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White House Women's Update: "Newtown, You Are Not Alone"

Thursday, December 20, 2012  
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White House Women's Update: "Newtown, You Are Not Alone"


Greetings All-

We hope this message finds you well.

This week, President Obama traveled to Newtown, CT to meet with the families of those who were lost in Friday's tragic shooting and to thank first responders for their work. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who lost loved ones to this violence. The Department of Education released a number of resources to help parents to provide guidance on talking to children after a traumatic event, as well as resources to help schools prepare for and recover from crisis.

On Wednesday, the White House also released a statement on the Congressional Republican "Plan B” legislation, and the Office of Management and Budget issued a formal Statement of Administration Policy. The American people have been clear that they will not accept an economic approach that places too big of a burden on the middle class, seniors, students and the most vulnerable Americans while asking too little of the wealthiest Americans.

It's a busy time here, as we know it is for all of you. Thank you for engaging with us in 2012, and we look forward to further engagement in the year ahead.

Happy holidays to you and your loved ones.

Best Wishes,

The White House Council on Women & Girls

President Obama: "Words Need to Lead to Action” on Gun Violence


Five days after the tragic shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama said that he is committed to reducing the epidemic of gun violence that plagues this country every single day.

President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, delivers a statement and takes questions about the Administration's gun policy process in the wake of the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Dec. 19, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President announced that Vice President Joe Biden will lead a new initiative that has been tasked with identifying concrete proposals for real reform by January. The Vice President, who wrote the 1994 Crime Bill that helped law enforcement bring down the rate of violent crime and included the assault weapons ban, will work with members of the Cabinet and outside organizations on this effort, and President Obama urged the new Congress to hold votes on the proposals early next year.

The President made clear that this is a complex issue, and that solutions must be wide-ranging and include everything from access to mental health services to confronting a culture that at times glorifies violence. But he also made clear that the price of doing nothing is much too high for our country to bear:

"Since Friday morning, a police officer was gunned down in Memphis, leaving four children without their mother. Two officers were killed outside a grocery store in Topeka. A woman was shot and killed inside a Las Vegas casino. Three people were shot inside an Alabama hospital. A four-year-old was caught in a drive-by in Missouri, and taken off life support just yesterday. Each one of these Americans was a victim of the everyday gun violence that takes the lives of more than 10,000 Americans every year -- violence that we cannot accept as routine.

So I will use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. We won't prevent them all -- but that can't be an excuse not to try. It won't be easy -- but that can't be an excuse not to try."


You can read the President's full remarks or watch the video.

President Obama Attends Prayer Vigil for Connecticut Shooting Victims


On Sunday, President Obama traveled to Newtown, CT to meet with the families of those who were lost in Friday's tragic shooting, and to thank first responders for their work.

That evening the President spoke at an interfaith vigil for families of the victims, and all families from Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Watch the President's remarks here:

He offered the love and prayers of a nation grieving alongside Newtown:

"Here in Newtown, I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation. I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts. I can only hope it helps for you to know that you're not alone in your grief; that our world too has been torn apart; that all across this land of ours, we have wept with you, we've pulled our children tight. And you must know that whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide; whatever portion of sadness that we can share with you to ease this heavy load, we will gladly bear it.

Newtown -- you are not alone."


President Obama also spoke about the need to engage Americans in efforts to prevent tragedies like the one in Newtown, reiterating that America's first job is caring for our children:

"And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we are meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say that we're doing enough to keep our children -- all of them -- safe from harm? Can we claim, as a nation, that we're all together there, letting them know that they are loved, and teaching them to love in return? Can we say that we're truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?

I've been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we're honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We're not doing enough. And we will have to change."


Read President Obama's full remarks from the vigil.

Watch President Obama's Friday statement from the Briefing Room.

Congressional Republican "Plan B” Legislation: Cuts Taxes for Millionaires, Fails To Meet the Test Of Balance


On Wednesday, White House Director of Communications Dan Pfeiffer released a statement on the Congressional Republican "Plan B” legislation:

"The American people have been clear that they will not accept an economic approach that places too big of a burden on the middle class, seniors, students and the most vulnerable Americans while asking too little of the wealthiest Americans. The Congressional Republican "Plan B” legislation continues large tax cuts for the very wealthiest individuals - on average, millionaires would see a tax break of $50,000 - while eliminating tax cuts that 25 million students and families struggling to make ends meet depend on and ending critical incentives for our nation's businesses. It would also cut off a vital lifeline of unemployment assistance to 2 million Americans fighting to find a job just a few days after Christmas, while deeply cutting Medicare. The deficit reduction is minimal, and perversely, given its authors, solely through tax increases with no spending cuts. This approach does not meet the test of balance, and the President would veto the legislation in the unlikely event of its passage.

The President believes this moment presents both sides an opportunity to reach a significant, balanced deal that is good for American families, the economy and for our nation's future. He has put forward a proposal that meets the Speaker halfway on both taxes and spending, offering to work with Republicans to cut spending by an additional more than one trillion dollars beyond what he has already signed into law. The President urges the Republican leadership to work with us to resolve remaining differences and find a reasonable solution to this situation today instead of engaging in political exercises that increase the possibility that taxes go up on every American. The American people are watching closely and deserve no less."


In addition to the statement, the White House released a fact sheet detailing the harmful impacts of the Congressional Republican "Plan B” legislation.

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