West Wing Week: 8/31/12 or "It's Summer Mailbag Time!"

Uploaded by whitehouse on 30.08.2012

Narrator: Welcome to the West Wing Week!
Your guide to everything that's happening at 1600
Pennsylvania Avenue.
(phonograph needle scratching across record screeeeeech)
Elizabeth Olson: Well, you're in luck!
It's time for this summer's "Special Mailbag Edition" of
West Wing Week.
I'm Elizabeth Olson, the Director of
Presidential Correspondence.
And this week we're taking a moment to highlight some of
your letters out of the thousands that arrive every
day here at the White House.
That's August 24th to August 30th or
"It's Summer Mailbag Time!"
First, we went over to the National Economic Council to
see Deputy Director Brian Deese who answered some
of your letters about the economy.
Brian Deese: One topic that is high on people's minds is
middle class tax cuts.
And I have a letter from Illinois and from Wisconsin
on the issue of tax cuts and a specifically a question from
Wisconsin that addresses a question about whether or not
the Administration plans to pay for the next middle class
tax cut by slashing food stamps as well
as Social Security.
It's a rumor that's out there and they wanted us to confirm
or deny.
Short answer: That's absolutely false!
The President does have a plan to keep taxes low for middle
class families while bringing down our deficit
over the next decade.
It's on the website.
You can look at it in detail.
It protects Social Security and other programs that help
our most vulnerable Americans.
And it does this by asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a
little bit more in taxes.
Another issue we hear about all the time is education,
in particular student debt.
I picked out a letter here from California.
And I want to read exactly what it says.
"President Obama, I am writing to see where are we going on
student loan debt?
I'm a middle-aged man that owns a small business."
So a couple of issues here.
The first is, the President has promoted something called
"income-based repayments."
What this basically means is simple.
If you get into this program you will never have to pay
more than a set amount, 10 or 15% of your income, in student
loan debt.
It's a very powerful program because it allows you to take
the jobs that you need to take and never have that student
debt be an overwhelming burden on you.
I would also note that this writer here is a small
business owner and helping small business owners succeed
has been a priority for this President.
He has cut taxes for small businesses 18 times.
He has proposals to provide additional tax cuts including
eliminating capital gains taxes for investments in
new small businesses and is focused on trying to
make sure that businesses, small businesses in particular,
can get the capital they need to grow.
Because we know that small businesses are the engines of
job creation in our economy.
Elizabeth Olson: We then went over to the Domestic Policy Council to
talk with Cecilia Muñoz about some of the letters she'd read
about Health Care Reform and the new "deferred action process."
Cecilia Muñoz: So this e-mail comes from California.
It's a question about the new health care law.
And what's important to know is that the point of the law
is to make sure that folks across the country have access
to security and the health care that they need at an
affordable cost.
So, for example, under this new law, insurance companies
can't deny you coverage because you get sick or
because you're a woman or charge you lifetime limits.
Children who have preexisting conditions can't be
discriminated against by insurance companies.
And there is a rule in place that says insurance companies
have to spend 80 cents of every dollar that you pay in
premiums on your actual health care, not on bonuses, not on
administrative costs.
And that is having the impact of reducing the cost of
premiums across the country.
So there are a lot of benefits of the law.
And the place to find out about it is a website called
healthcare.gov where you can look at your leisure and get
all of your questions answered about the new reform.
So here is another letter; it comes from Florida.
And it's about the new "deferred action policy"
that Secretary Napolitano announced a few weeks ago.
This is a policy under which the Secretary is using her
enforcement authority to say we're going to concentrate on
doing immigration enforcement against the people who cause
the greatest harm and we're not going to use our resources
on people who are lower priorities.
So young people in particular who came to this country as
children who were brought here by their parents can actually
come forward and request something called "deferred
action and work authorizations" so that they
can stay in this country and work for a period of two years
which could be extended over time.
So this is DHS's decision.
They're going to be making decisions on people who apply
on a case-by-case basis.
It's an exercise of their enforcement authority.
The best place to get information is
from DHS's website.
In particular, you can go to www.USCIS.gov/ChildhoodArrivals.
And there you will find all the information that you need
to know about who is eligible and how they can apply.
Thank you, so much.
And please keep writing us.
You can send letters, you can call us, you can send
faxes and e-mails.
We love getting your questions.
We love knowing what it is that you want to know and
being able to share information with you.
Thanks a lot.
Elizabeth Olson: Here are a few highlights from the week.
The President: As we prepare for Isaac to hit, I want to encourage all
residents of the Gulf Coast to listen to your local officials
and follow their directions including
if they tell you to evacuate.
As we get additional updates from the Hurricane Center as
well as from FEMA in terms of activities on the ground,
we'll be providing continuous updates both at the local and
the national level.
Elizabeth Olson: On Thursday, we sat down with Deputy National Security Advisor
Ben Rhodes who spoke about the upcoming two year anniversary
of the end of the war in Iraq for "The Rhodes Ahead."
Brian Deese: Hi.
Two years ago on August 31st, 2010, President Obama traveled
to Fort Bliss, Texas, to mark the end of our combat mission
in Iraq.
This was the end of the United States being responsible for
the security of Iraq and it was one important milestone on
the way to removing all of our troops from Iraq and bringing
an end to the Iraq War after so many years of sacrifice.
In that speech at Fort Bliss, the President spoke about the
fact that part of ending a war responsibly involves standing
by those who fought it.
Now he is going to return to Fort Bliss two years later to
mark the anniversary of the end of the combat mission in
Iraq, the end of the Iraq War in a broader effort to
responsibly wind down a decade of war in both
Iraq and Afghanistan.
He'll talk not just about the wars, though, but about
our obligation to stand by those who fought them
and their families.
That means making sure they have the health care they
need, including the mental health care to deal with
issues like post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic
brain injury that so many of our soldiers and troops are
wrestling with.
As well as standing by our military families, making sure
they have the educational opportunities they deserve.
And then making sure that our veterans have employment
opportunities so that they can go about doing the work
of rebuilding or nation at home that they have served
so well abroad.
So the President, as he always does, looks forward to this
moment as Commander-in-Chief to speak to our servicemen and
women, to speak to their families, and to speak to
all Americans who had the obligation we have to stand
by those who served us so well.
Elizabeth Olson: To find out more information on any of these topics or to
see complete videos of these events,
go to WhiteHouse.gov.
And thanks again for checking out your West Wing Week!
(a "no talkie")