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Kori SchulmanJanuary 07, 2011
07:36 PM EDT
A quick look at the week of January 3, 2011:
Quote: “We will not rest until we have fully recovered from this recession and we have reached that brighter day,” said President Obama during his visit to Thompson Creek Manufacturing in Landover, Maryland to see an example of a company that is beginning to thrive, and to hear what role his Administration's actions have had. Watch the video. See the latest jobs chart.
New Chief of Staff: President Obama explains why Bill Daley is the right person to take the reins. Watch the video.
West Wing Week: Resolutions: The first family returns to Washington, the President signs over 30 bills into law, and West Wing staff share their New Year's resolutions. Watch the video.
Howard A. SchmidtJanuary 07, 2011
06:34 PM EDT
Today, at Stanford University, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and I were pleased to announce that the Commerce Department will host a National Program Office (NPO) in support of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC). As I’ve written previously, the NSTIC fulfills one of the action items in the Cyberspace Policy Review (pdf) and is a key building block in our efforts to secure cyberspace.
This holiday season, consumers spent a record $30.81 billion in online retail spending, an increase of 13 percent over the same period the previous year. This striking growth outshines even the notable 3.3-5.5 percent overall increase in holiday spending this past year. While clearly a positive sign for our economy, losses from online fraud and identity theft eat away at these gains, not to mention the harm that identity crime causes directly to millions of victims. We have a major problem in cyberspace, because when we are online we do not really know if people, businesses, and organizations are who they say they are. Moreover, we now have to remember dozens of user names and passwords. This multiplicity is so inconvenient that most people re-use their passwords for different accounts, which gives the criminal who compromises their password the “keys to the kingdom.”
Ken SalazarJanuary 07, 2011
04:33 PM EDT
I am in Florida today to announce an exciting initiative to conserve working lands and wildlife habitat in the Everglades headwaters.
The Everglades rural working ranch landscapes are an important piece of our nation’s history and economy, and this initiative would work to ensure that they remain vital for our future.
The partnerships being formed would protect and improve water quality north of Lake Okeechobee and restore wetlands which are so vital to the entire Florida economy. The proposed conservation area and refuge would also protect important habitat for 88 federal and state listed species, including the Florida panther, Florida black bear, whooping crane, and Everglade snail kite.
Nancy SutleyJanuary 07, 2011
02:49 PM EDT
President Obama rang in the New Year with important action to protect environmental and public health, and rebuild our economy on a stronger foundation. On Tuesday, the President returned to his desk and signed a number of bills passed into law by Congress, five of which help ensure Americans can enjoy clean air, safe drinking water, and healthy wildlife.
These bills will curb lead levels in water pipes, a major source of harmful lead exposure for children, and help address diesel engine pollution that is linked to serious health conditions like asthma and heart and lung disease. They also hold the Federal Government accountable for the water pollution it contributes to American communities; encourage volunteer opportunities in National Wildlife Refuges; and help conserve vulnerable shark populations. These measures are just the beginning of what we can accomplish in 2011. We look forward to a year of continued progress toward a healthy and prosperous future for our country.
The President signed the following environmental bills into law on Tuesday:
- H.R. 81, the "Shark Conservation Act of 2010 and International Fisheries Agreement Clarification Act," which generally prohibits the removal of shark fins at sea and amends certain laws related to international fisheries;
- H.R. 4973, the "National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Improvement Act of 2010," which reauthorizes and amends authorities relating to volunteer programs and community partnerships for national wildlife refuges;
- H.R. 5809, the "Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2010," which modifies and reauthorizes through FY 2016 the Environmental Protection Agency's Diesel Emissions Reduction Program;
- S. 3481, which clarifies the Federal Government's responsibility to pay reasonable service charges to a State or local government to address stormwater pollution from Federal properties; and
- S. 3874, the "Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act," which modifies the Safe Drinking Water Act definition of "lead free" with regard to pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures
Nancy Sutley is Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality
Victoria EspinelJanuary 07, 2011
01:40 PM EDT
Each year, the U.S. Government spends almost $80 billion dollars buying information technology (IT); the software, computer equipment and network devices that help the Government run efficiently. It is important that those purchases be fair, neutral and based on an objective assessment of relevant criteria. To ensure that the agencies and the public are aware of our policy, today U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra, Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy Dan Gordon and I issued a statement to Senior Procurement Executives and Chief Information Officers reminding them to select IT based on appropriate criteriawhile analyzing available alternatives including proprietary, open source and mixed source technologies.Victoria Espinel is the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator
Stephanie CutterJanuary 07, 2011
01:36 PM EDT
The House Republican Health Care Plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and take away all the new freedom and control it gives the American people over their health care and give it back to insurance companies will not only raise costs for individuals and businesses, but it will hurt our economy.
Since the President signed the Affordable Care Act into law last March, the economy has created over 1 million private sector jobs, including the 113,000 private sector jobs created in December announced today. So, at a time when our economy is getting stronger, repealing the law would hamper that important economic progress by increasing costs on individuals and businesses, weakening the benefits and protections that Americans with private insurance are already enjoying, and adding more than a trillion dollars to our deficits.
Jesse LeeJanuary 07, 2011
01:23 PM EDT
This morning the President was at Thompson Creek Manufacturing in Landover, Maryland to see an example of a company that is beginning to thrive, and to hear what role his Administration's actions have had.
Austan GoolsbeeJanuary 07, 2011
09:40 AM EDT
Today’s employment report shows that private sector payrolls increased by 113,000 in December, capping 12 consecutive months of growth that added 1.3 million private sector jobs to the economy during 2010, the strongest private sector job growth since 2006. The unemployment rate fell 0.4 percentage point to 9.4 percent last month.
The overall trend of economic data over the past several months has been encouraging, due in large part to the initiatives passed by this Administration, but we still have a ways to go. The measures we worked with Congress to pass last month that continue tax cuts for the middle class and extensions to unemployment insurance are vital to sustaining the recovery. The Administration will also continue to focus on actions that the President has recommended to increase growth and job creation, such as providing incentives to encourage businesses to invest and hire here at home, investing in education and infrastructure, and promoting exports abroad.
Arun ChaudharyJanuary 07, 2011
12:00 AM EDT
Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. This week, the first family returns to Washington, the President signs over 30 bills into law, and West Wing staff share their New Year's resolutions.
Arun Chaudhary is the official White House videographer
Stephanie CutterJanuary 06, 2011
05:46 PM EDT
As you may have seen, Republicans in the House of Representatives unveiled a bill this week that would repeal the greater freedom and control the law will give all Americans over their health care decisions.
For people with insurance, the law introduces new insurance market rules that ensure greater transparency and accountability, including better value for premium dollars, as well as important new consumer protections. For people seeking insurance, the law helps make sure you have ways to access it.
These new reforms halt the worst insurance industry abuses, and provides much needed relief that would be taken away under a repeal.
Jack LewJanuary 06, 2011
04:18 PM EDT
The new year starts with a renewed focus on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which the President signed into law last year and has already delivered a host of consumer protections and benefits to millions of Americans.
Yesterday, the House Republican leadership introduced a bill to repeal the ACA. Today, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) sent a letter to the Speaker of the House giving its assessment of the budgetary effects of a repeal: it would increase the budget deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade. The CBO letter notes that “over the 2012–2021 period, the effect of H.R. 2 [the repeal of ACA] on federal deficits … is likely to be an increase in the vicinity of $230 billion.” This result is not surprising since CBO scored the ACA as reducing the deficit by more than $100 billion through 2019 and by more than $1 trillion in the decade after that.
To be fair, CBO is clear that this is a preliminary estimate that does not take into account a host of changes in the economy, technical matters, and the effects of the implementation to date. But even after a more comprehensive analysis, we should expect the same outcome: the deficit would increase substantially if ACA were repealed. As CBO Director Elmendorf wrote in his blog today, “those developments will probably not have a major effect on the overall budgetary impact of repealing the legislation.”
For those in both parties who care about the deficit and our future fiscal course, the repeal of the ACA should concern them deeply. Rising health care costs are the biggest driver of our long-term deficits, and getting them under control is crucial for the fiscal health of the nation and to keep our economy growing, creating jobs, and competing in the world economy. Beyond that, we need to keep in mind that repealing the ACA also would roll back what the bill already has done to help millions of Americans -- from the families benefitting from the end to lifetime dollar limits on essential benefits to the young people now able to join their parents’ policies and the seniors who now are able to afford their prescription drugs. And repeal would deny an estimated 32 million American citizens health insurance in years to come.
Jack Lew is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget
Jesse LeeJanuary 06, 2011
04:09 PM EDT
Courtesy of DipNote, the State Department's blog, watch a conversation below between Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley and Major General (Ret.) Scott Gration, the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan on about the implications of the January 9, 2011 referendum on self-determination for Southern Sudan:
Find lots of context over at DipNote, along with the full transcript. As Major Gration explained:
What we're looking for is not the outcome, though, P.J. We're looking to make sure that there's a process where the people have an opportunity to express their free will, a process that happens on time, that happens peacefully, and that is transparent. Because in the end, the international community, along with the people of the North and the South, have to say "Yes, this really is the will of the people and we'll accept the results."
Jesse LeeJanuary 06, 2011
02:55 PM EDT
Before announcing that Bill Daley will take over as chief of staff, the President had some very heartfelt kind words for Pete Rouse, who has been serving as interim chief of staff these past months. "Thanks in no small part to his efforts, a period that everybody thought would be one of retrenchment was one of great progress for the country," said the President, and the fact that Rouse has agreed to stay on as Counselor to the President was met by a standing ovation led by the Vice President.
John P. HoldrenJanuary 06, 2011
09:40 AM EDT
President Obama's signing of the America COMPETES Act this week represents a major milestone on this Nation’s path to building an innovation economy for the 21st century—an economy that harnesses the scientific and technological ingenuity that has long been at the core of America’s prosperity and applies that creative force to some of the biggest challenges we face today. Whether it’s developing new products that will be manufactured in America, or getting and using energy more sustainably, or improving health care with better therapies and better use of information technology, or providing better protection for our troops abroad and our citizens at home, innovation will be key to our success. And that is exactly what the COMPETES Act is all about.
This bill comes at a crucial time in our Nation’s economic and technological trajectory—a time that President Obama characterized last month as a “Sputnik moment.” Just as Americans in 1957 quickly grasped the significance of the Soviet Union’s historic launch of the world’s first artificial satellite—responding aggressively with new investments in research and development (R&D) and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education—Americans today are recognizing that we are once again on the brink of a new world. The decisions we make today about how we invest in R&D, education, innovation, and competitiveness will profoundly influence our Nation’s economic vitality, global stature, and national security tomorrow.
Elizabeth WarrenJanuary 06, 2011
05:30 AM EDT
Today, nearly 300,000 American men and women are serving overseas, often in harsh conditions and at grave risk. For many of these brave men and women, the challenge of everyday life experienced by their families back home is a significant worry, as loved ones struggle with car payments, credit card bills, and trying to find the cash needed to cover unexpected expenses.
Regrettably, the evidence is clear: servicemembers and their families are sometimes easy targets for unscrupulous lenders. Even families that stay with mainstream lenders can struggle as the impact of separation and frequent moving takes a financial toll, leaving a family mired in debt and trying to digest reams of fine print.
Today, we have good news to report.
Holly Petraeus will take on a new role at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Implementation Team, directing our effort to establish an Office of Servicemember Affairs.
Melody BarnesJanuary 05, 2011
06:57 PM EDT
This week, President Obama signed The National Alzheimer's Project Act (NAPA), bipartisan legislation that will help individuals and families across the country whose lives are touched by Alzheimer’s disease. This legislation represents the next step in our strong, continued commitment to supporting Alzheimer’s research and health and long-term care services for affected individuals.
Alzheimer’s disease currently affects 5.3 million Americans, a number which is expected to increase fourfold by 2050. Additionally, there are nearly 11 million unpaid caregivers and the Nation spends an estimated $172 billion in annual costs.
Signing NAPA builds on a commitment made to individuals and families affected by Alzheimer’s disease at a meeting that was held at the White House on World Alzheimer’s Day last September. We brought together leading Alzheimer’s disease advocates, researchers, health and long-term care experts, and others to commemorate World Alzheimer’s Day.
Developing a national plan to respond to this disease is critical for making sure that we are supporting individuals and families as effectively as possible and making important research investments to develop effective therapeutics and change the trajectory of this disease. The Obama Administration looks forward to implementing this legislation.
Stephanie CutterJanuary 05, 2011
06:42 PM EDT
This week, Republicans in the House of Representatives unveiled a bill that will repeal the Affordable Care Act and take us back to the days when insurance companies controlled the health care people could receive. This doesn’t come as a surprise, as Republican leaders have been threatening repeal since President Obama signed the reforms into law on March 23, 2010. But what is surprising is how carelessly they are disregarding the consequences of taking away the new freedoms, control over health care decisions, and the cost savings the law provides the American people, including
- Unprecedented accountability and transparency in the insurance market;
- Reduced prescription drug costs for seniors; tax credits for small businesses to defray the costs of employee coverage;
- Protection against double-digit premium increases; preventive care without cost sharing; support for working class families by providing them tax credits to help pay for coverage;
- Improved quality health insurance coverage for all Americans by creating competitive new state based health insurance marketplaces called Exchanges; and
- Affordable, quality health coverage for all Americans regardless of their age and gender, or if they have a pre-existing condition.
Taking away these freedoms from the American people by repealing the law will put insurance companies back in control of health care—leaving Americans once again to worry about:
Jesse LeeJanuary 05, 2011
03:34 PM EDT
In today's edition of First Question, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs answered the flood of questions that came in over Twitter on what he's doing next, whether White House social media engagement will continue in his absence, and perhaps most important of all: what will become of his Twitter handle @PressSec:Viewing this video requires Adobe Flash Player 8 or higher. Download the free player.
The President released the statement below after Gibbs' announcement:
For the last six years, Robert has been a close friend, one of my closest advisers and an effective advocate from the podium for what this administration has been doing to move America forward. I think it’s natural for him to want to step back, reflect and retool. That brings up some challenges and opportunities for the White House – but it doesn’t change the important role that Robert will continue to play on our team.