Our Top Stories
Nikki SuttonOctober 20, 2010
11:03 AM EDT
Lisa Sharp runs a bookstore in Fayetteville, Arkansas and she didn’t think she would ever be able to provide health insurance to her employees. After losing several of her staff to jobs that offered benefits, she was happy to learn about the Affordable Care Act’s new small business tax credit. This year, up to 4 million small businesses may be eligible for tax credits, making it easier for them to provide coverage to their workers. And in 2014, a new health care marketplace will ensure small businesses quality, affordable health care coverage options, the same way large employers do today.
“One of my best employees left in the middle of the year because she was offered a job with insurance and I perfectly understood why she needed to do that…until I realized that I could get the 35 percent back, I really didn’t think that I would be able to afford it. At the end of the month I don’t have a lot of money left over to offer benefits and having this reimbursed through my taxes is going to give me that extra money to be able to do this.”
Kori SchulmanOctober 19, 2010
07:13 PM EDT
Ed. Note: On Wednesday, October 20th at 11:00 a.m. EDT, First Lady Michelle Obama will discuss the importance of arts and humanities education by hosting the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards – the country’s highest honor in this field. Watch the event live on WhiteHouse.gov/live.
This summer, the President and First Lady continued their White House music series with "A Broadway Celebration" to honor the arts and demonstrate the importance of arts education. Before joining the ranks of Broadway’s brightest stars, dance students from local schools performed in a special dress rehearsal for the First Lady, their parents and teachers. Watch a behind-the-scenes video from the event and check out the premiere of the television special on Wednesday, October 20 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings).
Luis MirandaOctober 19, 2010
11:59 AM EDT
In a ceremony in the East Room today, President Obama will sign an Executive Order to renew and enhance the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics so that it better serves communities across the country by engaging them in the process of improving the education of Latino students, who represent 1 of every 5 students in our nation’s schools.
The new Executive Order is based on feedback gathered by the Initiative in more than 100 community conversations across the country with experts in education, community leaders from more than 30 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and from comments from more than 10,000 Americans on how to develop real solutions to the challenges confronting the Hispanic community in education.
The signing ceremony follows a National Education Summit and Call to Action hosted by the U.S. Department of Education that began on Monday and brought together experts and community leaders from around the country on issues ranging from early childhood learning to higher education.
Watch parties are also being held nationwide. Watch at 1:50 by going to WhiteHouse.gov/live and clicking on the link on the right.
UPDATE: The President has now signed the Executive Order, read it in full, or watch the video and see a photo below:
Luis Miranda is White House Director of Hispanic Media
Nikki SuttonOctober 19, 2010
11:24 AM EDT
Adrienne Lowe, like many college students, was wondering how she was going to get health care after she graduates from college. Because of the Affordable Care Act, she now has the option of remaining on her parents’ health insurance plan. Young adults who do not have insurance through their employers may now be able to remain on their parents’ plan up to their 26th birthday. Up to 2.4 million young adults could gain coverage through this new provision.
“I graduate in May and when I graduate I was going to be dropped from my parents’ health care. Now that everything has been passed, I can still remain on my parents’ health care instead of being immediately kicked off.”
Listen to Adrienne tell her story and hear what’s happening in your state by visiting the 50 States/50 Stories map.
Jesse LeeOctober 19, 2010
06:00 AM EDT
In the second edition of White House White Board, Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, looks back at the President’s record on the economy through the perspective of the last three years in private sector employment.
Stephanie CutterOctober 19, 2010
05:00 AM EDT
Several weeks ago, First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed a group of nurses to the White House and joined a conference call with more than 5,000 nurses from across the country to discuss the Affordable Care Act and the benefits of health reform.
Just before they met with the First Lady, the nurses who traveled to Washington participated in a short roundtable discussion about the benefits of the new Affordable Care Act and their experiences.
Nurses featured in the video include:
Family Nurse Practitioner and Owner of Bluegrass Regional Healthcare, Inc. in Beaver Dam, Kentucky
Staff nurse in the Family Birthing Center at Fauquier Hospital
Margaret (Miki) B. MacDonald
Primary care nurse practitioner
Haddonfield, New Jersey
Pediatric nurse at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Samuel Kojo Asamoah
Staff nurse working nights in the ICU at INOVA hospital
Together, the nurses discussed the importance of preventive care that will be made available, with at no additional cost, for all Americans in new insurance plans, and how expanding access to insurance will make it possible for more Americans to get the care they need.
Stephanie Cutter is Assistant to the President for Special Projects
Kori SchulmanOctober 18, 2010
08:15 PM EDT
This week, we kicked off Tuesday Talks -- an invitation for people around the country to engage with policy experts, administration officials and more every week on a whole host of topics. Next week, we’re bringing you two talks: a conversation with Austan Goolsbee on the economy, followed by a dialogue on the arts and humanities.
Join us for two talks on Tuesday, October 19th:
- 1:30 p.m. EDT: Talk with Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, on the economy.
- 2:15 p.m. EDT: In celebration of National Arts and Humanities Month, talk about the arts and arts and humanities education with co-chairs and members of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH), including:
Here's how you can participate:
- Ask your questions in advance on Facebook
- Watch the chat through WhiteHouse.gov/live
- Join the discussion live through the White House Facebook application
See you on Tuesday and check out previous Tuesday Talks:
Marie JohnsOctober 18, 2010
07:35 PM EDT
On Friday, we held the first public meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force on Veteran Small Business Development.
The need for this task force is clear. America’s service men and women are returning home and using the skills they honed while on active duty to start their own businesses. Many more veterans have owned businesses for years. Our commitment is to be there as a partner along the way as they start and grow their businesses, create jobs, and drive our economy forward.
The Task Force is divided into six committees, each focusing on one of the objectives outlined by the President in his executive order. This includes expanding access to capital, increasing federal contracting opportunities, and reducing the paperwork burden for federal programs. We will be asking tough questions of our agencies, talking with the veteran community, and listening to the public.
Already, there have been some good ideas. Among other topics, we discussed how we can help veterans take advantage of programs in the Small Business Jobs Act, which will put billions of dollars in the hands of small business owners. Meanwhile Sue Hoppin, of the National Military Spouse Network, brought up the need to focus outreach not just on veterans but on their families and spouses as well, because veterans turn to these support networks first.
The task force will send a report with its recommendations to the President once every year. Overall, our goal is to build on what works, fix what doesn’t, and find new ways to get veteran entrepreneurs and small business owners the tools they need to succeed. President Obama has said that “our nation’s commitment to our veterans is a sacred trust, and upholding that trust is a moral obligation.” Part of that means ensuring that our veterans have the tools and resources they need to start businesses and take hold of their piece of the American dream that they fought so honorably to protect.
Katelyn SabochikOctober 18, 2010
04:29 PM EDT
Middle school and high school students from across the country descended on the State Dining Room at the White House today with their award-winning science fair projects in tow. From a robot that plays soccer to a smart toilet that conserves water and an innovative approach to treating cancer, these student projects represent most cutting edge science, technology and engineering.
The White House Science Fair is part of President Obama’s Educate to Innovate program move American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next decade. The President has made STEM education a priority for his Administration – recognizing that that a strong foundation in science, technology, engineering and math is key for laying the foundation for our future prosperity.
Before making remarks in the East Room, President Obama took a minute to check out the projects at the Science Fair and congratulate the students on their impressive achievements. The President also stressed the importance of inspiring students to excel in STEM subjects:
October 18, 2010
04:18 PM EDT
On Oct. 13 the Department of Defense (DoD) hosted an Energy Security Forum as part of National Energy Awareness Month. We spent the day with leaders from the military services and the White House for a discussion on how the Department of Defense can turn our energy use from a strategic and operational challenge to a key strength for the warfighter.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, kicked off our discussion and reinforced the critical nature of energy security for the Department. “Energy security needs to be one of the first things we think about, before we deploy another soldier, before we build another ship or plane, and before we buy or fill another rucksack.”
October 18, 2010
11:26 AM EDT
Tracy’s son Sami was diagnosed with a medical condition when he was very young and, because of his pre-existing condition, and she was worried about how she was going to maintain or find coverage for her son in the future. But thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children based on a pre-existing condition and, in 2014, this consumer protection will be extended to all Americans. The new law also eliminates lifetime limits on coverage, so insurance companies can no longer determine how much care children like Sami can receive throughout their, and places new restrictions on annual coverage limits. The Affordable Care Act is providing new benefits and consumer protections to Tracy, Sami and millions of families across America, ensuring that their coverage will be there when they need it most.
“We are happy that he cannot be discriminated against for having a pre-existing condition. I think it’s life changing.”
Tracy is just one of the many people who have shared their experiences with the new health care law. Visit the map to find stories from people near you and hear first-hand how the Affordable Care Act is helping Americans.
Maureen Tracey-MooneyOctober 18, 2010
11:07 AM EDT
Last week, the attention of the entire world was focused on the historic rescue of 33 miners in Chile. It was a moment of triumph for the miners and for the international team that helped plan and execute the rescue.
In the midst of our excitement at their rescue, it is important to remember that many, many more miners lose their lives each year, not just to accidents at mines, but also to the greatest threat to American miners: black lung disease.
