White House Rural Economic Bus Tour

August 15-17, President Obama will travel to the Midwest on a three-day economic bus tour, making stops in southern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa , western Illinois and Peosta, Iowa.  The President will discuss ways to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class and accelerate hiring in communities and towns across the nation and hear directly from Americans, including local families and small business owners.

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It is important that the rural parts of America thrive and improve for the sake of the people who work and live there. Since all our food is grown in rural America we also all have a vested interest in food security. We also need to be good stewards of the land for the flora (oxygen production, home for wildlife as well as beauty), fauna and the water sources that sustain life.
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White House Rural Economic Council Bus Tour Schedule:

All times EDT

8/15 Mon
1:05 PM: The President holds a town hall meeting in Cannon Falls, Minnesota

6:15 PM: The President holds a town hall meeting at Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa

8/16 Tue 
12:50 AM: The President will host an hours-long Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa.
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8/17 Wed 
12:30 AM: The President will speak at Wyffels Hybrids Inc.’s
Atkinson Production Facility, Atkinson, IL
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4:30 PM: President Obama will speak at a town hall at the Country Corner Farm Market,  Alpha, IL
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The Kochs’ quest

10/13/2012 09:11:44 PM PDT By Bill Wilson and Roy Wenzl – The Wichita Eagle
WICHITA, Kan. — In January 2009, just days after the inauguration of President Barack Obama, Charles and David Koch met in their company headquarters in Wichita with their longtime political strategist, Rich Fink.

The country was headed toward bankruptcy, they agreed. Fink told them bluntly that Obama’s administration represented the worst of what Charles and David fear most: a bloated, regulation-heavy, free-spending government that could plunge the country into another deep recession. That day, Fink advised two of the richest men in the nation that it would be the fight of their lives to stop the government spending spree and to change the course of the country, starting with the 2012 election.

“If we are going to do this, we should do it right or not at all,” Fink, 61, recalled telling the brothers. “But if we don’t do it right or if we don’t do it at all, we will be insignificant and we will just waste a lot of time and I would rather play golf.

“And if we do it right, then it is going to get very, very ugly.”

Three and a half years later, Obama accused the Koch brothers of engineering “a corporate takeover of our democracy.”

The brothers’ political spending and the network of conservative political organizations and think tanks they fund have sparked protests. The condemnations and criticism prompted Charles Koch to break his silence about politics. In his most extensive interview in 15 years, Charles Koch talked about why he wants to defeat Obama and elect members of Congress who will stop what he calls catastrophic overspending.

Government recklessness threatens the country and his business, he said.

The Kochs say the price for their involvement has been high: Death threats, cyberattacks on their business, hundreds of news stories criticizing them, calls for boycotts of the company’s consumer goods, and what the brothers see as ongoing and public attacks from the Obama administration.

The Kochs aren’t finished. Win or lose in November, they plan to start a new fight. They are organizing dozens of business and grass roots groups to build support for eliminating all corporate and agricultural subsidies.

For more; http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_21769107/kochs-quest?IADID=Search-www.mercurynews.com-www.mercurynews.com

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Ending agricultural subsidies would mean that American businesses would have to raise their prices and USA farmers would not be able to compete with cheap and inferior and unsafe imports.

* American diary farms would be impacted
* American vegetable and fruit farms would would be impacted
* American grain farms for human would be impacted
* American pork, beef and chicken farms would be impacted
* American nut farms would be impacted
* American fiber producers (cotton, wool, wood etc) would be impacted
* American gasoline would be impacted

There are many more that industries that would impacted.

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192 thoughts on “White House Rural Economic Bus Tour

  1. WH

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    All Times Eastern

    The Vice President Biden and Dr Jill Biden visit Long Island.

    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney gaggles aboard Air Force One.

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    The President departs the South Lawn en route Joint Base Andrews.
    South Lawn
    Open Press

    9:15 AM
    The President departs Joint Base Andrews en route St. Paul, Minnesota.

    10:00 AM
    11:00 AM
    11:35 AM
    The President arrives in St. Paul, Minnesota.
    Local Event Time: 10:35 AM CDT
    Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport
    Open Press

    12:00 PM
    1:00 PM
    1:05 PM
    The President holds a town hall meeting in Cannon Falls, Minnesota
    Local Event Time: 10:35 AM CDT
    Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport
    Open Press

    3:00 PM
    4:00 PM
    5:00 PM
    6:00 PM
    6:15 PM
    The President holds a town hall meeting at Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa.Local Event Time: 5:15 PM CDT
    Decorah, Iowa, Seed Savers Exchange
    Open Press

    7:00 PM
    8:00 PM
    9:00 PM
    10:00 PM

  2. White House Rural Council

    About the Council

    The Whie House Rural Council was formed in 2009 to address challenges in Rural America, build on the Administration’s rural economic strategy, and improve the implementation of that strategy, the President signed an Executive Order establishing the White House Rural Council.

    The Council will coordinate the Administration’s efforts in rural America by performing three core functions. It will:

    1. Streamline and improve the effectiveness of Federal programs serving rural America. Through smarter government we can do even more to improve outcomes and lower costs for the American taxpayer.

    2. Engage stakeholders, including farmers, ranchers, and local citizens, on issues and solutions in rural communities. The Rural Council will create and coordinate opportunities for direct dialogue between the Administration and Rural America.

    3. Promote and coordinate private-sector partnerships. The Rural Council will find new ways for the government to partner with private organizations in solving shared problems, and develop new, innovative models of partnership.

    Objectives:

    The White House Rural Council will focus on job creation and economic development by focusing on the following four key areas:

    1. Opportunity: Increasing the flow of capital to rural areas, job creation, and workforce development

    2. Innovation: Including the expansion of telecommunications, renewable energy and new markets for rural communities

    3. Quality of Life: Including increased access to quality health care, education, and housing, and particularly in persistent poverty counties and tribal areas.

    Conservation: Including expansion of outdoor opportunities and economic growth.

    For more information: http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/rural-council

    • August 12, 2011

      White House Rural Council Delivers Report on Rural America – Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America

      Next Week President to Host White House Rural Economic Forum

      WASHINGTON – Today, the White House Rural Council released a new report entitled Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America, which lays out the economic landscape rural Americans face today and highlights the Administration’s key accomplishments in rural communities. The Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America report focuses on five critical areas: creating jobs and promoting economic growth, improving access to quality health care and education, fostering innovation, expanding outdoor opportunities, and supporting veterans and military families.

      “This report on “Jobs and Economic Security in Rural America” underscores the commitment my Administration is making to rural communities,” said President Obama. “It highlights some of the many programs and policies my Administration has implemented in rural America to support economic growth. It also offers a look at the economic agenda we will continue to pursue during my Presidency.”

      “This report highlights the importance of understanding some of the specific needs as well as unique opportunities found within rural America,” Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack said. “It also presents vital strategies that can and will be used to seize those opportunities and tackle some of the toughest challenges facing our rural communities.”

      On June 9, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council to accelerate the ongoing work of promoting economic growth in rural America. The Council is focused on increasing rural access to capital, spurring agricultural innovation, expanding digital and physical infrastructure in rural areas, and creating economic opportunities through conservation and outdoor recreation.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/08/12/white-house-rural-council-delivers-report-rural-america-jobs-and-economi

    • White House Report Shows Continued Focus on Rural America

      Posted by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, on August 12, 2011 usda.gov

      Cross posted from the White House blog:

      Today, the White House Rural Council released a new report titled Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America (pdf). This is a product of what we have been working on since President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council on June 9.

      I hope that you’ll take a few minutes to read the report because it gives a really good picture of the economic landscape in rural America today. It also shows the commitment and key investments the Obama Administration has already made in rural communities.

      The Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America (pdf) report, focuses on 5 critical areas:

      1. Creating jobs and promoting economic growth
      2. Improving access to quality health care and education
      3. Fostering innovation
      4. Expanding outdoor opportunities
      5. Supporting veterans and military families

      Moving forward, the information included in the report on the specific needs as well as unique opportunities found within rural America, will guide the Rural Council as we work to drive job growth and tackle some of the toughest challenges facing our rural communities.

      For the entire article: http://blogs.usda.gov/2011/08/12/white-house-report-shows-continued-focus-on-rural-america/

    • Rural Veterans and the Tyranny of Distance

      Posted by Drew Brookie on August 03, 2011

      At the Department of Veterans Affairs, Secretary Shinseki often talks about the tyranny of distance – the distance that often separates Veterans from care at their nearest VA medical facilities. For about 3.3 million Vets, or 41 percent of the total enrolled in VA’s health care system, distance is more than a challenge. Distance can mean rural Veterans don’t have access to the care and services they’ve earned.

      Secretary Shinseki made it clear – this summer, he wanted to hear from Veterans in the hardest to reach places. “I know from previous experience that sitting in Washington with a 2,000-mile screwdriver trying to fine tune things at the local level never works,” he said. So, we hit the road to learn firsthand.

      From the plains of North Dakota and Montana to the isolated island of Guam, Veterans from rural areas talked with Secretary Shinseki about what’s working and what the department can do better. To many Veterans, it was clear VA has shifted its approach to be more accessible. But we also quickly learned that standard definitions like “urban, rural, and highly rural” may not be exact enough. Often, “remote, extreme rural, and inaccessible” is more accurate.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/08/03/rural-veterans-and-tyranny-distance

    • White House Roundtable Meeting with Rural Leaders

      Posted by Tom Vilsack on July 28, 2011

      Ed. Note: Cross-posted from the USDA blog.

      This week, I led a meeting in the Roosevelt Room at the White House with leaders of a host of rural organizations to discuss the White House Rural Council. The White House Rural Council, which was established by President Obama on June 9, 2011, will build on this Administration’s unprecedented efforts to spur job creation and economic growth in rural America. Along with Jon Carson, the Director of the Office of Public Engagement and Doug McKalip of the White House Domestic Policy Council, we discussed the Council’s efforts to improve coordination among federal agencies. We focused in on ways to help better leverage existing federal resources in rural America – and on how to facilitate private-public partnerships that can move the needle in building stronger rural communities.

      The meeting was a chance for me to listen to our rural partners on the issues that need to be addressed and discuss potential solutions. Some of the key issues raised included the need to coordinate more with our federal partners on health care, broadband, and other critical infrastructure; how to increase the availability of capital and lending to rural businesses and families; efforts to remove barriers to young and beginning farmers; and strategies for establishing better partnerships with states, tribes, local governments and the private sector. Many of the leaders gathered also expressed appreciation for the renewed focus on rural America and the importance the White House has placed on these issues.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/07/28/white-house-roundtable-meeting-rural-leaders

    • Tribal Members in Rural America

      Posted by Lance Morgan on July 20, 2011

      Ed. Note: Champions of Change is a weekly initiative to highlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping our country rise to meet the many challenges of the 21st century

      I recently was invited to the Champions of Change event for rural America. It was great to meet with President Obama and Secretary Vilsack and hear how much they cared about some of the unique issues facing rural America. The President took the time and was gracious enough to introduce himself to everyone at the meeting. All and all, not my typical Wednesday afternoon.

      I run a company called Ho-Chunk, Inc. located on an Indian reservation in Winnebago, Nebraska. The company is owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and our mission to create job opportunities for our tribal members and to help our tribe become economically self-sufficient. After 15 years of efforts we have companies involved in retail, government contracting, distribution, construction, housing and various internet companies. We do work in three other foreign countries. We started with 1 employee and now have 1400. Our revenues have grown from zero to close to $200 million a year, all in a rural Nebraska town of 1500 people.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/07/20/tribal-members-rural-america

      • I was just wondering what was new relating to our tribal nations and the administration – and here it is!

        Thanks for your hard work, CR!

    • Making a Difference in Rural Economies with Cooperatives

      Posted by Everett Dobrinski on July 20, 2011

      Ed. Note: Champions of Change is a weekly initiative to highlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping our country rise to meet the many challenges of the 21st century

      I was honored to be able to participate in the Champions of Change series at the White House on July 6th. The theme of the week was Rural America and a group of rural leaders from across the country joined in a conversation with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Melody Barnes the head of the White House Domestic Policy Council. We were all pleasantly surprised to have President Obama drop-in for a visit. I was pleased to know that the President takes rural issues so seriously.

      As a life-long farmer from western North Dakota, I have found that cooperatives have made a huge difference in our rural economy. I have used cooperatives in my farming business during my whole career. I have served on several cooperative boards and am currently the board chair of CoBank, a cooperative bank serving rural America headquartered in Denver. CoBank as part of the Farm Credit System serves rural America by providing credit and financial services to farmer owned agricultural cooperatives and related businesses, certain farm credit associations, and rural infrastructure businesses including rural electrics, rural communications providers, and rural water and waste water systems. CoBank also provides export financing of agricultural products. The Farm Credit System is a government-sponsored entity and as such has a mission to serve rural America which we take very seriously. CoBank has been active in the renewable fuels sector such as ethanol, solar, and wind.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/07/20/making-difference-rural-economies-cooperatives

    • Sustainable Agriculture in the Midwest

      Posted by Linda J. Barnes on July 19, 2011

      Ed. Note: Champions of Change is a weekly initiative to highlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping our country rise to meet the many challenges of the 21st century.

      It was a privilege to be among the Champions of Change for Rural America. What an amazing group of people. I was heartened to meet my fellow champions, to hear their stories and to witness their passion.

      In rural Iowa we grow a good deal of the nation’s corn and soybeans. We have the richest soil in the U.S. and yet we import more than 85% of food we eat from outside our state. Our farmers are aging; the average age of a farmer in the U.S. is about 58. Few young people have aspirations to become farmers. Our rural landscape is littered with small towns devoid of businesses, shrinking schools, and for some, a sense of hopelessness. It astounded me, this rural decay in the midst of such rich land.

      I am a professor of biology at Marshalltown Community College. I am also a small organic farmer who along with my family raises fruit, vegetables and some livestock. I knew what the land could produce. I knew that our community could feed and employ itself far better if we grew their own produce. To that end I proposed that we develop the Entrepreneurial and Diversified Agriculture program at the community college. This a two year degree program preparing new farmers to grow and market diverse crops locally.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/07/19/sustainable-agriculture-midwest

      • I’m living in the Midwest for the first time (in a city, not a rural area), and when I first got here it was humorous to see they separated out crops when discussing the stock market!

    • Rural Champions of Change – Sparking Innovation

      Posted by Melody Barnes on July 18, 2011

      Ed. Note: Champions of Change is a weekly initiative to highlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping our country rise to meet the many challenges of the 21st century.

      One of the most gratifying aspects of working in the White House is that you never know who you might see on a daily basis. A wonderful and diverse cadre of Americans pass through for meetings and events, including renowned scientists, members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and occasionally even entertainment celebrities. Often, these visitors represent the most talented leaders in their respective fields.

      With this in mind, I was particularly pleased to recently participate in a Champions of Change roundtable with eighteen Rural Americans, representing the spectrum of excellence in Rural America. The group included farmers, ranchers, local educators, small business owners, and folks who are improving their communities through innovative actions. These rural champions represent the best of the best in their respective fields.

      We were honored to be joined by President Obama, who shared his vision for economic growth and development in rural areas. The President highlighted the importance of exports in agricultural areas, and the critical nature of transportation issues. He emphasized the need for high-speed internet access and stated that rural areas should expect to have opportunities equivalent to those in other areas of the nation. The President also discussed the importance of identifying rural Americans’ success stories and sharing that knowledge across the country.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/07/18/rural-champions-change-sparking-innovation

    • Collaborating with Tribes through the White House Rural Council

      Posted by Kimberly Teehee on July 01, 2011

      On June 9th, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council. While rural communities face challenges, they also present economic potential. The Council will address these challenges, build on the Administration’s rural economic strategy, and improve the implementation of that strategy.

      The Council, chaired by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, was established to focus on policy initiatives for Rural Americans and will coordinate to increase the effectiveness of federal engagement with tribal governments. According to the 2010 U.S. Decennial Census, 42.6 percent of all Native Americans live in rural areas. In addition, some reservations face unemployment rates of up to 80 percent. The Council will work across federal agencies to address these challenges and promote economic prosperity and quality of life in Indian Country and across rural America. The Council will work to break down silos and find areas for better collaboration and improved flexibility in government programs and will work closely with state, local and tribal governments, non-profits, and the private sector to leverage federal support.

      Plans are already underway for the Council to address ways to expand access to capital in rural communities, including an examination of the unique challenges facing Indian Country in increasing the flow of credit to Indian reservations. Economic development and job creation in Indian Country—and in all other sectors of the U.S. economy—depend on access to capital. When credit-worthy business owners can easily borrow to finance business start-up and expansion, the economy thrives. One thing we hear from tribal leaders, however, is that borrowing money for business development in Indian Country is difficult. The reasons range from difficulties in using tribal land as collateral, to the small number of lending institutions serving Indian Country, to lenders’ perceptions that lending to tribal members or tribal governments is risky.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/07/01/collaborating-tribes-through-white-house-rural-council

      • Champions of Change: Native American Youth Leaders

        Uploaded by whitehouse on Dec 1, 2011

        This week’s Champions of Change event honors Native American youth leaders. December 1, 2011.

    • Rural America: Building Upon a Record of Success

      Posted by Secretary Tom Vilsack on June 09, 2011

      This morning, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing a White House Rural Council, the first entity of its kind established to focus on policy initiatives for Rural Americans. The President’s signature on this document represents a truly historic moment for the nation. I am honored to serve as the Chair of the Council and work directly with my Cabinet colleagues from across the federal government to improve the economic conditions and quality of life for millions of Rural Americans.

      President Obama has already established an impressive record in rural areas, which the Rural Council will build on. The Administration’s record includes substantial investments in rural America to modernize our Nation’s infrastructure, provide broadband access to 10 million Americans, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, and provide affordable health care. Nevertheless, the President believes that even more needs to be done in order to fully capitalize on the emerging opportunities in Rural America. Despite recent advances, rural communities continue to struggle to maintain the population and businesses needed for sustained economic growth.

      The White House Rural Council will focus on actions to better coordinate and streamline federal program efforts in rural America, and to better leverage federal investments. The collaboration will result in better programs and services in rural communities and will maximize the benefits of those programs.

      Economic growth, prosperity, and the creation of quality jobs are on the minds of every citizen. This morning, the White House Rural Council met and discussed ways to increase the availability of working capital investment. This is absolutely essential in order for small towns and rural areas to attract new businesses, spur growth and create jobs. This is especially true in the sectors of economic growth involving new technological innovations and development of renewable energy – areas where Rural America has the most promise, but faces the most difficult competitive challenges.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/06/09/rural-america-building-upon-record-success

    • Our Covenant with America’s Rural Miners

      Posted by Secretary Hilda Solis on June 24, 2011

      From the coal that makes it possible for us to power our computers, to the sand and gravel that serves as the foundation of our nation’s infrastructure, we simply could not function as a country without the natural resources that our miners provide.

      Mining and extraction industries have been key drivers of rural economic growth during our recovery, creating 80,000 new jobs in the last year alone. Nationally, this sector employs nearly 730,000 people in communities from Appalachia to the American West. For some raised in rural communities where mining is a way of life, this work is part of their family DNA, a profession “handed down” from one generation to the next. For others, a career in the mines is a ticket to a better life for their families. According to our Bureau of Labor Statistics, continuous mining machine operators have an average base pay of $48,000 a year, while supervisors earn more than $70,000.

      As a member of President Obama’s Rural Council, I am committed to helping miners get the training they need to harness our natural resources in a safe and cost-effective way. As rising gas prices continue to place strains on middle class families, it’s critical that we support the workers responsible for producing our domestic energy supply.

      This commitment starts with maintaining a well-qualified workforce. During the next decade, some 50,000 new workers will have to be trained to replace the mining industry’s aging labor force. Recognizing this challenge, my department has awarded grants to a variety of rural stakeholders to develop training programs tailored to meet the employment needs of local industry.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/06/24/our-covenant-america-s-rural-miners

    • White House Rural Council on the Road

      Posted by Colleen Curtis on August 17, 2011

      President Obama is not the only one traveling to hear from people from all around the country. There are more than 100 events being held throughout the summer so senior Administration officials can talk with Americans about their ideas for creating jobs and rebuilding our economy. Here are just some of the recent and upcoming events related to the White House Rural Council:

      Alaska:

      * August 29, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius

      * August 6-13, Department of Interior Secretary Salazar

      California:

      * August 18, Office of the US Trade Representative Ambassador
      Kirk

      Florida:

      August 11, US Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack

      Illinois:

      August 19, Department of Transportation Secretary LaHood

      Iowa:

      * August 19, Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack

      * September 1, Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki

      Maryland:

      * July 21, US Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Buddy Hance

      Minnesota:

      * August 31, Veteran Affairs Secretary Shinseki

      Missouri:

      * July 27, US Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack

      * August 1, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius

      Montanta:

      * July 15, Department of Interior Secretary Salazar

      * July 7-8, Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki

      Nebraska:

      * August 19, Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinsek

      Nevada:

      * August 17, Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki

      New Mexico:

      * August 22, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Donovan

      North Carolina:

      * July 25, Department of Energy Secretary Chu

      North Dakota:

      * July 5, Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki

      Oregon:

      * August 9, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley

      Pennsylvania:

      * August 3, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Jackson

      Tennessee:

      * August 10, Department of Education Secretary Duncan

      Texas:

      * September 30 to October 23, Office of the US Trade Representative Ambassador Kirk will visit the Texas State Fair, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary.

      Virginia:

      * August 5, Office of Science and Technology Policy U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra

      West Virginia:

      * July 14, Small Business AdministrationAdministrator Mills

      Wisconsin:

      * August 4, US Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack

      * July 14, Department of Interior Secretary Salazar

      New England:

      * August 15-19, Department of Interior Secretary Salazar

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/08/17/white-house-rural-council-road

    • Rural Economic Tour: Highlights of President Obama in Minnesota

      From: whitehouse | Aug 18, 2011

      Hop on board with President Obama as he travels across Minnesota on day one of his Rural Economic Bus Tour. Learn more about the President’s tour at http://wh.gov/rus

    • Report shows more US farmers relying on Internet

      8/27/11 By GOSIA WOZNIACKA – Associated Press

      FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Think of farms and images of tractors and combines come to mind. But what about laptops, smart phones and tablets?

      The number of farmers with Internet access on a variety of digital gadgets has dramatically increased, changing the way farms do business. Farmers say they’re increasingly using the Net to speed up their work flow, improve their farming techniques, market their crops, connect with customers and retailers, and fulfill a variety of regulatory requirements.

      Within the past decade, the number of farms with an Internet connection has increased by nearly 20 percentage points, according to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier this month. More than half of America’s farms now have access to the Internet, with farmers in the West with the highest access.

      “The Internet is such an integral part of doing business in agriculture,” said Dan Errotabere, who farms 3,500 acres in Riverdale, 25 miles south of Fresno. “If the power goes off, everything on the farm seems to stop. Everything is so electronic now.”

      Farmers still lag behind the general population — nearly 80 percent of Americans surf the Web at home — but the fact that Internet-enabled devices have become less expensive and more portable has fueled the increase.

      Big farms like Errotabere’s have the most access, the USDA report shows. More than 70 percent of farms with sales of $250,000 or more use the Internet for farm business.
      For Errotabere, the Internet is key in communicating with and delivering documents to government officials, manufacturers, packers and retailers. His staff files reports online, catches up with pest control advisers via email and receives text messages about the weather.

      Errotabere emails brokers and trades agricultural commodity futures on the Web, and he downloads delivery information on an hourly basis for his crops.

      “The Internet is quicker, portable and more reliable than mail,” said Errotabere, who uses a laptop and smart phone and just got an iPad. “You get a pulse for whatever is happening in real-time. It has revolutionized the ag business.”

      For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/report-shows-more-us-farmers-relying-internet-071149604.html

    • BEA Computes that Rural America Personal Income Did Better than Urban America in 2009

      Submitted on August 30, 2011 – commerce.gov

      Guest blog post by Steve Landefeld, Director of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

      Off the top of your head, it probably seems obvious that the economies of America’s major cities differ structurally and behaviorally from our nation’s nonmetropolitan and rural areas, right? You are correct, indeed! But the really interesting question is, What can you learn about this from the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis? BEA measures our regional economies in several ways, including GDP by State, GDP by Metropolitan Area, State Personal Income, Metropolitan Area Personal Income and County Personal Income (AKA: Local Area Personal Income).

      To understand the differences between the big, metropolitan areas and the rural parts of the country, your best bet is to turn to BEA’s Local Area Personal Income which details earnings in all 3,143 counties in the U.S.

      Technically speaking, nonmetropolitan counties are those that are not part of a metropolitan statistical area, or MSA, as defined by the Office of Management and Budget. Population in these counties is generally less than 50,000 people. There are 2,032 nonmetropolitan counties in the U.S., almost twice the number of metropolitan counties. Of course, not all nonmetropolitan areas are rural, nor are all rural areas excluded from official designated metropolitan areas. Another important consideration is commuting patterns, certainly plenty of Americans live in areas which may be rural, but drive into MSAs to work which intertwines these economies. (What, you thought we’d make it that easy?)

      For the entire article: http://www.commerce.gov/blog/2011/08/30/bea-computes-rural-america-personal-income-did-better-urban-america-2009

    • The Obama Administration’s Commitment to Rural America

      Uploaded by whitehouse on May 3, 2010

      Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a longtime resident and former governor of Iowa, gives an overview of the Administration’s framework that will lead to a more prosperous rural America.

    • Rural Americans for Obama

      Published on Jul 3, 2012 by BarackObamadotcom
      Join Rural Americans for Obama now: http://OFA.BO/M5cDfZ

      America’s small towns and rural communities are all about the values that America was founded on — family and community come first and if you’re willing to work hard, you can make a good life for yourself and a better one for your kids.

      President Barack Obama knows that too many rural families are working harder and harder and not getting ahead. He’s committed to restoring the promise that has always been America — if you work hard, pull your weight and act responsibly, you’ll get a fair shake in this economy.

      • It’s what plants crave.
        Iowa farms NEED another four years of Obama

        Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 22:20:35 PM CDT by: coyoterun – bleedingheartland

        Here is something we sent out to our friends and family on October 23.
        Greetings friends of the food movement and local & regional agriculture,

        We write tonight to invite you to join us in supporting President Obama’s reelection. We can think of a lot of reasons to support this administration. However, there is no better reason than to acknowledge the support through Secretary Vilsack that President Obama has provided to the food and agriculture community in general and specifically to those of us championing local, regional, and good food. Below are some reasons why we need to keep Obama in the White House and his policies for food and agriculture in place at USDA. If you are like us, you haven’t been in love with every single food and agriculture decision from this administration, but the good stuff will all go away if Obama loses this election and historically speaking there’s a bunch of good stuff.

        Romney and Ryan basically have no agriculture policy beyond eliminating the inheritance tax and getting rid of as much federal regulation of agriculture as they can. There is no evidence they will keep in place support for organic ag, small farms, beginning farmers, nutrition programs, local foods, urban agriculture, and creative conservation efforts like the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

        Coyote Run Farm, our 110 acre diversified farm marketing 100% of our production to local customers, is depending on the kind of support the Obama administration is providing to agriculture. In addition, the Obama administration’s support for trade, disaster programs, and tax policies have also benefited the 1000 acre, commodity family farm that Matt’s parents and brother and sister in law are operating in Cass County. This administration, unlike any in our lifetime, is fighting for all of agriculture. Sometimes that can be disappointing when the administration doesn’t always take our side. But never has an administration taken the issues raised by the food movement so seriously and stood up for small farms so aggressively. For example, USDA has institutionalized its support through the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food work within the department. Again, this will all go away if Obama loses this election and agribusiness once again runs every aspect of USDA.

        For more: http://www.bleedingheartland.com/diary/5803/iowa-farms-need-another-four-years-of-obama

    • President Obama, Sec. Vilsack Will Meet To Discuss US Drought

      JULY 17, 2012 obamafoodorama.blogspot

      President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will have a closed-press meeting in the Oval Office on Wednesday morning to discuss the US drought, the White House announced on Tuesday evening. The current drought is the worst since 1956, according to a report released this week by The National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, NC. About 55% of the country is in at least a moderate short-term drought, with parts of the US experiencing severe drought.

      As of last Sunday, 38% of the US corn crop was in poor or very poor condition, compared with 30% a week earlier, according to USDA. The agency had previously predicted a national average corn yield of 166 bushels per acre this year, but has revised this down to 146 bushels, with further reductions expected.

      Last week, Sec. Vilsack announced that USDA was amending the Secretarial Disaster Designation process in order to “deliver faster and more flexible assistance to farmers and ranchers devastated by natural disasters.” A natural disaster designation makes all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency loans and other support. The final rule for Secretarial Disaster Designations for drought was amended as follows:

      “Nearly automatically qualifies a disaster county once it is categorized by the U.S. Drought Monitor as a severe drought for eight consecutive weeks during the growing season. Effective July 12, 1,016 primary counties in 26 states will be designated as natural disaster areas, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met.”

      • After meeting and updating President Obama, USDA Secretary Vilsack speaks to press to discuss the Administration’s efforts to respond to the current drought in the US.

        July 18, 2012

        Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
        James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

        July 18, 2012

        Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
        James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

        SECRETARY VILSACK: Jay, thanks very much.

        I did have an opportunity to visit with the President. He is very well informed on the circumstances surrounding a very serious drought — the most serious situation we’ve had probably in 25 years — across the country. Sixty-one percent of the land mass of the United States is currently being characterized as being impacted by this drought.

        And our hearts go out to the producers, the farm families who are struggling through something that they obviously have no control over and trying to deal with a very difficult circumstance.

        There’s no question that this drought is having an impact on our crops: 78 percent of the corn crop is now in an area designated as drought impacted; 77 percent of the soybeans that are being grown in this country also impacted. It also obviously involves other commodities as well — 38 percent of our corn crop as of today is rated poor to very poor; 30 percent of our soybeans poor to very poor.

        And this obviously will have an impact on the yields. Right now we have indicated yields will be down about 20 bushels to the acre for corn and about 3 bushels to the acre for beans. That may be adjusted upward or downward as weather conditions dictate.

        This will result in significant increases in prices. For corn, we’ve seen a 38 percent increase since June 1st, and the price of a bushel of corn is now at $7.88. A bushel of beans have risen 24 percent.

        This administration has taken quick action to try to provide help and assistance. At the instructions of the President, the first thing we did was to streamline the disaster declaration system and process, reducing the amount of time it takes to have a county designated. That means that producers in those counties and adjoining counties are able to access low-interest loans.

        The President instructed us to reduce the interest rate on those loans from 3.75 percent to 2.25 percent. He also instructed us to open up new opportunities for haying and grazing — our livestock producers are in deep trouble because of the drought. They don’t have anyplace for their cattle. They are looking at very high feed costs. So we are opening up areas under the Conservation Reserve Program for emergency haying and grazing.

        Normally when that happens, producers have to return a portion of the CRP payment that they receive. We’ve reduced the portion that they have to return from 25 percent to 10 percent.

        Our tools are somewhat limited and so we’re going to need to work with Congress to provide opportunities either through the passage of the Food, Farm and Jobs bill or through additional disaster programs, or perhaps additional flexibility in the Commodity Credit Corporation to provide help and assistance to our farmers.

        The question that a lot of folks are asking is what will the impact be on food prices. Because livestock producers will begin the process of potentially reducing their herds in light of higher feed costs, we would anticipate in the short term actually food prices for beef, poultry, pork may go down a bit, but over time they will rise. We will probably see those higher prices later this year, first part of next year. Processed foods obviously impacted by crop yields, and we will likely see the increase of that also in 2013.

        It’s important to note that farmers only receive 14 cents of every food dollar that goes through the grocery store, so even though prices on commodities increase significantly, it doesn’t necessarily translate into large increases for food prices. And if, in fact, people are beginning to see food price increases now, it is not in any way, shape, or form, related to the drought. And we should be very careful to keep an eye on that to make sure that people do not take advantage of a very difficult and painful situation.

        There is some degree of uncertainty about all of this. Technology has allowed us to have more drought-resistant crops. The spotty nature of drought, the spotty nature of rains can sometimes result in better yields than anticipated. We’re just going to have to see. As of today, 1,297 counties have been designated as Secretarial Disaster Areas. That’s approximately a third of the counties in the United States. We’re adding 39 counties today in eight states — those states are New Mexico, Tennessee, Utah, Wyoming, Arkansas, Indiana, Georgia, and Mississippi.

        We have staff that is now traveling to 12 states significantly impacted by the drought in order to get a firsthand look at conditions, and we’ll do everything we possibly can to help folks. But we’re obviously going to need some help, working with Congress, to create greater flexibility in programs, to revive the disaster programs that were allowed to expire last year, or to pass a Food, Farm and Jobs bill.

        For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/07/18/press-briefing-press-secretary-jay-carney-and-secretary-agriculture-tom-

        ———–

        USDA – Drought

        Water Availability
        Drought and Weather
        Drought Prediction and Monitoring Tools
        Drought Reports, Papers, Articles and Services
        Hurricanes and Extreme Storm Events
        State and Regional Information on Drought
        Water Conservation

        Crop Assistance for Farmers
        Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP)
        Provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occurs due to natural disasters.

        Fact Sheet: NAP Program

        Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) Program
        Provides financial assistance for crop production and or quality losses due to a natural disaster.

        Fact Sheet: SURE Program

        Crop Insurance
        Crop insurance is a risk management tool available to agricultural producers providing protection against low yields and/or lost revenue due to natural disasters including drought, excessive moisture, disease and other perils.

        Q&A: Crop insurance and drought damaged crops

        Fact Sheet: Prevented planting provisions drought

        Fact Sheet: Pasture, Rangeland, Forage Pilot Insurance Program

        Fact Sheet: Vegetation Index Basic Provisions

        Assistance for Livestock Losses
        Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP)
        Provides financial assistance to producers who suffered grazing losses due to drought or fire.

        Fact Sheet: LFP

        Map of Counties Eligible for LFP

        Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Emergency Haying and Grazing
        Haying and grazing of CRP acreage is authorized under certain conditions to improve the quality and performance of the CRP cover or to provide emergency relief to livestock producers due to certain natural disasters.

        Fact Sheet: CRP

        Need Help to Get Your Farm up and Running after a Disaster?

        Emergency Farm Loans
        Producers can borrow up to 100 percent of actual production or physical losses, to a maximum amount of $500,000.

        Fact Sheet: Emergency Farm Loan Program

        Disaster Designations – What and Where are they?
        Emergency Disaster Designation and Declaration Process

        DisasterAssistance.gov

        Other Resources:

        U.S. Drought Monitor

        Hay Net
        Internet-based service allowing farmers and ranchers to share ‘Need Hay’ ads and ‘Have Hay’ ads online.

        Farm Service Agency disaster programs

        Risk Management Agency programs

        State Farm Service Agency offices

        Tree Assistance Program (TAP)
        Provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists to replace eligible trees, bushes, and vines damaged by natural disasters.

        Disaster Resilience for Rural Communities
        The goal of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Disaster Resilience for Rural Communities grant program is to advance basic research in engineering and in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences to enhance disaster resilience in rural communities.

      • USDA Designates an Additional 39 Counties in 8 States as Primary Natural Disaster Areas Due to Worsening Drought
        Producers in 1,297 Counties in 29 States Eligible for Disaster Assistance

        July 18, 2012 usda.gov

        WASHINGTON, —Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today designated 39 additional counties in eight states as primary natural disaster areas due to damage and losses caused by drought and excessive heat. During the 2012 crop year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 1,297 counties across 29 states as disaster areas, making all qualified farm operators in the areas eligible for low-interest emergency loans. The additional counties designated today are in the states of Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming. The U.S. Drought Monitor currently reports that 61 percent of the continental United States is in a moderate to exceptional drought.

        “Our hearts go out to all of those affected by this drought,” said Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. That’s why USDA officials are fanning out to affected areas, to let our farmers and ranchers know that we stand with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood. And that is also why it is important that Congress pass a food, farm and jobs bill that ensures a robust safety net for producers in times of need.”

        Earlier in the week, USDA also designated the entire state of Missouri a disaster area due to drought in response to a request from the state’s governor.

        For more: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2012/07/0243.xml&navid=NEWS_RELEASE&navtype=RT&parentnav=LATEST_RELEASES&edeployment_action=retrievecontent

    • Obama Administration Announces $9 Million Investment in Rural Communities to Foster Job Creation and Innovation

      Winners of the Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge Will Strengthen Regional Industry Clusters and Rural Economies Across 12 States

      August 1, 2012 usda.gov

      WASHINGTON, – The Obama Administration today announced the winners of the multi-agency Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to spur job creation and economic growth in rural regions across the country.

      Economic development partnerships and initiatives in Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia will receive awards ranging from nearly $200,000 to over $1 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

      For more: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2012/08/0258.xml&contentidonly=true

    • Barns for Obama – OFA Ohio

      Published on Sep 3, 2012 by BarackObamadotcom
      Get involved in Ohio: http://OFA.BO/mS9cJo

      Brian, Joe and Rick share how President Obama has led in environmental and rural development investment. The President has empowered farming and rural communities—increasing their successes and helping Ohio move forward to an economy that’s built to last.

      Their enthusiasm from 2008 continues. They’ve added a new mural to the 2008 Obama Barn and continue to be a part of this campaign by volunteering and stepping up to be Neighborhood Team Leaders.

      How President Obama has helped Ohio:

      * Approved 1,296 farm loans in 2011
      * Expanded broadband internet to 28 new counties
      * Funded 169 rural clean energy projects
      * Funded 493 rural infrastructure projects

    • Enduring Drought, Farmers Draw the Line at Congress

      Published: August 12, 2012 By JENNIFER STEINHAUER – nytimes

      THURMAN, Iowa — John Askew pulled at a soybean pod and revealed two anemic beans dappled with stem rot, the harvest of a too hot sun and too little rain. Representative Tom Latham peered in and shook his head.

      “We need a farm bill — that’s the first thing,” said Mr. Askew, whose family has farmed here for six generations. Mr. Latham, a Republican, agrees.

      But House leaders, including Speaker John A. Boehner, who popped into Iowa on Friday night to promote Mr. Latham’s re-election campaign, have been unable to muster the votes.

      A summer drought that has destroyed crops, killed livestock and sent feed prices soaring is now extracting a political price from members of Congress, who failed to agree on a comprehensive agriculture bill or even limited emergency relief before leaving Washington for five weeks.

      Farmers are complaining loudly to their representatives, editorial boards across the heartland are hammering Congress over its inaction, and incumbents from both parties are sparring with their challengers over agricultural policy.

      In Minnesota, Senator Amy Klobuchar and her Republican Party-endorsed opponent, Kurt Bills, disagreed sharply in their first face-to-face debate over what a farm bill should contain. In Missouri, Senator Claire McCaskill and her Republican challenger, Representative Todd Akin, defended their positions before the state farm bureau’s political unit.

      Representative Leonard L. Boswell, Mr. Latham’s Democratic opponent in a newly drawn district, said, “Every time I get out there, people keep asking me: ‘What happened to the farm bill? Why don’t we have a farm bill?’ ”

      In Arkansas, the Democratic Party paid for an automated call by a farmer imploring rural voters to pester Representative Rick Crawford, a Republican, about the unfinished farm business. Representative Kristi Noem, Republican of South Dakota, took heat back home for backing away from a petition sponsored by Democrats that would have forced the House Agriculture Committee’s farm bill to the floor.

      “We would have much preferred they pass the House bill,” said Michael Held, the chief executive of the South Dakota Farm Bureau.

      For more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/13/us/politics/drought-driven-voters-vent-anger-over-farm-bill.html?pagewanted=all

      • Fiscal cliff is now the best shot for farm bill, agriculture lobbyists say

        10/27/12 04:24 PM ET By Erik Wasson – TheHill

        House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) caused a stir on Thursday when he seemed to indicate that a standalone farm bill would come to the House floor after the Nov. 6 election.

        But lobbyists said the remarks mean, at best, that a modified farm bill could be wrapped into a lame-duck bill dealing with expiring tax cuts and automatic spending cuts.

        “I’m committed to bring the issue to the floor and then to see a way forward so we can get the votes to pass (a bill),” Cantor said at a campaign event in Idaho.

        Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) seized on the remarks, saying, “I’m very pleased to hear that Majority Leader Cantor is now committed to bring the Farm Bill to the floor immediately after the election.”

        Republican aides, however, quickly made clear that Cantor was not expressing any new support for moving the farm bill as reported out of the House Agriculture Committee this summer.

        Washington farm lobbyists said that in the wake of Cantor’s comments, the last best hope for the 2012 farm bill to pass will be if it is riding on fiscal cliff legislation.

        For more: http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/budget/264393-fiscal-cliff-is-now-best-shot-for-farm-bill-lobbyists-say

      • 3 Farm Bill Extension Measures Filed In House – UPDATE: CBO Releases Score For One-Year Farm Bill Extension

        Congress has run out of time to pass new Farm Bill, says House Ag Chair Lucas; measures seek to avert a dive off the “dairy cliff,” provide drought relief to farmers…Senate Ag Chair Stabenow supports extension…
        *Update at bottom of post

        SUNDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2012 By Jerry Hagstrom Founding Editor, The Hagstrom Report

        House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., is urging passage of a one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill, but the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition said on Sunday that House Republican leaders had filed three different versions of an extension on Saturday night, and that each is problematic. In addition to Lucas’ One-Year Farm Bill Extension, a Temporary One-Month Farm-Bill Extension was filed, as was a One-Month Dairy-Only Extension.

        In a statement on Sunday, Lucas said the one-year bill is a result of “discussions” with House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Senate “colleagues,” but he did not say specifically that the others were backing the bill.

        “Clearly, it is no longer possible to enact a five-year Farm Bill in this Congress,” Lucas said.

        “Given this reality, the responsible thing to do–and the course of action I have long encouraged if a five-year bill was not possible is to extend the 2008 legislation for one year. This provides certainty to our producers and critical disaster assistance to those affected by record drought conditions.”

        For more: http://obamafoodorama.blogspot.com/2012/12/3-farm-bill-extension-measures-filed-in.html

  3. Vets In Business

    VA’s National Veteran Small Business Conference: Building Partnerships

    Posted by Jessica Slider on July 08, 2011

    Before starting my job at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), I had no idea about the link that exists between Veterans and small business. Now, after having been immersed in the world of small business for the past couple of months, I can see that VA’s success in caring for “those who have borne the battle” is very much reliant on our ability to work with and support the Veteran-owned small business community.

    Nearly 2.5 million businesses in the United States are now Veteran-owned, representing nine percent of all U.S. firms. This statistic confirms what VA and the Obama Administration already know – small businesses (particularly Veteran-owned small businesses) are the backbone of America.

    VA is committed to supporting and building partnerships between Veterans, small businesses, and the government. One of the ways we’re working to do that is through the development of a new approach: enabling Veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) and service disabled Veteran-owned businesses (SDVOSBs) to increase their value by offering opportunities to connect on contracts with the federal government. These opportunities will be available to all who register for the upcoming National Veteran Small Business Conference in New Orleans, LA on August 15-18, 2011.

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/07/08/va-s-national-veteran-small-business-conference-building-partnerships

    • Office of Veterans Business Development

      Mission Statement
      The Office of Veterans Business Development’s mission is to maximize the availability, applicability and usability of all administration small business programs for Veterans, Service-Disabled Veterans, Reserve Component Members, and their Dependents or Survivors.

      Office Spotlight
      Veterans and Military Families
      “Our veterans have the leadership skills and experience to become successful entrepreneurs and small business owners. When they come home, SBA provides those who wish to be entrepreneurs with the counseling they need to start, grow and succe…
      Read more: http://www.sba.gov/content/veterans-and-military-families

      About Our Office
      SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development is responsible for liaison with the Veterans business community; for policy analysis and reporting; for acting as an Ombudsman for Veterans in Small Business Administration programs, for providing…
      Read more: http://www.sba.gov/about-offices-content/1/2985/about-us/3166

      Source: http://www.sba.gov/about-offices-content/1/2985

    • VA’s National Veteran Small Business Conference: Building Partnerships

      Posted by Jessica Slider on July 08, 2011

      Before starting my job at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), I had no idea about the link that exists between Veterans and small business. Now, after having been immersed in the world of small business for the past couple of months, I can see that VA’s success in caring for “those who have borne the battle” is very much reliant on our ability to work with and support the Veteran-owned small business community.

      Nearly 2.5 million businesses in the United States are now Veteran-owned, representing nine percent of all U.S. firms. This statistic confirms what VA and the Obama Administration already know – small businesses (particularly Veteran-owned small businesses) are the backbone of America.

      VA is committed to supporting and building partnerships between Veterans, small businesses, and the government. One of the ways we’re working to do that is through the development of a new approach: enabling Veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) and service disabled Veteran-owned businesses (SDVOSBs) to increase their value by offering opportunities to connect on contracts with the federal government. These opportunities will be available to all who register for the upcoming National Veteran Small Business Conference in New Orleans, LA on August 15-18, 2011.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/07/08/va-s-national-veteran-small-business-conference-building-partnerships

  4. SEIU Cope: “Get the Message”

    Uploaded by SEIU on Aug 10, 2011

    Take action at http://www.seiu.org/goodjobs – Middle class families are struggling to find and keep good-paying jobs. But Republicans in Congress don’t seem to be getting the message. To build an economy with lasting strength for future generations, we need to bring jobs back to America.

  5. Good evening everyone and Happy Birthday Maya. CR this thread is terrific. So much information. Living in my small little world it just amazes me how much is going on that no one ever reports that keeps our country going. Our phenominal President has all the worker bees on assignment 24/7. Thank you!

    • Good Sunday evening Jackie! You are most welcome and thank you!

      Yes, a lot of goog things are going on in the Obama Administration that people do not even know about.

  6. President Obama’s Rural Bus Tour Schedule, August 15-17: Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois

    AUGUST 12, 2011 obamafoodorama.blogspot

    President Obama will make a three-day bus tour through Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois starting on Monday, August 15th. He has five different events scheduled, all focusing on the challenges of creating jobs and boosting the economy in America’s rural areas. The visit comes following the release on Friday of the White House Rural Council’s new report, Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America .

    The President’s visit to Iowa also comes just as GOP presidential hopefuls are finishing a week of aggressive 2012 campaigning in the crucial state. But White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Friday insisted the bus tour is not an effort to woo Obama voters.

    “The President views it as one of the chief responsibilities in office to spend some time outside Washington, D.C., talking to people all across the country about the economy and about how they’re impacted by the policy decisions that he’s making here in Washington, D.C.,” Earnest said.

    The President’s Bus Tour Schedule

    Monday August 15th – Minnesota, Iowa
    President Obama will travel to Cannon Falls, Minnesota, for an economic town hall at Lower Hannah’s Bend Park. The event starts at 12:05 PM local time and is free and open to the public. Tickets are required, and will be available at Cannon Falls City Hall, starting Sunday, Aug. 14 at 1:00 PM.

    Later in the day, President Obama will travel to Decorah, Iowa to host a 5:15 PM town hall event at Seed Savers Exchange. Tickets have already been issued. He will spend the night in Decorah.

    For the entire article: http://obamafoodorama.blogspot.com/2011/08/president-obamas-rural-bus-tour.html

  7. CR – O/T but I found this at your obamafoodorama link above, about the President’s 50th birthday, from David Letterman. Our friend CanadaBarb might like #6. 🙂 You gotta laugh!

    “To mark the occasion, Letterman read the ‘Top 10 Ways Barack Obama Celebrated His Birthday’ on Thursday’s edition of “Late Show” in New York.

    It read as follows:

    10. Updated his resume.

    9. Treated himself to piece of first lady’s carob-flavored kelp loaf birthday cake.

    8. Asked for an iPad, let Republicans negotiate him down to a wad of gum.

    7. Pizza and video games at Washington kids’ restaurant “Chuck E. Schumer’s.”

    6. Asked for any cash gifts to be in Canadian dollars.

    5. Sent 82nd Airborne on In-N-Out Burger run.

    4. Invited fun costumed characters.

    3. “Shark Week” and two pints of Chubby Hubby.

    2. Got a fabulous makeover from Michele O’Bachmann’s husband.

    1. Forged a Kenyan birth certificate to get him out of this miserable job.”

    (I’m pretty sure David Letterman is a big fan of PBO’s, so I had a chuckle with some of this!)

  8. The case for more stimulus

    8/15/11 By JOSH BOAK – POLITICO

    Without a recovery, much of the $2.1 trillion in deficit cuts might not materialize. Reuters Close
    You may have read the Sunday NYT front-pager about the internal White House debate over the politics of getting more aggressive on job growth.

    The next few months have been framed as a choice between reviving the economy and reducing the debt – but you can’t do one without the other. Unless there’s a solid recovery in place, much of the planned $2.1 trillion in deficit cuts might not materialize. “When the economy is slower, we have more unemployment, more insurance costs, and more food stamp costs,” explains Alex Brill of the American Enterprise Institute. “You get less revenue and a little more spending and, obviously, a bigger deficit.”

    The CBO last January projected a GDP increase that now seems innocently optimistic and will likely be revised downward. So a key test for any policies coming out of the supercommittee, the president and Congress will be how they juggle deficit savings with getting the economy back to normal. AEI’s Brill says the critical period for lowering the deficit will be based on where the economy is in 2013, 2014 and onward.

    If GDP projections are short by half a percentage point over the next decade, $1.6 trillion in debt would be added, according to Andrew Fieldhouse, a budget analyst for the Economic Policy Institute.

    Don’t tell Ames winner Michele Bachmann, but Fieldhouse favors some kind of stimulus spending in the short term, telling MM in an email: “The near-term budget deficit does not matter while the economy is mired in a liquidity trap and interest rates are at rock bottom lows. Anemic growth and stagnantly high unemployment, on the other hand, pose a severe threat to national wealth and the long-term budget deficit.”

    That’s essentially the same case made in the Sunday Washington Post by Pulitzer-winning financial historian Liaquat Ahamed: “At the moment, the bond market and stock market are signaling very clearly that the greatest threat to U.S. prosperity is the lackluster recovery, not the budget deficit. We can only hope that Washington is reading the signals correctly.”

    • Low Rates Alone Not Seen Reviving Housing Market

      (“with the weakening economy, a growing number of economists are saying that the government should be taking some kind of new action to stimulate growth.”)

      8/15/11 by CHRIS ARNOLD – NPR

      The turmoil in the financial markets has been pushing mortgage rates lower. Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages have now fallen to about 4.3 percent, which is very close to the lowest level on record.

      But many Americans can’t qualify for those low rates, and analysts say these historic interest rates aren’t likely to do much to help the housing market.

      That is, unless the government intervenes.

      Millions of Americans could be putting hundreds of dollars of more spending money in their pockets every month, if only they could refinance their home loans. But about half of U.S. homeowners can’t.

      “Yeah, well basically, we’re not qualifying any new people,” says Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance. “Ironically, the people who are looking to refi are the people who may have refied two years ago and qualified.”

      So maybe they can save a little more money refinancing again.

      “We’re certainly not picking up anybody who’s been sitting on the fence for three years and suddenly waking up and saying, ‘Woah, maybe I should go refi,'” Cecala says.

      He says there are many people who’ve been locked into higher interest rate loans for many years now.

      Cecala explains that in order to get the lower rates, you need very good credit, and your house has to be worth 20 percent more than what you owe on it.

      So with falling home prices, many people with decent jobs just don’t have enough equity.

      If you’re going to do something about housing, you should make it available to everyone. And some kind of national refinancing program, I think, would be kind of nice. You allow all and any homeowners to refinance at low interest rates with no penalties, etc.- Martin Barnes, cheif economist at VCA Research

      “We’re pretty much stuck with the well-heeled borrowers that have a bunch of equity in their home — those are the people who are able to capitalize on low rates,” Cecala says.

      But he is hoping that the precarious economic situation right now might rekindle some interest in Washington to do something to help homeowners. And more support may be in the works for the housing market.

      For the entire article and audio interview: http://www.npr.org/2011/08/15/139582321/low-rates-alone-not-seen-reviving-housing-market

  9. Broadening the Conversation on Immigration Reform

    Posted by Kyle Lierman on August 15, 2011

    On Thursday 08/11/2011, the White House met with leaders from a variety of ethnic communities to discuss the way forward on immigration reform. Official White House Photo by Tom Miller.

    Immigration is at the beginning of every American story. Since this country’s founding, immigrants and the children of immigrants have built America’s cities, fought in our wars, and helped to author our history. The issue of immigration reform, then, is one whose importance extends beyond the boundaries of any single demographic. Last week, leaders from a variety of ethnic communities – from Irish, to Polish, to Macedonian and many others – met at the White House to discuss the way forward on immigration reform.

    It was a spirited discussion featuring representatives from communities that do not necessarily share common domestic or foreign policy goals. What they do share – and what came through at the meeting – was their deep pride for their immigrant heritage and the agreement that their voice is critical to the debate on fixing our broken immigration system. White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley stopped by to reiterate the President’s commitment to addressing this issue, and to listen to ideas about how the Administration and the country can make progress.

    President Obama is determined to create an immigration system that makes sense and meets the needs of America’s 21st century economy. He will continue to fulfill the federal government’s responsibility to secure our borders while strengthening our economic competitiveness by creating a legal immigration system that reflects our values and diverse needs. The Administration has also taken important steps to improve our immigration system within the boundaries of existing laws, dedicating unprecedented resources to border security and making interior and worksite enforcement smarter and more effective.

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/08/15/broadening-conversation-immigration-reform

    • Continuing the Conversation on Immigration Reform – The African Immigrant Diaspora Voice

      Posted by Stephanie Valencia on August 15, 2011

      This past Friday, White House and senior administration officials – including representatives from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Department of Education, and HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement – met with African community leaders to discuss immigration issues specific to the African immigrant and refugee population. The convening brought together leaders and advocates representing communities from the countries of Mauritania, Somalia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Guinea Bisseau.

      Cecilia Munoz, Director of White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, opened the forum and highlighted the challenges in fixing the legal immigration system and reassured the community leaders in the room of the President’s continued commitment to a legislative solution to fixing the broken immigration system. Bakary Tandia, Coordinator of African Services Committee and long time advocate for African immigrant communities shared a touching story of a wheelchair bound activist who came to Washington, DC two years ago for a major immigration reform mobilization even though he couldn’t walk he wanted to lend his voice to the debate. He asked “What can we do concretely as community leaders to contribute and galvanize support?” In response, Stephanie Valencia, Deputy Director of the Office of Public Engagement, encouraged everyone in the room to help broaden the dialogue and elevate the debate by hosting immigration action roundtables in their own communities check out the roundtable toolkit to sponsor your own immigration roundtable.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/08/15/continuing-conversation-immigration-reform-african-immigrant-diaspora-voice

  10. Stop Coddling the Super-Rich

    August 14, 2011 By WARREN E. BUFFETT – nytimes

    OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

    While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

    These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

    Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

    If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.

    To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.

    Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

    I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.

    For the entire article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/opinion/stop-coddling-the-super-rich.html?_r=2&hp

  11. GOP Wrong Way Romney makes organized labor a favorite whipping boy

    8/15/11 By Michael O’Brien – TheHill

    Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) has incorporated vocal criticism of organized labor into his stump speeches, making it a central component of his presidential campaign.

    Romney seems to have made unions — traditionally a bugaboo of many conservatives — a focal point of his jabs, hitting labor groups more often than most of his fellow contenders for the Republican presidential nomination.

    Twice this week, during campaign stops in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, Romney expressed unprompted support for so-called “Right-to-Work” laws — laws that allow workers to join a workplace without being forced to either join a union or pay its membership fees.

    “If I were a voter, I’d encourage state representatives, state senators and the governor to do whatever is necessary to make New Hampshire a right-to-work state to create more jobs for the people of New Hampshire,” Romney said this week in the Granite State, where 10.2 percent of the state’s workforce belongs to a union, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    The focus on organized labor is hardly an accidental one, though. Right-to-work legislation has been a hot issue on the minds of voters in New Hampshire, where Democratic Gov. John Lynch vetoed a bill passed through the GOP legislature that would have made the state the first one in the Northeast with such a law on the books.

    For the entire article: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/176687-romney-makes-organized-labor-a-favorite-whipping-boy

    • Romney forgets all of the union members who … wait for it … VOTE!

      I know he thinks corporations are people, but wouldn’t you think he’d be mindful that unions are also people? Of course, unions aren’t as large as they used to be and mostly come out in favor of the political party that actually works for them, which wouldn’t be Romney’s party …

  12. GOP Wrong Way Rick Perry’s environmental record

    08/15/2011 By Dylan Matthews -washingtonpost

    As one would expect of a serious GOP presidential contender, Rick Perry does not support most efforts to reduce carbon emissions. But unlike, for example, Mitt Romney, he does not believe in the science behind climate change either. Rank and file Democrats “know we have been experiencing a cooling trend, that the complexities of the global atmosphere have often eluded the most sophisticated scientists, and that draconian policies with dire economic effects based on so-called science may not stand the test of time,” he wrote in his book “Fed Up! The Fight to Save America From Washington” last year (page 92). This is incorrect on two counts. Politifact has reviewed similar statements and ruled both the claim that the Earth is cooling, and the claim that scientists differ on global warming, to be false. Perry has cited Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who has called global warming a “hoax,” approvingly, and said he will refuse to watch Al Gore’s PowerPoint on global warming until Gore — whose 1988 presidential campaign then-Democrat Perry chaired in Texas — admits it contains errors.

    His record as Texas governor matches the rhetoric. He filed a lawsuit against the EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions regulations on behalf of the state, a suit widely expected to fail. Perry has said that he prays daily for the EPA rules to be reversed. He has consistently defended oil and coal interests in Texas, notably dubbing the BP oil well blowout an “act of God” and opposing the Obama administration’s efforts to regulate offshore drilling in the wake of the disaster. He also fast-tracked environmental permits for a number of coal plants in 2005, cutting in half the normal review period. His transportation agenda similarly does not reflect any concern about emissions, as he did not compete for federal high speed rail funding and has kept state funds focused on roads rather than mass transit.

    For the entire article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/rick-perrys-environmental-record/2011/08/15/gIQApJbzGJ_blog.html

    • August 15, 2011

      Remarks by the President in a Town Hall Meeting in Cannon Falls, Minnesota

      Hannah’s Bend Park, Cannon Falls, Minnesota

      11:56 A.M. CDT

      THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Cannon Falls! Hello, Minnesota! Well, what a spectacular setting. Let’s get the grill going.

      AUDIENCE MEMBER: Fishing!

      THE PRESIDENT: And do a little fishing? It is wonderful to see all of you here today. Thank you for showing up, and what a incredible setting. Everybody, feel free to have a seat; we’re going to be here for a while. (Laughter.)

      A couple introductions I want to make real quick, although these folks don’t need any introduction. The outstanding governor of Minnesota Mark Dayton is in the house. (Applause.) Two of the finest senators in the country, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken are here. (Applause.) From your congressional delegation, Tim Waltz — (applause) — Keith Ellison. (Applause.) We’ve got the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack is here. And I want to thank the mayor of Cannon Falls, Minnesota, for organizing perfect weather — Ravi Robinson is here. (Applause.)

      So I am very pleased to be out of Washington — (applause) — and it is great to be here. What I’m going to do is I’m just going to say a few things at the top, and then what I want to do is just open it up for questions and comments, and I want to hear from you guys. That’s the reason that we’re on this bus tour.

      Obviously America has gone through extraordinary challenges over the last two and a half years. We’ve gone through the worst recession since the Great Depression, dating all the way back to 2007, 2008. But here’s the interesting thing: If you ask people around the world, people would still tell you America has got the best universities, we’ve got the best scientists, we’ve got the best entrepreneurs — we’ve got so much going for us that folks would gladly trade places with us. (Applause.) Around the world, people still understand the extraordinary power, but also the extraordinary hope that America represents.

      So there is nothing wrong with America that can’t be fixed; what’s broken is our politics. (Applause.) Think about it: Over the last six months, we’ve had a string of bad luck — there have been some things that we could not control. You had an Arab Spring in the Middle East that promises more democracy and more human rights for people, but it also drove up gas prices — tough for the economy, a lot of uncertainty. And then you have the situation in Europe, where they’re dealing with all sorts of debt challenges, and that washes up on our shores. And you had a tsunami in Japan, and that broke supply chains and created difficulties for the economy all across the globe.

      So there were a bunch of things taking place over the last six months that were not within our control. But here’s the thing — the question is, how do we handle these challenges? Do we rise to the occasion? Do we pull together? Do we make smart decisions? And what’s been happening over the last six months — and a little bit longer than that if we’re honest with ourselves — is that we have a political culture that doesn’t seem willing to make the tough choices to move America forward.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/08/15/remarks-president-town-hall-meeting-cannon-falls-minnesota

      • One older gentleman who just asked the President a question in Cannon Falls – and who owns a small business related to broadband services, which seems to be prospering – first sounded as though he might be confrontational. But after asking the President to talk with his colleagues in Washington about better helping the job creators, he THANKED President Obama for the stimulus dollars that went into broadband investments.

        This is the kind of respectful town hall that I like to see, after the President took the time to come into their communities. Yee-haw!

    • Hi Jackie, PBO makes it pretty easy because he thinks and speaks in such a clear, organized way, even off the cuff!

  13. Warren Buffet in the NY Times:

    “…. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

    I didn’t refuse, nor did others…. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation….

    My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress.”

    http://nyti.ms/opvp1C

  14. GOP Wrong Way Perrycare 101: Rick Perry’s Medicaid record

    08/15/2011 By Sarah Kliff- washingtonpost

    As a joint state-federal program, Medicaid has long been riddled with tension over who gets to make what decisions. Both parties foot a significant part of the bill, so it’s no surprise that each wants a big say in how that money gets spent. The federal government sets certain parameters — particular populations and benefits that every state has to cover — but beyond that, it’s an ongoing negotiation with states over what changes they can or cannot make. Most states have about a dozen or so Medicaid waivers, which allow them to try new ideas or cover a new population.

    Playing a central role in this debate lately has been Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who has not been shy about advocating for greater state flexibility under the Medicaid program.

    Last November, Perry gave legs to the idea that states might drop out of the program altogether, telling Fox News’s Greta Van Sustren that he’d “like to see the states be given the opportunity to opt out of the Medicaid program that we are looking at today.” As chair of the Republican Governors Association, Perry petitioned the Obama administration to drop a health-care law provision that requires states to keep all current Medicaid patients on the rolls through 2014.

    In the regulatory realm, too, Perry has pursued some ambitious waivers to reshape his state’s Medicaid program. In 2008, under the Bush administration, Texas applied for a waiver allowing it to limit the number of beneficiaries and create a comparatively sparse benefits plan, among other changes. This year, Perry signed legislation that compels the state to apply for a Medicaid block grant. The idea is that Texas would accept a capped amount of federal Medicaid funding in return for more flexibility on how to spend this money.

    For the entire article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/perrycare-101-rick-perrys-medicaid-record/2011/08/02/gIQAGafQHJ_blog.html#pagebreak

    • Why Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured people in the U.S.

      08/15/2011 By Sarah Kliff – washingtonpost

      (KAREN BLEIER)As Brad wrote earlier today, there are a lot of Texas statistics that we’ll hear about this campaign season. You can expect Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), for example, to bring up how his state has generated 37 percent of the country’s new jobs since 2009.

      Here’s one statistic, though, you won’t hear him touting: Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured people in the country. Twenty-six percent of Texas residents lack health insurance, compared with a national average that hovers around 17 percent. That works out to about 6.3 million uninsured Texans, a population nearly equal in size to the entire state of Massachusetts.

      Texas has led the country in its percentage of uninsured residents since well before Perry took office in 2000, says Anne Dunkelberg, who directs the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities. “We literally started out in the 1990s at the end of the line and nothing has moved to change that position,” she explains. “Basically, it’s everything about our job market in the state and our public programs, that really were the formula for having low levels of coverage.”

      Here are four main factors that contribute to Texas’ high number of uninsured:

      Many Texas jobs don’t offer insurance. Texas has a higher number of retail and service jobs, as well as a decently large agricultural sector, all industries that are less likely to offer health benefits. So while Texas’ unemployment rate of 8.2 percent beats the national average, the state falls below national trends on employer-sponsored health coverage. Seventy-one percent of the uninsured in Texas are part of a family that includes a full-time worker, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Put another way, 63 percent of uninsured, working-age Texans do have a job —just not an offer of insurance to go with it.

      The Medicaid program is relatively limited. As I touched on inan earlier post, some states have used Medicaid waivers to cover low-income populations they’re not required to cover. Texas doesn’t do this much: The state covers some optional populations, pregnant women and those in long-term care, but largely sticks with the federally-mandated minimums. That means a decent number of residents who might receive coverage in another state don’t in Texas.

      Insurance rates are largely unregulated. Texas takes a pretty hands-off approach to regulating its individual market. The state does not require insurers in the individual market to sell to anyone who applies for a policy. Nor does Texas limit “rating” of customers, where insurance carriers charge more to older subscribers and women, who tend to have higher health care costs. Taken together, those two factors can make insurance prohibitively expensive – or unobtainable — for those who are older or have a pre-existing health condition.

      A large immigrant population. Non-citizens make up about one-quarter of Texas’ uninsured population, according to the Center for Public Policy Priorities’ Texas Health Care Primer.Regardless of immigration status, immigrants tend to have a higher rate of uninsurance than non-immigrants. Of the 1.2 million foreign-born, naturalized U.S. citizens in Texas, for example, 31 percent are uninsured, compared to 22 percent of U.S.-born Texans.

  15. GOP Wrong Way DNC Chair on Perry Economic Claims: All Hat, No Cattle

    Uploaded by DemRapidResponse on Aug 13, 2011

  16. GOP Wrong Way A murky million for Romney

    August 11, 2011 boston.com

    NOW THAT the laws protecting elections from undue corporate influence are in tatters, it’s all the more important for federal regulators to aggressively enforce what disclosure rules are left. For that reason, a shadowy $1 million donation from a shell company formed by a supporter of Mitt Romney warrants thorough investigation by the Federal Election Commission.

    The ill-considered Citizens United ruling by the US Supreme Court last year removed many of the restrictions on political donations by corporations. But even in this permissive environment, a donation to Romney by W Spann LLC pushed the ethical, and perhaps also the legal, limits. The company was formed only 44 days before making the donation to Restore Our Future, a PAC dedicated to supporting Romney’s presidential bid. The company dissolved 77 days later. It was registered by Cameron Casey, a lawyer at the Boston law firm Ropes & Gray, which counts Bain, the company co-founded by Romney, as a client. Over the weekend, a former managing director of Bain, Edward W. Conard, was identified as the man behind the shell company.

    • Romney’s Extreme Aims: Wrong for Seniors. Wrong for the Middle Class.

      Uploaded by DemRapidResponse on Aug 9, 2011

  17. August 15, 2011

    Background on the President’s Lunch with Post-9/11 Minnesota Veterans

    Today, the President is having lunch with five post-9/11 Minnesota veterans at the Old Market Deli in Cannon Falls, MN. A disproportionate share of post-9/11 veterans are from rural America and comprise about 39% of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans enrolled into the VA Health Care System. The lunch is an opportunity for the President to hear directly from rural veterans about their experiences and discuss the steps his administration has taken, including the recently announced Veterans Employment Initiative, to ensure all of America’s veterans have the support they need and deserve when they leave the military.

    Veterans Attending Lunch

    Henry B. Mathia, Navy Veteran (Woodbury, MN)
    Scott J. Peer, Army National Guard Veteran (Cannon Falls, MN)
    Timothy K. Loney, Army Veteran (Saint Paul, MN)
    Thomas B. Newman, Army National Guard Veteran (Hugo, MN)
    Joseph D. Kidd, Navy Veteran (Stewartville, MN)
    Background on Administration Policies to Support Rural Veterans and Military Families

    Rural Americans are an integral part of our military. Although rural residents account for 17% of the U.S. population, they make up 44% of the men and women who serve in uniform. In fact, approximately 6.1 million veterans currently live in rural communities. Their immeasurable sacrifices have made our borders safer and our country stronger.

    Despite their contributions, many of our veterans face enormous economic challenges. The unemployment rate as of July 2011 among post-September 11 veterans is 12.4%. Many of these unemployed veterans need educational training and job certification to successfully transition back into the civilian workforce. To fully honor the service of the men and women in uniform, this Administration has worked hard to make sure our veterans receive the medical care, training, and employment support they deserve in the rural communities where they live.

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/08/15/background-president-s-lunch-post-911-minnesota-veterans

    • Rural Bus Tour: President Obama Has Lunch With Veterans At Minnesota’s Old Market Deli

      AUGUST 15, 2011 obamafoodorama.blogspot.com

      After his first rural town hall meeting in Minnesota today, President Obama had a previously unannounced lunch at the Old Market Deli in Cannon Falls’ historic downtown. He was joined by five post-9/11 veterans, all from Minnesota, representing the Army, Navy, and National Guard. The lunch, according to the White House, was “an opportunity for the President to hear directly from rural veterans,” because a disproportionate share of post-9/11 vets are from rural America (about 6.1 million). The new White House Rural Council Report, “Jobs And Economic Security For Rural America” has a whole section devoted to veterans in rural America.

      As he entered shortly before 1:30 PM, the President, tieless, his shirtsleeves rolled up, greeted delighted diners and deli staff. He shook hands, asked for names, posed for photos.

      “We’ll get a picture with the whole crew,” the President promised one staffer.

      For the entire article and photos: http://obamafoodorama.blogspot.com/2011/08/rural-bus-tour-obama-has-lunch-with.html

    • President Obama Makes Pit Stop For Pie At Minnesota’s Coffee Mill Restaurant

      AUGUST 15, 2011 obamafoodorama.blogspot.com

      On Monday afternoon, after his first town hall of the day and lunch with veterans in Cannon Falls, MN, President Obama stopped his huge, black armored tour bus in the storybook town of Zumbrota, which has just a little more than 3,000 residents. Pie was required for the 114-mile drive to the day’s second town hall, across state lines in Decorah, Iowa. The President, accompanied by bodyman Reggie Love, disembarked at the Coffee Mill Restaurant, a cafe in the tiny downtown, and ordered five different kinds of pie. The Eater in Chief is a pie fanatic: Pies are served at every White House holiday, and three kinds were on offer at his 50th birthday shindig, too

      The President approached the Coffee Mill’s pie case, forefinger pressed to his lips, according to pool. He consulted with owner Carol Jackson, then ordered two slices each of apple, pumpkin, and German chocolate pies, as well as “something with Graham Crackers.” These were handed off to Love, the President’s official treat schlepper since Campaign 2008. Love was also charged with minding an entire coconut cream pie.

      For the entire article and photos: http://obamafoodorama.blogspot.com/2011/08/president-obama-makes-pit-stop-for-pie.html

    • August 15, 2011

      Remarks by the President in a Town Hall Meeting in Decorah, Iowa

      Seed Savers Exchange
      Decorah, Iowa

      5:17 P.M. CDT

      THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Decorah! (Applause.) Hello, Iowa! (Applause.) It is good to be back. This place is as pretty as I remembered it. (Applause.) It is spectacular.

      Everybody please have a seat. Everybody have a seat. It is wonderful to see all of you. First of all, I’ve got a few introductions I just want to make real quick. The attorney general of Iowa, a great friend of mine, one of my earliest supporters, Tom Miller is in the house. (Applause.) The mayor of Decorah, Donald Arendt is here. Give him a big round of applause. (Applause.) You may remember this guy. He did a great job in Iowa. He’s now one of the finest Secretaries of Agriculture we’ve ever had — Tom Vilsack is in the house. (Applause.) And I want to thank Diane and everybody at the Seed Saver Exchange for this unbelievable setting. Give them a big round of applause. (Applause.)

      And they gave me a pack of seeds for Michelle’s garden. (Laughter.) So I’m going to be in good stead when I get home.

      This is a town hall meeting, so I want to spend most of my time answering your questions. But if you don’t mind, I just want to make a couple remarks at the top.

      We obviously have gone through one of the toughest times in our history economically over these last two and a half years. We’ve gone through the worst recession since the Great Depression, dating back to 2007, 2008. But what I said earlier today when I was in Cannon Falls is something I believe with every fiber of my being, and that is that there is not a country on Earth that would not be willing to trade places with the United States of America. (Applause.) We’ve got the best universities. We’ve got the best entrepreneurs. We’ve got the best scientists. We’ve got the best market system, the most dynamic in the world.

      And so as tough as things are, all of us are incredibly blessed to have been born in the United States of America. (Applause.) And that’s why we continue to attract people from all around the world who see us as a beacon of hope.

      But having said that, we have to acknowledge we’ve got some big challenges. Now, some of the challenges are not of our own making. We had reversed the recession, avoided a depression, got the economy moving again, created 2 million private sector jobs over the last 17 months. But over the last six months, we’ve had a run of bad luck, some things that we could not control. We had an Arab Spring that promises democracy and potentially a growth of human rights throughout the Middle East, but it also caused high gas prices that put a crimp on a lot of families just as they were trying to dig themselves out from the recession. Then we had a tsunami in Japan that disrupted supply chains and affected markets all around the world. And then in Europe, there are all kinds of challenges around the sovereign debt there, and that has made businesses hesitant and some of the effects of Europe have lapped onto our shores. And all those things have been headwinds for our economy.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/08/15/remarks-president-town-hall-meeting-decorah-iowa

    • Second Stop on the Economic Bus Tour: Decorah, Iowa

      Posted by Nikki Sutton on August 15, 2011

      For the second stop of President Obama’s economic bus tour, this evening the bus pulls into Decorah, Iowa. While in Decorah, the President will discuss ways to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class and accelerate hiring while hearing directly from Americans during a town hall at the Seed Savers Exchange. The Seed Savers Exchange is a 850-acre farm that preserves over 25,000 endangered vegetables including heirloom seeds, like Strawberry Crown Squash, Lemon Drop Tomato, Stone Mountain Watermelon, and Champion of England Pea. Shannon Carmody from the Seed Savers Exchange explained that heirlooms are rare seeds with a historic context, “Maybe they were offered in a seed catalog in the 1930’s, and are no longer offered commercial today, or they could have been brought to North American by immigrant families and are maintained for generation after generation.” Watch the town hall live beginning at 6:15 p.m. EDT on WhiteHouse.gov/live.

      Decorah, Iowa is a community that emphasizes staying active and eating healthy. As Mayor Don Arendt put it, “I really think that we are a unique community in Iowa. We have the most parks per capita in the state.” The community is also part of the Food and Fitness Initiative which brings together local counties to help ensure all children have access to healthy, local food and physical activity. You can learn more about ways to stay active and eat nutritious foods with Let’s Move!, First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation.

      Fun Fact for Decorah: A family of bald eagles calls Decorah home. You can watch the National Birds live.

  18. WH

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    All Times Eastern

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM
    11:00 AM
    12:00 PM
    12:50 PM
    The President delivers opening remarks at the White House Rural Economic Forum
    Local Event Time: 11:50 AM CDT
    Northeast Iowa Community College
    Open Press

    1:00 PM
    1:35 PM
    The President participates in a breakout session hosted by Small Business Administrator Karen Mills
    Local Event Time: 12:35 PM CDT
    Northeast Iowa Community College
    Pool Spray at the Top

    1:55 PM
    The President participates in a breakout session hosted by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
    Local Event Time: 12:55 PM CDT
    Northeast Iowa Community College
    Pool Spray at the Top

    2:00 PM
    3:00 PM
    The President is interviewed by KSDK Saint Louis, Missouri and WDAF Kansas City, MO
    Local Event Time: 2:00 PM CDT
    Northeast Iowa Community College
    Closed Press

    3:30 PM
    The President delivers closing remarks at the Rural Economic Forum
    Local Event Time: 2:30 PM CDT
    Northeast Iowa Community College
    Open Press

    4:00 PM
    5:00 PM
    6:00 PM
    7:00 PM
    8:00 PM
    9:00 PM
    10:00 PM

    • POTUS podium

      August 16, 2011

      WhiteHouse.gov http://www.whitehouse.gov/live

      12:50 PM EDT
      The President delivers opening remarks at the White House Rural Economic Forum
      Northeast Iowa Community College

      1:35 PM EDT
      The President participates in a breakout session hosted by Small Business Administrator Karen Mills – Northeast Iowa Community College (Audio Only)

      1:55 PM EDT
      The President participates in a breakout session hosted by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack – Northeast Iowa Community College (Audio Only)

      3:30 PM EDT
      The President delivers closing remarks at the Rural Economic Forum – Northeast Iowa Community College

      —-

      CNN http://live.cnn.com

      10:30 AM EDT
      The National Defense University and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer will host a conversation with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

      3:30 PM EDT
      The President delivers closing remarks at the Rural Economic Forum
      Northeast Iowa Community College

      —-

      CSPAN http://www.cspan.org/

      10:30 AM EDT
      The National Defense University and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer will host a conversation with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. http://www.cspan.org/Events/Clinton-Panetta-Promote-Military-Civilian-Cooperation/10737423522/

      12:50 PM EDT
      The President delivers opening remarks at the White House Rural Economic Forum – Northeast Iowa Community College http://www.cspan.org/Events/President-Hosts-Forum-on-Rural-Economy/10737423519-4/

      1:00 PM EDT
      Brookings Instit.: U.S. Political Problems Undermining World Power Status http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/301065-1

      1:30 PM EDT
      State Department briefing
      The State Department holds its daily briefing with reporters. Topics expected to be discussed include the conflicts in Libya and Syria.

      3:30 PM EDT
      The President delivers closing remarks at the Rural Economic Forum – Northeast Iowa Community College http://www.cspan.org/Events/Obamas-Bus-Tour-Continues/10737423519/

      5:30 PM EDT
      Former Foreign Sec. of Pakistan Riaz Mohammad Khan on U.S. Pakistan Relations http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/301066-1

      Department of Defense http://www.defense.gov/live

      10:30 AM EDT
      The National Defense University and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer will host a conversation with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

  19. President Obama to Visit NICC

    President Barack Obama, with White House officials and members of the president’s Cabinet, will visit Northeast Iowa Community College’s (NICC) Peosta campus to participate in the White House Rural Economic Forum on Tuesday, Aug. 16. President Obama’s mid-morning to mid-afternoon visit at NICC is part of a three-day bus tour through the Midwest from Aug. 15-17.

    The White House Rural Economic Forum brings together small business owners, private sector leaders, rural organizations and government officials to discuss ideas and initiatives to promote economic growth, accelerate hiring, and spur innovation in rural communities and small towns across the nation.

    Location: NICC Peosta Campus

    Date: Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011

    Time: 12:50 – 3:30 PM

    http://www.nicc.edu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=592

    • See – If the President weren’t already in Iowa, he wouldn’t be able to sit in on this meeting! Perfectly coordinated timing to be out with the people.

  20. August 04, 2011

    Vice President Biden to Travel to China, Mongolia, and Japan

    The Vice President will depart for China, Mongolia, and Japan on August 16, 2011. He will visit China at the invitation of Vice President Xi Jinping – the first of the planned reciprocal visits between the Vice Presidents announced during President Hu Jintao’s state visit to Washington earlier this year. While in China, the Vice President will meet with Vice President Xi and other Chinese leaders, including President Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao, to consult on a broad range of bilateral, regional, and global issues. The Vice President will also visit the city of Chengdu, in China’s Southwest. In Ulaanbaatar, the Vice President will underscore our support for Mongolia’s two decades of democratic development and our growing economic ties. In Japan, the Vice President will express steadfast U.S. support for its close ally in the wake of the recent earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear emergency. The Vice President will thank U.S. civilian and military personnel for their assistance in responding to the disaster, as well as highlight Japan’s resilience during the recovery and rebuilding process.

    Additional details about the Vice President’s trip will be released at a later date.

    • August 15, 2011

      Conference Call With Reporters To Discuss Vice President Biden TRIP TO CHINA, MONGOLIA, AND JAPAN

      Via Telephone

      11:03 A.M. EDT

      MS. DUDLEY: Thank you very much. And thank you, everyone, for joining the call today. Our hope is to provide you all with a more detailed sense of the Vice President’s schedule and goals during his trip to China, Mongolia, and Japan.

      With us today, we have National Security Advisor to the Vice President Tony Blinken, Senior Director for Asian Affairs on the national security staff Danny Russel, and Undersecretary for International Affairs at the Department of Treasury Lael Brainard. This call will be on the record, and our speakers are happy to take questions after they give some brief opening statements at the top.

      We’d like to keep this call as focused on the Vice President’s trip as much as possible. So with that, I’m just going to go ahead and turn it over to Tony Blinken and let him kick it off.

      MR. BLINKEN: Amy, thanks very much and thanks to everyone for joining the call today. Let me run you through the big picture of the Vice President’s trip with some highlights from the schedule and then turn it over to Danny, and then to Lael, to go into more detail on some of the policy questions we’re looking at.

      This is the Vice President’s first trip to East Asia as Vice President. But, I think as many of you probably know, he traveled to Asia many times as a senator, including back in 1979 as part of the first Senate delegation to China after we normalized relations.

      This trip that starts tomorrow is part of the administration’s dedicated effort over the last two-and-a-half years to renew and intensify the U.S. role in Asia. We’ve pursued a consistent strategy set out by President Obama to expand our presence and our influence in the region. The Vice President’s trip is a reflection of our belief that the United States is a pacific power whose interests are inextricably linked with Asia’s economic security and political order.

      The trip begins with four days in China, Beijing, and the southwestern city of Chengdu. We then travel to Mongolia for a day, and finally to our close ally Japan for two days. The dates specifically are China, August 17 through 22; Mongolia, August 22nd; and Japan, August 22nd to the 24th.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/08/15/conference-call-reporters-discuss-vice-president-biden-trip-china-mongol

    • #VPinAsia on Twitter

      Posted by Amy Dudley on August 16, 2011

      Earlier today, Vice President Biden departed for Beijing, China, the first stop on a nine-day swing through Asia that also includes visits to Mongolia and Japan. While this may be his first visit to Asia as Vice President, as a Senator, Vice President Biden traveled extensively throughout Asia, including to China in 1979 as part of the first Senate delegation to the country after normalization.

      This time, the Vice President is visiting China at the invitation of Vice President Xi Jinping – the first of the planned reciprocal visits between the Vice Presidents announced by President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao during his state visit to Washington earlier this year. One of the primary purposes of the trip is to get to know Vice President Xi. Bottom line – this visit is an investment in the future of the U.S-China relationship.

      Our partners at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the five consulates around China are also using the Vice President’s visit as an opportunity to share American culture and values with Chinese netizens by microblogging and blogging about the trip in Chinese. Their followers on the two largest microblog sites in China – Sina and QQ – number over 1 million. Posts about the Office of the Vice President, interesting facts about Vice President Biden, his upcoming trip to Chengdu, Dr. Biden’s recent call for famine aid to Africa, and Peace Corps Volunteers in Sichuan have generated thousands of positive comments and retweets from Chinese netizens.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/08/16/vpinasia-twitter

  21. U.S. encouraged by Libya rebel push, embassy open

    8/15/11 By Andrew Quinn | Reuters – 1 hr 7 mins ago

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States believes Libyan rebel advances are choking off Muammar Gaddafi’s forces in the capital Tripoli and significantly increasing pressure on the Libyan leader, the U.S. State Department said on Monday.

    State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said an envoy from the rebel’s National Transitional Council had reopened Libya’s embassy in Washington, further formalizing ties between the United States and the rebel government.

    “What we are seeing is an effort by the rebels to choke off the access routes into Tripoli and to up the pressure on Gaddafi,” Nuland told a news briefing.

    “We’re encouraged by the progress that they’re making, and they are increasing the pressure on Tripoli significantly,” she said.

    Libyan rebels said on Monday they had seized a second strategic town near Tripoli within 24 hours, completing the encirclement of the capital in the boldest advances yet of the six-month uprising against Muammar Gaddafi.

    Nuland’s upbeat assessment marked a changing tone in Washington, where until recently frustration over the slow progress on the battlefield and internal divisions among the rebels had undercut optimism.

    For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/u-encouraged-libya-rebel-push-embassy-open-224101812.html

  22. U.S. banks continue to ease lending standards: Fed

    8/15/11 By Doug Palmer | Reuters – 4 hrs ago

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. banks continue to ease lending standards and most terms on all major non-real estate loans during the past three months, the Federal Reserve reported in its quarterly survey of senior loan officers.

    Some respondents also saw an increase in demand for commercial and industrial (C&I) and commercial real estate (CRE) loans over the same period, the Fed said.

    “At the same time, banks reportedly experienced, on net, slightly weaker demand for some categories of residential real estate loans,” the Fed said.

    With respect to consumer lending, the net percentages of banks that reported easing standards were low and roughly in line with the previous survey, the Fed said.

    While some respondents saw an increase in demand for both credit card and auto loans over the past three months, the pickup in demand was not widespread, the Fed said.

    Moreover, demand for other consumer loans was about unchanged, the Fed said.

    Some domestic and foreign banks continued to report an increase in demand for C&I loans over the past three months, the Fed said.

    For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/u-banks-continue-ease-lending-standards-fed-190722136.html

  23. Stocks rise for third day after acquisition flurry

    8/15/11 By STAN CHOE – AP Business Writer

    Richard Cohen, right, works with a fellow trader on the floor of the New York Stock …

    Traders Andrew Igoe, left, and Michael Smyth work near the post that trades Motorola …

    NEW YORK (AP) — The Dow Jones industrial average notched a three-day win streak Monday for the first time in six weeks. A $19 billion corporate buying spree and encouraging economic news from Japan sent the Dow up 213 points and erased its losses from last week.

    The return of what’s called “Merger Monday” on Wall Street made investors more optimistic about the future. So did a report that Japan’s economy shrank less than feared after the earthquake and tsunami there on March 11. That helped ease worries that the U.S. economy may slide into another recession.

    The Dow rose 213.88 points, or 1.9 percent to 11,482.90. It has gained 763 points since Thursday. That’s the best three-day point gain since it rose 927 in November 2008, during the depths of the financial crisis. The Dow is also up 7.1 percent over the three days, the biggest percentage gain since it rose 9.5 percent the first three days of the bull market in March 2009.

    For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/stocks-rise-third-day-acquisition-flurry-205128644.html

  24. U.S. gasoline prices drop for second week in a row

    8/15/11 By Malathi Nayak | Reuters – 2 hrs 25 mins ago

    A taxicab driver fills his tank at a gas station in mid-town Manhattan in New York, …

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. retail gasoline prices fell 7 cents over the last week to $3.60 a gallon as of Monday, the second consecutive drop this month, the U.S. Energy Department said.
    The national price for regular unleaded gasoline dropped remained 85.9 cents higher than it was a year ago, the department said.
    This is the second week in a row that gasoline prices have declined, following five weeks of increases.

    Optimism that European leaders will come up with solutions to the region’s debt crisis drove oil prices up on Monday.

    Oil prices, which account for about 65 percent of the cost of making gasoline, traded up $2.50 on the New York Mercantile Exchange to settle at $87.88 a barrel on Monday.

    While oil prices have begun to recover from their steep slide at the beginning of August, they remain well below levels around $100 a barrel hit last month.

    Diesel prices fell 6.2 cents week-on-week to $3.84 a gallon, though that was still up 85.6 cents from a year ago, the department said.

  25. CR – With just your last few links, you’ve posted more good news on this blog than the media has given us in a week.

    Thank you.

  26. Good night, O’family and all the ships at sea!

    Think I’ll go howl at the big, beautiful moon out tonight.

  27. Take a Tip from the White House on Foursquare

    Posted by Kori Schulman on August 15, 2011

    The White House is now on Foursquare, a location-based social networking website, which is the latest way for you to engage with the administration. There are over 10 million people already “checking in” around the world, and now you’ll be able to discover “tips” from the White House featuring the places President Obama has visited, what he did there, plus historical information and more.

    We’re excited to launch this week as President Obama kicks off his economic bus tour across the Midwest. You can follow the President on the road through Cannon Falls, Minnesota; Decorah and Peosta, Iowa; and Atkinson and Alpha, Illinois. Through the new White House page on Foursquare, you can keep up with the President’s tour and check-in to let your friends know you’re there.

    Here’s what you can expect from the new White House page on Foursquare:

    Follow White House “Tips”: See the places the President and administration officials visit around the country and the world, follow news and events by location, learn about the White House and more.

    “Check-in” to the White House and events: Are you visiting the White House or attending a Town Hall with the President? Check-in.

    And more: We’re new to Foursquare and always looking for ways to improve our online program. Tell us how we’re doing and what we can do better.

    Sound good? Follow the White House on Foursquare. You can also stay up-to-date and engage with the White House on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, or sign-up for email updates.

  28. August 16, 2011

    President Announces New Jobs Initiatives for Rural America

    Investments Focus on Increasing Access to Capital, Job Training and Health Care Services

    On August 16, at the White House Rural Economic Forum, President Obama will announce new jobs initiatives recommended by the White House Rural Council for growing the economy and creating jobs in rural America. The Council’s recommendations focus on key areas of need in rural communities, including helping rural small businesses access capital, expanding rural job search and training services, and increasing rural access to health care workers and technology.

    “These are tough times for a lot of Americans – including those who live in our rural communities,” said President Obama. “That’s why my administration has put a special focus on helping rural families find jobs, grow their businesses, and regain a sense of economic security.”

    “Creating jobs and economic opportunity in rural America is a priority for the Obama Administration, and the White House Rural Council has used an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to leverage resources across the federal government to achieve that goal,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “By bringing new capital, job training, and additional investments to our rural communities, we are working to ensure the people who live in these towns have a better, brighter future.”

    “SBA is pleased to announce that we will be doubling the capital going to rural businesses through the Small Business Investment Company program, with no cost to tax payers,” said Administrator Karen Mills. “Small businesses of all kinds are thriving in rural areas where they are creating jobs of the future and helping ensure the economic stability of the middle class. Half the people who work in America either own or work for a small business, and two out of three new private sector jobs are created by small businesses. The Obama Administration and SBA have been committed to supporting rural businesses, which drive economic growth across the country and will continue to do so through the programs announced today.”

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/08/16/president-announces-new-jobs-initiatives-rural-america

  29. More Affordable Health Care, Easier Access: Health Reform Exchanges Take Major Step Forward

    August 15, 2011 | Posted by Deaniac83 – ThePeoplesView

    Last week, while a court of appeals was busy ruling that Congress did not have the power to tax or to regulate interstate commerce (or more precisely, to tax or regulate a commercial behavior – like not buying health insurance when one can afford it), the pace of implementing health reform did not slow down. The departments of HHS and Treasury announced awards and proposed rules to make the transition to and operation of the exchanges coming in 2014 smoother. Last week’s implementation involved the following:

    HHS announced $185 million in grants to 13 states and DC (bringing the total number to 16 states and DC) to start building the exchanges.

    HHS also announced rules to coordinate Medicaid and SCHIP through the exchanges so that eligible individuals and families do not spend time in redundant paperwork.

    Department of Treasury announced how the tax credits for purchasing health insurance would work.

    For the entire article: http://www.thepeoplesview.net/2011/08/better-and-affordable-health-care.html

  30. Factory output in July rose by most since March

    8/16/11 By DANIEL WAGNER – AP Business Writer | AP – 23 mins ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A busy month for U.S. automakers lifted overall factory output in July by the most since the Japan crisis. A stronger manufacturing sector is the latest evidence that the economy may not be as weak as some had feared.

    The Federal Reserve said Tuesday that factory output increased 0.6 percent last month. That’s the biggest increase since the March 11 earthquake in Japan, which disrupted supply chains and limited output by some U.S. auto plants.

    The resurgent auto industry accounted for nearly all of the increase in factory production. Motor vehicles and parts jumped 5.2 percent. Excluding that category, factory output grew only 0.2 percent.

    Overall industrial production jumped 0.9 percent — the biggest increase this year. Unusually hot weather in July drove demand for energy generated by utilities. Mining output also increased.

    For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/factory-output-july-rose-most-since-march-133744643.html

  31. The Rural Economic Forum in Peosta, Iowa

    Posted by Nikki Sutton on August 16, 2011 at 10:14 AM EDT

    After a full day of town halls in Cannon Falls, Minnesota and Decorah, Iowa, this morning the economic bus tour pulls into Peosta, Iowa for the White House Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College. President Obama and members of his Cabinet will meet with private sector leaders, farmers, and small business owners during the Rural Economic Forum to discuss ideas to grow the economy, accelerate hiring, and spur innovation in small towns.

    The focus of the forum is how to create good jobs that put more Americans back to work and President Obama will announce new job initiatives for rural America to do just that. The initiatives will include recommendations from the White House Rural Council like helping rural small businesses access capital, expanding rural job search and training services, and increasing rural access to health care workers and technology.

    Watch President Obama’s opening remarks at 12:50 p.m. EDT and closing remarks at 3:30 p.m. EDT on WhiteHouse.gov/live to learn more about the President’s plan to create jobs in small cities and towns across America.

    Located about 10 miles west of the Mississippi River, the fast-growing town of Peosta is an example of a community that would benefit from the President’s new jobs initiatives. Before President Obama’s visit, Mayor Dick Avenarius said, “I think that it’s quite an honor to have the President choose our town…[It] is pretty neat because he’s going to be in a farm community. It’s going to be small businesses and farming that create job growth in this country moving forward.”

    Programs like the variety of technical and applied sciences degrees available at Northeast Iowa Community College, from agriculture to welding, can prepare workers in towns like Peosta to keep the economy moving. As President Obama said this June in Bettendorf, Iowa, that kind of investment in new skills will keep America competitive in the 21st century so the products of the future “bear the proud stamp that says ‘Made in America.'”

    Fun Fact for Peosta, Iowa: The population of Peosta has increased by 920% over the past twenty years, from 135 in 1990 to 1,377 in 2010.

  32. GOP Wrong Way Rick Perry’s Ruthless Drive to Win

    By Paul Begala | The Daily Beast – Sat, Aug 13, 2011

    I first met Rick Perry in 1985. He was a Democratic freshman state rep, straight off the ranch in Haskell, Texas. He wore his jeans so tight, and, umm, adjusted himself so often that my fellow young legislative aides and I used to call him Crotch. Even among state representatives, even among Texas Aggies (graduates of this cute remedial school we have in Texas), Perry stood out for his modest intellectual gifts. Hell, he got a C in animal breeding. I have goats who got an A in that subject. But lack of brains has never been a hindrance in politics.

    Mitt Romney should be shaking in his Guccis.

    Rick Perry threw his hair in the ring on Saturday. His entrance into the GOP presidential field can be a game changer. Perry can raise money as well as Mitt. He can rally the base as well as Michele Bachmann, and he will say or do anything—annnnnnnyyyyyyything—to win. And in today’s Republican Party, if you want to be the nominee you have to be willing to do some really crazy s–t.

    You’d have thought that Mitt Romney was the guy who would do whatever it takes. Like the defendant in a Stalinist show trial, Mitt has renounced everything about his prior life: his positions on gay rights, abortion rights, TARP, gun control, campaign finance, immigration, etc. Abandoning nearly everything you have stood for certainly evinces a desire to win (if not a steely spine).

    Rick Perry is not, in the main, a flip-flopper. But he takes “whatever it takes” to a whole ’nother level.

    Does Michele Bachmann make conservative crowds swoon by saying the Lord told her to study tax law? Meh. Perry gathers 30,000 people to a controversial Christian prayer rally. In Houston. In August. One veteran Texas politico told me, “The guy is Elmer Gantry. He could take over a conservative megachurch tomorrow and outpreach the pastor.”

    Does Tim Pawlenty rant about Social Security? Hah. Perry told The Daily Beast’s Andrew Romano that Social Security is “a Ponzi scheme,” and that both it and Medicare are unconstitutional. Never mind that the Supreme Court recently ruled that Social Security is perfectly constitutional. OK, not that recently. In 1937, actually. A court with seven Republicans and just two Democrats ruled (in Helvering v. Davis) that Social Security does not violate the 10th Amendment or any other part of the Constitution.

    Does Ron Paul talk about states’ rights? Come on. Perry has already flirted with secession. Secession? Even Jefferson Davis opposed secession when he was a senator from Mississippi. When you’re more open to secession than Jefferson Davis was a century and a half ago, well, you’ve gone pretty far. Does Herman Cain boast of creating jobs as a CEO? Puuhleeze. Perry will claim that Texas leads the nation in jobs created. As a joke currently circulating in the Lone Star State puts it, “Sure, Perry has created thousands of jobs. I’m working three of them.” Texas does in fact lead the nation in minimum-wage jobs and in both the number of people who are uninsured and the percentage of the population that’s uninsured. Under the supposedly antigovernment Perry, government jobs grew at twice the rate of private-sector jobs. Perry has flaws, huge flaws. Not the least of which is that he presided over the execution of one of his constituents, Cameron Todd Willingham, who was probably innocent. But I’m not sure that’s a liability in today’s Tea Party–obsessed GOP. There’s a legend in Lone Star politics that one of Perry’s Republican rivals in Texas tested the Willingham issue in a focus group. One Republican man, the story goes, squinted and said, “Well, I like that. Takes a lot of balls to execute an innocent man.” At that moment, folks say, Perry’s rival knew opposing him was fruitless. Back in 1985 the Texas Legislature was crawling with ambitious young politicians—as was every legislature in America. Why would one man—albeit a handsome man with great hair and serious political skills—rise above the thousands of others? Not because of brains and not because of bipartisan appeal. Because he has the most important quality of all: the willingness to do whatever it takes. That’s truer than ever in relation to today’s Tea Party–dominated Republican Party. You’ve gotta be willing to do anything, say anything, accept anything, propose anything, endorse anything, pledge anything. There is nothing too bats–t for these people. Watch your back, Mitt.

    • Good morning CR and friends. Mitt is a flipflopper with no real convictions and Perry is SCARY, because he is dishonest. I look at him as a snakeoil salesman. When I watch and hear PBO, I see and feel honesty and trust. If we can give PBO a majority in congress in 2012, there is no limit of what he can get done to help the American people.

  33. Silicon Valley billionaire funding creation of artificial libertarian islands

    8/16/11 By Liz Goodwin | The Lookout – 48 mins ago

    Pay Pal founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel has given $1.25 million to an initiative to create floating libertarian countries in international waters, according to a profile of the billionaire in Details magazine.

    Thiel has been a big backer of the Seasteading Institute, which seeks to build sovereign nations on oil rig-like platforms to occupy waters beyond the reach of lat-of-the-sea treaties. The idea is for these countries to start from scratch–free from the laws,
    regulations, and moral codes of any existing place. Details says the experiment would be “a kind of floating petri dish for implementing policies that libertarians, stymied by indifference at the voting booths, have been unable to advance: no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons.”

    “There are quite a lot of people who think it’s not possible,” Thiel said at a Seasteading Institute Conference in 2009, according to Details. (His first donation was in 2008, for $500,000.) “That’s a good thing. We don’t need to really worry about those people very much, because since they don’t think it’s possible they won’t take us very seriously. And they will not actually try to stop us until it’s too late.”

    The Seasteading Institute’s Patri Friedman says the group plans to launch an office park off the San Francisco coast next year, with the first full-time settlements following seven years later.
    Thiel made news earlier this year for putting a portion of his $1.5 billion fortune into an initiative to encourage entrepreneurs to skip college.

    Another Silicon Valley titan, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, announced in June that he would be funding the “Clock of the Long Now.” The clock is designed to keep ticking for 10,000 years, and will be built in a mountain in west Texas.

      • Building new island nations, OK… Is this really a good idea considering that rising ocean levels due to global warming are threatening to drown existing islands and low-lying coastal areas?

        And they want to live in a place with “no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons.” The bleeding and starving Third World is rife with such places. Why don’t they move there and see how they like it?

        And will they have their own floating armies to protect their islands?

        Now, a 10,000-year ticking clock in a mountain (who’s going to wind this thing?), that’s a sensible idea. *rolls eyes, goes for more coffee*

  34. Voters go to the polls in Wisconsin’s two final recalls

    8/16/11 By Brendan O’Brien | Reuters – 47 mins ago

    Voters take to the polls as Wisconsin holds the nation’s largest ever recall elections …

    EAGLE RIVER, Wis (Reuters) – Voters in two Wisconsin State Senate districts head to the polls on Tuesday in the last of nine recall elections triggered by the fight earlier this year over Republican-backed curbs on the union rights of public workers.
    In Tuesday’s two final special elections, Jim Holperin and Robert Wirch — two Democrats who opposed the anti-union measure and even fled the state for weeks in an unsuccessful effort to prevent its passage — are defending their seats.

    Holperin seems to be in the tighter race. His rival is Kim Simac, founder of the Northwoods Patriots, a Tea Party group. Though Simac is a political novice, the district has leaned Republican in the three years since Holperin was elected.

    For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/voters-polls-wisconsins-two-final-recalls-123444411.html

    • August 16, 2011

      Opening Remarks by the President at the White House Rural Economic Forum

      12:05 P.M. CDT

      THE PRESIDENT: Hello, hello, hello! (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Everybody please have a seat. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you so much.

      Well, it is wonderful to be back in Iowa, and thank you for arranging perfect weather these last couple of days. (Laughter.) I have just been having a great time.

      I want to first of all make just a few acknowledgments. Richard Avenarius, who is the mayor of Peosta, please — where are you, Mr. Mayor? Well, he was here. (Laughter.) Give him a round of applause anyway. (Applause.)

      This person I know is here, and I want to thank Northeast Iowa Community College for hosting us — Dr. Liang Wee is here, interim president. (Applause.)

      I’ve got a number of members of my Cabinet who are here. All of them do outstanding work day in, day out. So I couldn’t be prouder of them. First of all, this guy you should be a little familiar with because he used to be the governor of this great state — Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. (Applause.) Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. (Applause.) Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. (Applause.) Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan. (Applause.) And the Small Business Administrator Karen Mills. (Applause.)

      Well, this is an outstanding crowd, and I don’t want to stand in the way of a lot of good work that’s going to be done, so I’m going to just make some brief remarks at the top. We’ve got small business owners here. We have farmers. We have ranchers, public servants, clean energy entrepreneurs and community organizations from all across rural America. And I’m here because I want to hear from you, and my Cabinet wants to hear from you.

      There are two things that I know for sure: America is going to come back from this recession stronger than before. That I’m convinced of. I believe that. (Applause.) And I’m also convinced that comeback isn’t going to be driven by Washington. (Applause.) It’s going to be — it is going to be driven by folks here in Iowa. It’s going to begin in the classrooms of community colleges like this one. (Applause.) It’s going to start on the ranchlands and farms of the Midwest, in the workshops of basement inventors, in the storefronts of small business owners.

      And that’s why I’m here today. Obviously we’re going through tough times right now; I don’t have to tell you that. A lot of folks are looking for work. Even if you have a job or a small business or a farm, you’re maybe getting by with fewer customers or making do with fewer shifts or less money in tips. And for a lot of families in rural parts of the country, these challenges aren’t new. For a long time — a decade, maybe longer — you’ve known what it means to face hardship.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/08/16/opening-remarks-president-white-house-rural-economic-forum

      • Rural Tour Day Two: Economic Forum Opening Remarks

        Posted by Colleen Curtis on August 16, 2011

        One the second day of his tour through rural America, President Obama participated in a Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa. He and members of his Cabinet joined a group of farmers, small business owners, private sector leaders, rural organizations and government officials to discuss ideas and initiatives that will spur job creation and economic innovation in small towns across the nation. In his opening remarks, the President announced several new initiatives that will promote economic growth in rural communities, including:

        Helping Rural Small Businesses Access Capital

        * Doubling SBA Investment Funds for Rural Small Businesses over the Next 5 Years

        * Connecting Rural Small Businesses with Private Investment Capital

        Expanding Rural Job Search and Training Services

        * Expanding Department of Labor Job Search and Training Services to 2,800 USDA Sites Nationwide

        Increasing Rural Access to Health Care Workers and Technology

        * Increasing Physician Recruitment at Critical Access Hospitals

        * Expanding Health Information Technology (IT) in Rural America

        For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/08/16/rural-tour-day-two-economic-forum-opening-remarks

  35. Sarkozy and Merkel push tax plan, closer economic coordination

    8/16/11 By Paris and Berlin reporters | Reuters – 12 mins ago

    PARIS (Reuters) – The leaders of France and Germany, under pressure to counter a debt market crisis in Europe, have agreed to float proposals in September for a tax on financial transactions and push for closer joint governance of economic policy, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Tuesday.

    After talks in Paris, Sarkozy said he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were also proposing that all 17 euro zone countries commit to balanced finances and write that goal into their constitutional law by summer 2012.

    Among other measures announced, he said they would also seek to ensure better cross-border economic government for the euro zone via twice-yearly meetings of leaders and the creation of a two-and-a-half-year presidency to steer this forum.

    “We want to express our absolute will to defend the euro and assume Germany and France’s particular responsibilities in Europe and to have on all of these subjects a complete unity of views,” Sarkozy told a news conference at his Elysee Palace offices, where he was flanked by Merkel.

    The two are under pressure to come up with plans to shore up the euro zone and restore financial market confidence after a year and a half of turmoil that has refused to die down despite bailouts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal and the creation of an anti-contagion fund.

    • August 16, 2011

      Remarks by the President in a Breakout Session of the White House Rural Economic Forum Hosted by SBA Administrator Karen Mills

      Northeast Iowa Community College, Peosta, Iowa

      12:44 P.M. CDT

      THE PRESIDENT: I think all I want to say by way of introduction is, I had the chance to have breakfast with a couple of your panelists here, and — three of them, actually — and I was just struck by the creativity and the stick-to-it-ness that so many businesses here are exhibiting.

      The good news, Karen, is all of them, uniformly, on a bipartisan basis, felt that the SBA, their local SBA office, is doing a great job and working really hard. So there you go. Just wanted you to know. (Laughter.) They were talking behind your back, and it was good.

      At the same time, I think that there was a sense, in the conversation I had at breakfast this morning, that issues of credit are still a problem. In particular, smaller businesses and startup businesses — $100,000, $200,000 — getting that initial startup capital oftentimes was a challenge.

      And we also heard that getting help on things like marketing could make a big difference for businesses that want to break out beyond their immediate communities, and — particularly if they’re competing with larger businesses, even if they think they’ve got a better product.

      So what I said to them is the same thing that I say to the entire group: We genuinely believe that small business is the backbone of America. It’s going to be the key for us to be able to put a lot of folks back to work. What we’re looking for is, how can we do our jobs better? How can the SBA or USDA or any of the other federal agencies that touch on rural America on a regular basis help you create the jobs and businesses and ideas that I think are so evident in a lot of communities all across the country.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/08/16/remarks-president-breakout-session-white-house-rural-economic-forum-host

    • August 16, 2011

      Background on White House Rural Economic Forum

      On Tuesday, August 16th the President and members of the White House Rural Council will host the White House Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa. The Forum will bring together farmers, small business owners, private sector leaders, rural organizations, and government officials to discuss ideas and initiatives to promote economic growth, accelerate hiring, and spur innovation in rural communities nationwide. The President will engage directly with a variety of rural leaders from across the nation to discuss the importance of growing small businesses and strengthening the middle class in rural America.

      At the Forum, President Obama will deliver opening and closing remarks. He will also attend two of the five breakout sessions — Growing Rural Small Business with SBA Administrator Karen Mills and Promoting Agricultural Innovation and Renewable Energy Jobs in Rural Communities with USDA Secretary Vilsack.

      Approximately 125 rural leaders representing a cross-section of interests will attend and participate in the Forum. An additional 75 community college and local invited guests will also attend the opening and closing remarks.

      Background on Breakout Sessions
      The Rural Forum will have five simultaneous breakout sessions. Each session will last 90 minutes and have approximately 15-30 participants representing a cross-section of interests from rural America. Cabinet and senior administration officials will host and moderate each session.

      List of breakout sessions:

      * Growing Rural Small Business (Administrator Karen Mills)
      * Promoting Agricultural Innovation and Renewable Energy Jobs in Rural Communities (Secretary Vilsack)
      * Strengthening the Middle Class in Rural America (Secretary Donovan/DPC Director Melody Barnes)
      * Creating Jobs through Conservation, Outdoor Recreation and Tourism (Secretary Salazar/CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley)
      * Building Economic Opportunity for Rural Businesses through Infrastructure Investments (Secretary LaHood)

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/08/16/background-white-house-rural-economic-forum

    • August 16, 2011

      Remarks by the President in Breakout Session of White House Rural Economic Forum Hosted by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

      Northeast Iowa Community College, Peosta, Iowa

      1:09 P.M. CDT

      THE PRESIDENT: John, sorry to interrupt. You were making a good point. Good to see you. Everybody, please have a seat. I just wanted to jump in. I just came out of a Small Business Breakout Session. So I don’t want to interrupt. I just want to emphasize, first of all, I think Vilsack is doing a great job. (Applause.)

      Second of all, this issue of energy innovation I think is absolutely vital for rural communities, but for the entire country. If we can harness homegrown fuels — whether it’s biofuels, wind, solar, geothermal, you name it — then I think it can generate hundreds of thousands of jobs all across the country. It can help free ourselves from dependence on foreign oil. It diversifies sources of income for farmers. I’m not telling you guys anything that you don’t already know.

      All I want to emphasize is, is that when you look at farm economies, right now obviously prices are good, but given the volatility of the world market, for us to be able to figure out how we can also use energy and conservation as an enhancement to the core business of feeding people, then I think that we can make enormous progress. And Tom has a lot of creative ideas. Our Department of Energy, we’ve made this one of our highest priorities. And so I’m very interested in figuring out how the federal government can be even more helpful than it already is in moving this agenda forward.

      So, with that, let me just sit back and listen and — unless somebody has a question for me, then I’ll try to answer it.

      END 1:11 P.M. CDT

  36. Bushies slam Rick Perry’s Ben Bernanke comment

    8/16/11 By ALEXANDER BURNS – POLITICO

    Rick Perry’s attack on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke – calling the country’s central banker “almost treasonous” for adopting quantitative easing policy – has drawn a sharp round of rebukes from former Bush administration officials, starting with known Perry skeptic Karl Rove.

    Rove blasted on Fox News (via GOP12):

    “It’s his first time on the national stage, and it was a very unfortunate comment. You don’t accuse the chairman of the federal reserve of being a traitor to his country and being guilty of treason and suggesting that we treat him pretty ugly in Texas — that’s not, again, a presidential statement … Governor Perry is going to have to fight the impression that he’s a cowboy from Texas. This simply added to it.”

    Former Bush White House official Pete Wehner wrote in Commentary:

    People shouldn’t throw around the words “almost treasonous” loosely; and certainly a person running for president shouldn’t do such a thing. To say someone is treasonous means he is a traitor to his country. In the long catalogue of crimes an individual can commit, there are not many that are worse than treason … [W]hat the Texas governor said about the Federal Reserve chairman is the kind of blustering, unthinking comment that Perry’s critics expect of him. Why he would play to stereotype is hard to fathom. Or, perhaps he’s simply being himself. We’ll find out soon enough. In the meantime Perry ought to offer a retraction and apology — and then offer a serious intellectual critique of why he believes Ben Bernanke is pursuing injurious policies.

    And former White House and Treasury Department spokesman Tony Fratto tweeted: “Gov. Perry’s comments about Chmn. Bernanke are inappropriate and unpresidential.”

    Attacking the Fed chairman probably won’t do Perry much harm with the GOP primary-voting man on the street, but it won’t do him any favors, either, with a national conservative elite that’s deeply skeptical of him as a potential president.

    • Yikes!!!! I actually agree with something Rove said???!!!

      I DO feel like I am in a Dali painting!!..the clocks are melting and did I just hear “Timex” say “corporations are our friends”???!!…need sanity…must get away from GOP craziness!!!

  37. Is Rick Perry’s jobs ‘miracle’ a lie?

    8/16/11 The Week – 8 hrs ago

    The Texas governor and GOP presidential candidate cites his record on fighting unemployment as something his rivals can’t match. But will such claims backfire?

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose campaign bus is plastered with the slogan “Get America Working Again,” is making his record on jobs the centerpiece of his run for the Republican presidential nomination. As proof that he’s the GOP candidate best positioned to beat President Obama, he points to the so-called “Texas miracle” — Perry’s state has added, not lost, jobs in the faltering economy. But critics say Perry’s claims are “overblown,” and that others, including President Obama, also deserve credit for Texas’ good fortune. Is Perry overstating the “Texas miracle” and his role in it?

    The jobs “miracle” didn’t happen: “The Texas miracle is a myth,” says Paul Krugman in The New York Times. The oil-producing state entered the recession late, largely because it benefited from high oil prices in 2008. After that “unemployment soared in Texas, just as it did almost everywhere else.” In June 2011, Texas’ unemployment rate, at 8.2 percent, was higher than New York’s and Massachusetts’, and “one in four Texans lack health insurance, the highest proportion in the nation….”
    “The Texas unmiracle”

    Perry did create fertile ground for job growth: California has lots of oil, too, says Jeffrey Folks at The American Thinker, yet its economy is “in the Dumpster” while Texas prospers. Why the difference? Texas has no income tax, so working adults and retirees want to live there. And as governor, “Rick Perry helped to create a tax and regulatory environment” that helped businesses flourish. Too bad Obama didn’t adopt Perry’s policies at a national level.
    “Obama and the Perry miracle”

    The “Texas miracle” is more complicated than Perry admits: Rick Perry can take credit for a 2003 law capping malpractice awards, says Ezra Klein at The Washington Post, which attracted 20,000 physicians to Texas. But, for the most part, Texas didn’t create jobs — it siphoned them from other states by offering sub-par wages and loose business regulations, which is hardly a solution nationwide. And many of Texas’ new jobs came from government spending aided by $6.4 billion in Obama stimulus spending, but you won’t hear that in Perry’s stump speech.
    “Breaking down Rick Perry’s ‘Texas miracle'”

  38. Panetta, Clinton warn that State, Defense cuts undermine security

    8/16/11 By Justin Sink – TheHill

    Steep cuts to military or diplomatic budgets could undermine national security, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Tuesday in a joint appearance.

    The two Cabinet members said cuts that could be triggered under the debt-ceiling deal signed by President Obama earlier this month could hurt U.S. troops while limiting the State Department’s ability to engage in diplomacy.

    “[The proposed cuts] would break faith with troops and their families,” Panetta said. “It would literally undercut our ability to provide for the national defense.”


    Clinton echoed the new Pentagon leader’s concerns, warning that budget were casting “a pall” over the U.S. ability to project its security interests.

    “I’m not saying we should be exempt, but we have to do a reasonable analysis of what our needs are,” Clinton said.

    Panetta and Clinton chose a town-hall event at National Defense University Tuesday morning to raise their concerns. The event was aimed at underscoring the increasing cooperation between their departments. Clinton had a close working relationship with ex-Pentagon chief Robert Gates, and Tuesday’s event underscored efforts Clinton and Panetta are making to remain on the same page.

    For the entire article: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/177045-panetta-proposed-defense-cuts-would-break-faith-with-troops

    • August 16, 2011

      Closing Remarks by the President at the White House Rural Economic Forum

      Northeast Iowa Community College, Peosta, Iowa

      2:46 P.M. CDT

      THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Thank you so much. Please, please, everybody have a seat.

      I just want to, again, thank my extraordinary Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for leading this forum. (Applause.) You don’t have a more passionate advocate for farming communities in rural America than Tom Vilsack. And I will tell you, if you are not fully persuaded that this administration has been all over the rural agenda, spend five minutes with Tom Vilsack — (laughter) — and his enthusiasm for the steps that we’ve been taking just bubbles over. And it’s been under his leadership more than anybody’s that we’ve been able to make such a difference.

      I want to thank all the members of my Cabinet who are here today as well. They’ve done a terrific job participating in some of these breakout sessions.

      As I said earlier, despite the hits that we’ve taken over the last two and a half years — Tom is right, I am absolutely confident about our future. And I’m confident because I know that while we face serious challenges — and there’s no sugarcoating that — there’s not a nation on Earth that would not want to trade places with us. There’s nothing wrong with our country — although there is some problems with our politics. That’s what we need to fix. That’s how we’re going to unlock the promise of America, and the incredible dynamism and creativity of our people.

      And having a chance to meet with some of the men and women in this room have only made me feel more confident. I’m excited about the future that you’re working towards each and every day. And it ought to remind us of a simple lesson: It’s always a mistake to bet against America. (Applause.) It’s always a mistake to bet against the American worker. It’s always a mistake to bet against the American worker, the American farmer, the American small business owner, the American people.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/08/16/closing-remarks-president-white-house-rural-economic-forum

      • It’s always a mistake to bet against America. (Applause.) It’s always a mistake to bet against the American worker. It’s always a mistake to bet against the American worker, the American farmer, the American small business owner, the American people.

        🙂 Love it, Mr. President!

  39. August 16, 2011

    President Announces New Jobs Initiatives for Rural America

    Investments Focus on Increasing Access to Capital, Job Training and Health Care Services

    On August 16, at the White House Rural Economic Forum, President Obama will announce new jobs initiatives recommended by the White House Rural Council for growing the economy and creating jobs in rural America. The Council’s recommendations focus on key areas of need in rural communities, including helping rural small businesses access capital, expanding rural job search and training services, and increasing rural access to health care workers and technology.

    “These are tough times for a lot of Americans – including those who live in our rural communities,” said President Obama. “That’s why my administration has put a special focus on helping rural families find jobs, grow their businesses, and regain a sense of economic security.”

    “Creating jobs and economic opportunity in rural America is a priority for the Obama Administration, and the White House Rural Council has used an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to leverage resources across the federal government to achieve that goal,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “By bringing new capital, job training, and additional investments to our rural communities, we are working to ensure the people who live in these towns have a better, brighter future.”

    “SBA is pleased to announce that we will be doubling the capital going to rural businesses through the Small Business Investment Company program, with no cost to tax payers,” said Administrator Karen Mills. “Small businesses of all kinds are thriving in rural areas where they are creating jobs of the future and helping ensure the economic stability of the middle class. Half the people who work in America either own or work for a small business, and two out of three new private sector jobs are created by small businesses. The Obama Administration and SBA have been committed to supporting rural businesses, which drive economic growth across the country and will continue to do so through the programs announced today.”

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/08/16/president-announces-new-jobs-initiatives-rural-america

    • Giving Rural America More Tools to Grow and Create Jobs

      Posted by Tom Vilsack and Karen Mills on August 16, 2011

      Today, the President announced several important new initiatives to continue strengthening the rural economy and to create jobs in rural areas.

      As part of the White House Rural Council’s efforts to improve federal government coordination on rural economic development, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) have been focused on rural small business growth. And for good reason: Half the people who work in America either own or work for a small business, and two out of three new private sector jobs are created by small businesses.

      Many of these small businesses are in rural areas and we are making sure that they have the tools they need to grow, create jobs and drive the economy.

      Today, the President announced a series of initiatives that leverage existing programs and funding to help small businesses and to meet other critical needs in rural communities. This included:

      * Committing up to $350 million in SBA growth capital to investors in rural small businesses over the next 5 years
      * Launching a series of events to connect private equity and venture capital investors with rural start ups
      * Creating teams to link federal funding opportunities with private investors interested in making rural investments
      * Making job search information available at 2,800 local USDA offices nationwide
      * Making HHS loans available to help more than 1,300 Critical Access Hospitals recruit additional staff
      Helping rural hospitals purchase software and hardware to implement health IT
      You can learn more about the announcement here.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/08/16/giving-rural-america-more-tools-grow-and-create-jobs

    • August 16, 2011

      President Obama Announces Major Initiative to Spur Biofuels Industry and Enhance America’s Energy Security

      USDA, Department of Energy and Navy Partner to Advance Biofuels to Fuel Military and Commercial Transportation, Displace Need for Foreign Oil, and Strengthen Rural America

      WASHINGTON, Aug. 16, 2011 – President Obama today announced that the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Energy and Navy will invest up to $510 million during the next three years in partnership with the private sector to produce advanced drop-in aviation and marine biofuels to power military and commercial transportation. The initiative responds to a directive from President Obama issued in March as part of his Blueprint for A Secure Energy Future, the Administration’s framework for reducing dependence on foreign oil. The biofuels initiative is being steered by the White House Biofuels Interagency Work Group and Rural Council, both of which are enabling greater cross-agency collaboration to strengthen rural America.

      “Biofuels are an important part of reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil and creating jobs here at home,” said President Obama. “But supporting biofuels cannot be the role of government alone. That’s why we’re partnering with the private sector to speed development of next-generation biofuels that will help us continue to take steps towards energy independence and strengthen communities across our country.”

      Increased use of advanced biofuels is a key component of the Administration’s energy security agenda, but there is currently a lack of this manufacturing capability for next-generation drop-in biofuels in the United States. To accelerate the production of bio-based jet and diesel fuel for military and commercial purposes, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus have developed a plan to jointly construct or retrofit several drop-in biofuel plants and refineries. This effort will help address energy security and national security challenges, and will provide economic opportunities in rural America.

      “America’s long-term national security depends upon a commercially viable domestic biofuels market that will benefit taxpayers while simultaneously giving Sailors and Marines tactical and strategic advantages,” said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. “Today’s announcement not only leverages our home grown fuel sources to support our national security, but it also helps advance the biofuels market, which ultimately brings down the cost of biofuels for everyone.”

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/08/16/president-obama-ann ounces-major-initiative-spur-biofuels-industry-and-en

  40. August 16, 2011

    Background on the President’s Breakfast with Iowa Small Business Owners

    President Obama will begin the second day of his bus tour by having breakfast with five Iowa small business owners at Rausch’s Café in Guttenberg, Iowa. The breakfast is an opportunity for the President to hear directly from rural small business owners about their experiences and highlight the steps his administration has taken to assist them, including the new jobs initiatives announced today (link to full fact sheet)

    The rural small business owners attending the breakfast represent a variety of industries, from IT to agriculture.

    Small Business Owners Attending Breakfast

    Michael Sexton, ManureWorks LLC (Rockwell City, IA)
    Joel Althoff, Infrastructure Technology Solutions (Monticello, IA)
    Kenneth Hach, Anemometry Specialists (Alta, IA)
    Eric Unruh, Rolling Hills Greenhouse (West Union, IA)
    Fern Unruh, Rolling Hills Greenhouse (West Union, IA)
    Background on New Jobs Initiatives for Rural America

    Helping Rural Small Businesses Access Capital

    * Doubling SBA Investment Funds for Rural Small Businesses over the Next 5 Years

    * Connecting Rural Small Businesses with Private Investment Capital

    Expanding Rural Job Search and Training Services

    * Expanding DOL Job Search and Training Services to 2,800 USDA Sites Nationwide

    Increasing Rural Access to Health Care Workers and Technology

    * Increasing Physician Recruitment at Critical Access Hospitals
    * Expanding Health Information Technology (IT) in Rural America

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/08/16/background-presidents-breakfast-iowa-small-business-owners

    • Iowa: President Obama Has Breakfast With Small Business Owners At Rausch’s Café In Guttenberg

      AUGUST 16, 2011 obamafoodorama.blogspot.com

      IT expert join President to talk rural biz issues…
      Ahead of hosting his Rural Economic Forum in Peosta, Iowa, President Obama on Tuesday morning stopped for breakfast with five small business owners at Rausch’s Café in Guttenberg. Arriving at 10:15 AM, the President dined on eggs and wheat toast, and talked rural issues with his companions, who were two greenhouse owners, one IT specialist, a manure broker, and a fellow who specializes in wind energy. But first, he greeted patrons in front of the small eatery, which has the slogan “Breakfast Served All Day Every Day!”

      Inside, President Obama held a baby to cries of “aww” from excited breakfasters, and spoke with diners, including a child who described school life as a rising 7th grader.

      “That’s pretty exciting,” President Obama said.

      The President’s guests, all from Iowa, were Michael Sexton, owner of ManureWorks LLC in Rockwell City; Kenneth Hach, Anemometry Specialists, of Alta; Joel Althoff, Infrastructure Technology Solutions, of Monticello; and Eric and Fern Unruh, owners of Rolling Hills Greenhouse, West Union. The White House called the breakfast an “opportunity for the President to hear directly from rural small business owners about their experiences and highlight the steps his administration has taken to assist them.” The President invited them to the Rural Economic Forum, and three, including Althoff, showed up for the small business breakout session with SBA Administrator Karen Mills.

      For the entire article: http://obamafoodorama.blogspot.com/2011/08/iowa-president-obama-has-breakfast-with.html

    • President Obama’s Iowa Ice Cream Run

      AUGUST 16, 2011 obamafoodorama.blogspot.com

      An “unannounced stop” at DeWitt Dairy Treats, for soft serve cones with senior aides…

      Fresh from his Rural Economic Forum in Peosta, Iowa, President Obama on Tuesday afternoon made an “unannounced stop” in Dewitt, jumping off his big black tour bus for soft-serve ice cream at Dewitt Dairy Treats. He was joined by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Senior Advisor Nancy Ann DeParle, and Press Secretary Jay Carney.

      The President chatted up a few folks who were gathered next to the ice cream shop, then walked up to the glass window and ordered ice cream for his staff. He offered treats to the press pool, all of whom, as usual, declined. DeParle had vanilla, while Carney had strawberry, the flavor of the day.

      In total, the President ordered two chocolates, one vanilla, and one strawberry, all cones, and then he was indecisive about what he would have for himself — but only for a moment.

      “What other flavors do you have?” President Obama asked the ice cream maven at the window.

      Mulling it over, he said, “I’ll have a vanilla.”

      For the entire article: http://obamafoodorama.blogspot.com/2011/08/president-obamas-iowa-ice-cream-run.html

    • LeClaire, Iowa: Presidential Popcorn & Souvenirs

      AUGUST 16, 2011 obamafoodorama.blogspot.com

      President Obama travels 216 miles on Tuesday…

      After President Obama stopped for soft-serve ice cream in DeWitt, it was off to historic LeClaire, Iowa, for a 5:30 stop at Kernel Cody’s Popcorn Shoppe. The picturesque town, located at the bend of the upper Mississippi river, is home to plenty of history, as well as being the birthplace of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody (thus the name of the popcorn store). The President was in town for souvenirs as well as local treats: He also stopped at Grasshoppers, an antique shop/wine store. The popcorn stop was brief, and included the President purchasing some bags, and then throwing a couple at his hard-working press pool.

      Today’s rural touring in the big black bus, from Decorah in the morning to President Obama’s final stop of the evening, Davenport, covered 216 miles, according to the Secret Service.

      Grasshoppers, in what looked like an old Victorian home, stood atop a hill. A husky Golden Retriever, Brady, milled around, carrying a stuffed toy rabbit in his mouth. The store was established in 1997, and is owned by Kimberly Collier.

      For the entire article: http://obamafoodorama.blogspot.com/2011/08/leclaire-iowa-presidential-popcorn.html

  41. LEARNING CURVE

    8/16/11 POLITICO44

    President Barack Obama offered a pass to Rick Perry for the Texas governor’s comments on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

    “I’ll cut him some slack, he’s only been at it for a couple of days now,” Obama said in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

    And in a dig at Mitt Romney, Obama said that he would agree that corporations are “vital to American life” and that free enterprise has been “the greatest wealth creator that we’ve ever seen.” But he took issue with Romney’s recent defense of corporations, saying that “special interest legislation” in Washington has not worked for ordinary Americans.

    “If on the other hand you tell me that every corporate tax break that’s out there is somehow good for ordinary Americans….that we have a tax code that’s fair,” Obama said, “that I disagree with.”

    “And I think that corporations serve and important benefit but ultimately we’ve got to look at what’s good for ordinary people,” he added.

    The full CNN interview airs Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. ET.

    • “Only been at it for a couple of days now.”

      Good one, Mr. President!

      Looking forward to the interview.

  42. Getting More Bang for U.S. Bucks

    Posted by Erika Gudmundson on August 16, 2011

    It’s been almost a year since President Obama signed legislation to create the State Small Business Create Initiative (SSBCI), an innovative program that enhances state efforts to get billions of dollars of additional capital into the hands of small businesses owners across the country.

    Today, the Treasury Department announced $360 million in new SSBCI funding to 11 states and the District of Columbia. But the good news does not stop there.

    As part of the application for funding, recipients had to demonstrate a reasonable expectation that these federal funds will enable them to leverage additional capital from private lenders and investors – at least $10 in private lending for every $1 in federal funding. So today’s announcement will generate more than $3.6 billion in new lending, and help create new private sector jobs in communities across the country.

    An example of programs include the Iowa Business Growth Corporation’s Capital Access Program, which will target its outreach to rural communities throughout Iowa, and the “INCITE” Fund in Tennessee, a new venture capital program that is able to launch solely because of today’s funding announcement.

    The states receiving the SSBCI funding from the Treasury announced today are:

    Alabama — $31.3 million

    Florida — $97.7 million

    Idaho — $13.2 million

    Iowa — $13.2 million

    Louisiana – $13.2 million

    Mississippi — $13.2 million

    Ohio — $55.1 million

    Oregon — $16.5 million

    Tennessee — $29.7 million

    Texas — $46.6 million

    Virginia — $18.0 million

    Washington, D.C. — $13.2 million

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/08/16/getting-more-bang-us-bucks

  43. WH

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    All Times Eastern

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM
    11:00 AM
    12:00 PM
    12:45 PM
    The President holds a town hall meeting
    Local Event Time: 11:45 AM CDT
    Illinois, Wyffels Hybrids Production Facility—Atkinson
    Open Press

    1:00 PM
    2:00 PM
    3:00 PM
    4:00 PM
    4:30 PM
    The President holds a town hall meeting
    Local Event Time: 3:30 PM CDT
    Country Corner Farm—Alpha, Illinois
    Open Press

    5:00 PM
    6:00 PM
    7:00 PM
    8:00 PM
    The President departs Peoria, Illinois en route Joint Base Andrews
    Local Event Time: 7:00 PM CDT
    Peoria International Airport
    Open Press

    9:00 PM
    10:00 PM
    The President arrives Joint Base Andrews
    Press Information

    10:35 PM
    The President arrives the White House
    South Lawn
    Open Press

  44. Obama town hall tickets go quickly in Atkinson

    August 15, 2011 wqad

    ATKINSON, Illinois— It’s the hottest ticket in Atkinson these days. Folks want to see President Obama’s town hall on Wednesday. Outside the Wyffels Plant, a line formed by 3:30 a.m. on Monday morning. By 8:30, all tickets were gone.

    “Some people had blankets around their shoulders and chairs,” said Aaron Hurliman, plant operations manager for Wyffels Hybrids. “Some might have stayed out most of the night.”

    DeDecker’s Hardware is a part of history, Dating back to 1865, the fourth-generation business continues to serve Henry County. Gary Olson is one of the lucky ones to get a ticket.

    “I thought it was pretty cool,” he said. “You don’t get to see the president very often, let alone in your own small hometowns.”

    There’s always plenty of pride and patriotism in Atkinson. The presidential visit makes it even more special. It’s something they’ll always remember.

    “It’s huge,” said Corey Junior, Atkinson.

    On a colorful, flag-lined street, Atkinson is ready for its time in the spotlight. For those who were able to get tickets, it’s a chance to participate in a national forum that also hits very close to home.

    “Everybody’s just as equal as anybody else,” Junior added. “It’s wonderful. It’s a shot in the arm for our town.”

    There’s lots of extra work around the Wyffels plant this week. Ticket or not, this village is pumped up about the presidential visit.

    “It’s a once in a lifetime event,” Hurliman concluded. “There’s lots of good Americans that live in this area.”

  45. Alpha farmer has hands full with Obama visit

    August 15, 2011 Brian Wellner -qctimes

    ALPHA, Ill. – The owner of Country Corners has been taking calls nonstop all weekend.

    If it’s not the Secret Service, it’s another farmer asking if Bruce Curry has enough muskmelons for hundreds of guests.

    “I’ve got to answer this,” Curry said, just before an interview Monday with the Quad-City Times. “It could be the president of the United States.”

    He’s not joking. He found out Thursday night that Barack Obama wanted to visit his fruit and vegetable farm Wednesday on a swing through rural Henry County.

    “I’m overwhelmed by the fact the president of the United States will be on my farm Wednesday,” he tells someone on the phone. “We’ll talk back when I can breathe again.”

    Curry was tasked with inviting the guests. He clings to his clipboard, which he calls his “lifeline,” containing phone numbers, a list of his invited guests and every assignment he’s been given by the Secret Service over the past few days.

    He spots a leaky water hose dripping over a muddy puddle on the ground by his office and makes a quick call to have it taken care of.

    “It’s this time of year when I’m on a skeleton staff of four or five employees,” Curry said.

    The busiest time of year for his 80-acre farm is September and October, when he opens up the pumpkin patch, haystack rides and petting zoo.

    His life changed last week, when he got a cellphone call from the White House while picking watermelons.

    “I told them I was pretty busy,” Curry said. “They told me the president was going to be in the area and wanted to visit my farm. I said, ‘OK, just send me an email. I’m picking watermelons.'”

    They sent an email.

    “Darn if there wasn’t an email message from the White House,” he said.

    That was Wednesday. By Thursday morning, a team of Secret Service agents were scouting the farm.

    “It’s far out that the president’s coming,” Curry said. “And they’re allowing me to be the host of this party.”

    He’s been sprucing up the place, laying down rock and repainting the buildings. What normally takes two weeks of preparation for the fall has taken two days for the president’s visit, thanks to the help of family and friends from the community.

    Curry has lived in Alpha his whole life and just recently moved to Andover, on the other side of Interstate 74.

    In his 50 years, he’s never seen such a high-profile guest in Alpha, which has fewer than 1,000 residents.

    “This is an historic event,” he said.

    Country Corners is two miles north of Alpha on U.S. 150.
    Alpha’s Mayor Marvin Watters said he hopes the president’s motorcade will drive through the town after leaving Curry’s farm.

    “We’re putting our best foot forward,” Watters said.

  46. August 12, 2011

    Statement from National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor on U.S.-Brazil Strategic Energy Dialogue Launch

    Deputy Secretary of the Department of Energy Daniel Poneman will lead an interagency delegation to Brasília, Brazil on August 17, 2011 to launch the U.S.-Brazil Strategic Energy Dialogue, a presidential-level partnership announced by President Obama and Brazilian President Rousseff on March 19, 2011 during the President’s trip to Brazil. Mr. Poneman will co-chair the launch with his counterpart from the Brazilian Ministry of Mining and Energy, Dr. Márcio Zimmermann. The U.S. delegation will include officials from the National Security Staff, the Departments of State and Commerce, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Prior to stopping in Brasilia and in view of the important role that the private sector will play in this partnership, Mr. Poneman will lead the delegation to São Paulo and to Rio de Janeiro to meet with public and private enterprise. Based on the Presidents’ joint commitment in March to take concrete steps to enhance cooperation between their two countries’ energy sectors, the Strategic Energy Dialogue will address our mutual interest in the development of safe, secure and affordable energy in an environmentally sound way, including oil, natural gas, biofuels, clean energy, and civilian nuclear energy.

  47. Fitch affirms U.S. AAA rating, disagrees with S&P

    8/15/11 By Burton Frierson and Walter Brandimarte | Reuters – 4 hrs ago

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Fitch Ratings on Tuesday confirmed the United States’ top-notch credit rating and, in blatant disagreement with rival Standard & Poor’s, gave a vote of confidence to Washington’s deficit-reduction efforts.

    Fitch also kept a stable outlook on its U.S. AAA rating, less than two weeks after S&P downgraded the United States to AA-plus with a negative outlook.

    The agency said, however, that it will revisit its decision at the end of the year. It threatened to slap a negative outlook on the rating at that time if lawmakers fail to implement the $2.1 trillion in savings that were agreed earlier this month or if the economy deteriorates significantly.

    An outright one-notch downgrade is not ruled out, but less likely, the agency said in a statement. A negative outlook usually means a downgrade is possible in two years.

    The acrimonious political battle that preceded the debt agreement in Washington — and which took the country to the brink of default — was one of the main reasons why S&P decided to downgrade the United States on August 5.

    But Fitch said the debt deal, whose specific deficit-reduction measures need to be agreed by a bipartisan congressional committee, showed lawmakers can achieve sufficient political consensus to tackle the nation’s debt problems.

    Additional $2 trillion in savings would be needed to put U.S. debt ratios on a downward path over the next ten years, said David Riley, Fitch’s top analyst for the United States.

    If lawmakers are able to implement the initial $2.1 trillion in savings, that will prove that Fitch is right to believe that “U.S. public and political support to deficit reduction can translate into action,” he told Reuters in an interview.

    For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/fitch-affirms-u-aaa-outlook-stable-133100156.html

  48. Why Reagan Raised Taxes and We Should, Too: Echoes

    Aug 16, 2011 By Joseph J. Thorndike – bloomberg

    On a foggy morning 30 years ago at his Santa Barbara ranch, Ronald Reagan signed the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981. Talking with reporters afterward, the president reveled in his legislative victory.

    The law, he said, represented “a turnaround of almost a half a century of a course this country has been on and marks an end to the excessive growth in government bureaucracy and government spending and government taxing.”

    With the stroke of a pen, Reagan had reduced individual tax rates by 23 percent, slashed the top marginal rate from 70 percent to 50 percent, and dramatically accelerated the pace at which corporations could write off new investments. Altogether, Reagan gave taxpayers about $143 billion in tax relief over each of the next four years.

    And then — just two months later — he asked for about a third of it back.

    How did Reagan the tax cutter become Reagan the tax raiser? And how did it happen so quickly?

    Reagan came to the White House with a firebrand’s commitment to lower taxes. Even when his key advisers began stressing the need for new revenue, Reagan resisted. “Almost everyone in the White House joined in the work of tax raising,” recalled David Stockman, director of the Office of Management and Budget at the start of Reagan’s presidency, “except for the guys who wore the Adam Smith ties and, unfortunately, the guy who had to sign the tax bills.”

    In particular, Reagan scorned calls for raising revenue by closing loopholes. “The truth is most of what our politicians call loopholes are the legit. deductions the working people depend on to keep their inc. tax from being more intolerable than it is,” he wrote in 1975.

    But in the face of large and growing deficits, Reagan eventually did come around on the need for additional revenue. Even before the 1981 tax cut was on the books, many White House advisers had begun to worry about projected deficits, which were on a steady upward march from 2.6 percent of gross domestic product in 1981 to 4 percent in 1982. They would reach 6 percent in 1983.

    For the entire article: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-16/why-reagan-raised-taxes-and-we-should-too-echoes.html

  49. Air Force One is in our town! My heart is beating so much faster!

    http://www.pjstar.com/photos_obama?foto=0

    President Obama won’t be here until tomorrow, when he departs for the White House. I can’t get close to his plane (otherwise, I’d be sleeping on it), but I’m there in spirit!

  50. August 16, 2011

    Vice President Biden Travels to China, Mongolia, and Japan

    Vice President Joe Biden has departed for Beijing, China, the first stop on a nine-day trip to China, Mongolia, and Japan. In each country, the Vice President will meet with key leaders to discuss the full range of bilateral, regional, and international issues. The Vice President is visiting China at the invitation of Vice President Xi Jinping – the first of the planned reciprocal visits between the Vice Presidents announced by President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao during his state visit to Washington earlier this year. While in Beijing, the Vice President will meet with Vice President Xi and other Chinese leaders, including President Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao.

    The Vice President will also visit the city of Chengdu, in China’s Southwest. On Sunday, August 21st at 10:30 AM LOCAL TIME/Saturday, August 20th at 10:30 PM ET, the Vice President will deliver a speech on U.S.-China relations at Sichuan University.

    In Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, the Vice President will underscore our support for Mongolia’s two decades of democratic development and our growing economic ties. In Japan, the Vice President will express steadfast U.S. support for its close ally in the wake of the recent earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear emergency. The Vice President will thank U.S. civilian and military personnel for their assistance in responding to the disaster, as well as highlight Japan’s resilience during the recovery and rebuilding process.

    At the conclusion of his visit to Asia, the Vice President will stop in Kaneohe, Hawaii, where he will deliver remarks at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay.

    • Vice President Biden to stop in Hawaii after 9-day Asia trip

      8/16/11 By Gregg K. Kakesako – staradvertiser

      Vice President Joe Biden, who arrived in Beijing today, will stop in Hawaii next week and deliver a speech to Kaneohe Bay Marines as he returns from a nine-day Asian trip.

      White House officials said Biden will give a speech to Marines and their family on the afternoon of Aug. 25. He arrives that morning and will leave in the evening. No other details of his stopover were released and Marine Corps officials at Kaneohe provided no further information.

      Beijing is Biden’s first stop on a trip to China, Mongolia, and Japan. In each country, the vice president will meet with key leaders to discuss bilateral, regional, and international issues, according to the White House.

      Biden went to China at the invitation of Vice President Xi Jinping. While in Beijing, Biden will meet with Xi and other Chinese leaders, including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.

      Biden will also visit the city of Chengdu, in China’s southwest. On Saturday, he will deliver a speech on U.S.-China relations at Sichuan University.

  51. GOP Wrong Way Rick Perry’s Neocon Friends

    Aug 15, 2011 By Robert Dreyfuss | The Nation

    The Nation — No one seriously believes that Republicans will nominate the wild-eyed, certifiable Michele Bachmann for president, and Romney the Robot isn’t setting Tea Party hearts aflutter. So it looks like Rick Perry, the Bible-thumping, secessionist hawk—who’s already assembling a team of neoconservative advisers—will get the nod to challenge President Obama in 2012.

    Were Perry to win, his victory—especially if the GOP, as seems likely, conquers the Senate—will speed the United States down the merry path to oblivion at least a couple of decades before the rise of China and India do anyway. Worryingly, Perry might be exactly the know-nothing hawk who decides to use US military power to forestall America’s inevitable decline by force, even if it leads to World War III. Like Tea Party fanatics who courted financial Armageddon by insisting that reneging on US debt obligations wouldn’t be so bad, Perry’s own Tea Party Pentagon, staffed by neoconservatives, might decide the nuclear Armageddon wouldn’t be so bad, either, as long as it makes the world understand how exceptional American exceptionalism is.

    Indeed, as James Lindsey points out for the Council on Foreign Relations, in his screed, Fed Up: Our Fight to Save America from Washington, a book that he allegedly wrote, Perry declares that “exceptional” America has to be prepared for war with China and India:

    “We are now confronted with the rise of new economic and military powerhouses in China and India, as well as a Russia that is increasingly aggressive and troublesome to its neighbors and former satellite nations that are struggling to maintain their relatively newfound independence. There is no reason to believe that armed conflict with any major power is imminent, but the world is rapidly changing, and the United States must be prepared for the ramifications of shifting balances of power.”

    And Perry adds, concerning the “reset” in relations with Russia:

    “It was a slap in the face to a number of our allies. As a Wall Street Journal article put it, ‘Some prominent figures in the region, such as former Polish President Lech Walesa, worried the new US administration was turning away from its traditional allies in Central Europe to placate Russia’.… Surely we can’t be serious?”

    In his speech proclaiming his candidacy, in which he said elegantly that “we don’t need a president who apologizes for America,” and he added: “What I learned in my 20’s traveling the globe as an Air Force pilot, our current president has yet to acknowledge in his 50s—that we are the most exceptional nation on the face of the earth.”

    No surprise, of course, that Perry is consorting with left-over neocons from the Bush administration, as National Review reported in July, such as Douglas Feith, the ¨uber-hawk who oversaw the war in Iraq, and Bill Luti, Feith’s compatriot in the Bush White House, who joined with Vice President Cheney to persuade Bush that an unprovoked attack on Iraq was the right thing to do, and Dan Blumenthal, another Bush veteran who’s taken up residence at the American Enterprise Institute. Though the Tea Party types who support nut-libertarian Ron Paul oppose wars such as Iraq and Afghanistan and want to reduce the size of the Pentagon, Perry appeals to the other side of the Tea Party and to traditional Republican hawks who oppose the libertarians’ outright isolationism. Indeed, a source close to Perry told National Review that Perry does not exhibit “the neo-isolationism that you might expect from certain people [close to] the Tea Party.” (According to Politico, Donald Rumseld is setting up Perry’s encounters with the neocons.)

    • I didn’t want to see Bush-Cheney prosecutions because of what it would do to our country and the advancement of the Obama agenda, but now I’m thinking that was a big mistake for all of us. We should have put some of these clowns out of the public eye (from Feith to Rumsfeld).

  52. AP source: Obama to give major jobs speech

    8/17/11 By BEN FELLER – AP White House Correspondent

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Seeking a jolt for a wilting economy, President Barack Obama will give a major speech in early September to unveil new ideas for speeding up job growth and helping the struggling poor and middle class, a senior administration official told The Associated Press.

    The president’s plan is likely to contain tax cuts, jobs-boosting infrastructure ideas and steps that would specifically help the long-term unemployed. The official emphasized that all of Obama’s proposals would be fresh ones, not a rehash of plans he has pitched for many weeks and still supports, including his “infrastructure bank” idea to finance construction jobs.

    On a significant and related front, Obama will also present a specific plan to cut the suffocating long-term national debt and to pay for the cost of his new short-term economic ideas.

    His debt proposal will be bigger than the $1.5 trillion package that a new “supercommittee” of Congress must come up with by late November.

    The president will then spend his fall publicly pressing Congress to take action as the economic debate roars into its next phase. Both the economic ideas and the plan to pay for them will be part of Obama’s speech, although the address will focus mainly on the jobs components.

    The president’s speech is expected right after the Sept. 5 Labor Day holiday.

    The official spoke on condition of anonymity because Obama has not yet disclosed his plans.

    No final decisions on the economic package have been made.

    For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/ap-source-obama-major-jobs-speech-100204881.html

  53. How Rick Perry aggressively pursued federal aid he now decries

    9/17/11 By MICHAEL SCHERER | Time.com – 3 hrs ago

    In his campaign kickoff last Saturday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry burnished his conservative credentials by attacking the idea of deficit stimulus spending. “Washington’s insatiable desire to spend our children’s inheritance on failed stimulus plans and other misguided economic theories have given us record debt and left us with far too many unemployed,” he said.

    But it was not always so for Perry. Back in 2003, lobbyists under Perry’s direction went to Capitol Hill to lobby the Republican Congress for more than a billion dollars in federal deficit spending on “stimulus.” And they won. A 2005 report (pdf) by the Texas Office of State-Federal Relations boasted of “$1.2 billion in temporary state fiscal relief to Texas” through Medicaid that Perry’s lobbying operation had secured. (Watch TIME’s video “Rick Perry Is Ready to Run for President.”)

    And that was just the beginning. The same report details millions more that flowed from the federal treasury into Texas as a result of the official state lobbying campaign, which was overseen by Perry, a Republican Lt. Governor and the Republican speaker of the state house between 2003 and 2005. In several cases, the Texas lobbying campaign won funds for programs that Perry now says he opposes as fiscally irresponsible intrusions on state responsibilities.

    In the 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill, for instance, Texas lobbyists successfully pushed to include an additional $47.5 million a year for four years, to help reimburse the cost of health care for undocumented immigrants. In 2005, the lobbyists fought to restore $200 million in funding for No Child Left Behind that had been cut by the Senate. About $14.5 million of that money was directed to Texas for “innovation programs.” The Texas lobbying operation also supported several earmarks, including direct funds for maintenance dredging in the Matagorda shipping channel, and money to study the feasibility of a desalination project in Freeport.

    For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/rick-perry-aggressively-pursued-federal-aid-now-decries-095000694.html

  54. Democrats hold seats in Wisconsin recall elections

    8/17/11 By Brendan O’Brien | Reuters – 8 hrs ago

    RHINELANDER, Wis (Reuters) – Two Wisconsin Democratic state senators beat back Republican challengers on Tuesday in the last of a series of recall elections triggered by a fight over collective bargaining rights for public sector workers.

    Both Democrats and Republicans were claiming victory on Tuesday in a series of nine summer recall votes in which Democrats unseated two incumbent Republicans but fell short of winning control of the state legislature.

    Democrats had hoped to win a majority in the state senate following a fierce battle with Governor Scott Walker and his Republican allies earlier this year over public workers’ union powers that involved mass protests, legislative maneuvering and court challenges.

    “This was a political Rorschach test in that anyone can read anything into the result,” said Mordecai Lee, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee governmental affairs professor and former Democratic lawmaker. “Politically, it was a draw.”

    He expected the results would embolden Democrats to try to recall Walker, which would require a half a million signatures just to schedule an election. “By November, we’ll know if they’re pursuing it seriously or not.”

    The Democrats who successfully defended their seats on Tuesday, Robert Wirch and Jim Holperin, were among 14 Wisconsin state senators who left the state in an attempt to prevent passage of an anti-union measure earlier this year.

    For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/voters-polls-wisconsins-two-final-recalls-011452892.html

  55. News Flash: Economy NOT Headed for Recession

    August 16, 2011 Posted by Deaniac83 – ThePeoplesView

    With political melodramas and tragic ironies taking to new heights this week with the Secessionist Mr. Rick Perry accusing the chairman of the Federal Reserve of committing treason, and just as President Obama is in the middle of this three day rural jobs tour, news comes to show that in fact, despite a Wall Street, Right Wing, and Professional Left freakout last week, the economy is actually recovering, not headed for another recession.

    As the crisis in Japan began to ease, American industrial output surged in July, driven by motor vehicle productions, gaining at nearly double the rate expected. Along with that, the decline in building new housing actually eased last month:

    Industrial output increased 0.9 percent, the Federal Reserve said on Tuesday, after a 0.4 percent gain in June — nearly double economists’ expectations for a 0.5 percent rise.

    Manufacturing rose 0.6 percent as motor vehicles production surged 5.2 percent after falling 0.9 percent in June. Excluding autos, manufacturing rose 0.3 percent, pointing to resilience in the sector that has been the economy’s main pillar of support, even when regional factory activity has been cooling. […]

    Also supporting the improving tone for the economy, housing starts slipped a less-than-expected 1.5 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 604,000 units as builders broke ground on new multifamily units to meet demand for rental apartments, Commerce Department data showed.

    So much for higher fuel efficiency standards killing manufacturing, huh? President Obama has (as have many of his critics on the Left – yes, I’m looking at you, Dr. Krugman) often said that it is not enough to have an economic recovery that leads us back to the same cycle of boom and bust where the financial sector – which, whatever its merits, actually produces nothing tangible – takes primacy over manufacturing, you know, making things. We need to make things again, and build our economy on something more than financial products that can evaporate in the blink of an eye on Wall Street. That’s what we are doing, and that’s where this data points.

    For the entire article: http://www.thepeoplesview.net/2011/08/news-flash-economy-not-headed-for.html

  56. Rural Tour Day Three: Atkinson, Illinois

    Posted by Nikki Sutton on August 17, 2011

    President Obama will meet with locals in Atkinson, Illinois later today for a town hall where he will take questions from the crowd and outline ways we can strengthen the middle class and increase economic opportunity for everyone. He’s been on the road for three days now, travelling to rural communities and talking directly with the American people about a wide variety of issues that impact our economy. In his closing remarks at the White House Rural Economic Forum in Peosta, Iowa yesterday, the President told the crowd that this trip has reminded him why he wanted to go into public service in the first place:

    But getting out of Washington and meeting all of you, and seeing how hard you’re working, how creative you are, how resourceful you are, how determined you are, that just makes me that much more determined to serve you as best I can as President of the United States.

    Earlier this week, President Obama spoke with local citizens during town hall meetings in Cannon Falls, Minnesota and Decorah, Iowa before heading to Peosta, where he announced a series of new job initiatives.

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/08/17/rural-tour-day-three-atkinson-illinois

  57. Champions of Change – Young Entrepreneurs Celebrated at the White House

    Posted by Ronnie Cho on August 17, 2011

    Hi everyone. My name is Ronnie Cho and I’m the new White House liaison to young Americans. I’ve got some great news to share with you and I couldn’t wait another day. I want you to be the first to know about the 11 amazing young entrepreneurs that are being honored at the White House on Thursday, at the next event in our on-going “Champions of Change” series. These champions have started creative companies, hail from every corner of the country and work in diverse fields that are bringing services and products to market. They’re winning the future by starting businesses, creating jobs, wealth and opportunities for their communities.

    The “Champions of Change” program is a weekly series where the White House highlights the stories and examples of citizens across the country that represents President Obama’s vision of out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building the rest of the world through effective projects and initiatives that move their communities forward. This week, the White House will welcome several young entrepreneurs to Washington to share their success stories and discuss how we can continue to encourage and inspire young people to start their own companies. The Champions will engage in discussion with a diverse audience from aspiring entrepreneurs to established business leaders who are interested in the extraordinary example of these young people winning the future.

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/08/17/champions-change-young-entrepreneurs-celebrated-white-house

    • August 17, 2011

      Remarks by the President in a Town Hall Meeting in Atkinson, Illinois

      Wyffels Hybrids Production Facility, Atkinson, Illinois

      12:02 P.M. CDT

      THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Atkinson! (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Thank you so much. Thank you. Everybody have a seat.

      It is good to be back — back home. (Applause.) It is good to be back in Atkinson, good to be back in Henry County. I just came from the Whiteside County Fair. (Applause.) Got some Whiteside folks here. Spent some time with some cows. (Laughter.)

      I want to acknowledge a few people who are with us today — wonderful, wonderful folks. First of all, our Secretary of Transportation, Peoria’s own Ray LaHood is in the house. (Applause.) Our outstanding Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is here. (Applause.) Mayor Gus Junior is in the house. (Applause.) I told Gus that I didn’t have any gray hair either when I took office. (Laughter.) So I just want you to know what you have ahead in store for you right here. (Laughter.) But everybody tells me he’s doing a great job.

      I want to thank the Waffles family for — (laughter) — Wyffels, rather, excuse me. I haven’t had lunch. (Laughter.) I want to thank — I want to thank the Wyffels family for hosting us here today. Please give them a big round of applause. (Applause.)

      I want to thank Lisa of Lisa’s Place. Where’s Lisa? (Applause.) Is that Lisa? Because Secret Service had to shut down the road and do all this stuff, I know some of you guys have not been able to enjoy her outstanding food. So as a consequence, my staff has been I think trying to eat up as much as possible. (Laughter.) My understanding is I’ve got a pie coming. Is that correct? (Applause.) What kind of pie? Coconut cream and a cinnamon roll? (Applause.) I’m very excited about that. (Laughter.) Coconut cream is one of my favorite pies. So thank you.

      And we also have here — Congressman Bobby Schilling is here. (Applause.)

      Now, it is absolutely terrific to be back home. And I just want to first of all say to so many of you — I had a chance when I was still running for the United States Senate, and a lot of people did not know my name — this young lady, she’s still got — she’s got, like, a picture from the — I will sign it, of course I will. (Applause.)

      And so as we’ve been traveling through the back roads of Iowa and now Illinois, it is such a reminder of why I decided to get involved in public service in the first place.

      We’ve obviously been going through a tough time over these last two and a half years. And we went through the worst recession since the Great Depression. We saw 8 million jobs lost, 4 million before I took office, and then another 4 million the first few months of 2009. A lot of small businesses got hit.

      And so I think a lot of times there have been folks who said — who wonder whether our best days are still ahead of us or are they behind us. But I will tell you, when I travel through downstate Illinois, when I travel through Iowa, when I travel through the Midwest, I am absolutely confident about this country. And the reason is because of you. The reason is because of the American people, because, as tough of a time as we’ve had, there is not a country on Earth that would not readily change places with us right now. (Applause.)

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/08/17/remarks-president-town-hall-meeting-atkinson-illinois

  58. Making Insurance Plans Easier to Understand

    Posted by Don Berwick on August 17, 2011

    Ed. Note: Cross-posted from HealthCare Notes

    Having affordable, quality health insurance is incredibly important. But how can you pick the plan that is best for you and your family if insurance plans are written in words you cannot understand or in type so small you can barely read it? And how can you take advantage of the health benefits you have if you don’t know what your plan covers?

    You’re not alone in your confusion. Too many Americans don’t have access to information in plain language to help them understand the health coverage they have.

    Now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, every American consumer will receive an important new tool to understand their coverage. Under proposed rules announced today, health insurers and employers who offer coverage to their workers must provide you with clear and consistent information about your health plan.

    For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/08/17/making-insurance-plans-easier-understand

  59. Thirty-Seven Additional Community Banks Across the Country Receive $418 Million to Help Small Businesses Access Capital, Create New Jobs

    8/17/2011 treasury.gov

    Total of 80 Banks Have Now Received More than $1.0 Billion in Funding through Small Business Lending Fund

    WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced that an additional 37 community banks across the country received a total of $418 million as part of the next wave of funding provided through the Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF). The SBLF, which was established as part of the Small Business Jobs Act that President Obama signed into law, encourages community banks to increase their lending to small businesses, helping those companies expand their operations and create new jobs.

    Including today’s announcement, 80 community banks have now received more than $1.0 billion in SBLF funding. Additional SBLF funding announcements will be made on a rolling basis in the weeks ahead.

    “These funds will provide critical support to Main Street community banks so they can expand their lending to small businesses,” said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Neal S. Wolin. “This program helps entrepreneurs in communities across the country access the capital they need to grow their operations, invest in new equipment, and hire additional workers.”

    Small businesses play a critical role in the U.S. economy and are central to growth and job creation. Small businesses employ roughly one-half of all Americans and account for about 60 percent of gross job creation. But small business owners faced disproportionate challenges in the aftermath of the recession and credit crisis, including difficulty accessing capital.

    http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg1279.aspx

  60. Illinois: Obama Visits Whiteside County Fair

    AUGUST 17, 2011 obamafoodorama.blogspot.com

    President “drops in” on dairy cow contest in Morrison…

    On the way to the third town hall of his rural tour, in Illinois this morning President Obama made a “surprise stop” to work in some face time with thrilled voters and championship livestock, spending about 50 minutes greeting people and checking out the dairy cow competition at the Whiteside County Fair in Morrison. The annual ag fest in the President’s adopted homestate was established in 1870, and opened for business yesterday.

    Arriving at 9:59 AM local time, President Obama was greeted by a happy crowd, and he moved among them, saying “Good to see you.”

    President Obama arrived at the Ed Brandt Dairy Barn after the judging had started for Ayershire, Brown Swiss and other breeds.

    “I’m probably not the guy to judge this stuff,” President Obama said several times, as he walked in the ring and looked at the lovely specimens (above).

    The cows were unperturbed by both the heavy Secret Service presence and the members of the media climbing over each other for good visuals.

    “I didn’t mean to cause such a fuss,” the President said.

    For the entire article and photos: http://obamafoodorama.blogspot.com/2011/08/illinois-obama-visits-whiteside-county.html

    • August 17, 2011

      Remarks by the President in a Town Hall Meeting in Alpha, Illinois

      Country Corner Farm
      Alpha, Illinois

      4:51 P.M. CDT

      THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) Oh, it is good to be back home. (Applause.) Everybody have a seat, relax, take a load off there.

      We’ve got some special guests here I want to just acknowledge. First of all, an outstanding public servant, a great governor, Pat Quinn is in the house. (Applause.) Your former congressman, now my Secretary of Transportation, great friend of mine, Ray LaHood is here. (Applause.)

      We’ve got another member of Congress who obviously took a wrong turn somewhere. (Laughter.) Thought he was heading back to the West Side of Chicago — turned out he’s in Alpha. (Laughter.) Danny Davis is here. (Applause.)

      We’ve got the mayor of Alpha, Marvin Watters is here. Where’s Mr. Mayor? There he is back there. Good to see you, sir. (Applause.)

      Two great friends of mine — Senator John Sullivan. Where’s John? There he is. (Laughter.) And Dave Koehler is here. Good to see you, Dave. (Applause.)

      And finally, I want to thank the owners of this great facility, Bruce and Charlie Curry, owners of Country Corner. (Applause.)

      I need to confess something to Bruce and Charlie. One of my speechwriters, it’s his birthday today, so we let him ride on the little cow pull over there. (Laughter.) It said birthday parties available, so we had him sit in there. He’s only 29, and he still fit. So he had a great time there.

      This is a town hall meeting. Some of you remember I used to do these when I was your senator instead of your President. I don’t want to do a lot of talking at the front, but I just want to talk to you a little bit about what I’ve been seeing over the last couple of days and what’s been going on in Washington.

      Obviously we’ve been going through as tough of a time as we’ve seen in my lifetime and in most people’s lifetimes these last two and a half years. We went through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. When I took office we had already lost 4 million jobs and we lost another 4 million just in the few months right after I took office. And we’ve been fighting our way back over the last two and half months — or last two and a half years.

      We were on the verge of going into a Great Depression, and we were able to yank ourselves out. The economy is now growing again. Over the last 17 months we’ve created over 2 million jobs in the private sector. We saved an auto industry that was on the brink. (Applause.) We have — we’ve made investments in clean energy, in rebuilding our roads and our bridges.

      For the entire article: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/08/17/remarks-president-town-hall-meeting-alpha-illinois

  61. Last Stop on the Rural Tour: Alpha, Illinois

    Posted by Nikki Sutton on August 17, 2011

    After a surprise stop at the Whiteside County Fair, President Obama is heading to the Country Corner Farm in Alpha, Illinois for his fourth town hall in three days. The President has been traveling through the Midwest discussing ideas on how the government can help promote economic growth, accelerate hiring and spur innovation in rural communities like Cannon Falls, MN, Decorah, IA and Atkinson, IL.

    Tune in to the town hall live stream starting at 4:30 p.m. EDT on WhiteHouse.gov/live.

    Alpha, IL, the final stop of the economic bus tour, is the type of community that the President’s initiatives to create jobs in rural America are designed to benefit. Although President Obama’s trip ends today, his Administration will continue to seek feedback directly from Americans in small towns across the country on how to strengthen the middle class and ensure everyone who wants work can find a job.

    Last month, President Obama sat down with rural Americans from across the country at the White House to hear their ideas. Folks like Ruth Hambletwon from Woodlawn, IL and Eric Rund, a corn farmer who started a biomass energy company, shared their stories and what they have learned from their personal experience. You can keep up to date on how the Administration is working to advance business in rural communities with the White House Rural Council.

    Fun Fact about Alpha, Illinois: The Country Corner Farm, where President Obama will take questions during the town hall, is home to a giant, 8-acre corn maze.

  62. Investors seeing gold in farmland, infrastructure

    Aug 20, 2011 By Christine Stebbins | Reuters

    CHICAGO (Reuters) – The overall economy may be struggling against a double-dip recession but in farm country the boom times have rarely been better.

    Farmland prices are setting records and farmer incomes have been buoyed by exports and biofuels, easing the pain of some rough summer weather from drought, floods and fires.

    Amid China’s voracious appetite for grains and worries about climate hurting crops and food supplies in many countries, U.S. agriculture’s attraction as the world’s breadbasket has become a beacon for Wall Street.

    Firms like Omaha-based Gavilon, owned by Ospraie, a hedge fund associated with George Soros and Canada-listed Ceres Global Ag have been buying up grain elevators from Wyoming to Toronto.

    That is unusual: investors owning grain silos. But analysts say it’s not what it seems. No one wants to hold corn as a long-term asset, like gold bullion. But storing and moving grain for others has now become a very profitable business.

    William Wilson, a consultant and professor at North Dakota State University, said that 10 years ago you could store grain at elevators 2-1/2 to 3 cents per bushel per month. Now costs can be 8-10 cents a month depending on location or grain.

    “We’ve seen a lot of big new entrants into the agricultural commodity industry including White Box, Gavilon and others who are expanding,” Wilson said, referring to Minnesota-based hedge fund White Box Advisers, once an owner of grain storage.

    “One reason has been the shift to ethanol having a bigger part of the market, where they demand quick access to corn on a 12-month basis,” Wilson said.

    “Most of the time when you hear of private capital moving into agriculture they are talking about buying farms. But storage is a logistical function of the marketplace,” he added.

    For the entire article: http://news.yahoo.com/investors-seeing-gold-farmland-infrastructure-133536038.html

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