For your submission
March 01, 2015
04:12 PM EST
Since Israel’s founding in 1948, the United States has stood firmly as its closest ally in the Middle East. The first country to recognize Israel, the United States has forged a deep and unshakable bond with Israel through a multifaceted relationship that reflects the depth and breadth of the ties between our people and the values that we share.
Under President Obama’s leadership, American engagement with Israel has grown and strengthened to an unprecedented degree. From meeting frequently with Israeli leaders to ensuring that Israel remains the largest recipient of U.S. foreign assistance, the President is deeply committed to helping Israel maintain its strength and security.
Here are the five key facts you need to know about the U.S.-Israel relationship under President Obama:
David HudsonFebruary 28, 2015
01:44 PM EST
Yesterday evening, the President spoke at the portrait unveiling ceremony for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. The event marked Holder's anticipated departure from the Department of Justice after more than six years of service as Attorney General.
David HudsonFebruary 28, 2015
06:00 AM EST
President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Library of the White House, Feb. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)
In this week’s address, the President reiterated his commitment to middle-class economics, and to ensuring that all hardworking Americans get the secure and dignified retirement they deserve.
While most financial advisers prioritize their clients’ futures, there are some who direct their clients towards bad investments in return for back-door payments and hidden fees. That’s why, earlier this week, the President announced that he is calling on the Department of Labor to update rules to protect families from conflicts of interest by requiring financial advisers to put their clients’ best interest before their own profits.
The President emphasized his promise to keep fighting for this policy and for others that benefit millions of working and middle-class Americans.
February 27, 2015
07:05 PM EST
This week, the President announced a new initiative to protect Americans' retirement savings, hosted governors at the White House, thanked advocates for their work in securing a free and open Internet, and celebrated the first anniversary of the My Brother's Keeper initiative.
Find out more about the past week at the White House in our latest weekly wrap-up.
On Monday, the President announced major actions to update the rules in place to protect you and your retirement savings. Under our current system, financial advisors can accept a back-door payment or hidden fees for directing you toward a retirement plan that's not in your best interest. On average, these conflicts of interest cost Americans $17 billion in total losses every year.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 23, 2015
That's why the President is directing the Department of Labor to crack down on this kind of behavior. Check out this quick explainer video and see what the President is doing to help.
Tanya SomanaderFebruary 27, 2015
04:20 PM EST
With less than one day left before the Department of Homeland Security's funding expires, House Republicans continue to threaten a shutdown of a department that keeps Americans safe. Set to run out tomorrow, this critical funding pays for more than 30,000 American workers, helps keep our cities safe and our border secure, and is essential to our overall national security.
That's why President Obama has continually pushed Congress to pass a clean bill that funds the Department without any strings attached. Here are five things you need to know about the House Republicans' threat to shut down the Department of Homeland Security:
1. It would furlough thousands of employees who keep us safe, and would force many to work without pay.
If the Republicans follow through on their threat to shut down the Department, at least 30,000 employees who keep us safe would be forced to go on furlough. Also, hundreds of thousands of employees would be forced to work without pay. This includes:
- More than 40,000 Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers
- More than 50,000 TSA aviation security screeners
- More than 13,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement law enforcement agents and officers
- More than 40,000 active-duty Coast Guard military members
- More than 4,000 Secret Service law enforcement agents and officers
David HudsonFebruary 27, 2015
03:00 PM EST
In September 2009, the President announced that — for the first time in history — White House visitor records would be made available to the public on an ongoing basis. Today, the White House releases visitor records that were generated in November 2014. This release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to more than 4.32 million — all of which can be viewed in our Disclosures section.
February 27, 2015
02:53 PM EST
"Helping more of our young people stay on track. Providing the support they need to think more broadly about their future. Building on what works, when it works, in those critical life-changing moments."
That's how President Obama explained the My Brother's Keeper initiative a year ago when it first launched. And in the 12 months since, we've seen a tremendous response from people and organizations at all levels that are answering the President's call to action.
Adam GarberFebruary 27, 2015
01:26 PM EST
This week, the President hosted civil rights and consumer protection advocates, filmed a Let's Move sketch with the First Lady, sat down for a heart-to-heart with a White House mentee, held an immigration town hall in Florida, and honored Black History Month at the White House.
Jason FurmanFebruary 27, 2015
09:51 AM EST
Today’s estimate of fourth-quarter economic growth affirms the strong underlying trend of the largest and most persistent components of output, while reflecting downward revisions to more volatile sectors. The combination of personal consumption and business fixed investment—known as private domestic final purchases—grew at a somewhat faster pace than in the third quarter, indicating the same positive trend. Meanwhile, the more volatile and transitory factors that boosted growth in the third quarter subtracted from it in the fourth. Overall, today’s report is consistent with a wide range of indicators showing further labor market strengthening, increasing domestic energy security, continued low health cost growth, and resiliency in the face of slower growth in the global economy. The President’s approach to middle-class economics would build on this growth while helping to ensure that our recovery is widely shared with all American families.
FIVE KEY POINTS IN TODAY’S REPORT FROM THE BUREAU OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS
1. Real gross domestic product (GDP) grew 2.2 percent at an annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the second estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The report reflects especially strong consumption growth, an upward revision to business fixed investment, and continued residential investment increases. At the same time, the large third-quarter increase in Federal defense spending reversed, and inventory investment was revised down (see point 2). Overall, real GDP has risen 2.4 percent versus the fourth quarter of 2013.
Gayle SmithFebruary 26, 2015
07:02 PM EST
Yesterday, the White House launched the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) strategy for 2015-2020 with our special guest, Steph Curry, a malaria champion who also happens to be a basketball player for the Golden State Warriors. Steph inspires legions around the world with his basketball skills, including those of us sports fans here in the White House. We were thrilled to have him speak about his passionate efforts—including at and around his alma mater, Davidson College—to raise awareness of and resources for malaria prevention, the results of which he saw firsthand in Tanzania.
Tanya SomanaderFebruary 26, 2015
05:15 PM EST
"Export" -- a rather formal word for such an important piece of our economic strength, and our daily lives. Think about it: When you're browsing eBay or Etsy, or perusing a small business in your community, you may be shopping with business owners who sell their products to consumers across the globe.
Those exports have helped strengthen the economy in every state and for our nation as a whole. In fact, American exports contributed nearly one-third to our economic growth in the recovery. They supported nearly 11.3 million jobs in 2013. And companies that sell their goods and services abroad pay their employees on average up to 18% more than companies that don't.
The bottom line? Exports are good for American businesses, and great for American workers.
Check out what happens for our economy when we export more goods and services stamped with three proud words: Made in America.
Jeffrey ZientsFebruary 26, 2015
03:00 PM EST
Senator Warren raises some important questions about an element of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) called Investor-State Dispute settlement, or ISDS.
There are good answers.
The purpose of investment provisions in our trade agreements is to provide American individuals and businesses who do business abroad with the same protections we provide to domestic and foreign investors alike in the United States.
ISDS is an arbitration procedure – similar to procedures used every day by businesses, governments, and private citizens across the globe – that allows for an impartial, law-based approach to resolve conflicts and has been important to encouraging development, rule of law, and good governance around the world. ISDS does not undermine U.S. sovereignty, change U.S. law, nor grant any new substantive rights to multinational companies.
The reality is that ISDS does not and cannot require countries to change any law or regulation.
ISDS has come under criticism because of some legitimate complaints about poorly written agreements. The U.S. shares some of those concerns, and agrees with the need for new, higher standards, stronger safeguards and better transparency provisions. Through TPP and other agreements, that is exactly what we are putting in place.
Brian DeeseFebruary 26, 2015
02:08 PM EST
Two-thirds of the American people believe climate change is a serious problem, and that the government should take action to address it. It shouldn’t be surprising that our nation’s doctors do, too — nearly 90 percent of them.
Today, the American Thoracic Society (ATS) will hit the halls of Congress to educate our representatives about a new survey of more than 900 ATS members, which found the majority of doctors believe climate change is already negatively affecting the health of their patients. In fact, 77 percent of respondents reported that increases in air pollution due to climate change are worsening the severity of illnesses in their patients, and they expect these health impacts will further increase in the future.
ATS members also indicated that their patients are experiencing other climate-related health problems — including injuries due to severe weather, allergic reactions, and heat-related impacts. These findings are in line with the results of a survey of the National Medical Association’s members last year, which also found that the sick, elderly, and people living below the poverty line will be disproportionately impacted by climate change.
Secretary Julián CastroFebruary 26, 2015
10:58 AM EST
Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's blog. See the original post here.
Our nation’s most basic duty is to ensure that every child has the chance to fulfill his or her potential. This isn’t the responsibility of one individual or one neighborhood: it’s up to all of us to pave these paths of opportunity so that young people — regardless of where they grow up — can get ahead in life and achieve their dreams.
That’s why My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) is such an important initiative. Launched by President Obama last year, MBK brings communities together to ensure that all youth — including boys and young men of color — can overcome barriers to success and improve their lives. I got to see this work up close during a recent trip to Oakland, California. I joined Mayor Libby Schaaf, City Council President Lynette McElhaney, and other stakeholders for a conversation about efforts that are making a difference in the lives of local youth.
One of the participants was a teenager named Edwin Manzano. The son of a hard-working single parent, Edwin found encouragement and support at the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC). Thanks in part to the academic and mentoring services offered by the EOYDC, Edwin will become the first member of his family to attend college when he begins his studies this fall at San Francisco State University.
Edwin is grateful for the opportunities that EOYDC afforded him. “Everyone needs a support system,” he says. That’s true whether you are a teenager or HUD Secretary. I was lucky when I was growing up on the West Side of San Antonio. Although it was a modest community in terms of resources, it was rich with folks who took an interest in my future. I had family members, teachers — and even policymakers — who paved a path that allowed me and other young people like me to succeed.
Unfortunately, not every child is as fortunate. That’s why My Brother’s Keeper is so close to my heart. The future of every young person in America should be determined by their heart, their mind and their work ethic. It should never be determined by their zip code.
Cecilia MuñozFebruary 26, 2015
10:00 AM EST
Last Thursday, I traveled to Tampa, Florida to kick off the first regional forum of the 2015 White House Conference on Aging. This forum brought together a community of older Americans, advocates, caregivers, experts, and local leaders who are committed to working to address the changing landscape of aging.
In panel discussions, speeches, and breakout sessions, participants in Tampa considered important issues such as:
- How to help older Americans remain healthy and independent as they age
- How to promote retirement security
- How to help prevent financial exploitation and other abuse of our most vulnerable elders
But while Tampa was an important opportunity for dialogue, it was just the beginning of the conversation. We’ll continue this work in Phoenix, Seattle, Cleveland, and Boston in the weeks and months ahead.
Please join the discussion by visiting WhiteHouseConferenceonAging.gov, where you can sign up for regular updates, watch the live webcast on our regional events, and share your comments, thoughts, and ideas through the Get Involved section.
The 2015 White House Conference on Aging aims to highlight the contributions of today’s older adults — and inform tomorrow’s aging policy and programs. We hope it will be a broad-based, national conversation, and we need your input to make that happen.
DJ PatilFebruary 25, 2015
11:14 AM EST
There’s lots of talk these days in the tech community about organizations being data-driven.
If you look across all organizations out there, which one has made the biggest change in being data driven? My answer is the U.S. Government. As a data scientist, one thing I can guarantee is that this is the most data-driven President we’ve ever had. Need proof?
This is the President that established Data.gov -- a one stop shop for the data that is produced by the government. And that list of data sets is growing thanks to the President’s Executive Action that made open and machine-readable data the new default for government information. This Administration also created the first set of dashboards at the Federal level to monitor over $70 billion in IT investments. On top of that the President announced in the State of the Union his ambitious plan to bring together big data, data science, and medicine to make precision medicine a reality.
Tanya SomanaderFebruary 24, 2015
04:06 PM EST
He’s treated thousands of patients in the U.S. and helped people around the globe. He’s trained students to become doctors, founded a nonprofit to combat HIV/AIDS, practices yoga daily, and keeps unflavored almond milk in his fridge. At 37, he is now one of the youngest Americans — and the first Indian American — to serve as the Surgeon General of the United States.
He’s America’s doctor — and he stopped by the White House recently to answer a few questions that you might want to know the answer to, like: What does he want to do as Surgeon General? What should you do to stay healthy? Will he ever dunk on a NBA-regulation basketball hoop?
Age-old questions. Check out his answers below:
February 24, 2015
02:45 PM EST
U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith just sent the following message to the White House email list, promoting our first "edit-a-thon" here at the White House. This afternoon at 5 p.m. ET, we'll be writing the stories of influential African American STEM leaders into history.
Get more details below -- and if you didn't get the email, make sure to sign up for email updates here.
In a few hours, we'll be hosting the first-ever "edit-a-thon" here at the White House as part of our celebration of Black History Month.
Today, we join others in working to raise visibility of past and living African American heroes through similar edit-a-thons, classroom activities, and on social media.
Katherine Johnson, an elite mathematician, was central in calculating the trajectories for John Glenn, Alan Shepard, and the Apollo 11 mission. Lewis Howard Latimer was recruited to join the Edison Electric Light Company after Latimer patented his "process for manufacturing carbons," allowing the company to improve production of carbon filaments used in light bulbs upgraded from the earlier paper-based filaments that burned out quickly. Earlier, Latimer worked as Alexander Graham Bell's draftsman and is credited with penning the drawings in Bell's telephone patent.
It's critically important to know about all of the talented people who have been a part of advancing culture and society throughout America's history.
Together, we can help make sure these nearly lost histories are captured for our youth. Today's event will focus on African American heroes in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
February 24, 2015
02:23 PM EST
The President is continuing to take action, within his legal authority, to fix our broken immigration system. Today, the Administration announced a final rule that will allow spouses of certain high-skilled workers to contribute to the economy while they wait to obtain lawful permanent residence status (or a “green card”) through their employer. America needs a 21st century immigration system that lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants—and that grows our economy. This change, as well as the other actions announced by the President this past November, will do just that.
The President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) has also released an updated report on the economic impact of the President’s executive actions, which are now estimated to boost the nation’s GDP by as much as $250 billion over ten years, due in part to increases in the size of the American workforce and to increased innovation from high-skill workers. These actions will also increase the productivity and wages of all American workers, not just immigrants, as evidenced by a large body of academic work cited in the CEA report.
By finalizing this rule, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is taking an important step forward in executing the President’s immigration executive actions and locking in these economic benefits. The changes included in this rule will—for the first time—allow employment authorization for the spouses of certain high-skill workers who are here on H-1B visas, as long as those workers have begun the process of applying for a green card. This rule change, which was recommended in a “We the People” petition to the White House, will empower these spouses to put their own education and skills to work for the country that they and their families now call home.
David HudsonFebruary 23, 2015
06:48 PM EST
Earlier today at the White House, President Obama spoke to America's governors and reaffirmed his commitment to working with them to make more progress across our country.
As he reiterated in his remarks, America's resurgence is real. But even though our nation "is as well-positioned as we've been in a very long time," as the President noted, he also emphasized that we now have to focus on what kind of choices we need to make together going forward to ensure that our momentum is sustained: