History Podcasts

Year Two Day 317 Obama Administration December 3, 2010 - History

Year Two Day 317 Obama Administration December 3, 2010 - History

10:00AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Presidential Daily Briefing Oval Office 

10:30AM THE PRESIDENT meets with senior advisors Oval Office

11:15AM THE PRESIDENT delivers a statement to the press on the monthly jobs numbers Location TBD 

The President then leaves to visist US Troops in Afghanistan

Obama's Economic Legacy in 8 Charts

"My fellow Americans." Folksy but dignified, gruff in a daddish way, Barack Obama's particular take on the presidential speech is among the most recognizable soundbytes of this decade, but on Tuesday, we may have heard it for the last time. Obama delivered his farewell address in Chicago to a sympathetic crowd (he even had to chide them at one point for chanting "four more years").

He gave the crowd plenty of lines to cheer as he rattled off a list of accomplishments: ending the recession, rescuing the auto industry, clocking "the greatest stretch of job creation in our history," reaching a nuclear weapons deal with Iran, reopening relations with Cuba, killing Osama bin Laden, providing health insurance to 20 million people and making same-sex marriage legal – not to mention pushing stocks to all-time highs.

Opponents and even some supporters will object to many of these claims: It remains to be seen whether Secretary Kerry's deal "shut down" Iran's nuclear program, for example. But when it comes to the economy, at least, we have the ability to put numbers on Obama's achievements right now.

Start with the Great Recession. By any definition, the U.S. economy has escaped the recession that marred Obama's first days in office. Real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) shrunk at an annual, seasonally adjusted rate of 8.2% in the fourth quarter of 2008, immediately prior to Obama's first inauguration on January 20, 2009. In the third quarter of 2016 – the most recent data available – it grew 3.5%, marking its tenth straight quarter of growth.

As the economy recovered, people went back to work. Obama loves to tout his administration's record 75 straight months of job growth – although he declined to drop the number Tuesday night – as well as the fall in the unemployment rate from a dire 10.0% in October 2009 to last month's (preliminary) 4.7%. That level, at least to this decade's economists, signifies "full employment," if not an overheating economy.

And yet not everyone has returned to work. Many manufacturing jobs seem to be gone for good, as overall employment in the sector remains below its December 2008 level. The president hinted at this disconnect at the very beginning of his address, though he was talking about a different decade: "I first came to Chicago when I was in my early twenties … It was in neighborhoods not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills."

That the mills have continued to close even as the rest of the economy booms fueled a powerful argument against Hillary Clinton, who ran on a "four more years" platform. Donald Trump sees foreign competition as the culprit Obama on Tuesday acknowledged that "trade should be fair and not just free," but blamed automation as well, a factor Trump has largely ignored.

The continued decline of the manufacturing sector is not the only aspect of the Obama economy that invites criticism. Even as the stock market surged –

– real median household income stalled. In 2014 it was 3.0% below its level in 2008. Earnings surged 5.2% to $56,516 in 2015, but even that parting kindness leaves the Obama recovery grasping for an explanation: Why does the average family still bring in 2.4% less than it did in 1999 ($57,909)?

And what did this recovery – spectacular from some angles, tepid from others – cost? The national debt shot up by 95.3% from 2008 to 2016, and now stands at $61,340 per citizen.

Around $4.5 trillion of that debt sits on the Federal Reserve's balance sheet. The central bank did much of the heavy lifting in the wake of the crisis – once taxpayers had handled the pressing matter of bailing out the banks, insurers and carmakers – gobbling up Treasuries in a stimulus program known as quantitative easing. It also cut interest rates to practically zero (in reality a target range of 0.0% to 0.25%) in a bid to spur borrowing, building and hiring through a splash of easy money. Savers suffered. (See also, Danielle DiMartino Booth on the Trump Federal Reserve.)

It was a risky gamble: Pumping money into the economy tends to lead to runaway inflation. Except it didn't happen that way. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and fuel inputs, struggled to meet the Fed's target level of 2% (the chart below measures the change in CPI PCE inflation, the Fed's preferred measure, was even more sluggish). Including food and fuel, prices flirted with deflation for a spell as oil prices plummeted from mid-2014 to early 2016. (See also, 9 Common Effects of Inflation.)

The economy was in a liquidity trap. Borrowing was easy, but borrowers were scarce. Those who did take out loans didn't build factories many just bought shares. As much as public companies – which are concentrated on the coasts – benefited, an even smaller number of tech "unicorns" did better. Private firms that occupy just a few square miles of Bay Area real estate gobbled up billions in capital, but hired only a handful of highly educated employees.

Obama is right that, economically, America is a "stronger place than it was when we started." When he took office, the economy was in free-fall. Radical, unpopular measures caught it and allowed it to recover.

But not everyone sees it that way. Many wonder why their job never came back even as the unemployment rate plunged. Others wonder why their savings accounts still yield practically nothing even as stock prices have surged. Most voters took Clinton up on her offer to extend Obama's economic legacy, but some of the same geographical and educational disparities that make assessing Obama's economic legacy so complicated, handed the electoral college to Trump.

Obama Cites Afghan Gains as Report Says Exit Is on Track

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration plans to further step up attacks on Al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents in the tribal areas of Pakistan, to address one of the fundamental weaknesses uncovered in its year-end review of its Afghanistan war strategy.

Administration officials said the increased attacks across the Afghan border would help offset the Pakistani government’s continued refusal to move against the Qaeda leadership and their extremist allies, especially the Haqqani network. From havens in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region, those groups have carried out deadly assaults against American troops and have plotted attacks against the West, officials say.

In announcing on Thursday that the 97,000 American troops now in Afghanistan have made some fragile gains in the past year, President Obama said Pakistan was “increasingly coming to realize that the Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders who have been given safe havens pose a threat to Pakistan as well as the United States.”

“Nevertheless,” Mr. Obama added, “progress has not come fast enough.” The United States, he said, “will continue to insist to Pakistani leaders that terrorist safe havens within their borders must be dealt with.”

Administration officials said they expected the Pakistani military to finally enter North Waziristan in 2011, based on private assurances from the Pakistani government.

But the real strategy appears to be for the United States to do most of the work itself — at least until the Pakistanis step up. That means even more strikes using Predator and Reaper drones in Pakistan’s tribal areas, and possibly carrying out Special Forces operations along the border.

“There are a lot of, as we say in our building, kinetic actions taking place along that border,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said during a news conference at the White House.


Mr. Gates went to some lengths to praise Pakistan, saying that along parts of the border he was happy to see “the Pakistanis come in behind the insurgents from the Pakistani side and, coordinating with us and the Afghans, we’re on the other side.” He described the insurgents caught in between as “the meat in the sandwich.”

The review was carefully worded and pulled its punches in describing the differences between Washington and its Pakistani and Afghan government allies.

Announced in a series of briefings by the president and his top foreign policy aides, the report is the first full-scale review of the administration’s strategy.

The summary said the United States continued to kill leaders of Al Qaeda and diminish its capacity to carry out terrorist attacks from the region. It cited some signs that the United States and its allies had halted or reversed inroads by the Taliban in Afghanistan and strengthened the ability of Afghan forces to secure their country. But it acknowledged that the gains were fragile and could be easily undone unless more progress was made in hunting down insurgents operating from havens in neighboring Pakistan.

The summary points to a handful of areas where the influx of American troops has had an impact. For instance, night raids by Special Forces operatives and increased security measures in villages, the report said, have reduced overall Taliban influences in the movement’s heartland of Kandahar and Helmand Provinces.

In addition, the Afghan Army has exceeded growth targets set by NATO and American military officials, and the training of the Afghan forces who will be expected to take over the lead from American and NATO troops has improved, the summary said.

Once the report was portrayed as critical to decisions about the course of the conflict and the pace of withdrawal.

But in recent weeks the White House has been playing down the importance of the report, as it has balanced pressure from the military for time to allow the troop buildup to work, and from Democrats who want to wind down the nine-year conflict. Some of those debates have taken place inside the administration itself.

Those internal arguments may flare again next summer, when the White House has to decide precisely how many troops to pull out. Already some crucial players from the earlier debate are no longer on the scene: Rahm Emanuel, who was the White House chief of staff, and Gen. James L. Jones, Mr. Obama’s first national security adviser, have resigned, and Richard C. Holbrooke, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, died suddenly this week. Of the three, Mr. Emanuel was the most forceful advocate for deploying the fewest number of troops.

The escalation in Pakistan will largely involve increased drone strikes. The military has also embedded small numbers of Special Operations troops with Pakistani military units carrying out operations in the tribal areas. The Pentagon has rarely blessed cross- border raids from Afghanistan, fearing a sharp backlash for American troops if villagers were killed on Pakistani soil.

The last time the United States tried a cross-border operation — in September — a furious Pakistani government responded by shutting down a critical supply route into Afghanistan, leaving the road open, literally, for insurgents to blow up dozens of trucks, lined up like sitting ducks, which were meant to provide supplies to American and NATO troops in Afghanistan. The United States apologized for the helicopter strike that killed three Pakistani border soldiers and ignited the episode, and eventually Pakistan reopened the border crossing.

The drone strikes in Pakistan have already risen significantly over the past year. The Central Intelligence Agency carried out roughly 53 Predator attacks in 2009, which was more than President George W. Bush authorized during his entire presidency. The figure has more than doubled this year, though presidential aides will not publicly discuss the program because it is technically secret.

At the Pentagon, Gen. James E. Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday that the United States would send conventional ground troops into Pakistan on their own only as a last resort. “The question of going further to unilateral action, that would be an absolute last measure,” he told reporters on Thursday. “Because it has so many other impacts on the relationship that you’d really hate to end up in that position.”

The July 2011 date to begin withdrawing troops is at the heart of the political quandary Mr. Obama faces. In announcing his troop increase for Afghanistan a year ago, he insisted that the buildup would be limited to 18 months, and then withdrawals would begin — an effort to quiet his restive base of supporters and put pressure on Afghanistan to speed the training of its own troops.

But that training is time-consuming, and while Congressional Republicans have backed Mr. Obama’s Afghanistan strategy so far, he is facing opposition from members of his own party, who will undoubtedly increase the pressure on him next year to withdraw troops quickly.

The president’s new strategy review “seems as finely parsed as last year’s effort,” said Representative Jane Harmon, a California Democrat. “But this time, our ground game is a lot less convincing.” She added that “we need a clear public timetable to end our military mission in Afghanistan responsibly, and soon.”

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, just finished a two-day visit to Pakistan, where he met with Pakistan’s powerful military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

“The review rightfully focused on the criticality of Pakistan in terms of overall success,” Admiral Mullen said. He said that it was crucial for the administration to maintain a “long-term commitment” to Pakistan, which other administration officials said they hoped would help the Pakistani government to begin to view American interests as in alignment with their own.

Obama Administration Brings in 12,500 Syrian Refugees This Year With Last Minute Rush


With two days remaining in Fiscal Year 2016, the Obama administration has brought in 12,571 Syrian refugees, far exceeding its original stated goal of 10,000 for the year.

The outgoing Obama administration is pressing ahead, despite polls that show a vast majority of voters oppose increasing the number of Syrian refugees, by rushing in 1,831 Syrian refugees during the month of September, according to the Department of State’s interactive website. If the Obama administration continues to bring Syrian refugees at that rate each month in Fiscal Year 2017, which begins on Saturday, the total number of arrivals from that war torn country would exceed 21,000.

More than 99 percent of these Syrian refugees (12,470 of 12,571) are Muslim. Less than 1 percent (101 of 12,571) are Christians or other faiths.

One official working for one of the politically powerful resettlement agencies who receive more than $1 billion annually from the federal government to resettle refugees recently said he expects the Obama administration will bring between 20,000 and 30,000 Syrian refugees in to the United States in FY 2017.

News of the increase in Syrian refugees comes one day after an Obama administration official testified before Congress that, “We anticipate that [the number of Syrian refugees arriving in FY 2017] will be above 12,500 but I don’t have a number other than that.”

Another official admitted to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) at the same Senate hearing that there is no reliable security data base for vetting Syrian refugees, and that Obama administration officials have merely been relying upon the word of arriving refugees that they are not terrorists.

According to a statement released by Cruz’s office:

While questioning State Department Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Simon Henshaw, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Director León Rodríguez, and Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Carey, Sen. Cruz specifically noted that the administration’s willful blindness to radical Islamic terrorism has prevented Christian refugees from the Middle East from escaping the genocide of ISIS and has also seriously undermined counterterrorism efforts in the United States.

Moreover, during an exchange with Sen. Cruz, Director Rodríguez acknowledged publicly that refugee applications can be approved based solely on the applicant’s testimony, without any documentation.

Sen. Cruz: Is it true or false that the testimony of the applicant alone can be sufficient for approval?

Director Rodríguez: There are cases where the testimony is not necessarily corroborated by documents…I am acknowledging that, yes, testimony can be the basis for the grant of a refugee.

President Obama will remain in office for only the first three and a half months of Fiscal Year 2017.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has said that if she is elected she will increase the number of arriving Syrian refugees from 10,000 annually to 65,000 each year.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said he wants to reduce the number of refugees arriving overall, and specifically pause the arrival of any Syrian refugees.

On Wednesday, Congress passed a stop gap spending measure that will keep the federal government operating from October 1 to December 9. It was not immediately clear what funding level is included in that temporary spending measure for arriving refugees.

In FY 2015, 70,000 refugees arrived. In FY 2016 to date, a total of 84,870 refugees have arrived — a total of 12,516 in September. At that run rate, more than 145,000 refugees will arrive in the United States in FY 2017.

The Obama administration has proposed allowing 110,000 refugees to enter the United States in FY 2017, while resettlement agencies have lobbied for 200,000.

The top ten states for Syrian refugee arrivals in FY 2016 to date, according to the Department of State’s interactive website are:

California – 1,438
Michigan – 1,374
Texas – 912
Arizona – 833
Pennsylvania – 745
Illinois – 727
Florida – 642
New York – 637
North Carolina – 603
Ohio – 504

Oakland County, Michigan received 481 Syrian refugees in FY 2016, more than 40 states.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has said he intends to sue the federal government to stop the resettlement of refugees in the county on the grounds that it has failed to comply with the consultation clause of the Refugee Act of 1980.

In Obama’s final year, U.S. spent $36 million in FOIA lawsuits

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration in its final year in office spent a record $36.2 million on legal costs defending its refusal to turn over federal records under the Freedom of Information Act, according to an Associated Press analysis of new U.S. data that also showed poor performance in other categories measuring transparency in government.

For a second consecutive year, the Obama administration set a record for times federal employees told citizens, journalists and others that despite searching they couldn’t find a single page of files that were requested.

And it set records for outright denial of access to files, refusing to quickly consider requests described as especially newsworthy, and forcing people to pay for records who had asked the government to waive search and copy fees.

The government acknowledged when challenged that it had been wrong to initially refuse to turn over all or parts of records in more than one-third of such cases, the highest rate in at least six years.

In courtrooms, the number of lawsuits filed by news organizations under the Freedom of Information Act surged during the past four years, led by the New York Times, Center for Public Integrity and The Associated Press, according to a litigation study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. The AP on Monday settled its 2015 lawsuit against the State Department for files about Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, at AP’s request, and received $150,546 from the department to cover part of its legal fees.

The AP has pending lawsuits against the FBI for records about its decision to impersonate an AP journalist during a criminal investigation and about who helped the FBI hack into a mass shooting suspect’s iPhone and how much the government paid to do it.

Of the $36.2 million in legal costs fighting such lawsuits last year, the Justice Department accounted for $12 million, the Homeland Security Department for $6.3 million and the Pentagon for $4.8 million. The three departments accounted for more than half the government’s total records requests last year.

The figures reflect the final struggles of the Obama administration during the 2016 election to meet President Barack Obama’s pledge that it was “the most transparent administration in history,” despite wide recognition of serious problems coping with requests under the information law. It received a record 788,769 requests for files last year and spent a record $478 million answering them and employed 4,263 full-time FOIA employees across more than 100 federal departments and agencies. That was higher by 142 such employees the previous year.

A spokesman for former President Obama did not immediately respond to an email request for comment late Monday. The White House under Obama routinely defended its efforts under the information law in recent years and said federal employees worked diligently on such requests for records.

It remains unclear how President Donald Trump’s administration will perform under the Freedom of Information Act or other measures of government transparency. Trump has not spoken extensively about transparency. In his private business and his presidential campaign, Trump required employees and advisers to sign non-disclosure agreements that barred them from discussing their work. His administration has barred some mainstream news organizations from campaign rallies and one White House press briefing. And Trump broke with tradition by refusing to disclose his tax returns.

Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, is traveling to Asia this week on a small plane without a contingent of journalists or a designated pool reporter who would send reports to the broader diplomatic press corps, departing from 50 years of practice.

Overall, in the final year of Obama’s administration, people who asked for records last year under the law received censored files or nothing in 77 percent of requests, about the same as the previous year. In the first full year after Obama’s election, that figure was only 65 percent of cases. The government released the new figures in the days ahead of Sunshine Week, which ends Sunday, when news organizations promote open government and freedom of information.

