

First lady Michelle Obama, with her daughters Sasha and Malia, as they stand with the White House Christmas tree as it is delivered to the North Portico of the White House in Washington, Friday, Nov. 27, 2009.

First Lady Michelle Obama, with her daughters Sasha and Malia, as they stand with the White House Christmas tree as it is delivered to the North Portico.

AP/—The White House is open for Christmas. A day after celebrating Thanksgiving, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha received the official White House Christmas tree: an 18½-foot Douglas fir delivered from a farm in Shepherdstown, W.Va., by traditional horse-drawn carriage. Growers Eric and Gloria Sundback officially presented the tree to the Obamas on Friday. It’s the fourth time one of their trees has become the official White House tree.

Malia, Michelle, and Sasha Obama welcome Mark Steelhammer, left, and Eric and Gloria Sundback to the White House.

Malia, Michelle, and Sasha Obama welcome Mark Steelhammer, left, and Eric and Gloria Sundback to the White House.

It’s big enough for Sasha to climb in, I think,” Sundback joked after the Obamas walked from the North Portico of the White House to the driveway where the tree was tied up and lying in the carriage, pulled up the driveway from Pennsylvania Avenue by a pair of Belgian draft horses with red Christmas bows tied to their tails. A sign affixed to the side of the carriage said “White House Christmas Tree 2009.” “We’re excited,” Mrs. Obama told the Sundbacks. Asked by reporters whether the tree was the biggest she ever had, the first lady said: “Yeah, I think this wins.”

The 12-foot wide tree in the oval-shaped Blue Room on the State Floor of the White House, is the star attraction of Christmas at the White House, and will be oohed and aahed over by the thousands of people who will stream through in December for holiday parties and public tours of the executive mansion.

The tree, which the Sundbacks planted in 1996, was hand-picked on Oct. 20 on a visit to the Sundback’s farm by retired Rear Adm. Stephen Rochon, the White House chief usher, and Dale Haney, superintendent of the White House grounds. Besides the official tree, more than a dozen smaller trees from the Sundback farm will decorate other rooms in the White House, including the Oval Office. The Sundbacks, both in their 80s, earned the honor by winning the National Christmas Tree Association’s national contest this year for the fourth time. A tree from the winner’s farm is then chosen as the official White House tree, an annual tradition that dates to 1966. The Sundbacks have grown Christmas trees since 1956 and were thrilled by the opportunity to meet their fourth first lady.

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December 2, 2009

First Lady Michelle Obama Unveils White House Christmas Decorations

The First Lady debuts the 2009 White House Christmas decorations in the Cross Hall of the White House. She is accompanied by U.S. Marines as she promotes the Marine Corp's Toys for Tots program

The First Lady debuts the 2009 White House Christmas decorations in the Cross Hall of the White House. She is accompanied by U.S. Marines as she promotes the Marine Corp's Toys for Tots program

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama became the entertainers-in-chief, hosting nearly 30 parties during their first holiday season at the White House. More than 50,000 people have received invitations to attend one of the 17 holiday parties and 11 open houses at the White House that started in early December.

The Red Room of the White House, with holiday decorations, Dec. 2, 2009. This years holiday theme at the White House is reflect, rejoice and renew.

The Red Room of the White House, with holiday decorations, Dec. 2, 2009. This years holiday theme at the White House is reflect, rejoice and renew.

This isn’t just throwing open the White House doors and putting out some drinks and appetizers. The Obamas attended each party, greeted guests in a receiving line, posed for photos at most of the events and even mingled among the partygoers at a select few.

The Obamas pledged to open up the White House and make it a more open, welcoming place to average Americans. Guests at the White House holiday parties get to explore the mansion’s state floor, which holds famous rooms like the East, Red, Green and Blue rooms and the State Dining Room.

The White House tree is also lit with environmentally sound LED lights

The White House tree is also lit with environmentally sound LED lights

The theme of this year’s decorations is “reflect, rejoice and renew.” The displays are scaled down from previous seasons in an acknowledgment of the tough economic times and also to highlight the Obamas’ emphasis on recycling. Some of the decorations, in fact, are from previous administrations, but with an Obama twist.

We decided to do something just a little different,” Michelle Obama said earlier this month. “We took about 800 ornaments left over from previous administrations, we sent them to 60 local community groups throughout the country, and asked them to decorate them to pay tribute to a favorite local landmark and then send them back to us for display here at the White House.”

Guests still will be able to admire an annual, mouthwatering White House tradition — the gingerbread replica of the president’s mansion, made over the last six weeks by White House pastry chef Bill Yosses. The 400-pound White House is made out of white chocolate and gingerbread with flourishes of marzipan to create the vegetables in the Obamas’ garden and the furniture in the State Dining Room.

The ornaments are hung on the tree with blue ribbon embroidered with the words "reflect," "rejoice" and "renew" in several different languages

The ornaments are hung on the tree with blue ribbon embroidered with the words reflect, rejoice and renew in several different languages

The largest tree in the mansion — an 18 1/2 -foot Douglas fir adorning the Blue Room — is festooned with hundreds of ornaments, all recycled from previous administrations and spruced up by groups around the country to reflect cherished landmarks. Chicagoans clearly had a vote, since the city is represented in orbs singling out the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Chicago Theatre, the Art Institute of Chicago and the DuSable Museum of African American History. “Sweet home, Chicago” is the rhapsody on another ornament. It takes its place with ornaments depicting a Georgia peach, a Maryland crab and others heralding spots from Maine (the Wiggly Bridge near York Harbor) to California (the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library).

A view of the White House Green Room

A view of the White House Green Room

Planning for the holidays began last summer, and the first of an expected 50,000-plus holiday visitors began streaming through December 1st. There were dozens of “elves” behind the decorating, which, while elaborate, was more understated than in recent years. Ninety-two volunteers from 24 states put in more than 3,400 hours of their time. Among the volunteers were some from the Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago. White House staffers and National Park Service workers also rolled up their sleeves in the effort.

