February 08, 2011
12:40 PM EDT
This morning Vice President Biden was in Philadelphia to unveil a key proposal in the President's "Build" plank of his plan to win the future for America, along with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who previewed the announcement on his blog The proposal will place high-speed rail on equal footing with other surface transportation programs and revitalize America’s domestic rail manufacturing industry by dedicating $53 billion over six years to continue construction of a national high-speed and intercity passenger rail network.
“As President Obama said in his State of the Union, there are key places where we cannot afford to sacrifice as a nation – one of which is infrastructure,” said Vice President Biden. “As a long time Amtrak rider and advocate, I understand the need to invest in a modern rail system that will help connect communities, reduce congestion and create quality, skilled manufacturing jobs that cannot be outsourced. This plan will help us to do that, while also increasing access to convenient high speed rail for more Americans.”
Macon PhillipsFebruary 07, 2011
05:57 PM EDT
Staying connected to the American people is incredibly important to President Obama. That’s why he tries to get out of Washington as much as he can and it’s why he reads ten letters from Americans across the country every day. And it’s why we’re kicking off a new program today called Advise the Advisor.
Think of it as your direct line to senior staff at the White House.
Here’s how it works: one of the President’s closest advisors will post a short video to let you know more about what’s going on here at the White House and ask for your advice, opinions and feedback on important issues. We’ll go through as much of your feedback as possible and post a summary of what you’ve told us later in the week.
This week, David Plouffe, Senior Advisor to the President, is kicking off the series, focusing on President Obama’s vision for winning the future by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building rest of the world, by reforming our government to make it smarter, more effective and better prepared for the 21st century, and by taking responsibility for our debts and deficits.
Check out his video and then head over to WhiteHouse.gov/Advise to let us know how American innovation is affecting your community and what we can do to help remove the obstacles to innovation that you see where you live.
Jesse LeeFebruary 07, 2011
05:28 PM EDT
For those interested in the President's remarks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and his views on the shared responsibilities of government and business to the American people, our post earlier will give a suitable overview. For those interested in the details of the President's Executive Order on reviewing regulations and their impacts on the economy, Cass Sunstein's post this morning will also be of value. But the President also took a moment during his speech to put the debate over regulation in a different perspective, and to break through the false dichotomy so often assumed between prosperous business on the one hand, and common sense rules of the road on the other:
Jeffrey S. CrowleyFebruary 07, 2011
05:05 PM EDT
To commemorate National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Senior Advisor to President Obama Valerie Jarrett shared her heart-felt thoughts on the importance of combating HIV/AIDS. Watch her video message:
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness is not just a day to increase awareness, but a day to act on your own health.
- Do you know your status? If not, text your zipcode to 566948 (“KNOWIT”) to find and HIV testing site near you or go to HIVtest.org.
- You can also call 1-800-CDC-INFORMATION for more information and testing sites in your area.
- Visit www.aids.gov for Federal resources, events in your area and tools to commemorate National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
Victoria EspinelFebruary 07, 2011
04:00 PM EDT
In his State of the Union address, President Obama re-emphasized our nation’s commitment to help turn America’s innovative spirit into economic prosperity for our people and our nation. That is what my job and my office is all about. America’s creativity and ingenuity cannot thrive without intellectual property protection and enforcement, which allows a revolutionary idea to blossom into economic opportunity.
A little over a year ago, I was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the first U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. A little over six months ago, I submitted to Congress the inaugural Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement (Strategy), which was developed as a result of significant public input (including more than 1,600 public comments) and the coordinated efforts of the Federal agencies that enforce intellectual property rights. It included 33 specific actions that we committed to undertake to improve intellectual property enforcement.
In the little more than six months since we issued that Strategy in June, the U.S. Government has been hard at work taking the steps we identified to improve intellectual property enforcement. Today, I have sent to Congress the first annual report outlining what we have done to implement the Strategy (pdf). Some of the significant activities that I want to highlight for you are:
Kori SchulmanFebruary 07, 2011
02:31 PM EDT
On July 21, 2010 President signed the Wall Street Reform bill into law. One part of that law created the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to protect and empower American consumers with the strongest consumer protections in history.
Elizabeth Warren, who is leading efforts to get the Bureau up and running, recently announced their new website and today, she'd like you to meet Robin Fox, a 7th grade science teacher from Rome, GA, and Andrew Giordano, a retired Vietnam veteran from Locust Point, MD -- a couple of Americans whose stories illustrate some of the unfair practices people have encountered and how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will work to prevent it from happening again.
Watch their stories:
Robin's Story: Arbitrary Rate Increases on Credit Cards
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will enforce the Credit CARD Act, which President Obama signed in 2009 to ban credit card issuers from arbitrarily raising rates on existing balances and other unfair practices. The CFPB will also be responsible for updating the credit card rules moving forward.
Andrew's Story: Unexpected Overdraft Fees
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will examine big banks to ensure that they are following the rules that now require banks to give consumers a real choice of whether to join overdraft protection programs for ATM and debit card transactions. The CFPB will update those rules to respond to changes in the marketplace over time.
Jesse LeeFebruary 07, 2011
01:56 PM EDT
The President walked across the park today to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – a hub of big business that has supported the President on the Recovery Act and further infrastructure rebuilding while also giving voice to industries opposed to the health reform law – to deliver a stark message of shared responsibility for winning America’s future:
But I want to be clear: even as we make America the best place on earth to do business, businesses also have a responsibility to America.
As he laid out in his State of the Union Address, he will be focusing on the first half of that pact – by having government rebuild America’s infrastructure for communications and transport, by helping gear education toward equipping students for today’s businesses, and by streamlining regulations to make sure there’s aren’t unnecessary burdens on job creation – a mission elaborated on this morning by OIRA Administrator Cass Sunstein.
But as the President explained, businesses must look toward the greater good as well, and realize that a prosperous middle class is good for the bottom line:
So if I’ve got one message, my message is now is the time to invest in America. Now is the time to invest in America. (Applause.) Today, American companies have nearly $2 trillion sitting on their balance sheets. And I know that many of you have told me that you’re waiting for demand to rise before you get off the sidelines and expand, and that with millions of Americans out of work, demand has risen more slowly than any of us would like.
We’re in this together, but many of your own economists and salespeople are now forecasting a healthy increase in demand. So I just want to encourage you to get in the game. As part of the bipartisan tax deal we negotiated, with the support of the Chamber, businesses can immediately expense 100 percent of their capital investments. And as all of you know, it’s investments made now that will pay off as the economy rebounds. And as you hire, you know that more Americans working will mean more sales for your companies. It will mean more demand for your products and services. It will mean higher profits for your companies. We can create a virtuous circle.
Cass SunsteinFebruary 07, 2011
11:29 AM EDT
Winning the future requires promoting economic growth and job creation while also protecting the health and safety of the American people. On January 18, 2011, President Obama signed an important Executive Order designed to fulfill that goal.
The Executive Order emphasizes the need for predictability and for certainty -- and for achieving regulatory goals with the smartest and least costly tools. It directs agencies to seek public comments on rules, to minimize burdens on the private sector, to simplify and harmonize their regulations, to promote flexibility and freedom of choice, and to make sure that the benefits justify the costs. It also directs agencies, within 120 days, to produce plans for a government-wide review of existing regulations to determine whether they should be modified, streamlined, expanded, or repealed.
Also on January 18, the President signed a memorandum requiring agencies to take new steps to reduce regulatory burdens on small business. As the President wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Small firms drive growth and create most new jobs in this country. We need to make sure nothing stands in their way.”
Kalpen ModiFebruary 07, 2011
09:54 AM EDT
President Obama made a surprise drop-by at a roundtable conversation with young Americans at Penn State University during his visit last week. The roundtable was one of four held by the White House Office of Public Engagement surrounding the President’s visit to Central Pennsylvania. The roundtables provided an opportunity for a diverse group of young leaders to sit down for a candid conversation with the White House on key issues the President has been working on, including jobs and the economy, the cost of education, civic engagement, energy, innovation, housing, Sudan, and equal rights.
Check out some of what the President said during his visit:
February 06, 2011
12:07 PM EDT
Ed. note: This post is part of the Celebrating Black History Month series that highlights the contributions of African Americans who are contributing to the President's vision of winning the future though their work.
It's a long way from the segregated south to low Earth orbit. But I am fortunate to have made the journey and to have had many opportunities to serve my nation in a 34-year career with the U.S. Marine Corps and in many roles at NASA, currently as head of the nation's space program.
When I was a young man, my service as NASA's first African American Administrator under the Nation's first Black president would have been nearly unthinkable. But through the efforts of many people of all races, our nation has changed. And, thanks to the Space Shuttle Program, and NASA's cross-disciplinary exploration missions, African Americans and many others have had access to space and also to science and technological careers. The shuttle was really instrumental in breaking the color barrier for African Americans in space, and it all happened without a single law being passed.
Today, African Americans are scientists, engineers, and astronauts. They're developing instruments for spacecraft to peer beyond the edge of our solar system and opening solar arrays on the International Space Station with just a tether holding them to a vehicle moving nearly 17,000 miles per hour. NASA is reinvigorating its focus on research and development to develop technologies that don't exist today. We will send humans farther and faster into space. We'll visit places we've never been, with people and robots, launch science missions to uncover unfathomable secrets of the universe, and make air travel safer and cleaner here on the home front. African Americans have been, and will continue to be, key to all of these efforts.
Jesse LeeFebruary 05, 2011
05:30 AM EDT
The President discusses the labs at Penn State as an example of how American innovation, particularly in infrastructure and energy, can create jobs and win the future for America.
Kori SchulmanFebruary 04, 2011
06:41 PM EDT
Quote: "To support American innovation, what my administration is trying to do is not just hand out money. What we’re doing is we’re issuing a challenge. Because right now, some of the most promising innovation is happening in the area of clean energy technology -- technology that is creating jobs, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and -- something that every young person here cares about -- making sure our planet is a healthier place to live that we can pass on to future generations." --President Obama, speaking at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania, about the future of American innovation. Watch the speech here.
Better Buildings: President Obama announces a program to increase energy efficiency in commercial buildings, and save businesses billions of dollars a year. Check out the fact sheet here, and see what business leaders are saying about the program.
Egypt: The President and his advisers continued to closely monitor the situation in Egypt. President Obama spoke on America's commitment to democracy and universal human rights for all people, and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reiterated the United States' strong condemnation of violence against journalists and members of the media.
Faces of Distracted Driving: Continuing a video series, the Department of Transportation shares the story of Alex Brown in this moving video.
American Innovation Abroad: U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk meets with members of the President's Technology CEO Council to discuss how the Administration is promoting high-tech American products in foreign trade.
Start-Up America: Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers explains the Start-Up America Initiative on the White Board.
Race to the Top: This week marks the launch of the second annual Race to the Top Commencement Challenge. Melody Barnes, the Director of the Domestic Policy Council, invites high schools around the country to apply.
Women's Online Summit: The White House hosts the first-ever Women's Online Summit, which brought together editors of 26 websites with a special focus on women. Learn about the meeting, and the surprise guest.
It's Black History Month: All month we're featuring African Americans from throughout the Administration who are contributing to President Obama's vision of winning the future through their work. Read their stories.
National Prayer Breakfast: President Obama continued an annual tradition that dates back to President Eisenhower, speaking at the meeting of faith leaders in Washington, D.C.
Ready for Winter Weather: With serious winter storms hitting the Midwest and Atlantic coast, WhiteHouse.gov made sure people knew how to stay safe in winter weather. The USDA shared food safety tips in case of power outages.
New Dietary Guidelines: Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, along with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, announced new dietary guidelines to help improve American health.
Attorney General Visits Poland: Attorney General Eric Holder met with counterterrorism and national security leaders from European partners during the G6 Conference.
Katelyn SabochikFebruary 04, 2011
06:28 PM EDT
Today, the White House released “A Strategy for American Innovation: Securing Our Economic Growth and Prosperity.” The Strategy is a commonsense, sustained approach to helping America win the future by out-innovating our global competitors.
Here are a few things you should know about the Strategy for American Innovation:
Helping Startups Overcome the “Valley of Death”
This week, the White House launched Startup America, a new initiative to help entrepreneurs overcome what’s often called the “valley of death” on the way to success by helping with access to capital, streamlining regulations, mentors for experienced advice, and tax breaks to help them get over the hump. Check out CEA Chairman Austan Goolsbee’s latest White House White Board Video to learn more.
Jesse LeeFebruary 04, 2011
05:07 PM EDT
This afternoon President Obama and Prime Minister Harper of Canada met to "reaffirm our extraordinary friendship and cooperation," as the President put it. In a joint press conference afterwards, the President took a question on the future of Egypt:
Dan PfeifferFebruary 04, 2011
04:55 PM EDT
As valuable as the internet can be in helping to spread information, most people know that you can’t believe everything you read, and they should check the source before relaying every alarming story they read. One such story is going around the internet over the past two days claiming that the Obama Administration is somehow responsible for the rolling blackouts in Texas that have caused terrible hardship for so many Texans. The source is questionable and the story is unquestionably false.
According to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, these blackouts were actually the result of extreme cold temperatures and high winds, which led to a variety of mechanical failures at more than 50 power plants around the state.
Aneesh ChopraFebruary 04, 2011
04:45 PM EDT
Today I joined my colleagues Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council, and Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors in publishing an op/ed describing President Obama’s Strategy for American Innovation - a framework to secure our economic growth and prosperity. It is built on three key pillars - that our Nation is at its best when we invest in the building blocks of innovation, includingour people, ideas and infrastructure; that we have rules of the road that promote market-based innovation, including strong intellectual property protection, research & experimentation tax credits, and a regulatory system that works; and in the spirit of “all hands on deck”, we catalyze breakthroughs for national priorities, including our race to win in a clean energy economy, a renaissance in American manufacturing through advanced technologies, and a quantum leap in educational technologies.
Now it is your turn. We want to hear your feedback on the Strategy for American Innovation. You can submit your comments, feedback and questions via Slideshare. In the coming days and weeks, we’re looking forward to a lively discussion on the Strategy for American Innovation and we hope you’ll be a part of it.
Melody BarnesFebruary 04, 2011
12:57 PM EDT
Last week, in the State of the Union, the President offered a plan for America to win the future. He challenged us to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build our global competitors. The White House Council for Community Solutions will take on this challenge by encouraging the growth and maximizing the impact of innovative community-developed solutions related to youth development, education, and employment.
We are excited that the President has tapped leaders from the private and non-profit sectors, academia, philanthropy, and community organizations to serve on the Council. The members are in Washington, D.C. tomorrow for the first Council meeting. Public portions of the meeting are streaming live today from 1-3 p.m. EST at www.whitehouse.gov/live and footage will be available on www.whitehouse.gov soon.
Over the past few months, Council members have been taking the time to learn more about ongoing youth development work and effective models for cross-sector solutions. The difficult economic times have hit young people especially hard. Currently, approximately 4 million young people are disconnected from both education and employment. The President and the Council are concerned about both the immediate and long-term impact that such a trend will have on our nation’s workforce. This is a real opportunity to improve individual lives, as well as our nation’s economic future.
In the coming months, Council members will visit successful youth development programs across the country. They will engage with leaders to understand what elements of programs have been instrumental in program success and will look at frameworks for successful cross-sector collaborations.
Check www.serve.gov for more updates on the Council.
Melody Barnes is Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.
Austan GoolsbeeFebruary 04, 2011
09:42 AM EDT
Today’s employment report shows that the unemployment rate fell sharply to 9.0 percent and private sector payrolls increased by 50,000 in January. Revisions to private sector payroll data show that 1.1 million jobs were added during 2010, the strongest private sector job growth since 2006. The 0.8 percentage point decline in the unemployment rate over the past two months is a welcome development; however, the rate remains unacceptably high.
The overall trend of economic data in recent months has been encouraging, as initiatives put in place by this Administration are taking hold, but there is still considerable work to do. Today, the Administration puts forward our comprehensive innovation agenda, which details our efforts to accelerate American leadership in educating our workers, investing in science, and building the infrastructure our companies need to succeed. Innovation will be a key driver of the economy as we strengthen America’s position as home to the world’s best new businesses and industries, and the best jobs.
In addition to the increases last month, the estimates of private sector job growth for November (now +128,000) and December (now +139,000) were revised up. These revisions, along with the annual payroll survey revisions, show that private sector employment has now grown for eleven consecutive months.
Overall payroll employment rose by 36,000 last month. Among the sectors with the largest payroll employment growth were manufacturing (+49,000), retail and wholesale trade (+36,700), and professional and business services (+31,000). Transportation and warehousing (-38,000), construction (-32,000), finance (-10,000), and local government (-10,000) were among the sectors that subtracted from the total. Severe weather in some parts of the country may have impacted employment and hours in some industries.
The 0.4 percentage point decline in the unemployment rate to 9.0 percent in January was accounted for by a large increase in employment as measured by the household survey (which is separate from the payroll survey). The labor force participation rate was unchanged.
The overall trajectory of the economy has improved dramatically over the past two years, but there will surely be bumps in the road ahead. The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and employment estimates are subject to substantial revision. Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.
Austan Goolsbee is Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers
Arun ChaudharyFebruary 04, 2011
12:00 AM EDT
Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, President Obama focused on the innovation part of his plan for winning the future by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building the rest of the world, with events at Penn State and around Washington, D.C.
Greg NelsonFebruary 03, 2011
07:06 PM EDT
Today the President announced an ambitious initiative to make American businesses more efficient as part of his plan to ensure that America wins the future by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building the competition.
In his State of the Union, the President laid out his vision for winning the future by investing in innovative clean energy technologies and doubling the share of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035. Alongside that effort, the President is proposing new efforts to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings across the country. The “Better Buildings Initiative,” outlined today at Penn State University, will achieve a 20 percent improvement over the next decade, saving companies and business owners tens of billions of dollars a year.
The plan will spur innovation by reforming tax and other incentives to retrofit, creating a new competitive grant program for states and localities that streamline their regulations to attract retrofit investment, and challenging the private sector to invest in building upgrades through a new “Better Buildings Challenge.”
The President has asked President Clinton, who has been a champion for this kind of energy innovation, to co-lead the private sector engagement along with the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, headed by Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric.
The response has already been overwhelmingly positive. See some statements of support below from various business leaders and advocacy groups:
A unique view of 2012