Read all posts from October 2010

  • The independent Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board just posted the latest round of reports from recipients of Recovery Act dollars on Recovery.gov.  These reports provide an up-close snapshot of how a portion of Recovery Act spending was put to work creating jobs and driving economic growth last quarter.  Thanks to these reports, you can see when certain projects started, where they’re taking place and how many people are being directly paid to work on them with Recovery Act dollars. 

    But when looking at these reports, it’s important to know what you are seeing – especially when it comes to the roughly 670,000 jobs recipients reported last quarter as part of this process.

    Just 20 Percent of Spending

    While there is already an unprecedented amount of public information available on Recovery.gov, Congress asked that for a portion of spending - specifically in areas like infrastructure projects and education spending – we go a layer deeper and collect these reports directly from recipients on how they are putting Recovery Act dollars to work.  So while these new reports posted today offer an extraordinary level of detail, they only cover about 20 percent of Recovery Act spendingto-date.  That means the job counts that come with the reports don’t include things like:

  • Ahead of the elections, the President says no matter what happens both parties must work together to boost the economy, and expresses concern about statements to the contrary from Republican Leaders.

  • A quick look at the week of October 25, 2010:

    It's the Great Pumpkin:

    Presidents and Pumpkins

    Carved pumpkins depicting President Barack Obama, Abraham Lincoln, and the White House sit on a stone wall next door to where the President was attending a dinner reception in Providence, Rhode Island, Oct. 25, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • In September 2009, the President announced that – for the first time in history – the White House would routinely release visitor records. Today, the White House releases visitor records that were generated in July 2010. Today’s release also includes several visitor records generated prior to September 16, 2009 that were requested by members of the public during September 2010 pursuant to the White House voluntary disclosure policy. This release brings the grand total of records that this White House has released to over 800,000 records. You can view them all in our Disclosures section.

    Norm Eisen is Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform

  • Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (35MB) | mp3 (4MB)

    This afternoon President Obama spoke in the White House Briefing Room on the security situation that has been unfolding since last night:

    Good afternoon, everybody.  I want to briefly update the American people on a credible terrorist threat against our country, and the actions that we're taking with our friends and our partners to respond to it.

    Last night and earlier today, our intelligence and law enforcement professionals, working with our friends and allies, identified two suspicious packages bound for the United States -- specifically, two places of Jewish worship in Chicago.  Those packages had been located in Dubai and East Midlands Airport in the United Kingdom.  An initial examination of those packages has determined that they do apparently contain explosive material.

    President Barack Obama is Briefed on Suspicious Packages Found on Cargo Planes Bound for the United States

    President Barack Obama is briefed by members of his national security team in the Situation Room of the White House, October 29, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Afterward, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security John Brennan gave a full briefing, but the President first laid out the basic timeline of events:

    I was alerted to this threat last night by my top counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan.  I directed the Department of Homeland Security and all our law enforcement and intelligence agencies to take whatever steps are necessary to protect our citizens from this type of attack.  Those measures led to additional screening of some planes in Newark and Philadelphia.

    The Department of Homeland Security is also taking steps to enhance the safety of air travel, including additional cargo screening.  We will continue to pursue additional protective measures for as long as it takes to ensure the safety and security of our citizens.

    I've also directed that we spare no effort in investigating the origins of these suspicious packages and their connection to any additional terrorist plotting.  Although we are still pursuing all the facts, we do know that the packages originated in Yemen. We also know that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a terrorist group based in Yemen, continues to plan attacks against our homeland, our citizens, and our friends and allies.

    John Brennan, who you will be hearing from, spoke with President Saleh of Yemen today about the seriousness of this threat, and President Saleh pledged the full cooperation of the Yemeni government in this investigation.

    Going forward, we will continue to strengthen our cooperation with the Yemeni government to disrupt plotting by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and to destroy this al Qaeda affiliate. We'll also continue our efforts to strengthen a more stable, secure and prosperous Yemen so that terrorist groups do not have the time and space they need to plan attacks from within its borders.