The East Room is decorated with fresh garlands, blue hydrangea, seeded eucalyptus and beaded fruit

The East Room is decorated with fresh garlands, blue hydrangea, seeded eucalyptus and beaded fruit

They helped erect a large, ornate nativity scene in the East Room, graced by four fireplaces wearing opulent fresh garlands on their mantels. There, as in the other rooms on the State Floor, Mother Nature is amply represented with adornments of dried hydrangea (leftovers from White House floral arrangements), honeysuckle vine, magnolia branches, cranberries, gigantic pine cones and painted magnolia leaves. Several ruby-red wreaths were created from the magnolia leaves. Two 8-foot topiary trees were crafted from dried pepper berries, all from California. The flowers? They range from pink-tinged white amaryllis, fringed with pepper berry, to pale pink roses married with boxwood.

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December 3, 2009

The 86th Anniversary–Lighting of The National Christmas Tree

The National Christmas Tree Lighting once again provided an opportunity for all Americans to come together to celebrate the season and to share the message of peace.

Presented by the National Park Service and National Park Foundation, an all-star lineup of stars offered a diverse program of holiday music, including traditional songs with dashes of pop, folk and hip-hop.

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December 13, 2009

Christmas at the White House: An Oprah Primetime Special


Oprah Winfrey ushered in the holidays at the White House, visiting President Barack Obama and the First Lady as they prepared for their family’s first Christmas there.

The intimate, informative and entertaining hour-long special included a one-on-one conversation with the President, marking the first time Oprah had interviewed him since he took office, as well as an exclusive sit-down interview with the first couple. The special showcased behind-the-scenes preparations as the White House gets ready for the holiday season. Winfrey’s special included a tour of White House holiday decorations and an appearance by Bo, the family’s dog.

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December 16, 2009

The White House Hanukkah Party: A Special Menorah from Prague, Kosher Foods, and a Larger Guest List

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama watch as a child lights the Hanukkah candles

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama watch as a child lights the Hanukkah candles

Obama Foodorama—December 16th was the sixth night of the Jewish Festival of Lights, and President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted their first Hanukkah party at the White House. The event spilled between the State Dining Room and the East Room, and a Jewish student choir will perform. A very special 19th century menorah was loaned to the White House for the traditional candle lighting ceremony, and it was lit by the two young children of a Jewish soldier deployed in Iraq. The special koshering of the White House kitchen was overseen by Rabbi Levi Shemtov, who heads the Washington office of the American Friends of Lubavitch.

President Barack Obama with First Lady Michelle greets the crowd before his speech at Hradcansky square in Prague on April 5, 2009

President Barack Obama with First Lady Michelle greets the crowd before his speech at Hradcansky square in Prague on April 5, 2009

The sterling silver menorah is on loan from the Jewish Museum in Prague, at the request of Mrs. Obama, who visited when she was touring Prague’s Jewish Town in April, while President Obama was on his first official visit there. The menorah dates from 1783, and is the work of Viennese silversmith Cyril Schillberger. On December 1, Leo Pavlat, director of the Jewish Museum, handed the menorah over to Mary Thompson-Jones, Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of the United States of America, in a brief ceremony. Pavlat noted that the museum was pleased to loan the menorah to the Obamas, and regarded it as a symbolic connection between the Jewish communities in Moravia and Bohemia and those in the United States. When she was in Prague, Pavlat acted as Mrs. Obama’s tour guide during her tour of Jewish historical sites.

Pavlat and Thompson-Jones during the menorah hand off in Prague

Pavlat and Thompson-Jones during the menorah hand off in Prague

On Dec. 11, the first night of Hanukkah, President Obama sent holiday greetings from the White House, in Hebrew and English:

הצהרת הנשיא אובאמה לרגל חג החנוכה

מישל ואנוכי שולחים את מיטב איחולינו לכל מי שחוגג בימים אלה את חג החנוכה ברחבי העולם. סיפור חנוכה של המכבים ושל הנסים שהם חוו מזכירים לנו שאמונה והתמדה הן כוחות עצומים המסוגלים לקיים אותנו בתקופות קשות ולעזור לנו לגבור על מכשולים כנגד כל הסיכויים.

חנוכה הוא העת לא רק לחגוג את אמונת העם היהודי ואת מנהגיו, אלא להעלות על נס את השאיפות המשותפות של בני כל הדתות. בשעה שבני משפחה, חברים ושכנים נאספים יחדיו כדי להדליק את הנרות, מי יתן והלקחים של חנוכה ישמשו השראה לכולנו להודות על החסד שנפל בחלקינו, למצוא מקור אור בתקופות אופל ולפעול יחדיו למען
עתיד יותר מלא אורה ותקווה

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Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff to President Barack Obama, addresses attendees at the 2009 Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony at the Ellipse, near the south grounds of the White House

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Emmanuel joined two Rabbis in a cherry picker at the top of the menorah to ignite three oil lamps marking the 3rd night of the eight-day festival

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December 16, 2009

First Lady Michelle Obama Delivers Toys for Tots

First Lady Michelle Obama praised the soldiers and volunteers who worked on the Marine Corps program.

First Lady Michelle Obama praised the soldiers and volunteers who worked on the Marine Corps program.


First Lady Michelle Obama visits the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Toy for Tots warehouse in Stafford, VA to deliver some of the more than 500 toys collected during a White House drive. Started in 1947, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation collects and distributes toys to less fortunate children for Christmas. The program helps make sure needy children have something to unwrap on Christmas morning. The First Lady was told about an abundance of toys for younger children. She asked the public to think about needy older children when shopping for toys to donate.

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December 17, 2009

Gloria Estefan Interviews President Obama in the White House for the Univision special “Our Christmas”


In an interview for Univision, singer Gloria Estefan interviewed the President, asking the “very important question…which chimney will Santa be coming down?”

