President Obama and Vice President Biden Welcome
and Address Group About Importance of Counties
WASHINGTON DC—Union County Freeholder Angel G. Estrada was invited among a select group of County officials nationwide for a briefing on Tuesday with President Obama, Vice President Biden and various high ranking officials and heads of state.
The National Association of Counties/ White House event, which lasted nearly five hours, included presentations and question and answer sessions on issues such as “Breaking the cycle of jails and poverty: a County perspective,” “Infrastructure and Sustainable communities,” “Health Reform implementation and Medicaid,” workforce development programs, Social Services Block grants, and Community Services Block Grant programs.
“Many County officials were on the same page on most issues,” Estrada said. “White House officials were very informative on each issue, answered a lot of questions and listened to what we had to say. There was an excellent exchange of ideas and opinions.”
Estrada noted that President Obama received a standing ovation in light of the successful efforts to capture and kill Osama Bin Laden, and briefly spoke about the efforts.
Both Obama and Biden spoke about County budget challenges, and about County Government’s role in improving economic growth and innovation and “winning the future.”
Estrada added that while all topics were of great interest to County policy makers, two in particular—discussion on the Ryan Budget for Medicaid (which would shift costs to states and Counties), and funding for a wide range of programs that assist the mentally ill, indigent and minor drug offenders—were timely concerns for Union County.
White House Cabinet members at the meeting included Janet Napolitano, secretary of Homeland Security, Shaun Donovan, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, and Ray LaHood, secretary of the Department of Transportation, and Lisa P. Jackson, administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.
LaHood told officials about the possibility of Tiger 3, a nationwide infrastructure program, high speed rail and green jobs, while Jeanne Lambrew, a Deputy Assistant to the President for Health policy, gave a thorough presentation on health reform, Estrada said.
Estrada was one of three County officials from the state of New Jersey who attended Tuesday’s event. The others were Freeholder Louis N. Magazzu of Cumberland County and Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes.