Weekly Address: Congress Must Act on “To-Do List”

May 12, 2012 by    

President Obama calls on Democrats and Republicans to come together and act on his Congressional “to-do list,” which will create jobs and help restore middle class security.

  Good afternoon –Most Americans are concerned that all we’ll see from Congress this year is inaction. Count me as one of those Americans.

But the fact is we need Congress. President Obama is doing everything in his power to move our economy forward. Not surprisingly though, the proposals with the biggest impact require legislation.

So at this make-or-break moment for the middle class, the President has called on Congress to move forward with a concrete plan that creates jobs and helps restore middle class security. It’s so simple, we’ve boiled it down into a five item to-do list.

Learn more about these ideas and share them.

It matters when Americans stand up and make their voices heard. Last year, when you spoke out about extending the payroll tax cut, we changed the debate here in Washington. Over the past few weeks, you answered the President’s call to speak up about stopping student loan interest rates from doubling, and now we’re starting to see the gears turning in the House and Senate.

The members of Congress who refuse to act are betting that Americans across the country won’t pay attention. So we’ve got to stay focused on the work at hand, and that starts with President Obama, who will be raising awareness across the country. You can join him by speaking out and sharing the list with your networks.

These five ideas will help create jobs and protect the middle class.

There are homeowners throughout the country who have done everything right, made their mortgage payments on time month after month, but when they look for relief, they get the runaround. With interest rates as low as they are right now, Congress should cut red tape for responsible homeowners to refinance and keep a little more money in their pocket each month.

There are a set of tax credits that are helping American companies put people to work developing clean energy and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Unless Congress takes action, those credits will expire. That’s an unforced error, both for our economy and our environment.

Small business owners play a central role in our economy. Congress should provide firms that create new jobs or increase wages with a 10 percent income tax credit.

Lawmakers need to do more to help the men and women who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan find jobs once they come home. President Obama is asking Congress to create a Veterans Jobs Corps that will help them find work as police officers, firefighters, or as employees at our national parks.

We need to stop rewarding companies for sending jobs overseas. Congress needs to eliminate the loophole that allows corporations to deduct their expenses from outsourcing jobs and use that money to give a tax credit on moving expenses to companies that bring jobs back.

That’s it. It’s straightforward and entirely within Congress’s power to pass and send to the President for his signature.

So take a minute to learn more, then share this email and the list with folks in your network.




David Plouffe
Senior Advisor to the President

P.S. — President Obama talked about why this plan is so important yesterday. Check out what he had to say.



Refinancing for Responsible Homeowners

The White House, Washington

  Good afternoon —

Right now, refinancing a home mortgage can be confusing and costly — but it doesn’t have to be that way.

And that’s why President Obama is asking Congress to make things simpler for responsible homeowners as part of his To-Do List for lawmakers.

All over the country, there are Americans who bought houses before the financial crisis, and they’re locked in at high interest rates. Despite staying current with payments, they can’t refinance at today’s rates, which are historically low.

This issue affects you, even if you have a good rate, or don’t have a mortgage at all. Lower monthly payments mean lower foreclosure rates, helping property values in your community. And more money in people’s pockets helps to move our economy forward and create jobs.

By improving this process, responsible folks who work hard will be able to feel a little more secure in their finances and a little more secure in their homes.

Watch one of President Obama’s economic advisers explain how in this quick video:

Learn more

Lowering the interest rate on your mortgage should be an idea that makes sense for both Republicans and Democrats. Outside the halls of Congress, paying a mortgage isn’t a partisan, political issue.

President Obama has done what he can to make refinancing simpler, but unless Congress acts, there’s a limit to how much we can help responsible homeowners.

Nothing will help to change the debate more than Americans across the country joining the conversation. We saw your impact a few months ago when Congress finally extended the payroll tax cut, keeping an average of $40 in everyone’s paycheck. Now it’s time to for more action – this time to help homeowners all over America.

So I’m asking you to talk to people about this refinance proposal and the other ideas on the To-Do List. You can find more info about them on WhiteHouse.gov:


Thank you,

David Plouffe
Senior Advisor to the President

P.S. — If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, consider posting the video. I bet you’ll get a surprising response from your network. Most people don’t track the day-to-day in Washington closely, but all of us know people who would love to refinance their mortgages.


Tell Congress that sustainabl​e agricultur​e is the right investment – repost

Today the Backyard, Tomorrow the Farm!

 Most gardeners will be planting bulbs for next spring and taking steps to protect perennials from harsh winter weather over the next few weeks. But did you know that actions you take now can also help in the fight against global warming?

The following advice from a gardening expert offers a simple step you can take this fall to be a climate-friendly gardener by increasing your soil’s ability to store carbon—a key component in the leading cause of global warming. After you read the tip, take action to call for the same kind of actions on our nation’s farms.


In Your Garden

Tracey Payton, a horticulture educator from Norman, Oklahoma, offers this tip on how to be a climate-friendly gardener.

“Mulch is a great way to protect bare soil, and most importantly for the climate-friendly gardener, it can help prevent carbon loss. Uncovered soil is vulnerable to releasing more carbon than it stores. Mulch also has other benefits, such as protecting against temperature fluctuations that can damage plants, suppressing weeds, and reducing moisture loss and soil erosion. Using mulch can be as easy as an additional 2-3 inch layer of compost or straw in the garden; in the flower bed, cotton seed hulls, bark mulch, or wood mulch can be used. Do only keep mulch about 2-3″ deep and away from perennial plant stems to prevent rot and other moisture problems.”

