White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Update
Welcome to the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs state update. In this week's update, President Obama heads to D.C.'s Key Bridge to talk infrastructure and the economy, the Council of Economic Advisers releases a report about the consequences of states not expanding Medicaid, and President Obama speaks on immigration reform.
Keep an eye on your inbox, check out the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs website, and follow us on Twitter at @DavidAgnew44 for more information.
The President Heads to D.C.'s Key Bridge to Talk Infrastructure and the Economy
This week, President Obama talked about infrastructure and the economy with Washington, D.C.'s Francis Scott Key Bridge serving as the backdrop.
On a hot and muggy day, the President quickly got down to business, talking about the merits of the Highway Trust Fund, established by Congress in the 1950s, which helps states build and repair roads, bridges, and other infrastructure projects across the country.
President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the economy at the Georgetown Waterfront Park in Washington, D.C., July 1, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
But funding for the Highway Trust Fund is in danger of running out by the end of the summer, jeopardizing nearly 700,000 American jobs. Putting that in more tangible terms, the President noted that it "would be like Congress threatening to lay off the entire population of Denver, or Seattle, or Boston. That's a lot of people. It would be a bad idea."
Some projects are already running out of money, and our failure to adequately fund infrastructure projects is also hurting us on a global scale. "We spend significantly less as a portion of our economy than China does, than Germany does, than just about every other advanced country," President Obama said. "They know something that I guess we don't, which is that's the path to growth, that's the path to competitiveness."
Earlier this year, the President put forth a plan to replenish the Highway Trust Fund. It's a plan that wouldn't add to the deficit -- and we would pay for it in part by closing tax loopholes for corporations that are shipping their jobs overseas.
But House Republicans have refused to act -- and this obstructionism has real consequences for working-class Americans.
So far this year, the President noted, "Republicans have said no to raising the minimum wage, they've said no to fair pay, they've said no to extending unemployment insurance for over 3 million Americans looking for a new job." But where Congress refuses to act, the President is going to continue to do what he can to strengthen the middle class and move our country forward.
Already this year, President Obama has signed executive actions that ensure Americans earn a decent wage, attract new manufacturing jobs, speed up construction projects, build 21st-century workplaces, and make it easier for students to pay off their loans.
What They're Saying Around the Country: The Consequences of State Decisions Not to Expand Medicaid Yesterday, the Council of Economic Advisers released a report, The Consequences of State Decisions Not to Expand Medicaid, which shows the effects of state decisions regarding Medicaid expansion on access to care, financial security, overall health and well-being of residents, and state economies.
Under the Affordable Care Act, states had the opportunity to expand Medicaid coverage to give citizens in their states access to affordable health care, and in return receive 100 percent of federal funding to cover those costs for the first three years and no less than 90 percent federal support in the years ahead.
A number of governors and legislators in both parties decided to put people over politics by expanding Medicaid in their states. To date, 26 states have chosen to do the right thing by expanding coverage, and in those states, 5.2 million Americans have gained access to affordable health care through Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program.
Unfortunately, some governors and legislators are still holding hostage a Medicaid expansion that we know would help thousands of their residents, reduce the rate of uninsured, and could have significant economic benefits for their states.
And now, in this report, we can see the opportunities that these states are missing out on.
Click here for a sampling of the coverage the report has received across the country.
President Obama Speaks on Immigration Reform
President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, delivers remarks on immigration reform in the Rose Garden of the White House, June 30, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
In the Rose Garden this week, President Obama reiterated his commitment to immigration reform and reproached House Republicans for their unwillingness to confront this important issue. Speaking a year ago to the month when the Senate passed an immigration reform bill, the President outlined what Republican obstruction has meant over the past year:
- We have fewer resources to strengthen our borders;
- Businesses can still game the system by hiring undocumented workers -- with punishes businesses that are playing by the rules and hurting the wages of hard-working Americans;
- The best and brightest that come to study in the United STates are still forced to leave, heading overseas and subsequently competing against our workers; and
- Eleven million immigrants are still living in the shadows, instead of having the opportunity to earn their citizenship
What's more, "it's meant the heartbreak of separated families," the President stressed.
Meanwhile, the majority of Americans -- ranging from law enforcement to labor to faith communities -- continue to support immigration reform.
The bill passed by the Senate last year would strengthen our borders, grow our economy, and shrink our deficit. There are enough Republicans and Democrats that support immigration reform today to pass an immigration reform bill. "And Washington would solve a problem in a bipartisan way," the President noted.
In President Obama's remarks, he said that "Our country and our economy would be stronger today, if House Republicans had allowed a simple yes or no vote" on the Senate bill.
So where Congress fails to act, the President is going to continue to use his pen and his phone to fix the immigration system and keep our borders secure.
President Obama directed the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General to move additional resources to the border to ensure that dangerous criminals are kept our of this country and the public is protected. The President also directed Secretary Johnson and Attorney General Holder to start to identify additional administrative actions that can be taken to try to fix as much of the immigration system as possible on his own. "If Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours," the President said.
The President closed his remarks, talking about the upcoming holiday on Friday. He reminded us that one of the reasons we celebrate July 4th -- and one of the things that makes this country great -- is that we all came from somewhere else: That we are a nation of immigrants.
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