Read all posts from October 2009
October 09, 2009
05:55 PM ESTToday in Jackson, Mississippi, I was privileged to honor a civil rights hero and the millions of Americans who have furthered the cause of liberty. As Secretary of the Navy, I am responsible for naming our ships. Today, I announced that the first ship I will name will be the USNS Medgar Evers.The ship that will carry Medgar Evers name around the world for a generation is a T-AKE, a critically important supply ship. They are traditionally named for famous American pioneers, explorers, and visionaries. They celebrate the dreams and bold action of the American spirit and they honor men and women who have changed our country and the world for the better - men and women like Alan Shepard, Sacagawea, Carl Brashear, and Amelia Earhart. The ships' namesakes represent the rich tapestry that is America.Medgar Evers carried on that proud tradition as a pioneer and visionary of the civil rights movement. As a young man, he served in France during the Second World War. Upon returning to the United States, he took up the cause of freedom, rose to become the Field Secretary of the NAACP in Mississippi, and campaigned tirelessly to end segregation and ensure equal treatment for every American.No less so than the heroes who have fought and died for our country overseas, he gave his life to defend America and its principles when he was assassinated in his own driveway in June of 1963.It was an emotional ceremony today when I announced my choice, speaking at the Fannie Lou Hamer Institute on Citizenship and Democracy at Jackson State University. The Institute honors another civil rights leader from Mississippi. I was proud to be joined today by the widow of Medgar Evers, Mrs. Myrlie Evers-Williams, as well as by Congressman Bennie Thompson, Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson, former Mississippi Governor William Winter, and a score of other civil rights activists and Mississippians. Sharing the moment with them was a humbling experience for me. It reminded me of how far we have come, but also of how much others who went before us sacrificed on our behalf, just like the Sailors and Marines I’m proud to serve as Secretary.I believe today we honored the work of legends and in a small way reaffirmed the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that "one day the nation would rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed - that all men are created equal."Ray Mabus is Secretary of the Navy
Jesse LeeOctober 09, 2009
04:34 PM ESTToday the President pushed one of the core pillars of his vision of a new economic foundation back to the fore. Reforming our financial system and restoring common sense regulation and oversight is the only way to ensure that the economic catastrophe that began a year ago never returns. Having met just before with those suffering as a result of abuse, fraud, and deception at the hands of financial institutions, the need was never more evident.This morning we launched a new page dedicated to this initiative, including a video from Austan Goolsbee of the Council of Economic Advisers laying out what's in it for you, and let there be no doubt that there will be a sustained focus on this issue from the White House as the President’s plan goes through Congress.As for the special interests who are already gearing up to fight this as hard, if not harder than insurance companies have fought health reform, the President made clear he is ready for the fight:As we've seen over the last year, abuses like these don't just jeopardize the financial well-being of individual Americans -- they can threaten the stability of the entire economy. And yet, the patchwork system of regulations we have now has failed to prevent these abuses. With seven different federal agencies each having a role, there's too little accountability, there are too many loopholes, and no single agency whose sole job it is to stand up for people like Patricia, Susan, Maxine, Andrew and Karen -- no one whose chief responsibility it is to stand up for the American consumer, and for responsible banks and financial institutions who are having to compete against folks who are not responsible.So under the reforms we've proposed, that will change. The new Consumer Financial Protection Agency that I've asked Congress to create will have just one mission: to look out for the financial interests of ordinary Americans. It will be charged with setting clear rules of the road for consumers and banks, and it will be able to enforce those rules across the board.This agency will have the power to make certain that consumers get information that is clear and concise -- in plain language -- so they can compare products and know exactly what they're getting themselves into. It will ensure that banks and other firms can't hide behind these ridiculously confusing contracts -- pages and pages of fine print that nobody can figure out. It will have the ability to enforce and build on the credit card reforms we passed earlier this year, so that consumers aren't hit with unfair rate hikes and penalties, or hidden charges. It will require brokers to look out for the interests of families if they give advice about mortgages. And it will ensure transparency and fair dealing for other financial products, like bank overdraft services and payday loans.In a financial system that's never been more complicated, it has never been more important to have a watchdog function like the one we've proposed. And yet, predictably, a lot of the banks and big financial firms don't like the idea of a consumer agency very much. In fact, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is spending millions on an ad campaign to kill it. You might have seen some of these ads -- the ones that claim that local butchers and other small businesses somehow will be harmed by this agency. This is, of course, completely false -- and we've made clear that only businesses that offer financial services would be affected by this agency. I don't know how many of your butchers are offering financial services. (Laughter.)Contrary to what some have argued, this agency would not restrict consumer choice and innovation. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the past, a lack of clear rules led to innovation of the wrong kind: The firms that did best were the ones who did the best job of hiding the real cost to consumers. We don't want them competing by figuring out how much they can fool ordinary Americans. By contrast, the consumer agency we're proposing would set ground rules so that firms don't have to compete to confuse families, but they have to compete to give them better choices. This will also help small business entrepreneurs who often rely on credit cards and home equity loans to finance their start-up businesses.All this hasn't stopped the big financial firms and their lobbyists from mobilizing against change. They're doing what they always do -- descending on Congress, using every bit of influence they have to maintain the status quo that has maximized their profits at the expense of American consumers, despite the fact that recently a whole bunch of those same American consumers bailed them out as a consequence of the bad decisions that they made. And since they're worried they may not be able to kill this agency, they're trying their hardest to weaken it -- by asking for exemptions from this agency's rules and enforcement; by fighting to keep every gap and loophole they can find.They're very good at this, because that's how business has been done in Washington for a very long time. In fact, over the last 10 years, the Chamber alone spent nearly half a billion dollars on lobbying -- half a billion dollars.The stories we heard today, they remind us that the American people can't afford business as usual any longer. These Americans can't afford high-priced lobbyists to argue their case. They're counting on us to be their advocates, to be their voice, to restore a sense of responsibility from Wall Street to Washington. That's why we need a Consumer Financial Protection Agency that will stand up not for big banks, not for financial firms, but for hardworking Americans. (Applause.) That's why we need regulatory reform that will reward innovation and competition instead of short-cuts and abuses. That's why we can't let special interests win this fight.We've already seen and lived the consequences of what happens when there's too little accountability on Wall Street and too little protection for Main Street, and I will not allow this country to go back there. It is time for us to move forward. It is time for real change. And I'm confident that we're going to get it done, with the help of all the people who are here today, and, most importantly, with the help of the American people, who are going to demand a better deal from their financial services.
Jesse LeeOctober 09, 2009
12:39 PM ESTTHE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Well, this is not how I expected to wake up this morning. After I received the news, Malia walked in and said, "Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is Bo's birthday!" And then Sasha added, "Plus, we have a three-day weekend coming up." So it's good to have kids to keep things in perspective.I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee. Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize -- men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build -- a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents. And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action -- a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.
These challenges can't be met by any one leader or any one nation. And that's why my administration has worked to establish a new era of engagement in which all nations must take responsibility for the world we seek. We cannot tolerate a world in which nuclear weapons spread to more nations and in which the terror of a nuclear holocaust endangers more people. And that's why we've begun to take concrete steps to pursue a world without nuclear weapons, because all nations have the right to pursue peaceful nuclear power, but all nations have the responsibility to demonstrate their peaceful intentions.We cannot accept the growing threat posed by climate change, which could forever damage the world that we pass on to our children -- sowing conflict and famine; destroying coastlines and emptying cities. And that's why all nations must now accept their share of responsibility for transforming the way that we use energy.We can't allow the differences between peoples to define the way that we see one another, and that's why we must pursue a new beginning among people of different faiths and races and religions; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect.And we must all do our part to resolve those conflicts that have caused so much pain and hardship over so many years, and that effort must include an unwavering commitment that finally realizes that the rights of all Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security in nations of their own.We can't accept a world in which more people are denied opportunity and dignity that all people yearn for -- the ability to get an education and make a decent living; the security that you won't have to live in fear of disease or violence without hope for the future.And even as we strive to seek a world in which conflicts are resolved peacefully and prosperity is widely shared, we have to confront the world as we know it today. I am the Commander-in-Chief of a country that's responsible for ending a war and working in another theater to confront a ruthless adversary that directly threatens the American people and our allies. I'm also aware that we are dealing with the impact of a global economic crisis that has left millions of Americans looking for work. These are concerns that I confront every day on behalf of the American people.Some of the work confronting us will not be completed during my presidency. Some, like the elimination of nuclear weapons, may not be completed in my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it's recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone. This award is not simply about the efforts of my administration -- it's about the courageous efforts of people around the world.And that's why this award must be shared with everyone who strives for justice and dignity -- for the young woman who marches silently in the streets on behalf of her right to be heard even in the face of beatings and bullets; for the leader imprisoned in her own home because she refuses to abandon her commitment to democracy; for the soldier who sacrificed through tour after tour of duty on behalf of someone half a world away; and for all those men and women across the world who sacrifice their safety and their freedom and sometime their lives for the cause of peace.That has always been the cause of America. That's why the world has always looked to America. And that's why I believe America will continue to lead.Thank you very much.
