Posts Tagged ‘ barack obama ’

5 Family Goals From Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Working families was a main focus in President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, with an emphasis on helping parents ease the financial struggles of raising kids.

Last night, the President shared the story of one couple, Rebekah and Ben Erler, who raised two sons through tough times. In sharing their story, President Obama said, “America, Rebekah and Ben’s story is our story. They represent the millions who have worked hard, and scrimped, and sacrificed, and retooled.”

Rebekah and Ben’s story also became the foundation for the President to segue into other important family concerns, which included the following goals.

Goal: Affordable, High-Quality Child Care

For families like the Erlers who need (but can’t afford) outside help to care for their kids, the President promised to make “affordable, high-quality child care” more available. “It’s not a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have. It’s time we stop treating child care as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us,” he said.

Goal: A New Tax Cut for Children

In order to make affordable child care a possibility, the President supported “lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year.” As a step toward this direction, he proposed “a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.” He also proposed closing tax loopholes that allowed America’s one percent to evade paying taxes in order to “help more families pay for child care and send their kids to college.”

Goal: Paid Sick Leave and Paid Maternity Leave

Forty-three million people in the U.S. do not get paid sick leave, a shocking statistic that the President shared. “Today, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers,” he said. “And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home.”

To implement paid sick leave and paid maternity leave, the President already started the ball rolling. Last week, he announced that federal employees would be getting up to six weeks of paid maternity leave for the birth or adoption of a child, which he hoped to expand to more moms across America. And he’s supporting a new act that will give employees up to seven paid sick days in a year.

Goal: Free Community College

The 2013 and 2014 State of the Union addresses focused on providing universal pre-K to America, allowing kids to have free schooling before kindergarten. This year, the President focused more on higher education.

To ensure that kids have the opportunity to attend college without fear of debt, the President promised “to lower the cost of community college — to zero.” Because 40 percent of kids choose to attend community college, he saw value in showing kids “that two years of college becomes as free and universal in America as high school is today.” In cutting costs, Obama hoped to reduce the burden of college loans, “so that student debt doesn’t derail anyone’s dreams.”

Goal: Online Privacy for Children

With the increase in cyberbullying and hacking, the President also made online privacy a priority, stating that no one should have the right to “invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids.” He promised to combat cyber threats and urged Congress “to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information.” (Side note: This past week, Illinois passed a law that allowed schools and universities to request a student’s social media password.)

The President also conveyed some trademark words of hope, stressing that his goals would help “hardworking families make ends meet.” Ultimately, he said, “I want our actions to tell every child, in every neighborhood: your life matters, and we are as committed to improving your life chances as we are for our own kids.”

Read the full transcript of the 2015 State of the Union Address.

Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com who covers baby-related content. She loves collecting children’s picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea

Image: President Obama giving the 2015 State of the Union Address at the White House via the official White House Twitter account

Add a Comment

Investigating the Single Mom-Gun Violence Connection (OPINION)

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Over the next few months, the editors of Parents.com will report on hot-button election issues that American families face today, from healthcare to education. In the spirit of offering diverse perspectives on the election, we’ve chosen three moms from across the political spectrum to be guest bloggers on Parents News Now. Each one of them will offer a unique take on the topics that they–and you!–are most passionate about. (Read the entire blog series.)

By Sharon Lerner

Oh, it was good to hear the candidates mention gun violence last night! I feared the subject might get lost amidst the binders full of women.

But, finally, after all those folks — including a six-year-old — were shot in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater; after so many students — including those at Chardon High School in Ohio, at Walpole Elementary School in New Hampshire, at Millard South High School in Omaha, not to mention the kids at Virginia Tech — died, the moment arrived when we can have a serious discussion about how to rein in guns.

Or at least we could have.

Gun control did come up at the town hall style debate last night, thanks to Nina Gonzalez (one of the regular people who guided the debate with questions as good and pointed as those of any professional moderator). Gonzalez asked the president what he would do to keep AK-47s out of the hands of criminals — a fair question, given that Obama had said he wanted to do just that during his last presidential campaign.

Happily, the President went on to give families reason to hope that he might actually put some muscle behind an assault weapons ban in his next term. He said he supported the ban passed under Clinton in 1994, which expired after eight years and made it illegal to sell the military-style weapons now widely available in guns stores and gun shows. Though he didn’t work to reinstate it in his first term, he could in his next.

Banning the guns like the AR-15, the type of rifle that was used to shoot off as many as 50 shots a minute in the Aurora massacre, would be a good first step. (Why exactly does the general public need access to a gun that can carry 100 rounds of ammunition and can shoot bullets that can go through two people?)

But Romney was clear he has no intention of banning assault weapons. Despite the fact that he supported similar legislation as governor of Massachusetts, he now stands — or perhaps, lies — with the National Rifle Association.

The flip-flopping should come as no surprise. But what came out of his mouth next on the topic of gun violence was a shock. In search of a culprit for the numerous shootings that have plagued our country, Romney came up with — not weapons makers, social alienation, or even shoot-em-up video games — but single moms.

Romney said he’s not in favor of “new pieces of legislation on guns and taking guns away and making guns illegal,” agreed with the President about the importance of good schools; and then went on to say this:

“Let me mention another thing — parents. We need moms and dads to raise kids. Wherever possible, the benefit of having two parents in the home. That’s not always possible. Lot of great single moms and single dads. But gosh, to tell our kids, before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone. That’s a great idea.”

Americans should be alarmed about gun violence — parents especially. At least 5,740 children and teens were killed by guns in 2008 and 2009, according to a Children’s Defense Fund report that was put out this year and dedicated to the memory of Trayvon Martin. That number includes 173 preschoolers, double the number of police officers killed in the line of duty.

But single parenthood is not the cause of our problem. And, whether getting married to someone is a “great idea,” it probably won’t affect the number of children gunned down in our country.

In an effort to be charitable, I can imagine that Romney was trying to say that gun violence is linked to urban poverty — and it is. Gun violence hits minority kids hardest, and most of the kids who die from gunshots live in cities.

But his leap to seeing single mothers as the cause of that poverty — and thus, if I understand his bizarre segue correctly — as the cause of gun violence is illogical and downright offensive.

Sure, single mothers’ kids are more likely to live in poverty. But there is plenty of evidence that being poor is what leads to the single parenthood — rather than the other way around. Kathryn Edin, a professor of public policy at Harvard, provides perhaps the best exploration of this relationship in “Promises I Can Keep,” her book on why poor women put motherhood before marriage.

If Romney really wanted to stop gun violence, he could support an assault weapons ban, as he did in Massachusetts. If Romney were really concerned about poverty, there are plenty of good ideas about how to address it directly. But he doesn’t support raising the minimum wage (at least not clearly); his tax plan would help the rich and hurt the poor; he’d weaken social security; and he wants to shrink — rather than expand — the safety net.

So instead of taking on the gun industry or the roots of inequality, he blamed single moms. It was a strange tack — and one that not only did nothing to help solve our nation’s gun violence crisis, it managed to offend a huge chunk of the voting public.

Read more opinions from Sharon Lerner

Add a Comment

Moms Know Romney is Right: It’s Time for Big Bird to Fly By Himself (OPINION)

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Over the next few months, the editors of Parents.com will report on hot-button election issues that American families face today, from healthcare to education. In the spirit of offering diverse perspectives on the election, we’ve chosen three moms from across the political spectrum to be guest bloggers on Parents News Now. Each one of them will offer a unique take on the topics that they–and you!–are most passionate about. (Read the entire blog series.)

By Nancy French

In the first debate between Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama, the GOP nominee ruffled some feathers by saying that he’d cut the budget by eliminating non-essential costs, like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  Because the debate moderator, Jim Lehrer, is employed by PBS, Romney added:

“I’m sorry Jim. I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things,” he said. “I like PBS, I like Big Bird, I actually like you too.”

I’m sure moms everywhere have seen the clip a dozen times.  As soon as Romney said those words, the social media universe exploded. Immediately, a fake Twitter account for Big Bird was set up.  The first tweet was, “WTF, Mitt Romney?” and another was, “Yo Mitt Romney, Sesame Street is brought to you today by the letters F & U!”  Celebrities also chimed in. In one of the 17,000 tweets per minute, Whoopi Goldberg lamented that Romney wanted to “kill Big Bird.”  Calls were made for a “Million Muppet March” on Washington.  A photoshopped picture of a forlorn Big Bird sitting on the Sesame stoop holding a “Will Work for Food” sign flew into inboxes across America. The next day, the President, still reeling from the previous night’s debate debacle, made fun of Romney for “getting tough on Big Bird.”  Even PBS sent out their own press release, which read, “Elimination of funding would have virtually no impact on the nation’s debt. Yet the loss to the American public would be devastating.”

More than anyone else, moms have affection in our heart for lovable Elmo, the mysterious Snuffleupagus, and even the garbage-dwelling Oscar the Grouch.  But would a change in funding be “devastating?”  PBS’s self-importance is a little much for Americans who are struggling to pay the bills and find work.

So why does the government subsidize this show anyway?

The Public Broadcasting Act was passed in 1967 to address the paucity of quality children’s programming.  Now, however, moms know television is brimming with vibrant, entertaining, and educational offerings.  Is Gordon more educational, for example, than Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer?  Does Maria provide more diversity than the Disney Channel’s Doc McStuffins? Are the Sesame Street writers more clever than the ones who create the hilarious Phineas and Ferb?  Children’s television has come a long way since everyone had platform shoes, bell bottoms, and pet rocks. Sesame Street is no longer the only game in town, so is it really so vital to the republic?  If so, couldn’t this important cultural institution thrive by itself?  Michelle Malkin addressed this issue in National Review:

According to the 990 tax form all nonprofits are required to file, Sesame Workshop president and CEO Gary Knell received $956,513 — nearly a million dollars — in compensation in 2008. And, from 2003 to 2006, Sesame Street made more than $211 million from toy and consumer product sales.”

Moms might not know these specific figures, nor do we precisely know how many Sesame Street books, stuffed animals, and lunchboxes we have in our homes at this moment.  But we do know this show created the “Tickle Me Elmo” mall riots and that the show can survive without us reaching into our own pockets.  (After the debate, the new unfortunate name for the formerly in-demand doll is “Subsidize Me Elmo.”)

Even the President realizes that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is bloated beyond reason.  His Bowles-Simpson deficit-reduction commission said “the current CPB funding level is the highest it has ever been.”  Malkin writes, “Doing away with the appropriation would save nearly $500 million in 2015 alone. Over ten years, those savings would total $5 billion (or roughly ten Solyndras). In these tough times, that’s more than chump change and child’s play.”

To make matter worse, President Obama released an official campaign ad mocking Romney’s promise to eliminate funding to PBS.  He also sent out a campaign fundraiser telling voters that Romney “wanted to kill Big Bird.” 

But the public didn’t respond like he anticipated. On Twitter, people said they wished Obama was as serious about protecting our embassies as he is about protecting Big Bird.  Then, Romney said, “You have to scratch your head when the President spends the last week talking about saving Big Bird,” he said. ”I actually think we need to have a President who talks about saving the American people and saving good jobs.”  Worst of all, Sesame Street asked the President to take down his ad.  This prompted a Drudge headline with a photo of Big Bird saying, “Leave Me Alone, Obama!” and a NY Post cover of Big Bird in the Oval Office over the headline “Cheep Shot!” To top it all off, the Washington Post said his fundraising letter was incredibly misleading by writing, “How did ‘I love Big Bird’ turn into ‘kill Big Bird’? Only through a spin machine going on hyper drive.”

Recently my four-year-old asked me if we could get her face painted with silver glittery paint at a high school football game. 

“I don’t have a dollar,” I said, realizing I’d spent all I had at the concession stand.  She looked at me with huge tears in her eyes, unable to understand why she couldn’t have her face painted like her friends.

It’s a hard lesson. But since Sesame Street prides itself to teaching lessons to children,  PBS and the President should use this momentous occasion in history — when America has a national debt of over $16 trillion — to teach children a lesson about money.  When it runs out, you stop spending. 

As much as we love you, Big Bird, it’s time to fly by yourself.

Read more blog posts from Nancy French

Add a Comment