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  • September 15, 2008 -- a day that rocked the American economy to its core after Lehman Brothers, then one of the nation’s largest investment banks, filed for bankruptcy. The largest filing in history, Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy sent shockwaves through the global markets and left families and businesses reeling.

    In the months before the President took office, Americans watched as the private-sector cut 800,000 jobs a month, the housing market cratered, and the American auto industry threatened to collapse. That economic turmoil -- the severity of the challenges we faced in 2008 -- stand in stark contrast to where we are now, six years after the Great Recession.  Now, thanks to American workers and businessmen and women, our economy has added 10 million jobs and is growing stronger by almost every economic measure.

    While there is more work to do to keep our economy moving forward, take a look back with White House Administration officials who shared the critical moment and key decisions the President made in three different areas of the economy to get us to where we are today. Then slide across the charts to see how far we’ve come in the last six years.

    "The Epicenter of That Crisis": The Housing Market

    The collapse of the housing market sparked the Great Recession, driving down home prices, halting construction on new homes, and forcing millions of families into foreclosure.

    Listen as Shaun Donovan, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, describe how they created “most comprehensive, aggressive housing strategy that the country has ever seen” within the first few weeks of the Obama administration. There’s much more work to do but now, home prices are rising at a fast pace and homebuilders are breaking ground on 50,000 more homes each month than they were in 2009.

     
     
     

    "The People Who Took the Biggest Hit": American Consumers

    The economic volatility of the Great Recession hit consumers especially hard and, with a dearth of key consumer protections, Americans were forced to spend much more conservatively.

    Listen to Amy Brundage, Deputy Director of Communications, explain how President Obama created the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau – an independent agency to help protect consumers when they’re applying for a mortgage, choosing among credit cards, or using any other consumer financial product. Now, as the economy continues to grow stronger, American consumers are confidently spending $170 billion more each month than they were when the President took office.

     
     
     

    "What Needed to Be Done": American Businesses

    During the recession, the amount of American exports that our companies sold abroad fell by billions.  

    Last year, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker reflected on how President Obama sought to restore confidence in the markets and stabilize the economy. Listen to her explain how the Obama Administration is focusing on expanding trade and increasing how much businesses sell in the global market. Now, under President Obama, our businesses are selling $70 billion more overseas each month than they were during the Great Recession.

     
     
     

    There is more to do to ensure our economy continues to grow. That is why President Obama is taking action to invest in manufacturing, energy, and infrastructure and to improve the financial security of working families and the middle class. Learn more about what the President is doing this year here: www.whitehouse.gov/year-of-action.

    You can listen to other Administration officials reflect on the financial crisis here.

     

     

     

     

     

  • First Lady Michelle Obama Shakes Hands with White House Visitors

    First Lady Michelle Obama greets members of the general public as they enter the Blue Room during their White House tour, Feb. 16, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    The White House is known as “The People’s House” — and since 2009, the Obama administration has made that nickname truer than ever before for millions of guests by opening the White House to as many Americans as possible.

    With the new White House Visitor Center opening up, we want to remind you of the ways you can visit "The People's House" from Washington, D.C. or from the comfort of your home.

  • Our border has been and remains more secure than it has been in decades. Earlier this year, we saw an influx of Central American migrants including unaccompanied children and adults with children in one isolated area of our border, the Rio Grande Valley in Texas but the Administration took decisive action and the situation is improving.

    The President and his Administration responded with an aggressive, coordinated Federal response focused on stepped up deterrence, enhanced enforcement, stronger foreign cooperation, and greater capacity for affected Federal agencies to ensure that our border remained secure. As a result, and as Secretary Jeh Johnson reported last week, the number of Central American migrants trying to illegally cross the Southwest border continues to decline including unaccompanied children and families.

    This is good news. We are not declaring victory, and we aren’t going to take our foot off the gas; U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) remains prepared. We will remain vigilant and continue to aggressively work to deter future increases and address the influx on both sides of the border with our Central American partners.

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. General Services Administration's blog. See the original post here.

    PIF logo

    We recently welcomed the newest group of Presidential Innovation Fellows into the federal government. This diverse group represents some of the nation’s most talented and creative civic-minded innovators.

    More than 1,000 candidates applied to serve the country in this unique capacity. From this pool of amazing and incredibly motivated applicants, we selected almost 30 designers, developers, entrepreneurs, and executives to bring their unique skills into government.

    You can learn more about this inspiring group of Fellows here.

  • This afternoon at the White House, President Obama will award the Medal of Honor to Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins and Army Specialist Four Donald P. Sloat for their actions in Vietnam.

    Most Americans know that the Medal of Honor is the highest military award that a member of the U.S. armed forces can receive -- but what goes into the actual award ceremony at the White House?

    In June, we went behind the scenes as the President presented the Medal of Honor to Cpl. William "Kyle" Carpenter, a retired United States Marine, for his actions during combat operations in Afghanistan.

    Take a look here -- and pass it on:

    Watch on YouTube

  • Six years ago today, Wall Street was rocked by a financial crisis that culminated in the bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers, the largest in U.S. history. The financial crisis resulted in the longest and deepest recession the American economy had experienced in 60 years. While more work remains to continue digging out of the deep hole that was left by the crisis, this week offers a chance to reflect on the significant progress that has been made since then in strengthening the economy and reforming the financial sector.

    To understand how far we have come, it is important to remember the dark days that marked the beginning of the financial crisis. In the span of a few weeks in 2008, many of our nation's largest financial institutions failed or were acquired to avoid insolvency. Capital markets froze, and the availability of credit for mortgages, student, auto, and small business loans was drastically reduced. The recession ultimately eliminated nearly 9 million jobs, threatened the American auto industry, and shrank the economy by hundreds of billions of dollars. The crisis was the result of many factors, including an overvalued housing market, predatory lending practices, thinly capitalized financial institutions that took big risks, and a regulatory system that was outdated and unequipped to meet modern challenges.

  • Leading a Presidential Delegation, Dr. Jill Biden traveled to London this weekend to join athletes representing the United States at the Invictus Games -- an international sporting event for wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans. "These games really show the spirit of the military and how they persevere and their resilience," Dr. Biden said.

    Watch as Dr. Biden cheers on these amazing athletes:

    Watch on YouTube

    This trip is part of Dr. Biden’s ongoing efforts through the Joining Forces initiative to raise awareness and show appreciation for veterans, service members, and their families.

  • Today, the following message was sent from Vice President Biden on the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to those signed up to receive updates from the White House.

    Didn't get the email? Make sure you're signed up to receive updates from the White House and senior Administration officials.


    Twenty years ago today, the Violence Against Women Act was signed into law. It remains my proudest legislative achievement -- but it didn't happen because of me.

    It happened because, at a time when kicking a woman in the stomach or pushing her down the stairs was not taken seriously as a crime -- and at a time when domestic violence against women was considered a "family affair" -- something remarkable happened.

    Incredibly brave and courageous women began speaking up.

    Women like Marla, a model whose face was slashed by two men because she'd refused her landlord's entrees, and who was questioned for 20 minutes during the trial about why she was wearing a miniskirt. As if she had asked for or welcomed this repugnant act of violence. Marla spoke out.

    Women like Christine, who was raped in a dorm room by a friend's boyfriend. Christine said she hadn't even known she'd been raped, because she'd known the man. But Christine added her voice.

    There were so many more. Women who had their arms broken with hammers and heads beaten with pipes, who were among the 21,000 women who were assaulted, raped, and murdered in a single week in America at the time.

    All of these women are victims. But they're also survivors.

  • President Barack Obama signs S. 47, the “Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013,” March 7, 2013

    President Barack Obama signs S. 47, the “Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013,” (VAWA), which reauthorizes several Violence Against Women Act grant programs through FY 2018; and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 through FY 2017, in the Sidney R. Yates Auditorium at the U.S. Department of Interior in Washington, D.C., March 7, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    Today is the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  On Tuesday, I had the incredible privilege of attending a commemoration of this milestone held at the National Archives. During the program, I learned more about the history of VAWA – stories recounting the long road leading up to its passage, its victories and challenges over the years, and the lives it has and continues to change. One survivor vividly shared her account of abuse, near death, plans of escape, and eventual freedom from her husband’s victimization. 

    Vice President Biden then delivered a powerful address, using the lens of VAWA to chronicle our nation’s evolution surrounding the dialogue on domestic violence and our treatment of women and girls; how this kind of violence no longer represents a “family affair,” but rather behavior that should be exposed to the “sunlight” for the injustice that it is. While I was only in junior high when VAWA first emerged, now as a physician and advocate for women’s health, I recognize the positive impact VAWA has had on the patients and communities I serve. Nevertheless, since joining the Office of the Vice President as a White House Fellow, I am also quickly learning how much more we all still have to do.

  • President Obama tapes the Weekly Address on ISIL

    President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the State Dining Room of the White House. September 12, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    In this week’s address, the President reiterated his comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group ISIL.

    His plan brings together a campaign of targeted airstrikes, increased support for Iraqi and Kurdish forces already taking on terrorists, assistance from allies and partners, expanded efforts to train and equip the Syrian opposition, and ongoing humanitarian aid for those displaced by ISIL. The President expressed his immense appreciation for the military men and women who make these efforts possible, and reminded the world that America continues to lead and stand strong against terror.

    Transcript | mp4 | mp3

  • This week, President Obama spoke about the threat posed by ISIL and commemorated the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we marked the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and the First Lady hosted a "prep" rally in Atlanta.

    Check out what else you may have missed this week in our weekly wrap up.


    “If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

    On Wednesday evening, from the State Floor of the White House, President Obama spoke to the American people about our comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

    ISIL was formerly al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq and has since infiltrated territories on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. Although ISIL calls itself the “Islamic State,” the President highlighted that:

    ISIL is not ‘Islamic.’ No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. ... It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates.

  • Watch on YouTube

    This morning at the White House, President Obama joined former President Bill Clinton in celebrating the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps, and welcoming some of the national service program's newest members.

    Across the country today, thousands of people took the pledge to be AmeriCorps members. Since AmeriCorps' inception in 1994, 900,000 Americans have served in the program and have committed 1.2 billion hours of service.

    In his remarks, President Obama noted how today's event echoed "back to that day in 1994, when President Clinton swore in that first class of AmeriCorps members right here at the White House."

  • Frances Scott Key was a 35-year-old Washington lawyer who'd been opposed to America's entry into the War of 1812 from the beginning. But on the evening of September 13, 1814, he found himself watching as a prisoner on a sailing ship deck as the ships of the world's mightiest navy rained shot and shell down on Fort McHenry, a small fort protecting the city of Baltimore.

    The British, having set Washington on fire and raided Alexandria, began heading north toward Baltimore, where they met a Royal Navy fleet headed in from the Chesapeake Bay. They launched their bombardment in the rain.

    A view of the bombardment of fort mchenry

    This colored etching, depicting the bombardment of Fort McHenry, was created in Philadelphia around 1816. (Photo courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society)

  • At the Naval Observatory last week, Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden hosted a barbecue for the athletes representing the United States in the Invictus Games, an inspirational sporting event for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans.  

    In her welcoming remarks, Dr. Biden said, "this barbecue is not just a way to celebrate your achievements in making the U.S. Team, it is also a small way of saying thank you—to our heroes—thank you for your service and your sacrifice."

    Watch the video:

    Watch on YouTube

  • Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx makes a TIGER grant announcement in Asheville, N.C., September 12, 2014

    Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx makes a TIGER grant announcement in Asheville, N.C., September 12, 2014. (by Katie Bailey/Asheville Citizen-Times)

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Transportation's blog. See the original post here.

    Today, I’m pleased to announce the sixth round of DOT’s TIGER program. We’re making nearly $600 million in grants available, and awarding them to 72 transportation projects across 46 states and in D.C.

    Over the last six years, we’ve awarded more than $4 billion in these TIGER grants, but this round of investment is probably the most crucial ever.

  • Last year we launched “Of the People: Live from the White House,” a virtual field trip series with Discovery Education to give middle and high school students unique access to the White House and Obama Administration officials.

    On September 17, the “Of the People” series continues with a Constitution Day celebration at the National Archives with Archivist of the United States David Ferriero to learn about the document and the Archives.

    Register now to watch the event live on Wednesday, September 17 at 1:00 p.m. ET.

  • As students head back to school, Secretary Arne Duncan hit the road this week on the Department of Education’s annual back-to-school bus tour to discuss how we can help every student receive a complete and competitive education in order to reach their full potential.

    After all, a high-quality education is a pre-requisite to success in today’s economy. It's a national imperative that every student graduate from high school prepared for college and for a career. And thanks to the dedication of our teachers and educators and the hard work of our students, more young people are graduating and earning their high school diplomas than ever before. 

    Check out the chart below to see how our high school graduation rate is the highest it has ever been -- then share it with everyone who needs to know.

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Transportation's blog. See the original post here.

    We all know the “road to prosperity” is a metaphor, but what if it were an actual road?

    The fact is, investing in transportation creates value, and that means it’s a worthwhile investment — for public funds, yes, but also for the private sector. So, with public investments in our nation’s important transportation assets steadily declining, we need to find better ways to partner with private investors to help rebuild America.

    And rebuild America we must. The American Society of Civil Engineers predicts that we’ll face a $1 trillion funding gap for transportation by the end of the decade. More than two-thirds of American roads are in less than good condition, and if you lined up all of the structurally deficient bridges in the country, they would stretch from Boston to Miami.

    It might save money up front for legislators to ignore our infrastructure deficit, but you are paying the price for this head-in-the-sand approach to transportation every day. You pay it in longer commute times — 5.5 billion hours annually — higher vehicle repair costs, and increased spending on wasted fuel. It’s not small change; the extra fuel and lost hours cost Americans about $120 billion a year. And the businesses of our nation pay as well, in additional freight costs to the tune of $27 billion a year.

  • Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, the President concluded a summit in Wales with NATO allies, hosted a White House meeting with congressional leadership on foreign policy, addressed the nation in primetime, and commemorated the 13th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. That's September 5 to September 11, or "Meeting Those Threats with Strength and Resolve."

    Watch on YouTube

  • President Obama Greets Volunteers on September 11, 2013

    President Barack Obama greets volunteers at Food & Friends during a service project to commemorate the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance, in Washington, D.C. September 11, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Today, millions of people across the country will commemorate the anniversary of 9/11 through acts of service. To honor the memories of those we lost, we come together to make our communities better and our world a brighter place through acts of volunteerism.

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