The answer: the chimney in the Yellow Room in the middle of the Residence, “so that’s where we are going to set the cookies and the milk, because after working all night, giving the gifts…. we want to make sure when it comes to the White House that he feels like he is getting good service.” The Obamas will also set out “a little reindeer snack.”

At the end of the interview the President sent seasons greetings and a call to service to viewers and military families in the Hispanic community…en Español. “En esta temporada festiva, todos queremos estar con nuestros seres queridos, pero también podemos tomar el tiempo para ayudar a nuestras comunidades. Cada persona puede hacer una gran diferencia. Michelle y yo les deseamos una Feliz Navidad.”

Translation: “In this holiday season, we would all like to be with our loved ones, but we should also take the time to help our communities. Each person can make a big difference. Michelle and I wish you a Merry Christmas.”

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December 20, 2009

The 11th Annual Christmas in Washington Concert

TNT rang in the holidays in musical style with 11th annual presentation of Christmas in Washington. Performers included were Mary J. Blige, Neil Diamond, Sugarland, Usher, Rob Thomas and Justin Bieber joined host George Lopez in this spectacular holiday celebration.

Annually attended by the President and First Lady and other Washington VIPs, Christmas in Washington is a holiday musical celebration taped at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., with proceeds going to the National Children’s Medical Center.

Before the show started, four little girls dressed as elves helped the first couple place a gift for the Children’s National Medical Center under a Christmas tree. President Obama deemed the quartet – Avery, age 4, Anna, age 6, Abigail, age 4, and Reagan, age 7 – “Santa’s little helpers,” and introduced each, replacing their last name with “Elf.”

Though Anna Elf (on the left), seemed unimpressed, telling the President: “I’ve never seen you before!” He responded, laughing, “I’ve never seen you before.”

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Sugarland's  Kristian Bush, left, Mary J Blige, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle and George Lopez sing Christmas carols

Sugarland's Kristian Bush, left, Mary J Blige, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle and George Lopez sing Christmas carols

President Obama spoke of helping those in need during the holidays, as well as honoring those in the military: “With our men and women in uniform serving far from home, in harm’s way, our fervent wish remains this season, and all seasons: Let there be peace on earth,” he said. Near the end of the show, Lopez introduced President Obama and First Lady Michelle. The President thanked the performers and offered some holiday thoughts:

This season we celebrate that sacred moment. The birth of a child, the message of the love we preach to the world. We are our brother’s keeper. We are our sister’s keeper. And pure in heart, we do unto others as we have them do unto us. We devote ourselves to good works. We are summoned to be peacemakers. More the 2,000 years later,that spirit still inspires us. That’s why this celebration tonight benefits Children’s National Medical Center and all the children whose lives they touch and they save.

That’s why so many of our fellow citizens struggle during tough times. We are called upon to help neighbors in need. That’s why, with our men and women in uniform serving far from home, in harm’s way, our fervent wish remains this season, and all seasons to let there be peace on Earth. To all Americans, from our family to yours, Merry Christmas and God bless.”

After addressing the crowd, the Obamas stayed on stage with all the performers to sing carols, starting with “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.” The president wiped a tear from his eye during the sing-along.

Mary J. Blige Sings Oh Holy Night

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Usher Sings Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

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Justin Bieber Sings Some Day At Christmas

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Mary J. Blige Sings the Christmas Song

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Sugarland Sings Gold and Green

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Usher Sings Peace on Earth

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Rob Thomas Sings New York Christmas

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December 21, 2009

First Lady Michelle Obama and First Daughters Malia & Sasha Answer Kids’ Questions, While Bo Barks At Santa

President Barack Obama says the only Christmas presents he needs from his daughters are hugs.

During an interview on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, Obama said he and First Lady Michelle Obama decided several years ago not to buy each other presents. Obama says that doesn’t always save him money because he makes up for that on birthdays and Mother’s Day, but it does save him some wrapping time around the holidays.

Although the President said all he wants for Christmas is hugs from his daughters, first daughters Sasha and Malia have other plans. During a Q&A with kids at the Children’s National Medical Center on Tuesday, the girls revealed they’re getting their father “sports stuff.” They also talked about how Christmas will be different now that they’re in the White House and what they’re planning for the holidays. Bo the First dog came along for the visit.

December 21, 2009

President Obama Visits Boys & Girls Club, Reads To Children

Barack Obama brought a beloved book to read. He brought a press entourage. He brought cookies shaped like Bo the dog. Hey, he brought himself.

But the president of the United States still got a little Christmas reality Monday from a bunch of kids: High-tech toys rule.

Dashing into a Boys & Girls Club in northeast Washington, Obama asked about 25 youngsters what they wanted from Santa Claus.

An Ipod. A video game. A TV. A video game. A cell phone. A video game.

Now let me ask you a question here guys,” Obama finally said. “What ever happened to, like, asking for a bike?”

For a president snowbound in the White House, a visit to this community center was a nice mix of missions: a way to give back, a nice photo opportunity with a cute collection of children, and a chance to tell the country that the holidays are about generosity of spirit – not just gifts.

Obama took off his suit coat and read “The Polar Express,” a magical Christmas classic, holding it forward so the seated children could see the pictures.

The children paid quiet attention throughout. Obama rewarded them by grabbing his red velvet-wrapped basket of cookies and offering the children a choice of shapes: Bo the family dog, a gingerbread man or a Christmas maple leaf.


December 22, 2009

Photostream: Holidays at the White House

Holiday season at the White House began with a very simple idea: to include as many people, in as many places, in as many ways as possible. In this spirit, they’ve posted a video tour of this year’s decorations and the making of the gingerbread White House; now see the holidays through the lens of the White House Photo Office.
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December 23, 2009

The Official White House Christmas Portrait of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama pose for a formal portrait in front of the official White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room of the White House, Dec. 6, 2009

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama pose for a formal portrait in front of the official White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room of the White House, Dec. 6, 2009


December 23, 2009

First Lady Michelle Obama Reads The Night Before Christmas

First Lady Michelle Obama visits Children’s National Medial Center in Washington D.C. to read “The Night Before Christmas“. Joined by daughters Malia and Sasha, along with dog Bo, the First Lady continues this tradition of visiting with patients which dates back to Bess Truman.

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December 24, 2009

President Obama’s Weekly Address: Celebrating Christmas and Honoring Those Who Serve

For the first time in a weekly address, the President is joined by the First Lady as they celebrate Christmas. They both honor those serving overseas, those who have sacrificed for their country, and the families that stand by them. December 24, 2009.
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December 24, 2009

Mele Kalikimaka: The Obama Family’s Annual Christmas Vacation

Hawaii’s home-grown president, Barack Obama and the First Family traveled back in Honolulu on Dec. 24. They celebrated both Christmas and New Year’s in the islands.

In the past, Obama made a point of celebrating Christmas with his grandmother Madelyn Payne Dunham. The woman who raised Obama when his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was working and studying in Indonesia, died last November.

Also in past years, Obama would spend time with his sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng. The President’s sister and her husband, Konrad Ng, are also expected back in Honolulu. They were living in Washington, D.C., this year while Ng, a University of Hawaii professor, was scholar-in-residence at the Smithsonian Institution’s Asian Pacific American program.

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and their children Sasha and Malia leave the White House

The First Family Arrives In Honolulu, Hawaii

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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet soldiers and their family members for Christmas during a visit to Marine Corps Base Hawaii on December 25, 2009 in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii



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President Obama’s Saturday YouTube Address 11/14/09

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WhiteHouse.gov—The President looks back at a week where we honored those who serve on Veterans Day, and mourned those we lost at Fort Hood. He discusses the review he has ordered into the Fort Hood incident, and pledges to stand by our servicemen and women, as well as our veterans, as his most profound responsibility.

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President Obama’s Saturday YouTube Address 11/07/09

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WhiteHouse.gov—In this week’s address, President Barack Obama expressed his sadness for the tragedy at Fort Hood and praised the selfless valor of those who came to the aid of the wounded. While we mourn the heartbreaking violence, we should honor the heroism of the soldiers and civilians who rushed to help their comrades. That is the heroism which makes the U.S. military the finest in the world.”

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Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
November 7, 2009

I’d like to speak with you for a few minutes today about the tragedy that took place at Ft. Hood. This past Thursday, on a clear Texas afternoon, an Army psychiatrist walked into the Soldier Readiness Processing Center, and began shooting his fellow soldiers.

It is an act of violence that would have been heartbreaking had it occurred anyplace in America. It is a crime that would have horrified us had its victims been Americans of any background. But it’s all the more heartbreaking and all the more despicable because of the place where it occurred and the patriots who were its victims.

The SRP is where our men and women in uniform go before getting deployed. It’s where they get their teeth checked and their medical records updated and make sure everything is in order before getting shipped out. It was in this place, on a base where our soldiers ought to feel most safe, where those brave Americans who are preparing to risk their lives in defense of our nation, lost their lives in a crime against our nation.

Soldiers stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world called and emailed loved ones at Ft. Hood, all expressing the same stunned reaction: I’m supposed to be the one in harm’s way, not you.

Thursday’s shooting was one of the most devastating ever committed on an American military base. And yet, even as we saw the worst of human nature on full display, we also saw the best of America. We saw soldiers and civilians alike rushing to aid fallen comrades; tearing off bullet-riddled clothes to treat the injured; using blouses as tourniquets; taking down the shooter even as they bore wounds themselves.

We saw soldiers bringing to bear on our own soil the skills they had been trained to use abroad; skills that been honed through years of determined effort for one purpose and one purpose only: to protect and defend the United States of America.

We saw the valor, selflessness, and unity of purpose that make our servicemen and women the finest fighting force on Earth; that make the United States military the best the world has ever known; and that make all of us proud to be Americans.

On Friday, I met with FBI Director Mueller, Defense Secretary Gates, and representatives of the relevant agencies to discuss their ongoing investigation into what led to this terrible crime. And I’ll continue to be in close contact with them as new information comes in.

We cannot fully know what leads a man to do such a thing. But what we do know is that our thoughts are with every single one of the men and women who were injured at Ft. Hood. Our thoughts are with all the families who’ve lost a loved one in this national tragedy. And our thoughts are with all the Americans who wear – or who’ve worn – the proud uniform of the United States of America; our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and coast guardsmen, and the military families who love and support them.

In tribute to those who fell at Ft. Hood, I’ve ordered flags flying over the White House, and other federal buildings to be lowered to half-staff from now until Veterans Day next Wednesday. Veterans Day is our chance to honor those Americans who’ve served on battlefields from Lexington to Antietam, Normandy to Manila, Inchon to Khe Sanh, Ramadi to Kandahar.

They are Americans of every race, faith, and station. They are Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and nonbelievers. They are descendents of immigrants and immigrants themselves. They reflect the diversity that makes this America. But what they share is a patriotism like no other. What they share is a commitment to country that has been tested and proved worthy. What they share is the same unflinching courage, unblinking compassion, and uncommon camaraderie that the soldiers and civilians of Ft. Hood showed America and showed the world.

These are the men and women we honor today. These are the men and women we’ll honor on Veterans Day. And these are the men and women we shall honor every day, in times of war and times of peace, so long as our nation endures.

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President Obama’s Saturday Youtube Address 10/31/09

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WhiteHouse.gov—While there is nothing to celebrate until job numbers turn around, the President cites the recent dramatic turnaround in gross domestic product as a sign of better things to come. He also applauds the fact that the Recovery Act has now created or saved more than a million jobs.

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Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 31, 2009

Each week, I’ve spoken with you about the challenges we face as a nation and the path we must take to meet them. And the truth is, over the past ten months, I’ve often had to report distressing news during what has been a difficult time for our country. But today, I am pleased to offer some better news that – while not cause for celebration – is certainly reason to believe that we are moving in the right direction.

On Thursday, we received a report on our Gross Domestic Product, or GDP. This is an important measure of our economy as a whole, one that tells us how much we are producing and how much businesses and families are earning. We learned that the economy grew for the first time in more than a year and faster than at any point in the previous two years. So while we have a long way to go before we return to prosperity, and there will undoubtedly be ups and downs along the road, it’s also true that we’ve come a long way. It is easy to forget that it was only several months ago that the economy was shrinking rapidly and many economists feared another Great Depression.

Now, economic growth is no substitute for job growth. And we will likely see further job losses in the coming days, a fact that is both troubling for our economy and heartbreaking for the men and women who suddenly find themselves out of work. But we will not create the jobs we need unless the economy is growing; that’s why this GDP report is a good sign. And we can see clearly now that the steps my administration is taking are making a difference, blunting the worst of this recession and helping to bring about its conclusion.

We’ve acted aggressively to jumpstart credit for families and businesses, including small businesses, which have seen an increase in lending of 73 percent. We’ve taken steps to stem the tide of foreclosures, modifying mortgages to help hundreds of thousands of responsible homeowners keep their homes and help millions more sustain the value in their homes. And the Recovery Act is spurring demand through a tax cut for 95 percent of working families, and through assistance for seniors and those who have lost jobs – which not only helps folks hardest hit by the downturn, but also encourages the consumer spending that will help turn the economy around.

Finally, the Recovery Act is saving and creating jobs all across the country. Just this week, we reached an important milestone. Based on reports coming in from across America – as shovels break ground, as needed public servants are rehired, and as factories whir to life – it is clear that the Recovery Act has now created and saved more than one million jobs. That’s more than a million people who might otherwise be out of work today – folks who can wake up each day knowing that they’ll be able to provide for themselves and their families.

We’ve saved jobs by closing state budget shortfalls to prevent the layoffs of hundreds of thousands of police officers, firefighters, and teachers who are today on the beat, on call, and in the classroom because of the Recovery Act. And we’ve also created hundreds of thousands of jobs through the largest investment in our roads since the building of the interstate highways, and through the largest investments in education, medical research, and clean energy in history.

These investments aren’t just helping us recover in the short term, they’re helping to lay a new foundation for lasting prosperity in the long term – and they’re giving hardworking, middle-class Americans the chance to succeed and raise a family. Because of the investments we’ve made and the steps we’ve taken, it’s easier for middle-class families to send their kids to college and get the training and skills they need to compete in a global economy. We’re making it easier for these families to save for retirement. And in areas like clean energy, we’re creating the jobs of the future – jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced.

In fact, just this week, I traveled to Arcadia, Florida to announce the largest set of clean energy projects through the Recovery Act so far: one hundred grants for businesses, utilities, manufacturers, cities and other partners across the country to put thousands of people to work modernizing our electric grid – the system that provides power to our homes and businesses – so that it wastes less energy, helps integrate renewables like wind and solar, and saves consumers money. And that’s just one example.

So, we have made progress. At the same time, I want to emphasize that there’s still plenty of progress to be made. For we know that positive news for the economy as a whole means little if you’ve lost your job and can’t find another, if you can’t afford health care or the mortgage, if you do not see in your own life the improvement we are seeing in these economic statistics. And positive news today does not mean there won’t be difficult days ahead. As I’ve said many times, it took years to dig our way into the crisis we’ve faced. It will take more than a few months to dig our way out. But make no mistake: that’s exactly what we will do.

For the economy we seek is one where folks who need a job can find one and incomes are rising again. The economy we seek is one where small businesses can flourish and entrepreneurs can get the capital they need to plant new seeds of growth. The economy we seek is one that’s no longer based on maxed out credits cards, wild speculation, and the old cycles of boom or bust – but rather one that’s built on a solid foundation, supporting growth that is strong, sustained, and broadly shared by middle class families across America. That is what we are working toward every single day. And we will not stop until we get there.

Thank you. And Happy Halloween.

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President Obama’s Saturday Youtube Address 10/24/09

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WhiteHouse.gov—In this week’s address, President Barack Obama spoke of how important small businesses are to the economy and described the steps his administration is taking to support them. Health insurance reform will allow small business to purchase insurance for their employees through exchanges, which will increase the quality of coverage while lowering the costs, and reform will provide tax credits to those businesses. To free up credit, the President called on Congress to increase the size of various SBA loans, and he announced that the administration will be making more credit available to the small local and community banks that many small businesses depend on.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 24, 2009

All across America, even today, on a Saturday, millions of Americans are hard at work. They’re running the mom and pop stores and neighborhood restaurants we know and love. They’re building tiny startups with big ideas that could revolutionize an industry, maybe even transform our economy. They are the more than half of all Americans who work at a small business, or own a small business. And they embody the spirit of possibility, the relentless work ethic, and the hope for something better that is at the heart of the American Dream.

They also represent a segment of our economy that has been hard hit by this recession. Over the past couple of years, small businesses have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs. Many have struggled to get the loans they need to finance their inventories and make payroll. Many entrepreneurs can’t get financing to start a small business in the first place. And many more are discouraged from even trying because of the crushing costs of health care – costs that have forced too many small businesses to cut benefits, shed jobs, or shut their doors for good.

Small businesses have always been the engine of our economy – creating 65 percent of all new jobs over the past decade and a half – and they must be at the forefront of our recovery. That’s why the Recovery Act was designed to help small businesses expand and create jobs. It’s provided $5 billion worth of tax relief, as well as temporarily reducing or eliminating fees on SBA loans and guaranteeing some of these loans up to 90 percent, which has supported nearly $13 billion in new lending to more than 33,000 businesses.

In addition, our health reform plan will allow small businesses to buy insurance for their employees through an insurance exchange, which may offer better coverage at lower costs – and we’ll provide tax credits for those that choose to do so.

And this past week, I called on Congress to increase the maximum size of various SBA loans, so that more small business owners can set up shop and grow their operations. I also announced that we’ll be taking additional steps through our Financial Stability plan to make more credit available to the small local and community banks that so many small businesses depend on – the banks who know their borrowers, who gave them their first loan and watched them grow.

The goal here is to get credit where it’s needed most – to businesses that support families, sustain communities, and create the jobs that power our economy. That’s why we enacted the Financial Stability Plan in the first place, back when many of our largest banks were on the verge of collapse; our credit markets were frozen; and it was nearly impossible for ordinary people to get loans to buy a car or home or pay for college. The idea was to jumpstart lending and keep our economy from spiraling into a depression. Fortunately, it worked. Thanks to the American taxpayers, we’ve now achieved the stability we need to get our economy moving forward again.

But while credit may be more available for large businesses, too many small business owners are still struggling to get the credit they need. These are the very taxpayers who stood by America’s banks in a crisis – and now it’s time for our banks to stand by creditworthy small businesses, and make the loans they need to open their doors, grow their operations, and create new jobs. It’s time for those banks to fulfill their responsibility to help ensure a wider recovery, a more secure system, and more broadly shared prosperity. And we’re going to take every appropriate step to encourage them to meet those responsibilities. Because if it’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that here in America, we rise and fall together. Our economy as a whole can’t move ahead if small businesses and the middle class continue to fall behind.

This country was built by dreamers. They’re the workers who took a chance on their desire to be their own boss. The part-time inventors who became the fulltime entrepreneurs. The men and women who have helped build the American middle class, keeping alive that most American of ideals – that all things are possible for all people, and we’re limited only by the size of our dreams and our willingness to work for them. We need to do everything we can to ensure that they can keep taking those risks, acting on those dreams, and building the enterprises that fuel our economy and make us who we are.

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President Obama’s Saturday Youtube Address 10/17/09

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WhiteHouse.gov—In his weekly address, President Barack Obama praised the progress that has been made on health insurance reform, and spoke out against those who defend the status quo in order to score political points and protect their profits. With reform the closest it has ever been to becoming law, the insurance companies are rolling out deceptive ads, paying for misleading studies, and flooding Capitol Hill with lobbyists. Now, Washington needs to serve the American people, not the special interests.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 17, 2009

Over the better part of the past year, a great debate has taken place in Washington and across America, about how to reform our health care system to provide security for people with insurance, coverage for those without insurance, and lower costs for everyone. From the halls of Congress to the homes of ordinary Americans, this debate has helped us to forge consensus and find common ground. That’s a good thing. That’s what America is all about.

Now, as the debate draws to a close, we can point to a broad and growing coalition of doctors and nurses, workers and businesses, hospitals and even drug companies – folks who represent different parties and perspectives, including leading Democrats and many leading Republicans – who recognize the urgency of action. Just this week, the Senate Finance Committee approved a reform proposal that has both Democratic and Republican support. For the first time ever, all five committees in Congress responsible for health reform have passed a version of legislation. As I speak to you today, we are closer to reforming the health care system than we have ever been in history.

But this is not the time to pat ourselves on the back. This is not the time to grow complacent. There are still significant details and disagreements to be worked out in the coming weeks. And there are still those who would try to kill reform at any cost. The history is clear: for decades rising health care costs have unleashed havoc on families, businesses, and the economy. And for decades, whenever we have tried to reform the system, the insurance companies have done everything in their considerable power to stop us.

We know that this inaction has carried a terrible toll. In the past decade, premiums have doubled. Over the past few years, total out of pocket costs for people with insurance rose by a third. And we know that if we do not reform the system, this will only be a preview of coming attractions. A new report for the Business Roundtable – a non-partisan group that represents the CEOs of major companies – found that without significant reform, health care costs for these employers and their employees will well more than double again over the next decade. The cost per person for health insurance will rise by almost $18,000. That’s a huge amount of money. That’s going to mean lower salaries and higher unemployment, lower profits and higher rolls of uninsured. It is no exaggeration to say, that unless we act, these costs will devastate the US economy.

This is the unsustainable path we’re on, and it’s the path the insurers want to keep us on. In fact, the insurance industry is rolling out the big guns and breaking open their massive war chest – to marshal their forces for one last fight to save the status quo. They’re filling the airwaves with deceptive and dishonest ads. They’re flooding Capitol Hill with lobbyists and campaign contributions. And they’re funding studies designed to mislead the American people.

Of course, like clockwork, we’ve seen folks on cable television who know better, waving these industry-funded studies in the air. We’ve seen industry insiders – and their apologists – citing these studies as proof of claims that just aren’t true. They’ll claim that premiums will go up under reform; but they know that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that reforms will lower premiums in a new insurance exchange while offering consumer protections that will limit out-of-pocket costs and prevent discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. They’ll claim that you’ll have to pay more out of pocket; but they know that this is based on a study that willfully ignores whole sections of the bill, including tax credits and cost savings that will greatly benefit middle class families. Even the authors of one of these studies have now admitted publicly that the insurance companies actually asked them to do an incomplete job.

It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s bogus. And it’s all too familiar. Every time we get close to passing reform, the insurance companies produce these phony studies as a prescription and say, “Take one of these, and call us in a decade.” Well, not this time. The fact is, the insurance industry is making this last-ditch effort to stop reform even as costs continue to rise and our health care dollars continue to be poured into their profits, bonuses, and administrative costs that do nothing to make us healthy – that often actually go toward figuring out how to avoid covering people. And they’re earning these profits and bonuses while enjoying a privileged exception from our anti-trust laws, a matter that Congress is rightfully reviewing.

Now, I welcome a good debate. I welcome the chance to defend our proposals and to test our ideas in the fires of this democracy. But what I will not abide are those who would bend the truth – or break it – to score political points and stop our progress as a country. And what we all must oppose are the same old cynical Washington games that have been played for decades even as our problems have grown and our challenges have mounted.

Last November, the American people went to the polls in historic numbers and demanded change. They wanted a change in our policies; but they also sought a change in our politics: a politics that too often has fallen prey to the lobbyists and the special interests; that has fostered division and sustained the status quo. Passing health insurance reform is a great test of this proposition. Yes, it will make a profound and positive difference in the lives of the American people. But it also now represents something more: whether or not we as a nation are capable of tackling our toughest challenges, if we can serve the national interest despite the unrelenting efforts of the special interests; if we can still do big things in America.

I believe we can. I believe we will. And I urge every member of Congress to stand against the power plays and political ploys – and to stand up on behalf the American people who sent us to Washington to do their business.

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President Obama’s Saturday Youtube Address 10/10/09

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WhiteHouse.gov—In his weekly address, President Barack Obama praised past and current political leaders from across the spectrum who have come forward to support reform. Doctors, nurses, hospitals, and drug companies have already expressed their support. In the past several days Governor Schwarzenegger, Mayor Bloomberg, former Senate Major Leader Bob Dole, and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, among others, have all come forward to say that the status quo is unsustainable and that now is the time to reform the system. They see that this is a not a Democratic or a Republican problem, but an American one in need of a solution.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 10, 2009

The historic movement to bring real, meaningful health insurance reform to the American people gathered momentum this week as we approach the final days of this debate. Having worked on this issue for the better part of a year, the Senate Finance Committee is finishing deliberations on their version of a health insurance reform bill that will soon be merged with other reform bills produced by other Congressional committees.

After evaluating the Finance Committee’s bill, the Congressional Budget Office – an office that provides independent, nonpartisan analysis – concluded that the legislation would make coverage affordable for millions of Americans who don’t have it today. It will bring greater security to Americans who have coverage, with new insurance protections. And, by attacking waste and fraud within the system, it will slow the growth in health care costs, without adding a dime to our deficits.

This is another milestone on what has been a long, hard road toward health insurance reform. In recent months, we’ve heard every side of every argument from both sides of the aisle. And rightly so – health insurance reform is a complex and critical issue that deserves a vigorous national debate, and we’ve had one. The approach that is emerging includes the best ideas from Republicans and Democrats, and people across the political spectrum.

In fact, what’s remarkable is not that we’ve had a spirited debate about health insurance reform, but the unprecedented consensus that has come together behind it. This consensus encompasses everyone from doctors and nurses to hospitals and drug manufacturers.

And earlier this week, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg came out in support of reform, joining two former Republican Senate Majority Leaders: Bob Dole and Dr. Bill Frist, himself a cardiac surgeon. Dr. Louis Sullivan, Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush, supports reform. As does Republican Tommy Thompson, a former Wisconsin governor and Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush. These distinguished leaders understand that health insurance reform isn’t a Democratic issue or a Republican issue, but an American issue that demands a solution.

Still, there are some in Washington today who seem determined to play the same old partisan politics, working to score political points, even if it means burdening this country with an unsustainable status quo. A status quo of rising health care costs that are crushing our families, our businesses, and our government. A status quo of diminishing coverage that is denying millions of hardworking Americans the insurance they need. A status quo that gives big insurance companies the power to make arbitrary decisions about your health care. That is a status quo I reject. And that is a status quo the American people reject.

The distinguished former Congressional leaders who urged us to act on health insurance reform spoke of the historic moment at hand and reminded us that this moment will not soon come again. They called on members of both parties seize this opportunity to finally confront a problem that has plagued us for far too long.

That is what we are called to do at this moment. That is the spirit of national purpose that we must summon right now. Now is the time to rise above the politics of the moment. Now is the time to come together as Americans. Now is the time to meet our responsibilities to ourselves and to our children, and secure a better, healthier future for generations to come. That future is within our grasp. So, let’s go finish the job.

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President Obama’s Saturday Youtube Address 10/03/09

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WhiteHouse.gov—In this week’s address, President Barack Obama spoke of how the rising costs of health care are stifling America’s small businesses, and how reform will strengthen these businesses and the economy. Small businesses create roughly half of all new jobs, but they also pay up to 18 percent more for the very same insurance plans as larger businesses. Too many have been forced to cut benefits, drop coverage, shed jobs, or shut their doors entirely. Health insurance reform is integral to laying a new foundation for our economy so that small businesses can grow and create new jobs.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 3, 2009

When I took office eight months ago, our nation was in the midst of an economic crisis unlike any we’d seen in generations. While I was confident that our economy would recover, we know that employment is often the last thing to come back after a recession. Our task is to do everything we possibly can to accelerate that process.

And we’ve certainly made progress on this front since the period last winter when we were losing an average of 700,000 jobs each month. But yesterday’s report on September job losses was a sobering reminder that progress comes in fits and starts, and that we will need to grind out this recovery step by step.

That’s why I’m working closely with my economic team to explore additional options to promote job creation. And I won’t let up until those who seek jobs can find them; until businesses that seek capital and credit can thrive; and until all responsible homeowners can stay in their homes.

It won’t be easy. It will require us to lay a new foundation for our economy – one that gives our workers the skills and education they need to compete; that invests in renewable energy and the jobs of the future; and that makes health care affordable for families and businesses – particularly small businesses, many of which have been overwhelmed by rising health care costs.

This is something I hear about from entrepreneurs I meet – people who’ve got a good idea, and the expertise and determination to build it into a thriving business. But many can’t take that leap because they can’t afford to lose the health insurance they have at their current job.

I hear about it from small business owners who want to grow their companies and hire more people, but they can’t, because they can barely afford to insure the employees they have. One small business owner wrote to me that health care costs are – and I quote – “stifling my business growth.” He said that the money he wanted to use for research and development, and to expand his operations, has instead been “thrown into the pocket of healthcare insurance carriers.”

These small businesses are the mom and pop stores and restaurants, beauty shops and construction companies that support families and sustain communities. They’re the small startups with big ideas, hoping to be the next Google, or Apple, or HP. Altogether, they create roughly half of all new jobs.

