• NAAAP Phoenix is now ACEL

    NAAAP Phoenix is now ACEL

  • Grow Your Skills to Becoming a Better Communicator - 2nd & 4th Thursdays of each month at 6:30pm

    Grow Your Skills to Becoming a Better Communicator - 2nd & 4th Thursdays of each month at 6:30pm

  • Summer Networking Mixer at the Saguaro Scottsdale - Tues., August 5 at 5:30pm

    Summer Networking Mixer at the Saguaro Scottsdale - Tues., August 5 at 5:30pm

  • We Need Your Helping Hands at St. Mary's Food Bank on Saturday, September 20, 2014

    We Need Your Helping Hands at St. Mary's Food Bank on Saturday, September 20, 2014

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NAAAP is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) non-profit
organization that brings together
Asian American professionals and provides
opportunities for their success through leadership
development, career advancement, and community impact.



Learn more and see what our committees

do to help further our mission.

 

 

Welcome to NAAAP Phoenix!

History

 

Affiliated with the National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP), NAAAP-Phoenix is a non-profit organization servicing its members, their families, friends and the greater metropolitan Phoenix communities.

 

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PDC
PDC

The Professional Development Committee develops programs which address the needs and concerns of Asian Pacific Americans as they enter the workforce, advance in their careers and become leaders in their profession and in the Asian American community.

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CAC
CAC

The Cultural Awareness Committee supports activities that enhance a more wide spread perception of Asian Americans which in turn raises cultural awareness to the public.  NAAAP-Phoenix encourages its members to network and build relationships with other Asian groups within our community.

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CSC

The Community Service Committee provides a variety of volunteer opportunities and other events to help engage NAAAP-Phoenix members in community outreach efforts. Other events include Special Olympics, Mesa Food Bank, Holiday Toy Drive and Dinner.

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MEN

The Mentorship Committee seeks innovative ways to attract mentors, mentees and corporation to the Mentorship Program, hosts monthly meetings, oversees the mentorship application and interview process, manages the dissemination and collection or quarterly program reviews from participants . . .

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Whitehouse.gov

White House.gov Press Office Feed
  • FACT SHEET: Increasing Investment in Rural America

    WASHINGTON, DC – This week, the White House Rural Council will host the inaugural Rural Opportunity Investment Conference (ROI) to promote potential investment opportunities that exist throughout rural America. Top leaders from the business community and financial institutions, senior government officials, rural economic development experts and others from across the country, will come together to discuss ways to develop partnerships that create jobs, grow small businesses, and invest in critical rural infrastructure.

    In conjunction with this event, the White House Rural Council is announcing a $10 billion dollar investment fund to promote rural economic development. This fund will continue to grow the rural economy by increasing access to capital for rural infrastructure projects and speeding up the process of rural infrastructure improvements. The fund is immediately open for business and more investors can now add to the initial $10 billion in available capital.

    The ROI conference and the new investment fund are part of the Obama Administration's ongoing efforts to promote investment in rural America, strengthen the nation’s infrastructure, and grow the U.S. economy. Since the creation of the White House Rural Council in 2011, the President has made historic investments in rural America designed to drive job growth, invest in rural education, provide emergency services, and address health disparities.

    Public-Partnerships at Work

    • Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund. The U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund represents a new approach to catalyzing private investment in infrastructure projects in rural America. CoBank, a national cooperative bank serving rural America and a member of the Farm Credit System, is the fund's anchor investor, committing $10 billion to get the fund off the ground. Capitol Peak Asset Management will manage the new fund and work to recruit more investors to add to CoBank’s initial commitment. The Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund will allow America's rural economy to continue its forward momentum by enhancing access to capital for rural infrastructure projects and speeding up the process of rural infrastructure improvements. The fund is immediately open for business and more investors can now add to the initial $10 billion in available capital. The new fund will allow a wide variety of new participants, including pension funds, endowments, foundations, and other institutional investors that have not traditionally had access to these markets to invest in rural development. In some cases, projects may be funded entirely through private sector dollars. In others, private dollars may be leveraged with and extend critical government loan and grant programs.  USDA and other agencies will help to identify rural projects in need of financing through the new fund and through other such private sources and public-private partnerships. Target investments will include rural community facilities (especially health care and educational facilities), rural water and wastewater systems, rural energy projects, rural broadband expansion efforts, local and regional food systems, and other rural infrastructure.
    • Over $150 Million Investment Funds to Grow Small Businesses, Create Jobs in Rural America. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the creation of an investment fund earlier this year that will help propel the growth of small businesses across rural America. The new rural equity fund will facilitate private equity investments in agriculture-related businesses. Advantage Capital Agribusiness Partners, which will manage the new fund, and nine Farm Credit institution partners, have pledged to invest over $150 million into the new effort.   USDA programs have historically provided loans or loan guarantees to help rural businesses grow, but before the creation of the Rural Business Investment Program, many small cutting-edge businesses did not have the opportunity to obtain equity support.  With the creation and implementation of this new program, USDA is pleased to announce this first of multiple rural equity funds. USDA is currently accepting applications for additional new rural equity funds.
    • $9.9 Million to Improve Health Care Quality and Address Rural Health Disparities.  The Department of Health and Human Services continues its efforts as part of the President's Improving Rural Health Care Initiative with $5.5 million to the Delta State Rural Development Network Grant program and $4.3 million for the Small Health Care Provider Quality Improvement grant program.  The Delta Network program invests in each of the eight States of the Delta region to address long-standing health care disparities.  The Small Health Care Provider Quality program supports 29 grants that help rural health clinics, community health centers and small rural hospitals improve health care outcomes for rural residents with chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
    • Supporting Small, Rural Businesses. Small businesses create about two out of every three jobs in the U.S. each year, and roughly half of working Americans either own or work for a small business.   Small businesses are particularly crucial to the rural economy.
      • Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative. The American Farm Bureau Federation and Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Initiative are collaborating on a multi-year partnership providing tools and solutions to help strengthen rural America. In the partnership's inaugural year, the focus will be on building greater economic security by launching a Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative together with Startup Hoyas, Georgetown's Entrepreneurship Initiative. Several opportunities will be announced for people interested in rural issues across the U.S. to actively engage with Farm Bureau and the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative, including an online educational series, the first of its kind rural entrepreneurship challenge and a national summit scheduled for October 14th at Georgetown University. The White House Rural Council will partner with Farm Bureau and Global Social Enterprise Initiative to plan the national summit at Georgetown University.
      • Made in Rural America. Earlier this year, the President directed the White House Rural Council to bring together federal resources to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new customers and markets abroad. Department of Commerce Secretary Pritzker, Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, Small Business Administration Administrator Contreras-Sweet, US Trade Representative Froman, and Export-Import Bank Chairman Hochberg are leading forums in rural America this summer to highlight opportunities for rural manufactures, value added producers, and service providers to grow their businesses by expanding to international markets. The partnership will also host a “Made in Native America” forum this fall to help Native-owned businesses access export opportunities.
    • Expanding Partnerships. The Administration recognizes that effective partnerships have a catalytic impact on achieving the Administration priorities, such as increasing opportunity and economic growth in rural America. Good ideas generated by the ROI Conference will be carried forward by the following partnership networks.
      • Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The newly stood up Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) takes an innovative approach to furthering conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of soil, water, and wildlife on a regional scale.  The program enables partners, using a competitive process, to propose conservation projects that will leverage federal dollars with non-profit, producer, and non-traditional investors in areas of the country with critical conservation needs. The RCPP will invest more than $1.2 billion in natural resource conservation with a goal of doubling that effort through partnership contributions over the next five years. 
      • Georgetown University Law Center's Public Private Partnership Symposium. In conjunction with the White House Rural Council's Rural Opportunity Investment Conference, the Georgetown University Law Center will introduce its inaugural Public Private Partnership Symposium. Over the coming year, the Georgetown Law will host three full-day sessions to advance the ideas and lessons discussed at the Rural Opportunity Investment Conference.  By bringing together private sector leaders, government officials, and academic scholars, the symposium will broaden opportunities for partnering, provide a venue for sharing knowledge and best practices, and promote economic growth.
      • The Build America Investment Initiative.  The Administration is committed to increasing public private partnerships and collaboration on U.S. infrastructure. Just last week, the President announced the new Build America Investment Initiative, which will use executive authorities to increase the flow of private capital into transportation, water, energy and other infrastructure sectors. The ROI conference will directly inform the ongoing work of the Build America Initiative, helping federal agencies to encourage more investment into rural communities and to key rural infrastructure sectors.
      • The Rural Health Philanthropy Partnership. This partnership between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Rural Health Policy, Grantmakers in Health and the National Rural Health Association includes more than 30 State and regional Foundations and Trusts that seek to improve health care in rural communities.  In 2015, the Partnership is undertaking a Rural Funding Challenge with HHS dedicating $5 million and seeking a matched effort from the philanthropic community.

