By Jueseppi B.
07:26 PM EST
This week, the Senate will vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which would provide strong federal protections against discrimination, making it explicitly illegal to fire someone because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT).
A critically important piece of legislation: ENDA
Published on Nov 6, 2013
This week, the Senate is addressing a critically important piece of legislation: the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA. This bill provides strong federal protections against discrimination, making it explicitly illegal to fire someone because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. While it may be hard to believe, today, only 17 states prohibit employment discrimination against LGBT workers.
In case you missed it, read President Obama’s Op-Ed in support of ENDA.
CONGRESS NEEDS TO PASS THE EMPLOYMENT NON-DISCRIMINATION ACT
Here in the United States, we’re united by a fundamental principle: we’re all created equal and every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law. We believe that no matter who you are, if you work hard and play by the rules, you deserve the chance to follow your dreams and pursue your happiness. That’s America’s promise.
That’s why, for instance, Americans can’t be fired from their jobs just because of the color of their skin or for being Christian or Jewish or a woman or an individual with a disability. That kind of discrimination has no place in our nation. And yet, right now, in 2013, in many states a person can be fired simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
As a result, millions of LGBT Americans go to work every day fearing that, without any warning, they could lose their jobs — not because of anything they’ve done, but simply because of who they are.
It’s offensive. It’s wrong. And it needs to stop, because in the United States of America, who you are and who you love should never be a fireable offense.
That’s why Congress needs to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, also known as ENDA, which would provide strong federal protections against discrimination, making it explicitly illegal to fire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This bill has strong bipartisan support and the support of a vast majority of Americans. It ought to be the law of the land.
Americans ought to be judged by one thing only in their workplaces: their ability to get their jobs done. Does it make a difference if the firefighter who rescues you is gay — or the accountant who does your taxes, or the mechanic who fixes your car? If someone works hard every day, does everything he or she is asked, is responsible and trustworthy and a good colleague, that’s all that should matter.
Business agrees. The majority of Fortune 500 companies and small businesses already have nondiscrimination policies that protect LGBT employees. These companies know that it’s both the right thing to do and makes good economic sense. They want to attract and retain the best workers, and discrimination makes it harder to do that.
So too with our nation. If we want to create more jobs and economic growth and keep our country competitive in the global economy, we need everyone working hard, contributing their ideas, and putting their abilities to use doing what they do best. We need to harness the creativity and talents of every American.
So I urge the Senate to vote yes on ENDA and the House of Representatives to do the same. Several Republican Senators have already voiced their support, as have a number of Republicans in the House. If more members of Congress step up, we can put an end to this form of discrimination once and for all.
Passing ENDA would build on the progress we’ve made in recent years. We stood up against hate crimes with the Matthew Shepard Act and lifted the entry ban for travelers with HIV. We ended “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” so our brave servicemen and women can serve openly the country they love, no matter who they love. We prohibited discrimination in housing and hospitals that receive federal funding, and we passed the Violence Against Women Act, which includes protections for LGBT Americans.
My Administration had stopped defending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, and earlier this year the U.S. Supreme Court struck down that discriminatory law. Now we’re implementing that ruling, giving married couples access to the federal benefits they were long denied. And across the nation, as more and more states recognize marriage equality, we’re seeing loving couples — some who have been together for decades — finally join their hands in marriage.
America is at a turning point. We’re not only becoming more accepting and loving as a people, we’re becoming more just as a nation. But we still have a way to go before our laws are equal to our Founding ideals. As I said in my second inaugural address, our nation’s journey toward equality isn’t complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.
In America of all places, people should be judged on the merits: on the contributions they make in their workplaces and communities, and on what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the content of their character.” That’s what ENDA helps us do. When Congress passes it, I will sign it into law, and our nation will be fairer and stronger for generations to come.
2013 GreenGov Presidential Awards Ceremony
Published on Nov 5, 2013
The Council on Environmental Quality announce the winners of the 2013 GreenGov Presidential Awards, which honor Federal civilian and military personnel as well as agency teams, facilities, and programs that exemplify extraordinary achievement in the pursuit of the President’s Executive Order on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance. The eight award winners have taken innovative approaches to curb waste, reduce carbon pollution, expand renewable energy, and save taxpayer money in Federal agency operations. November 5, 2013.
03:15 PM EST
Today, President Obama is visiting the Lone Star State to thank volunteers in Dallas for helping fellow Texans learn more about their new choices, new benefits, and new protections under the Affordable Care Act. I’m proud to lead that same kind of effort in San Antonio, and I know that mayors across our state are doing everything they can to educate our citizens about the law. That’s because we think giving as many people as possible the chance to buy affordable health insurance is more important than trying to score political points.
Usually, we do things bigger in Texas. But right now, when it comes to covering the uninsured, some of our neighboring states are trying to beat us to the draw. In Arkansas, for example, they¹ve cut the total number of uninsured in the state by nearly 14 percent in just over a month.
There’s one big reason for that. Under the Affordable Care Act, states can choose whether or not to expand Medicaid to cover more of its citizens, and Arkansas chose “yes.” If we made that same choice in Texas, it would cover more than one million of our citizens, and save our taxpayers $1.7 billion over the next decade in unpaid hospital bills.
Conservative Republican governors in Michigan and Ohio looked at similar numbers in their states and decided that expanding Medicaid was a no-brainer. I just wish our governor saw it the same way. Because with a stroke of his pen, he could save more than one million of his fellow Texans from financial ruin if they get sick and save taxpayer dollars in the process. And there’s nothing foolish about that.
Chief of Staff Denis McDonough Discusses President Obama’s Plan to Grow the Economy and Build a Strong Middle Class
November 06, 2013
12:50 PM EST
This morning, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough addressed the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Meeting in Washington, D.C. and discussed the President’s plan to grow the economy and build a strong middle class. McDonough underscored the importance of continuing the progress we are seeing in our economy and providing certainty for businesses across the country, and warned that we should avoid self-inflicted wounds from Washington that only set that progress back.
Please find Mr. McDonough’s remarks below, as prepared for delivery:
Good morning. Thank you, Tom for your introduction. And to the whole board for having me here today. It’s been a busy year – but the President wanted to make sure I introduced myself to all the neighbors.
I’m delighted to join you today to echo what President Obama has always said when he’s had the privilege to address the Chamber and other business organizations. And that’s to reaffirm that it’s companies like yours and those that the Chamber represents that helped us wrestle the economy from painful recession to the progress of recovery. And it’s companies like yours that will help lead the way from here.
Today, I want to talk about how we can advance that agenda together.
From the day he first walked through the door of the Oval Office, President Obama’s top priority has been growing our economy, creating good jobs, and rebuilding middle class security. And we know that can’t happen unless you have all the ingredients necessary for growing, investing, innovating, and hiring. Your success is critical to America’s success.
And thanks to the resilience of the American people and the American economy, businesses like yours have created more than seven and a half million new jobs over the past three and a half years. Our housing market is healing. Health care costs are rising at the slowest rate in 50 years. We produce more of our own energy, and depend less on foreign oil. And just last week, the Treasury confirmed that since President Obama took office, we’ve cut our deficits by more than half.
So, we’ve made progress. But one thing the President hammers into his staff every day is that we’re not where we need to be. We’ve got a lot more work to do on behalf of the people he was elected to serve. Some of your companies are making record profits, and that’s good. But we need to create more jobs faster, and get Americans who have been unemployed for too long back on the job. We need to lift the incomes of the middle-class workers who buy your goods and services and drive this economy. And we need to keep working together to better prepare workers with the skills they need and you demand in the 21stcentury.
That’s what the President is focused on. And it’s what he hopes the rest of Washington will focus on as well.
But that work will be harder if we allow the constant cycle of manufactured crises and self-inflicted wounds to keep churning. The government shutdown last month cost our economy about $5 billion, and the President’s Council of Economic Advisors predicts it will slow GDP growth by a quarter of a percentage point this quarter. I doubt it boosted any of your bottom lines, or helped you plan for the future with any certainty. This kind of ideological brinksmanship has done more than anything else to undermine our economy over the past few years.
So we were all happy to hear Senator McConnell say that his party won’t pursue another shutdown or threaten default on our debt. Because as the President said over the weekend, “We shouldn’t be injuring ourselves every few months – we should be investing in ourselves.”
And the President has spoken frequently in recent days about two places we should start – two priorities that would help businesses like yours right now – and those are fixing our broken immigration system, and crafting a sound federal budget.
Just yesterday, he met with several CEOs at the White House, and they talked about how the immigration system we have today doesn’t help our economy grow like we know it should. We invite the brightest minds from around the world to study here, but then send them home to start new businesses that compete against ours. We look the other way while some businesses exploit workers in a shadow economy as most businesses play by the rules. We know we can do better – and the American people know it, too.
The Senate has already passed a bill by a wide, bipartisan majority that would go a long way toward fixing these problems. It would build on the work we’ve done to secure our borders. It would level the playing field for businesses by holding employers accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers. It would modernize our legal immigration system, making it easier to attract top talent. And it would make sure everyone plays by the same rules, providing a pathway to earned citizenship that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying back taxes and a penalty, and getting in line behind people doing it the right way.
Economists estimate that if the Senate bill became law, our economy would be 5% larger two decades from now. That’s $1.4 trillion in economic growth. And a recent CBO report said that same bill would reduce the deficit by nearly $1 trillion more over the same timeframe. Beyond that, we know that commonsense immigration reform will help shore up Social Security and pump much-needed capital into our housing market. As business leaders, you know better than anyone that we can’t afford to walk away from a deal that good, and I hope you’ll make sure Congress knows that, too.
The other piece of business Congress is addressing right now is the federal budget. The President has laid out his balanced approach to a budget that would grow our economy faster, and shrink our long-term deficits further. The budget he put forward earlier this year includes the investments required to make America a magnet for good jobs, and make sure it remains the best place in the world for companies like yours to do business. They’re investments that would make sure you’ve got the best-educated, highest-skilled workers in the world; the most cutting-edge research and technology in the world; the fastest transportation and communication networks in the world. And as Republicans and Democrats sit down to craft a budget, we urge them to pursue the same kinds of investments. Because we know they make sense for the American people and American businesses.
For example, we know that our economy is only as strong as the preparation we give our children and our workers for the competition they’ll face in a global economy. That’s why the President’s budget encourages investment in education from the youngest age, with access to high-quality preschool for all; and for those who are young at heart, with critical job training services to arm workers with the skills they need for high-tech jobs.
It’s why he launched a bold new plan to make college more affordable for working families, and it’s why he’s been promoting high schools that teach kids the skills that prepare them for college or lead directly to a career. Like P-TECH High School in Brooklyn, which the President visited just a couple weeks ago. IBM is partnering with P-TECH to make sure students are getting the math and science education they need to get ahead, and even fill jobs at IBM after graduation. Imagine what it would mean for your company, and our global competitiveness, if you were making similar partnerships in neighborhoods around the country, preparing young people to keep American business one step ahead.
Now, like most things in Washington, some of this requires Congress to set the right priorities in the budget, and some of it the President can do on his own. But all of it is what’s required not only for your success, but the success of the middle class.
The President has also said time and again that he is committed to a balanced approach to deficit reduction. He agrees that we should cut wasteful, inefficient, and outdated spending we don’t need, and close tax loopholes that don’t create jobs, so that we free up the room necessary to make those investments that do help us grow. We spend less than we did a few years ago. Our deficits are shrinking, not growing. So this should be easier than it has been in the past few go-rounds. We just need to make sure we’re not cutting just for the sake of cutting. From my meetings with them, I know that Democrats and even many Republicans will tell you that we’ve already cut discretionary spending about as far as it can go without badly hurting ourselves.
As anyone who lived through the 1990s knows, nothing shrinks our deficits faster than a growing economy. That’s why the President has championed a plan that simplifies the tax code for businesses like yours and brings overseas profits back home at a one-time low rate, so we can permanently lower rates for companies creating jobs here in America and at the same time modernize our infrastructure and build new high-tech manufacturing hubs.
It’s why he’s working on concluding ambitious agreements with our trade partners to boost job-creating exports. If Congress can pass critical trade promotion authority, then we’re looking at the potential for huge gains that will benefit your companies, workers, suppliers, and customers. And it’s why the President is so committed to bringing more and more foreign companies to our shores through SelectUSA. Because he’ll do everything he can to ensure that America remains the best place on Earth to do business,
We know what we’ve got to do to kickstart this economy and put America on the path to fiscal security. It’s building new roads, and bridges, and schools, and airports. It’s educating our kids and our workers for a global economy. It’s investing in scientific research and technology. It’s making sure we make smart choices to build American business for the long term.
President Obama is willing and eager to tackle the tough choices that passing a budget presents. And he is serious about finding common ground to further reduce the deficit. He expects that members of the House and Senate meeting in the budget conference will make real progress on honoring these priorities and making responsible decisions to help the American people.
And if there’s anyone who doubts the President’s sincerity in his commitment to cut the deficit and tackle our long-term challenges, they ought to take a closer look at his record.
For instance, consider that the three years since he signed the Affordable Care Act into law are shaping up to have the three slowest rates of health care spending growth on record. You’ve heard by now that we’re working hard on our new product launch… Now, we always knew that change would be difficult, and we will get the website fixed. But what’s also true is that health care reform is enacting critical changes right now that will slow the rise in our health care costs and help set companies on a path to swifter growth.
Employer-based health costs are growing at about one-third the rate they were a decade ago. Next year, virtually every small business in the country will have new, more affordable health care options for their employees. The CBO says that the law will cut our deficits by more than $100 billion in the next decade, and by more than a trillion in the decade after that. And once we get the Marketplace working as it’s supposed to, uninsured Americans will get covered, and underinsured Americans will be able to sign up for better health insurance plans, often at less cost than they’re paying now.
This is exactly the kind of policy that demonstrates President Obama’s commitment to funding our priorities in a way that keeps our long-term goals in full focus. Careful budgeting and pay-fors are important, but we have to remember that they are only the means to reach our end: an economy that is growing and prosperous and full of opportunity for generations to come.
That’s the America that President Obama is fighting for. And that’s what will keep our businesses and entrepreneurs and innovators the envy of the world. So, let’s keep up this work together. Let’s make sure we’re investing in our competitiveness today, and our long-term potential tomorrow and in the years to come. Because together we can make sure this country remains the place where everyone has the freedom to take risks, dream big, and believe in their own shot at success.
November 06, 2013
02:28 PM EST
Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau blog. See the original post here.
We want to hear about your debt collection experience – weigh in now.
Since we began taking debt collection complaints a few months ago, companies have responded to more than 5,000 debt collection complaints. We see that this is an important issue for consumers and today we’re adding these complaints about debt collection to our public Consumer Complaint Database.
We’re also taking the first steps to gather information to determine what rules would be appropriate to protect consumers who are subject to debt collection. We’re issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) today —and what that means is that we are considering issuing rules for the debt collection industry, but first we want to hear from you so we can learn more about the debt collection system. We’d like to hear about your experience with debt collectors and how they should act when they try to recover debts.
Getting input from the public – you – is an important part of the process. Debt collection is a complicated topic, with many consumer protection concerns. We are issuing an ANPR in order to ask a number of questions about different aspects of the industry and the consumer experience. The ANPR will be published in the Federal Register, where anyone can submit comments to respond to the questions. We’re particularly interested in learning about the accuracy of information in the debt collection industry, whether consumers are aware of the debt and their rights, and whether consumers are being treated fairly.
Champions of Change: Veterans Advancing Clean Energy and Climate Security
Published on Nov 5, 2013
The White House honors veterans who are working to advance clean energy and climate security. November 5, 2013.
November 6th, 2013: Photo of the Day
Statements and Releases
Presidential Proclamation — Veterans Day, 2013
VETERANS DAY, 2013
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
On Veterans Day, America pauses to honor every service member who has ever worn one of our Nation’s uniforms. Each time our country has come under attack, they have risen in her defense. Each time our freedoms have come under assault, they have responded with resolve. Through the generations, their courage and sacrifice have allowed our Republic to flourish. And today, a Nation acknowledges its profound debt of gratitude to the patriots who have kept it whole.
As we pay tribute to our veterans, we are mindful that no ceremony or parade can fully repay that debt. We remember that our obligations endure long after the battle ends, and we make it our mission to give them the respect and care they have earned. When America’s veterans return home, they continue to serve our country in new ways, bringing tremendous skills to their communities and to the workforce — leadership honed while guiding platoons through unbelievable danger, the talent to master cutting-edge technologies, the ability to adapt to unpredictable situations. These men and women should have the chance to power our economic engine, both because their talents demand it and because no one who fights for our country should ever have to fight for a job.
This year, in marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, we resolved that in the United States of America, no war should be forgotten, and no veteran should be overlooked. Let us always remember our wounded, our missing, our fallen, and their families. And as we continue our responsible drawdown from the war in Afghanistan, let us welcome our returning heroes with the support and opportunities they deserve.
Under the most demanding of circumstances and in the most dangerous corners of the earth, America’s veterans have served with distinction. With courage, self-sacrifice, and devotion to our Nation and to one another, they represent the American character at its best. On Veterans Day and every day, we celebrate their immeasurable contributions, draw inspiration from their example, and renew our commitment to showing them the fullest support of a grateful Nation.
With respect for and in recognition of the contributions our service members have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided (5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor our Nation’s veterans.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2013, as Veterans Day. I encourage all Americans to recognize the valor and sacrifice of our veterans through appropriate public ceremonies and private prayers. I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I call on all Americans, including civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, and communities to support this day with commemorative expressions and programs.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.
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