Our Top Stories
November 19, 2009
12:26 PM EDT
One striking aspect of President Obama’s visit to China is the excitement it has generated at all social levels throughout the country. Rather than being seen as a dry, political event with little relationship to ordinary people’s lives – as such events often are perceived – President Obama’s trip here has energized Chinese and foreign residents alike.
Beijing is a city of intellectuals, artists, and scholars, with a lively and active arts scene. While the large establishment-supported (and state controlled) “arts industry” flourishes, so too do hundreds of small informal gatherings of artists creating things of beauty for art’s sake.
As the President arrived at Beijing’s airport, miles away, in Beijing’s old city center, in a tiny private theater in a small hutong (alleyway) not far from the Forbidden City, some of Beijing’s top artists celebrated his arrival in a unique way.
Liz OxhornNovember 19, 2009
11:38 AM EDT
Three months ago, the critics denied that the Recovery Act was making any jobs. Today, everyone – including the critics - can see those jobs for themselves on Recovery.gov. Now that the evidence has proven them wrong, they are left to cast doubts about just how many jobs were made and where. But for all of the attempts to distract and distort from the program’s progress, these reports – directly from the recipients of Recovery Act dollars - make one thing indisputably clear: the Recovery Act is now responsible for supporting at least one million jobs across the country.
It’s time to keep the critics honest. Here are some of the misleading things you may have been hearing about how we are tracking our progress supporting jobs through the Recovery Act – and the truth behind them:
FICTION: The reports recipients of Recovery Act funds filed are riddled with errors.
FACT: More than 130,000 reports were collected from recipients who were required to fill out 99 different data fields – that's over 12 million pieces of information collected directly from those putting the funds to work. Much has been made of incorrectly coded Congressional Districts, but that issue – which the Recovery Board has already fixed – affected about 1 percent of reports. And other potential over or under-counts of jobs you may have seen highlighted in the media amount to less than 5 percent of all reports.
FICTION: The Administration is misleading people about where Recovery Act money is going.
FACT: The reports you see on Recovery.gov were filed by over 130,000 recipients of Recovery Act dollars and they were responsible for inputting the information – including their Congressional District. We don’t expect that these recipients – many of which are small community organizations or businesses - will do this perfectly the first time out of the gate, but we do take our role reviewing the reports very seriously and continue to work with the recipients to improve the accuracy of their reports. The fact is, though, that the errors you are seeing are simply typos or basic human error.
FICTION: The jobs that were listed in non-existent Congressional Districts were not real.
FACT: The jobs and related projects listed are legitimate – they were just coded in the wrong Congressional District. The Recovery Board moved quickly to correct the coding and posting error – but before that happened, the public was still able to click through to find the address of the recipient and confirm their correct Congressional District on their own.
FICTION: The Administration has failed to meet expectations it set for the quality of data it would collect.
FACT: From the beginning, even before the data was collected, Administration officials said repeatedly that they did not expect the initial reports to be perfect, but certainly expected them to provide an unprecedented and largely accurate look at the Recovery Act at work – and they do. We will continue to collect this information every three months and we expect the data we collect to get sharper and more precise each time we do it.
FICTION: These errors mean that none of the reports and related jobs numbers can be trusted.
FACT: Overall, less than 5 percent of the reports have been identified as potential over or under-counts of jobs. That is a lower possible revision rate than most long-standing, widely-accepted government economic indicators. Take for example:
- Payroll Employment, 2008: Original Average Monthly Decline – 157,000, Revised Average Monthly Decline –230,000, 46 percent lower than original
Independent economist Mark Zandi said it best:
- "Well, these numbers are [verified]. The 600,000-plus estimates from the administration come from recipients of the stimulus aid. And, so, we know for sure that these jobs are for real. Now, of course, it doesn't count all of the other jobs created by the tax cuts and other elements of the stimulus. That is much more difficult to count, at least directly. But the 600,000-plus, that's numbers that are counted directly and accurate... All of the statistics that we get on the economy that the government collects are based on surveys and samples, similar to the one that was conducted here. So, I think they are using the same approaches and techniques in constructing these estimates then -- that we use for constructing all kinds of estimates to try to get a gauge of where the economy is." [Newshour, 10/30/09]
FICTION: The jobs numbers are already lower than expected – and this lack of credibility just makes the case for the job impact of the Recovery Act even weaker.
FACT: In fact, economists say that, because the reports cover less than half of the money put to work so far and only direct jobs, they point to a job impact of at least double what was reported. So even if reports totaled only 500,000 jobs – not the over 600,000 reported – it would still confirm Administration and independent estimates of over 1 million jobs.
But don’t take our word for it. Here is what economist John Irons, who is testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Recovery Act jobs today, had to say:
- "New data from recipients of grants, loans, and contracts made under the Recovery Act count about 650,000 new jobs created or retained to date, one of the strongest signs yet that the Recovery Act has led to significant job creation. The data, which reflect a fraction of all the Recovery Act investments made to date, are consistent with other estimates of jobs creation showing that between 1.1 and 1.5 million jobs have been created or preserved as a result of the stimulus package to date. It follows recent news that the economy as a whole grew by a 3.5% annual rate in the third quarter, another indication that the Recovery Act has provided a much needed spark to the economy." [Economic Policy Institute, 10/30/09]
FICTION: The Administration already had to remove 60,000 inaccurate jobs from the website – who knows what other inaccurate items they’ve posted that should come down.
FACT: The Administration worked with the Recovery Board to have 60,000 over-counted jobs removed from the list before it was ever posted on Recovery.gov in order to dramatically increase accuracy pre-posting. Items flagged as possible over or under reports since the data was posted on Recovery.gov are a fraction of this size, indicating the vast majority of errors were caught before then.
Liz Oxhorn is Recovery Act Communications Director
Arun ChaudharyNovember 19, 2009
11:10 AM EDT
This is take two for our sign off from Korea video with Speechwriter Jon Favreau. The first attempt was at the final event of the President’s trip across Asia, a rally with our troops at Osan Air Base in the Republic of Korea.
Things start to speed up towards the end of a long journey like this as everyone anticipates going home. We were in the middle of setting up the computer to show you the President shaking hands on the rope line of hanger 635 when the call came to load Air Force One. Being left behind at an event and wandering the streets of Tokyo is one thing, being left behind on a tarmac 6945 miles from home is quite another.
But while booking it back to the plane at top speed, we couldn’t resist giving it another stab before scaling the steps to the safety of the “bubble” once more.
We hope to get in a couple more updates from the air before wheels down at Andrews Air Force Base tomorrow night.
Arun Chaudhary is the official White House videographer
Arun ChaudharyNovember 19, 2009
10:44 AM EDT
There is a palpable sense of excitement among the staff as we mill around the lobby of the St. Regis Hotel, eagerly awaiting the return of the motorcade. Once we load in, it’s straight to that most Chinese of tourist attractions, the Great Wall of China. Folks look ready to go. Everyone is in warm clothes and sensible shoes, heeding the warnings of those already at the site in Badaling.
It’s been a long couple of days for everyone here in Beijing, but the fact that we've been in one place for more than a day, has meant that folks have been able to get out a little more to see this amazing city, eat some food, see some sights. Everyone is enjoying a little something in Beijing.
Most importantly, people have had time to purchase an answer to that age-old question: “What did you bring me from your trip?"
Nancy SutleyNovember 19, 2009
10:17 AM EDT
Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit my alma mater, Cornell University, to speak at the annual Net Impact Conference. The conference brought together students and professionals from around the U.S. interested in sustainable enterprise and environmental stewardship, and allowed participants to share best practices and discuss new initiatives to advance global sustainability through entrepreneurship and innovation.
While at Cornell, I had the opportunity to check out the Cornell Fuel Cell Institute and the Energy Materials Center, a U.S. Department of Energy designated Energy Frontier Research Center. Héctor Abruña, the director of the Center presented some of their fascinating advances in fuel cell technology and told me about Cornell’s partnerships with major companies to develop efficient, high-performance batteries and fuel cells for industry and consumer products. These technologies have an amazing potential to revolutionize our transportation and energy sectors.
Needless to say, I really appreciated the opportunity to get a back-stage tour of the University’s fuel cell labs and enjoyed being back on campus. Research universities all over the U.S. are doing groundbreaking work in developing clean energy technology and training the next generation of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs.
Nancy Sutley is the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality
November 18, 2009
11:24 PM EDT
We all know that creating jobs is more important than counting jobs. But when misinterpreting the count casts doubt on their creation, it is worth talking about the count. Two aspects in particular worth discussing are how recipients create jobs before receiving money, and why some awards don’t yet show jobs.
Some critics have raised questions about jobs being reported as created or saved without any money been spent by the recipient. They ask, “How could this happen?”
In many cases we would expect to see job creation before a recipient receives or spends money. For example, sometimes states are not able to pay State Fiscal Stabilization funds to school districts right away. However, knowledge that these funds are on the way have allowed many school districts to retain teachers that they would otherwise cut. When districts know they can count on the money, they can keep teachers on the job. And this isn’t just a hypothetical example. It’s a real, tangible example of what you would see in Connecticut. You can check it out online here.
There are countless other examples, not only in education. Sometimes you see this in transportation programs, where the government only pays out money only after a reimbursement request is submitted. So, a contractor could have hired hundreds of people, and built an entire stretch of road before receiving a dime. If you believed what the critics say, you may think there’s no way these jobs could exist—that someone cooked the books, or entered wrong data. But you’d be wrong. You see this accelerated job creation in our science spending as well – for example, in South Carolina where a $591,000 grant to a research foundation allowed that foundation to keep two people hired as a result. How much money had the foundation received? None, but they know it’s coming, so they planned ahead.
Some critics point to the opposite sort of report: many awards that show money being spent, but no jobs being created. Let’s see why this is not a cause for concern.
Many recipients got their money at the very end of the reporting period, and simply hadn’t yet hired anyone before the period ended. Several awards (literally billions of dollars worth) were awarded just before the close of the reporting period. You can see this yourself if you look at many of the NIH awards on Recovery.gov. Will a large number of these awards create jobs soon? Yes! Take an NIH grant received by a university in Pennsylvania for $2.7 million. This grant was awarded on 9/30/2009—literally the last day before reports had to be prepared. So it’s no surprise that this university got funds, but hasn’t yet hired. The fact that these awards show money received but no jobs created isn’t bad news— it’s telling us that the best is yet to come.
Many recipients are just starting work on their awards, and explicitly say so in their reports. Awards of billions of dollars show the same. When filing reports, recipients were able to comment on how complete their project is: zero percent, less than fifty percent, more than fifty percent, or complete. A zero job award may not mean the same thing if it is also not yet started—and there are many of these. One simply has to look. Take this example: a police department in North Carolina received almost $500,000 but had reported no jobs. Their project status shows less than 50% complete. A simple reading of the description would paint a fuller picture: “Although no jobs have yet been created, 4 Crime Analysts will be hired in October. We had started the hiring process at the end of September.”
And don’t forget: many recipients are creating jobs, but they’re just not the types of jobs that get reported on. Nevertheless, they can be seen across the reports: reports on science equipment ordered, on construction material bought, on cars bought. These things create jobs... just not reported on jobs. Some non reported jobs are even more obvious: one recipient in Georgia states “Although they are not included in our direct hire FTE calculations... more than 1,000 staff augmentation subcontract workers have been added to our site ARRA workforce.” Again, non-reported on jobs can be spotted across reports from every corner of the country.
Sure, at the end of the day people may wish every report was audited. But of course, that can’t be done—funds were not provided to hire auditors, not to mention that that would have been a waste of needed funds. Instead, the reports are online for everyone to see. All people have to do is look.
G. Edward DeSeve is Special Advisor to the President, Assistant to the Vice President and Special Advisor to the OMB Director for Implementation of the Recovery Act
November 18, 2009
06:14 PM EDT
Veterans Day serves as a reminder to not only honor America's men in uniform, but also the women—the mothers, sisters, daughters, and grandmothers who, throughout history, broke barriers and endured hardships to serve our country. Today at the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama, along with Blue Star Mom Dr. Jill Biden, welcomed some of those women in celebration of their bravery and commitment to protecting our freedoms:
In this room alone, we have the first female four star general. We have the first woman in the Navy to be promoted to Master Chief. The first woman in the Army Reserve to be promoted to the general officer rank. We have the first woman in the Army to receive the Expert Field Medical Badge. We have the first African American woman to serve as Chief Nurse at Walter Reed Hospital. And so many more "firsts" and "onlys" -- and that's the result of your hard work and your courage and your persistence.
But we know these achievements aren’t yours alone. That's something that Jill and I have talked about, we've learned more about over the course of this year, because we know that service doesn’t just end with the person wearing the uniform. You all know that. We know that our servicemen and women’s sacrifices are their families' sacrifices as well. And many of you have spouses, partners, children, parents who stood by you and encouraged you and prayed for you every step of the way. And this day is their day too, as far as we're concerned. So let’s take a moment to recognize those members of our families who supported you in your service as well. (Applause.)
The First Lady continued, praising them not only for the good they've done, but for the good they have inspired in others:
But I hope you all know that your service -- that your legacy is more than just your own service. I hope that you know that your legacy will be measured in the service of every woman who follows in the trails that you've blazed -- every woman who benefits from your daring and determination. It will be measured in the inspiration that you provide to our daughters and our granddaughters -- and to our sons and our grandsons as well.
Because of you, when young women wonder how high they can rise in our military, they can look at General Ann Dunwoody and her four hard earned stars. That can see that, it's real. When they ask what kind of jobs they can do, they can look to women like all of you who’ve played just about every kind of role imaginable. And when they ask whether they can cut it -- whether they have what it takes to succeed -- all they have to do is to look at your lives, to look into your lives and to look at the careers that you've developed that inspire us all.
Secretary Hilda SolisNovember 18, 2009
05:24 PM EDT
Today the Department of Labor announced nearly $55 million in grants to help workers, many in underserved communities, find jobs in expanding green industries.
As a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, these grants reflect the administration’s long-term commitment to fostering both immediate economic growth and a clean energy future. It’s an investment that will help American workers do well, while doing good.
The recipients of today’s grants will strengthen the capacity to provide training opportunities, support the collection and dissemination of invaluable state labor market information, and most importantly, help individuals acquire green jobs.
Of the grants announced, $48.8 million focus on collecting and disseminating labor market information, which will enable job seekers to connect with green job banks and help to ensure that workers find employment after completing training. State workforce agencies will be able to work together as part of a consortium to collect information and create a regional, multi-state or national impact.
In addition, $5.8 million in grants have been awarded to increase the capacity of 62 current Labor Department grant recipients to provide training opportunities specifically focused on jobs in expanding green industries.
These grants aren’t just more money to the same players. They reflect my commitment, that of the Department of Labor and that of this administration to ensure that help finds those who need it most. Many of these training grants are targeted at traditionally underserved communities, including American Indians, women, at-risk youth, and farm workers.
As a result, programs like Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Employment for Women (ANEW) in Western Washington State will be able to provide training and certificate programs in green industries to women who are low-income, unemployed, at-risk youth, or our female veterans.
These investments are part of nearly $500 million in Recovery Act money for green jobs grants designed to promote economic growth. Over the next several months the Department of Labor will release funding for an additional three green grant award categories.
I encourage you all to visit www.doleta.gov for information on the recipients of the current grants as well as information about upcoming grant opportunities.
It is time for America to seize the opportunity of a clean energy economy, and American workers must lead this green revolution. That is why we are investing these dollars here at home in American jobs and American innovation. By making strategic choices now, we will restore our country’s role as a global leader in the clean energy industry.
Hilda Solis is the Secretary of Labor
Ambassador Ron KirkNovember 18, 2009
05:00 PM EDT
Today we concluded a weeklong trip to Asia. In our closing meeting with President Obama and Chinese Premier Wen, leaders of our two countries reiterated their commitments to renew old alliances and forge new partnerships.
Throughout the past week, we have made strides toward our goal of strengthening U.S. leadership and economic competitiveness in the region and making progress on issues that matter to the American people and leveraging that progress into job creation at home.
From a trade perspective, the steps we’ve taken in Asia will benefit businesses and workers across the American economy – ranchers, farmers, manufacturers, and creative industries all have a future in U.S. trade with Asia.
As companies across the spectrum look for a way forward out of these difficult economic times, we’re asking them to take a second look at trade. Because engaging new customers abroad can create jobs at home.
President Obama began his trip to Asia by making an announcement in Tokyo that the United States will engage with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This will be done in close consultation with the United States Congress and with stakeholders at home. This is an exciting opportunity for the United States to engage with some of the fastest growing economies in the world as well as providing the opportunity to address gaps in our current agreements, and to set the standard for 21st-century trade agreements going forward.
November 18, 2009
04:00 PM EDT
To help keep communities healthy during the flu season, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships (Partnerships Center) led by Alexia Kelley and with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released an H1N1 Flu guide specifically targeted to help community and faith-based organizations. Flu season is in full swing, and communities are finding innovative ways to spread awareness through community outreach programs. Here are just a few examples.
- Johnson County in Kansas recently posted an entry on its county blog about the release of the new HHS H1N1 Flu guide alongside helpful links of how local organizations can prepare for flu and other emergencies and disasters.
- To help combat flu in their area, the Health Department of Lexington-Fayette County in Kentucky created flu outreach response teams, also known as “Lex Flu Crews.” Armed with flu knowledge and prevention handout materials, the “Flu Crews” have reached out to over 800 businesses and 300 faith-based organizations by hosting meetings and flu-education sessions to help prevent the spread of both seasonal and H1N1 flu.
- In San Francisco, Emily Hughes of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is having trouble holding on to copies, saying, “The guides are flying out of our office.”
- Also in California, Community Action Partnerships of San Bernardino County tell us that the guide has been crucial to helping local organizations during flu season.
The H1N1 Flu guide, which is also available in Spanish online, provides specific action steps that community and faith-based organizations can take to help keep communities healthy during flu season, including:
- Communicating important information about flu;
- Supporting vaccination efforts;
- Linking vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations to vital information and resources; and
- Expanding and adjusting organizational activities to help people stay healthy.
We encourage folks to check out the guide, and let us know how we can support local organizations that are helping to keep communities healthy.
Joshua DuBois is the Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Secretary Steven ChuNovember 18, 2009
03:36 PM EDT
I was honored to be a part of President Obama’s trip to China this week. We made important progress strengthening our partnership with China on clean energy – a partnership that will create jobs in the United States.
President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao announced a series of steps the two countries are taking in this area. Let me highlight three:
First, the two Presidents announced the establishment of the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center to facilitate joint work by teams of scientists and engineers from both countries. I signed the Protocol formally establishing the Center with my Chinese counterparts. China and the U.S. are committing $150 million in public and private funding to the center over five years, split evenly between the two countries.
Jesse LeeNovember 18, 2009
01:05 PM EDT
This afternoon, the First Lady will celebrate women in the military—watch live as she welcomes approximately 130 WWII veterans, current servicewomen, and wounded warriors to the White House.
Also dropping by is Dr. Jill Biden, a lifelong and strong supporter of veterans, along with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Cartwright, members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and their wives, and other senior military and administration officials.
UPDATE: This event has now concluded.
November 18, 2009
12:10 PM EDT
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Know What to Do about the Flu webcast series continues today with a special segment focused on diabetes. If you or a loved one have diabetes, join this live event to learn about the possible risk of complications from H1N1 flu and what you can do to stay healthy this flu season.
Today’s experts panelists will discuss how flu can affect people with diabetes and answer your questions live during the event. Participants include:
- Dr. Beth Bell, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Director for Science, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.
- Ann Albright, PhD, RD, Director, Division of Diabetes Translation, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.
Jesse LeeNovember 18, 2009
12:07 PM EDT
It'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, documents, or reports.
Supporting letter: 20 Leading Economists Write to President Obama, 11/17/09
Talking Points: Economists Say Reform Will Strengthen America’s Fiscal Health
- Yesterday, a group of 20 leading economists wrote a letter to the President confirming that measures that are included in the Senate Finance Committee legislation and that they hope to see considered on the senate floor "will reduce long-term deficits, improve the quality of care, and put the nation on a firm fiscal footing."
- The measures, they say, will "help transform the health care system from delivering too much care, to a system that consistently delivers higher-quality, high-value care."
- The economists lauded the following key measures:
- A fee on insurance companies offering high-premium plans — which would create a strong incentive for more efficient plans that would help reduce the growth of premiums.
- Establishing a Medicare commission — which would develop and submit proposals to Congress aimed at extending the solvency of Medicare, slowing Medicare cost growth, and improving the quality of care delivered to Medicare beneficiaries.
- Reforms in the delivery system to ensure that patients receive high-quality, high-value care.
- And, as the President has insisted from the beginning, the legislation does not add a dime to the deficit.
Jesse LeeNovember 18, 2009
09:12 AM EDT
All day today Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Small Business Administrator Karen G. Mills will convene a forum on small business financing issues for a range of key stakeholders including policymakers, lenders, and small business owners to explore new ideas and strategies for expanding access to financing for small businesses. The event, which the President called for last month, is part of a larger effort to help small businesses grow, create new jobs, and contribute to our economic recovery and to challenge the private sector to increase lending to small businesses.
[UPDATE: This event has now concluded]
Also take a couple minutes to watch a special video walking with Small Business Administrator Karen G. Mills through the course of a day:
Dan PfeifferNovember 17, 2009
11:52 PM EDT
One of the hallmark tactics from opponents of health insurance reform has been to grab onto any convenient piece of information and twist it into some misguided attack on reform, no matter how unrelated it may actually be. The hope appears to be that some media outlet will give them unchecked airtime under the banner of covering the “controversy.” Today they’re going back to that playbook again, and Fox News obliges them with the headline “Critics See Health Care Rationing Behind New Mammography Recommendations.” The story refers to new recommendations from the independent U.S. Preventive Services Task Force:
"Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are blasting new guidelines from a government task force that recommends against routine mammographies for women under 50, questioning whether they are tantamount to health care ‘rationing’ in the fight against the No. 2 cancer killer in U.S. women."
There’s only one problem: the recommendations of this task force would actually be used to provide access to effective preventive services for free or at low-cost. The USPTF would have no power to deny insurance coverage in any way. The line of attack is actually somewhat ironic, because one of the guiding principles of reform from the very beginning in March has been to invest in significantly increased effective preventive care, something these “critics” never seemed to care much about over the past 8 months.
Just so there’s no ambiguity, here are the answers to about every question you (or “critics”) might have on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force:
Will Medicare now stop paying for breast cancer mammography for women because of this recommendation?
Women who are currently getting mammograms under Medicare will continue to be able to get them. There are no plans to change that. The law states that in order to change Medicare coverage of mammograms a formal rule making process must be undertaken and that is not happening.
Isn’t this the first step toward denying coverage for mammograms?
No. The Task force is an independent panel of experts in prevention and primary care that evaluates available evidence and makes recommendations about effective clinical preventive services based on scientific information. Under the health insurance reform legislation, the USPTF would have no power to deny insurance coverage in any way. Their recommendations would be used in health reform to identify effective clinical preventive services.
How will this recommendation affect private health insurance coverage?
The Task Force does not address insurance coverage and payment issues; it focuses on the science of the clinical services it evaluates. Each insurance company is different and makes its own coverage decisions. The Task Force recognizes that clinical and policy decisions involve more consideration that this body of evidence alone. Clinicians and policymakers should understand the evidence but individualize decision making to the specific patient or situation.
Tommy Thompson said the Task Force recommendations were the official position of the U.S. Government. Is that your position?
We have tremendous respect for the Task Force and the work they have done. They are an independent scientific body that makes recommendations based on scientific evidence; however they do not set official policy for the federal government. Under health reform, their recommendations would be used to identify preventive services that must be provided for little or no cost.
Won’t the USPSTF be used to ration care under health reform?
Absolutely not. The USPSTF, an independent task force made up of some of the nation’s top doctors and scientists provides science-based recommendations regarding the most effective preventive, treatment and screening services. The Task Force’s recommendations would be used to help determine the types of services that must be provided for at little or no cost and the Task Force would have no power to deny insurance coverage in any way..
What do these recommendations mean for the current health reform bills?
While the bills are still being drafted and debated in Congress, health insurance reform legislation generally calls for the Task Force’s recommendations to help determine the types of preventive services that must be provided for little or no cost. The recommendations alone cannot be used to deny treatment.
Eddie LeeNovember 17, 2009
04:52 PM EDT
Since September 21st, hundreds of students across the country responded to the President’s call to take greater responsibility for their education by creating videos explaining why education is important. In less than two months, students submitted more than 600 video entries.
In their entries, students talked about the goals they had for their future and the steps they would take to meet them. The submissions came from students from diverse economic, social and ethnic backgrounds, and the content ranged from music videos to short skits. The common theme in all of these videos was the understanding that education was the key to success.
Secretary Arne Duncan recorded a message thanking all the students who submitted videos:Viewing this video requires Adobe Flash Player 8 or higher. Download the free player.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Communications and Outreach has carefully reviewed each submission and narrowed the submissions down to 10 finalists based on creativity, strength and originality of content, and ability to inspire. These videos are now available for voting at www.youtube.com/Iamwhatilearn.
Voting for the videos runs from November 16th to December 4th. The three videos with the most votes at the end of this period will each win a $1,000 prize issued by the U.S. Department of Education.
Eddie Lee is Confidential Assistant in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the Department of Education
Jesse LeeNovember 17, 2009
02:13 PM EDT
After a warm welcome in Beijing's historic Great Hall of the People, President Obama and President Hu sat down to discuss the many overlapping issues facing both nations, including China's growing economy and its effect on the US and the rest of the world and the exciting education reforms happening in each country:PRESIDENT OBAMA: As we both affirmed, the United States and China have a great many mutual interests. And after 30 years of bilateral relations, I think it's fair to say that our two governments have continued to move forward in a way that can bring even greater cooperation in the future.And I want to reaffirm the fact that the American people are interested in stronger relations with the people of China, and that the more that we can encourage people-to-people exchanges that are consistent with the discussions that we're having at the government level, the more that China and the United States will be able to work cooperatively on a whole range of issues -- both economic issues, security issues, and global issues that are in the interest not just of our two nations but the entire world.
One topic of particular interest to both leaders is a joint initiative towards clean energy, and President Obama and President Hu introduced a far-reaching package of measures to strengthen cooperation between the United States and China on clean energy. An abridged version of the measures is below, and the full version is available here:
The U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center will facilitate joint research and development of clean energy technologies by teams of scientists and engineers from the United States and China, as well as serve as a clearinghouse to help researchers in each country.
The U.S.-China Electric Vehicles Initiative will include joint standards development, demonstration projects in more than a dozen cities, technical roadmapping and public education projects, all aimed at eventual deployment of electric vehicles to reduce oil dependence.
The U.S. China Energy Efficiency Action Plan will allow the two countries to work together to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, industrial facilities, and consumer appliances, culminating with an annual U.S.-China Energy Efficiency Forum, rotating between the two countries.
The U.S. China Renewable Energy Partnership will facilitate development of roadmaps for wide-spread renewable energy deployment. A new Advanced Grid Working Group made up of American and Chinese developers and strategists will help plan for grid modernization in both countries, and a new U.S.-China Renewable Energy Forum will be held annually, rotating between the two countries.
A 21st Century Coal Initiative, for which the two Presidents pledged to promote cooperation on cleaner uses of coal, will include large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration projects.
A Shale Gas Initiative, will allow the U.S. and China to use experience gained in the United States to assess China’s shale gas potential, promote environmentally-sustainable development of shale gas resources, conduct joint technical studies to accelerate development of shale gas resources in China, and promote shale gas investment in China through the U.S.-China Oil and Gas Industry Forum, study tours, and workshops.
The U.S. China Energy Cooperation Program will leverage private sector resources for project development work in China across a broad array of clean energy projects, to the benefit of both nations.
Read more about the President's historic 10-day trip to Asia here.
November 17, 2009
01:51 PM EDT
When dealing with official state visits, things come in pairs. The leaders hold joint press conferences. The limousines in the motorcades fly the flags of both nations on the hood. The staff sit in equal numbers at the table, each opposite his or her equivalent in the other country's delegation. Even the official photographers are paired together. Where one is allowed to go, the other will expect to follow.
For Pete Souza, director of the White House Photo Office (and my boss), it is a matter of professional courtesy and collegial camaraderie.
In this update Pete tells us some of the other trials and tribulations of shooting on the road. And he has one more surprising pair: though this is President Obama's first trip to China, it is Pete's second state visit. He was here as one of President Reagan's official photographers in 1984 and shared with us some of the differences he has noticed over the decades in this vibrant city.
He also shared some of the lens lengths he uses but don't be fooled, it takes more than a certain type of lens to capture a great photo.
Here are some pictures from the trip so far:
Arun Chaudhary is the official White House videographer
November 17, 2009
12:24 PM EDT
It's been over a week since we first arrived in Asia. First, we traveled to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Singapore, and now we have joined President Obama in Beijing, China. We have come to this important region to engage our counterparts to strengthen our economic relationships, further open Asian markets to American exports and create well-paid jobs at home.
The 21 countries that make up APEC account for some 61 percent of American exports, and traveling today through the streets of Beijing, it's not hard to see why.
There's a frenetic pace in Asia's big cities, with construction cranes an ever present part of the cities' skylines.
This growth is good news for the people of Asia who have found exciting new opportunities in these cities. But it's also promising news for the workers, small businesspeople, ranchers and farmers of the United States, because selling our goods and services to these markets can put scores of Americans back to work and get our economy growing again.
And that is fundamentally why we are here this week. We're trying to open up markets for American products and ensure that our businesses are able to compete on a level playing field in the global economy.
During our time in Asia, we've been meeting with various ministers from Asian governments as well as representatives of the American business community like the U.S.-China Business Council and the American Chamber of Commerce in China.
We are also taking the opportunity on this trip to talk about recent trade disputes and how such disputes are ultimately a healthy part of a mature trading relationship.
The United States is the most open major economy in the world and the Administration is committed to ensuring our borders will remain open to the world’s products.
But that commitment will be met by a renewed focus on doing more to enable U.S. companies to compete in foreign markets.
Ultimately, that will be good for everyone. U.S. technology and know-how can be of great benefit to countries throughout Asia. For example, as countries like China strive to reach ambitious clean energy and efficiency targets, they will depend on expertise of U.S. firms with a proven record of success in these areas.
This year, we have already made great progress in creating a freer, fairer trade environment with Asia. When we were in China a few weeks ago, our Chinese ministerial counterparts pledged to open up their markets to U.S. wind turbine producers and lifted a needless non-science based ban on the import of U.S. pork.
They also promised significant strides towards protecting the intellectual property of American companies operating within their borders and steps to ensure a more level playing field in China’s government procurement market.
These are important steps that will be good both for the creation of America jobs and the continuance of Chinese growth. And we are seeking to build on the positive momentum this week.
As President Obama recently said "power in the 21st century is no longer a zero-sum game; one country's success need not come at the expense of another."
There is a lot to be gained from cooperation between Asia and the United States, and we are excited to be playing our part to move things forward.