Our Top Stories
April 19, 2011
09:55 AM EDT
Startup America is the White House initiative to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the Nation. Tomorrow, in conjunction with the President’s trip to Facebook, we will engage with entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley to share more exciting news about Startup America – tune in to the panel discussion here.
One core goal of the Startup America initiative is to reduce barriers that are hampering entrepreneurs’ ability to start and scale their businesses.
The White House, in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, decided the best way to figure out which regulatory barriers are hindering entrepreneurs was to ask those who are directly affected. Then the entrepreneurs can help identify solutions as well.
April 18, 2011
06:15 PM EDT
It seems sacrifice is on the minds of most everyone these days. In homes across the country working families are cutting back and learning how to do more with less. Military families are making the ultimate sacrifice – that of a loved one – to keep the rest of us safe. On top of trying to pay bills, put food on the table and raise children, many military spouses have to go at it alone, worried about the safety of their loved one abroad.
My older brother served in the army and was stationed in Korea. I remember what it was like not having him around, sending letters, photos, care packages and such. It was hard on my mom because he wasn't home. Not having him around much and having been raised by working parents, I learned early on what it was like to do more with less. In my family, sacrifice was something my parents practiced on a daily basis to give me and my siblings a better life.
Today, countless military families continue to do the same. In many ways, they have to work twice as hard. While I wasn’t raised by military parents, I did have a loved one who served abroad, and I do know about sacrifice. And I also know how important it is to give back.
Jesse LeeApril 18, 2011
03:58 PM EDT
This afternoon the President congratulated the winners of the proud three-way rivalry between the Army, Navy and Air Force Academy football teams. Noting the presence of Superintendent of the Air Force Academy, Lieutenant General Michael Gould, and the Air Force Chief of Staff, General Norton Schwartz, he gave all appropriate respect to the players who serve their country:
Most of all, though, I want to congratulate the cadets who are standing behind me. Until this year, no one on this team knew what it felt like to beat Army, to beat Navy, to visit the White House, and to earn football bragging rights over the other branches. Now you know the feeling. (Applause.) They also know what it feels like not just to be a good service academy team, but to be a good team, period. Put up 350 rushing yards against Oklahoma. Finished 9-4 after what Coach Calhoun called the toughest schedule a service academy ever played. And to cap it all off, to win in a bowl game against Georgia Tech. (Applause.) That’s impressive. Georgia Tech has three times as many students.
Of course, I hear the victory that was sweetest of all was finally beating that Navy team. I’m told that as soon as the final whistle blew, the loudspeakers started blasting Etta James singing “At Last.” (Laughter.) The entire cadet wing -– usually some of the most disciplined young men and women you’ll ever see -– just rushed the field and sang the alma mater with the team.
So this is a group that has a lot to be proud of. But, obviously, the most impressive thing about these young men, the thing that sets them apart, is that being a football player isn’t what defines them. They’re airmen first. And more important than any bowl game or trophy is the commitment that they’ve made to serve this country.
That’s why last summer, when almost every other Division I team was working out and running through drills together, these players were scattered around the world learning the skills they needed long after they take off their jerseys and hang up their helmets.
Secretary Steven ChuApril 18, 2011
03:57 PM EDT
I have good news. Today, the Department of Energy offered a $2.1 billion conditional commitment loan guarantee to support a concentrating solar thermal power plant near Blythe, California. This is the largest amount ever offered to a solar project through our the Department's Loan Programs Office.
The loan will support two units of the Blythe Solar Power Project that will have a combined 484 megawatt generating capacity. These units are part of a larger project, sponsored by Solar Trust of America, that when completed will generate 1,000 megawatts of solar power, enough to power 95,000 homes a year.
The project is expected to create more than 1,000 jobs and is estimated to avoid more than 710,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, which is equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from more than 123,000 vehicles.
Danielle BorrinApril 18, 2011
03:36 PM EDT
Tonight and tomorrow night, Jewish families and friends in the United States and around the world will gather for Seders to commemorate the Exodus from Egypt and the triumph of hope and perseverance over injustice and oppression. For most Jewish families, the Passover meal is full traditions passed down through the generations like the maror, or bitter herbs, which symbolize the bitterness of slavery in Egypt or the matzoh, unleavened bread, which recalls the haste with which the Israelites left Egypt – giving them no time to allow their bread to rise.
While some families hold the secret to the fluffiest matzoh balls in town, others have created new traditions to share with their families and friends.
Here at the White House tonight, President and Mrs. Obama will again host a small Seder, complete with recipes provided by friends and family. It’s a tradition that started in Pennsylvania in 2008, when after a long day on the campaign trail then-Senator Obama gathered a group of staffers – Jewish and non-Jewish alike – for an impromptu Seder. Each year since, the same group, along with a few close friends and family, have come together to carry on the tradition at the White House. Among the family recipes on the menu this year are a traditional chicken soup with matzoh balls, braised beef brisket, potato kugel, carrot soufflé, and matzoh chocolate cake.
April 18, 2011
02:10 PM EDT
Today, the President released his 2010 federal income and gift tax returns. He and the First Lady filed their income tax return jointly and reported an adjusted gross income of $1,728,096. The vast majority of the family’s income is the proceeds from the sale of the President’s books. The Obamas paid $453,770 in total federal tax.
The President and First Lady also reported donating $245,075 – or about 14.2% of their adjusted gross income – to 36 different charities. The largest reported gift to charity was a $131,075 contribution to the Fisher House Foundation. The President is donating the after-tax proceeds from his children’s book to a Fisher House scholarship fund for children of fallen and disabled soldiers. The President and First Lady also released their Illinois income tax return and reported paying $51,568 in state income taxes.
Erin LindsayApril 18, 2011
02:09 PM EDT
Watch as President Obama personally invites you to participate in his “Shared Responsibility and Shared Prosperity” facebook town hall event on Wednesday, April 20th at 1:45 pm PT / 4:45 pm ET live online from Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California. The event will be live streamed on facebook at facebook.com/WhiteHouse or https://apps.facebook.com/facebooklive/ and at WhiteHouse.gov/live.
After the event, be sure to stay tuned for our Women and Technology panel with White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and the Startup America panel with Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Austan Goolsbee. Learn more about these events and find out how you can get involved at: http:/www.facebook.com/WhiteHouse
And be sure to “like” the White House on facebook to stay up to date with the latest news, events and ways to engage with President Obama and other senior advisors.
April 15, 2011
05:52 PM EDT
Your quick look at the week that was on WhiteHouse.gov.
America's Fiscal Future: On Wednesday, President Obama spoke at the George Washington University about his plan to control spending while staying true to America's values of shared prosperity and shared responsibility. After his speech, economic advisor Brian Deese answered your questions in a live video chat. The President's focus on fiscal policy continued as he met with bipartisan leaders from the House and Senate, and with the co-chairs of his fiscal commission.
April 15, 2011
04:19 PM EDT
This year we invited local Elementary and Middle School students in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia to submit entries for the 2011 White House Easter Egg Roll Poster Contest. The response was tremendous -- we were excited to receive over 400 entries from 135 schools! The First Lady selected the winning designs for the 2011 Official Easter Egg Roll Poster and Program Cover.
Students were asked to incorporate this year's theme, “Get Up and Go!” The theme goes along with the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, a national effort to combat childhood obesity, and promotes health and wellness.
And the winners are...
Howard A. SchmidtApril 15, 2011
03:19 PM EDT
Today, President Obama released the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) (PDF).This Strategy seeks to improve security in cyberspace and e-commerce. We can see how this plays out in at least two areas. First, passwords alone are not secure enough, which contributes to online fraud and identity theft. It is also inconvenient to have to remember dozens of passwords to access different online services. Second, it is difficult for individuals to prove their true identity when they want to perform a sensitive transaction online, like banking or accessing health records. These problems are limiting the full economic potential of the Internet, because certain services cannot easily be moved online. NSTIC envisions a private sector led effort to create a new infrastructure for the Internet, built on interoperable, privacy-enhancing, and secure identity credentials. This new infrastructure is centered around choice. First, you don't have to use it at all. If you do, you can choose when or how to use it.
For example, you might get a "digital credential" bundled with your cell phone plan that resides as an application on your smart phone. It would remain inactive when you are just browsing the web. But with a single, short PIN or password, you could use your credential on the phone to do a range of transactions from logging in to your favorite online game as “anon01” where you do not want to reveal your real name to accessing your tax information where you do. To see an animated example of this system, visit the NSTIC program office's home page.
But not everybody wants a smart phone. Under this strategy, you will be able to choose from many different identity providers: perhaps your bank, your health care provider, your email provider, or any other preferred organization. We seek to create an ecosystem of many different providers, so that there is an option that suits every individual who wants to participate. Individuals can also choose between different credentials, or ways of logging in: cell phones, keychain “fobs,” smart cards, and many others – in fact, there will undoubtedly be ways that have not yet even been invented.
April 15, 2011
10:41 AM EDT
Yesterday, WhiteHouse.gov featured a live chat celebrating West Wing Week's first birthday with Arun Chaudhary, the official White House videographer, and Josh Earnest, the Deputy Press Secretary who narrates each episode. Josh and Arun talked about the process of shooting and editing West Wing Week, how the show has changed over the first year, and what some of their personal highlights have been so far.
Katelyn SabochikApril 15, 2011
12:00 AM EDT
Have you ever wondered how much of your own tax dollars actually go to support foreign aid? To support education? Well, now you can find out – and you might be surprised.
In his State of the Union Address, President Obama promised that this year, for the first time ever, American taxpayers would be able to go online and see exactly how their federal tax dollars are spent.
So today, we’re announcing the first-ever federal taxpayer receipt.
Just enter a few pieces of information about your taxes, and the taxpayer receipt will give you a breakdown of how your tax dollars are spent on priorities like education, veteran’s benefits, or health care.
Arun ChaudharyApril 15, 2011
12:00 AM EDT
Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, with the threat of a government shutdown averted, President Obama focused on fiscal responsibility and balancing the need to cut spending and the deficit while continuing to support education, clean energy, and other investments needed to win the future. The Amir of Qatar also visited the White House.
Karen MillsApril 14, 2011
05:19 PM EDT
Ed. note: This was originally posted on the Small Business Administration blog.
Today, President Obama signed a law that removes the expanded “1099” reporting requirement from the Affordable Care Act. This is a big win for small businesses.
The SBA and President Obama supported repealing this provision, which would have required businesses to send 1099 forms for all purchases of goods and services over $600 annually. With this bipartisan effort, we have removed a requirement that would have been an undue barrier to small business growth.
The many benefits of the health reform law for small businesses remain in place. These tools are already helping small business owners find more affordable and accessible coverage for themselves and their employees.
In particular, with tax day coming on Monday, don’t forget that many small business that provide health insurance are eligible for tax credits, thanks to the new law. You can learn more at this page on the IRS website.
Karen Mills is the Administrator of the Small Business Administration.
April 14, 2011
03:54 PM EDT
On Thursday, President Obama hosted Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani of Qatar for a meeting in the Oval Office. The two leaders discussed a host of issues that affect both countries, including continued diplomatic and military cooperation in Libya, promoting a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and global food security.
In addition to our efforts in Libya, we have a strong relationship between our two countries. It is an economic relationship. It is a military relationship. It is a cultural relationship. And obviously, Qatar has done very well under His Highness's leadership, but his influence extends beyond his borders. And so we’ve had discussions about how we can continue to promote democracy, human rights, increased freedom and reform throughout the Middle East.
Qatar's location in the Persian Gulf has made it an important ally in a region vital to U.S. economic and security interests. As democracies continue to grow and flourish throughout the Arab world, working with nations like Qatar will become ever more important.
Kori SchulmanApril 14, 2011
03:00 PM EDT
Just before meeting with fiscal commission chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, President Obama delivered brief remarks in the Oval Office:
Arun ChaudharyApril 14, 2011
12:45 PM EDT
In just one year, the West Wing Week videos have taken viewers from Boston to Brazil, from tech conferences in San Francisco to the birth of a new democracy in South Sudan. They've been an all-access pass to the Obama Administration. And this week, you have the chance to meet the men behind the curtain.
On Thursday, April 14th, at 4:00 PM EDT, I'll be co-hosting a live chat with Josh Earnest, the Deputy Press Secretary whose voice you've heard narrating the videos. We'll field questions about the technical workings of the West Wing Week, tell you more about the stories behind the footage you've seen so far, and we'll even throw in some previously unseen footage.
Here's how you can participate:
- Ask us questions now through a form on WhiteHouse.gov
- Ask questions in advance on the White House facebook wall
- Join us live on WhiteHouse.gov or through the White House facebook app
Tune in Thursday at 4:00, right here on WhiteHouse.gov.
Arun Chaudhary is the official White House Videographer.
Matt FlavinApril 14, 2011
11:20 AM EDTViewing this video requires Adobe Flash Player 8 or higher. Download the free player.
I hope this initiative is worthy of your sacrifice...
After launching Joining Forces on Tuesday at the White House in front of senior military leaders, Cabinet Members, CEOs, heads of non-profits, and military families, the First Lady and Dr. Biden hit the road to talk about the campaign.
The first stop was Camp Lejeune, NC to thank our military and their families for their extraordinary service. Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden spoke to a crowd of Marines, sailors and even some soldiers who drove in from Ft. Bragg before delivering gifts to expectant mothers.
It is always great to get out of DC and even better when you get to spend time with Marines and their families. As the First Lady said to the crowd, their ordinary is extraordinary. From the families who help our wounded warriors heal, to the spouses who comfort others in their time of grief, their faith, courage and perseverance embody the best of America.
It was an extraordinary start to the trip, and, as a veteran, I am grateful to see this initiative in action. I hope all Americans will Join Forces and help serve our military families. For their service and sacrifice, kind words are not enough. Please help make this initiative worthy of our military families.
Pete SouzaApril 13, 2011
07:18 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Sign up for the Daily Snapshot and we'll send you the Photo of the Day first thing every morning.
Today, we're posting 85 new behind-the-scenes photographs from March on our Flickr photostream. One of my favorite pictures of the month is from our visit one night to Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We almost didn't go because of the inclement weather. But when we got word that the clouds had broken, the President, First Lady, and their two daughters decided to go. While it was clear when we first arrived, some clouds and fog soon rolled in creating this surreal scene. That's the President in the middle, with the First Lady at right, senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, at left, and the Obama daughters in the background.
Pete Souza is Chief Official White House Photographer and Director of the White House Photography Office