More information about how healthy soil can lock up carbon may be found in The Climate-Friendly Gardener. This guide also contains more valuable tips and information on how to fight global warming in your own backyard.  http://action.ucsusa.org/site/R?i=CbQwBKQYI1GwQMSDdIzNGA

On the Farm…

If gardeners can adopt practices to combat global warming on a small scale, think what could be accomplished if similar steps were taken on the millions of acres of farmland across the country!

Similar to mulching, one of the most effective farm practices to store carbon in the soil on a large scale—while building soil health and preventing erosion—is widespread planting of “cover crops” in the winter. A sort of living mulch, cover crops protect farm fields when other crops aren’t growing. They also have the benefit of releasing nitrogen—one of the main ingredients in fertilizers into the soil just in time for spring-planted crops, which can reduce the need for added fertilizer (another source of  global warming emissions).

We can help expand the adoption of this practice by making sure that the next Farm Bill rewards farmers who plant cover crops. Voted on every five years, the Farm Bill helps determines what food farmers will grow and what practices they will employ. This bill includes programs to help farmers successfully adopt a wide array of sustainable agriculture practices, including the planting of cover crops.

Write to your members of Congress and demand farm policies that help farmers protect our water, air, and land while producing the food we need!

Take Action Today!   www.ucsusa.org


Jenn Yates
National Field Organizer
UCS Food & Environment Program

Clean Air Under Attack … Union of Concerned Scientists

Union of Concerned Scientists

Clean Air Under Attack ,
The Chamber of Commerce and other groups who oppose climate action  are mounting a massive attack on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) efforts to protect our health and the environment from the impacts of global warming.
Right now, we’re pumping too much carbon into the atmosphere and it’s having a dangerous effect on our climate. To help protect us, the EPA recently released draft standards that, for the first time ever, will limit carbon pollution from new power plants. Yesterday, UCS supporters heard directly from  senior White House and EPA officials about how these standards are a critical first step towards reducing the effects of global warming and protecting public health.
Unfortunately the Chamber of Commerce recently released a press statement vowing to do whatever it takes to overturn the EPA’s standard.
The chamber’s attacks are bogus.

We need these standards to start to address the threat of climate change—and the EPA is not only helping to address that threat, it is also meeting the mandate it was given by the Supreme Court five years ago to reduce carbon emissions found to be dangerous to the public health and welfare.
But that’s not stopping foes like the chamber. It’s critical that informed citizens like you speak up to protect these standards. You already submitted a public comment in support of the EPA’s carbon pollution standard, but now it’s time to take the next step. Tell the Chamber of Commerce to stop their attacks.
The opposition hasn’t quit and we can’t either.

 Take Action Today!
Sincerely, Chrissy Elles Chrissy Elles Outreach Associate UCS Climate and Energy Program

Congress: the Republican led House back on 5/15 – the Senate considers Judicial nominees & HR2072,the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act.

the Senate Convenes: 2:00pmET May14, 2012

Following the prayer and pledge, the Majority Leader will be recognized.

  • It is the Majority Leader’s intention to resume consideration of the motion to proceed to H.R.2072, the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act on Monday. As a reminder to all Senators, cloture was filed on the motion to proceed to H.R.2072 during Friday’s session.
  • At 4:30pm, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session to consider the following items:
  • Confirmation of the Russell nomination
  • Confirmation of the Tharp nomination and
  • Motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R.2072, the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act.

At approximately 5:30pm today, there will be up to 3 roll call votes in relation to the following items:

– Confirmation of Executive Calendar # 570 George Levi Russell, III, of Maryland, to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Maryland;

– Confirmation of Executive Calendar #571 John Tharp, Jr., of Illinois, to be U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois; and

– Motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R.2072, the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act.

5:30pm The Senate began a roll call vote on confirmation of the nomination of John J. Tharp, of IL, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois

5:43pm The Senate has reached an agreement to consider H.R.2072, Export-Import Bank Reauthorization. As a result, we were able to vitiate tonight’s cloture vote. The first judge in the series, George Levi Russell (Maryland) was confirmed by voice vote. The Senate is now voting on confirmation of the Tharp nomination (Illinois).

The agreement on Ex-Im is as follows:

At 11:15am, Tuesday, May 15th, the Senate will adopt the motion to proceed to Calendar #396, H.R.2072, an Act to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The only first degree amendments in order to the bill are the following:

Lee #2100;

Paul #2101;

Corker #2102;

Vitter #2103; and

Toomey #2104.

No amendments are in order to any of the amendments prior to the votes. No motions or points of order are in order other than budget points of order and the applicable motions to waive. There will be up to two hours of debate to run concurrently on the amendments and the bill, equally divided, between the two Leaders, or their designees, prior to votes in relation to the amendments in the order listed. Upon disposition of the amendments, the Senate will proceed to vote on passage of the bill, as amended, if amended. There will be two minutes equally divided prior to each vote; and all after the first vote be ten minute votes. The amendments and passage of the bill are subject to a 60 affirmative vote threshold.



1) Confirmation of Executive Calendar #571, the nomination of John J. Tharp, of IL, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District; Confirmed: 86-1


Began the Rule 14 process of H.R.5652, Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012. (Republican request)


Confirmed Executive Calendar #570, the nomination of George Levi Russell III, of MD, to be United States District Judge for the District of Maryland by voice vote



The next meeting is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. on May 15, 2012.

House Hearings for 5/14

9:00 am Hearing: Joint Subcommittee Oversight Field Hearing on “Logs in the Road: Eliminating Federal Red Tape and Excessive Litigation to Create Healthy Forests, Jobs and Abundant Water and Power Supplies” Committee on Natural Resources: Multiple Subcommittees 2:00 pm Field Hearing: Honoring our Nation’s Veterans: Examining the Veterans Cemetery Grants Program Committee on Veterans’ Affairs: Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs