Katelyn SabochikAugust 18, 2010
11:56 AM EDT
A few weeks ago, the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden visited Fort Drum in upstate New York to welcome home the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, from Iraq. One of the most deployed brigades in the U.S. Army, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team has participated in three deployments to Afghanistan and four deployments to Iraq.
Watch the Vice President and Dr. Biden honor our troops service and welcome them home.
August 18, 2010
09:48 AM EDT
Ed. Note: Rachel Martin joined President Obama last week during his remarks in the Rose Garden calling on Congress to pass legislation that would save 160,000 teacher jobs. Since then, Congress has passed and the President has signed this critical legislation.
“Mom, the White House called you” is what my daughter Annita told me when I came home on August 9, 2010. I honestly did not believe her at first, so I called back the number and it was really the White House. I didn’t think the call would have led to me standing with President Obama to support the profession that means so much to me. Before, I knew it I was on a plane to Washington D.C.
Katelyn SabochikAugust 17, 2010
06:02 PM EDT
Today President Obama travelled to Seattle, Washington and met with three local small business owners, Senator Patty Murray and Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke in a roundtable discussion about strengthening the economy and creating jobs. The President met with Gillian Allen-White, owner of Grand Central Bakery in Seattle and Portland; Tiffany Turner, owner of the Discovery Coast Inn in Long Beach; and Joe Fugere, owner of Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria in Seattle.
Small businesses create two out of every three new jobs in America. During his remarks after the roundtable discussion, the President called small businesses “the backbone of our economy and the cornerstones of our communities,” and discussed the importance of supporting them during these tough economic times:
Katelyn SabochikAugust 17, 2010
09:07 AM EDT
Katelyn SabochikAugust 16, 2010
05:27 PM EDT
Today, President Obama travelled to Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin to visit the ZBB Energy Corporation’s manufacturing facility. ZBB Energy Corporation manufactures advanced zinc bromide flow batteries and intelligent control platforms. These are crucial components of building a smart energy grid and expanding the commercialization electric vehicles because they allow users to cut costs by shifting energy use to off-peak hours and bank intermittent sources of energy like the sun and wind for future use.
ZBB Energy Corporation is using $1.3 million in Recovery Act State Energy Program loans to fund a $4.5 million factory renovation to triple their capacity to manufacture flow batteries and power systems. As a result, the company has already retained a dozen workers and will hire about 80 new workers over time.
Kori SchulmanAugust 16, 2010
04:30 PM EDT
Building on the President’s commitment to address issues important to rural Americans, Cabinet Secretaries and other top Administration officials are visiting state fairs this summer and fall to discuss ongoing efforts to:
- Support job creation;
- Improve access to health care;
- Enhance the quality of rural education and;
- Help strengthen rural America by working better with communities, states and the federal government.
Cabinet Secretaries and Administration officials have been talking to 4-H and Future Farmers of America students, seeing solar panels on a stick and checking out best in show dairy cows. Read more about the State Fair visits so far:
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visits the Delaware State Fair:
Reaching Out to Rural America: Meeting with Students at the Delaware State Fair (July 26, 2010)
Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari visits the Ohio State Fair:
Summertime Means Construction, Jobs for Ohioans (July 28, 2010)
USTR Ambassador Ron Kirk visits the Maine State Fair:
Grown Locally and Sold Globally: Creating Jobs Through Agricultural Exports (August 6, 2010)
August 16, 2010
03:16 PM EDT
The White House Internship Program is dedicated to giving emerging leaders the opportunity to serve the Administration and gain invaluable experience in public service. One intern working in the Office of Management and Administration writes:
I could not have asked for a better experience this summer than to be a White House Intern. It is an incredible privilege to be part of the long tradition of White House interns who have served here and an honor to be part of the important work being done by this Administration. I was deeply inspired by President Obama’s call to national service, and this internship has allowed me and so many others to answer that call in a profound way.
In addition to the day-to-day work of each department, the internship program is full of unique events and experiences. I’ve had the chance to hear from some of the most accomplished political and policy minds in the country as part of a speaker series only for interns. I’ve been able to take part in special White House events and I’ve attended seminars that helped me hone my professional skills. I’ve also really cherished the service project I took part in as an intern, which opened my eyes to another part of DC and helped remind me why I came here.
I feel confident that this internship has prepared me well for exciting new opportunities in the future.
August 16, 2010
01:52 PM EDT
All Americans should have access to high-quality, affordable health care. We can’t let the rising cost of health care continue to bankrupt our families, businesses and government. We have to take steps to make health care more affordable, and enhance the quality of care our families are receiving.
I am pleased to report that the Affordable Care Act is helping to do this for Washingtonians in a very important way. Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced new resources aimed at ensuring that Washington and other States have the tools they need to hold insurance companies accountable and put a halt to unreasonable premium increases. The announcement of $46 million in grants to the States to help conduct rate reviews, a process that requires insurers to submit their proposed health insurance premium increases to State Insurance Departments for review before they go into effect, is an incredibly important step forward in reforming the health insurance marketplace.
Rate review has worked here in Washington State – rates for some individual health plans in Washington increased by up to 40 percent until we stepped in to impose stiffer premium oversight. The new resources provided through these grants will enhance our ability to crack down on unjustified rate hikes by insurance companies.
Here’s how we’ll put these funds to good use in Washington:
- Improve the Review Process: Washington already conducts in-depth review of proposed premium increases for individuals and small groups. We will use these grant funds to update and improve our IT systems for these reviews. All grantees will use these funds to make similar updates – and require insurance companies to report more extensive information through a new, standardized process to better evaluate proposed premium increases and increase transparency across the marketplace.
- Make More Information Publicly Available: Like 41 other States and the District of Columbia, Washington is going to increase the transparency of the health insurance premium review process and provide easy to understand, consumer-friendly information to the public about changes to their premiums. In our case, we will create a web based consumer website called “Consumer Care" to provide information about the cost and quality of health care.
- Develop and Upgrade Technology: All grantees, including Washington, will develop and upgrade existing technology to streamline data sharing and put information in the hands of consumers more quickly.
The funds are the first round of a five year, $250 million grant program made available under the Affordable Care Act. I am looking forward to the new opportunities these funds will bring to Washington – our actions will help businesses facing hard decisions about their budgets and will help families, who all too often find that maintaining insurance in the current market given large annual premium increases is not feasible. These initiatives will allow Washingtonians, and all Americans, to know that insurance companies will be held accountable for raising rates – a critical step in making health insurance affordable for all Americans.
To read more about rate review, visit HealthCare.gov.
Chris Gregoire is Governor, Washington State
Katelyn SabochikAugust 14, 2010
01:36 PM EDT
Last night, President Obama continued the White House tradition of hosting an Iftar - the meal that breaks the day of fasting - celebrating Ramadan in the State Dining Room. During his remarks at the Iftar dinner, President Obama reflected on the importance of religious freedom as one of the founding principles of our Nation:
Our Founders understood that the best way to honor the place of faith in the lives of our people was to protect their freedom to practice religion. In the Virginia Act of Establishing Religion Freedom, Thomas Jefferson wrote that “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion.” The First Amendment of our Constitution established the freedom of religion as the law of the land. And that right has been upheld ever since.
Indeed, over the course of our history, religion has flourished within our borders precisely because Americans have had the right to worship as they choose -– including the right to believe in no religion at all. And it is a testament to the wisdom of our Founders that America remains deeply religious -– a nation where the ability of peoples of different faiths to coexist peacefully and with mutual respect for one another stands in stark contrast to the religious conflict that persists elsewhere around the globe.
Jesse LeeAugust 14, 2010
06:00 AM EDT
On the 75th anniversary of Social Security, President Obama promises to protect it from Republican leaders in Congress who have made privatization a key part of their agenda. He makes clear that, especially in light of the financial crisis, gambling Social Security on Wall Street makes no sense.
Stephanie CutterAugust 13, 2010
05:45 PM EDT
As we know from last week’s Medicare Trustees report, the Affordable Care Act will strengthen Medicare by extending the Trust Fund for 12 years -- the largest extension in history -- and cut costs for seniors. The new law will also save Medicare $575 billion over the next ten years and provisions of the law that are already being implemented will save $8 billion for Medicare in just the next two years alone. At the same time, the new law protects seniors’ guaranteed benefits and helps bring costs down. By 2018, seniors will save on average almost $200 per year in premiums compared to what they would have paid without the new law and the law ultimately will completely close the prescription drug donut hole.
But as we’re moving forward, cutting health care costs and protecting seniors, some in Congress want to take us back and tell seniors they are on their own. Today, Rep. Paul Ryan published an op-ed in the Washington Post on his plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program.
Under the Ryan plan, the Medicare seniors know and trust would disappear. In its place, seniors would receive a voucher to buy insurance on the private market. Last month, former OMB Director Peter Orszag spoke about Rep. Ryan’s voucher plan and its impact on our seniors and the cost of health care:
Over time, the voucher would increase far more slowly than projected increases in health care costs, and seniors would be asked to cover the widening difference in costs… Proponents envision seniors buying high-deductible health insurance plans—insurance plans in which seniors would pay out-of-pocket for ‘regular’ medical expenses and in which insurance only covers catastrophic costs.
Unfortunately, these plans would do little if anything bring down health care costs and would leave seniors with bigger bills. As Orszag noted:
For such high-cost patients, high-deductible plans would do little to change the delivery of health care—since these patients would rapidly run through their deductibles and most of their costs are above the deductibles.
Indeed, in the context of traditional health plans, CBO concluded that universal high-deductible plans would reduce costs by only about 5 percent relative to conventionally designed PPOs—and may not reduce costs at all relative to HMOs.
And Orszag discussed how the Ryan plan would cut Medicare and put seniors at risk:
…The plan simply mechanically cuts Medicare by increasing its vouchers more slowly than health care costs.
The result is that most of the budget savings would come from simply by shifting more and more cost and risk—ultimately including catastrophic risks—onto seniors without substantially altering the course of overall health costs.
The bottom line under the Ryan plan: Costs would continue to rise, the value of benefits provided to seniors would continue to fall, and seniors would be stuck with fewer benefits and bigger bills. And, according to outside analysts, his plan would substantially increase the deficit in the medium-term.
We won’t go down Rep. Ryan’s road.
The President has stated repeatedly that we have a solemn vow to protect and strengthen Medicare. Under President Obama’s leadership we have taken historic steps to do just that. There’s more work to be done, but the President and his team are committed to protecting Medicare and ensuring seniors have the high-quality care they expect and deserve.
Stephanie Cutter is Assistant to the President for Special Projects
August 13, 2010
05:16 PM EDT
Each year energy-related carbon dioxide emissions account for more than 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. According to the Energy Information Association, that adds up to over 5,814 million metric tons (MMT) of carbon in 2008 alone. The Obama administration recognizes that this is not sustainable and that’s why we’ve actively sought to not only drive innovation in the renewable energy sector but also curb the emissions produced by fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum and natural gas through the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.
In February 2010, President Obama went so far as to issue a challenge to the federal government: come up with a plan to achieve widespread, cost-effective deployment of carbon capture and storage within 10 years, with a goal of bringing five to 10 commercial demonstration projects online by 2016. This was accompanied by the creation of an Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage, co-chaired by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE), which yesterday delivered a series of recommendations to the President.
Arun ChaudharyAugust 13, 2010
05:10 PM EDT
Mailbag Day! This West Wing Week the administration responds to the letters and emails sent in by you. Find out whether the President gets stamps in his passport, learn about pre-existing conditions and the Affordable Care Act from Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, and see who gets to keep the President's bill signing pens.
August 13, 2010
03:45 PM EDT
Cooking is one of my favorite activities in the world. It's almost therapeutic to me. And when our Director of Communications came up to me after practice to let me know I would have the chance to cook in the White House kitchen with Chef Sam Kass, I was ecstatic.
When choosing the recipe I would make on my visit to the White House, I wanted to come up with something that’s simple for anyone to make and features Gulf seafood. There was no better place to look than the cookbook my foundation created as a fundraiser a couple years ago. I already had the recipe in mind when I chose the honey bourbon glazed shrimp and andouille sausage skewers. The recipe was given to us by the legendary New Orleans restaurant Commander's Palace. We figured this recipe would be a great way to feature some of the amazing seafood that comes from the Gulf shores.
Nikki SuttonAugust 13, 2010
01:44 PM EDT
In times of crisis, the American people have always stood up in support of those in need. President Obama has directed his Administration to stand with the Pakistani people and to assist them as they confront the worst flooding in Pakistan’s history. You can also contribute to the response effort by using your phone to text "SWAT" to 50555 and make a $10 contribution that will help provide tents, clothing, food, clean drinking water, and medicine to people displaced by floods.
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said earlier this month in her remarks on the flooding, "Last week's flash floods, the worst in more than 80 years, have affected some three million Pakistanis nationwide. An estimated 1,500 people have lost their lives, but many more are missing. Thousands are trapped and hundreds of thousands require emergency assistance."
Jesse LeeAugust 13, 2010
12:12 PM EDT
This morning the President signed the Southwest Border Security Bill in the Oval Office. The President issued a statement yesterday after it was passed in Congress explaining that this has been focus of his Administration from the very beginning:
I have made securing our Southwest Border a top priority since I came to office. That is why my administration has dedicated unprecedented resources and personnel to combating the transnational criminal organizations that traffic in drugs, weapons, and money, and smuggle people across the border with Mexico. Today's action by Congress answers my call to bolster the essential work of federal law enforcement officials and improve their ability to partner with state, local, and tribal law enforcement. The resources made available through this legislation will build upon our successful efforts to protect communities along the Southwest border and across the country. And this new law will also strengthen our partnership with Mexico in targeting the gangs and criminal organizations that operate on both sides of our shared border.
The White House also released a fact sheet detailing the extensive efforts taken across the Administration on border security, closing with some of the tangible results already being demonstrated:
Seized, through the combined efforts of CBP and ICE, more than $103 million in illegal currency, more than 1.7 million kilograms of drugs and more than 1,400 firearms – increases of more than $47 million, more than 450,000 kilograms of drugs and more than 300 firearms compared to 2008.
Seized, through the combined efforts of CBP and ICE, more than $39.2 million in southbound illegal currency – an increase of more than $29.4 million compared to 2008.
DOJ-led multi-agency law enforcement investigations (which may include DEA, FBI, ATF, ICE, CBP, and others) “Project Deliverance” resulted in more than 2,200 arrests, seizure of approximately 74 tons of drugs and $154 million in U.S. currency; “Project Coronado” resulted in the arrest of 303 individuals in 19 states and seizure of $3.4 million in U.S. currency, 729 pounds of methamphetamine, 62 kilograms of cocaine, 967 pounds of marijuana, 144 weapons and 109 vehicles; “Operation Xcellerator” resulted in the arrest of more than 750 individuals on narcotics-related charges and the seizure of more than 23 tons of narcotics and more than $59 million in cash;
Additionally, the San Diego DHS Maritime Unified Command, composed of U.S. Coast Guard, CBP, ICE, DEA and other law enforcement partners, saw a more than six-fold increase in maritime drug interdictions in the Pacific waters extending from the Southwest border—seizing 57,437 pounds of drugs in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 compared to 8,884 pounds seized in FY 2008. Already in FY 2010, the Coast Guard has seized 11,500 pounds of drugs across the San Diego sector.
Statistics reflect a significant reduction in the number of people attempting to cross U.S. borders illegally. CBP statistics show that illegal immigration into the United States is down, with apprehensions between points of entry having dropped as a result.
Since 2004, the Border Patrol has doubled in size to over 20,000 Border Patrol agents.
Katelyn SabochikAugust 13, 2010
10:35 AM EDT
Ed. Note: This event has concluded. Video of the live chat with Dr. Lubchenco is below. For more information on Gulf seafood safety click here.
On Monday, 2 PM EDT, Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Dr. Jane Lubchenco will host a live chat to answer your questions about the safety of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico.
The men and women of the Gulf who make their livelihood harvesting fish, shrimp, and oysters have been among those hardest hit by this spill. Enjoying some local seafood is one simple way Americans can support the people of the Gulf who have been battered by this spill. If you have questions about the safety of seafood from the Gulf, be sure to tune in Monday at 2 PM at WhiteHouse.gov/live. You can also submit your questions ahead of time via Facebook or our webform.
Kori SchulmanAugust 13, 2010
09:00 AM EDT
With the ongoing reopening of Gulf fisheries, fishermen are going back to work and Americans can confidently and safely enjoy Gulf seafood again.
Consumers need to know that seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is safe and fishermen need to be able to sell their products with confidence. That’s why there’s a comprehensive, coordinated, and multi-agency program to ensure the safety of Gulf Coast seafood. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are working with other Federal agencies and state officials to closely monitor the situation and its potential impact on the safety of seafood.
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