    The events of the past 24 hours underscores the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism.  As usual, our intelligence, law enforcement and Homeland Security professionals have served with extraordinary skill and resolve and with the commitment that their enormous responsibilities demand.  We're also coordinating closely and effectively with our friends and our allies, who are essential to this fight.

    As we obtain more information we will keep the public fully informed.  But at this stage, the American people should know that the counterterrorism professionals are taking this threat very seriously and are taking all necessary and prudent steps to ensure our security.  And the American people should be confident that we will not waver in our resolve to defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates and to root out violent extremism in all its forms.

  • Have you ever wondered about the most exciting part of being the President's photographer or if Bo, the Obamas' dog, is easy to photograph? Pete Souza, Chief Official White House Photographer and Director of the White House Photography Office, sat down with us to answer your questions from Flickr and Facebook in a live video chat. From "getting the shot" to getting the gig, Pete covered a lot of territory in the chat. Use the links below to jump directly to the questions that you're interested in or watch the full video of the chat.
     
    Download Video: mp4 (423MB) | mp3 (41MB)

  • Recently, President Obama participated in a live town hall with young people from across the country sponsored by MTV, BET, and CMT -- taking questions from the audience and Twitter on a variety of topics.

    The President couldn’t answer all of the questions that were asked, so his staff took a crack at answering some of the questions that came in.  Below Melody Barnes, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor, and Darienne Page, Assistant Director of the Office of Public Engagement tackle some of your questions.

    What can we do about crippling levels of student debt?

    How do you plan on protecting us against terrorism, when financially our country is weak?

    Is the Department of Defense doing everything they can to aid service members in their pursuit of higher education?

  • Ed. Note: Building on the President’s commitment to address issues important to rural Americans, Administration officials visited State Fairs around the country this summer and fall. See a map of where they've been.

    It was like a homecoming for me.  As a former two-term Superintendent of Education for South Carolina, I had worked with the Future Farmers of America in South Carolina many times before.  On October 15, I had the opportunity to return home to Columbia and be escorted around the State Fair by a new class of FFA students, this time in my capacity as Chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.  It was a proud moment for me to be at Fair, as the good people of South Carolina could see that one of their own was now working on behalf of all American consumers.

    Residents throughout South Carolina flock to the Midlands (the region in and around the state capitol) each October to show their wares and celebrate the rich cultural traditions of the state.  From the dairy heifer sale to the giant sand castle to the foot long corn dogs, there was much to see, taste, and buy at the State Fair. 

  • Ed. Note: Also visit Ambassador Susan Rice's Facebook and Twitter accounts for updates on U.S. work at the UN.

    When I was growing up, I carried two things with me on Halloween: a bag for candy and my UNICEF box. This was true from the moment of my very first Trick-or-Treat. In the late 1960s and ’70s, Washington, DC felt a world away from the battle-scarred towns of post-World War II Europe, and from the villages of the developing world that were suffering from food insecurity and infectious disease.

  • Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (106MB) | mp3 (10MB)

    As CEA Chair Austan Goolsbee explained this morning, the Gross National Product (GDP) – a key measurement of our economic growth – grew at a 2.0% annual rate over the last three months.  It marked the fifth straight quarter of positive growth.  But as he also said, “Given the depth and severity of the recession, considerable work remains before our economy is fully recovered” – in other words, we’re climbing out of the hole, but it’s deep, and we need to be able to climb faster.

    That’s why the President has already put forth a series of proposals that have a proven record of creating jobs and have traditionally had bipartisan support, from rebuilding our infrastructure, to promoting investment, to boosting the clean energy economy.

    This morning the President was focused on his proposal to allow businesses and investors to deduct immediately the full cost of most investments will help them expand and hire.  A report from the Treasury Department this morning showed that the proposal would accelerate $150 billion in tax cuts to 2 million businesses, lower the average cost of capital for business investment by more than 75%, and produce about $50 billion in new investment.

    President Barack Obama Talks with Workers While Touring Stromberg Metal Works

    President Barack Obama tours Stromberg Metal Works in Beltsville, Md., October 29, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

    The President met with employees at Stromberg Sheet Metal in Beltsville Maryland, and speaking afterwards described his conversation with CEO Robert Gawne:

  • A statement from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued moments ago:

    Last night, intelligence and law enforcement agencies discovered potential suspicious packages on two planes in transit to the United States. Based on close cooperation among U.S. government agencies and with our foreign allies and partners, authorities were able to identify and examine two suspicious packages, one in East Midlands, United Kingdom and one in Dubai. Both of these packages originated from Yemen. As a result of security precautions triggered by this threat, the additional measures were taken regarding the flights at Newark Liberty and Philadelphia International Airports.

    The President was notified of a potential terrorist threat on Thursday night at 10:35, by John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism. The President directed U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and the Department of Homeland Security, to take steps to ensure the safety and security of the American people, and to determine whether these threats are a part of any additional terrorist plotting. The President has received regular updates from his national security team since he was alerted to the threat.

  • Building a clean energy economy in this country is one of President Obama’s top priorities.  As National Energy Awareness Month - a national effort to underscore how central energy policy is to our national prosperity, security, and environment – draws to a close, I wanted to highlight some of the events and announcements from the Administration that are helping us build a clean energy economy.

    We’re installing solar panels on the White House, building the largest solar energy power plant in the world on our public lands, and proposing the first-ever greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty cars and trucks.  All told, the Administration held and made over 140 energy-related events and announcements this month.  Below are just a few of the highlights, but you can see the full calendar of events here.

  • Today’s report shows that real GDP, the total amount of goods and services produced in the country, grew at a 2.0 percent annual rate in the third quarter of this year, the fifth straight quarter of positive growth.  While the economy continues to recover from the deepest recession since World War II, faster growth is needed to bring down the unemployment rate more quickly. 

    Some key components of GDP continued to expand in the third quarter.  Consumer expenditures on goods and services rose at an annual rate of 2.6 percent, up slightly from the second quarter.  Fixed investment (nonresidential structures, equipment and software, and housing investments) grew at an annual rate of 0.8 percent.  Business investment in equipment and software increased by 12 percent, the fourth consecutive quarter of solid growth, indicating continued expansion of investments by private firms.  Inventory investment contributed 1.4 percentage points to GDP growth, slightly less than the average in the last four quarters.   Residential investment, however, declined.
     
    Given the depth and severity of the recession, considerable work remains before our economy is fully recovered.  Therefore, it is essential that we take the additional targeted actions that the President has recommended to further stimulate growth and job creation, such as extending tax cuts for the middle class, investing in our infrastructure, providing tax incentives to encourage businesses to invest here at home, and promoting exports abroad.

    Real GDP Estimate, October 2010


    Austan Goolsbee is the Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers

  • Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Walk step by step with the President as he visits American Cord and Webbing, a thriving small business in Woodsocket, Rhode Island, calls into radio shows across the country, joins the Vice President in the East Room to mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month, goes on the Daily Show, congratulates American rescue workers who used their expertise to help free 33 Chilean Miners, and much more...

    Download Video: mp4 (172.8MB)
     

  • Most people who have watched a daily press briefing from the White House Press Secretary have probably thought at one time or another “I’d like to ask the White House a question!”

    Well, here's your chance! Today we launched a new type of online engagement called "First Question" that uses Twitter to collect your questions for the WH Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to answer.  Here's a video of today's answer:

     

    While we'll constantly look for ways to improve it, here's how First Question will work for now:

    1. In the morning, Robert will ask for that day's questions in a post to his @PressSec Twitter account.  Although this won't happen everyday, it will be pretty frequently so be sure to subscribe to his account and the WhiteHouse's main Twitter account (@WhiteHouse) to find out when it does.
    2. Once he's posted, anyone can fire away with questions using the hashtag #1q.
    3. Over the next hour or two we'll collect all of the questions, record his answers and post the video.

     

    Even though every question can't get answered (looks like over 300 tweets with #1q were posted today) we'll try to choose questions from a broad variety of perspectives.  But even the questions we can't get to are tremendously valuable to understanding what's on people's minds.

    And while everyone here is excited about this new type of online engagement, it's worth pointing out that there are even more opportunities to ask questions and learn about what's happening at the White House.  In fact, in a few minutes (at 7pmEDT), the Official White House photographer, Pete Souza, is going to take your questions about some of the photos he's snapped and on Tuesday next week at 1pm EDT, Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, and Jeff Bader, Senior Director for Asian Affairs, will chat about the President’s upcoming foreign travel. 

    There are constantly new events being set up, and the best way to stay current is to subscribe to the White House's Daily Snapshot.

    Whether it's using Google Moderator to vote on YouTube questions for President Obama, Facebook to chat with David Axelrod or Twitter to take a crack at Robert Gibbs, we're constantly looking for new ways to use technology to connect Americans with their White House.  And if you have any ideas or feedback along these lines, we'd love to hear it -- in the spirit of this post, you can reach me at @macon44.

  • Promoting college success and completion is critical to the future of our economy.  Recent studies have shown that we are lagging behind nations such as Korea, Canada and Japan in college completion rates – and college costs are part of the reason why.  President Obama believes educational success is key to our future economic success.  That’s why he has set a goal of once again having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by the year 2020.     

    We understand the financial barriers that students face today, so our Administration has worked to expand college access and opportunity by making college more affordable.  And already we’re seeing results.

  • Cross posted from the Department of Transportation's blog.

    Today, the Obama Administration and the Department of Transportation are awarding $2.4 billion for planning and construction of intercity passenger rail service. With these 54 projects in 23 states, we're moving full-speed ahead toward a nationwide high-speed rail system.

    President Obama signed the Recovery Act to build bridges between the Americans who needed jobs and the infrastructure jobs that needed doing. One of those jobs was creating a 21st century rail system in the United States.

  • Just one month after the President signed the Small Business Jobs Act, SBA has supported nearly $3 billion in loans to more than 5,000 small businesses across the country. That’s more than 5,000 small business owners who’ve felt first-hand, within one month, the impact this new law is having on our economy: from Peabody Engineering, a tank and fiberglass manufacturer in Southern California that is using a Jobs Act loan to hire 10 more workers, to Caudill Web Design here in our nation’s capital, who will use their Jobs Act loan to hire more programmers to meet increased demand.

    So, how did we do it? With the Recovery Act, we learned that raising the guarantee and waiving the fees in SBA’s top two loan programs was a formula for success.  With the Recovery Act funding and extensions of funding from Congress, we turned just $680 million in taxpayer dollars into nearly $30 billion in lending support through our lending partners.

    That’s a big bang for the taxpayer buck. The Jobs Act builds on that success by extending those same loan enhancements. 

  • A few weeks ago, President Obama asked me to get to work starting the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  He was clear about his goal:  Level the playing field for American families and fix the broken consumer credit market—and do it as quickly and effectively as possible. 

    Today, I’m in California to continue conversations with families, financial industry leaders, consumer advocates, and others about the challenges and opportunities of setting up the new agency.  Over the past month, I have listened more than I have talked, and I have learned a great deal about the need for change and the places where change should come first. 

    While I am in California, a new layer in the conversations will begin.  This morning, I will meet in Silicon Valley with technology industry leaders to solicit advice about building a state-of-the-art, 21st century agency that harnesses some new tools that exist in our hyper-connected and digital world.  Tonight, I will deliver a speech at the University of California, Berkeley exploring key ways that information technology might be used to propel the consumer agency forward. 

  • UPDATE: Watch the entire interview.

    Check out a couple shots from the taping courtesy of the Photo Office:

    President Barack Obama Tapes an Interview for the Daily Show - Close Up

    President Barack Obama tapes an interview for the Daily Show with Jon Stewart at the Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C., October 27, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    President Barack Obama Tapes an Interview for the Daily Show - Wide Shot

    President Barack Obama tapes an interview for the Daily Show with Jon Stewart at the Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C., October 27, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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