The AFP Blog – Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009
Tom Perriello statement on House passage of stimulus package, 6:54 p.m.
Remarks by President Obama after meeting with Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs, 6:17 p.m.
Norfolk, Roanoke papers force employees to furlough, 6:13 p.m.
South Korean students to visit Presidential Library, 6:07 p.m.
Motorists should expect lane closure tonight on I-81, 3:23 p.m.
Airfares highest in 13 years, 12:39 p.m.
Richmond mayor endorses Moran, 12:38 p.m.
DCCC launches anti-Limbaugh petition, 12:14 p.m.
Remarks of President Obama on the economy, 11:33 a.m.
Poll shows support for smoking ban, 10:54 a.m.
Obama announces deputy directors for the National Economic Council, 10:46 a.m.
VDOT road conditions update, 10:40 a.m.
Lung Association urges passage of SCHIP, 10:34 a.m.
News: Tom Perriello statement on House passage of stimulus package, 6:54 p.m.
“This was a gut-check moment for our country, and Congress acted quickly, transparently, and responsibly to get something done for American families. There is nothing fancy about this recovery package, just basic measures to help our states and localities to keep teachers and police officers on the job. The vast majority of this bill goes directly to tax relief and support to our state and local governments without any federal earmarks.”
“This bill is not perfect, and I would have preferred a more creative vision for investing in long-term competitiveness, but this is a solid step towards economic recovery and a new kind of solutions-oriented politics. Where before we saw blank-check bailouts, we now see unprecedented transparency and accountability. Where before we saw handouts to Wall Street, we now see investments back in Main Street. Where before we saw the federal government trying to control everything, this time we see an unprecedented partnership with state and local officials to get this economy turned around.”
“Through many meetings with citizens and local officials, I heard the concerns and hopes about this package. I have fought hard to make sure small towns and rural communities are represented. I have fought for investments in rural broadband and other infrastructure projects that create value and competitiveness over the long term. And I am proud to have co-authored a provision that helps middle-class families keep their children in college and help displaced workers afford a community college or university education so that they can reenter the job market as the economy recovers.”
“Our economy is in crisis. Every day we delay, another 16,500 Americans lose their jobs. Aggregate consumer demand has dropped faster than at any time since the Great Depression. In Martinsville and Danville, we are nearing 15% unemployment, with record numbers of households now qualifying for food stamps. This recovery package is a lifeline to our families and our localities, but there is still much work to do to get us through the rapids and back to shore.”
News: Remarks by President Obama after meeting with Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs, 6:17 p.m.
Sorry we’re running a little bit late. I want to, first of all, thank all the men and women in uniform who are represented here. They are the best that this country has to offer. And the first thing I said to the Joint Chiefs in this meeting was how grateful we are for their service. The sacrifices that they and their families make are what are responsible for our freedoms, that sometimes we take for granted.
And as Commander-in-Chief on of my principal goals during my presidency is going to be to make sure that they have the resources and the support that they need to carry out the critical missions that keep our nation safe each and every day.
I had a wonderful discussion with the Joint Chiefs — we kind of lost track of time — about a range of issues facing our military, as well as the threats that face this nation, both short-term and long-term. We had discussions about Iraq, as well as Afghanistan. We talked about some of the broader global risks that may arise and the kind of planning and coordination that’s going to be required between our military and our civilian forces in order to accomplish our long-term national security objectives.
We also talked about making sure that the health of our force is always in our sights. And I know that all the Chiefs that are represented here, as well as Secretary Gates, are constantly thinking about what we need to do to make sure that people who are in uniform for the United States are getting the kinds of support that they need and that their families are getting the support that they need. And that’s something that I’m absolutely committed to, and I know that Vice President Biden is, as well.
We’re going to have some difficult decisions that we’re going to have to make surrounding Iraq and Afghanistan, most immediately. Obviously, our efforts to continue to go after extremist organizations that would do harm to the homeland is uppermost on our minds. I have every confidence that our military is going to do their job, and I intend to make sure that the civilian side of the ledger does its job to support what they are doing.
We had for a long time put enormous pressure on our military to carry out a whole set of missions, sometimes not with the sort of strategic support and the use of all aspects of American power to make sure that they’re not carrying the full load. And that’s something that I spoke with the Chiefs about and that I intend to change as President of the United States.
So, again, my first message was to say thank you. And in addition, it’s to say that you — all of you who are serving in the United States Armed Forces are going to have my full support, and one of my duties as President is going to be to make sure that you have what you need to accomplish your missions, and we are grateful to you.
News: Norfolk, Roanoke papers force employees to furlough, 6:13 p.m.
