Read all posts from October 2010

  • Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (249MB) | mp3 (24MB)

    This afternoon, we marked Domestic Violence Awareness Month with the President and Vice President by highlighting the Obama Administration’s unprecedented coordination and cooperation across the entire government to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence and enable survivors to break the cycle of abuse. 

    For almost 30 years, the month of October has been a time to renew our commitment to ending one of the most tragic and senseless crimes in this country. We were honored to be joined today by a diverse audience from big cities and small towns, from tribes, women’s organizations, survivors, domestic violence and sexual assault advocates, fatherhood programs, law enforcement agencies, and faith communities, all joined by a common purpose- to end violence against women.

  • 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.

    While the President answered as many questions as he could during the event, there were many questions he didn’t have a chance to answer.  Below Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Heather Zichal and Director of the Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes tackle two of these questions on climate change and foster care respectively.

    Be sure to check out other questions and answers here and here.

  • During Tuesday Talks this week, David Axelrod, Senior Advisor to the President, answered your questions in a live video chat on WhiteHouse.gov and Facebook. He covered a range of topics, from the President's commitment to end "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell" to working across the aisle to promote the interests of the American people.

    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 (258MB) | mp3 (25MB)

  • Last week, President Obama hosted the first ever White House Science Fair, bringing together middle school and high school students from around the country and their award winning science, engineering and technology projects.  The White House Science Fair was a part of the President’s Educate to Innovate initiative to move American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next decade. 

    Check out this behind the scenes video from the White House Science Fair, including Bill Nye the Science Guy and hosts of the show Mythbusters Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage.

    Download Video: mp4 (23MB)

  • Last week, as special interest billionaires continued to pour secret donations of millions of dollars each into front groups supporting Republicans, we asked the obvious question: "What do they expect in return?"

    Today we found out they're already drawing up the plans. Washington lobbyists are lining up cash to help Republicans in Congress repeal Wall Street reform, repeal health care reform and go back to the same policies that led to this mess.  The New York Times describes the blitz of meetings between Republicans in Congress and Washington lobbyists:

    But there is nothing mysterious for the lobbyists and corporate executives writing most of these checks. Mr. Camp is slated to take over the powerful, tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee if Republicans win the majority next week, transforming this low-key conservative Republican almost overnight into one of the most powerful men in town.

    Across Washington, lobbyists have been working behind the scenes now for months to prepare for this possible power shift. Former aides to Mr. Camp, who now work as lobbyists, are checking in with their onetime boss, chatting with him and his aides about staff appointments he might make when he takes over the Ways and Means Committee, and what tax or health care issues will be at the top of his agenda. Other lobbyists have gone to his staff to try to get to the head of the line in presenting proposed tax changes that will benefit their clients.

    “You don’t wait until Nov. 3 and say, ‘What is the plan,’ ” said Jennifer Bell, a former aide to Mr. Camp who is now a health care lobbyist. She flew to Michigan last month in part to catch up with Mr. Camp while he was in his district. “Obviously, it is the majority that sets the agenda.”

    This should come as no surprise given the track record of Congressional Republicans over the past two years.  Rather than listen to the American people, Congressional Republicans have repeatedly  shown their loyalty to these special interests by retreating behind closed doors to strategize with their lobbyists on the most critical issues for the American people. 

    On Wall Street reform, Congressional Republicans didn’t listen to the millions of Americans who lost their homes and savings as a result of the financial crisis.   Instead, House Republicans teamed up with Wall Street lobbyists to try to defeat the bill, and Senate Republicans leaders traveled to New York City to meet with Wall Street executives and hedge fund managers to discuss their opposition to the legislation and solicit campaign contributions.   In fact, right after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell got back from that trip, he announced that Senate Republicans would not support the bill providing the toughest consumer financial protections in history.

    On health insurance reform, Congressional Republicans didn’t listen to the stories of Americans who cannot afford insurance or have been denied coverage for pre-existing conditions.  Instead, House Republicans introduced an “alternative”  bill that borrowed proposals from health insurance companies, and before any of the Senate committees had even begun working on health reform legislation, Senate Republican leaders met with health care lobbyists in an effort to “recruit stakeholders to oppose” important Democratic proposals.

    And when Senate Democrats brought an important jobs bill to the floor earlier this year, their colleagues across the aisle didn’t listen to unemployed Americans looking for work.  Instead, they held a strategy session with lobbyists.

    In fact, Congressional Republicans have made clear that lobbyists have a seat at the table even when they are formulating their party’s broader strategy and governing vision.  When House Republicans put together their “Pledge to America,” they invited a group of high-powered lobbyists and corporate insiders to help them craft their agenda at a secret, closed-door meeting – opening it up to the public only after the invitation was leaked to the press.   Then, on the day House Republicans released their agenda, we learned that they had quietly put a former lobbyist for Big Oil and other special interests in charge of putting the “Pledge” together.

    Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director

  • Some people just don’t like movies with happy endings. How else to explain this week’s report by the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP)? Rather than focusing on the growing evidence we’ve seen in recent months that TARP will be far less costly than anyone expected, SIGTARP instead sought to generate a false controversy over AIG to try and grab a few, cheap headlines.

    Last month, the Administration released a new report showing that – after giving effect to a proposed restructuring and based on current market prices – Treasury’s overall investment in AIG is expected to break even or turn a profit.  This valuation reflects AIG’s recently announced exit strategy to pay back taxpayers, including the conversion of Treasury’s illiquid preferred stock stake in that company to 1.7 billion shares of publicly traded common stock.

  • The estimated number of jobs created or saved through USDA Recovery Act investments in rural America continues to grow.  Today, I am in Ohio, where USDA has provided over $59.5 million in loan guarantees to help rural businesses grow, innovate and create jobs.  You can see economic activity everywhere.

    For example, consider Pride of the Hills Manufacturing, Inc., a company that supports the natural gas industry.  Pride of the Hills was awarded $1,940,000 in financing through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act), directed through USDA Rural Development’s Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program. The company will use the money to modernize equipment, improve operational efficiency and add 49 new jobs.

  • Ed. Note: Sign up for the Daily Snapshot and we'll send you the Photo of the Day first thing every morning.  Also, the full video of Pete Souza answering your questions in a video chat is now available.

    A year ago, my photo editors suggested we start posting a "Photo of the Day" (POD) on the White House website. The idea was to show pictures that viewers do not see anywhere else: behind-the-scenes images of the President and other aspects of life at the White House. (Visit WhiteHouse.gov/Photos for the latest Photo of the Day galleries.)

    In the past year, we have selected a new POD at least five days a week (weekend postings depend on the President’s activities). The most popular pictures are ones involving fun moments with the President, or pictures of the family dog, Bo. But, given my extraordinary access, we also try to show the President doing what he spends most of his time doing: running the country.

    I chose the following ten pictures to represent the past year of POD’s. They are not necessarily the “best” ten, but are ones that show the variety of situations we have to choose from.

    The President Pays Tribute to Those Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice for their Country

    President Barack Obama leaves a presidential coin at the gravesite of 19-year-old Medal of Honor recipient, Specialist Ross McGinnis, who is one of two Medal of Honor recipients memorialized at Arlington Cemetery from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The President was at Arlington Cemetery to give Veterans Day remarks, November 11, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    The Presidential Chair

    President Barack Obama meets with members of his Cabinet in the Cabinet Room of the White House, January 29, 2010. The President’s chair is marked with a plaque engraved with the date of his inauguration. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

     

  • Ed. note: This post has been bumped to the top of the blog.

    David Axelrod, Senior Advisor to the President, is answering your questions in a live video chat on WhiteHouse.gov on Tuesday, October 26th at 1:00 p.m. EDT

    Axelrod has been with the President in the White House since day one and knows his perspective on major policy issues across the board. Ask Axe your questions about the economy, health care, energy -- or whatever else is on your mind.

    Join us for a talk with David Axelrod on Tuesday, October 26th at 1:00 p.m. EDT.

    Here's how you can participate:

  • 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.

    On Friday we brought you the first installment of video answers to questions that the President didn’t have a chance to get to during the town hall event.  Below are two more, this time from Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, and another answer from Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor.  Be sure to check back throughout the week for more questions and answers!

    What measures are you taking toward an integrated relationship with military leadership for policy decisions in Afghanistan?

    What will you do to encourage alternative energy and clean technology?

  • Pete Souza, Chief Official White House Photographer and Director of the White House Photography Office, has access unlike any other. Camera in tow, Souza travels alongside President Obama to visually document each meeting, trip and encounter for historical record. Check out his work on the White House Flickr photo stream and in the photo galleries on WhiteHouse.gov.

    Don't miss the live Open for Questions event with Pete Souza on Thursday, October 28that 7:00 p.m. EDT. He’ll be answering your questions -- from Flickr and Facebook -- about White House photography, his position, specific photos, and whatever else you come up with in a live video chat. 

    Here's how you can participate:

    On the one year anniversary of the Photo of the Day on WhiteHouse.gov, Pete Souza chose his ten favorite photos. Read his blog post and see his top picks here.

  • Today, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden will speak at the California Women’s Conference 2010, hosted by California First Lady Maria Shriver and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The annual Women’s Conference inspires, empowers and educates women to be Architects of Change in their own lives and in the lives of others.

    Last year, I was honored to attend the event where Valerie Jarrett participated in parts of the Conference’s A Woman's Nation: The Status of the American Woman panel. There she represented the Council on Women and Girls and discussed our efforts to improve workplace flexibility both in the federal government and the private sector.

    We are excited that the Administration can be a part of this important event again and we encourage you to participate as well! 

    You can learn more by reading First Lady Michelle Obama’s remarks as well as Dr. Jill Biden’s remarks or watching the video below.

  • Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (110MB) | mp3 (11MB)

    This afternoon the President toured American Cord & Webbing in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.  It was the kind of business the President thought about as he was cutting taxes for small business 16 times, and making sure health reform made it easier and more affordable to cover their employees.  Most recently, it was the kind of business he was thinking of when he signed the Small Business Jobs Act, which he discussed with workers afterwards:

    And last month, after plenty of political obstacles, after months in which thousands of small business owners across America were waiting for the loans and tax cuts they badly needed to grow their business and hire new employees, I signed into law the Small Business Jobs Act.

    Now, that act extended provisions that helped support tens of thousands of new SBA loans under the Recovery Act, and it waived fees on those loans to save owners money on their payments -– something that saved this particular company more than $9,000.

    In less than a month since that new law took effect, more than 3,600 small business owners have already received more than $1.4 billion worth of new loans, with more to come -- and the SBA has already begun offering larger loans for small business owners who need them.

    The law also accelerates $55 billion in new tax cuts for businesses both large and small that make job-creating investments over the next year.  It eliminates capital gains taxes on key new investments made in small businesses until the end of this year.  It dramatically increases the amount small businesses can write off on new equipment investments -- and we want to do more, so that you can write it all off.  These are tax cuts that can help America -- help businesses like American Cord and Webbing that are making new investments right now.  And it can help create jobs.

    Finally, the law that we signed creates new initiatives to increase lending to small businesses. It strengthens state programs that spur private sector lending, and that’s a step that will support $15 billion in new small business loans across the country.  And it sets up a new Small Business Lending Fund that will support Main Street banks that lend to Main Street businesses.

    The President also explained why it was so tough to get through:

  • After joining President Obama in welcoming students to the White House Science Fair last Monday, OSTP Director John P. Holdren spent Saturday morning with fellow OSTP staffers and an estimated half-a-million other visitors on the National Mall, reveling in the USA Science and Engineering Festival. Under beautiful blue skies, science, mathematics, and engineering literally had their day in the sun, with more than 1,000 displays and demonstrations that educated, entertained, and inspired children and adults alike.

    Within minutes of our arrival at the Festival we came upon a familiar figure: Thomas Alva Edison, or at least a close facsimile, in the person of Frank Attwood, an Orlando-based self-described “actorpreneur.” Toting a tattered brown briefcase and with an ancient phonograph in tow, Attwood was buttonholing visitors and regaling them with tales of the all-American inventor, who so personified the kind of innovation that today continues to undergird our Nation’s social and economic strength.

  • Today, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and I proposed the first national standards for greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency for medium and heavy-duty trucks, vans, and buses.

    This is a historic first step to address categories of vehicles previously excluded from America's corporate average fuel economy guidelines. Currently, the vehicles we propose covering account for 20% of the transportation sector's carbon emissions. So reducing those emissions and improving fuel efficiency for these vehicles is certainly a win for the environment.

    But the new standards are also a win for energy independence and the economy. We're talking about saving 500 million barrels of oil and cutting emissions by nearly 250 million metric tons over the life of model year 2014 to 2018 vehicles covered by our proposals.

  • Paul was born with hemophilia, so his experience with health insurance has been a “lifelong endeavor.”  Recently, he had been enrolled in a policy with a lifetime cap and had been concerned about reaching the maximum limit for care.  He was considering changing jobs or moving to another state to find coverage.  But provisions in the Affordable Care Act eliminated lifetime limits and also placed restrictions on annual limits.  And in 2014, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny adults coverage based on pre-existing conditions, giving people like Paul a lot more options for affordable, quality health care.

  • Pointing to the foreclosure crisis and the economy, the President cites passage of Wall Street Reform over the ferocious lobbying of Wall Street banks as a pivotal acheivement -- and condemns Republicans in Congress for vowing to repeal it.

  • A quick look at the week of October 18, 2010:

    Quote: “As a nation we’re founded on the belief that all of us are equal and each of us deserves the freedom to pursue our own version of happiness; to make the most of our talents; to speak our minds; to not fit in; most of all, to be true to ourselves. That’s the freedom that enriches all of us. That’s what America is all about.  And every day, it gets better.”

    – President Obama in a video message for the nationwide campaign focused on young people who are being bullied because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation. Video + Resources: http://wh.gov/3nn

    White House White Board #2: Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, takes a look at the President’s record on the economy in this short video: http://wh.gov/3X2

    Your West Wing Week: "The White House Science Fair" http://wh.gov/3Qb (Missed the fair? Check out the festival: http://bit.ly/cDxJLa)

  • Ever since the Citizens United ruling opened the floodgates to unlimited and undisclosed special interest and corporate spending in our elections, President Obama has repeatedly warned that these undisclosed contributions will give special interests even more power over politicians. And, with that power, they plan to return to the days when lobbyists wrote the laws in Washington to benefit special interests at the expense of the American people.

    The President fought hard to block this troubling development by repeatedly calling on Congress to pass the DISCLOSE Act -- legislation that would establish the strongest-ever disclosure requirements for election-related spending by special interests. But Congressional Republicans blocked every attempt we made to put our democracy back where it belongs -- in the hands of the American people. Their opposition wasn’t rooted in policy differences, because they’ve supported this type of legislation in the past. Rather, it was a cynical decision based on electoral considerations. And now, thanks to aggressive investigative reporting, we are getting a glimpse of the consequences lax disclosure rules have on our political process.

  • The First Lady Speaks During the Fall White House Garden Harvest

    First Lady Michelle Obama, with students from Bancroft and Tubman Elementary Schools and members of the Culinary Olympic Team, participates in a White House Kitchen garden harvest on the South Lawn of the White House, October 21, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

    The rain stopped and the sun came out just in time for the First Lady’s Fall 2010 Kitchen Garden Harvest.  Joined by more than 25 students from Washington, DC’s Bancroft and Tubman Elementary Schools, the First Lady and several world-renowned chefs spent the afternoon in the White House garden digging up sweet potatoes, clipping herbs, picking tomatoes, and admiring the pumpkins before sitting down to enjoy a fresh salad from the garden.

    The school-children were paired with chefs Daniel Boulud and James Kent as well as several White House chefs.  Armed with large baskets and wheelbarrows, they scoured the garden for peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, lettuce and other fall vegetables. The First Lady joined them, rolling up her sleeves, to dig up enormous sweet potatoes, including a near record-breaking four pounder, and to pick deep purple egg plants.  The children and the First Lady also admired the two pumpkins growing in the garden – just in time for Halloween.

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