Read all posts from June 2009

  • The President highlighted the work of innovative non-profits from across the country today at the White House. The event brought together lawmakers, non-profits, foundations, education leaders and leaders from the private sector. The diverse audience heard from the Harlem Children’s Zone, HopeLab, Bonnie CLAC and Genesys Works, who shared their stories about how their programs are improving their communities. These programs, and those like them, have demonstrated results in their neighborhoods and represent exciting opportunities for community solutions nationwide.
    (President Barack Obama delivers remarks highlighting innovative non-profit programs from across the country, Tuesday, June 30, 2009, in the East Room of the  White House in Washington. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
    The President thanked the group for their hard work, noting that although their work is always important, there is no better time than now for creating innovative solutions to our nation’s problems:
    And finally, I want to thank all of you here today for everything you're doing to find new solutions to some of our oldest, toughest problems.  I know what you do is not easy.  I know that for many of you, the hours are long, the pay could be better -- let's face it.  But I also know the difference that each of you make.  I know the lives that you change every single day.  You teach us that there's no such thing as a lost cause if you're willing to be creative, and challenge the conventional wisdom, and take some risks -- if you're willing to try, and fail, and then try again until you find something that works.  And today, I want to recognize that pioneering spirit and thank you all for the contributions that you're making to our communities.
    Government can only do so much, so these organizations are critical to helping rebuild our country. The President explained that we need to take these creative programs and work to implement them nationwide:
    The bottom line is clear:  Solutions to America's challenges are being developed every day at the grass roots -- and government shouldn't be supplanting those efforts, it should be supporting those efforts.  Instead of wasting taxpayer money on programs that are obsolete or ineffective, government should be seeking out creative, results-oriented programs like the ones here today and helping them replicate their efforts across America.
    So if the Harlem Children's Zone can turn around neighborhoods in New York, then why not Detroit, or San Antonio, or Los Angeles or Indianapolis?  If Bonnie Clac can help working people purchase cars and manage their finances in New Hampshire, then they can probably do it in Vermont or all across New England, or all across America.
    To help do this, the President called on organizations to work together so that they will have the resources they need to make the biggest impact. This is the idea behind the $50 million innovation fund, which is included in the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act that the President signed earlier this spring.  This fund will find and evaluate some of the most promising non-profits in communities across the country and help provide funding, with the help of private investments, for the most successful ones.
    (People in the audience listen as President Barack Obama delivers remarks highlighting innovative non-profit programs from across the country, Tuesday, June 30, 2009, in the East Room of the White House in Washington.Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
    Touching on another kind of service, the President also noted in his remarks that today American troops transferred control of all Iraqi cities to Iraqi security forces. He explained that the fact that Iraqis have been celebrating this milestone is a testament to the hard work of every American who has served in Iraq.

  • Last week cabinet secretaries and senior administration officials participated in service projects across the country to kick off United We Serve, the President’s summer service initiative. Take a look at the slideshow to see how secretaries and officials answered the President’s call to service.
    Visit www.serve.gov to find service projects in your community.

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  • Starting now: CIO Vivek Kundra does the Facebook live-stream chat on a transparency breakthrough, the IT Dashboard.  Moderated by New Media Director Macon Phillips. Have a look around the site, and join the chat at Facebook or WhiteHouse.gov/live/discuss.
    [UPDATE: This event has now concluded.]

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    The President and First Lady hosted the first-of-its-kind LGBT Pride Month reception at the White House yesterday. On the heels of the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the reception brought together LGBT families, volunteers, community leaders, lawmakers and heads of LGBT organizations to celebrate the LGBT community.
    In his remarks, the President stressed that although we’ve made progress towards equality and fairness for all, there are still more challenges to face:
    Now this struggle, I don't need to tell you, is incredibly difficult, although I think it's important to consider the extraordinary progress that we have made.  There are unjust laws to overturn and unfair practices to stop.  And though we've made progress, there are still fellow citizens, perhaps neighbors or even family members and loved ones, who still hold fast to worn arguments and old attitudes; who fail to see your families like their families; and who would deny you the rights that most Americans take for granted.  And I know this is painful and I know it can be heartbreaking.
    And yet all of you continue, leading by the force of the arguments you make but also by the power of the example that you set in your own lives -- as parents and friends, as PTA members and leaders in the community.  And that's important, and I'm glad that so many LGBT families could join us today.  (Applause.)  For we know that progress depends not only on changing laws but also changing hearts.  And that real, transformative change never begins in Washington.
    He continued to say that even though these struggles continue today, the administration has refused to put aside issues of basic equality, and continues to fight against discrimination in a variety of ways:
    And I know that many in this room don't believe that progress has come fast enough, and I understand that.  It's not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African Americans who were petitioning for equal rights a half century ago. 
    But I say this:  We have made progress and we will make more.  And I want you to know that I expect and hope to be judged not by words, not by promises I've made, but by the promises that my administration keeps.  And by the time you receive -- (applause.)  We've been in office six months now.  I suspect that by the time this administration is over, I think you guys will have pretty good feelings about the Obama administration.  (Applause.)   
    Now, while there is much more work to do, we can point to important changes we've already put in place since coming into office.  I've signed a memorandum requiring all agencies to extend as many federal benefits as possible to LGBT families as current law allows.  And these are benefits that will make a real difference for federal employees and Foreign Service Officers, who are so often treated as if their families don't exist.  And I'd like to note that one of the key voices in helping us develop this policy is John Berry, our director of the Office of Personnel Management, who is here today.  And I want to thank John Berry.  (Applause.)
     I've called on Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act to help end discrimination -- (applause) -- to help end discrimination against same-sex couples in this country.  Now, I want to add we have a duty to uphold existing law, but I believe we must do so in a way that does not exacerbate old divides.  And fulfilling this duty in upholding the law in no way lessens my commitment to reversing this law.  I've made that clear.
    I'm also urging Congress to pass the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act, which will guarantee the full range of benefits, including health care, to LGBT couples and their children.  (Applause.)  My administration is also working hard to pass an employee non-discrimination bill and hate crimes bill, and we're making progress on both fronts.  (Applause.)  Judy and Dennis Shepard, as well as their son Logan, are here today.  I met with Judy in the Oval Office in May -- (applause) -- and I assured her and I assured all of you that we are going to pass an inclusive hate crimes bill into law, a bill named for their son Matthew.  (Applause.) 
    In addition, my administration is committed to rescinding the discriminatory ban on entry to the United States based on HIV status.  (Applause.)  The Office of Management and Budget just concluded a review of a proposal to repeal this entry ban, which is a first and very big step towards ending this policy.  And we all know that HIV/AIDS continues to be a public health threat in many communities, including right here in the District of Columbia.  And that's why this past Saturday, on National HIV Testing Day, I was proud once again to encourage all Americans to know their status and get tested the way Michelle and I know our status and got tested.  (Applause.)
    And finally, I want to say a word about "don't ask, don't tell."  As I said before -- I'll say it again -- I believe "don't ask, don't tell" doesn't contribute to our national security.  (Applause.)  In fact, I believe preventing patriotic Americans from serving their country weakens our national security.  (Applause.) 
    The President concluded by honoring the Stonewall protests, which occurred 40 years ago this week. A group of citizens, two of which were in attendance at the White House, stood up to defy an unjust policy at the Stonewall Inn, and this small protest inspired others to stand up against discrimination, helping to spark the gay rights movement.  The President closed saying that we "must continue to do our part to make progress -- step by step, law by law, mind by changing mind," because even seemingly small gains can add up to monumental change for our families and our communities.

