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David HudsonDecember 20, 2014
06:00 AM EST
In this week’s address, the President reflected on the significant progress made by this country in 2014, and in the nearly six years since he took office.
This past year has been the strongest for job growth since the 1990s, contributing to the nearly 11 million jobs added by our businesses over a 57-month streak. America is leading the rest of the world, in containing the spread of Ebola, degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL, and addressing the threat posed by climate change. And earlier this week, the President announced the most significant changes to our policy towards Cuba in over 50 years.
America’s resurgence is real, and the President expressed his commitment to working with Congress in the coming year to make sure Americans feel the benefits.
Jeffrey ZientsDecember 19, 2014
07:23 PM EST
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for America to set the rules for global trade in the 21st century. The agreement aims to expand access to the world’s fastest-growing markets, even as we enshrine higher standards of protection for workers and consumers.
Recently, questions have arisen over how we will protect the progress toward a safer financial system that we have made since the crisis in the context of these trade negotiations. President Obama inherited a financial crisis that was the consequence of years of poor financial regulation, and he made Wall Street reform a top priority as he worked with Congress to craft a set of historic protections that ultimately became the Dodd-Frank Act. Since he signed that legislation in 2010, his Administration has made significant progress implementing its key provisions. Just as important, the President has pushed for stronger rules across the globe through the G-20 and other venues, and he has also fought against repeated attempts to undermine Wall Street reform here at home. He will do whatever it takes to make our financial system stronger and more stable.
Tanya SomanaderDecember 19, 2014
06:19 PM EST
As 2014 winds down, President Obama stopped by the press briefing room in the White House to offer his thoughts on what the past year has meant for the country. "I said that 2014 would be a year of action and would be a breakthrough year for America," he said. "And it has been."
Here's a look at what happened this year, in the President's own words:
Adam GarberDecember 19, 2014
03:44 PM EST
This week, the President traveled to Fort Dix to thank our troops, took action to protect Alaska's Bristol Bay, and announced historic changes to America's relationship with Cuba. That's December 12th to December 18th or, "Todos Somos Americanos."
Lindsay HolstDecember 19, 2014
11:34 AM EST
Today, Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer joined the new publishing platform Medium -- authoring a post that reflects on the incredible amount of progress made in 2014 despite some claims that the President had "the worst year in Washington." Moving forward, he will continue to post important highlights, insights, and reflections on the President's agenda.
In today's post, he reflects on 2014 as a year of real and meaningful progress for President Obama and the progressive agenda -- no matter what the critics have said. He goes on to note a few meaningful progress points from the year:
2014 has been the strongest year of job growth since the 1990s.
America's uninsured rate dropped to near-historic lows in 2014 -- In spite of the fact that this time a year ago, politicians and the press were predicting the demise of the Affordable Care Act.
The President made historic progress across the board on the central global challenge of the next century: Climate change and environmental protection.
President Obama's Executive Action to fix our immigration system is the most meaningful effort in decades to make the system fairer, more transparent, and more predictable.
In his six years in office, the President has reshaped the federal judiciary to include more women, minorities, gays, and lesbians, so it might resemble more closely the nation it serves.
Lindsay HolstDecember 19, 2014
10:35 AM EST
"...I've felt strong enough to liberate some of my extra savings that I'd been holding onto for healthcare emergencies, so I'm now able to help more with my son's college expenses ... My guess is that there are many more Americans whose new health insurance is already allowing them to contribute more fully to the economy and their communities."
David HudsonDecember 18, 2014
05:28 PM EST
Trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve is essential to the stability of our communities, the integrity of our criminal justice system, and the safe and effective delivery of policing services.
In light of the recent events in Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland, and around the country, the Administration announced new steps to strengthen the relationships between local police and the communities they are supposed to protect and serve. One of the primary actions was the creation of a task force to improve community policing.
This afternoon, President Obama signed an Executive Order to create the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, and announced the members of the new task force.