And right now, they are paying up to 18 percent more for the very same insurance plans as larger businesses because they have higher administrative costs and less bargaining power. Many have been forced to cut benefits or drop coverage. Some have shed jobs or shut their doors entirely. And recent studies show that if we fail to act now, employers will pay six percent more to insure their employees next year – and more than twice as much over the next decade.

Rising health care costs are undermining our businesses, exploding our deficits, and costing our nation more jobs with each passing month.

So we know that reforming our health insurance system will be a critical step in rebuilding our economy so that our entrepreneurs can pursue the American Dream again, and our small businesses can grow and expand and create new jobs again.

That is precisely what the reform legislation before Congress right now will do. Under these proposals, small businesses will be able to purchase health insurance through an insurance exchange, a marketplace where they can compare the price, quality and services of a wide variety of plans, many of which will provide better coverage at lower costs than the plans they have now.

Small businesses won’t be required to cover their employees, but many that do will receive a tax credit to help them pay for it. If a small business chooses not to provide coverage, its employees will receive tax credits to help them purchase health insurance on their own through the insurance exchange.

And no matter how you get your insurance, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny your coverage because of a pre-existing condition. They won’t be able to drop your coverage if you get too sick, or lose your job, or change jobs. And we’ll limit the amount your insurance company can force you to pay out of your own pocket.

By now, the urgency of these reforms is abundantly clear. And after long hours of thoughtful deliberation and tough negotiation, the Senate Finance Committee – the final congressional committee involved in shaping health care legislation – has finished the process of crafting their reform proposal.

As we move forward in the coming weeks, I understand that members of Congress from both parties will want to engage in a vigorous debate and contribute their own ideas. And I welcome those contributions. I welcome any sincere attempts to improve legislation before it reaches my desk. But what I will not accept are attempts to stall, or drag our feet. I will not accept partisan efforts to block reform at any cost.

Instead, I expect us to move forward with a spirit of civility, a seriousness of purpose, and a willingness to compromise that characterizes our democratic process at its very best. If we do that, I am confident that we will pass reform this year, and help ensure that our entrepreneurs, our businesses, and our economy can thrive in the years ahead. Thank you.

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President Obama’s Saturday Youtube Address 09/26/09

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WhiteHouse.gov— In this week’s address, President Barack Obama recounted the progress made this past week in advancing America’s national security and economic prosperity at the United Nations and the G-20. The administration established the U.S. as a leader in the pursuit for clean energy, and agreed to reform the global financial system to prevent another crisis. Also, the President joined the first meeting between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in nearly a year, chaired a meeting of the UN Security Council, which passed a resolution to secure loose nuclear materials, and stood in agreement with our European allies and Russia that Iran must not acquire nuclear weapons.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
September 26, 2009

This week, I joined leaders from around the world at the United Nations and the G-20 economic summit in Pittsburgh. Today, I can report on what we achieved—a new commitment to meet common challenges, and real progress in advancing America’s national security and economic prosperity.

As I said at the U.N., over the past nine months my administration has renewed American leadership, and pursued a new era of engagement in which we call upon all nations to live up to their responsibilities. This week, our engagement produced tangible results in several areas.

In Pittsburgh, the world’s major economies agreed to continue our effort to spur global demand to put our people back to work. We committed ourselves to economic growth that is balanced and sustained— so that we avoid the booms and busts of the past. We reached an historic agreement to reform the global financial system—to promote responsibility and prevent abuse so that we never face a crisis like this again. And we reformed our international economic architecture, so that we can better coordinate our effort to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

We also established American leadership in the global pursuit of the clean energy of the 21st century. I am proud that the G-20 nations agreed to phase out $300 billion worth of fossil fuel subsidies. This will increase our energy security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, combat the threat of climate change, and help create the new jobs and industries of the future.

In New York, we advanced the cause of peace and security. I joined the first meeting between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in nearly a year—a meeting that even nine months ago did not seem possible. And we resolved to move forward in the journey toward a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

We also took unprecedented steps to secure loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to seek a world without them. As the first U.S. president to ever chair a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, I was proud that the Council passed an historic and unanimous resolution embracing the comprehensive strategy I outlined this year in Prague.

To prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists, the Security Council endorsed our global effort to lock down all vulnerable material within four years. We reaffirmed the basic compact of the global nonproliferation regime: all nations have the right to peaceful nuclear energy; nations with nuclear weapons have the responsibility to move toward disarmament; and nations without them have the responsibility to forsake them.

The United States is meeting our responsibilities by pursuing an agreement with Russia to reduce our strategic warheads and launchers. And just as we meet our responsibilities, so must other nations, including Iran and North Korea.

Earlier this year, we imposed tough, new, sanctions on North Korea to stop their efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction. And we will continue to stand with our allies and partners to press North Korea to move in a new direction.

This week, we joined with the United Kingdom and France in presenting evidence that Iran has been building a secret nuclear facility to enrich uranium. This is a serious challenge to the global nonproliferation regime, and continues a disturbing pattern of Iranian evasion. That is why international negotiations with Iran scheduled for October 1st now take on added urgency.

My offer of a serious, meaningful dialogue to resolve this issue remains open. But Iran must now cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and take action to demonstrate its peaceful intentions.

On this, the international community is more united than ever before. Yesterday, I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our European allies in condemning Iran’s program. In our meetings and public statements, President Medvedev of Russia and I agreed that Iran must pursue a new course or face consequences. All of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and Germany, have made it clear that Iran must fulfill its responsibilities.

Iran’s leaders must now choose – they can live up to their responsibilities and achieve integration with the community of nations. Or they will face increased pressure and isolation, and deny opportunity to their own people.

These are the urgent threats of our time. And the United States is committed to a new chapter of international cooperation to meet them. This new chapter will not be written in one week or even one year. But we have begun. And for the American people and the people of the world, it will mean greater security and prosperity for years to come.

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