Obama's veto statements

S 2040 - the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA)

On September 23, 2016, President Barack Obama vetoed S 2040—the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA). The Senate voted 97-1 to override Obama's veto of the bill on September 28, 2016. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) cast the only vote against overriding the veto. On the same day, the House voted 348-77 to override the veto, effectively making JASTA law. It was the first veto override of Obama's presidency. ⎜] ⎝] Β] Α]

Before the vote, Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) said, “This is pretty much close to a miraculous occurrence because Democrats and Republicans, senators [and] House members have all agreed [on] the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which give the victims of a terrorist attack on our won soil an opportunity to seek the justice they deserve." ⎞]

The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act allowed victims of terror attacks to sue countries that supported terrorism, even if the country was not on a designated list of state sponsors of terrorism. The legislation specifically allowed the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks to sue Saudi Arabia. Fifteen of the 19 terrorists who carried out the September 11, 2001, attacks were Saudi nationals, but the Saudi government denied having anything to do with the attacks. ΐ] ⎟]

In a statement announcing his veto, Obama wrote, "I recognize that there is nothing that could ever erase the grief the 9/11 families have endured. My Administration therefore remains resolute in its commitment to assist these families in their pursuit of justice and do whatever we can to prevent another attack in the United States. Enacting JASTA into law, however, would neither protect Americans from terrorist attacks nor improve the effectiveness of our response to such attacks. As drafted, JASTA would allow private litigation against foreign governments in U.S. courts based on allegations that such foreign governments' actions abroad made them responsible for terrorism-related injuries on U.S. soil. This legislation would permit litigation against countries that have neither been designated by the executive branch as state sponsors of terrorism nor taken direct actions in the United States to carry out an attack here. The JASTA would be detrimental to U.S. national interests more broadly, which is why I am returning it without my approval." ⎠]

White House’s response to the override of JASTA

After JASTA was overridden, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, “I would venture to say that this is the single most embarrassing thing that the United States Senate has done, possibly, since 1983.” ⎡]

According to The Hill, “Earnest was responding to a reporter who told him Wednesday’s vote was the most overwhelming since a 95-0 veto override vote in 1983. In that year, the Senate overrode President Ronald Reagan’s veto of a land bill to give a few acres to six retired couples who paid for it, but later learned that it was still government property because of a surveying error.” ⎡]

Earnest accused members of Congress of not fully understanding the potential impact of JASTA. He said, “To have members of the United States Senate only recently informed of the negative impact of this bill on our service members and on our diplomats is in itself embarrassing. For those senators then to move forward on overriding the president’s veto that would prevent those negative consequences is an abdication of their basic responsibilities of representatives of the American people. Hopefully, these senators are going to have to answer their own conscience and their constituents as they account for their actions today.” ⎡]

Congressional leadership's response to veto of JASTA

After the Senate and House vetoed the JASTA, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said that they might consider changes to the bill after concerns were raised that other countries might pass similar laws that would make members of the military and U.S. diplomats open to lawsuits. ⎢]

McConnell said, "I do think it's worth further discussions, but it was certainly not something that was going to be fixed this week." ⎢]

Ryan said, "We want to make sure the 9/11 victims and their families have their day in court. At the same time, I would like to think that there may be some work to be done to protect our service members overseas from any kind of legal ensnarements that occur, any kind of retribution." ⎢]

Additionally, twenty-eight senators sent a letter to Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) asking them to consider amending the bill in the future. They wrote, "We would hope to work with you in a constructive manner to appropriately mitigate those unintended consequences." ⎢]

HR 1777 - the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2016

On July 22, 2016, Obama vetoed HR 1777—the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2016. The legislation proposed amending the Former Presidents Act of 1958 by providing former presidents with an annual pension of $200,000 and an annual allowance of $200,000 a year for staff, office, and travel costs. In addition, it proposed reducing the amount of money a president receives if he earns more than $400,000 per year in income. ⎣]

In a statement announcing his veto, Obama wrote, “I agree with H.R. 1777's goal of reforming the pensions and allowances provided to former Presidents so as to reduce unnecessary costs to taxpayers. But if implemented as drafted, the bill would have unintended consequences. It would impose onerous and unreasonable burdens on the offices of former Presidents, including by requiring the General Services Administration to immediately terminate salaries and benefits of office employees and to remove furnishings and equipment from offices. It would withdraw the General Services Administration's ability to administer leases and negatively impact operations, with unanticipated implications for the protection and security of former Presidents. My Administration will work with the authors of the bill and other leaders in the Congress, in consultation with the offices of former Presidents, to explore the best ways to achieve these goals going forward. If the Congress returns the bill having appropriately addressed these concerns, I will sign it. For now, I must veto the bill.” ⎤]

A report from the Congressional Research Service found that the cost of maintaining the offices of former presidents ranges from $430,000 for former president Jimmy Carter to $1.1 million for former president George W. Bush. ⎥]

HJ Res 88 - Department of Labor rule

On June 8, 2016, Obama vetoed HJ Res 88. The resolution proposed preventing the U.S. Department of Labor from implementing a rule that required retirement investment advisors to put their customer’s interests first when providing advice. Δ]

In a statement announcing his veto, Obama wrote, "This rule is critical to protecting Americans' hard-earned savings and preserving their retirement security. The outdated regulations in place before this rulemaking did not ensure that financial advisers act in their clients' best interests when giving retirement investment advice. Instead, some firms have incentivized advisers to steer clients into products that have higher fees and lower returns -- costing America's families an estimated $17 billion a year. The Department of Labor's final rule will ensure that American workers and retirees receive retirement advice that is in their best interest, better enabling them to protect and grow their savings. . Because this resolution seeks to block the progress represented by this rule and deny retirement savers investment advice in their best interest, I cannot support it." ⎦]

SJ Res 22 - EPA rule

On January 19, 2016, Obama vetoed SJ Res 22, a resolution that proposed nullifying an EPA rule "relating to the definition of 'waters of the United States' under the Clean Water Act." Ε] The rule proposed expanding the EPA's regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act, which mandated that the federal government oversee streams, wetlands, rivers, and lakes nationwide to limit water pollution. ⎧]

In a statement announcing his veto, Obama wrote, "The rule, which is a product of extensive public involvement and years of work, is critical to our efforts to protect the Nation's waters and keep them clean is responsive to calls for rulemaking from the Congress, industry, and community stakeholders and is consistent with decisions of the United States Supreme Court. . Because this resolution seeks to block the progress represented by this rule and deny businesses and communities the regulatory certainty and clarity needed to invest in projects that rely on clean water, I cannot support it." ⎨]

HR 3762 - ACA repeal

On January 8, 2016, Obama vetoed HR 3762. Ζ] In a statement, he outlined the "significant progress we have made in improving health care in America" since the passage of his signature healthcare law in 2010 and said that HR 3762 would undo much of that progress. He said, "This legislation would cost millions of hard-working middle-class families the security of affordable health coverage they deserve. Reliable health care coverage would no longer be a right for everyone: it would return to being a privilege for a few." ⎩] He also warned that the bill, which proposed defunding Planned Parenthood, "would limit access to health care for men, women, and families across the Nation, and would disproportionately impact low-income individuals" who use the reproductive healthcare organization's services. ⎩]

SJ Res 23 - EPA rule

On December 19, 2015, Obama vetoed SJ Res 23. In a statement, he said, "Because it would overturn carbon pollution standards that are critical to protecting against climate change and ensuring the health and well-being of our Nation, I cannot support the resolution." ⎪]

SJ Res 24 - EPA rule

On December 18, 2015, Obama vetoed SJ Res 24. In a statement, he discussed the benefits of the Clean Power Plan and said, "Because the resolution would overturn the Clean Power Plan, which is critical to protecting against climate change and ensuring the health and well-being of our Nation, I cannot support it." ⎫]

HR 1735 - NDAA

In a short ceremony on October 22, 2015, Obama vetoed HR 1735—the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016—a $612 billion defense authorization bill. ⎬] While issuing the fifth veto of his presidency, he said, "Unfortunately, it falls woefully short. I'm going to be sending it back to Congress, and my message to them is very simple: Let's do this right." ⎭]

Obama vetoed the legislation, which was signed into law for 53 consecutive years, because it proposed increasing defense spending by using "a separate account for wartime operations that is immune to the spending limits." He wanted Congress to lift budget caps to increase domestic spending as well as defense spending. In addition, the bill would have prohibited him from closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, which he promised to do while he was campaigning for president in 2009. ⎮] ⎭] ⎯]

SJ Res 8 - NLRB rule

On March 31, 2015, Obama issued his fourth veto on SJ Res 8. In a statement, he said that "S.J. Res. 8 would overturn the National Labor Relations Board’s recently issued 'representation case procedures' rule and block modest but overdue reforms to simplify and streamline private sector union elections. Accordingly, I am withholding my approval of this resolution." ⎰]

S 1 - Keystone XL Pipeline

On February 24, 2015, Obama vetoed S 1—the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act. ⎙] In a brief statement announcing the veto, he said, "Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest. . And because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest -- including our security, safety, and environment -- it has earned my veto." ⎱]

HR 3808 - Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act

On October 8, 2010, Obama vetoed HR 3808—the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010. He issued the following statement along with the veto: "It is necessary to have further deliberations about the possible unintended impact of H.R. 3808, the 'Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010,' on consumer protections, including those for mortgages, before the bill can be finalized. Accordingly, I am withholding my approval of this bill. . The authors of this bill no doubt had the best intentions in mind when trying to remove impediments to interstate commerce. My Administration will work with them and other leaders in Congress to explore the best ways to achieve this goal going forward." ⎲]

HJ Res 64 - Continuing Appropriations

On December 30, 2009, Obama vetoed HJ Res 64. In a statement, he said, "The enactment of H.R. 3326 (Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010, Public Law 111-118), which was signed into law on December 19, 2009, has rendered the enactment of H.J.Res. 64 (Continuing Appropriations, FY 2010) unnecessary. Accordingly, I am withholding my approval from the bill." ⎳]

Introducing USDA Results, a Year-Long Storytelling Effort of the Obama Administration's Work on Behalf of Those Living, Working and Raising Families in Rural America

Today, USDA is launching USDA Results, a progressive, year-long, multimedia storytelling effort showcasing the Administration’s work on behalf of those living, working and raising families in rural America. Each month, USDA will release a new chapter of the story at medium.com/usda-results. We encourage you to check out January’s chapter, Celebrating America’s Farmers and Ranchers: Supporting the Producers Who Ensure a Safe, Affordable, Nutritious American Food Supply,and follow along throughout 2016.

When I began my service as Secretary of Agriculture in 2009, I took the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nickname of the ‘People’s Department’—first coined by President Abraham Lincoln—to heart.

President Lincoln knew the importance of agriculture to national prosperity—particularly at a time when about half of all Americans lived on the farm. He understood the critical responsibility of USDA and government to serve and support American agriculture and the rural communities who have, since the founding of our country, helped to drive innovation and economic growth on a national scale.

During the 19th Century, farmers and rural Americans helped lift up the country. During the 20th century, the hard work and success of farmers and rural Americans helped to bolster the economy and lay the foundation for the strongest nation on earth. And now again, at the beginning of the 21st Century, the unwavering productivity of farmers and rural Americans is ensuring that America continues for this century to be the freest, safest, greatest nation on earth.

Because of the strength of the agricultural sector, most Americans think that USDA’s work focuses solely on agriculture that our service to the American people begins and ends with the production of food. But those of us who call rural America home know that there’s much more to USDA and rural America than just farms and ranches. From biobased products to rural manufacturing, the potential to grow and make innovative products in rural America is limitless.

That’s why, over the course of the Obama Administration, USDA has made targeted investments to help rural businesses grow. Through projects in affordable housing, energy efficiency and availability, clean and reliable drinking water and wastewater systems, and internet access, coupled with loans and grants for rural businesses, we’ve helped to attract and retain a talented rural labor force, improve connectivity and access to information, move products to market, and make rural communities competitive—ultimately supporting strong local economies and expanded opportunity for rural Americans.

For more than 150 years, USDA employees have served the people and places of our country that are hard to reach, off the beaten track, or otherwise underserved. As agriculture has changed and evolved over the years, we have not lost sight of Lincoln’s vision. While the number of Americans who are farmers today stands at less than one percent, USDA’s values are still rooted in rural America and service to the American people.

Our legacy of strong service and superior results continues as our work on food, agriculture, economic development, science, natural resource conservation and a host of other issues impacts millions of Americans and billions more people around the world, every day.

We have made investments to support rural places where people can start businesses, where families want to raise their children, where young people want to live. We’ve supported projects that bring needed infrastructure into rural communities and help them grow. We work with farmers and ranchers to provide nutritious, affordable food to every American family. We protect the safety of the American food supply. We battle wildfire, drought, extreme weather, and pest and disease outbreaks to ensure that our land and water resources are preserved for future generations. We work to feed our nation's youth and help struggling families to put food on the table. We conduct cutting edge research that drives agricultural innovation. We support the international feeding programs that encourage millions of children, particularly young girls, around the world to attend school and get the nutrition they need to grow up healthy and strong. We preserve America’s forests, grasslands and open spaces for the enjoyment of American families.

To help capture the important, and oftentimes heartening, impacts that these investments have brought about in rural communities, USDA is launching a year-long, progressive storytelling effort that focuses on capturing just that—how the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Obama Administration has invested in and achieved results for farmers, ranchers, rural communities and every American.

Each month in 2016, USDA will release a new “chapter” of the story, focused on one aspect of our investment in Americans, rural and urban alike, over the past eight years.

January focuses on celebrating America’s farmers and ranchers, who ensure a safe, affordable, nutritious American food supply. Thanks to those working in American agriculture, we pay less for our food as a percentage of our wages than any other nation in the world. That means we have more money to spend on other things, which is good for our families and the nation's economy. Thanks to the ingenuity, efficiency, and sweat of those working in American agriculture, we saw our agricultural economy remain strong and resilient, even during some tough times.

As a result of the hard work and sacrifice of farmers, ranchers and producers, Americans enjoy a rich diversity of safe and nutritious food - almost all of which comes from here in America. As a nation, we are fortunate to have the ability to grow and create virtually everything we need to survive. Our farmers, ranchers and foresters, and those in supporting industries, give us the freedom to pursue any path we choose most of us have delegated the responsibility of feeding our families to the American farmer. It’s created this great freedom for us to choose and for that we owe our farmers a debt of gratitude.

I’ve had the privilege of serving as Secretary of Agriculture for nearly eight years—the longest-serving Cabinet Secretary in the Obama Administration and one of the longest-serving Secretaries of Agriculture ever. Over the course of those nearly eight years, I’ve traveled to all 50 states and countries on nearly every continent. I’ve talked to farmers, ranchers and Americans far and wide, from all walks of life. I’ve heard from them firsthand the impact of USDA’s staff, programs and services on their lives and their legacies.

And despite differences in production methods, geography, and demographics, they all agree on one thing: innovation and opportunity are at the heart of the American agriculture success story.

As a matter of course, farmers and ranchers must constantly prepare, invent and adapt so that they’re able to meet whatever tomorrow brings head on. But the idea of rural innovation runs deeper than that. Rural America innovates and constantly strives for improvement, no matter the obstacle. It’s ingrained in the very fiber of their being, just as service is ingrained in USDA’s. Service is at the heart of what good government is and does, a motto that has guided our work over the course of the Obama Administration.

More than twenty years after I entered public service and after nearly eight years as Secretary of Agriculture, I still love my job each day. Whether improving domestic and international access to food, promoting nutrition and safety of our food supply, conserving our natural resources, advancing agricultural exports, or developing the rural economy, USDA helps Americans to lead better lives. I know that I’m not alone in the pride I take in rural America, American agriculture and what USDA employees do to make a difference in the lives of Americans every day. I’m pleased to share with you this yearlong reflection on the results achieved over the course of this Administration, and I hope you enjoy it too.


Nick Manetto designs, directs and implements successful health care policy advocacy campaigns. He represents a wide variety of clients, with an emphasis on patient advocacy organizations and children’s hospitals. He has particular experience advocating on issues related to medical research and public health, children’s health, rare disease, patient-focused drug development, and coverage and payment policy.

In more than 15 years in health policy, government affairs and strategic communications, Nick has led efforts that have resulted in legislative, executive branch and regulatory.

Good morning Chairwoman Murray and Ranking Member Blunt.

The U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced today the approval of 18,000 borrower defense to repayment (borrower defense) claims for individuals who attended ITT Technical Institute (ITT). These borrowers will receive 100 percent loan discharges, resulting in approximately $500 million in relief. This brings total loan cancellation under borrower defense by the Biden-Harris Administration to $1.5 billion for approximately 90,000 borrowers.

A Presidential Comparison

Investors should be very careful about drawing conclusions from election or inauguration day performance because there isn't enough data. For example, except for Franklin Roosevelt, the maximum number of inauguration days for any president is two, which is too small for statistical analysis. Each inauguration is also accompanied by unique economic circumstances that make drawing conclusions even more difficult. It seems more likely that incoming presidents deserve neither credit nor blame for what happens the day they are sworn in.

While former President Obama's first inauguration was a bad day for the market, the first year of a presidential administration or even the first term might be a better measuring stick for economic performance. From that perspective, former President Trump's first-year performance was the best since Carter, while former President Clinton's first term experienced the best DJIA performance.

Under former President George W. Bush, the stock market was down over 8% his first year in office and lost 3.7% by the end of his first term. However, the dotcom bust that helped inflict that damage had little to do with the president's economic agenda. What can be said for sure is that the historic lows during George W. Bush's administration and the shaky beginnings of Obama's first few months in office were correlated with widespread economic crises and an economy in flux.

Despite its inauspicious economic beginnings, the Obama administration was correlated with an impressive upswing in the stock market. By the end of Obama's second term on Jan. 20, 2017, the DJIA had more than recovered from its January 2009 low point.