A few notable moments from this year's diplomacy:
Macon PhillipsOctober 09, 2009
06:45 AM ESTOutdated rules regulating the financial sector have affected millions of Americans and contributed to the nation's worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
This afternoon, the President will talk about changes and protections put forward in proposed financial regulatory reform legislation and urge Congress to act quickly and pass an effective and comprehensive package by the end of the year. Tune in to WhiteHouse.gov/live at 2pm eastern to watch and discuss the event.
One of the most significant pieces of this effort is the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. The CFPA will streamline and consolidate regulatory agencies now in place to more effectively promote transparency, fairness and accountability for financial products and services.
Austan Goolsbee, from the White House's Council of Economic Advisors, goes over the CFPA and the President's approach to financial regulatory reform in this explanatory video:download .mp4 (45 MB)
If you find the video helpful to better understanding the issue, please share it far and wide. And don't forget to catch the East Room event later today.
Jesse LeeOctober 08, 2009
08:10 PM ESTWatching yesterday's Clean Energy Economy Forum, you could watch business and government leaders were literally turning the idea from a vision into reality."If we create the right incentives on energy, it will drive demand for clean energy and efficiency that will foster the creation of new businesses and the jobs that come with them," said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.The event was only one of a series of events held at the White House regarding energy and climate policy—keep an eye out for more innovative forums, speakers, and creative strategies, all part of the Administration's goal of encouraging a climate-conscious America.download .mp4 (532 MB MB)
Secretary Steven ChuOctober 08, 2009
03:45 PM ESTI just helped kick-off the Department of Energy's 2009 Solar Decathlon. This is a unique student competition on the National Mall that showcases the latest energy efficiency and solar power technologies. It is a great chance to see students pushing the boundaries of what's possible today, and I hope you'll come see the competition in person or follow it online.Nearly 1,000 students from 20 universities around the world have spent the last two years planning, designing, and building high-efficiency, solar-powered homes. I've already met several of them, and they are an incredible group. Over the next ten days, they'll test the efficiency and performance of their homes in ten contests (hence, the "Decathlon") that simulate real world use. They'll do laundry, cook, and watch TV, just like in any other family home – but all of the electricity and hot water will be generated using the sun.The homes are open to the public from the 9th through the 18th on the National Mall You can follow the entire competition at www.solardecathlon.gov, and you can get updates direct from the teams through Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube. I've also posted some photos of the houses on my Facebook page, which can be found at http://facebook.com/stevenchu.Let the games begin!Steven Chu is Secretary of Energy
October 08, 2009
01:06 PM ESTWe believe that through regional collaboration we can bridge the urban-rural divide. We can invest in urban centers in a way that will benefit suburbs, exurbs, and rural communities, and vice versa. It does not have to, and can no longer be, a zero-sum game. Our fates are inextricably linked. As the Urban Tour (aka, the National Conversation on the Future of Cities and Metros) has continually demonstrated, smart regional plans succeed when there are strong public-private partnerships and everyone is brought to the table.Our latest visit to Flagstaff, Arizona builds on this theme and also proves that good ideas and smart planning come in all sizes and models. "Economic gardening" – as Mayor Sara Presler calls it – creates an environment for local businesses to grow and flourish even in a town with less than 70,000 people that’s perched at 7,000 feet above sea level.Flagstaff has woven together public and private resources to incubate emerging technology businesses in Northern Arizona, from wind, to biotech, life sciences to solar power industries. Mayor Presler says it best, "we may be a small town in America, but we are doing big things for the global economy."Our day in Flagstaff began with a tour and in-depth discussion with policy leaders, researchers, and business experts at Northern Arizona Center for Emerging Technologies (NACET). NACET is a business incubator that was funded in part by a $2.5 million Department of Commerce/Economic Development Administration grant that was matched (and surpassed) by the City of Flagstaff. The funding helped to leverage over $30 million in private funds. Within just 10 months, NACET incubated 11 companies and created 80 high-wage jobs with an average salary of $92,000 a year.NACET is also home to Southwest Windpower, a company that is central to the Flagstaff success story. We, along with Megan McCluer of the Department of Energy, toured Southwest Windpower’s facilities and learned about wind energy technology. Southwest Windpower is a pioneer in the development of small wind technology. The company has produced over 160,000 wind generators which have been installed in 80 countries around the world, and has developed a new generation of low cost wind turbine that connects homes to electricity grids. This is particularly important to the region because Flagstaff is seated in a Congressional District in which one-third of the Navajo Nation has no electricity or water.We held a community forum later that day at Northern Arizona University, in a LEED Silver certified building, where 259 Flagstaff residents were eager to engage the Administration about the future of their community. We discussed best practices and ways in which the federal government can be a better partner in promoting innovative solutions. Megan McCluer emphasized that "[the federal government] needs to be broader in our thinking in deploying clean energy."The regional collaboration taking place in Flagstaff is a model for the country. It was a long flight but a meaningful moment for a small city that represents much of what this Administration is trying to achieve: a stronger economy, environmental stewardship, and a concept fundamental to the American story – E Pluribus Unum: "Out of many, one."Adolfo Carrión, Jr. is the Director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs and Deputy Assistant to the President
Jesse LeeOctober 08, 2009
11:31 AM ESTIt's no secret that institutions of all stripes focus their communications on certain messages day to day. We thought it would all be a little more open and transparent if we went ahead and published what our focus will be for the day, along with any related articles, reports or documents.Talking Points: CBO Score of the Finance Committee Bill· Yesterday’s CBO score of the final Senate Finance Committee bill is another major step forward for health insurance reform.· The analysis confirms what President Obama has been saying for months: We can provide stability and security for Americans with insurance and affordable options for uninsured Americans without adding a dime to our national deficit.· In fact, the CBO reports that the bill would actually reduce the deficit over the next two decades.· At the same time, it would drastically reduce the number of Americans living without coverage and protect Americans from some of the insurance industry’s worst practices – like denying coverage because of a pre-existing condition, or dropping or watering down coverage when you get sick and need it most.· There remains work to be done. Congress still has to incorporate ideas from the various proposals into one final bill.· But there is remarkable consensus among those bills. We are already far closer to health insurance reform than ever before.· And yesterday’s CBO analysis is yet another important step along the way.Talking Points: Bipartisan Momentum for Reform Continues to Swell· The CBO’s encouraging report comes as bipartisan momentum for health insurance reform continues to swell.· Yesterday, Former Senate Majority Leader and Republican Presidential Nominee Bob Dole added his voice to the increasingly bipartisan call for reform.o He said, "Now we’ve got to do something" on health care.o And he blamed "partisanship" for opposition to reform, saying, "Sometimes people fight you just to fight you."· Senator Dole is just the latest in a string of high profile Republicans and Independents to endorse health insurance reform in the past week.o He joins former Bush Administration Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson; Republican-turned-Independent New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist; and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.· These latest endorsements join a wide array from across the spectrum.o More than 1,000 state legislators from every corner of America have signed onto letters citing the urgent need for health insurance reform.o 22 Governors from states across the nation also signed a letter calling for reform.o Leading groups representing doctors, nurses, consumers, seniors, and even drug and insurance companies have all agreed that the status quo is unsustainable.· This is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue – it’ a moral issue. The time for bickering is over, now it’s time to act.
October 08, 2009
09:15 AM ESTSpeaking before a group of nonprofit and philanthropic leaders on June 30th, President Obama stated that: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.The Corporation for National Community and Service (the Corporation) is taking up the President's call through the creation of the Social Innovation Fund—a fund that was authorized by the bi-partisan Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act of 2009.The Social Innovation Fund is currently being designed, and for those interested in learning more and participating in a question and answer session, representatives of the Corporation will be hosting a conference call on October 15th (sign-up information is below).We know that every day innovative and effective nonprofit organizations are working to solve some of the greatest challenges facing our nation—from low high school graduation rates, to the acute job skills deficit, to a lack of access to affordable, quality health care.They are driven by the passion to help others and to lead change in their communities, and these factors are an indispensible part of their success. It is what makes the long hours bearable and what compels thousands of people to volunteer with them in the pursuit of a goal larger than themselves.But their success is also a function of their drive to find the best—the most efficient and effective—ways to do their work. By subjecting themselves to evaluation, they are able to calculate their impact and plot a new course of action if the evidence points to an approach or an idea that will allow them to make an even greater difference in people's lives.Through the Social Innovation Fund, President Obama is committed to supporting the growth and replication of innovative nonprofit organizations and practices that can demonstrate their impact. Specifically, the fund will provide on a competitive basis, multi-year federal support to promising nonprofit organizations in communities across the country.The President has asked Congress for $50 million in funding, which will then be matched by investments from a network of experienced grant makers and the nonprofit organizations themselves.The goal is to build a pipeline of organizations and practices with strong evidence, and the capacity to grow and increase the impact of their work. The Social Innovation Fund will provide the support needed to help move organizations from the promising stage to the stage where they have more concrete evidence that what they do, works.This is a new way of doing business for government. For that reason, the process of designing the Social Innovation Fund has been proactive, with outreach to interested individuals and communities early in the design process in order to capture their best thinking and ideas. The Corporation and the White House have conducted over 50 meetings with stakeholders such as:
In addition to these targeted meetings, the Corporation conducted five listening sessions around the country and phone calls open to the public on the implementation of the Serve America Act, including the Social Innovation Fund, and created a space on their Web site to solicit public feedback.Over the next several months, the Corporation and the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation will be continuing this outreach with meetings in Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Santa Fe and elsewhere.We are seeking the best thinking and lessons learned in communities across the country, in order to improve and shape the design of the Social Innovation Fund. We believe that the Social Innovation Fund will underscore the importance of innovation in solving our nation's most serious challenges, and the need to invest in "what works."While the fund alone won't solve our nation's challenges, it offers the hope of finding the next great idea or organization, and giving it the push it needs to reach more communities.The federal government has often been a catalyst in spurring innovation—from the creation of the Internet to the development of community-based health centers. Now, more than ever, we must help to find and support bold ideas and approaches that will improve the lives of millions of Americans. The challenges we face today are simply too numerous and too complex to be tackled in isolation, community by community.Again, we hope you'll join us in this effort by participating in a briefing call and question and answer session about the Social Innovation Fund hosted by the Corporation for National and Community Service from 1-2pm EST on Thursday, October 15, 2009. To register for the call and secure call logistics, please visit http://www.innovationcall.org/. Send questions in advance to Innovation@cns.gov. We will address as many questions as time allows on the call.Nicola Goren is Acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service
- Nonprofit organizations addressing our nation's many challenges
- Foundations that invest both organizational expertise and resources in nonprofit organizations
- Community foundations with extensive experience in local communities
- Evaluation experts with unique knowledge about how to measure impact
- Academics and other experts with knowledge about how to support innovation, growth and expansion of high-performing nonprofit organizations
- Organizations focused on service and volunteerism, including hundreds of participants at the National Conference on Service and Volunteering
- Other federal agencies working to surface and fund innovative organizations, such as the Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development
- Federal agencies with existing funding for innovation and a wealth of historical knowledge, such as the Small Business Administration and Department of Defense; and
- Local and state government leaders
Jesse LeeOctober 07, 2009
05:19 PM ESTThis afternoon the President presented recipients of this year's National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology with their awards. A humbling moment to be amongst some of the brightest and most pioneering minds in the world, he spoke about the importance of science and exploration—and expounded upon the necessity of creative and virtuous individuals to our country and to humanity:At such a difficult moment, there are those who say we can't afford to invest in science, that it's a luxury at a moment defined by necessities. I could not disagree more. Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, and our health, and our way of life than it has ever been. And the winners we are recognizing only underscore that point, with achievements in physics and medicine, computer science and cognitive science, energy technology and biotechnology. We need to ensure that we are encouraging the next generation of discoveries -- and the next generation of discoverers.That's why my administration has set this goal: by investing in education, funding basic and applied research, and spurring private innovation, we will devote 3 percent of our gross domestic product to research and development. That's more than at any point in recent history. (Applause.)And as part of this effort, we're putting in place policies that will move us from the middle to the top of the pack in math and science education over the next decade. We are challenging states to dramatically improve achievement by raising standards, by improving the use of technology, and by making it possible for professionals like our honorees to bring a lifetime of experience and enthusiasm into the classroom. And we've also launched a Race to the Top fund to encourage states to compete for the most innovative programs in math and science, as part of a broader effort to foster new ways of engaging young people in these fields.Later, he expressed excitement over tonight's South Lawn astronomy event, which will include a live chat at 7 PM/6 CT with NASA astronaut, first woman in space, Sally Ride.
Macon PhillipsOctober 07, 2009
03:57 PM ESTPresident Obama is hosting Astronomy Night on the South Lawn tonight, bringing 150 local middle-school students to the South Lawn to check out more than 20 telescopes and numerous exhibits.
One of the evening’s special guests is Sally Ride, the first American woman to travel to space. In addition to working with the kids at the event, she’s agreed to answer your questions live on the White House website.
So starting now, post questions for America’s first female astronaut via facebook and twitter (#WHlive). Whether it is about her experience getting kids excited about science (she’s written five books for kids and developed numerous middle-school programs), questions about the space program or just what it’s like to be weightless in space, she wants to hear from you.
NASA’s Dwayne Brown, the senior public affairs officer for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, will join her for the chat. He'll choose some of your questions prior to the event, and follow-up questions via twitter (#WHlive) during the chat.
So at 7pm Eastern:
- Watch the event here through WhiteHouse.gov/live
- Watch and discuss the event as it's happening through Facebook
Also, as the OSTP blog pointed out yesterday, you can join the fun from home:If you are newly interested in astronomy or stargazing, there is a free, open-source program called Stellarium that allows users to simulate the night sky on their computers for their specific location. It is a very easy-to-use tool that helps make stargazing fun and informative.Also, if you have a few minutes or hours to lose yourself in our final frontier, check out NASA's website for everything you'd want to know about the space program.
Jesse LeeOctober 07, 2009
01:38 PM ESTIt's no secret that institutions of all stripes focus their communications on certain messages day to day. We thought it would all be a little more open and transparent if we went ahead and published what our focus will be for the day, along with any related articles, reports or documents.Supporting article: "Schwarzenegger Endorses Obama Health Care Effort," ABC News, 10/6/09Supporting article: "Thompson joins former Democratic leader to push for health reform," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/5/09Supporting article: "Obama finds support outside party and Washington for healthcare plan," Los Angeles Times, 10/6/07Talking Points: Bipartisan Support for Health Insurance Reform Continues to Build· Bipartisan support for health insurance reform continues to grow around the nation.· Yesterday, Republican California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger added his voice to the growing chorus in support of reform.o He said he shares the President’s goals of "slowing the growth in costs, enhancing the quality of care delivered, improving the lives of individuals, and helping to ensure a strong economic recovery."o And he called on "colleagues on both sides of the political aisle at the national level to move forward and accomplish these vital goals for the American people."· Earlier this week, former Bush Administration Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson joined Democratic former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt in issuing a statement in support of reform. "Failure to reach an agreement on health reform this year is not an acceptable option," they said.o The bipartisan duo pointed out that there is "substantial common ground" between the various bills making their way through Congress and pointed to "broad support for key provisions… that would forbid insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, dropping coverage when people become ill, or imposing spending coverage caps on people when they get sick and need coverage."· And New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who originally ran as a Republican and is now an Independent, praised the reform proposals in Congress for "incorporating Republican ideas" and said the bill deserves bipartisan support.o He added that reform has "great potential to reduce costs for families, businesses and government at every level over the long term, while extending coverage to many millions of the uninsured and investing in proven, cost-effective public health strategies."· And last week, former Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist – a surgeon – said even he would vote for health insurance reform. He said that even though he’d probably "take heat" from his party, "that’s leadership."· These latest endorsements join a wide array from across the spectrum.o More than 1,000 state legislators from every corner of America have signed onto letters citing the urgent need for health insurance reform.o 22 Governors from states across the nation also signed a letter calling for reform.o Leading groups representing doctors, nurses, consumers, seniors, and even drug and insurance companies have all agreed that the status quo is unsustainable.· The message is clear: inaction is not an option.· President Obama’s health insurance reform plan will give Americans who have insurance unprecedented security and stability. It will give Americans without insurance quality, affordable options. And it will lower the cost of health care for our families, our businesses, and our government.
Jesse LeeOctober 07, 2009
12:23 PM ESTFrom his first days in office the President made clear that science, technology, and innovation would be elevated to core values in his Administration. But the awards being given today are evidence of how deeply rooted these things are in the American tradition.
[UPDATE: This event has now concluded.]
