Jesse LeeSeptember 06, 2010
07:30 PM EDT
"Got a lot of hardworking people here," the President told the fired up crowd at Laborfest in Milwaukee, urging them to calm down and get comfortable. "You deserve to sit down for a day. You’ve been on your feet all year working hard."
The President spoke about what the Labor movement has meant for America:
It was working men and women who made the 20th century the American century. It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. (Applause.) The 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. The cornerstones of the middle-class security all bear the union label. (Applause.)
He spoke about his grandfather, part of the Greatest Generation, who helped teach him about what being a hard-working American is all about, and how that has shaped his values as a man and as a publlic servant. And he spoke about how the struggles his grandfather saw relate to the tough times millions of hard-working Americans are struggling through right now:
Nikki SuttonSeptember 06, 2010
06:25 PM EDT
Regular visitors are probably familiar with the Photo of the Day, a special pick selected by Pete Souza and the White House Photo Office daily. But you may not have realized that each one is loaded up as part of a gallery for that month, and as it turns out, looking back through the photos of the day is a pretty interesting way to recap the month. The gallery for August is below -- President Obama talks with soliders at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas as the combat mission in Iraq comes to a close; tours a new housing development in New Orleans, Louisiana five years after Hurricane Katrina; signs Elena Kagan's commission in the Oval Office before celebrating her confirmation to the Supreme Court; welcomes recipents of the 2010 Presidential Citizen's Medal to the White House; and takes a dip with Sasha at Alligator Point in Panama City Beach, Florida.
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September 06, 2010
02:35 PM EDT
The Wall Street Journal ran a graph this weekend claiming, “The private sector is adding jobs … but the recovery is slower than in past cycles.” In fact, even though it is not fast enough, the rate of job growth is actually faster now than was the case at comparable points of the past two recoveries.
How did the Wall Street Journal get it wrong? The problem is that their graph indexes job growth to the start of the recession, not the start of the recovery. The economy stopped contracting at the end of the second quarter last year and has since expanded for four straight quarters. So June 2009 is a reasonable date to pick for the start of the recovery, although the “official” date has not yet been set by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). Private sector job growth started six months after GDP started expanding in the current recovery. By contrast, in the 2001 recovery private sector job growth did not begin until 22 months after the official NBER end date of the recession, and in the 1991 recovery job growth did not start until 12 months after the official NBER end date of the recession.
Jared BernsteinSeptember 06, 2010
02:16 PM EDT
Lindsay Graham has often shown that he’s fully capable of being reasonable and bipartisan. Which made it particularly disappointing to see his misleading use of numbers yesterday.
On Meet the Press, the Senator, against a wave of evidence to the contrary, argued that the Recovery Act has been “an absolute disaster” and called for cancelling “a lot” of what’s left in the bill (transcript here).
His evidence for this claim: “...we’ve lost two-and-a-half million jobs since the stimulus passed.”
Take a look at the figure below and you’ll see why this is so misleading. He’s conflating two periods of very different employment trends. In the first, when his team’s policies dominated, employment hemorrhaged at nightmarish rates. In the second, when the Recovery Act was on the scene, job losses in the private sector began to diminish, and this year, turned positive.
September 03, 2010
05:18 PM EDT
The delegations have departed, the speeches have been delivered, and the talks have begun. Re-launching direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians was of course a first step, but the meetings this week at the White House and the State Department went quite well, and represent a good foundation for progress.
As Senator Mitchell said, the tone was constructive and serious, and the two leaders began to establish a positive relationship. Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas met for nearly two hours one-on-one at the State Department on September 2nd. They talked very frankly and openly with each other, and got a sense of each other’s seriousness of purpose.
September 03, 2010
04:50 PM EDT
Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled, affecting children across the nation and changing country’s overall health and wellness. Building on the momentum of the Let’s Move! campaign and highlighting the steps that individuals, families and communities can take to address this issue, President Obama recently issued a proclamation making September 2010 National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.
The new Presidential Proclamation encourages Americans to be more active in addressing this ongoing struggle and raising a healthier generation of children:
“One of the greatest responsibilities we have as a Nation is to safeguard the health and well-being of our children. We now face a national childhood obesity crisis, with nearly one in every three of America's children being overweight or obese. There are concrete steps we can take right away as concerned parents, caregivers, educators, loved ones, and a Nation to ensure that our children are able to live full and active lives. During National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, I urge all Americans to take action to meet our national goal of solving the problem of childhood obesity within a generation.”
Dan PfeifferSeptember 03, 2010
04:50 PM EDT
On Wednesday in Cleveland, Ohio, the President will update the American people on the state of the economy, talk about the progress we have made, and discuss some targeted proposals to keep the economy growing including extending tax cuts for the middle class, and investing in the areas of our economy where the potential for job growth is greatest.
As today’s jobs numbers demonstrate, we are headed in the right direction. We have gained private sector jobs for the last 8 months, but not nearly enough. As the President said today, there’s no quick fix to the worst recession since the Great Depression. It took years to create our economic problems, and it’ll take more time than any of us would like to fully repair the damage. There are no silver bullets and anyone who is promising them is not being straight with the American people. But there are some ideas that will help the economy and help American families that are hurting and those proposals will be a part of the President’s remarks.
Speaking in the city where Minority Leader Boehner recently detailed the Republican economic agenda, the President will lay out the choice between his ideas and the failed policies and failed philosophy that led us into this mess.
Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director
Secretary Hilda SolisSeptember 03, 2010
03:00 PM EDT
It has become somewhat of a tradition for Labor Secretaries to use Labor Day to give a “State of the American Worker” report, if you will. Some have made remarks from podiums. Others have testified on Capitol Hill. Some have chosen to address think tanks, corporations, or labor unions.
Those are all important forums. But as your Labor Secretary I have had the great opportunity to meet many of the working men and women who truly make America run, and this year I want to talk directly to you – the American worker.
Many of you have told me that you want an America that “produces things again.” You want a nation that is strong, that leads the international marketplace in innovation and a commitment to quality. And you want a government that is responsive, pragmatic and understands your needs.
But more than anything else, no matter where I go and who I talk to, you’ve told me “we need jobs.”
Craig FugateSeptember 03, 2010
02:26 PM EDT
With Hurricane Earl moving up the East Coast and expected to arrive in New England by tonight, FEMA is taking aggressive actions to coordinate with Northeastern states as they prepare for possible severe weather. Initial reports from our teams in North Carolina and Virginia indicate that the storm passed close to them without causing the level of damage that it could have, but we still don’t know what Earl’s impact will be in the Northeast United States. Earl is still a potentially dangerous storm, and it’s important for residents in the region to continue to take this storm seriously and to get ready.
Yesterday, our Deputy Administrator Rich Serino, who has 35 years of emergency management experience in Massachusetts, deployed to Boston to oversee our preparation and response efforts. FEMA teams have been on the ground since earlier this week along the East Coast, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine to work directly with and support state and local officials. We also have teams on standby in New York and New Jersey, ready to help if needed. We have pre-positioned commodities for rapid delivery in Massachusetts, including water, meals, tarps, and generators, and at the direction of President Obama we are bringing together all of our federal partners to ensure a swift and effective response if needed. Our goal throughout all of these efforts is simple – we want to do everything we can to keep our residents and communities safe, and prevent the loss of life and property.
Jesse LeeSeptember 03, 2010
12:00 PM EDT
This morning Council of Economic Advisers Chair Christina Romer laid out the basics of the jobs numbers for August out this morning: the private sector added 67,000 jobs, Census workers continued to come to end of their work as planned, and people coming back into the job hunt bumped the unemployment rate up by .1%.
To discuss the news, the President spoke in the Rose Garden, flanked by his top economic advisors:
As we head into Labor Day weekend, I know many people across this country are concerned about what the future holds for themselves, for their families, and for the economy as a whole.
As I’ve said from the start, there’s no quick fix to the worst recession we've experienced since the Great Depression. The hard truth is that it took years to create our current economic problems, and it will take more time than any of us would like to repair the damage. Millions of our neighbors are living with that painfully every day.
But I want all Americans to remind themselves there are better days ahead.
The President then went through the numbers before explaining what they meant and pushing Republicans to stop blocking the help for small business that SBA Administrator Mills wrote about earlier:
Now, that’s positive news, and it reflects the steps we’ve already taken to break the back of this recession. But it’s not nearly good enough. That’s why we need to take further steps to create jobs and keep the economy growing, including extending tax cuts for the middle class and investing in the areas of our economy where the potential for job growth is greatest. In the weeks ahead, I’ll be discussing some of these ideas in more detail.
But one thing we also have to do right now –- one thing we have a responsibility to do right now –- is to lift up our small businesses, which accounted for over 60 percent of job losses in the final months of last year. That's why once again, I’m calling on Congress to make passing a small business jobs bill its first order of business when it gets back into session later this month.
Now, here’s why this is so important. Up until this past May, we were not only waiving fees for entrepreneurs who took out Small Business Administration loans, we were also encouraging more community banks to make loans to responsible business owners. These steps are part of the reason about 70,000 new Small Business Administration loans have been approved since I took office. And I thank Karen Mills for the outstanding job she’s been doing as Administrator of the Small Business Administration.
We’ve also been extending -- fighting to extend these loan enhancements with a small business jobs bill. It’s a bill that will more than double the amount some small business owners can borrow to grow their companies. It will completely eliminate capital gains taxes on key investments, so small business owners can buy new equipment and expand. And it will accelerate $55 billion in tax cuts for businesses, large and small, that make job-creating investments in the next 14 months.
And keep in mind, it is paid for. It will not add one dime to our deficit. So, put simply, this piece of legislation is good for workers; it’s good for small business people; it’s good for our economy. And yet, Republicans in the Senate have blocked this bill -- a needless delay that has led small business owners across this country to put off hiring, put off expanding, and put off plans that will make our economy stronger.
I’ve repeated since I ran for office, there is no silver bullet that is going to solve all of our economic problems overnight. But there are certain steps that we know will make a meaningful difference for small businessmen and women, who are the primary drivers of job creation. There are certain measures that we know will advance our recovery. This small business jobs bill is one of them.
September 03, 2010
10:55 AM EDT
What two countries lead the world in energy consumption, energy production and greenhouse gas emissions? The United States and China. Can our two countries work together to help lead the world in a transition to clean energy? A recent announcement by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu is an important step in that direction.
Yesterday, Secretary Chu announced that the University of Michigan and West Virginia University will each lead consortia under the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center. The two consortia will receive $25 million in total funding from the U.S. Department of Energy for this work. These amounts will be matched by the grantees, for a total of $50 million in U.S. funding. The Chinese side will contribute an additional $50 million, for a total of $100 million for this innovative project.
Karen MillsSeptember 03, 2010
10:04 AM EDT
I was surprised to hear Minority Leader Mitch McConnell say he believes the Small Business Jobs Act currently before the Senate is “a little itty-bitty small business bill that no one thinks will have much of an impact on the economy.” In fact, I would encourage him to go on the road with me to places like Saratoga Springs, where I was just yesterday meeting with several small business owners, including Larry Levita.
Larry and his son Phillip are the owners of Plum Dandy, a frozen yogurt shop in Saratoga Springs' historic downtown. A few months ago they received an SBA Recovery loan for $175,000 to open their shop, and with that they created 12 new jobs. Their loan was one of about 70,000 loans SBA has made with enhancements first provided in the Recovery Act in February 2009. Larry told me that things are going really well for them, and in fact they’re already thinking of opening a second location.
Christina RomerSeptember 03, 2010
09:44 AM EDT
Today’s employment report was better than expected. Private sector payrolls increased by 67,000 in August -- the eighth consecutive month of private sector job growth. This growth is consistent with other recent data reports indicating that the economy is continuing to recover, albeit at a somewhat slower pace than in the early spring. The rate of job growth, however, is not as large as needed to bring the unemployment rate down quickly. Indeed, the unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point to 9.6%, as more than half a million people joined the labor force. The President continues to work with his economic team and with Congress to identify measures that could help speed the recovery and put the economy on a path of steadily declining unemployment.
In addition to the rise in August, the estimates of private sector job growth for June and July were revised up by a total of 66,000. Since last December, private sector employment has risen by 763,000. Despite the rise in private sector employment, overall payroll employment fell by 54,000, as 114,000 temporary Census jobs were eliminated.
Private sector payrolls expanded in a number of sectors, including education and health services, construction, and temporary help services. Manufacturing employment fell 27,000 in August; much of this drop likely reflects the fact that manufacturing employment in July was elevated because General Motors chose to forgo its usual two-week shutdown. The manufacturing ISM Report on Business released on Wednesday indicated stronger employment growth in manufacturing in August than in July. State and local government payrolls declined by 10,000 in August, consistent with continuing budget difficulties in many states and localities.
In the household survey, the number of people employed rose by 290,000. But, because the labor force rose by 550,000, the unemployment rate ticked up to 9.6% (from 9.5% in July). The employment -to-population ratio also rose one-tenth of a percentage point (to 58.5%), indicating that in the household survey employment growth more than kept up with population growth. In addition, the number of workers who have been unemployed 27 weeks or longer declined sharply, from 6.57 million to 6.25 million.
Against the backdrop of some unsettling economic data in the past few weeks, today’s numbers are reassuring that growth and recovery are continuing. At the same time, the fact that the growth of private sector payrolls is below the level needed to keep up with normal growth of the labor force is obviously unacceptable. There are a number of step we could take to help increase private sector job growth and put the economy on a path of steadily declining unemployment. We will be working with Congress on these measures in the coming weeks.
There will likely be bumps in the road ahead. The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and subject to substantial revision. Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative. It is essential that we continue our efforts to move in the right direction and encourage robust job gains.
Christina Romer is the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
Arun ChaudharySeptember 03, 2010
12:00 AM EDT
This week the President announced the end of America’s combat mission in Iraq and West Wing Week takes you there, on the ground, with an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the change of mission. We spent a week on the ground with our troops and civilians , some coming home, some staying for the next mission, training and supporting the Iraqis now that they have the lead in protecting their own country. West Wing Week proudly joins the President and countless others who have saluted our troops over the past week -- it's never too late for you to join in too.
Wednesday, August 31, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Arun Chaudhary is the official White House videographer
Nikki SuttonSeptember 02, 2010
02:15 PM EDT
President Obama spoke with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate this afternoon and yesterday morning to ensure we are doing everything in our power to keep people safe in advance of Hurricane Earl along the eastern seaboard. The President will continue to monitor the situation as FEMA tracks the storm's movement in conjunction with the National Hurricane Center.
Secretary Arne DuncanSeptember 02, 2010
01:47 PM EDT
As students head back to school this fall, I travelled over the last two weeks on an eight-state bus tour to highlight “Courage in the Classroom.” The mission of the tour was simple: to honor our nation’s unsung heroes—our teachers.
Stephanie CutterSeptember 02, 2010
10:01 AM EDT
Under the old health care system, many businesses found it difficult, if not impossible to provide health insurance benefits to their workers. Over the past decade the percentage of small firms offering coverage decreased and many businesses have suffered under the weight of high health care costs.
The Affordable Care Act helps make it easier for employers to provide health benefits. This year, small businesses are eligible for health care tax credits and starting in 2014, small businesses with up to 100 employees will have access to state-based Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Exchanges, which will expand their purchasing power. Additionally, the Business Roundtable estimated that provisions in the legislation could save $3,000 per person in health costs.
Nikki SuttonSeptember 01, 2010
07:15 PM EDT
Americans have a rich history of showing great generosity when other communities around the world face crises. Today, the people of Pakistan are confronting one of the worst crises in their history. Over 20 million people throughout Pakistan have been affected since flooding began just over a month ago and there is an urgent need for shelter, clean water, food, and medical supplies.
That is why the State Department has established the Pakistan Relief Fund for American's to join the relief, recovery and reconstruction effort by donating online or by texting "FLOOD" to 27722 for a contribution of $10 that will be added to their cell phone bill.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton encourages American's to help continue our tradition of generosity in a public service announcement released by the Ad Council.
Contributions to the Pakistan Relief Fund will go towards funding programs run by the Department of State and other federal agencies for relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts in Pakistan, or to provide funds to international organizations, non-profit organizations and other appropriate recipients for relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts in Pakistan. For more information about the Pakistan Relief Fund, visit www.state.gov/pakistanrelief.
Secretary Tom VilsackSeptember 01, 2010
07:01 PM EDT
Yesterday I was pleased to receive the encouraging news from two USDA reports that illustrate the strength of the recovery in our agricultural economy. The 2010 Farm Income Forecast and Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade show a positive picture for 2010, and predict sustained growth for the future.
This recovery is a testament to the 2008 Farm Bill, to a wide range of efforts of the Obama Administration – such as the Recovery Act – to move the economy forward and to support the agriculture economy, and the hard work and resilience of America’s farmers and ranchers.
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