Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Brian Gladstein Named New Executive Director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform

CHICAGO -- Brian Gladstein, a veteran government and political reform advocate, has been named Executive Director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR).

For the past 11 years, Gladstein has been Program Director of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA). His assignments at JCUA and with other community organizations have included policy work in government reform, economic development, housing, public transportation and the environment.

"Brian has a strong track record of helping voters understand their state and local governments and a commitment to encouraging more Illinoisans to join in the work of improving and reforming their governments," said Ross Harano, President of the ICPR Board of Directors. "Since the late Sen. Paul Simon founded ICPR in 1997, ICPR has earned a reputation for providing solid, unbiased research to highlight connections between money and politics and has encouraged more sunshine on the workings of our government.

"Working with many others in and out of government, ICPR has helped enact significant improvements in government transparency and campaign finance restrictions," Harano said. "Brian's experience and enthusiasm will help us maintain that momentum and grow on the strong foundation built by Cindi Canary, our previous director."

During his tenure at JCUA, Gladstein helped create the Developing Government Accountability to the People Network (DGAP), which has encouraged more informed citizen participation in Chicago government, and he oversaw the creation of DGAP's website with extensive information on issues, a report card evaluating city and political leaders, data on campaign contributions and a toolkit to help citizens engage their elected representatives.

"Despite Illinois' too rich history of government scandals, progress has been made, and it is due in part to the tireless and tenacious work of ICPR under the leadership of Cindi Canary and the supporters of ICPR," Gladstein said. "It's a privilege to have the opportunity to lead ICPR at such a crucial time in our state's history."

Canary, who stepped down from the day-to-day work as ICPR director in June, will continue to help ICPR and others working on government reforms. She has been director of ICPR since its founding in 1997 and recently received the 2011 Abraham Lincoln Ethics Award in recognition of her achievements.

Gladstein, who will begin at ICPR on Sept. 6, is a resident of Chicago. He received a master's degree in urban planning and policy/community development from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and he has a bachelor's degree in public affairs/environmental science from Indiana University.

Monday, July 25, 2011

TEXT OF Speaker John Boehner's Address the Nation on July 25, 2011

Good evening. I’m John Boehner. I serve as Speaker of the whole House — of the members of both parties that you elect. These are difficult times in the life of our nation. Millions are looking for work, have been for some time, and the spending binge going on in Washington is a big part of the reason why.

Before I served in Congress, I ran a small business in Ohio. I was amazed at how different Washington DC operated than every business in America. Where most American business make the hard choices to pay their bills and live within their means, in Washington more spending and more debt is business as usual.

I’ve got news for Washington – those days are over.

President Obama came to Congress in January and requested business as usual — yet another routine increase in the national debt limit — we in the House said ‘not so fast.’ Here was the president, asking for the largest debt increase in American history, on the heels of the largest spending binge in American history.

Here’s what we got for that spending binge: a massive health care bill that most Americans never asked for. A ‘stimulus’ bill that was more effective in producing material for late-night comedians than it was in producing jobs. And a national debt that has gotten so out of hand it has sparked a crisis without precedent in my lifetime or yours.

The United States cannot default on its debt obligations. The jobs and savings of too many Americans are at stake.

What we told the president in January was this: the American people will not accept an increase in the debt limit without significant spending cuts and reforms.

And over the last six months, we’ve done our best to convince the president to partner with us to do something dramatic to change the fiscal trajectory of our country. . .something that will boost confidence in our economy, renew a measure of faith in our government, and help small businesses get back on track.

Last week, the House passed such a plan, and with bipartisan support. It’s called the ‘Cut, Cap, and Balance’ Act. It CUTS and CAPS government spending and paves the way for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, which we believe is the best way to stop Washington from spending money it doesn’t have. Before we even passed the bill in the House, the President said he would veto it.

I want you to know I made a sincere effort to work with the president to identify a path forward that would implement the principles of Cut, Cap, & Balance in a manner that could secure bipartisan support and be signed into law. I gave it my all.

Unfortunately, the president would not take yes for an answer. Even when we thought we might be close on an agreement, the president’s demands changed.

The president has often said we need a ‘balanced’ approach — which in Washington means: we spend more. . .you pay more. Having run a small business, I know those tax increases will destroy jobs.

The president is adamant that we cannot make fundamental changes to our entitlement programs. As the father of two daughters, I know these programs won’t be there for them and their kids unless significant action is taken now.

The sad truth is that the president wanted a blank check six months ago, and he wants a blank check today. That is just not going to happen.

You see, there is no stalemate in Congress. The House has passed a bill to raise the debt limit with bipartisan support. And this week, while the Senate is struggling to pass a bill filled with phony accounting and Washington gimmicks, we will pass another bill – one that was developed with the support of the bipartisan leadership of the U.S. Senate.

Obviously, I expect that bill can and will pass the Senate, and be sent to the President for his signature. If the President signs it, the ‘crisis’ atmosphere he has created will simply disappear. The debt limit will be raised. Spending will be cut by more than one trillion dollars, and a serious, bipartisan committee of the Congress will begin the hard but necessary work of dealing with the tough challenges our nation faces.

The individuals doing this work will not be outsiders, but elected representatives of the people, doing the job they were elected to do as outlined in the Constitution. Those decisions should be made based on how they will affect people who are struggling to get a job, not how they affect some politician’s chances of getting reelected.

This debate isn’t about President Obama and House Republicans … it isn’t about Congress and the White House … it’s about what’s standing between the American people and the future we seek for ourselves and our families.

You know, I’ve always believed, the bigger government, the smaller the people. And right now, we have a government so big and so expensive it’s sapping the drive of our people and keeping our economy from running at full capacity.

The solution to this crisis is not complicated: if you’re spending more money than you’re taking in, you need to spend less of it,

There is no symptom of big government more menacing than our debt. Break its grip, and we begin to liberate our economy and our future.

We are up to the task, and I hope President Obama will join us in this work.

God bless you and your families, and God bless America.

Text of President Obama's Address to the Nation on the Debt Crisis [ July 25, 2011]

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery

Primetime Debt Speech

Monday, July 25, 2011

Washington, DC

As Prepared for Delivery –

Good evening. Tonight, I want to talk about the debate we’ve been having in Washington over the national debt – a debate that directly affects the lives of all Americans.

For the last decade, we have spent more money than we take in. In the year 2000, the government had a budget surplus. But instead of using it to pay off our debt, the money was spent on trillions of dollars in new tax cuts, while two wars and an expensive prescription drug program were simply added to our nation’s credit card.

As a result, the deficit was on track to top $1 trillion the year I took office. To make matters worse, the recession meant that there was less money coming in, and it required us to spend even more – on tax cuts for middle-class families; on unemployment insurance; on aid to states so we could prevent more teachers and firefighters and police officers from being laid off. These emergency steps also added to the deficit.

Now, every family knows that a little credit card debt is manageable. But if we stay on the current path, our growing debt could cost us jobs and do serious damage to the economy. More of our tax dollars will go toward paying off the interest on our loans. Businesses will be less likely to open up shop and hire workers in a country that can’t balance its books. Interest rates could climb for everyone who borrows money – the homeowner with a mortgage, the student with a college loan, the corner store that wants to expand. And we won’t have enough money to make job-creating investments in things like education and infrastructure, or pay for vital programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Because neither party is blameless for the decisions that led to this problem, both parties have a responsibility to solve it. And over the last several months, that’s what we’ve been trying to do. I won’t bore you with the details of every plan or proposal, but basically, the debate has centered around two different approaches.

The first approach says, let’s live within our means by making serious, historic cuts in government spending. Let’s cut domestic spending to the lowest level it’s been since Dwight Eisenhower was President. Let’s cut defense spending at the Pentagon by hundreds of billions of dollars. Let’s cut out the waste and fraud in health care programs like Medicare – and at the same time, let’s make modest adjustments so that Medicare is still there for future generations. Finally, let’s ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to give up some of their tax breaks and special deductions.

This balanced approach asks everyone to give a little without requiring anyone to sacrifice too much. It would reduce the deficit by around $4 trillion and put us on a path to pay down our debt. And the cuts wouldn’t happen so abruptly that they’d be a drag on our economy, or prevent us from helping small business and middle-class families get back on their feet right now.

This approach is also bipartisan. While many in my own party aren’t happy with the painful cuts it makes, enough will be willing to accept them if the burden is fairly shared. While Republicans might like to see deeper cuts and no revenue at all, there are many in the Senate who have said “Yes, I’m willing to put politics aside and consider this approach because I care about solving the problem.” And to his credit, this is the kind of approach the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, was working on with me over the last several weeks.

The only reason this balanced approach isn’t on its way to becoming law right now is because a significant number of Republicans in Congress are insisting on a cuts-only approach – an approach that doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to contribute anything at all. And because nothing is asked of those at the top of the income scales, such an approach would close the deficit only with more severe cuts to programs we all care about – cuts that place a greater burden on working families.

So the debate right now isn’t about whether we need to make tough choices. Democrats and Republicans agree on the amount of deficit reduction we need. The debate is about how it should be done. Most Americans, regardless of political party, don’t understand how we can ask a senior citizen to pay more for her Medicare before we ask corporate jet owners and oil companies to give up tax breaks that other companies don’t get. How can we ask a student to pay more for college before we ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries? How can we slash funding for education and clean energy before we ask people like me to give up tax breaks we don’t need and didn’t ask for?

That’s not right. It’s not fair. We all want a government that lives within its means, but there are still things we need to pay for as a country – things like new roads and bridges; weather satellites and food inspection; services to veterans and medical research.

Keep in mind that under a balanced approach, the 98% of Americans who make under $250,000 would see no tax increases at all. None. In fact, I want to extend the payroll tax cut for working families. What we’re talking about under a balanced approach is asking Americans whose incomes have gone up the most over the last decade – millionaires and billionaires – to share in the sacrifice everyone else has to make. And I think these patriotic Americans are willing to pitch in. In fact, over the last few decades, they’ve pitched in every time we passed a bipartisan deal to reduce the deficit. The first time a deal passed, a predecessor of mine made the case for a balanced approach by saying this:

“Would you rather reduce deficits and interest rates by raising revenue from those who are not now paying their fair share, or would you rather accept larger budget deficits, higher interest rates, and higher unemployment? And I think I know your answer.”

Those words were spoken by Ronald Reagan. But today, many Republicans in the House refuse to consider this kind of balanced approach – an approach that was pursued not only by President Reagan, but by the first President Bush, President Clinton, myself, and many Democrats and Republicans in the United States Senate. So we are left with a stalemate.

Now, what makes today’s stalemate so dangerous is that it has been tied to something known as the debt ceiling – a term that most people outside of Washington have probably never heard of before.

Understand – raising the debt ceiling does not allow Congress to spend more money. It simply gives our country the ability to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up. In the past, raising the debt ceiling was routine. Since the 1950s, Congress has always passed it, and every President has signed it. President Reagan did it 18 times. George W. Bush did it 7 times. And we have to do it by next Tuesday, August 2nd, or else we won’t be able to pay all of our bills.

Unfortunately, for the past several weeks, Republican House members have essentially said that the only way they’ll vote to prevent America’s first-ever default is if the rest of us agree to their deep, spending cuts-only approach.

If that happens, and we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills – bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses.

For the first time in history, our country’s Triple A credit rating would be downgraded, leaving investors around the world to wonder whether the United States is still a good bet. Interest rates would skyrocket on credit cards, mortgages, and car loans, which amounts to a huge tax hike on the American people. We would risk sparking a deep economic crisis – one caused almost entirely by Washington.

Defaulting on our obligations is a reckless and irresponsible outcome to this debate. And Republican leaders say that they agree we must avoid default. But the new approach that Speaker Boehner unveiled today, which would temporarily extend the debt ceiling in exchange for spending cuts, would force us to once again face the threat of default just six months from now. In other words, it doesn’t solve the problem.

First of all, a six-month extension of the debt ceiling might not be enough to avoid a credit downgrade and the higher interest rates that all Americans would have to pay as a result. We know what we have to do to reduce our deficits; there’s no point in putting the economy at risk by kicking the can further down the road.

But there’s an even greater danger to this approach. Based on what we’ve seen these past few weeks, we know what to expect six months from now. The House will once again refuse to prevent default unless the rest of us accept their cuts-only approach. Again, they will refuse to ask the wealthiest Americans to give up their tax cuts or deductions. Again, they will demand harsh cuts to programs like Medicare. And once again, the economy will be held captive unless they get their way.

That is no way to run the greatest country on Earth. It is a dangerous game we’ve never played before, and we can’t afford to play it now. Not when the jobs and livelihoods of so many families are at stake. We can’t allow the American people to become collateral damage to Washington’s political warfare.

Congress now has one week left to act, and there are still paths forward. The Senate has introduced a plan to avoid default, which makes a down payment on deficit reduction and ensures that we don’t have to go through this again in six months.

I think that’s a much better path, although serious deficit reduction would still require us to tackle the tough challenges of entitlement and tax reform. Either way, I have told leaders of both parties that they must come up with a fair compromise in the next few days that can pass both houses of Congress – a compromise I can sign. And I am confident we can reach this compromise. Despite our disagreements, Republican leaders and I have found common ground before. And I believe that enough members of both parties will ultimately put politics aside and help us make progress.

I realize that a lot of the new members of Congress and I don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues. But we were each elected by some of the same Americans for some of the same reasons. Yes, many want government to start living within its means. And many are fed up with a system in which the deck seems stacked against middle-class Americans in favor of the wealthiest few. But do you know what people are fed up with most of all?

They’re fed up with a town where compromise has become a dirty word. They work all day long, many of them scraping by, just to put food on the table. And when these Americans come home at night, bone-tired, and turn on the news, all they see is the same partisan three-ring circus here in Washington. They see leaders who can’t seem to come together and do what it takes to make life just a little bit better for ordinary Americans. They are offended by that. And they should be.

The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government. So I’m asking you all to make your voice heard. If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your Member of Congress know. If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message.

America, after all, has always been a grand experiment in compromise. As a democracy made up of every race and religion, where every belief and point of view is welcomed, we have put to the test time and again the proposition at the heart of our founding: that out of many, we are one. We have engaged in fierce and passionate debates about the issues of the day, but from slavery to war, from civil liberties to questions of economic justice, we have tried to live by the words that Jefferson once wrote: “Every man cannot have his way in all things…Without this mutual disposition, we are disjointed individuals, but not a society.”

History is scattered with the stories of those who held fast to rigid ideologies and refused to listen to those who disagreed. But those are not the Americans we remember. We remember the Americans who put country above self, and set personal grievances aside for the greater good. We remember the Americans who held this country together during its most difficult hours; who put aside pride and party to form a more perfect union.

That’s who we remember. That’s who we need to be right now. The entire world is watching. So let’s seize this moment to show why the United States of America is still the greatest nation on Earth – not just because we can still keep our word and meet our obligations, but because we can still come together as one nation. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.


White House Takes on Threat Posed by TransNational Organized Crime

July 25, 2011

FACT SHEET: Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime

“This Strategy is organized around a single, unifying principle: to build, balance, and integrate the tools of American power to combat transnational organized crime and related threats to our national security—and to urge our partners to do the same… While this Strategy is intended to assist the United States Government in combating transnational crime, it also serves as an invitation for enhanced international cooperation. We encourage our partners and allies to echo the commitment we have made here and join in building a new framework for international cooperation to protect all our citizens from the violence, harm, and exploitation wrought by transnational organized crime.”

-- President Barack Obama

Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime

In the U.S. National Security Strategy, the President committed his Administration to the pursuit of four enduring national interests: security, prosperity, respect for universal values, and the shaping of an international order that can meet the challenges of the 21st century. The expanding size, scope, and influence of transnational organized crime (TOC) and its impact on U.S. and international security and governance represent one of the most significant of those challenges.

Transnational Organized Crime Threatens U.S. and International Security

In January 2010, the United States completed a comprehensive assessment of transnational organized crime – the first such assessment since 1995. The assessment concluded that TOC networks are proliferating, striking new powerful alliances, and engaging in a range of illicit activities as never before. The result is a convergence of threats that have evolved to become more volatile, and destabilizing.

· TOC penetration of states is deepening, leading to co-option in some states and weakening of governance in many others. TOC networks insinuate themselves into the political process through bribery and in some cases have become alternate providers of governance, security, and livelihoods to win popular support. The nexus in some states among TOC groups and elements of government – including intelligence services personnel – and big business figures threatens the rule of law.

· TOC threatens U.S. economic interests and can cause significant damage to world financial system by subverting legitimate markets. The World Bank estimates that about $1 trillion is spent each year to bribe public officials. TOC groups, through their state relationships, could gain influence over strategic markets.

· Terrorists and insurgents increasingly are turning to crime and criminal networks for funding and logistics. In FY 2010, 29 of the 63 top drug trafficking organizations identified by the Department of Justice had links to terrorist organizations. While many terrorist links to TOC are opportunistic, this nexus is dangerous, especially if it leads a TOC network to facilitate the transfer of weapons of mass destruction material to terrorists.

· Some well-established organized criminal groups that have not previously been involved in producing narcotics are now seeking to develop their own distribution and trafficking networks.

· Human smuggling and trafficking-in-person networks are growing more violent and lucrative, and exploiting the most vulnerable, especially women and children.

· TOC networks are stealing U.S. intellectual property. Between FY 2003 and FY 2010, the yearly domestic value of customs seizures at U.S. port and mail facilities related to intellectual property right violations leaped from $94 million to $188 million

· TOC networks are increasingly involved in cybercrime, which costs consumers billions of dollars annually, threatens corporate and government computer networks, and undermines worldwide confidence in the global financial system.

· Often connecting these transnational threats are “facilitators,” who operate in both the licit and illicit worlds and provide services to criminals and terrorists.

Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime

· The Strategy has five strategic objectives:

1. Protect Americans and our partners from the harm, violence, and exploitation of transnational criminal networks.

2. Help partner countries strengthen governance and transparency, break the corruptive power of transnational criminal networks, and sever state-crime alliances.

3. Break the economic power of transnational criminal networks and protect strategic markets and the U.S. financial system from TOC penetration and abuse.

4. Defeat transnational criminal networks that pose the greatest threat to national security by targeting their infrastructures, depriving them of their enabling means, and preventing the criminal facilitation of terrorist activities.

5. Build international consensus, multilateral cooperation, and public-private partnerships to defeat transnational organized crime.

· There are 56 priority actions in the Strategy under the following chapters:

1. Start at Home: Taking Shared Responsibility for Transnational Organized Crime;

2. Enhance Intelligence and Information Sharing;

3. Protect the Financial System and Strategic Markets against Transnational Organized Crime;

4. Strengthen Interdiction, Investigations, and Prosecutions;

5. Disrupt Drug Trafficking and its Facilitation of Other Transnational Threats; and

6. Build International Capacity, Cooperation, and Partnerships.

· By prioritizing existing resources, the Strategy also introduces the following new and innovative capabilities and tools:

1. A new Executive Order will establish a sanctions program to block the property of significant transnational criminal organizations that threaten the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.

2. A series of legislative proposals to enhance the authorities available to investigate, interdict, and prosecute the activities of top transnational criminal networks. Collectively, the Administration’s proposals reinvigorate the statutory landscape to be more responsive to extraterritorial threats and the increasingly global reach of criminal syndicates.

3. A new Presidential Proclamation under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act will bar admission to the United States of persons designated under the Executive Order and other comparable sanctions programs. The Proclamation also provides additional legal authority for barring admission to the United States of persons subject to United Nations Security Council travel bans.

4. A new rewards program will supplement the success of existing narcotics rewards programs in obtaining information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the leaders of transnational criminal organizations that pose the greatest threats to national security.

· The Interagency Policy Committee on Illicit Drugs and Transnational Criminal Threats, led by the National Security Staff and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, will oversee implementation of the Strategy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gov Quinn Signs Bill Setting New Standards and Regulations on Charter Schools

CHICAGO – July 20, 2011. As part of his agenda to give Illinois’ children more opportunities for a quality education in Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn today announced the signing of legislation that will increase school choice for parents. Senate Bill 79 establishes an independent charter school commission that is dedicated to school reform and has the power to authorize and regulate charter schools throughout the state.

Currently, 13,000 children in Illinois are on waiting lists for charter schools, which can only be created when authorized by school districts and certified by the Illinois State Board of Education. The new State Charter School Commission will provide an alternative path to charter school creation and improve the quality of charter schools by setting accountability and outcome standards.

“I am committed to expanding choices for a quality education for every child in Illinois,” said Governor Quinn. “Parents shouldn’t be limited by zip codes when choosing a school for their children. By creating an accountable body dedicated to charter schools, we are giving communities another way to empower parents with more choices for their child’s education.”

Sponsored by Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-Maywood), Senate Bill 79 allows the State Charter School Commission to hear and decide all appeals to charter school applications. The Illinois Board of Education will appoint the nine members of the commission from a slate of candidates proposed by the Governor. The commission will be funded through fees to charter schools which are authorized by the commission.

Governor Quinn also announced the signing of House Bill 2401, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Mitchell (R- Rock Falls) and Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood), which clarifies Illinois law to ensure that each re-enrollment charter school campus has the option to enter the collective bargaining process as its own entity.

Charter schools are just one part of Governor Quinn’s broad agenda to give children more options for a great education in Illinois. In recent months, Governor Quinn signed legislation to pave the way for a longer school day and longer school year in Illinois, and establish first-ever performance standards for teachers. Senate Bill 79 goes into effect immediately and House Bill 2401 takes effect Jan. 1, 2012.


Summit on Challenges Facing IL Children Scheduled for Friday, July 22, at Lincoln Pres Library

WHAT: Presentation, discussion and community gathering to address the challenges that face the community and create a shared vision for moving forward. The event is open to the public but requires pre-registration. Please visit voices4kids.org/getinvolved/attendanevent.html to RSVP.

WHEN: July 22, 2011, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

WHERE: Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

212 N. Sixth Street

Springfield, IL

WHO: Presentation by Voices for Illinois Children President Kathy Ryg. Panelists include Gloria Davis, Superintendent for Decatur Public Schools; Kathy Payne, Senior Director of Education Leadership for State Farm Insurance Companies; Dr. Harry Berman, Professor Emeritus of Human Services and Provost (retired) of University of Illinois – Springfield; and moderator John Kelker, President of United Way of Central Illinois.

WHY: Acknowledging the continuing challenges presented by the 2011 Kids Count data and amid state- and nation-wide budget crises and cuts to funding for human services, the event aims to look forward with a shared vision for the children and families of Illinois.

Rep Randy Ramey Selected as new DuPage County GOP Chairman

At the DuPage County Republican Central Committee meeting, Chairman Dan Cronin stepped down as Chairman of the DuPage Republican Party. After Vice Chairman Pat Durante also decided to step down, a vote was taken and Wayne Township Republican Chairman Randy Ramey was unanimously elected to fill the remainder of Chairman Cronin’s term by all other township chairmen.

Chairman Ramey has served as a precinct committeeman for the past 20 years, and has served for two terms as Chairman of the Wayne Township Republican Organization and another two terms as its Vice-Chairman. Additionally, Chairman Ramey has served since 2005 as State Representative for the 55th Legislative District.

In his four terms as a member of the Illinois General Assembly, Representative Ramey fought against all tax increases, especially the recent income and business tax increases. Representative Ramey has advocated countless ways to save the state money since arriving in Springfield. This past year, Representative Ramey negotiated a bill to ensure local governments are given the lowest possible price for all publications they are required to put in print. Ramey was also instrumental in last year’s bill putting together the reforms for the DuPage Water Commission.

Chairman Ramey would like to thank Chairman Dan Cronin for his years of devoted service to the party. Finally, Ramey vows to move the party forward and prepare the DuPage Republican Party for the upcoming primary and general elections.

Monday, July 18, 2011

President Obama's Remarks in Nominating Richard Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Bureau

Rose Garden

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. It has been almost three years since the financial crisis pulled the economy into a deep recession. And millions of families are still hurting because of it. They’re trying to get by on one income instead of two, on fewer shifts at the plant or at the hospital. They’re cutting expenses, giving up on a family night out so there’s money for groceries. And for a lot of families, things were tough even before the recession.

So we’ve got to get the economy growing faster and make sure that small businesses can hire again, so that an entrepreneur out there can sell a new product, so that the middle class is getting stronger again, and so folks feel confident in their futures and their children’s futures.

That’s why we can’t let politics stand in the way of doing the right thing in Washington. We can't stand in the way when it comes to doing the right thing on deficits. And that’s why I want to take steps like making sure payroll taxes for middle-class families don’t go back up next year. That’s why it’s so important that we tackle the problems that led us into this recession in the first place.

One of the biggest problems was that the tables were tilted against ordinary people in the financial system. When you get a home loan, it came with pages of fine print. When you got a credit card, it was as if the contract was written in another language. These kinds of things opened the door to unscrupulous practices -- loans with hidden fees and terms that meant your rate could double overnight. It led to people getting mortgages they couldn’t afford, and it put honest businesses at a disadvantage. And it encouraged dangerously risky behavior on Wall Street, which dragged the economy into the mess that we’re still trying to clean up.

That’s why we passed financial reform a year ago. It was a common-sense law that did three things. First, it made taxpayer-funded bailouts illegal, so taxpayers don’t have to foot the bill if a big bank goes under. Second, it said to Wall Street firms, you can’t take the same kind of reckless risks that led to the crisis. And third, it put in place the stronger -- the strongest consumer protections in history.

Now, to make sure that these protections worked -– so ordinary people were dealt with fairly, so they could make informed decisions about their finances –- we didn’t just change the law. We changed the way the government did business. For years, the job of protecting consumers was divided up in a lot of different agencies. So if you had a problem with a mortgage lender, you called one place. If you had a problem with a credit card company, you called somebody else. It meant there were a lot of people who were responsible, but that meant nobody was responsible.

And we changed that. We cut the bureaucracy and put one consumer watchdog in charge, with just one job: looking out for regular people in the financial system. Now, this is an idea that I got from Elizabeth Warren, who I first met years ago. Back then -- this is long before the financial crisis -- Elizabeth was sounding the alarm on predatory lending and the financial pressures on middle-class families. And in the years since, she’s become perhaps the leading voice in our country on behalf of consumers. And let’s face it, she’s done it while facing some very tough opposition and drawing a fair amount of heat. Fortunately, she’s very tough.

And that’s why I asked Elizabeth Warren to set up this new bureau. Over the past year she has done an extraordinary job. Already, the agency is starting to do a whole bunch of things that are going to be important for consumers -- making sure loan contracts and credit card terms are simpler and written in plain English. Already, thanks to the leadership of the bureau, we’re seeing men and women in uniform who are getting more protections against fraud and deception when it comes to financial practices. And as part of her charge, I asked Elizabeth to find the best possible choice for director of the bureau.