Sadly, because deaths from this painful disease don’t have the sudden, devastating impact or bring the media attention that mine explosions generate, black lung has gotten less attention than it deserves.
Jesse LeeOctober 16, 2010
06:00 AM EDT
The President lays out his agenda to foster investment here at home. He vows to close the tax loopholes for sending jobs and profits overseas that Congressional Republicans have tried to protect.
Kori SchulmanOctober 16, 2010
12:00 AM EDT
A quick look at the week of October 11th, 2010:
Quote: "This is work that needs to be done. There are workers who are ready to do It." – President Obama on investing in our infrastructure. http://wh.gov/381
Your West Wing Week: “I Spy” Video: http://wh.gov/3Kw
Talk to Us: Don’t miss next week’s live chats: Talk about the economy with Austan Goolsbee http://wh.gov/30N, the arts with Chuck Close http://wh.gov/30N and cyber security awareness with Howard Schmidt http://wh.gov/38Y
It’s the Waiting for Superman Kids: Students from the documentary meet President Obama in the Oval Office and watch him take off in a helicopter from the South Lawn in this behind-the-scenes video: http://wh.gov/3Zo
A Colbert Bump: Austan Goolbee, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, talks tax cuts on the Colbert Report: http://bit.ly/cZpBjW (and the White House White Board video that inspired it all: http://wh.gov/38C)
Dr. Jill BidenOctober 15, 2010
06:24 PM EDT
Today I had the pleasure of co-hosting a conference call with Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to highlight Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to emphasize the importance of early detection and regular screenings.
We were joined on the call by breast cancer survivors, advocates, and various women’s group from across the country. I was especially honored to have two breast cancer survivors, Joy Veronica Foster and Lorene Nelson, join me in my office so they could share their personal stories on the call. Listening to these women, and knowing we were joined by many others on the line was truly inspirational and heartwarming.
Chances are that anyone reading this post has been touched by breast cancer –
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but the battle against breast cancer takes place every day, every hour, every 69 seconds as someone’s mother, sister, daughter, and friend loses her life to breast cancer. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but today’s conference call gave me hope. With the ongoing commitment of the Obama-Biden Administration to ensure that affordable and accessible preventive care is a reality, and the many breast cancer advocates, and survivors like Lorene and Joy who are changing lives with their work every day – I know we are moving closer to a breast cancer-free world.
Howard A. SchmidtOctober 15, 2010
05:15 PM EDT
[UPDATE: This live event has concluded. You can watch the full video here.]
As part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, Howard Schmidt, Cybersecurity Coordinator and Special Assistant to the President, will be answering your questions about Awareness Month, the “Stop.Think.Connect” initiative to encourage safety online and the things that people and businesses can do to protect themselves in a live video chat on Wednesday, October 20th at 1:30 p.m. EDT.
“National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is the time of the year we need to stop and realize all the things we can do collectively to keep our selves cyber-educated, cyber-smart, and cyber-assured,” Schmidt wrote in a blog post kicking off the month.
Don't miss the live Open for Questions event with Howard Schmidt on Wednesday, October 20th at 1:30 p.m. EDT. Here's how you can participate:
- Join the discussion live through the White House Facebook application
- Watch the chat through WhiteHouse.gov/live
- Ask your questions in advance on Facebook
- Post your question on About.com (Update: Comments now closed.)
In a proclamation, President Obama reflected his continued commitment to cybersecurity as a national priority and “urge[d] all Americans to visit DHS.gov/Cyber and OnGuardOnline.gov for more information about practices that can enhance the security of our shared cyber networks.”
October 15, 2010
05:01 PM EDT
Empowering Americans to make good financial decisions for themselves and their families is necessary to building a financially stronger America. To meet this goal, we must improve Americans’ understanding of financial products and terms, expand financial access, and provide appropriate and robust consumer protection. President Obama is committed to building a country in which more families have the knowledge, skills, and financial access to make good financial choices and to establishing the consumer protections that enable and encourage them to do so.
As part of this commitment, President Obama issued an Executive Order establishing the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability (“Council”) and appointed a highly qualified group of men and women from the private and non-profit sectors to advise him on these critical issues. The Council, which will work at the direction of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, will advise the President on how to maximize the effectiveness of existing private and public sector financial education efforts and identify new approaches to increase financial capability for all Americans.
October 15, 2010
02:54 PM EDT
When he proclaimed October to be National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, President Obama said, “Ending domestic violence requires a collaborative effort involving every part of our society.” He couldn’t be more right.
I remember a time when domestic violence wasn’t discussed much in public, and when it was perfectly acceptable to joke about it. In those days, if there was a serious public conversation about abuse, only women were inclined to join it.
Today, I am so proud that men work alongside us, in every facet of our work. This October, the men who run sports teams, businesses, media outlets, foundations and community centers are just as likely as the women who run them to be taking part in National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Administrator Lisa P. JacksonOctober 15, 2010
11:50 AM EDT
Ed. Note: As part Change.org's Blog Action Day, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson reflects on the importance of protecting America's clean water supply.
When EPA was formed 40 years ago, water pollution was generally something that could be seen, touched, and smelled. We knew something was wrong when algae began to coat rivers, when the smell from untreated sewage reached our communities, or when massive fish kills appeared in lakes and streams. Perhaps the most famous example is the Cuyahoga River, which was so covered with pollution and industrial waste that in 1969 it literally caught fire.
Four decades later, we’ve seen considerable progress. The Clean Water and the Safe Drinking Water Acts have significantly reduced threats to our environment and our health. The widespread expansion of water infrastructure has brought clean, safe water to millions of Americans. And the Cuyahoga – along with a number of other water bodies – is cleaner than it has been in generations.
But this doesn’t mean we can take clean water for granted. While we have had success on traditional pollutants, there are other challenges to face in protecting America's waters today.
Contaminants and chemicals we’ve only recently had the science to detect move into our water supply from a variety of less-conventional places. Rather than gushing from the end of a pipe, pollution trickles from front lawns, city streets and parking lots. We can’t ask a single polluter to shut off its flow, so we have to find more creative solutions.
We’re working to find those solutions through efforts like our developing Urban Waters Initiative, and the Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities, in which EPA’s water protection investments will work in concert with housing and transportation investments from other agencies. We’re developing a strategy to incorporate green infrastructure into our clean water rules and actions, which will encourage strategies that work with nature – rather than against it – by using soil, vegetation, permeable materials and landscape changes to capture stormwater, filter contaminants, beautify communities, and reduce the runoff that flows into local waterways. We’ve issued clear guidance to protect Appalachian waters threatened by valley fills from mountaintop removal mining. And we’re working with the USDA and the agricultural community to reduce water impacts and encourage sustainable farming techniques.
Another issue we face is deferred maintenance in our infrastructure, which in too many communities is over-worked and under-budgeted. Our system is deeply stressed, our financial and our natural resources are limited and our needs are not negotiable.
The good news is that the Recovery Act provided almost $6 billion in funding for clean and drinking water projects. Those investments, along with EPA’s budget, comprise some of the strongest support for water infrastructure in recent memory. But if our water systems are going to work harder in the years ahead, we have to start working smarter today. Earlier this year I outlined a vision to improve drinking water protection by harnessing invention and innovation. I proposed enhancing efficiency by taking on water contaminants in groups, engaging innovators and entrepreneurs to develop new technology and using technology to improve information sharing and monitoring between federal, state and local authorities.
Finally, the BP spill has presented an unprecedented challenge as an emergency environmental response and a long-term restoration effort. I’m proud that President Obama has appointed me to lead the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. That single event has illustrated just how important clean water is to the health of our communities and our economy, and how entire ways of life count on clean water and a healthy environment. Those are the same reasons President Obama mobilized EPA and other federal agencies to revitalize cleanups in the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes, and why we are recommitting to our work on other great waterbodies such as Puget Sound, Lake Tahoe, the San Francisco Bay Delta, as well as our oceans, estuaries and precious wetlands like the Florida Everglades.
Whether we face an immediate, emergency situation like the BP spill, or the gradual accumulation of challenges and degradation, our responsibilities to address the problems and find solutions are exactly the same. In each case, our efforts are focused on getting real, measurable results in the restoration of waterbodies that millions of people depend on.
In protecting America’s waters today, we have a responsibility to continue the work that began 40 years ago, and begin new work that will change the course of the next 40 years and beyond. This is what we have been doing since taking office, and what we plan on continuing to do in the months and years ahead.
October 15, 2010
09:46 AM EDT
Jim Houser and his wife have owned an auto business for nearly 30 years and have always provided health care for their employees. In recent years, their premiums have been steadily increasing to “unsustainable” levels. However, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, their business is now eligible for the small business tax credit. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, up to 4 million small businesses may be eligible this year for tax credits, making it easier for them to provide coverage for their workers. In 2014, a new health care marketplace will ensure American businesses quality, affordable health care coverage options.
“It’s things like health care and other benefits which keep employees loyal, that keep these highly trained employees with you and so the health care act is going to have the additional benefit of helping your business because your now going to be able to now offer the kind of support that is going to keep valuable employees with your company.”
Jim shared his story as part of the 50 Stories/50 States project. Check out the map to hear Jim’s full story and find additional stories from people near you.