President Obama: “This election is about our economic future”

President Obama spoke at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland yesterday, detailing his plan for the economy—and how it differs from the policies proposed by Mitt Romney. The President outlined the importance of better education, cleaner energy, leading through innovation, job-creating infrastructure improvements, and fair tax reform.

“This has to be our North Star: an economy that’s built, not from the top down, but from a growing middle class that provides ladders of opportunity for folks who aren’t yet in the middle class.

“This election is about our economic future. Yes, foreign policy matters. Social issues matter. But more than anything else, this election presents a choice between two fundamentally different visions of how to create strong, sustained growth; how to pay down our long-term debt; and most of all, how to generate good, middle-class jobs—so people can have confidence that if they work hard, they can get ahead.”

The President was frank about the challenges we’ve faced since he took office, and he acknowledged the long road to recovery that still lies ahead.

“Of course the economy isn’t where it needs to be. Of course we have a lot more work to do. Everybody knows that. The debate in this election is about how we grow faster, and how we create more jobs, and how we pay down our debt. That’s the question facing the American voter.”

Bill, one Ohioan in attendance, appreciated the President’s candor about the present and the future, saying, “He’s not only a dreamer, he’s a planner and a visionary.” As for his favorite part of the speech, Bill said, “I liked when he said he didn’t care what party they belonged to, as long as they supported the plan of the people and making the people move forward.”

Take it from the President himself:

“I will work with anyone of any party who believes that we’re in this together—who believes that we rise or fall as one nation and as one people. Because I’m convinced that there are actually a lot of Republicans out there who may not agree with every one of my policies, but who still believe in a balanced, responsible approach to economic growth, and who remember the lessons of our history, and who don’t like the direction their leaders are taking them.”

President Obama finished by telling American voters that the nation’s future is literally in their hands.

“This November is your chance to render a verdict on the debate over how to grow the economy, how to create good jobs, how to pay down our deficit. Your vote will finally determine the path that we take as a nation—not just tomorrow, but for years to come. When you strip everything else away, that’s really what this election is about. That’s what is at stake right now.”

Honoring Fathers

President Barack Obama talks with four fathers participating in the the new HHS “Fatherhood Buzz” campaign, as they wait for their lunch at Kenny’s BBQ Smokehouse in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Joining the President, from left, are: Nurney Mason; 1st Lieutenant William Edwards of the U.S. Army; Otis Gamble; and CPT Joubert Paulino of the U.S Army. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama celebrated Father’s Day a little early this week with four dads at Kenny’s Barbeque Smokehouse in Northeast Washington, DC.  The four fathers, two active duty members of the military and two long-time local barbers from Mason’s Barbershop, talked about the rewards and challenges of fatherhood as well as the joy and anxiety fathers experience watching their children grow up.

The President talked about his support for military families along with the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden through Joining Forces. The President also discussed “Fatherhood Buzz,” a new initiative in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services designed to reach out to dads with positive information through their barbers and barber shops, as part of the Administration’s longstanding Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative.  Each quarter will feature a different “buzz” topic – the topic for the first quarter is financial literacy and job training. The initiative is taking place across the country this weekend, including at Mason’s Barber Shop on H Street Northeast in Washington, DC. Nurney Mason, who joined the President for lunch today, has operated Mason’s Barber shop for over 51 years.

Meet the four dads who had lunch with President Obama yesterday to discuss fatherhood

1st Lieutenant William (Bill) Edwards of the U.S. Army  is currently based at Fort Jackson in South Carolina where he lives with his wife of 13 years, Esther, and their four children. Lt. Edwards was recently honored by the National Fatherhood Initiative with the 2012 Military Fatherhood Award. He was deployed with the 3rd Infantry Division Band in 2007-2008 for 14 months in Iraq.  While he was deployed, he sent a flag that had flown over Camp Victory headquarters in Iraq to his daughter’s preschool as a reminder of how much he cared about his family.

Captain Joubert Paulino of the U.S. Army is currently based at Fort Meade in Maryland along with his wife of 16 years, Ginamarie, and their two children Jonah, age 6, and Julia, age 4. CPT Paulino uses his will for adventure to stay connected with his children. For example, he involves his children in the selection process of states or countries where they would like to start an adventure or experience of a lifetime. CPT. Paulino continuously travels for his specialized emergency response team, and serves his country through biological and nuclear defense; however, CPT Paulino remains very involved in his son Jonah’s Tiger Scout troop.

Nurney Mason operated Mason’s Barber Shop on H Street Northeast in Washington, D.C. for over 51 years and is one of the longest-standing business owners in the city.  Nurney also cuts hair at the U.S. House of Representatives when he’s not managing his shop on H Street.  Nurney has been married for over 30 years and has 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.  He co-owns Mason’s Barber Shop with his son, Robbie.  Mason’s Barber Shop is a participant in the “Fatherhood Buzz” campaign.

Otis “Big O” Gamble is still an active barber at Mason’s Barber Shop, a participant in the “Fatherhood Buzz” imitative through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Nurney Mason, the barbershop owner, hired Gamble 45 years ago, and they’ve been cutting hair together for decades.  Mr. Gamble had a successful career in the U.S. Army and as a barber. He  raised three wonderful children, including a son who is retired from the Army and a daughter who is currently a Major in the Army.

Romney to Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions: You’re on your own!

Mitt Romney is promising to “repeal and replace” Obamacare—”on day one”—but he doesn’t have any solutions for ensuring every American has access to affordable coverage or tackling the rising costs of health care. The one big idea he’s unveiled is actually a law that’s been on the books since 1996.

Now, to add insult to injury, the Huffington Post reports that the Romney campaign has confirmed that under Romney’s plan, insurance companies would not be prohibited from going back to the same old tricks that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act made illegal: denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.

It boils down to this: If you’re one of the 129 million of Americans who has a pre-existing condition—be it asthma or breast cancer—Romney’s message is, “You’re on your own.”