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    Amidst the tremedous progress being made in Congress on legislation to create a clean energy economy, today the President led by example and did his part here in the Executive branch.  The President and Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today several innovative actions that will promote energy efficiency while saving Americans billions of dollars annually. This announcement highlights the fact that clean energy not only makes environmental sense, but it also makes smart economic sense. The President explained that this is why the administration has put energy at the forefront of our economic recovery, working to build a new, clean energy economy for the future:
    So we've gotten a lot done on the energy front over the last six months.  But even as we're changing the ways we're producing energy, we're also changing the ways we use energy.  In fact, one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways to make our economy stronger and cleaner is to make our economy more energy efficient.  And that's something that Secretary Chu is working every single day to work through.
    This announcement, which takes effect in 2012, includes major changes to energy conservation standards for household and commercial lighting. It mainly focuses on General Service Fluorescent Lamps, commonly found in residential and commercial builds, and Incandescent Reflector Lamps, commonly found in recessed and track lighting. Although these changes may not sound exciting, the President explained, the effects will be substantial:
    The first step we're taking sets new efficiency standards on fluorescent and incandescent lighting.  Now I know light bulbs may not seem sexy, but this simple action holds enormous promise because 7 percent of all the energy consumed in America is used to light our homes and our businesses.  Between 2012 and 2042, these new standards will save consumers up to $4 billion a year, conserve enough electricity to power every home in America for 10 months, reduce emissions equal to the amount produced by 166 million cars each year, and eliminate the need for as many as 14 coal-fired power plants. 
    The President and Secretary Chu also announced that $346 million from the Recovery Act will go towards accelerating the development and use of energy efficient technologies in new and existing commercial and residential buildings. Improving building efficiency will not only create jobs, but it will also be a crucial step in reducing carbon emissions:
    And if we want to make our economy run more efficiently, we've also got to make our homes and businesses run more efficiently.  And that's why we're also speeding up a $346 million investment under the Recovery Act to expand and accelerate the development, deployment, and use of energy-efficient technologies in residential and commercial buildings, which consume almost 40 percent of the energy we use and contribute to almost 40 percent of the carbon pollution we produce. 
    We're talking about technologies that are available right now or will soon be available -- from lighting to windows, heating to cooling, smart sensors and controls.  By adopting these technologies in our homes and businesses, we can make our buildings up to 80 percent more energy efficient -- or with additions like solar panels on the roof or geothermal power from underground, even transform them into zero-energy buildings that actually produce as much energy as they consume.
    If you’d like to learn more about today’s announcement and how it will improve energy efficiency, you can read the White House fact sheet.

  • At 5:00 today watch, discuss, and engage with Nancy-Ann DeParle, Director of the Office of Health Reform, through our Facebook live-stream chat application, or alternatively watch and drop us your comments here at WhiteHouse.gov/live/discuss.  [UPDATE: This event has now concluded.]
    We're two days away from President Obama's National Discussion on Health Care Reform, and questions are still coming in as quickly as we can watch them. Get your question in, but in the meantime get some direct feedback from one of the leaders of Health Care Reform here in the White House.

  • Another day at the White House, another chance for President Obama to make history for people with disabilities. And, he did just that. 
    On Friday, June 26, 2009, President Barack Obama became one of the very few sitting American Presidents to personally greet and welcome persons who are deaf-blind to the White House Oval Office. 
     
    Celebrating Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week.
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    (President Barack Obama meets with a group from the Helen Keller National Center in the Oval Office June 26, 2009.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    The group featured five young adults (Crystal Morales, Kelvin Crosby, Virginia Jordan, Divya Goel, and Jason Corning) affiliated with the Helen Keller National Center ("HKNC") including a musician with two CDs to her credit, a surfer and aspiring field goal kicker, a Cum Laude graduate who wants to start a school, an aspiring restaurant manager, and a winner of the Wisconsin Council for Exceptional Children "Yes I Can" award for Advocacy and Independent Living. Two staff members and 3 volunteers from the HKNC also joined the young adults. 
    They were in D.C. to celebrate Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week. This year’s theme for the week was Deaf-Blindness Didn’t Stop with Helen Keller. The focus of the week was to demonstrate that successful deaf-blind persons are still thriving and excelling long after Helen Keller. 
    The week culminated with their visit to the White House. They visited the White House in the morning, where they received a tour of the public residence. From hanging out in the First Lady’s East Reception Room, to playing the same piano played by Stevie Wonder, to visiting the China Room, the tour was a major hit with the young adults. They returned in the afternoon for the icing on the already incredibly rich cake to take a photo with the President in the Oval Office. The President congratulated the young adults on their accomplishments and reminded them that we remain committed to improving the lives of people with disabilities.
    This visit was not and should not be viewed as a sympathetic thing for the President to do. Rather, it reflects this President’s commitment to, and understanding of, the desire for all people with disabilities to be fully integrated into society. These young adults are proof that if provided with the necessary supports and services, people with disabilities can and will achieve anything they desire. Recognizing Deaf-Blind Awareness Week by inviting these young adults to the White House further solidifies the extraordinary commitment of this entire administration to all people with disabilities. 
    Kareem Dale is Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy.

  • Here at the Middle Class Task Force, we have been working on ways to make college more affordable for families in America. The President, the Vice President and the Middle Class Task Force are committed to making sure that every student has the opportunity to earn a college degree.
    In April, the Vice President hosted a Middle Class Task Force Meeting on college affordability in St. Louis, Missouri to discuss ways to expand opportunities and help make the dream of a college education a reality for more families. In Missouri, we released a staff report on ways that the administration can work to increase college affordability.
    For high school seniors or aspiring college students facing the daunting task of applying for financial aid, the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form can be a needlessly difficult obstacle on the path to higher education. Previous versions of the FAFSA have included as many as 153 questions, most of which had no relevance to financial aid packages. 
    On Wednesday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan – a Task Force Member - followed up on our Missouri findings and announced a shorter, simpler, and more user friendly FAFSA form that will make it easier to apply for financial aid.  Starting this summer, students will be able to access the new web based FAFSA that dramatically simplifies and shortens the application form, and by next January, the FAFSA application will be streamlined with the IRS for a one stop, easy and pain free application.
    The new version will make it easier and less intimidating to apply for aid, and will increase access for hundreds of thousands of students who are eligible, but do not apply for aid.     
    Simplifying the financial aid application is a policy that members of the Middle Class Task Force believe will help families benefit from important resources to cover the cost of college. We are continuing to work with Congress, the Treasury Department, the Department of Education, and the Administration to strengthen and affirm the opportunity for every student to pursue higher education.
    As always, please continue sharing your ideas by visiting the Middle Class Taskforce Website.

    Terrell McSweeny is Domestic Policy Advisor to the Vice President.

  • Stephanie Valencia, Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement, tells us about the Administration’s nationwide tour to get responsible Americans who need help engaged with the Making Home Affordable plan.
     

  • Ed. Note: Watch this event streamed live at 4:25 at WhiteHouse.gov/live.

    Brian BondAs a gay kid growing up in rural Missouri – I never thought I would end up helping to organize an LGBT Pride event in the White House.   Then again, I never thought I would ever realize my dream to work in the White House.  But thanks to the historic election of Barack Obama, today I am honored to be working here. 

    To me, today’s event is more than just a reception honoring LGBT Pride month.  It is an opportunity for the Administration to provide the world with a snap shot  of the real heroes across the country that do the day-to-day work fighting for equality. People like State Representative Patricia Todd in Alabama to Sheriff Lupe Valdez in Dallas, and many other local LGBT elected officials that will be here today.  And it’s people – ordinary families – that by simply living their lives openly are changing hearts and minds.  It is also an opportunity to welcome the people upon whom shoulders we stand, people like Frank Kameny, as well as Phil Wilson, Bishop Robinson and Ambassador Hormel, who I know personally, and those who stood up to bigotry at Stonewall.  I really wish people like Bayard Rustin could be standing here with us today.  He would be up for the fight ahead of us and proud of the place we now stand.
    People may not know this, but there hasn’t been a significant event since the President took office that hasn’t included the LGBT community -- discussions on the economy and the recovery, or health care -- but this event is special to me and to many of the people that haven’t been here for many years.
    We have a lot of work ahead of us. We will work together to pass Hate Crimes and ENDA and to end DADT and DOMA, but today is an opportunity to celebrate who we are and affirm who we are as Americans.  But the truth is that in this White House we do this every day.  With over 60 out appointees working in this Administration already, we are free to be ourselves.  But not everyone is in this country is able to do the same, and we are here to help change that. 
    I am here because I know the President and this Administration believe that too and are committed to fighting for equality – yes it will take time, and yes we should be pushing and yes you should too.  We are all in this together and I am equally proud of both my President and my community.
    I will take a little time out today to celebrate the diversity and depth of our community with my President.  And we will get back to work.  Everyone in this building is very clear -- from the President on down -- are committed to equality.  So for a young, ok for a now aging and balding gay guy from rural Missouri, this is my way to celebrate Pride month and our community’s importance in the American fabric.
    Brian Bond (bio) is Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement

  • Over at the Open Government blog, Martin Faga, Acting Chair of the Public Interest Declassification Board, invites you to be a part of the review of declassification policy. Read his introductory post, then read Board Member Herbert Briick’s outline of the kinds of questions they will be looking into and give them your input.

  • Beth Noveck, Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Open Government, announces that Phase III of the Open Government Initiative will be extended. Get your input in now.

  • The weather isn't the only thing heating up in DC this summer. Health care reform is already a hot topic, and as legislation moves through Congress, Americans across the nation have questions about how costs will be brought under control to make quality affordable health care accessible to everyone.
    That's why the White House is taking another step to connect with people outside of Washington and answer some of the most common questions you have. In the coming days, we're going to focus on your questions about health care, with President Obama and some of his top health care advisors providing answers.
    On Wednesday, the President will hold another online town hall to answer more of your questions. This online town hall will be a little different than the last one. This time around, we are engaging online networks outside of WhiteHouse.gov, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
    You can get started today by watching the President's video and posting your 20-30 second video response here:
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    download .mp4 (17.8 MB)

    On Monday, Nancy-Ann DeParle will be hosting a live-streamed, online chat to discuss health care reform (like the recent one with Van Jones). Join the White House's Facebook page to get the time once it is finalized.
    It is safe to say that we are going to get a ton of questions from a lot of sources and won't be able to answer every one. But over the coming days, we'll use this blog, online chats and the President's town hall on Wednesday to address some of the most common issues we see.
    *******
    Some tips:
    Don't know how to respond to the President's video with your question? Check out this tutorial from YouTube about how to create your own and add it as a response.
    If you are a Twitter user, you can also ask your question with this hashtag: #WHHCQ or head to Facebook and ask your question there.
     

  • For the 14th commemoration of National HIV Testing Day, we wanted to share this video of the President and First Lady with you:
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    download .mp4 (13.7 MB)

    One in five Americans currently living with HIV doesn't know it. If our President and First Lady can get tested – you can too.
    To find a testing site near you visit http://www.hivtest.org or text your zip code to KNOWIT (566948).
    And to learn more about HIV testing and what you can do to spread the message, visit cdc.gov and aids.gov.
     

  • The President praises historic energy legislation passed by the House of Representatives. The legislation will help America create green jobs, ensure clean air for our children, move towards energy independence and combat climate change.
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    download .mp3 |download .mp4 | read the transcript

  • Those of us here over at DOT want to set the record straight when it comes to whether or not Recovery Act money is getting out to states and putting people back to work. There are reports in the press, specifically in Thursday’s USA Today, that say only a fraction of stimulus dollars dedicated for construction projects is reaching states. This simply isn’t true.
    So far all 50 states and the territories have obligated or dedicated $16 billion dollars of their highway stimulus money to over 5,000 construction projects. Of those projects, over 1,500 of them are underway – bids are being made, equipment and supplies are being purchased, contractors are hiring and workers are working.
    The USA Today story said states have only received "$132 million from the stimulus package out of $27.5 billion earmarked for road construction funding." This is false and shows a misunderstanding of the way states get federal money for highway projects. Let me explain.
    We fund highway projects through a reimbursement process, meaning states send us bills for highway work as it’s getting done. For example let’s say Virginia obligated or dedicated $200,000 of its Recovery dollars to resurface several miles of a road. Once Virginia awards a bid and the work gets underway the contractor will send the state a bill periodically for the work as it progresses. The state pays the bill then turns to us for reimbursement (which in government speak is referred to as an outlay) – in many cases they get the funds the same day.
    This might sound like a funny way of doing business and we get lots of reporters who ask "why not just cut the state a check for the amount of money it will take to get the job done?" To do that would be a huge waste of taxpayer money! What if that $200,000 road resurfacing job wound up coming in under budget by $50,000? Our rigorous system of reimbursement protects taxpayer dollars because we can watch the money that is being spent. If money is wasted, the states won’t get reimbursed by us.
    The $132 million figure mentioned in USA Today is an inaccurate total of how much we’ve reimbursed states for Recovery funded construction projects – our reimbursements are higher than that. But relying on those figures in no way accurately describes what is happening out in the states.
    Whenever a state obligates or dedicates their Recovery dollars to a project that means it is green-lighted. States can start advertising the project and soliciting bids and once a bid is awarded contractors can buy supplies, bring workers on board and start breaking ground. It could be weeks before the reimbursement process starts so those outlays are in no way an indicator of how much money is getting to states, how much work is being done or how many people are working.
    The $16 billion obligated to thousands of highway projects is the true measure of how much highway money is reaching states. There is still a lot of hard work left to do, but we here at DOT are incredibly proud of how fast, efficiently and transparently Recovery dollars are getting out the door.
    John D. Porcari is the Deputy Secretary of Transportation. As Deputy Secretary, Porcari serves as the Department’s chief operating officer with responsibility for the day-to-day operations of 10 modal administrations and the work of more than 55,000 DOT employees nationwide and overseas.
     

  • At the annual White House Congressional Picnic, the President graciously invited guests to dunk Robert Gibbs, Rahm Emanuel and Peter Orszag. The President couldn't resist getting in on the fun himself though:
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    download .mp4 (15.5 MB)

     

  • Yesterday the Vice President expressed his pride that all 55 states and territories have already obligated half of their highway funding, an achievement sure to benefit the nation's economy. But judging by the stories submitted to Whitehouse.gov/recovery/share/, another achievement of the Recovery Act — providing summer jobs for America’s youth — is touching families even more directly.
    From Streamwood, Illinois, Jessie reported that the Recovery Act provided summer employment for his two children, and from Louisville, Mississippi, Angela shared that her 19 and 17 year olds found summer jobs created by the Recovery Act. From Oklahoma City, Kyle explained how the Recovery Act has helped foster youth:
    I work with foster youth who are about to exit state custody. These young people, historically, have a harder time finding a job, maintaining stable housing and graduating from high school. As the job market worsens, so do their outcomes. Recently, however, a push to employ foster youth using recovery dollars has made a big difference. Our local Workforce Board in OKC has found employment for nearly all the youth we refer. The jobs go beyond fast food and retail. Youth are able to get into their interested fields.
    Throughout the summer, the White House will continue to gather stories like these from the public to publicize the results of the Recovery Act. To share your story, go to Whitehouse.gov/recovery/share/.
     

  • Today the House is slated to vote on the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. Yesterday the President weighed in heavily on the importance of passing this bill:
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    THE PRESIDENT: Hey, guys. Good afternoon. Right now, the House of Representatives is moving towards a vote of historic proportions on a piece of legislation that will open the door to a new clean energy economy.
    For more than three decades, we've talked about our dependence on foreign oil. And for more than three decades, we've seen that dependence grow. We've seen our reliance on fossil fuels jeopardize our national security. We've seen it pollute the air we breathe and endanger our planet. And most of all, we've seen that others countries realize a critical truth: The nation that leads in the creation of a clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy.
    Now is the time for the United States of America to realize this, as well. Now is the time for us to lead. The energy bill before the House will finally create a set of incentives that will spark a clean energy transformation of our economy. It will spur the development of low-carbon sources of energy – everything from wind, solar, and geothermal power to safe nuclear energy and cleaner coal. It will spur new energy savings like the efficient windows and other materials that reduce heating costs in the winter and cooling costs in the summer.
    And most importantly, it will make possible the creation of millions of new jobs. Now, make no mistake – this is a jobs bill. We're already seeing why this is true in the clean energy investments we're making through the Recovery Act. In California, 3,000 people will be employed to build a new solar plant that will create 1,000 jobs. In Michigan, investments in wind turbines and wind technology is expected to create over, 2,600 jobs. In Florida, three new solar projects are expected to employ 1,400 people.
    The list goes on and on, but the point is this: This legislation will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy. That will lead to the creation of new businesses and entire new industries. And that will lead to American jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced.
    I've often talked about the need to build a new foundation for economic growth so that we don't return to the endless cycle of bubble and bust that has led us into this deep recession. Clean energy and the jobs it creates will be absolutely critical to that new foundation.
    This legislation has also been written carefully to address the concerns that many have expressed in the past. Instead of increasing the deficit, it's paid for by the polluters who currently emit dangerous carbon emissions. It provides assistance to businesses and families as they make the gradual transition to clean energy technologies. It gives rural communities and farmers the opportunity to participate in climate solutions and generate new income. And above all, it will protect consumers from the costs of this transition so that in a decade, the price to the average American will be about the same as a postage stamp per day.
    Because this legislation is so balanced and sensible, it's already attracted a remarkable coalition of consumer and environmental groups, labor and business leaders, Democrats and Republicans.
    Now I urge every member of Congress – Democrat and Republican – to come together to support this legislation. I can't stress enough the importance of this vote. I know this is going to be a close vote, in part because of the misinformation that's out there that suggests there's somehow a contradiction between investing in clean energy and our economic growth. But my call to those members of Congress who are still on the fence, as well as to the American people, is this: We cannot be afraid of the future, and we can't be prisoners of the past. We've been talking about this issue for decades, and now is the time to finally act.
    There's no disagreement over whether our dependence on foreign oil is endangering our security; we know it is. There's no longer a debate about whether carbon pollution is placing our planet in jeopardy; it's happening. And there's no longer a question about whether the jobs and the industries of the 21st century will be centered around clean, renewable energy. The only question is, which country will create these jobs and these industries? And I want that answer to be the United States of America. And I believe that the American people and the men and women they sent to Congress share that view.
    So let's take this opportunity to come together and meet our obligations – to our constituents, to our children, to God's creation, and to future generations. Thank you very much.
     

  • It’s already been a busy summer throughout the agencies and departments, participating in United We Serve, launching new initiatives, working on health care reform, and helping the nation move towards recovery.
    • The Office of Personnel Management, in partnership with the Chief Human Capitol Officers Council, has launched FedsFeedFamilies.gov, a government-wide effort to gather food for people in need.  Their goal is to gather one million pounds of food.
    • Energy Secretary Chu announced $8 billion in conditional loan agreements to propel innovation in fuel efficiency, and revolutionize the auto industry in America. These loans will help cars meet the President’s new fuel efficiency standards while creating jobs, and ensuring American future competitiveness.
    • The Department of Education announced a simpler, more user-friendly college aid application, the Free Application for Federal Student Air (FAFSA). This will make it easier for students to apply for college financial aid.
    • HHS Secretary Sebelius released a new report, entitled "Hidden Costs of Health Care," which documents how rising costs are making it increasingly difficult for families with insurance to get the health care that they need. This is part of a series of reports that shows the status quo is unacceptable. You can read the reports here.
    • Transportation Secretary LaHood joined the Vice President to announce that transportation projects funded through the Recovery Act are ahead of schedule and under budget. States had a June 29 deadline to obligate 50 percent of their highway funds, and all 55 states and territories successfully beat this deadline.
     

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