It’s not just papers in small markets that are feeling the crunch. The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk and The Roanoke Times are requiring employees to take five unpaid days off this year to cut costs for their apparently struggling operations.
The moves will save the papers a projected 2 percent in salary and wage costs, according to a report in the Virginia Press Association E-Press.
Both papers, owned by Landmark Media Enterprises, have also frozen salaries for employees.
News: South Korean students to visit Presidential Library, 6:07 p.m.
The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum today announced that several students from Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, will visit the Presidential Library on Friday, Jan. 30, at 10 a.m. as part of a project of preparing a feasibility study for presidential libraries in Korea. Yonsei University houses the Kim Dae-Jung Presidential Library and Museum, and the students received a grant to visit presidential libraries in the United States to gain ideas to consider for its site. In addition to the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum, the group plans to visit the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library in New York, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Massachusetts, and the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library in Vermont.
While in Staunton, the group will tour the Presidential Library and learn about the workings of the Presidential Library from senior staff. In addition, staff plan to discuss the relationship President Wilson had with Syngman Rhee, who studied under President Wilson at Princeton and became the President of the Korean Provisional Government in 1919 and the first President of the Republic of Korea in 1948. At the Paris Peace Conference, Kim Kyu-sik, Mr. Rhee’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, lobbied President Wilson to recognize Korean independence from Japan. Mr. Kim was a graduate of Roanoke College in Virginia. Library staff plan to share this correspondence with the Korean students.
Eric J. Vettel, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum, said, “The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum is pleased that students from Yonsei University are interested in visiting our Presidential Library. We look forward to sharing our ideas and hearing more about the Kim Dae-Jung Presidential Library.”
News: Motorists should expect lane closure tonight on I-81, 3:23 p.m.
Clean-up from a previous tractor trailer accident at mile marker 211 on Intestate 81 northbound will take place tonight, Jan. 28 beginning at 7 p.m. The tractor trailer is in the median. Removal operations will be concluded by 6 a.m. on Jan. 29.
The left northbound lane will be closed in this location, which is near the Augusta/Rockbridge county line. This location is between exit 205 at Route 606 in Raphine in Rockbridge County and exit 213 at Route 11 in Greenville in Augusta County.
News: Airfares highest in 13 years, 12:39 p.m.
Average domestic air fares in the third quarter of 2008 reached $362, the highest level of average fares for any quarter in the 13 years measured by available data, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), reported today.
A press release containing information about third-quarter average fares and the Air Travel Price Index, a quarterly measure of changes in airfares is available at http://www.dot.gov/affairs/briefing.htm. Additional information about air fares in the third quarter, including average fares for the top 100 airports, and about ATPI, including indexes for foreign-origin itineraries and the top 85 air travel markets based on originating passengers, can be found on the BTS website, http://www.bts.gov/xml/atpi/src/index.xml.
Multiple airport areas for which a single average fare calculation is available are: Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, DC.
News: Richmond mayor endorses Moran, 12:38 p.m.
Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones is announcing his endorsement of Brian Moran for Governor of Virginia. Jones is a minister and the former Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus. In endorsing Moran, Jones cited Moran’s long record of fighting for working families, ensuring equal opportunity for every Virginian, and championing civil rights.
“Brian has a long, proven record of fighting hard for working families in Virginia,” Jones said. “I’ve known Brian for more than a decade and worked side-by-side with him in the legislature. We’ve fought for equal rights, quality education and equal opportunity for everyone.”
Mayor Jones is the former Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus and Delegate from Richmond City. He and Moran worked together on a number of initiatives in the General Assembly, including raising the minimum wage.
“Dwight Jones is a man of character who always does what’s best for working people,” Moran said. “I’m proud and honored to have his support. Richmond is our capital city and I share Mayor Jones’s commitment to strengthening Richmond’s economy, protecting communities and making sure everyone has equal opportunity in this great city.”
Jones joins other prominent Virginia leaders who have announced their support of Brian Moran for Governor: The Chairman of Mark Warner’s campaign for Governor, former Congressman L. F. Payne; House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong from Martinsville; the majority of elected Democrats in Loudoun and Arlington Counties; the mayors of Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News and Portsmouth; and the majority of the members of the Democratic Party of Virginia’s Steering Committee.
News: DCCC launches anti-Limbaugh petition, 12:14 p.m.
Last week, Rush Limbaugh actually said that he “hopes” President Obama fails to meet America’s challenges.
Jobs, health care, our place in the world — the stakes for our nation are high and every American needs President Obama to succeed.
Stand strong against Rush Limbaugh’s Attacks — sign our petition, telling Rush what you think of his attacks on President Obama. We’ll send Limbaugh your comments.
News: Remarks of President Obama on the economy, 11:33 a.m.
A few moments ago, I met with some of America’s leading business executives. It was a sober meeting – because these companies, and the workers they employ, are going through times more trying than any we have seen in a long, long while. Just the other day, seven of our largest corporations announced they were making major job cuts. Some of the business leaders in this room have had to do the same. And yet, even as we discussed the seriousness of this challenge, we left our meeting confident that we can still turn our economy around.
But we must each do our share. Part of what led our economy to this perilous moment was a sense of irresponsibility that prevailed from Wall Street to Washington. That’s why I called for a new era of responsibility in my Inaugural Address last week – an era where each of us chips in so that we can climb our way out of this crisis – executives and factory floor workers, educators and engineers, health care professionals and elected officials.
As we discussed in our meeting a few minutes ago, corporate America will have to accept its own responsibilities to its workers and to the American public. But these executives also understand that without wise leadership in Washington, even the best-run businesses cannot do as well as they might. They understand that what makes an idea sound is not whether it’s Democratic or Republican, but whether it makes good economic sense for their workers and companies. And they understand that when it comes to rebuilding our economy, we don’t have a moment to spare.
The businesses that are shedding jobs to stay afloat – they cannot afford inaction or delay. The workers who are returning home to tell their husbands and wives and children that they no longer have a job, and all those who live in fear that theirs will be the next job cut – they need help now. They are looking to Washington for action – bold and swift. And that is why I hope to sign an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan into law in the next few weeks.
Most of the money we’re investing as part of this plan will get out the door immediately and go directly to job-creation, generating or saving three to four million new jobs. And the vast majority of these jobs will be created in the private sector – because, as these CEOs well know, business, not government, is the engine of growth in this country. But even as this plan puts Americans back to work today, it will also make those critical investments in alternative energy and safer roads, better health care and modern schools that will lay the foundation for long-term growth and prosperity. And it will invest in broadband and emerging technologies, like the ones imagined and introduced to the world by people like Sam Palmisano and so many of the CEOs here today – because that is how America will retain and regain its competitive edge in the 21st century.
I know that some are skeptical about the size and scale of this recovery plan. I understand that skepticism, which is why this recovery plan will include unprecedented measures that will allow the American people to hold my Administration accountable. Instead of just throwing money at our problems, we’ll try something new in Washington – we’ll invest in what works. Instead of politicians doling out money behind a veil of secrecy, decisions about where we invest will be made public, and informed by independent experts whenever possible.
And we will launch a sweeping effort to root out waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary spending in our government, and every American will be able to see how and where we spend taxpayer dollars by going to a new website called recovery.gov. Because I firmly believe with Justice Brandeis that sunlight is the best disinfectant, and I know that restoring transparency is not only the surest way to achieve results, but also to earn back that trust in government without which we cannot deliver the changes the American people sent us here to make.
In the end, the answer to our economic troubles rests less in my hands, or in the hands of our legislators, than it does with America’s workers and the businesses that employ them. They are the ones whose efforts and ideas will determine our economic destiny, just as they always have. For in the end, it’s businesses – large and small – that generate the jobs, provide the salaries, and serve as the foundation on which the American people’s lives and dreams depend. All we can do, those of us in Washington, is help create a favorable climate in which workers can prosper, businesses can thrive, and our economy can grow. And that is exactly what the recovery plan I’ve proposed is intended to do. Thank you.
News: Poll shows support for smoking ban, strong opposition to ban on cell-phone use while driving, 10:54 a.m.
With concern growing over the health implications of secondary smoke, 62% of adults say there should be a nationwide ban on smoking in all public places, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Thirty-three percent (33%) disagree, and five percent (5%) are not sure.
Just 38% of adults, however, support a complete ban on the use of cell phones while driving. Fifty-eight percent (58%) support the alternative of letting drivers use hands-free phones in their vehicles, and four percent (4%) are not sure which is the better option.
Seventy percent (70%) of Americans also oppose a national tax on all non-diet soft drinks. Eighteen percent (18%) like the idea of a so-called “obesity tax” like the one proposed by New York Governor David Paterson. Twelve percent (12%) are undecided.
News: President Obama Announces Deputy Directors for the National Economic Council, 10:46 a.m.
WASHINGTON – Today, President Barack Obama announced that Diana Farrell and Jason Furman will serve as Deputy Directors of the National Economic Council (NEC).
President Obama said, “In this time of great economic crisis, the American people deserve urgent action. Diana and Jason, along with Larry Summers, will work day and night with me to advance an American Recovery and Reinvestment plan that not only aims to jumpstart economic growth, but also promotes the long-term investments in our economy necessary to save and create jobs, rebuild our infrastructure, and assure energy independence. This won’t happen overnight, but I have faith that this team has the knowledge and deep commitment needed to help me tackle the challenge of achieving the long-term economic stability that the American people deserve.”
Diana Farrell, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council
Farrell most recently served as the Director of the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), McKinsey & Company’s economics research arm. Farrell’s work has appeared in academic journals, books, and on the op–ed pages of leading international publications, and she is a frequent speaker at major U.S. and global conferences. She is the editor of an anthology series based on MGI research, published by Harvard Business School Press, 2007. Together with Lowell Bryan, she is the co-author of Market Unbound, published by Wiley & Sons, 1996. Farrell was previously a leader of McKinsey’s Global Financial Institutions and Global Strategy practices. Prior to joining McKinsey, she worked for Goldman, Sachs & Company in New York. Farrell has a B.A. from Wesleyan University in Economics and in the College of Social Studies. She also holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Farrell is a member of Council on Foreign Relations, the Bretton Woods Committee, and the Pacific Council on International Policy. She is married with two children.
Jason Furman, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council
Furman took leave from the Brookings Institution to become the Economic Policy Director of Obama for America, where he helped develop and communicate the campaign’s policies. He was a Senior Fellow in Economic Studies and Director of the Hamilton Project at Brookings. He began his career in public service during the Clinton administration, as a Staff Economist at the Council of Economic Advisers and subsequently a Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy at the National Economic Council. In addition, he was a Senior Adviser to the Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the World Bank. Furman has also worked on research and in academia as a Visiting Scholar at NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, as a visiting lecturer at Yale and Columbia Universities, as a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and at the Brookings Institution. He has conducted research in a wide range of areas, including fiscal policy, tax policy, health economics, Social Security, and monetary policy. Published in a variety of scholarly journals and popular publications, he recently edited two economic policy books. Furman earned his Ph.D. in economics and a M.A. in government from Harvard University and an M.Sc. in economics from the London School of Economics. He is married with two young children.
News: VDOT road conditions update, 10:40 a.m.
STAUNTON – Driving is still hazardous in parts of the Shenandoah Valley from winter weather that occurred throughout the region late last night and early this morning.
Here are the road conditions as of 10 a.m.
I-66 – minor conditions in Warren County.
I-64 – clear conditions in Alleghany, Rockbridge and Augusta counties.
I-81 – moderate conditions in Shenandoah County. Minor conditions are in Rockingham and Frederick counties. Clear conditions are in Augusta and Rockbridge counties.
Primary roads are in moderate condition in Highland, Clarke, Page, Warren, Shenandoah and Frederick counties. Minor conditions are in Bath, Rockbridge, Augusta and Rockingham counties. Clear conditions are in Alleghany County.
Secondary roads are in moderate condition throughout the valley including Alleghany, Bath, Rockbridge, Augusta, Highland, Rockingham, Shenandoah, Frederick, Page, Warren and Clarke counties.
News: Lung Association urges passage of SCHIP, 10:34 a.m.
Earlier this month, the American Lung Association’s annual State of Tobacco Control report awarded the federal government an F for its low federal cigarette tax. Despite this dismal grade, the Lung Association noted that the new leadership in Washington presented great hope to the public health community. This week, the U.S. Senate will have its first opportunity to move our nation towards a healthier future by voting to increase the federal cigarette tax as a means to fund the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
In a strong bi-partisan vote, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly supported the proposed 61-cent federal cigarette tax increase, which will be used to provide much-needed medical care for our nation’s low-income, uninsured children. It’s now up to the Senate to pass this important legislation that will safeguard some of our nation’s most vulnerable children.
“During these economically challenged times, the health of our children is not something we can afford to ignore,” said Charles D. Connor, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “We urge the Senate to act quickly and decisively on this important measure that will ensure an additional 4 million kids will finally have health insurance.”
“Furthermore, as an organization dedicated to improving lung health, we know that children with asthma who were enrolled in SCHIP had fewer asthma attacks and needed fewer medical visits,” added Connor. “Reducing the burden of lung disease saves lives and money.”
This substantial increase on the federal cigarette tax will also go a long way in reducing youth smoking rates. Research indicates that a ten percent increase in the price of a pack of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by seven percent.
Today, nearly 20% of American high school students smoke. Sadly, half of these teens will eventually die prematurely from smoking caused disease.
“Every possible measure must be taken to keep our nation’s kids off tobacco,” said Connor. “Senate support of this week’s SCHIP legislation is yet another way to loosen the grip Big Tobacco has on our nation’s youth.”
About the American Lung Association: Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity and holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit http://www.lungusa.org.