Lindsay HolstDecember 18, 2014
03:52 PM EST
Yesterday, after more than 50 years, we began to change America's relationship with the people of Cuba.
We are recognizing the struggle and sacrifice of the Cuban people, both in the U.S. and in Cuba, and ending an outdated approach that has failed to advance U.S. interests for decades. In doing so, we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.
I was born in 1961, just over two years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, and just as the U.S. severed diplomatic relations with that country.
Our complicated relationship with this nation played out over the course of my lifetime -- against the backdrop of the Cold War, with our steadfast opposition to communism in the foreground. Year after year, an ideological and economic barrier hardened between us.
That previous approach failed to promote change, and it's failed to empower or engage the Cuban people. It's time to cut loose the shackles of the past and reach for a new and better future with this country.
David HudsonDecember 18, 2014
01:50 PM EST
Last month, Dr. John Holdren -- the President's science advisor -- invited the public to ask him anything about climate change on social media using the hashtag #AskDrH.
Since then, he's gotten a lot of questions. Brandon, a seventh-grader, wanted to know if climate change will affect him during his lifetime. A number of people asked whether climate change is driving extreme events, like the heavy snowfall we've seen recently in Buffalo, New York. Some people wanted to know what Dr. Holdren is doing to prevent climate change himself.
And Dr. H answered. In a video series we're releasing today, Dr. Holdren answers some of the questions you asked about our climate, and explains some of the science behind how our planet is changing.
December 18, 2014
11:00 AM EST
Earlier this week, the National Center for Health Statistics released new data on health insurance coverage during the second quarter of 2014, the first federal survey data that largely capture the effects of the Affordable Care Act’s first open enrollment period. These new data confirm earlier findings that 2014 has seen dramatic reductions in the share of Americans without health insurance, reductions that correspond to an estimated 10 million people gaining coverage since before the start of open enrollment.
This progress is even more striking when viewed in historical context. Building on work by other researchers, the Council of Economic Advisers has constructed estimates of the share of Americans without health insurance extending back to 1963. These estimates show that the drop in the nation’s uninsured rate so far this year is the largest over any period since the early 1970s, years in which the Medicaid program was still ramping up and the Medicare and Medicaid programs were expanded to people with disabilities.
With this year’s decline, the nation’s uninsured rate is now at or near the lowest level recorded across five decades of data. Furthermore, new data out today on Medicaid enrollment and data on Marketplace plan selections from earlier this week show that progress in reducing the number of uninsured Americans is continuing.
December 18, 2014
10:43 AM EST
This holiday season, in honor of our service members, veterans, and their families, the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden dedicated five trees at the Naval Observatory Residence representing each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. Capturing their personal experiences, military families from all across the country handcrafted the ornaments that adorn the trees. Atop each tree is a gold star, embodying the spirit, bravery, and patriotism of those who serve.
Ezra MechaberDecember 17, 2014
06:23 PM EST
We've koshered the kitchen and set up the menorah. And this afternoon, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed hundreds of guests here at the White House for the second night of Hanukkah.
Joined by the First Lady and Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, President Obama retold the story of Hanukkah, "a story that took place more than 2,000 years ago, when a small group of Maccabees rose up to defeat their far more powerful oppressors."
In the face of overwhelming odds, they reclaimed their city and the right to worship as they chose. And in their victory, they found there wasn’t enough oil to keep the flame in their temple alive. But they lit the oil they had and, miraculously, the flame that was supposed to burn for just one night burned for eight. The Hanukkah story teaches us that our light can shine brighter than we could ever imagine with faith, and it’s up to us to provide that first spark.
The President also took time to highlight a new Hanukkah story: the return of American aid worker Alan Gross from Cuba.
December 17, 2014
03:39 PM EST
Before the Senate adjourned last night, it confirmed 12 federal district court nominees, for a total of 307 lifetime-appointed federal judges confirmed during President Obama’s first six years. These confirmations include two Supreme Court Justices, 53 circuit court judges, 250 district court judges, and two Court of International Trade judges. Over the past two years, the Senate has confirmed 134 judges—44% of President Obama’s judicial confirmations, and the most in a two-year Congress since 1979-1980. We’re proud of all of our nominees and grateful to the Senate for its action.
President Obama will continue to consult with Senators—Democrats and Republicans—to identify lawyers with the necessary intellect, integrity, temperament, and commitment to equal justice under law to serve as lifetime-appointed judges. He also will continue his unprecedented commitment to expanding the gender, racial, sexual orientation, and experiential diversity of the men and women who enforce our laws and deliver justice.
President Obama’s judges have broken barriers across the nation, including four who were confirmed last night:
- Loretta Biggs, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, is the first African American female judge to serve on her court.
- Elizabeth Dillon, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, is the first female judge to serve on her court.
- Amit Mehta, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is the first Asian American Pacific Islander judge to serve on his court.
- Robert Pitman, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, is the first openly gay lifetime appointed federal judge in Texas.
Katherine VargasDecember 17, 2014
03:35 PM EST
Today, the President announced the most significant changes to our Cuban policy in more than 50 years -- ending an outdated approach that has failed to advance our interests for decades.
People and organizations from around the world are weighing in. Take a look at what they're saying, and then add your voice to the conversation using hashtag #CubaPolicy.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 17, 2014
Fred P. HochbergDecember 17, 2014
03:00 PM EST
With the U.S. economy on the move -- and with worldwide demand for quality, innovative goods on the rise -- there have never been greater opportunities for American small businesses to prosper on the global stage and add good-paying jobs here at home.
The Export-Import Bank of the United States, or "Ex-Im," is a small agency that exists to equip U.S. businesses with the financing tools they need to overcome obstacles and open new markets for their goods and services. We know that when entrepreneurs are empowered to win export sales against their foreign competitors, businesses grow, our economy becomes more durable, and layoffs are replaced with 'Now Hiring' signs in communities across our country.
Our 2014 Annual Report, available here, details some of the work we did this year -- which happened to mark our 80th anniversary -- to support U.S. job growth and promote American economic leadership abroad.
Tanya SomanaderDecember 17, 2014
02:53 PM EST
"Change is hard -- in our own lives, and in the lives of nations. And change is even harder when we carry the heavy weight of history on our shoulders. But today we are making these changes because it is the right thing to do. Today, America chooses to cut loose the shackles of the past so as to reach for a better future -- for the Cuban people, for the American people, for our entire hemisphere, and for the world."
-- President Obama, December 17, 2014
Lindsay HolstDecember 17, 2014
11:22 AM EST
"I was quoted $800 a month … and then was promptly denied, due to my pre-existing conditions. When I signed up this month through Covered California however, the process was virtually painless, and now I have insurance that I can afford."
Secretary Sally JewellDecember 16, 2014
06:08 PM EST
Earlier today, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell sent this message to the White House email list on President Obama's action to protect Bristol Bay. Didn't get it? Make sure you sign up for email updates here.
Just now, the President took action to protect a place called Bristol Bay, Alaska. Here's why that matters:
It places a national treasure -- and one of the nation's most productive fisheries -- off limits for oil and gas leasing. Alaskans have been fighting to preserve Bristol Bay for decades. Today, we got it done.
Bristol Bay helps to produce 40 percent of America's wild-caught seafood each year. It supports $2 billion every year in commercial fishing, and supports good jobs in sport-fishing and tourism.
These waters are beautiful and valuable, and today's action will ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy their bounty.
It's a big deal. Watch the President's announcement, and take a look at these photos of the place this Administration just took definitive action to protect:
Tanya SomanaderDecember 16, 2014
05:12 PM EST
President Obama just took action to protect one of Alaska's most powerful economic engines and one of America’s greatest national treasures: Bristol Bay.
Today, he signed a Presidential Memorandum that withdraws these beautiful and pristine waters from all future oil and gas drilling. "These waters are too special and too valuable to auction off to the highest bidder," the President said.