    White House Rural Council's Sustained Support for the Rural Economy

    Today's announcements build on three years of sustained work by the White House Rural Council to expand opportunity in all corners of rural America. The Rural Council has over twenty policy accomplishments supporting rural America in four priority areas: quality of life, innovation, economic opportunity, and conservation. These advancements will help ensure the development of a rural economy built to last. These actions include:

    Increasing Capital Access for Rural Small Businesses

    USDA and SBA committed to providing $175 million in microloans to small businesses in rural areas for Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014, in addition to new business training and counseling opportunities. To date the two agencies have supported over $85 million to rural small businesses.

    Accelerating Broadband Infrastructure Deployment

    On June 14, 2012 President Obama signed an Executive Order to make broadband construction along Federal roadways and properties up to 90 percent cheaper and more efficient. U.S agencies that manage Federal properties and roads are partnering to offer carriers a single approach to leasing Federal assets for broadband deployment. Providing a uniform approach for broadband carriers to build networks is speeding the delivery of connectivity to communities, business, and schools in rural America. In order to further expand the nation’s broadband service, more than 25 cities and 60 national research universities are partnering to form "US Ignite." US Ignite is creating a new wave of services that will extend programmable broadband networks to 100 times the speed of today's internet.  To further leverage private-sector involvement, a three-day Application Summit was conducted this June at the headquarters of Juniper Networks in Silicon Valley.  This session made numerous connections that will strengthen rural and urban communities through innovative broadband applications.   In total, this partnership will improve services to Americans and drive job creation, promote innovation, and create new markets for American business.

    U.S Department of Education Investing in Rural Schools

    Through the national broadband plan, the Obama Administration is leveraging the power of technology to overcome distance and increase collaboration to accelerate student achievement in rural schools. The White House Rural Council partnered with the U.S Department of Education to deliver a new online community of practice groups for rural schools. This online tool is creating virtual communities of practice for educators to connect to resources, tools, colleagues, experts, and learned activities both within and beyond schools.  As part of the push for broadband in public schools, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is investing $2 billion over the next two years to dramatically expand high-speed Internet connectivity for America's schools and libraries — connecting 20 million more students to next-generation broadband and wireless.  Private-sector companies have also committed more than $2 billion to deliver cutting-edge technologies to classrooms.  The Administration is using technology to break down geographic barriers and address rural isolation in education.

    Local Food, Local Places

    Recognizing the role local food systems can play in regional economic development, the Administration launched Local Food, Local Places in June, 2014.  This effort, a partnership between the US Department of Agriculture, the US Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Commission, provides direct technical assistance to twenty communities integrating local food production into their civic planning process.

    Small Business Administration Investing in Rural Small Businesses

    The Administration extended more than $400 million in FY 2011 of investments in rural America through the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Impact Investment Program, at no cost to taxpayers. Nearly $2 billion in additional funding will be invested by the end of fiscal year 2016. These investments will continue to help finance, grow, expand, and modernize rural small business operations around the country.

    Promoting a Bioeconomy through BioPreferred

    To support the Administration's "Blueprint for a Bioeconomy," the President is utilizing the purchasing power of the Federal government by directing Federal agencies to take additional steps to significantly increase the purchase of biobased products over the next two years, which will create thousands of new rural jobs and drive innovation where biobased products are grown and manufactured. Utilizing the existing BioPreferred program, the Federal government will use its procurement power to increase the purchasing and use of biobased products, promoting rural economic development, creating new jobs, and providing new markets for farm commodities. Biobased products include items like paints, soaps and detergents and are developed from plants, rather than chemicals or petroleum bases. The biobased products sector marries the two most important economic engines for rural America: agriculture and manufacturing.

    Rural Jobs Accelerator

    The "Rural Jobs Accelerator" links Federal programs to facilitate job creation and economic development in rural communities by utilizing regional development strategies. The "Rural Jobs Accelerator" allows multiple agencies to coordinate technical assistance and grant/loan programs so that a consortium of public and private rural entities can have a single access point within the Federal government, creating improved access, streamlining of programs, and better leveraging of resources. USDA, EDA, Delta Regional Authority, and Appalachian Regional Commission have leveraged approximately $9 million in funding, with additional technical support from various Federal agencies including Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Education.

    Commercial Aviation Biofuels Partnership

    The Navy, the Department of Energy, and USDA have joined forces to spur the creation of an advanced biofuels industry that will support commercial aviation, with a pledge of $510 million, over three years, under the Defense Production Act of 1950.

    Unprecedented Investments in Rural America

    Historic Investment in Rural America

    U.S. Department of Agriculture

    The White House Rural Council is chaired by Secretary Vilsack, who in his role as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture has made unprecedented state-by-state investments in rural America.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture works with thousands of farmers, ranchers and others living in rural communities every day and knows that there is no limit to the economic potential of rural America. Over the past five years, USDA has made significant investments to support those in rural America who drive the rural economy forward, carry out record conservation efforts, facilitate groundbreaking research, promote new markets for rural products, and provide a safe, affordable and nutritious food supply for American families. Secretary Vilsack invites the private sector to continue building innovative partnerships that drive investments, economic growth, and prosperity.

  • Remarks by the President at a DNC Event -- Los Angeles, California

    Private Residence
    Los Angeles, California

    5:13 P.M. PDT

    THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  (Applause.)  Hello, Los Angeles.  Oh, this is a nice looking crowd.  You all got dressed up.  (Laughter.)  Don’t you look cute?  Everybody, have a seat.  Have a seat.  Relax. 

    It is good to be in Los Angeles.  Let me first of all say thank you to Shonda for opening up this unbelievable space and arranging for perfect weather.  Give Shonda a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  I’ve gotten to know Shonda over the last couple years, and for somebody who is just so successful and is doing so much, you can’t ask for somebody who is more humble and more thoughtful and has shown incredible kindness to me and my family.  And I am very, very proud to know her and to call her a friend.  So I just want to say thank you so much for everything you do, not just for me, but for a lot of people who she’s given unbelievable opportunities to.  So give Shonda a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  We love Shonda.
     
    Kerry Washington I want to thank.  Kerry -- there are few people who worked harder on my campaign, even back when people didn’t pronounce my name right -- (laughter) -- than Kerry Washington.  And she has been -- she’s not a latecomer.  She didn’t jump on the bandwagon.  She pushed when the wagon was stuck in the mud -- she was out there.  (Laughter.)  And she’s just been a great friend.  Plus she showed me her baby pictures, and that is one cute baby.  And I want to thank her and the entire host committee for helping to set this up.

    My girl, Janelle Monae.  (Applause.)  Janelle has performed at the White House, like, 15 times.  And we -- there’s going to be an official Janelle Monae room in the White House.  (Laughter.)  We love her.  Michelle and I love Janelle.  We love her energy.  We love her talent.  But we most of all love her character.  And anybody who gets a chance to talk to her, this is just a remarkable, strong, smart young lady. 

    And I have to say nice things about her because she may be the only person in possession of a video in which I try to keep up with her and Usher on the dance floor.  (Laughter.)  Now, this is top secret.  She has promised that this will never be released.  But she can blackmail me at any time.  (Laughter.) 

    MS. MONAE:  I love you!

    THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  You do have that video, though, don’t you?

    MR. MONAE:  I do.  (Laughter.) 

    THE PRESIDENT:  Now, tell the truth, though, Janelle -- I wasn’t bad, though, was I?  (Laughter.)  I’m just saying.  Go ahead, testify just a little bit.

    MS. MONAE:  (Off mic.)

    THE PRESIDENT:  Let me say I did not drop in splits.  (Laughter.)  But I did bust a move.  That I did do.  (Laughter.) 

    Finally, let me say thank you to somebody who’s been tireless on behalf of the Democratic Party.  She is a great congresswoman, but she is also an outstanding chair of the DNC -- Debbie Wasserman Schultz, all the way from Florida.  (Applause.)  Where’s Debbie?  She’s around here somewhere. 

    So a little over five years ago, I took office at one of the most difficult times in our history.  And when I reflect back on those five years, and every gray hair that I have to prove that five years have passed, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that by almost every economic measure we’re better off now than we were then.  (Applause.)  Ronald Reagan used to ask when he was campaigning, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”  Well, you know what, I don’t mind answering that question, mostly because of the skill and resilience and strength of the American people, but also because we put in place some wise policies. 

    We’ve seen the unemployment rate drop faster this past year than any time in the last 30, and we now have an unemployment rate that’s lower than it was before the financial crisis.  We have seen the deficits drop by more than half.  We’ve seen millions of people get health care that didn’t have it before.  We’ve seen health care inflation at the slowest rate in 50 years.  (Applause.)  High school dropouts are down.  College graduations are up.  An auto industry that was on the brink of bankruptcy is now thriving.  Manufacturing, the strongest that it’s been since the 1990s. 

    When I came into office, you asked investors around the world what’s the best place to invest in, and they would say China.  Today they say the United States of America.  (Applause.)  So economically we’ve made enormous progress.  Socially we’ve made progress. 

    When I came into office, we still saw that there were people who were serving this country, putting their lives on the line, who couldn’t tell the truth about who they were and who they loved.  And we ended "don't ask, don't tell,” and we helped to argue against DOMA.  And ultimately, we’ve now seen this amazing transformation in terms of how our LGBT brothers and sisters are treated all across the country.  (Applause.) 

    We’ve ended one war; we’re in the process of ending another.  We’ve made sure that millions of those returning veterans are able to get the kind of college education or skills that they need in order to find a job. 

    Across the board, you could argue that we’re in a better place.  But -- and here’s the “but.”  You knew there was a “but,” otherwise there wouldn’t be much of a call to arms here.  The truth is, is that people across the country still feel anxious.  And the question is, why?  Well, one of the reasons they feel anxious is because even though the stock market has hit record highs, and even though corporate profits have hit record highs, for the vast majority of folks in the middle class or people striving to get into the middle class, their wages, their incomes have flat-lined.  No matter how hard they work, they feel as if they’re treading water.  And that’s not a one-year trend, that’s not a five-year trend -- although the Great Recession made it much worse -- that’s a 20, 30-year trend. 

    People don’t feel as if the basic American Dream -- if you work hard and you act responsibly you can get ahead -- that that is sufficiently realized for all Americans.  So we got some folks who are doing very well, but there are a whole lot of folks who still aren’t. 

    People are still feeling anxious because some of the paths of opportunity for people who were born in a tough situation, those paths seem to be narrower and narrower.  It’s harder to get money to go to college.  If you do get to college, you’re loaded up with a whole lot of debt.  The jobs that might be available if you go may not allow you to service those debts.  And so young people start feeling anxious; they’re not sure whether their hard work will pay off in the future.

    Obviously, people are concerned about some of the turmoil that’s taking place around the world.  And they look at the Middle East and they see a transition from an old order to a new order, and they’re not sure how that’s going to happen, and the terrible violence that occurs as a result. 

    But the conflict that probably makes people most discouraged is the conflict they see in Washington, where members of Congress can’t seem to do anything; where all we hear about is gridlock, and all we hear about is posturing, and all we hear about are phony scandals.  And no offense, Scandal is a great show -- (laughter) -- but it’s not something that we necessarily want to be living out day in, day out.  And the truth is, is that what we see on the nightly news or on cable news is just this constant clamor of hot air, and folks posturing and opinionating but not actually doing any work that focuses on the people who sent them there. 

    And those two things are connected -- the idea that the economy is not working for everybody and that the government isn’t working for anybody.  Because the truth of the matter is, when you look at our history, our economy has always grown best when it grows from the middle out, from the bottom up, not from the top down.  When everybody gets a chance, everybody does well. 

    But typically throughout our history, the way that has happened is that the entrepreneurship and drive and energy and focus of the American people is then combined with some collective efforts through our government to give people a shot.  The G.I. Bill for folks coming back from World War II.  Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security for seniors; if they’ve worked a lifetime, they shouldn’t be living in poverty.  The ability for me or Michelle to go to college because somebody was out there providing grants and loans that were affordable.  Decent public schools.  Decent public parks.  A sense of community, and a willingness to invest in the next generation -- even if our kids were going to be okay, we decided, you know what, we want every child to have that same shot.

    That’s how we grew this economy.  That’s how we became an economic superpower.  And so when government doesn’t work at all, it means that it’s much harder for folks to get a handle, an ability to climb up those ladders into the middle class

    Now, I know I may be preaching to the choir here, but let me just be clear:  The reason government is not working is not because both parties are just at fault and a plague on both their houses; nobody has integrity; politicians are all the same, they’re all -- no.  Democrats are not perfect.  No -- (laughter) -- we got some strong partisan Democrats here.  (Laughter.)  Let me just say, Democrats are not perfect.  There are some times where we’ve done some stupid stuff.  There have been times where we’ve been on the wrong sides of issues.  There are Democrats who are more interested in getting elected than getting things done.  There are Democrats who sometimes cater to special interests. 

    But the truth of the matter is that the reason right now we don’t have a government that’s working for the American people is because the Republican Party has been taken over by people who just don’t believe in government; people who think that the existing arrangements where just a few folks who are doing well, and companies that pollute should be able to pollute, and companies that want to cheat you on your credit card should be able to do that, and that anything goes -- that’s their philosophy.  And as a consequence, they have no interest in seeing anything work.  The people they’re fighting for and working for, stuff is working for them just fine.

    And so they obstruct, and they obfuscate, and they bamboozle, and they sometimes don’t tell exactly what’s true -- that was a euphemism.  (Laughter.)  And the reason it works for them is because so often we look at what’s happening and we say, you know, we don’t really like the Republicans and what they’re doing, but if nothing is working, it’s not worth my time to get involved.  And people grow cynical, and people grow discouraged.  And over time they start thinking, you know what, all politicians are the same.  And most folks don’t have the time to sort out all the intricacies of Obamacare or Benghazi, or this or that.  They don’t have time for that.  All they know is it’s not working for them.  And so people then pull out and they drop out, and they don’t work.  And that further entrenches those who are protecting an unjust status quo. 

    And so I’m here today -- and I hope you are here today -- to help to break that cycle of cynicism.  We can’t afford to be cynical.  We’ve got so much to do.  As much as we’ve done over the last five years, we’ve got so much more to do.  And the truth of the matter is, is that if we are serious about helping the middle class and people trying to get into the middle class, we know what to do.  We know that if we raise the minimum wage, then there are 28 million who are helped.  Janelle has spoken movingly about her family and her mom working, cleaning other folks’ mess.  I tell you what, there are a whole bunch of folks out there who if they have a higher minimum wage, it helps them.  It makes a difference in their lives.  We know it.  And, by the way, if they have more money in their pockets, that means they’re spending more money and businesses are doing better, not worse.

    We know that if we were helping more families with child care and early childhood education, our kids would be better.  Every dollar we put into early childhood education we get seven dollars back -- (applause) -- and lower dropout rates, and lower teen pregnancies, and lower substance abuse.  And, by the way, then parents are helped because they don’t have the worry of whether or not somebody is going to be looking after their children safely and properly when they have to go off to work.  We know that.  Other countries are able to provide that.  Why aren’t we, wealthiest nation on Earth?

    We know that women are still getting paid 77 cents on the dollar.  We’ve proposed to make sure that we strengthen the laws that ensure equal pay for equal work.  I’ve got two daughters -- I don’t want some boy getting paid more than my daughters for doing the same job.  (Applause.)  And that’s not just good for women, that’s good for America.  When women succeed, America succeeds.  We know that.  Why aren’t we moving forward on that?  (Applause.) 

    We know we could be doing more to make college more affordable, helping young people lower their costs so that they start a family or start a business when they -- when I graduated from college in the ‘80s, I didn’t have any money.  I was relying on loans and grants, and working during the summer and working during the year.  But I was able to pay off most of my debt in about a year -- and I wasn’t making a lot of money that first year. 

    Young people now, they’re averaging $25,000, $26,000 in debt when they come out of school.  And they start in a hole -- I said average.  There are some folks who have got more.  We could be helping them.  Why aren’t we?

    We could be rebuilding America right now.  We’ve got $2 trillion in deferred maintenance.  Shonda just moved into this house.  She was telling me how she’s going to have to do a few renovations.  (Laughter.)  Well, you know what, America is still relying on roads and bridges and dams and water systems that were built in the ‘30s and ‘40s and ‘50s and ‘60s.  When we had a sense of common purpose -- why aren’t we rebuilding all that stuff?  We could be putting folks to work right now, retraining young men and women to be out there rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our ports, our electrical grid, our airports, all of which would make our economy more efficient and would help families right now. 

    So we know what to do.  The problem is, is that there’s no political will to get it done.  And that’s where you come in.  That’s where you come in.  I know that sometimes people got so excited back in 2008, they though, all right, we elect Barack and that’s it.  (Laughter.)  That’s it.  Despite the fact that some of you remember -- some of you were there in 2008; you might have gone to an early rally in 2007, 2008.  And what would I tell you?  I told you at the time this is not about me, this is about getting our democracy to work, getting everybody involved and engaged.  And when we win, that’s not the end, that’s the beginning.  It gives us the opportunity to start doing stuff, and we have to continue to be involved.  And that means that I’ve got to have a Congress that has some sense and is willing to work -- (applause) -- and is willing to compromise, and is focused on the American people.  And we don’t have that right now.  And since we don’t have it right now, we’re going to have to work a little harder to get a Congress that works on behalf of the American people.

    Now, one of the problems with Democrats is we’re real good on presidential elections.  We get real excited.  But during midterm elections, people don’t even know there’s an election -- don’t know who their congressman is, don’t know who their senators are.  And as a consequence, the other side tends to vote at higher rates.  We’re disproportionately young.  We’re disproportionately minority; disproportionately single women.  And we don’t vote at the same rates.  And so the midterms come around, and lo and behold we’re surprised when John Boehner is the Speaker of the House.  Say, well, how did that happen?  (Laughter.)  What happened to Nancy Pelosi?  What happened was you all didn’t work.  That’s what happened.  (Laughter and applause.)  And then all kinds of -- (laughter) -- stuff happened.  (Laughter and applause.)  That’s what it was -- stuff.  (Laughter.) 

    So we’ve got to step it up in the midterms -- not when it’s easy, not when it’s sexy, not when there’s “Hope” posters and Janelle singing, and it’s all cute.  We’ve got to be in the trenches when it’s hard.  And it’s hard right now, but now is exactly when everybody has got to step up.  (Applause.)  You got to step up.  And if you do step up, then we’re going to make progress.  We’re not going to solve every problem, but we’ll make progress. 

    We’ll be able to continue to develop our energy in this country in a way that also protects our environment and prevents climate change.  We’ll be able to put people to work rebuilding cars for the future that have twice the fuel efficiency -- save you money, save our environment. 

    If you work hard, we will get a minimum wage increase that will help millions of people.  If you are willing to engage, we’ll get “equal pay for equal work” legislation passed.  If you’re willing to work hard, we’ll rebuild some roads and bridges and put people back to work.  If you are willing to work hard, then we can help to transform our criminal justice system so we don’t just have a pipeline from schools to jails, but instead we got pipelines from schools to college to jobs -- if you’re willing to work.  (Applause.) 

    If you’re willing to work, then the incredible progress we’ve already made on the Affordable Care Act will be expanded, and more states will make sure that more people have the health care that they need, and they won’t go bankrupt if they get sick.  We’ll be able to make college more affordable.  We’ll make progress. 

    So let me just -- let me wrap by saying this:  Sometimes in life, as well as in politics, we don’t get 100 percent of what we want right away.  And in life, at least -- I think when I’m talking to Malia and Sasha, and they confront a setback or an obstacle, I don’t tell them, well, you should just quit.  That’s not the lesson I teach them.  I tell them, yes, this is what life is like, and as you approach adulthood you will confront more obstacles and more difficulties.  But if you apply yourself, if you are persistent, if you’re focused, if you have a vision about where you want to go, you’ll get there. 

    Well, politics is no different.  Sometimes we’re so steeped in cynicism, we are so convinced that nothing can change and nothing can happen, we forget the kinds of changes that have already been made. 

    We got interns coming to the White House every six months -- incredibly talented, accomplished, idealistic young people. And they come and they’re having so much fun getting to know each other, and they’re working in our offices.  And then at the end I speak to them as a group, and I answer a bunch of their questions, and invariably one of them will ask, well, you know, Mr. President, what’s a piece of advice for us about how we can accomplish our goals, or how we can show leadership or what have you.  I said, you know, most of it is just persistence.  And persistence, however, requires a sense of hope.  Persistence requires a sense of optimism.  You can’t be persistent if you’re cynical.  You can’t be persistent if you don’t believe that at some point this work will pay off.

    And so I always tell the interns -- I said, listen, if you had a choice of any moment in human history to be born -- and you don’t know who you’re going to be.  You don’t know that -- there’s no guarantee you’re going to be Shonda.  (Laughter.)  There’s no guarantee that you’re going to be rich, there’s no guarantee that you’re going to be a certain gender or a certain race -- or for that matter, even a certain nationality.  You’re just asking -- when should you be born in the history of human race, you’d choose now. 

    Mankind has never been wealthier, healthier, more tolerant, better educated than it is now this moment.  And why is that?  The reason is, is because 50 years ago and 100 years ago and 200 years ago, some people looked out and said, you know what, I think we can do things better.  We can organize society better.  We can be more just.  We can be more fair.  We can give more people opportunity.  And they fought for it -- and it didn’t always happen right away. 

    We fought a Civil War in this country that ended in the early 1860s.  It took 90 years before the Supreme Court was even willing to affirm what the 13th and 14th and 15th Amendment said, and declare “separate but equal” unconstitutional.  Almost 100 years from the bloodiest war in our history on our soil, just to get the Supreme Court to even acknowledge what had been the object of the fight.  And then it took 10 years from the time that Brown vs. Board of Education was passed until 1964 when the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act started to become law that could actually implement the rulings of the Court.  And then it took another 10, 15, 20 years before genuine opportunity opened up for a lot of folks.

    And at each juncture, somebody could have said, this is too hard, and it ain’t getting -- it ain’t ever going to happen.  And in fact, people did, just like they told me I couldn’t be President.  (Laughter.)

    So my point is, nothing worthwhile has ever been accomplished by the cynics and the naysayers.  This week is the 45th anniversary of Neil Armstrong landing on the moon.  Now, I remember sitting on my grandfather’s shoulders when I was six, seven, eight years old -- probably five or six, actually.  And I grew up in Hawaii, and I’d watch the astronauts come back in the capsules because they’d be picking them up out of the Pacific Ocean.  And we’d be waving flags, and you could see the capsule from a distance.  And I had Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins and the wife of Neil Armstrong into the Oval Office just to celebrate.  And we started talking, and we all agreed it wasn’t the cynics and the naysayers that sent a man to the moon.  There were a whole bunch of folks who said you couldn’t do that.  It was the folks who said, no, we can do that, yes we can -- just like it was the folks who said, yes, we can overcome slavery; yes, we can overcome Jim Crow; yes, we can get a voting rights act passed.  At every juncture, it’s not the cynics, but it’s those who are filled with hope that get things done.  Cynicism is a choice.  Hope is a better choice.

    And so, yes, we’ve been through five years of tough times, and yes, sometimes politics looks nasty, and yes, it can be discouraging, and yes, we’re going to have setbacks.  And every step forward we take, sometimes we’ll get two steps back, and we’ll start feeling like it’s not worth it. 

    But remember, every single one of us here, at some point somebody was fighting for you when it wasn’t likely that they would succeed.  And we’ve got the same obligation to Kerry’s young daughter, and your sons and daughters, and Malia and Sasha.  And if we have that same sense of urgency in this midterm election, I am absolutely confident we can get a Congress that can work. 

    And I’ve got two years left in this presidency.  I want to get a whole bunch of stuff done.  I need your help.  So let’s go out there and work.

    Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  God bless Debbie Allen.  (Applause.)  Love you guys.  Thank you.  And Berry Gordy, too.  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)

    END
    5:43 P.M. PDT

  • Press Gaggle by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz -- En Route Los Angeles, California

    Aboard Air Force One
    En Route Los Angeles, California 

    2:12 P.M. PDT

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Let’s do this.  I’d like to begin with an observation about an occurrence happening roughly 2,500 hundred miles away back in Washington.  The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee voted 14-0 to approve Bob McDonald to be the next Secretary of the Veterans Administration.  We don’t often get to observe bipartisan, unanimous votes out of the Senate, even at the committee level.  But we believe this support underscores Bob McDonald’s unique qualifications for this role and will help him, once confirmed, to take on the issues facing the VA to improve veterans’ access to care and strengthen accountability at the agency. 

    With that, I will take your questions.

    Q    We’ll start with Ukraine.  Eric, what information does the White House have in the latest of whether or not the missile belonged to the rebels?  Reuters has a report out today saying that there are some rebels who are confirming that they have the Buk missiles.  Can you tell us what kind of intelligence the White House is seeing?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Thank you, Jeff.  I think the intelligence community is in the process of putting out their presentation of the evidence -- they did so yesterday.  And I think it’s important for us to realize that while we work to determine who is responsible for literally firing this missile, the picture emerging is not in doubt.  We assessed that it was an SA-11 and that it came from a separatist-controlled area.  And we know Russia has provided arming and training for these separatists. 

    In other words, the question of who specifically fired the missile is for the investigation to determine so that the victims’ families can gain closure.  But the fact that we don’t know that yet does not absolve Russia of its responsibility for creating an environment in which militants were trained, given weapons, and encouraged to fight. 

    Q    Will the U.S. be releasing more evidence about this in the days to come and do you have a timeline for that?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  I may be the Principal Deputy Press Secretary, but I’m not part of the intelligence community.  So I’m going to let them talk about their process for that.  But I will say that I know we’ve been trying to be as forthcoming as possible in explaining and laying out what we have to date.

    Q    There are reports that there are additional sanctions on Russia being considered.  Do you have anything on that for us?  Dow Jones is reporting that.

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Well, I know that yesterday the Europeans took actions to prepare additional sanctions against Russia.  As far as the United States is concerned, I would tell you that clearly we’ve already put in place a sanctions regime that has had a debilitating impact on the Russian economy.  And right now, we’re assessing all the sort of tools in our arsenal as we move forward.

    Q    Any sense on the -- when the timeline for additional U.S. sanctions on Russia could happen?  Any sense on timing for that?
    MR. SCHULTZ:  No, again, this is something we’re constantly reviewing and assessing so I don’t have any announcements on that.

    Q    And on the FAA restricting flights into Israel, do you guys have any comment on that?  Does the White House support that decision by the FAA?  Is it productive for talks going on there?
    MR. SCHULTZ:  Lisa, I appreciate the way you phrase the question since this is a decision within the FAA’s regulatory authority, and it’s strictly security related.  The FAA makes its determinations on whether to issue or rescind its various notices, free from any political interference.  So as you know, the FAA continually evaluates the hazard and threats to determine when U.S. carriers can operate safely, so we’ll let them make that determination. 

    Q    Eric, on the border.  The Speaker today sent the President a letter indicating some frustration over lack of guidance from the White House on what the White House wants in terms of changes to the 2008 law.  I’m wondering if you could be as clear as possible as to what it is that you guys want Congress to do.  You’ve said you want Congress to do something -- can you specify what that is?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Sure, I can be crystal clear.  I would refer you to the letter we sent a few weeks ago on this very issue.  I’m not sure what the Speaker is referring to, especially since the letter we sent seeking additional authority for the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, was outlined in that letter and has been reiterated by my colleague, the Press Secretary Josh Earnest several times since. 

    We want to work with Democrats and Republicans to make sure those changes are done the right way.  But first and foremost, we need the resources -- in the form of judges, prosecutors, asylum officers -- to deal with the problems.  If Republicans are as serious and sincere about solving the problem as they claim to be, we’re counting on them to act quickly and be part of the solution.

    Q    Eric, the President is talking a lot about the economy on this trip and -- to donors -- and again tomorrow.  And I’m wondering if you feel like some of the world crises are drowning -- is having an effect on that message, whether or not it’s hard for the President to get the economic message across.

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Thanks, Kathleen.  We are not the first administration and we won’t be the last to deal with multiple priorities and challenges, both domestically and internationally.  But that doesn’t take away from the President’s chief domestic policy priority, which is creating opportunity for the middle class.  That’s why on Monday, the President signed an executive order protecting LGBT workers from discrimination, and on Monday he also outlined significant new private sector commitments to help expand opportunity for young men of color. 

    On Tuesday, not even 24 hours ago -- even though it feels like a month -- the President and Vice President announced new efforts to make sure our federal training programs are delivering the skills workers need for good jobs.  So I do stipulate there’s a lot going on right now, but even as you’ve heard the President speak over the last few days, he’s focused on creating jobs and expanding middle-class opportunity.  I think you’ll hear more about that tomorrow, as well. 

    Q    Eric, can you speak to the decision to keep the information about the super PAC events the President has done so limited?  I know that the events are run by the House Majority PAC and Senate Majority PAC and it’s their call, but there is information that you guys could release -- even about the attendance, how many people are there, who they are, how much money they’re paying to be there.  And was there an effort made to get the President’s remarks open at all to the press?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  I appreciate the question, Isaac, especially since, as you point out, these events are built by the outside groups.  Given your question is about transparency, I would only ask that you judge us by the record -- by our record and that of our predecessors. 

    Without a doubt, I think we’ve done more to achieve the President’s commitment to transparency than any other previous administration -- that includes, by the way, opening up fundraising events at private homes to the print pool, people like yourself.  So we feel good that you were able to cover events today and yesterday on this trip.  That’s a change that we implemented to give reporters more access than they’ve had before, and that’s a change we feel good about.

    Q    Why not provide more information about simple things about the events like the cost to get in -- that was a question about the Senate Majority PAC event last night.

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Again, I’d refer you to those outside groups. 
    Q    And just one more on this.  Sorry, Jim.  The President was reluctant to do events like the ones that he has done at these super PACs, even during his reelection campaign.  Can you explain the decision of why it’s okay now to do those events when two years ago that was not what he was doing?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Isaac, I very much appreciate that question because usually I field questions that we’re not doing enough to help Democrats.  (Laughter.)  But as you know, the President has long advocated for campaign finance reform and expressed his opposition to the Citizens United ruling, which opened the floodgates for special interests.  We supported the DISCLOSE Act, ultimately blocked by Republicans, and we’ve also said we’d support a constitutional amendment.

    But in terms of the events on these trips like the ones you’re mentioning, I think as you and many others have reported, the President is committed to helping Democrats do well in these midterm elections.  We’ve outlined the case of why we think it’s important for the country that Democratic candidates and this President want to grow the economy by helping expand the middle class.  The other side wants to help the few at the top and we think that’s not a sound vision for a viable, growing economy.

    Q    And you don’t think it undercuts the principles that you outlined that the President has for him to be doing these events now when he wasn’t doing them two years ago?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  No, I think the President’s policies positions are clear.  He has tried to do a lot on this, some unilaterally, but when Republicans block measures in Congress, he doesn’t feel like we’re going to allow the midterms to happen on an uneven playing field.

    Q    It just seems, Eric, that the President, one of his objections to the super PACs to begin with was their secretive nature, and isn’t he just fostering that by participating in them and not providing any sunshine into them?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Again, I would refer you to the outside groups for the policies that they’ve adopted for how they disclose information.

    Q    Can we go back to Ukraine and --

    MR. SCHULTZ:  We can.

    Q    -- whether there is -- the intel community said yesterday that there was suggestions that the Russians are still continuing to help the rebels, the separatists.  Is the White House looking at any sort of means of finding a way to dissuade them from doing that?  Any other, like, arms embargoes or anything like that as the Europeans have looked at?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  We continue to be concerned by the Russian support for the separatists.  That’s why we’ve taken a number of steps.  That’s why I think President Putin feels increasingly isolated.  That’s why I think that people, even in Russia, are starting to question the direction President Putin is taking their country.  And I think that’s why you see an international coalition building consensus around this.

    Q    Do you expect the President will reach out to Putin again over the next couple of days this week?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Sure, I don’t have any foreign leader calls in the future to read out yet.  (Laughter.)

    Q    Would he like to speak to Putin?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  We’ve been in touch regularly -- as soon as we have a call like that, I will happily let you know.

    Q    Sorry, you guys made clear at the beginning of this trip that if it were necessary for him to return, he could.  Can you just give us an update on what he has done about this crisis and whether you guys have noted any reasons to go back to Washington early?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Yes, as you point out, our number-one way of assessing these situations is if the President needs to return to Washington in order to perform his responsibilities, we will.  I do think we’ve been fairly forthcoming in describing how we make those decisions.  But as you know, the President is the President 24 hours a day, no matter where he is.  And that’s why he travels with an array of staff and communications equipment that allow him to do his job from wherever he happens to be.

    That’s why, since departing Washington yesterday, he spoke with the Dutch Prime Minister, he has spoken with National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and today, he had his presidential daily briefing.  If we have any more calls to read out, I will do so as soon as they happen. 

    Q    Can you describe how the presidential daily briefing went for him today?  Was it a SVTC?  Was it in person?  Who was participating? 

    MR. SCHULTZ:  I’m not going to be in a position to read that out.

    Q    The President has some downtime when he gets to L.A. and has sort of an early night tonight.  Could you give us any sense of what he’s doing when they get there?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  I will check.  I’m not sure. 

    Q    The background to that question is one time when he came to L.A., he went out for dinner with Katzenberg and we didn’t find out about it until the next day.  So we’ll be very eager to find out about it today if he has plans tonight. 

    Q    And in that event, he didn’t leave the hotel and that’s why we weren’t told about it beforehand.

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Noted.  (Laughter.) 

    Q    Back to the border, on your response, does that mean that the President first wants Congress to act strictly on the supplemental request and not on policy changes, or would he accept legislation that both makes changes to policy and provides the resources that he’s asked for?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  I think it’s important to realize that new authorities without the resources won’t solve the problem.  So that’s why we do call on Congress to pass the supplemental.  I know that some Senate Democrats are moving on a plan to do just that and we welcome that progress.  But again, as you know, we sent a letter a few weeks ago outlining new authorities we’d like the Department of Homeland Security Secretary to be able to have.  And we’re hoping Congress moves on that as well.

    Q    Can you give us any updates on Secretary Kerry’s approach in the Middle East?
    MR. SCHULTZ:  Sure.  I’d obviously refer you to Secretary Kerry’s team and the good folks in Foggy Bottom for the latest.  What I have is that over the last few days, Secretary Kerry has been engaged with the Israelis, the Palestinians, the Egyptians and many other key players in the region and those with influence in the region.

    Our bottom line is, as Secretary Kerry has articulated both in public and in private, that no country can live with rockets raining down on it by terrorists or having terrorist tunnels underground to facilitate the killing or kidnapping of its citizens.  So Israel is doing what it must to end that threat.  But right now, given the civilian toll, there’s an urgency to bring this entire episode to a close.

    Q    Do you sense that he’s close to helping broker a cease-fire?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  I’m not going to handicap those negotiations.

    Q    Has the President been in touch with Secretary Kerry?
    MR. SCHULTZ:  We’ve been in touch with his team.  And if I have any calls on that to read out, I will.

    Q    Can you comment on the GAO report on abuse of health subsidies, what the White House or the administration is doing to address that?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  I can.  I would say to make sure in your reporting you note that this was an interim report.  But our bottom line is we take fraud seriously and CMS is examining the report carefully, and we will work with GAO to identify additional ways to strengthen the verification processes. 

    As you know, Jim, the marketplace has several safeguards in place to verify consumer data.  People submit information under penalty of perjury and tax credits are paid directly to insurance companies, not even to enrollees. 

    Q    Is there anything in your packet of notes that we didn’t ask you about that you want to -- (laughter) --

    MR. SCHULTZ:  I think we covered the waterfront here.  (Laughter.)

    END
    2:29 P.M. PDT

  • Press Gaggle by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz -- En Route Los Angeles, California

    Aboard Air Force One
    En Route Los Angeles, California

    2:12 P.M. PDT

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Let’s do this.  I’d like to begin with an observation about an occurrence happening roughly 2,500 hundred miles away back in Washington.  The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee voted 14-0 to approve Bob McDonald to be the next Secretary of the Veterans Administration.  We don’t often get to observe bipartisan, unanimous votes out of the Senate, even at the committee level.  But we believe this support underscores Bob McDonald’s unique qualifications for this role and will help him, once confirmed, to take on the issues facing the VA to improve veterans’ access to care and strengthen accountability at the agency. 

    With that, I will take your questions.

    Q    We’ll start with Ukraine.  Eric, what information does the White House have in the latest of whether or not the missile belonged to the rebels?  Reuters has a report out today saying that there are some rebels who are confirming that they have the Buk missiles.  Can you tell us what kind of intelligence the White House is seeing?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Thank you, Jeff.  I think the intelligence community is in the process of putting out their presentation of the evidence -- they did so yesterday.  And I think it’s important for us to realize that while we work to determine who is responsible for literally firing this missile, the picture emerging is not in doubt.  We assessed that it was an SA-11 and that it came from a separatist-controlled area.  And we know Russia has provided arming and training for these separatists. 

    In other words, the question of who specifically fired the missile is for the investigation to determine so that the victims’ families can gain closure.  But the fact that we don’t know that yet does not absolve Russia of its responsibility for creating an environment in which militants were trained, given weapons, and encouraged to fight. 

    Q    Will the U.S. be releasing more evidence about this in the days to come and do you have a timeline for that?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  I may be the Principal Deputy Press Secretary, but I’m not part of the intelligence community.  So I’m going to let them talk about their process for that.  But I will say that I know we’ve been trying to be as forthcoming as possible in explaining and laying out what we have to date.

    Q    There are reports that there are additional sanctions on Russia being considered.  Do you have anything on that for us?  Dow Jones is reporting that.

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Well, I know that yesterday the Europeans took actions to prepare additional sanctions against Russia.  As far as the United States is concerned, I would tell you that clearly we’ve already put in place a sanctions regime that has had a debilitating impact on the Russian economy.  And right now, we’re assessing all the sort of tools in our arsenal as we move forward.

    Q    Any sense on the -- when the timeline for additional U.S. sanctions on Russia could happen?  Any sense on timing for that?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  No, again, this is something we’re constantly reviewing and assessing so I don’t have any announcements on that.

    Q    And on the FAA restricting flights into Israel, do you guys have any comment on that?  Does the White House support that decision by the FAA?  Is it productive for talks going on there?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Lisa, I appreciate the way you phrase the question since this is a decision within the FAA’s regulatory authority, and it’s strictly security related.  The FAA makes its determinations on whether to issue or rescind its various notices, free from any political interference.  So as you know, the FAA continually evaluates the hazard and threats to determine when U.S. carriers can operate safely, so we’ll let them make that determination. 

    Q    Eric, on the border.  The Speaker today sent the President a letter indicating some frustration over lack of guidance from the White House on what the White House wants in terms of changes to the 2008 law.  I’m wondering if you could be as clear as possible as to what it is that you guys want Congress to do.  You’ve said you want Congress to do something -- can you specify what that is?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Sure, I can be crystal clear.  I would refer you to the letter we sent a few weeks ago on this very issue.  I’m not sure what the Speaker is referring to, especially since the letter we sent seeking additional authority for the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, was outlined in that letter and has been reiterated by my colleague, the Press Secretary Josh Earnest several times since. 

    We want to work with Democrats and Republicans to make sure those changes are done the right way.  But first and foremost, we need the resources -- in the form of judges, prosecutors, asylum officers -- to deal with the problems.  If Republicans are as serious and sincere about solving the problem as they claim to be, we’re counting on them to act quickly and be part of the solution.

    Q    Eric, the President is talking a lot about the economy on this trip and -- to donors -- and again tomorrow.  And I’m wondering if you feel like some of the world crises are drowning -- is having an effect on that message, whether or not it’s hard for the President to get the economic message across.

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Thanks, Kathleen.  We are not the first administration and we won’t be the last to deal with multiple priorities and challenges, both domestically and internationally.  But that doesn’t take away from the President’s chief domestic policy priority, which is creating opportunity for the middle class.  That’s why on Monday, the President signed an executive order protecting LGBT workers from discrimination, and on Monday he also outlined significant new private sector commitments to help expand opportunity for young men of color. 

    On Tuesday, not even 24 hours ago -- even though it feels like a month -- the President and Vice President announced new efforts to make sure our federal training programs are delivering the skills workers need for good jobs.  So I do stipulate there’s a lot going on right now, but even as you’ve heard the President speak over the last few days, he’s focused on creating jobs and expanding middle-class opportunity.  I think you’ll hear more about that tomorrow, as well. 

    Q    Eric, can you speak to the decision to keep the information about the super PAC events the President has done so limited?  I know that the events are run by the House Majority PAC and Senate Majority PAC and it’s their call, but there is information that you guys could release -- even about the attendance, how many people are there, who they are, how much money they’re paying to be there.  And was there an effort made to get the President’s remarks open at all to the press?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  I appreciate the question, Isaac, especially since, as you point out, these events are built by the outside groups.  Given your question is about transparency, I would only ask that you judge us by the record -- by our record and that of our predecessors. 

    Without a doubt, I think we’ve done more to achieve the President’s commitment to transparency than any other previous administration -- that includes, by the way, opening up fundraising events at private homes to the print pool, people like yourself.  So we feel good that you were able to cover events today and yesterday on this trip.  That’s a change that we implemented to give reporters more access than they’ve had before, and that’s a change we feel good about.

    Q    Why not provide more information about simple things about the events like the cost to get in -- that was a question about the Senate Majority PAC event last night.

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Again, I’d refer you to those outside groups. 

    Q    And just one more on this.  Sorry, Jim.  The President was reluctant to do events like the ones that he has done at these super PACs, even during his reelection campaign.  Can you explain the decision of why it’s okay now to do those events when two years ago that was not what he was doing?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Isaac, I very much appreciate that question because usually I field questions that we’re not doing enough to help Democrats.  (Laughter.)  But as you know, the President has long advocated for campaign finance reform and expressed his opposition to the Citizens United ruling, which opened the floodgates for special interests.  We supported the DISCLOSE Act, ultimately blocked by Republicans, and we’ve also said we’d support a constitutional amendment.

    But in terms of the events on these trips like the ones you’re mentioning, I think as you and many others have reported, the President is committed to helping Democrats do well in these midterm elections.  We’ve outlined the case of why we think it’s important for the country that Democratic candidates and this President want to grow the economy by helping expand the middle class.  The other side wants to help the few at the top and we think that’s not a sound vision for a viable, growing economy.

    Q    And you don’t think it undercuts the principles that you outlined that the President has for him to be doing these events now when he wasn’t doing them two years ago?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  No, I think the President’s policies positions are clear.  He has tried to do a lot on this, some unilaterally, but when Republicans block measures in Congress, he doesn’t feel like we’re going to allow the midterms to happen on an uneven playing field.

    Q    It just seems, Eric, that the President, one of his objections to the super PACs to begin with was their secretive nature, and isn’t he just fostering that by participating in them and not providing any sunshine into them?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Again, I would refer you to the outside groups for the policies that they’ve adopted for how they disclose information.

    Q    Can we go back to Ukraine and --

    MR. SCHULTZ:  We can.

    Q    -- whether there is -- the intel community said yesterday that there was suggestions that the Russians are still continuing to help the rebels, the separatists.  Is the White House looking at any sort of means of finding a way to dissuade them from doing that?  Any other, like, arms embargoes or anything like that as the Europeans have looked at?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  We continue to be concerned by the Russian support for the separatists.  That’s why we’ve taken a number of steps.  That’s why I think President Putin feels increasingly isolated.  That’s why I think that people, even in Russia, are starting to question the direction President Putin is taking their country.  And I think that’s why you see an international coalition building consensus around this.

    Q    Do you expect the President will reach out to Putin again over the next couple of days this week?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Sure, I don’t have any foreign leader calls in the future to read out yet.  (Laughter.)

    Q    Would he like to speak to Putin?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  We’ve been in touch regularly -- as soon as we have a call like that, I will happily let you know.

    Q    Sorry, you guys made clear at the beginning of this trip that if it were necessary for him to return, he could.  Can you just give us an update on what he has done about this crisis and whether you guys have noted any reasons to go back to Washington early?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Yes, as you point out, our number-one way of assessing these situations is if the President needs to return to Washington in order to perform his responsibilities, we will.  I do think we’ve been fairly forthcoming in describing how we make those decisions.  But as you know, the President is the President 24 hours a day, no matter where he is.  And that’s why he travels with an array of staff and communications equipment that allow him to do his job from wherever he happens to be.

    That’s why, since departing Washington yesterday, he spoke with the Dutch Prime Minister, he has spoken with National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and today, he had his presidential daily briefing.  If we have any more calls to read out, I will do so as soon as they happen. 

    Q    Can you describe how the presidential daily briefing went for him today?  Was it a SVTC?  Was it in person?  Who was participating? 

    MR. SCHULTZ:  I’m not going to be in a position to read that out.

    Q    The President has some downtime when he gets to L.A. and has sort of an early night tonight.  Could you give us any sense of what he’s doing when they get there?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  I will check.  I’m not sure. 

    Q    The background to that question is one time when he came to L.A., he went out for dinner with Katzenberg and we didn’t find out about it until the next day.  So we’ll be very eager to find out about it today if he has plans tonight. 

    Q    And in that event, he didn’t leave the hotel and that’s why we weren’t told about it beforehand.

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Noted.  (Laughter.) 

    Q    Back to the border, on your response, does that mean that the President first wants Congress to act strictly on the supplemental request and not on policy changes, or would he accept legislation that both makes changes to policy and provides the resources that he’s asked for?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  I think it’s important to realize that new authorities without the resources won’t solve the problem.  So that’s why we do call on Congress to pass the supplemental.  I know that some Senate Democrats are moving on a plan to do just that and we welcome that progress.  But again, as you know, we sent a letter a few weeks ago outlining new authorities we’d like the Department of Homeland Security Secretary to be able to have.  And we’re hoping Congress moves on that as well.

    Q    Can you give us any updates on Secretary Kerry’s approach in the Middle East?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  Sure.  I’d obviously refer you to Secretary Kerry’s team and the good folks in Foggy Bottom for the latest.  What I have is that over the last few days, Secretary Kerry has been engaged with the Israelis, the Palestinians, the Egyptians and many other key players in the region and those with influence in the region.

    Our bottom line is, as Secretary Kerry has articulated both in public and in private, that no country can live with rockets raining down on it by terrorists or having terrorist tunnels underground to facilitate the killing or kidnapping of its citizens.  So Israel is doing what it must to end that threat.  But right now, given the civilian toll, there’s an urgency to bring this entire episode to a close.

    Q    Do you sense that he’s close to helping broker a cease-fire?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  I’m not going to handicap those negotiations.

    Q    Has the President been in touch with Secretary Kerry?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  We’ve been in touch with his team.  And if I have any calls on that to read out, I will.

    Q    Can you comment on the GAO report on abuse of health subsidies, what the White House or the administration is doing to address that?

    MR. SCHULTZ:  I can.  I would say to make sure in your reporting you note that this was an interim report.  But our bottom line is we take fraud seriously and CMS is examining the report carefully, and we will work with GAO to identify additional ways to strengthen the verification processes. 

    As you know, Jim, the marketplace has several safeguards in place to verify consumer data.  People submit information under penalty of perjury and tax credits are paid directly to insurance companies, not even to enrollees. 

    Q    Is there anything in your packet of notes that we didn’t ask you about that you want to -- (laughter) --

    MR. SCHULTZ:  I think we covered the waterfront here.  (Laughter.)

    END
    2:29 P.M. PDT

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