The National Medal of Science was created by statute in 1959 and is administered for the White House by the National Science Foundation in recognition of individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering.The National Medal of Technology and Innovation has its roots in a 1980 statute and is administered for the White House by the U.S. Department of Commerce's U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The award recognizes individuals or companies for their outstanding contributions to the promotion of technology for the improvement of the economic, environmental, or social well-being of the United States.Here's the list of 2008 Recipients:National Medal of Science
Watch the event here through WhiteHouse.gov/live
- Watch and discuss the event as it's happening through Facebook
Dr. Berni Alder, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, CA
Dr. Francis Collins, National Institutes of Health, MD
Dr. Joanna Fowler, Brookhaven National Laboratory, NY
Dr. Elaine Fuchs, The Rockefeller University, NY
Dr. James Gunn, Princeton University, NJ
Dr. Rudolf Kalman, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich
Dr. Michael Posner, University of Oregon, OR
Dr. JoAnne Stubbe, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MA
Dr. J. Craig Venter, J. Craig Venter Institute, MD & CANational Medal of Technology and Innovation
Dr. Forrest M. Bird, Percussionaire Corp., ID
Dr. Esther Sans Takeuchi, University at Buffalo, SUNY, NY
Team: Dr. John E. Warnock and Dr. Charles M. Geschke (Adobe Systems Inc., CA)
Company: IBM Corporation, NY
- Watch the event here through WhiteHouse.gov/live
Rick WeissOctober 06, 2009
06:26 PM ESTThe White House has announced that on Wednesday, after honoring 13 of the nation’s top innovators and inventors, President Obama will host an Astronomy Night on the White House South Lawn.OSTP is a proud co-organizer of the event, which will bring the President together with 150 local middle-school students and two students (a middle-schooler and a high school student) who have already made notable astronomical discoveries. The event will highlight this Administration’s commitment to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.It is also a way to increase awareness of the incredible discoveries, inspiration, and expansion of human knowledge that the field of astronomy can deliver, and we hope that people around the country will take part. The event is to be broadcast on the White House Web site as well as NASA TV, and will be linked with simultaneous events at museums and planetariums across the country.Separately, the United Nations has declared this week World Space Week, and 2009 is the International Year of Astronomy.If you are newly interested in astronomy or stargazing, there is a free, open-source program called Stellarium that allows users to simulate the night sky on their computers for their specific location. It is a very easy-to-use tool that helps make stargazing fun and informative.The event at the White House will include more than 20 telescopes set up on the White House lawn focused on various objects. There will also be interactive dome presentations and hands-on activities including scale models of the Solar System, impact cratering, and investigating meteorites and Moon rocks.OSTP will be twittering from both events tomorrow; you can follow us @whitehouseostp.Rick Weiss is Director of Strategic Communications and Senior Science and Technology Policy Analyst at the Office of Science and Technology Policy
October 06, 2009
05:16 PM EST"Wow. These are some fancy handouts."We were in a meeting and VA Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth was flipping through a full-color PowerPoint presentation that had been neatly packaged in a professionally prepared folder. The one in her hands had probably cost five or six dollars to create. Content aside, I could tell it bothered her."You know, you guys didn’t need to go to all this trouble to put these together," she said to the presenters. "I'm okay with simple black and white handouts next time." Then she added: "And by the way, everything around here needs to be printed on both sides of the paper. None of this one-sided stuff. It’s just a waste."And that was my introduction to VA's culture—what eventually became the department's "Green Routine" Initiative this month. At the Department of Veterans Affairs, it’s not that we're neurotic, or that we value such attention to detail at the expense of more important, core issues for the department—like healthcare for veterans, the GI Bill, or remaining on the cutting edge of research. The fact is that during a transformative process—like the one now occurring at VA—you have to pay attention to every last detail. That's how effective organizations run—from the military, to private companies, to federal agencies. Whether it's in how you treat student-Veterans when their GI Bill checks are late, how you distinguish between PTSD and a personality disorder, or how you run a top-tier organization that doesn't waste—it's all about being conscientious to what’s going on around us. And at VA, the leadership is committed to that level of detail in everything we do.So to kick off Energy Awareness Month at the Department of Veterans Affairs this week, Secretary Shinseki announced the "Green Routine" campaign. The premise is simple enough: It's a campaign designed to increase awareness among VA employees of their environmental impact as individuals and as members of the federal government.To make that happen, we’ve got a new web site devoted to environmental tips at www.va.gov/greenroutine. Along with a video from VA's Chief of Staff, the site includes tips on how employees can "green" their workplaces. It also contains a reference tool for managers and employees entitled the Greening Action Guide and Toolkit which recommends actions such as selecting a "green champion" in each office to help promote environmentally friendly steps like holding electronic meetings without paper handouts, turning off cubicle lights when not in use, unplugging cell phone chargers, recycling printer cartridges, and, of course, printing on both sides of the paper.I'll be the first to admit, when I watched Assistant Secretary Duckworth's blooming irritation at the unnatural celebration of corporatism in the form of a lavish PowerPoint handout, I found it interesting. But at the time, that was about as far as it went for me. Being my first week on the job, I didn't realize that that's just the way we were going to do things from now on at VA. But now I know.Reducing our carbon footprint and providing the highest quality care and services to our Veterans and their families are not mutually exclusive tasks. In fact, the thing they have in common is what will ultimately set this department apart: And that's an attention to detail in every single aspect of how we do our jobs here—from the office to the operating room.The Department of Veterans Affairs is clearly not an organization without its faults. But with the leadership we now have in place, the department is on a path toward efficiency in everything we do. And that ultimately means the best possible care for our Veterans and their families.Brandon Friedman is the Director of New Media at the Department of Veterans Affairs. He is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Secretary Arne DuncanOctober 06, 2009
03:22 PM ESTYesterday, I went on the Colbert Report to discuss my goals for education in this country. We talked about the importance of increasing our expectations for every child. As I meet with teachers, students, parents and administrators across the country on my Listening and Learning Tour, we all agree that everyone has to take responsibility for our children. After all, we all have a stake in their education, because they are our future. While No Child Left Behind did a good job of articulating the problems in education, we have to start focusing on solutions. We have to recruit the absolutely best teachers, inspire every high school student to graduate, and turn around our low-performing schools.Before the interview, Stephen and I went one-on-one on the basketball court. He made several impressive shots, including one off the wall and an unbelievably long three-pointer. He’s got some game. Next time Stephen is in DC, I challenge him to another game.
Watch the video here.Arne Duncan is Secretary of Education
Jesse LeeOctober 06, 2009
02:50 PM ESTThis morning the President paid a visit to the National Counterterrorism Center in DC, meeting with leadership before sending a simple but profound message to the staff:But I wanted to come here today and take a few minutes just to deliver a simple message -- and I delivered it inside, and that is the message of thanks -- to say thank you from me, who use your product each and every day to make some very tough decisions, and to thank you on behalf of the American people, who may not even know that you're here but are relying on you each and every day to make sure that their kids get home safely and that when they commute to work it's going to be okay. To think about the profound impact that all of you are having on the day-to-day life of this nation I think is extraordinary. Your professionalism is essential to protecting this country.Now, we recently observed the eighth anniversary of that terrible day when terrorists brought so much death and destruction to our shores. And once more we remembered all the lives that were lost. And once more we redoubled our resolve against the extremists who continue to plot against the United States and our allies.So we need you more than ever. Our troops and our intelligence officers in the field, our diplomats overseas, our law enforcement here at home, they all depend on you -- your analysis, your insights, your ability to work together, across divisions and disciplines, turning information into intelligence and sharing it quickly, in real time, with those who need it.As I said before, I am one of those consumers of your work product here at NCTC. Every morning I look to you for the latest intelligence. In fact, I think so highly of NCTC that I picked the guy who put NCTC together -- John Brennan -- as my chief adviser for counterterrorism and homeland security. And by the way, John Brennan is here and doing an outstanding job each and every day. He's also, by the way, I think, responsible for getting this spiffy building up and running.Now, again, a lot of you are working in some obscurity right now. Few Americans know about the work that you do, and this is how it should be. Your assignments require it, and obviously you didn't go into this line of work for the fame and glory, or the glare of the spotlight. You're in this to serve and protect.But today, I want every American to know about the difference you've made -- especially in recent months and days. Because of you, and all the organizations you represent, we're making real progress in our core mission: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and other extremist networks around the world.We must never lose sight of that goal. That's the principal threat to the American people. That is the threat that led to the creation of this Center. And that must be the focus of our efforts to defend the homeland and our allies, and defeat extremists abroad.
Jesse LeeOctober 06, 2009
11:33 AM ESTAs we discussed yesterday, the President hosted doctors from all 50 states here at the White House, coming together in a powerful testimonial to what reform is all about.A new video featuring interviews with many of those doctors serves as a reminder that the people at the real frontlines of the health care battle are not lobbyists or politicians invested in protecting the status quo, but are instead the people who deal with the health and well-being of our families every day and see the need for change first hand:download .mp4 (52 MB)
MAJOR UPDATE: If you are one of the 48 million professionals, or in particular one of the 3.6 million medical professionals who are members of LinkedIn, be sure to chime in at our new discussion page about this video. We'll be responding to the conversation in a few days. Today marks the launch of our White House Group page there, and since the entire point of engaging there is to get beyond Washington, the first thing we wanted to do was reach out about this video. So stop by, let us know what you think.