And that’s who we found in Richard Cordray. Richard was one of the first people that Elizabeth recruited, and he’s helped stand up the bureau’s enforcement division over the past six months. I should also point out that he took this job –- which meant being away from his wife and 12-year-old twins back in Ohio –- because he believed so deeply in the mission of the bureau. Prior to this, as Ohio’s attorney general, Rich helped recover billions of dollars in things like pension funds on behalf of retirees, and stepped up the state’s efforts against unscrupulous lending practices. He’s also served as Ohio’s treasurer and has successfully worked with people across the ideological spectrum -– Democrats and Republicans, banks and consumer advocates.

Now, last but not least, back in the ‘80s, Richard was also a five-time Jeopardy champion -- (laughter) -- and a semi-finalist in the Tournament of Champions. Not too shabby. That’s why all his confirmation -- all his answers at his confirmation hearings will be in the form of a question. That’s a joke. (Laughter.)

So I am proud to nominate Richard Cordray to this post. And we’ve been recently reminded why this job is going to be so important. There is an army of lobbyists and lawyers right now working to water down the protections and the reforms that we passed. They’ve already spent tens of millions of dollars this year to try to weaken the laws that are designed to protect consumers. And they’ve got allies in Congress who are trying to undo the progress that we’ve made. We’re not going to let that happen.

The fact is the financial crisis and the recession were not the result of normal economic cycles or just a run of bad luck. They were abuses and there was a lack of smart regulations. So we’re not just going to shrug our shoulders and hope it doesn’t happen again. We’re not going to go back to the status quo where consumers couldn’t count on getting protections that they deserved. We’re not going to go back to a time when our whole economy was vulnerable to a massive financial crisis. That’s why reform matters. That’s why this bureau matters. I will fight any efforts to repeal or undermine the important changes that we passed. And we are going to stand up this bureau and make sure it is doing the right thing for middle-class families all across the country.

Middle-class families and seniors don’t have teams of lawyers from blue-chip law firms. They can’t afford to hire a lobbyist to look out for their interests. But they deserve to be treated honestly. They deserve a basic measure of protection against abuse. They shouldn’t have to be a corporate lawyer in order to be able to read something they’re signing to take out a mortgage or to get a credit card. They ought to be free to make informed decisions, to buy a home or open a credit card or take out a student loan, and they should have confidence that they’re not being swindled. And that’s what this consumer bureau will achieve.

I look forward to working with Richard Cordray as this bureau stands up on behalf of consumers all across the country. I want to thank both Elizabeth and Tim Geithner for the extraordinary work that they’ve done over at Treasury to make sure that, a year after we passed this law, it is already having an impact and it’s going to have impact for years to come.

Thank you very much and congratulations, Rich.

Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Protect Good Samaritans Giving CPR

New Law Updates Legal Protections for Citizens Helping in Emergencies

CHICAGO – July 18, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to help protect good Samaritans who provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to a person having a heart attack or suffering cardiac arrest. Governor Quinn signed House Bill 1549, which amends the Good Samaritan Act in order to provide liability protection to individuals who are trained in CPR in accordance with either American Red Cross or American Heart Association standards.

More than 300,000 people suffer sudden cardiac arrest in the U.S. every year. According to the American Heart Association, less than 8 percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive. CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest by a trained bystander can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival.

“Citizens who have been trained in CPR should not be reluctant to use their training to help another person in an emergency,” said Governor Quinn. “CPR saves lives, and we want those who are able, to step up and help their fellow citizens in a crisis without fear of a lawsuit. This law protects good Samaritans and will protect lives.”

Previously, legal protections covered ‘certified’ rescuers; the updated law amends language so that all ‘trained’ rescuers are protected from lawsuits. Public confusion about who would be protected from civil liability under the Good Samaritan Act decreased the number of people willing to provide CPR to someone in emergency situations.

Updated training methods from the American Red Cross and American Heart Association focus on hands-only CPR, in which chest compressions are delivered to a victim of sudden cardiac arrest. Hands-only CPR has been shown to be as effective as traditional CPR, and is easier to master and perform than mouth-to-mouth ventilation.

House Bill 1549, sponsored by Rep. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) and Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi (D-Joilet), was an initiative of the American Red Cross and supported by the American Heart Association. The law takes effect immediately.