Obama Visits New Jersey, Promises Federal Aid

Christie: All 21 counties eligible to apply for cash.

After touring two northern New Jersey towns ravaged by Hurricane Irene, President Barack Obama assured residents Sunday that the federal government will help them rebuild.

"We are going to make sure we provide the resources needed," Obama said while touring Paterson, a city of roughly 150,000 that witnessed severe flooding during Irene because of its proximity to the Passaic River. "I want to make it very clear we are going to meet our federal obligations."

Obama visited Paterson and Wayne for an hour-and-a-half total with a delegation that included Gov. Chris Christie, U.S. Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), along with U.S. Reps. Steve Rothman (D-NJ), Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik, before leaving the state around 3 p.m. at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Christie announced shortly after Obama's departure that individuals and businesses in New Jersey's 21 counties are eligible to receive federal assistance.

The president started his tour shortly after noon Sunday at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Flanked by more than 30 law enforcement officials, Obama walked down the steps of Air Force One and shook hands with Christie, Lautenberg and Menendez before jogging nearly 100 feet to a group of two dozen onlookers and reporters from national and international media outlets.

Onlookers carried no signs, but had cameras and cell phones.

The president, dressed in a button-down blue shirt and dark-colored khaki pants, waved to reporters, but did not take questions.

Five-year-old Nadair Williams received a hug from the president.

"He loved his hair cut," said his grandmother, Deborah Hughs. Hughs, 53, of Newark, said Obama complimented the child's mohawk before giving him a full hug. "Nadair laid his head on (Obama's) chest," she said.

The president then smiled at reporters and boarded Marine One to Essex County Airport in Fairfield, accompanied by the governor and the two U.S. senators.

They landed shortly before 1 p.m., waved to the crowd and left in a motorcade to Paterson and Wayne with Pascrell, Pallone and Berdnick.

As the motorcade left the Fairfield airport along Passaic Avenue, one person held up a sign reading "Help Us."

In Paterson, Obama streamed past thousands of cheering residents on Main Street as he made his way over the Passaic River towards the Temple Street Bridge, which remained closed after heavy flooding.

During his visit, the president praised the work of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Red Cross and state responders and officials. "We know it could have been worse but we should not underestimate the heartache," Obama said.

The crowd, which had begun gathering downtown early Sunday morning, erupted into cheers as the trail of black Suburbans sped down the street. 

Tracy Salmon, a Belleville resident and a member of St. Luke's Baptist Church in Paterson, camped out for hours along with several of her fellow church members to see the president drive through the city in which she was raised. 

"For me personally, it meant a great deal, to have a president who cares about his people, and to have an area or city that's worthy of him coming here," Salmon said. "What happened in Paterson was a horrible, horrible disaster. Unless you lived here and got to see first-hand the devastation, you have no idea," she said. 

Nearby on Jefferson Street, debris and discarded materials lined the street and a layer of mud coated residents' driveways. Generators were running, and front doors remained open as people continued to carry their possessions out to the street. 

"We still don't have power; we haven't had it since last Saturday," said Adriana Fernandez, of Jefferson Street. "Our local officials have been doing a good job, but there’s only so much they can do. It’d be nice to get a little more help," she said of Obama's visit. 

Pascrell, whose district oversees a majority of the areas Obama toured, praised the release of federal dollars. "The president's visit today is showing his personal concern for the people who have been trying to restore their lives after the Hurricane Irene disaster," he said in a statement. "The president's action of delivering this federal public assistance will help entire communities restore themselves."

The president made his last stop at a Lowe's Store in Wayne, which borders Paterson. He shook hands with volunteers that were providing supplies and food through a "Road to Recovery" center.

Imani Ross, 13, and Bria Johnson and Tyshira Evans, both 14, waited excitedly as Obama and other officials worked their way up the table line to greet the president.

"It shows he really cares," Johnson said.

Obama then returned to Newark on Marine One around 2:45 p.m. The president walked roughly 200 feet with Christie, shook his hand and then quickly boarded Air Force One back to Washington.

Afterward, at a joint press conference held by Lautenberg, Pascrell and Paterson Mayor Jeffery Jones, officials said Obama's visit provided much-needed comfort to flood-weary residents.

"This is a spiritual uplift," Lautenberg said, adding that the most important thing people in flood-affected areas need to know is, "When can I go back?" 

"The main thing people are looking for is a degree of normalcy, and the president's visit helped them grit their teeth and say, 'OK, at least we know we're on the list.'" 

Staff Writer Daniel Hubbard contributed to this story.

Note: This article contains information from official pooled reports distributed by the White House. 

B@B September 07, 2011 at 09:38 AM
NASA has asked for $35 billion for 2012. The agency won't get it, but it's still a pittance compared to the $671 billion requested for the 2012 defense budget. Defense, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid constitute about 85% of federal spending. And yet, when you ask the "Cut cut cut" crowd which of those they want to gut to the bone, the answer is "None."
georgeg September 07, 2011 at 12:41 PM
For the American economy – and for many other developed economies – the elephant in the room is the amount of money paid to bankers over the last five years. In the United States, the sum stands at an astounding $2.2 trillion. Extrapolating over the coming decade, the numbers would approach $5 trillion, an amount vastly larger than what both President Barack Obama’s administration and his Republican opponents seem willing to cut from further government deficits........take that to the bank....
Karen O'Shea September 07, 2011 at 04:28 PM
Georgeg I tend to agree with you about that. There is something to be said for raising the ceiling cap on SS and medicare payroll taxes and is the answer to funding it. This is fact! Defense funding ie the Pentagon has always been a large black hole where tax dollars vanish. Donald Rumsfeld told us on Sept 10, 2001 that trillions of dollars could not be accounted for !!!! WTF and we let that go. Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld have ruined the country for decades, planning to hit Osama in Afganistan in April 2001 and we let them get away with it. Why?
Redrider765 September 07, 2011 at 05:13 PM
Obama already raised the cap on Medicare starting in 2013 and it will still go broke. Sorry, that solution is not the panacea you think it is.
Cosmo September 07, 2011 at 05:48 PM
The World is run by an oligarchy. Obama, just like most leaders is a puppet. They do what they are told to do. If you don’t see this you are not paying attention. We were warned by Kennedy and days later he was taken out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhZk8ronces Wake Up!
Redrider765 September 07, 2011 at 05:50 PM
Paranoid much?
Cosmo September 07, 2011 at 05:59 PM
Not one bit......I just see things for what there are. We are told 1% of the truth. It's all smoke and mirrors.
georgeg September 07, 2011 at 06:39 PM
Karen.....wow another progressive on this board. There is some hope..... Amazing the amount of "faux news" spins I've encountered. At least they are providing some chuckles......
georgeg September 07, 2011 at 06:41 PM
Don't forget the warning left by "Ike"........
Cosmo September 07, 2011 at 07:14 PM
Over 75% of what you earn goes to one form of tax or another. We slaughter people all over the planet, and we are told it’s to protect out freedom as we get molested at airports, searched at ball games, and watched with cameras in malls and at every street corner. You have NO RIGHTS. and I bet you will tell me you are free. Because that big flat box in your living room tells you so. Slavery does not just mean you are picking cotton. Drinking the cool aid by the gallon and blind as a bat. Americans need to grow up.
georgeg September 07, 2011 at 07:20 PM
Cosmo, you will be touching many nerves with your statement, but I am in full agreement. Amazing, with the availability of so much information that we are so clueless.
Karen O'Shea September 07, 2011 at 08:21 PM
Ike was a great man...too bad we didn't listen to his warning. Republicans are such a different breed now, no more Barry Goldwater oh I can't remember right now any more. But I will tell you that I have cancer and if it wasn't for medicare I would be dead of a rare type breast cancer. Any one who doesn't realize that keeping the social security payroll tax capped is killing the most successful program that ever had.
Karen O'Shea September 07, 2011 at 08:29 PM
How many zeros in a trillion? 12! see what the deficit that your great great grandchildren will still be paying off : Improve In the US, there are 12. (see below) $1,000 is one thousand US dollars. $1,000,000 is one million US dollars. $1,000,000,000 is one billion US dollars. $1,000,000,000,000 is one trillion US dollars. Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_zeros_are_in_1_trillion_dollars#ixzz1XIh3OVXG
Karen O'Shea September 07, 2011 at 08:31 PM
here is the national debt clock : staggering http://www.usdebtclock.org/
William Mays September 07, 2011 at 08:47 PM
Would you prefer that someone brought a bomb onto your plane? Or get stuff stolen from you at the mall?
Redrider765 September 07, 2011 at 09:04 PM
What is killing Social Security is that no generation that received Social Security put anywhere near as much into the system as they took out and demographic shifts have consistently reduced the number of workers per retiree. We can't afford the same level of benefits for retirees w/ 2 taxpayers per retiree that we could w/ a 3-to-1 or 10-to-1 ratio. The math just doesn't work and it will never work w/ so many people getting such large checks and so few workers paying taxes to pay for those checks. It is a Ponzi scheme and will eventually collapse under it's own weight unless it is completely overhauled. That will probably require cutting how much people get, raising the retirement age, implementing a means test and raising tax revenues.
Karen O'Shea September 07, 2011 at 09:27 PM
I don't want to belabor the point unduly but paying 4.2% of your wages instead of 6.2 % into fica until you reach the max wages @$106.800.00 seems very odd. There should not be a cap! FACT! 1.45% of ur wages go to medicare tax remains in place no cap, Looks pretty transparent and then when u take into consideration the healthcare industry itself gouging our medicare benefits with outlandish prices < I am throwing my hands up I look at all the bills that are submitted to medicare from my hospitals, oncologists, radiologists, pharmaceuticals cardiology doctors, homecare providers and I will tell you that Uncle Sam is being gouged like a Thanksgiving turkey with chestnut stuffing on a holiday table!. I was absolutely flabbergasted to see neulasta injections to keep up my wbc count are $13,000.00 per shot. I had 4 over 8 wks. We need to change the profits pumps that are primed by Wall Street.
Karen O'Shea September 07, 2011 at 09:30 PM
Red we can't afford to stop paying in to fica just because you've reached $106.800.00
Redrider765 September 07, 2011 at 10:52 PM
Fact, since before I got my first job back in the 1970s, this country has known that social security and medicare were going to blow up b/c of the change in demographics and because your generation and every other generation of retirees refused to pay enough into the system to pay for your benefits. Personally I could care less what people like you think about how much in taxes people like me should pay b/c the system is so screwed up I probably will never see a dime in social security or medicare. People like me who expect to be completely hosed by people like you don't want to hear your whining when we are paying for your mess. And make no mistake, this is not our mess b/c we won't see one penny of the money you take out of our paychecks every month. When we retire, there will be no social security or medicare b/c you folks broke it with your insatiable greed and complete inability to see that it is the money every month you take that is bankrupting those programs.
Redrider765 September 07, 2011 at 11:03 PM
Reading is fundamental lady. Read my post up above from 5:04 PM and you will notice that I included raising revenues as part of the solution. But you could still tax every rich American with no cap and still come nowhere near covering the out of control payments for Medicare and Social Security. Medicare is already going broke in 2024 and those projections include the 2013 Medicare cap removal. So suck on that factoid when you go off on another of your uninformed rants.
Karen O'Shea September 08, 2011 at 04:28 AM
I happen to totally disagree with you. It take guts to change the way things are done in this country. Maybe Obama is not that guy , but it can be fixed (Social Security and Medicare shortfalls) Reign in the gouging healthcare system , payouts to recipients does not even make a dent. Its the jazzy chairs and all the bullshit that medicare is rubberstamping. Things can be fixed quietly or there can be anarchy. This ain't your fathers country anymore. Solutions can be putting folks back to work, like u even give a crap. Does the pentagon still purchase toilet seats at the cost of $600.00 ea? Get my drift . U really don't even have a nodding aquaintance with the human condition do u?
Karen O'Shea September 08, 2011 at 04:31 AM
Cosmo you are right on target. Cannot fool all the people anymore. Too many journalists and leaks.
Dr.Doom September 09, 2011 at 10:46 PM
about that seat http://www2.dailyprogress.com/news/2011/apr/11/600-toilet-seat-nothing-ar-968018/
Karen O'Shea September 09, 2011 at 11:07 PM
Dr Doom you are the man. I believed an urban legend and Jay Leno and everyone else too. But the article in a Va. newspaper is right about the waste. Thanks for finding that! General accounting office has alway found waste and duplicating. Government entails too damn much for accurate oversite. Social Security and Medicare can be helped but not by cutting employees contributions to 4.2% for oasdi until you've reached max earnings of 106,800.00. Over all instead of Obama cutting taxes he should puch for increased total contributions of 9% from wage earnings over the 200,000.00. jmo but this will be revisited.
Dr.Doom September 10, 2011 at 02:09 AM
the Soc Sec is not a welfare, you are getting what you contributed. There is a cap on benefits, so there is a cap on tax. I think folks with $200K+ taxed enough, even if you double their taxes - guess what - you will not see any difference it all will go somewhere and no-one will know where the money went. we need to look closer to every income level not just so called rich people.
Ricky September 10, 2011 at 08:30 AM
""the Soc Sec is not a welfare, you are getting what you contributed"" problem is the federal govt has already spent what you contributed by counting those funds as being part of the general revenue available when posting the current deficit figures
Karen O'Shea September 10, 2011 at 02:15 PM
Dr Doom what is the poverty level now for a average family of four in NJ? That used to be middle class. We need to tax the wealthy according to their annual eanrings in order to keep the boat afloat Not give them breaks.
Karen O'Shea September 10, 2011 at 02:16 PM
Ricky you are so right. Its like taking from pensions in NJ
Ridiculous September 10, 2011 at 03:03 PM
Karen , I tell you what. Go to school at night, get your masters degree while you are working. After a few years you will start to earn more money and realize the fruits of your hard work . You will be able to afford to buy a nicer car maybe a bigger house. Nothing crazy. But wait , Oh what's this The Federal Government wants to raise my taxes. But $150k or 200k is not wealthy in northern NJ. Why is it fair to tax people a greater percantage because they have worked harder and achieved more than someone else? What you don't understand is that what you consider the "wealthy " people are the people that drive the economy. When you overtax people , they can't spend that money therefore it takes money out of the economy. It has the reverse effect of what needs to happen. You should want lower taxes and a strong economy which would create more jobs and more opportunities for struggling families to find better paying jobs and earn better pay.
Karen O'Shea September 10, 2011 at 03:09 PM
OK ridiculous lower taxes don't make a strong economy it has the reverse effect...trickle down much? maybe try looking at it from a poor family's pov. what makes u think i don't have a masters?? lol right now i am ill and on medicare ss disability. that sucks, you should try it sometime.


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