10:12 A.M. EDT
[White House Transcript]
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Good morning,
everybody. Please have a seat. Sit. (Laughter.)
My top priority as
President is to grow the economy, create good middle-class jobs, make
sure that the next generation prospers. And in a few minutes,
departing the White House for a trip that will promote
First, I'm going to
visit Mexico, one of our largest economic partners. Then I'll be
visiting Costa Rica, where I’ll attend a summit with Central American
leaders. And in both instances, I'm going to be working
to deepen our economic and trade relationships across Latin America –-
relationships that create jobs and growth here at home, and offer our
businesses growing markets where they can sell more American-made goods
and services abroad.
But before I go, I had
some business to do. I am proud to announce that I’ll be
two outstanding individuals to my Cabinet who will focus on precisely
Over the past four
years, I’ve tasked the Secretary of Commerce and the U.S. Trade
Representative with opening new markets for American goods and
services, doubling our exports for those goods and services all in
support of millions of American jobs. And over those four years,
Kirk, along with his outstanding team at USTR, has stood up for free
trade and for American workers and businesses around the world.
he’s finalized trade deals with South Korea, Colombia,
Panama. He’s cracked down on unfair trading practices to give
workers a fair shot in the global economy. And I could not be
of the work that he has done.
Meanwhile, at the
Department of Commerce, Becky Blank has led our efforts to help promote
high-tech manufacturing and travel and tourism -- it is a big portfolio
-- and she has worked closely with the private sector
to make sure that America remains the best place in the world to do
So I could not be more
thankful to Ron and to Becky for their outstanding service.
(Applause.) Ron couldn’t be here today, but many members of his
are here, and we are so thankful to them. Becky, thank you.
Becky is going to be taking on a pretty big job -- making sure those
badgers behave up in Wisconsin. (Laughter.) And we know
to be extraordinary leading that institution.
But today, I’m in a
position to nominate two extraordinary individuals to continue the work
of Ron and Becky as key members of my economic team.
As I said in my State
of the Union Address, when it comes to growing our economy and our
middle class, we should focus on three things. Number one, making
America is a magnet for good jobs. Number two, helping
workers earn the skills they need to get those jobs. And number
making sure their hard work actually leads to a decent living.
these individuals share that focus.
First, I’m nominating
Penny Pritzker to serve as my Secretary of Commerce. Penny is one
our country’s most distinguished business leaders. She's got more
25 years of management experience in industries
including real estate, finance, and hospitality. She’s built
from the ground up. She knows from experience that no government
program alone can take the place of a great entrepreneur. She
that what we can do is to give every business and
every worker the best possible chance to succeed by making America a
magnet for good jobs.
And Penny understands
that just as great companies strengthen the community around them,
strong communities and skilled workers also help companies
she’s been an extraordinary civic leader in our shared
hometown of Chicago. She served as a member of my Jobs
was the driving force behind Skills for America’s Future, which is a
program that brings together companies and community colleges to shape
and prepare skills-based training programs for
workers that are tied into the businesses that potentially will hire
So she's got
extraordinary experience. And in case I haven’t embarrassed her
-- she's got a wonderful family; I watched her kids grow up -- and
today is her birthday. So Happy Birthday, Penny.
For your birthday present, you get to go through confirmation.
(Laughter.) It's going to be great.
Meanwhile, over two
decades in both the public and private sectors, Mike Froman, who I’m
nominating to serve as my U.S. Trade Representative, has established
himself as one of the world’s foremost experts on our
global economy. And I'm not surprised, by the way, because we
law school together -- he was much smarter than me then, he continues
to be smarter than me now.
And over the past four
years, he’s been my point person at global forums like the G8 and the
G20 -- and, by the way, when I say point person, he's really been the
driving force, oftentimes, in organizing these incredible
international summits in which huge amounts of business gets
He's been a key negotiator alongside Ron Kirk on those trade agreements
for South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, which support tens of thousands
of American jobs.
He has won the respect
of our trading partners around the world. He has also won a
as being an extraordinarily tough negotiator while doing it. He
not rest until he’s delivered the best possible
deal for American businesses and American workers. He’s fought to
sure that countries that break the rules are held accountable.
And Mike believes,
just as I believe and just as Penny believes, that our workers are the
most competitive in the world, so they deserve a level playing
And Mike's going to continue to fight for that level
playing field in his new role, as he helps to move forward trade
negotiations with both the Asia-Pacific region and Europe, and will
also continue to advise me on a broad range of economic issues.
And as I think some of
you have gathered, I've had a chance to get to know Penny and Mike not
just as leaders and professionals, but also as friends. And one
reasons I’m proud to nominate them is they don't
forget what matters. They know this is not about just growing
sheets. It’s about growing opportunity for people. It’s
a sense of security for the middle class. And, most of all, they
operate with integrity and they understand that
public service is a privilege, and you've got to do it right when you
get involved on behalf of the American people.
So I just want to
thank Penny and Mike and their extraordinary families for agreeing to
serve in these roles. I urge the Senate to confirm Penny and Mike
without delay, because they've got a lot of work to do.
And I intend to work them to the bone as soon as they're
(Laughter.) So thank you very much, everybody. And thanks
families for putting up with what I know will be challenging, but
ultimately the extraordinary award of working on behalf
of the American people.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)