Our Top Stories
Sarah BernardAugust 24, 2010
01:23 PM EDT
Join Tina Tchen from the White House Council on Women and Girls tomorrow at 4:30pm EDT to discuss women's progress on the eve of the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment which guaranteed women the right to vote in this country.
Jesse LeeAugust 24, 2010
01:22 PM EDT
Having made 13 visits to Iraq and held steady conversation with Iraqi leaders over the past two years, the Vice President was as well qualified as just about anybody to speak to the Veterans of Foreign Wars as combat operations there draw to a close. But there is also another reason this time is so meaningful to him:
These homecomings are something I have long looked forward to, and I know many of you have as well. The day my son Beau returned from a yearlong tour in Iraq, and I watched him embrace his wife and children, was one of the proudest and happiest moments of my life. By the end of next year—2011—our remaining troops in Iraq will have come home to their families and a grateful nation. This is only possible because of the extraordinary progress our military—the finest fighting force this planet has ever seen—has brought about, led by the great General Ray Odierno.
"President Obama laid out our plan for ending the war in Iraq responsibly, and we have followed that plan very closely," said the Vice President. "As a result, one week from tomorrow, U.S. combat forces will phase out their combat mission.... More than 140,000 troops in Iraq on Inauguration Day -- by the end of August, 50,000 remain. Our last remaining -- applaud them, they deserve it -- our last remaining combat unit, one that I know personally well from visiting them in Fort Lewis, to be there as they mourned their dead, to being with them and in their vehicles in Iraq. The 4th Stryker Brigade of the Army’s Second Infantry Division, that last unit across the border out of Iraq."
Jesse LeeAugust 24, 2010
12:40 PM EDT
From education in Austin, to bill signings in DC, to ice cream in Florida – and a couple shots of how the President gets around. It’s the first August 2010 batch of behind-the-scenes shots from Pete Souza and the White House Photo Office.
Dan PfeifferAugust 24, 2010
06:00 AM EDT
Later today, House Minority Leader John Boehner is slated to give a speech at the City Club of Cleveland laying out the major planks of his party’s economic agenda. Unfortunately, families in Ohio and across the country don’t need to wait until the speech to learn about these economic policies because they’ve been living with the impact of many of these same old policies for years. Today, Ohioans will hear an argument for a return to the economic policies that turned a surplus into record deficits and helped create the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
Kori SchulmanAugust 23, 2010
06:34 PM EDT
Today, the last reform provisions of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act – also known as the Credit Card Bill of Rights – took effect. The CARD Act of 2009 marked a turning point for American consumers, putting an end to the days of unfair rate hikes and hidden fees.The President released the following statement on the CARD Act implementation:
Jared BernsteinAugust 23, 2010
04:00 PM EDT
When it comes to the auto companies, we often focus more on the lake than the streams and rivers.
That is, much of the attention to how this critical sector is faring focuses on the end-of-the-line assembly plants, and less on the suppliers that provide the parts to be assembled.
You might think that’s because in employment terms, the end-of-the-line is most important. But in fact, for every worker in the assembly plant, there are three workers in the supply chain.
So if you want to assess the health of the auto industry, you’ve got to look beyond the factories that build the cars and trucks and examine how the suppliers are doing.
With that in mind, Vice President Biden traveled to Toledo, Ohio, today to hold a Middle Class Task Force event at the Chrysler Toledo Assembly Complex. This state-of-the-art complex houses the main assembly plant producing the Jeep Wrangler, surrounded by three of the plant’s suppliers.
August 23, 2010
11:53 AM EDT
Ed. Note: Cross posted from the Energy Blog.
One of the best and most exciting parts of my job is helping make homes and businesses more efficient. Why? The places where we live and work consume 40% of the energy we use in the U.S. Through tune-ups to existing homes or new construction, doing more while using less energy is key to improving our buildings and energy future.
Last week, we announced that during the month of June, more than 31,000 low-income homes nationwide underwent retrofits to use less energy. This month represents the largest number of homes ever upgraded – or “weatherized” – in a single month. Through the Recovery Act, more than 80,000 homes will be weatherized across the country this summer. By March 2012, that total will grow to nearly 600,000 homes – each with upgrades like better furnaces, insulation, and caulking. They will use less energy, perform better, and save homeowners money.
Secretary Ray LaHoodAugust 23, 2010
10:48 AM EDT
Ed. Note: Building on the President’s commitment to address issues important to rural Americans, Administration officials are visiting state fairs all summer. Check out a map of where we've been so far and hear about the latest visit, cross-posted from the Department of Transportation's blog, Fast Lane.
Like hundreds of thousands of other Illinois households, the LaHood family circles the middle of August on our calendar each year for the Illinois State Fair.
From livestock, grains, and fruit to textiles, cooking, and other handiwork, the Illinois State Fair showcases the best our state has to offer. It's a pleasure to walk around the halls, stalls and booths to see what folks have proudly displayed. For farmers, artisans, and old friends, the state fair offers Illinoisans a way of saying "This is what we've been up to for the past year."
And I was happy to let fairgoers know what we've been up to for the past year in our fight against distracted driving. So, I joined Governor Pat Quinn, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, Illinois DOT Secretary Gary Hannig, and State Police Acting Director Jonathan Monken at the kickoff celebration of Illinois' kickoff celebration of Operation Teen Safe Driving.
Operation Teen Safe Driving encourages the creativity of Illinois teens to develop programs to reduce fatalities and injuries due to traffic crashes among their peers. They've got a lot to be proud of as they have helped reduce teen fatalities in Illinois by half since 2006.
Jesse LeeAugust 21, 2010
06:00 AM EDT
The President calls out Republicans for blocking campaign finance reforms that would address the Supreme Court decision opening the floodgates of corporate money into elections.
Nikki SuttonAugust 20, 2010
05:16 PM EDT
"This flooding has already affected more people than the Indian Ocean tsunami, the Haiti earthquake, and the 2005 Pakistan earthquake combined," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday during an address to the United Nations. Over 20 million Pakistanis have been affected during this humanitarian crisis and as the rains relentlessly fall the risk of expanded flooding continues. Shortages in food, shelter, clean drinking water, and medical supplies face families across the region and as the water continues to rise, it may get worse before it gets better.
That is why the United States Government through the Department of State created the Pakistan Relief Fund for people like you to contribute money to the ongoing relief efforts in Pakistan. Though Secretary Clinton acknowledged that these are tough economic times and everyone has tight budgets, every dollar makes a difference in providing immediate relief and assistance to support a sustained recovery. Five dollars can buy 50 high energy bars providing desperately needed nutrition, $10 can provide a blanket for a mother or a child, and about $40 can buy material to shelter a family of four who has lost their home in the floods.
Secretary Shaun DonovanAugust 20, 2010
05:14 PM EDT
The Recovery Act is making a long-term impact on American families and communities by reducing energy costs, creating green jobs and improving the quality of life for people across the country. That’s why on Thursday, I was proud to announce a major Recovery Act milestone for HUD and the Administration. Through HUD’s Green Retrofit Program for Multifamily Housing, which the Recovery Act created for the first time, we’ve been able to award more than $100 million to 100 affordable housing developments around the country to complete energy efficient renovations, and HUD will continue to issue the awards from now through September 30, 2010.
The 100 affordable housing developments receiving HUD funding include over 8,000 homes, and HUD anticipates that the awards will allow tenants will save over $250 each on utility bills annually.
August 20, 2010
05:13 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Building on the President’s commitment to address issues important to rural Americans, Administration officials are visiting state fairs all summer. See a map of where we've been so far, and hear from SBA Deputy Administrator Johns about her recent visit to the Indian State Fair:
Having grown up in Indiana, I know firsthand that there is much debate over what a “Hoosier” is, but I can tell you for certain that there were many at the Indiana State Fair. From the young 4-H and FFA participants that I met at a pancake breakfast, to the small businesses selling their products, and the family farmers displaying their livestock, Hoosiers represent the diversity and growth of the small business community.
Arun ChaudharyAugust 20, 2010
12:00 AM EDT
Thanks for checking out the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. This week, travel with the First Family to Panama City Beach, Florida for a weekend of swimming, mini-golf, and meeting with local business owners. Next up, the President hits the road travelling to Milwaukee, Seattle and Columbus to talk to business owners and families about the economy.
Find more video, photos, and information on the events featured in this episode below:
Saturday, August 15, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Arun Chaudhary is the official White House videographer
Katelyn SabochikAugust 19, 2010
03:30 PM EDT
This afternoon, President Obama called on a partisan minority in Congress to stop blocking legislation that would make loans more available and cut taxes for small businesses. In his remarks on the South Driveway, the President said this legislation “makes sense, and normally we would expect Democrats and Republicans to join together.”
Katelyn SabochikAugust 19, 2010
10:15 AM EDT
Yesterday, President Obama joined families from the Columbus area to answer their questions on topics ranging from health care to Wall Street reform and Social Security. The discussion took place in Joe and Rhonda Weithman’s backyard after President Obama spent some time around the Weithman’s kitchen table talking about the challenges they have faced over the past year.
Check out to full video of the discussion or use the links below to jump to specific topics.
- Introduction by President Obama
- Health Care
- Social Security
- Pensions and Growing the Manufacturing Sector
- SAFER (Staffing Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) Act and Firefighter Jobs
- Child Care Quality and Costs
- Housing Market
- Wall Street Reform
- Concluding Remarks by President Obama
Secretary Tom VilsackAugust 18, 2010
05:45 PM EDT
I’ve spent the last few days here in Iowa, a state that I was honored to serve as Governor for eight years. Yesterday, I walked the grounds of the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. The fair is refreshingly the same each year, but also a snapshot of changing rural America. The food stands, midway and cattle barns are in the same place that they’ve been for years. We’ve sculpted a "Butter Cow" since the early 1900s, but now the young people all have iPods and Blackberry phones. Their parents have cell phones.
Like the state fair, rural America is changing each year in subtle ways. Many of our grandparents and great grandparents made their homes on small farmsteads and made their living directly from the land. Today, farming is more mechanized. Farms are larger, and fewer Americans call them home. Most people who live in small towns in rural America still feel connected to the land, but they don’t necessarily depend on it for their livelihood. The demands of rural America are changing, along with the drivers of the rural economy.
While at the fair, I participated in a roundtable on rural revitalization. The roundtable discussion featured some of Iowa’s top rural leaders, including Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Lang. We discussed our vision for developing a new, strong, vibrant rural economy; one that supports food production, but also generates renewable energy while safeguarding our environmental heritage. To help drive this rural renaissance, the Obama Administration supports quality health care and educational opportunities for all Americans, availability of broadband, and safe, sanitary rural housing. It’s what rural America wants.
At USDA, we are moving forward to meet the changing demands of rural America. Yesterday, I announced a major USDA investment toward the Administration’s goal: loans and grants to allow farmers, ranchers, business owners and producers improve energy efficiency, develop renewable energy and cut costs. Today, I will join Commerce Secretary Locke in announcing additional projects to bring broadband to rural America.
While USDA is adapting to meet the expanding needs of all of rural America, our primary purpose remains the same: to help those who live there prosper. Like the Iowa State Fair’s cattle barns and butter cow, some things at USDA remain constant, but we know that to remain vital to rural residents, we need to assist them when they ask for broadband and cell phone service, too.
Tom Vilsack is Secretary of Agriculture
Kori SchulmanAugust 18, 2010
05:00 PM EDT
Today the President spent some time around the kitchen table with the Weithman Family in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio natives Rhonda and Joe Weithman live in Columbus with their two children, Rachel (9) and Josh (11). The President talked to Joe and Rhonda about the challenges that they’ve had to go through; Joe runs a small Architectural firm that saw a drop in business during the economic slowdown and Rhonda lost her job.
Thanks to an increase in infrastructure projects, Joe was able to keep a couple employees on staff and is hopeful that he can soon hire more employees as the economy continues to improve. Rhonda was able to keep her health insurance due to COBRA subsidies from the Recovery Act; this was vital because she not only carried insurance for the family but her son has a pre-existing condition. (Learn more about how Administration policies have helped the Weithman Family at the bottom of this post.)
During a conversation with families from the area in the backyard, the President answered some of their questions, appreciating events like this one that keep him connected to what folks are talking about at kitchen tables around the country.
Secretary Kathleen SebeliusAugust 18, 2010
04:49 PM EDT
The Affordable Care Act is working to help bring down the cost of prescription drugs for seniors enrolled in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program and today, we got more good news for our seniors.
This afternoon, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that Medicare prescription drug plan premiums for 2011 will stay similar to rates beneficiaries are currently paying this year. The average premiums in 2010 were $29 per month -- in 2011 we expect average monthly premiums to be just a dollar more. All beneficiaries should check to make sure that the plan offerings that will be available in 2011 are right for them when information on those plans becomes available in October.
While there has been almost no change in premiums for 2011, people with Medicare will see big improvements in drug coverage next year. Under the Affordable Care Act, they will see lower prescription drug costs, if they fall into the coverage gap or "donut hole." This year, people with Medicare who are in the donut hole are receiving one-time $250 rebate checks. Next year, they will receive 50% discounts on brand-name drugs and in each year their costs will be reduced even more until the donut hole is closed in 2020 - meaning that after 2020 there will be no more coverage gap, and people with Medicare will just pay their normal cost-sharing amount until they reach the annual out-of-pocket limit.
And just like President Obama promised -- guaranteed benefits for the seniors and persons with disabilities who rely on Medicare won't change.
The Affordable Care Act was designed to strengthen the Medicare program and ensure that it will continue to provide health security to our seniors for many years to come. Today's announcement -- just like the recent news that the Affordable Care Act will help extend the life of the trust fund by 12 additional years -- is good news for them and their children.
The Affordable Care Act also means less disruption for people with Medicare. Low-income seniors often have to change prescription drug plans every year to find a plan with no premium. Now, more beneficiaries with limited income will be able to keep their plan if they want to while continuing to have a wide range of plans to choose from if they want to change plans.
General information about premiums and benefits for each Part D and Medicare Advantage (MA) plan will be announced in September on www.cms.gov, and more detailed information to help beneficiaries review their plan options will be available in October at www.medicare.gov. In addition, each autumn, the comprehensive Medicare & You handbook and other program updates are mailed directly to beneficiaries' mailboxes with important information about health plans, prescription drug plans, and rights and protections to help people with Medicare, their families and caregivers review coverage options. And more information on how the Affordable Care Act will continue to strengthen and improve Medicare is available at www.HealthCare.gov, a new web portal.
Kathleen Sebelius is Secretary of Health and Human Services
August 18, 2010
04:07 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Yesterday President Obama traveled to Seattle, to meet with several small business owners for a discussion about strengthening the economy and creating jobs. Joe Fugere, one of the participants in the roundtable discussion, shared his story with us on the blog. Joe is proof that community banks can be the engine for getting much needed loans to small businesses, so small businesses can grow, create jobs, and build the economy.
Reinvigorating small business lending from community banks is essential to allow small businesses to grow, create jobs, and build the economy. As a small business owner, I know first hand. I am the owner of Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzerias. Just over six years ago, after tasting my first Margherita Pizza in Naples, Italy I knew that I must bring this food to Seattle! Today, we have four locations in and around the city, and employ nearly 200 people.
The first Tutta Bella opened in 2004. Thankfully, the restaurant was successful and propelled me to open two additional locations, both funded by loans from a large commercial bank.
I approached a local community bank where I could be on a first name basis with the president, and secured a loan to open a new location. Within a few weeks, the loan was approved, and on June 15, 2009, in the midst of what some have called economic Armageddon, I opened the fourth Tutta Bella—the most successful opening to date in terms of revenue and the number of customers served. This restaurant employs 50 people and has been welcomed and embraced by the community.
A couple months ago, I successfully closed on a government funded SBA 7(A) loan, thanks to money made more easily available by President Obama’s economic recovery plan. Again, I worked with this local community bank.
Katelyn SabochikAugust 18, 2010
01:00 PM EDT
Earlier today, President Obama sent a message to the White House email list about ending our combat mission and drawing down the number of troops in Iraq. Check out the email below. You can sign up to receive periodic updates from the President and other senior administration officials here.
Shortly after taking office, I put forward a plan to end the war in Iraq responsibly. Today, I'm pleased to report that -- thanks to the extraordinary service of our troops and civilians in Iraq -- our combat mission will end this month, and we will complete a substantial drawdown of our troops.
Over the last 18 months, over 90,000 U.S. troops have left Iraq. By the end of this month, 50,000 troops will be serving in Iraq. As Iraqi Security Forces take responsibility for securing their country, our troops will move to an advise-and-assist role. And, consistent with our agreement with the Iraqi government, all of our troops will be out of Iraq by the end of next year. Meanwhile, we will continue to build a strong partnership with the Iraqi people with an increased civilian commitment and diplomatic effort.
A few weeks ago, men and women from one of the most deployed brigades in the U.S. Army, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, returned home from Iraq. The Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden were at Fort Drum to welcome the veterans home and spoke about their personal experiences as a military family:
Our commitment to our troops doesn't end once they come home -- it's only the beginning. Part of ending a war responsibly is meeting our responsibility to the men and women who have fought it. Our troops and their families have made tremendous sacrifices to keep our nation safe and secure, and as a nation we have a moral obligation to serve our veterans as well as they have served us.
That's why we're building a 21st century Department of Veterans Affairs. We've made one of the largest percentage increase in the VA’s budget in 30 years, and we're dramatically increasing funding for veterans' health across the board. In particular, we're delivering unprecedented resources to treat signature wounds of today's wars—Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Our sacred trust to take care of our veterans goes beyond simply healing the wounds incurred in battle. We must ensure that when our veterans leave the Armed Forces, they have the opportunities they need to further their education and support their families. Through the Post-9/11 GI Bill, some 300,000 veterans and families members have pursued a college degree. Others are taking advantage of job training and placement programs.
My Administration will continue to do our part to support the brave men and women in uniform that have sacrificed so much. But supporting our troops and their families is not just the job of the Federal Government; it's the responsibility of all Americans.
As we mark this milestone in the Iraq war and our troops continue to move out of Iraq, I hope you'll join me in thanking them, and all of our troops and military families, for their service.
President Barack Obama