Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama used his weekly address to call on Congress to act on bipartisan legislation to protect American workers and promote businesses.

The president noted the growth of the economy early in his address, highlighting “a moment when our businesses are creating jobs at the fastest pace since the 1990s.” Still, he explains, “we’ve…got to do everything we can to help workers and businesses succeed in the new economy — one that’s competitive, connected, and changing every day.”

Obama discusses “trade promotion authority,” and says that passing the bipartisan legislation would help to “sell more goods and services Made in America to the rest of the world.” It would do so by “creating strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe.”

Allowing China to “write the rules for trade in the 21st century,” Obama warns, “would put our workers and our businesses at a massive disadvantage.”

“We should make sure the future is written by us,” the president concluded. “And if we do, we won’t just keep creating good new jobs for decades to come — we’ll make sure that this century is another all-American century.”

Read the full transcript of the president’s address:

Hi, everybody. At a moment when our businesses are creating jobs at the fastest pace since the 1990s, we’ve still got to do everything we can to help workers and businesses succeed in the new economy – one that’s competitive, connected, and changing every day.

One thing we know for certain about businesses in the 21st century is that they’ll need to sell more goods and services Made in America to the rest of the world.

Now, our businesses already sell goods and services in other countries at record levels. Our farmers, our factory workers, and our small businesses are exporting more than ever before – and exporters tend to pay their workers higher wages.

More small businesses are using the internet to grow their business by reaching new customers they couldn’t reach before, too. As an example, nine in ten American small businesses that use eBay as a platform to sell their products are exporters – with customers in more than 30 different countries on average.

But there’s a lot of room for growth. After all, 95% of the world’s potential customers live outside our borders. Many of them live in the Asia-Pacific – the world’s fastest-growing region. And as we speak, China is trying to write the rules for trade in the 21st century.

That would put our workers and our businesses at a massive disadvantage. We can’t let that happen. We should write those rules.

That’s why Congress should act on something called “trade promotion authority.” This is bipartisan legislation that would protect American workers, and promote American businesses, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but are fair. It would level the playing field for American workers. It would hold all countries to the same high labor and environmental standards to which we hold ourselves.

Now, I’m the first to admit that past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype. And that’s why we’ve successfully gone after countries that break the rules at our workers’ expense. But that doesn’t mean we should close ourselves off from new opportunities, and sit on the sidelines while other countries write our future for us. We should seize those opportunities. We should make sure the future is written by us. And if we do, we won’t just keep creating good new jobs for decades to come – we’ll make sure that this century is another all-American century.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

US Congress(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., delivered this week’s Republican address, calling for bipartisan action in response to recent cybersecurity threats, including the hacks against Sony Pictures, Target and Anthem Healthcare.

Johnson quotes former National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander, who said that cyber-crime against public and private organizations was “the greatest transfer of wealth in human history.” Cyberattacks, Johnson said, cost U.S. businesses an estimated $100 billion per year, “and a successful attack against our electrical grid or industrial control systems that operate other critical infrastructure, could put American lives, and our very way of life, at risk.”

Johnson said he hopes to work with Democrats, including President Obama, to pass legislation aimed at addressing the problem. “Cyberattacks may not dominate the headlines every day, but they present a crucial challenge to the safety and security of this nation,” Johnson said.

Read the full transcript of the Republican address:

“Hi, I’m Senator Ron Johnson, from the great state of Wisconsin. Coming from a manufacturing background in the private sector, I’ve done a lot of relationship building and negotiating. I wouldn’t start those negotiations or relationships with an argument. Instead, I would spend a fair amount of time trying to discover all the areas of agreement. That approach produced a level of trust so that when areas of disagreement arose, it was far easier finding common ground.

“So let me start today by talking about something we all agree on. We share the same goal. We all want a prosperous, safe and secure America. We care about each other, and want every American to have the opportunity to build a good life for themselves and their family. If we concentrate on that shared goal, it should be a whole lot easier finding solutions for the many challenges facing our great nation.

“In such uncertain times, Americans are hungering for leadership. Most Americans would agree that we need to enhance the economic and national security of our country. In fact, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, I’ve made that our committee’s mission.

“Majority Leader McConnell, Speaker Boehner, and the Republicans in Congress want to work with our Democrat colleagues, and the Obama administration, to provide that leadership.

“Our economy is not as strong as it should be, middle class income is down, the threat of terrorism is growing, and our borders are not secure. All of these problems deserve immediate attention. But today, I would like to address another important threat – a present-day threat to our economic stability and national security. That threat is the growing number of attacks against America’s cyber networks.

“Recent cyberattacks against Anthem Healthcare, Sony Pictures, Target, a Department of Defense Twitter account, and JP Morgan Chase have raised public awareness of the threat we face.

“Two years ago, former NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander described cyber-crime against public and private organizations as
‘the greatest transfer of wealth in human history.’

“It is estimated that cyberattacks cost U.S. businesses approximately $100 billion per year. And a successful attack against our electrical grid or industrial control systems that operate other critical infrastructure, could put American lives, and our very way of life, at risk.

“As a result, I was glad to hear the president express his willingness to work with Congress to pass legislation to address the problem. Enhancing America’s cybersecurity is a priority of my committee, and was the subject of my first hearing as chairman. It is the focus of other committees in Congress, and we are working with them to craft a legislative solution that takes important first steps in mitigating the threat.

“Cyber experts generally agree that, in order to improve cybersecurity, it is critical to facilitate the sharing of cyberattack information. By sharing threat signatures, vulnerabilities and other indicators of network compromise, within and between the private sector and government, many cyberattacks can be prevented. In addition to coordinating our defense against cyberattacks, government is also responsible for finding the attackers and shutting them down.

“The only way private sector organizations will share this critical information is if they are protected against lawsuits filed against them as a result of their sharing of information. In the past, special interests in Washington have blocked this necessary liability protection. Hopefully, now that the president has acknowledged cybersecurity as a priority, all interested parties will realize that the greater threat to Americans’ privacy and liberty really are the cyberattacks themselves.

“Cyberattacks may not dominate the headlines every day, but they present a crucial challenge to the safety and security of this nation. Reducing this threat would benefit every American. Ignoring it will guarantee that future attacks will produce headlines describing lasting harm to America. We need to get this done. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and the Obama administration to resolve this issue – this year.

“Thank you for listening, and have a great day.”
“Hi, I’m Senator Ron Johnson, from the great state of Wisconsin. Coming from a manufacturing background in the private sector, I’ve done a lot of relationship building and negotiating. I wouldn’t start those negotiations or relationships with an argument. Instead, I would spend a fair amount of time trying to discover all the areas of agreement. That approach produced a level of trust so that when areas of disagreement arose, it was far easier finding common ground.

“So let me start today by talking about something we all agree on. We share the same goal. We all want a prosperous, safe and secure America. We care about each other, and want every American to have the opportunity to build a good life for themselves and their family. If we concentrate on that shared goal, it should be a whole lot easier finding solutions for the many challenges facing our great nation.

“In such uncertain times, Americans are hungering for leadership. Most Americans would agree that we need to enhance the economic and national security of our country. In fact, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, I’ve made that our committee’s mission.

“Majority Leader McConnell, Speaker Boehner, and the Republicans in Congress want to work with our Democrat colleagues, and the Obama administration, to provide that leadership.

“Our economy is not as strong as it should be, middle class income is down, the threat of terrorism is growing, and our borders are not secure. All of these problems deserve immediate attention. But today, I would like to address another important threat – a present-day threat to our economic stability and national security. That threat is the growing number of attacks against America’s cyber networks.

“Recent cyberattacks against Anthem Healthcare, Sony Pictures, Target, a Department of Defense Twitter account, and JP Morgan Chase have raised public awareness of the threat we face.

“Two years ago, former NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander described cyber-crime against public and private organizations as
‘the greatest transfer of wealth in human history.’

“It is estimated that cyberattacks cost U.S. businesses approximately $100 billion per year. And a successful attack against our electrical grid or industrial control systems that operate other critical infrastructure, could put American lives, and our very way of life, at risk.

“As a result, I was glad to hear the president express his willingness to work with Congress to pass legislation to address the problem. Enhancing America’s cybersecurity is a priority of my committee, and was the subject of my first hearing as chairman. It is the focus of other committees in Congress, and we are working with them to craft a legislative solution that takes important first steps in mitigating the threat.

“Cyber experts generally agree that, in order to improve cybersecurity, it is critical to facilitate the sharing of cyberattack information. By sharing threat signatures, vulnerabilities and other indicators of network compromise, within and between the private sector and government, many cyberattacks can be prevented. In addition to coordinating our defense against cyberattacks, government is also responsible for finding the attackers and shutting them down.

“The only way private sector organizations will share this critical information is if they are protected against lawsuits filed against them as a result of their sharing of information. In the past, special interests in Washington have blocked this necessary liability protection. Hopefully, now that the president has acknowledged cybersecurity as a priority, all interested parties will realize that the greater threat to Americans’ privacy and liberty really are the cyberattacks themselves.

“Cyberattacks may not dominate the headlines every day, but they present a crucial challenge to the safety and security of this nation. Reducing this threat would benefit every American. Ignoring it will guarantee that future attacks will produce headlines describing lasting harm to America. We need to get this done. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and the Obama administration to resolve this issue – this year.

“Thank you for listening, and have a great day.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) — Defense Secretary Ash Carter landed in Afghanistan on Friday night ET, ahead of meetings with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, as well as other government official and the troops.

Carter said that he wanted to travel to Afghanistan in his first week as Secretary of Defense “because this is where we still have 10,000 American troops and they come first in my mind always.” He further mentioned the welfare of those troops, which he says “are what I wake up to and wake up for every day and I feel that and want them to know that.”

Carter was confirmed to succeed Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense last week.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Florida Gov. Rick Scott isn’t taking sides – yet – in the game of home state favorite he might have to play if both former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio run for president.

“I hope both of them run because then they’ll go brag about our state,” he told ABC News, but he also noted several governors he likes: Rick Perry of Texas, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Chris Christie of New Jersey.

While Scott has distanced his state’s educational curriculum from the controversial Common Core agenda, which Bush supports and which was implemented in Florida in 2010, he didn’t say whether he thought the issue would weigh Bush down in a primary, only that it really matters to Republican voters in Florida, who overall don’t like it.

“Common Core is a very significant issue. People care. In our state people are very focused on our education system,” he said, adding that folks were “appreciative” that he took the state off the national standards and implemented state-specific ones.

But he praised Bush’s overall record on education.

“We’re doing well in our state. A lot of things he started, we continued,” Scott said.

The governor was in Washington, D.C., for a meeting of the bipartisan National Governors Association.

World News Videos | US News Videos

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

FBI(WASHINGTON) — FBI Director James Comey did not attend this week’s White House summit on Combating Violent Extremism, while the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service did, prompting questions.

The New York Times pointed out that Comey is “the most senior official charged with preventing terrorist attacks,” making his absence strange.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained on Friday that the decision was made “to make sure that there wasn’t a perception that this conference was overly focused on law enforcement tactics.”

Instead, the White House says, “we just invited [Comey’s] boss,” referring to Attorney General Eric Holder in his stead.

As for the Russian attendance at the summit, Earnest said that he was not aware of any hesitancy in hosting the Russian security leader, despite his being on the European Union’s sanctions list.

U.S. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said that the Russian attendance was part of “modern day diplomacy,” which she says “requires that we work with some countries on some issues, even when we have strong disagreements on others.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Responding to comments made earlier this week by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that “people are feeling…sorry for Rudy Giuliani.”

At a private dinner featuring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday, Giuliani said that he “[does] not believe that the president loves America,” Politico said. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

Earnest and the White House Press Office promised to provide a list of instances in which President Obama has publicly professed his love for the United States.

One example, Earnest said, was at the end of his most recent State of the Union address, when Obama concluded with “God bless this country we love.”

“It’s sad to see when a person who’s received a certain stature and admiration to tarnish that legacy so thoroughly,” Earnest said of the former New York City mayor.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Justice Department filed a stay on Friday in response to a Texas federal judge’s injunction halting the rollout of the White House’s immigration action.

Earlier this week, President Obama said that he disagreed with the judge’s ruling and expressed hope that the Justice Department would appeal.

“This is not the first time where a lower court judge has blocked something or attempted to block something that ultimately was shown to be lawful,” the president said Tuesday.

On Friday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that he expects the Justice Department to file documents in court “on Monday at the latest” and that the move is “separate and apart from the decision to pursue an appeal.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday that the judge’s decision “was far more than a victory for Texas and the states who joined us,” but instead it “was a victory for America, for the rule of law and for the Constitution.”

Abbott argued that Obama “has 22 times acknowledged his lack of presidential power to circumvent Congress and unilaterally change the law” and said he remained “confident that as this case works its way up through the appellate process, we can — and will — win.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The relationship between the United States and Cuba is changing fast, and that change is already making waves in not just the political sphere, but throughout the private sector as well.

The U.S. public supports the shift more than ever, with a recent Gallup poll revealing that 46 percent of Americans view the island nation favorably — the highest number since the company started polling the question in 1996, when only 10 percent of Americans felt the same way.

Here are five indications that, even though the relationship is new, it is already shifting:

The Talks Continue: The negotiations between the United States and Cuba, which began in January in Havana after Obama’s December announced goal to improve relations, are slated to continue on Feb. 27, this time in Washington. The Cuban delegation will meet with Roberta Jacobson, head of the U.S. negotiating team, who has acknowledged the “profound differences” between the two sides but remains confident in the countries’ ability to move forward.

Congress Visits: Since the historic announcement, there has been one trip after another with congressmen and women heading to the island nation. Most recently, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California and a group of Democratic delegates made the voyage to Cuba Tuesday in an effort to “build on the work done by many in Congress over the years,” she said in a statement. The statement also outlined that the delegation’s main focus will be on “agriculture and trade.”

Web Availability Increases: While home connections remain illegal, Internet access via nationwide state-run cafes has become cheaper, at least for the time being. Whereas Cubans had to pay $4.50 an hour before, now they will be required to pay $2.21 per hour of online time, at least until this coming April.

Netflix Opens Doors: The streaming giant recently made its service available to Cubans, announcing that those with access to the Internet and “international payment methods” will be able to watch movies and shows from a “curated selection.” But even with a Netflix subscription, don’t forget they’d still have to pay for that Internet access.

Entrepreneurs Get Busy: With the United States relaxing its regulations on travel to Cuba, an enterprising Fort Lauderdale, Florida man is aiming to start a ferry service using his 200-passenger catamaran that whisks tourists from Marathon City Marina in Florida to Havana in four hours. Brian Hall, who is in the process of applying for the Office of Foreign Assets Control license that would allow his venture to take place, says that he plans to charge $169 per one-way trip and hopes to launch Dec, 1. Even though the first trip is months away, “inquiries are through the roof,” he says. “People are ready to go.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Pete Souza / The White House(WASHINGTON) — President Obama delivered a rallying cry to Democrats at their winter meeting Friday morning, urging their unabashed embrace of his economic record as the party heads into the 2016 campaign.

“We were told by our good friends the Republicans that our actions would crush jobs, explode the deficits and destroy the country. I mean, I want everybody to do a fact check,” Obama told the crowd.

“If we were to look at the evidence, it’s pretty clear whose theory works,” he said.

The president directly addressed the field of likely GOP contenders — including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, by name — who have adopted economic inequality as an issue for the campaign.

“You can’t just talk the talk. You’ve got to do what? You’ve got to walk the walk,” Obama said. “We’ve been walking the walk.”

As for Republicans, he said, “the shift in rhetoric is good if it leads them to engage in different actions. If it doesn’t, then it’s just spin.”

There was no mention or obvious reference to the controversy surrounding former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s comments about Obama’s patriotism. But the president did offer a spirited close to his address, referring to “this great country’s amazing story” and a full-throated “God bless, America.”

After the speech, Obama is attending his second fundraiser of the year — a $33,400 per head event that’s expected to raise north of $835,000 for the Democratic National Committee.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

(WASHINGTON) — Admit it: February is just as tough to say as it is to spell. That sneaky ‘r’ in there can confuse just about anyone — including the White House.

February’s spelling is posing quite the problem for the White House Press Office over the past few weeks.

On multiple daily guidance and press schedules, the White House spelled the month “FEBURARY.”

Not only has “February” created an obstacle for the White House press office, but President Obama is not a fan of the word either.

Remember the Obama BuzzFeed video, “Things Everybody Does, But Doesn’t Talk About”? Cut to the scene of President Obama looking in the mirror saying, “The deadline to sign up for health insurance is Febru…Febru…that’s not right…Febru…man! FEBRUARY 15th!”

Coincidence, perhaps? Or maybe the White House is intentionally misspelling the word. Who knows?

The solution? Let’s get this White House to March.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →