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First Lady Michelle Obama Hosts United Nations General Assembly Spouses at Stone Barns

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Kori Shulman

Today, the First Lady hosted a special event for the spouses of Chiefs of State and Heads of Government participating in the United Nations General Assembly at the Stone Barns Center, a non-profit farm and education center north of New York City.

First Lady Michelle Obama and spouses of United Nations leaders tour Stone Barns Food and Agricultural Center with Dan Barber, co-owner and executive chef of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, before the UNGA spousal luncheon in Pocantinco, N.Y. September 24, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

After a tour of the farm, the spouses were introduced to the Center’s children’s education program, where local third graders from Pocantico Hill School and JFK Magnet School demonstrated their experiences in hands-on farming, including harvesting vegetables and collecting eggs from pasture-raised hens.

The White House kitchen garden inspired the day’s event and led to the development of Let’s Move!, the First Lady’s initiate to raise a healthier generation of kids. A key component of the initiative is school education. Stone Barns Center is an example of what can be done when local businesses, local farms, and neighborhood schools work together to educate children. In her remarks, Mrs. Obama discussed the power of hands-on experiences from her own child’s experience:

Sasha doesn’t like tomatoes — or so she says — not until she took a cooking class at her school and made a tomato-pesto-basil-mozzarella sandwich.

So she comes home and she says, Mom, have you ever heard of these “hair” potatoes — tomatoes? And I was like, what are you — are you talking about heirloom tomatoes? She says, yeah, that’s it. She said, now those are good tomatoes. I was like, you eat those everyday. No, these were different, Mom. These were different.

And the point is, is that, yeah, it was different for her because it was her discovery. It wasn’t something that her mother was telling her to do. She had discovered it. She made the sandwich. She made the pesto. And it was good. And now she’s a fan of tomatoes. We can do that with our children.

At an event that brought together the spouses of leaders from around the world, Mrs. Obama noted that childhood obesity is not just an American challenge.

As I talk to these spouses, I’m understanding that we’re seeing — many of you are seeing these same issues in your own countries. And you’re working very hard on nutrition and education. And my hope is that we can continue to partner and have conversations so that this local campaign becomes a national conversation in so many ways.

So I thank you all for your leadership on this issue. Thank you all for taking the time to spend this afternoon focused on an issue that is near and dear to me. I am always grateful for your friendship and your kindness. It makes these gatherings even more special, to be able to share these ideas and to share in fellowship and toast and all that good stuff.

Remarks by the First Lady at United Nations General Assembly Spousal Luncheon

First Lady Michelle Obama and spouses of United Nations leaders learn how chickens have been raised and integrated into the farm food system, during a tour of Stone Barns Food and Agricultural Center, before the UNGA spousal luncheon in Pocantinco, N.Y. September 24, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)


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Republican Senator Jim Bunning’s Impasse Puts 2000 Federal Employees Out Of Work Today

AP~Two thousand federal transportation workers were furloughed without pay on Monday, and the Obama administration said they have a Kentucky senator to blame for it.

Federal reimbursements to states for highway programs will also be halted, the Transportation Department said in a statement late Sunday. The reimbursements amount to about $190 million a day, according to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The furloughs and freeze on payments were the result of a decision last week by Republican Sen. Jim Bunning to block passage of legislation that would have extended federal highway and transit programs, the department said. Those programs expired at midnight Sunday.

The extension of transportation programs was part of a larger package of government programs that also expired Sunday, including unemployment benefits for about 400,000 Americans.

Bunning objected to the $10 billion measure, saying it would add to the budget deficit. He didn’t respond to a request Monday for comment.

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President Obama’s Newsweek Haiti Essay: ‘Why Haiti Matters’

Posted by: Audiegrl

In the tragic aftermath of Haiti’s 7.0 earthquake, images of the disaster break our hearts and remind us of the fragility of life. What America must do now—and why

By President Barack Obama in
In the last week, we have been deeply moved by the heartbreaking images of the devastation in Haiti: parents searching through rubble for sons and daughters; children, frightened and alone, looking for their mothers and fathers. At this moment, entire parts of Port-au-Prince are in ruins, as families seek shelter in makeshift camps. It is a horrific scene of shattered lives in a poor nation that has already suffered so much.

In response, I have ordered a swift, coordinated, and aggressive effort to save lives in Haiti. We have launched one of the largest relief efforts in recent history. I have instructed the leaders of all agencies to make our response a top priority across the federal government. We are mobilizing every element of our national capacity: the resources of development agencies, the strength of our armed forces, and most important, the compassion of the American people. And we are working closely with the Haitian government, the United Nations, and the many international partners who are also aiding in this extraordinary effort.

We act for the sake of the thousands of American citizens who are in Haiti, and for their families back home; for the sake of the Haitian people who have been stricken with a tragic history, even as they have shown great resilience; and we act because of the close ties that we have with a neighbor that is only a few hundred miles to the south.

But above all, we act for a very simple reason: in times of tragedy, the United States of America steps forward and helps. That is who we are. That is what we do. For decades, America’s leadership has been founded in part on the fact that we do not use our power to subjugate others, we use it to lift them up—whether it was rebuilding our former adversaries after World War II, dropping food and water to the people of Berlin, or helping the people of Bosnia and Kosovo rebuild their lives and their nations.

At no time is that more true than in moments of great peril and human suffering. It is why we have acted to help people combat the scourge of HIV/AIDS in Africa, or to recover from a catastrophic tsunami in Asia. When we show not just our power, but also our compassion, the world looks to us with a mixture of awe and admiration. That advances our leadership. That shows the character of our country. And it is why every American can look at this relief effort with the pride of knowing that America is acting on behalf of our common humanity.

Right now, our search-and-rescue teams are on the ground, pulling people from the rubble. Americans from Virginia and California and Florida have worked round the clock to save people whom they’ve never met. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen quickly deployed to the scene. Hand in hand with our civilians, they’re laboring day and night to facilitate a massive logistical enterprise; to deliver and distribute food, water, and medicine to save lives; and to prevent an even larger humanitarian catastrophe.

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Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton Lands in Haiti, Pledges Cooperative Effort

Posted by: Audiegrl

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, third from right, meets with Haiti's President Rene Preval, third from left, to discuss conditions in the country

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, third from right, meets with Haiti's President Rene Preval, third from left, to discuss conditions in the country



U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met Saturday with Haitian President Rene Preval and promised that U.S. quake relief efforts would be closely coordinated with local officials.

Clinton’s remarks appeared designed to counter any notion of a too-intrusive American involvement in the aftermath of the quake, while also assuring Haitians the humanitarian mission would continue as long as it’s needed.

We are here at the invitation of your government to help you,” she said at a news conference at the Port-au-Prince airport. “As President Obama has said, we will be here today, tomorrow and for the time ahead. And speaking personally, I know of the great resilience and strength of the Haitian people. You have been severely tested. But I believe that Haiti can come back even stronger and better in the future.”

Haiti's President Rene Preval, right, answers questions from the press as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, looks on in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010

Haiti's President Rene Preval, right, answers questions from the press as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, looks on in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010

Clinton, the highest-ranking Obama administration official to visit since the magnitude-7.0 quake struck Tuesday, arrived in a Coast Guard C-130 transport that carried bottled water, packaged food, soap and other supplies. She was accompanied by Rajiv Shah, the U.S. Agency for International Development administrator who is acting as the top U.S. relief coordinator.

Clinton also met with U.N. officials and U.S. civilians and military personnel working on the relief effort. She said she and Preval discussed his government’s priorities: restoring communications, electricity and transportation.

And we agreed that we will be coordinating closely together to achieve these goals,” she said, adding that she and Preval would issue a communique on Sunday outlining cooperation between the two countries.

Preval said he was encouraged to see former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush together with President Barack Obama at the White House earlier Saturday in a joint plea for international assistance to Haiti.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listens to Haiti President Rene Preval during her visit

He noted that U.S. aid has already arrived, and he told reporters he met a survivor who was pulled from the rubble Saturday and receiving care from American medical teams. He thanked Clinton for her visit and for Obama’s continued support of Haiti.

Mrs. Clinton’s visit really warms our heart today,” he said.

During the news conference, officials noted the clatter of military helicopters landing and taking off nearby.

That’s a good sound,” Clinton said. “That means that good things are going to the people of Haiti.”

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more about "Clinton Speaks in Haiti", posted with vodpod</div

We had a very good meeting about all of the priorities of the Haitian government and the Haitian people,” Clinton said after a brief news conference following the meetings.

She said air efforts are focused on providing water, food and medical help. She also stressed the importance of restoring the country’s communications networks, electricity and transportation.

A man carries an elderly woman who needs medical attention in Port Au Prince

A man carries an elderly woman who needs medical attention in Port Au Prince

We agreed that we will be coordinating closely together to achieve these goals.”

In an interview with CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta, Clinton said “every day we are making progress and I expect that to continue.”

In addition to the immediate needs, Clinton said the focus will switch next week to long-term recovery and reconstruction, telling Gupta she believed that Haiti, with the help of the international community, could be a better place than it was before Tuesday’s quake.

Helicopters fly over the heavily damaged Port-au-Prince Cathedral

Helicopters fly over the heavily damaged Port-au-Prince Cathedral

The U.S. Coast Guard plane she arrived on was carrying 100 cases of water, 100 cases of meals-ready-to-eat, and food and toiletries for about 140 U.S. Embassy staff members. Fifty Americans, who have been waiting to be evacuated, will fly back to the United States when Clinton departs.

Clinton landed hours after President Obama announced Saturday that former Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush have agreed to lead an effort to raise funds for Haiti.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks to CNN’s Sanjay Gupta in Haiti about the relief efforts.

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Vice President Biden’s Meets with U.N. Secretary General’s Special Representative for Iraq

posted by: Audiegrl

Vice President Joe Biden meets with U.N Special Representative for Iraq, second from left, Ad Melkert, in the Roosevelt Room, January 5, 2010

The Vice President met with the U.N. Secretary General’s Special Representative for Iraq Ad Melkert, to discuss developments in Iraq. The Vice President offered continued U.S. government support for the indispensable role of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq and thanked Mr. Melkert for his leadership, highlighting his recent support for Iraqi efforts to approve an election law. They discussed preparations for the upcoming national elections and pledged to help the Iraqis resolve outstanding national unity issues.

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Tiger’s Validation Complex by Eugene Robinson

Op-Ed by Eugene Robinson

Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist, Eugene Robinson

Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist, Eugene Robinson

Washington Post/Eugene Robinson—Leave Tiger alone. Enough with the puns — we get that he’s really just a “cheetah” in disguise. Enough with the Barbie-of-the-Day revelations — we get that he’s attracted to a certain type. Enough with the whole thing — we have far more important things to worry about.

Yeah, right. Sit down with a friend over lunch and try to have a conversation about health care, climate change, financial regulation or Afghanistan without straying at least once onto the oh-so-unimportant subject of Tiger Woods’s philandering. I’ve given up trying to deny that the unfolding saga is compelling, even if paying attention leaves me feeling a bit disappointed in myself. Prurient interest is rarely something to be proud of.

I’m beginning to fear, actually, that the unfolding may never end. If you’re the richest, most famous athlete on the planet, and you have an eye for cocktail waitresses and nightclub hostesses, the opportunities to cheat are probably limited only by the number of hours in the day. It’s becoming clear why Woods’s initial mea culpa was worded vaguely to cover any and all “transgressions.” Wouldn’t want to leave anybody out.

I’m not going to pronounce judgment on Woods’s moral fiber, except to state that adultery is bad. I’m also not going to judge the women who have reportedly had affairs with him, except to point out how quick they’ve been, as soon as their names have surfaced, to retain high-priced legal counsel. I will suggest that Woods consider this possibility: Random women he meets in restaurants or bars may not be reduced to putty by his good looks or sparkling wit, but may in fact be aware of how wealthy he is.

I was going to critique Woods’s technique of adultery, or at least his apparent selection of playmates, as measured against a theory about philandering developed by my colleague Roxanne Roberts, who has spent years covering the capital’s libidinous social scene for The Post. Roberts postulates that famous, powerful men who stray would be smart to choose women who have just as much to lose if the liaison were exposed. Some ultra-rich tycoon’s young trophy wife, say, would fit that criterion. Cocktail waitresses and nightclub hostesses, not so much.

In fact, Woods seems to have hooked up with the kind of women who save old voice mails and text messages — giving their high-priced legal counsel something to work with.

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Talking to Folks in Line at a Sarah Palin Book Signing

This video was produced by the talented folks at NewLeftMedia. They catch up with Sarah Palin fans standing outside of Borders Books & Music in Columbus, OH. The reporters asks them why they like Sarah Palin, how they feel about her policies, and what they think about the country under President Obama. Lets just say the interviews are very interesting….and that these fans have the Fox News soundbites down cold.

Robin Williams Takes On Sarah Palin

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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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