Read all posts from May 2011
Jesse LeeMay 06, 2011
01:48 PM EST
A lot of Americans have questions about the economy – will the momentum of the past months keep up? What can we do about these gas prices eating away at our paychecks? And where will the good jobs come from for our next generation?
The jobs numbers this morning gave a positive sign on the first question, with another 268,000 private sector jobs in April bringing the total to more than 2 million over the past 14 months. The answers to the other two questions can be seen in part in factories like the one the President visited today in Indiana -- Allison Transmission. It’s a business that is creating jobs making transmissions for hybrid vehicles after a boost from a matching grant out of the President’s clean energy investments.
As the President put it, “This is where the jobs of the future are at”:
This is the kind of company that will make sure that America remains the most prosperous nation in the world. See, other countries understand this. We’re in a competition all around the world, and other countries -- Germany, China, South Korea -- they know that clean energy technology is what is going to help spur job creation and economic growth for years to come.
And that's why we’ve got to make sure that we win that competition. I don't want the new breakthrough technologies and the new manufacturing taking place in China and India. I want all those new jobs right here in Indiana, right here in the United States of America, with American workers, American know-how, American ingenuity. (Applause.)
Kori SchulmanMay 06, 2011
12:05 PM EST
Ed. Note: Watch the First Lady and Dr. Biden deliver remarks at a Military Spouse Appreciation Day and Mother's Day event at the White House at 3:15 p.m. EDT on WhiteHouse.gov/live on May 3, 2011.
As President Obama stated in a proclamation, "On Military Spouse Appreciation Day, let us join together to show our service members we are taking care of their families back home as they serve our Nation across the globe."
Last month, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched Joining Forces, a national campaign to support our service members and their families. This morning, Dr. Biden sent this message to encourage all Americans to express their gratitude on Military Spouse Appreciation Day, Mothers Day, and everyday.
Check out the email below, and be sure to sign up for the Joining Forces email list to stay up to date on the initiative.
This afternoon the First Lady and I will have the honor of welcoming a special group of women to the White House to celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day and Mother’s Day.
As a proud military mom and grandmother -- this day is especially meaningful to me, and always feel honored to be in the presence of our service members and their families.
In our travels, the First Lady and I have been privileged to meet so many heroes - from the moms who keep their families together while their loved ones are serving overseas -- to the grandparents who step in with much-needed support -- to the siblings and children who are strong and brave while mom or dad is away.
Austan GoolsbeeMay 06, 2011
09:52 AM EST
Today’s employment report shows that private sector payrolls increased by 268,000 in April, the strongest monthly growth in five years. The economy has added 2.1 million private sector jobs over 14 consecutive months, including more than 800,000 jobs since the beginning of the year. The unemployment rate rose to 9.0 percent, but remains 0.8 percentage point below its November level.
Despite headwinds from high energy prices and disruptions from the disaster in Japan, the last three months of private job gains have been the strongest in five years.While the solid pace of employment growth in recent months is encouraging, faster growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the downturn. We are seeing signs that the initiatives put in place by this Administration – such as the payroll tax cut and business incentives for investment – are creating the conditions for companies to add new jobs and foster the industries of the future. We will continue to work with Congress to find ways to reduce spending, so that we can live within our means without neglecting the investments in education, infrastructure, and clean energy that will strengthen our economy.
In addition to the increases last month, payroll survey estimates of private sector job growth for February (now +261,000) and March (now +231,000) were revised up. Overall payroll employment rose by 244,000 in April, well above market expectations. Payroll employment grew in almost every sector. Solid employment increases occurred in retail trade (+57,100), professional and business services (+51,000), education and health services (+49,000), leisure and hospitality (+46,000), and manufacturing (+29,000). Manufacturing has added 244,000 jobs in the last 14 months, the best period of manufacturing job growth in 13 years. State and local government experienced a decline of 22,000; this sector has shed 289,000 jobs in the past 14 months, mostly in local government.
The unemployment reading in April showed a partial reversal of the 1.0 percentage point decline over the previous four months. Employment measured in the household survey dipped in April and the labor force participation rate was unchanged. The unemployment rate data derive from a separate household survey. The payroll and household surveys can differ on a monthly basis; the household survey is more volatile, but the two surveys typically show similar long-run trends in employment.
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
Stephanie CutterMay 06, 2011
09:00 AM EST
It’s been a little more than a year since the Affordable Care Act became law, but seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare are already reaping its benefits. Thanks to the new law, seniors have access to free preventive care and a free annual wellness visit. People who hit the Medicare prescription drug donut hole are getting a 50 percent discount on their prescription drugs. We have protected and expanded guaranteed benefits for all 47 million Americans on Medicare. And estimates indicate that the new benefits and services provided to seniors by the Affordable Care Act will save the typical senior over $3,500 over the next decade.
Today, we are releasing State-by-State charts that provide more detailed information on how seniors in your State are benefitting from the Affordable Care Act. Check out the data for your State below.
Unfortunately, some in Congress want to undo this progress and take us backwards. Under the Republican Medicare plan, a typical 65-year-old who becomes eligible for Medicare would pay an extra $6,400 than what he or she would pay if the plan were not adopted. You can learn more about the Republican plan here.
President Obama is committed to strengthening Medicare and building on the Affordable Care Act. As the new charts show, millions of seniors are already receiving better health care and paying less thanks to this landmark law – and, each year, these benefits will get even better.
Medicare After the Affordable Care Act
Lower Costs, Better Care for Seniors
See how your state is affected
Stephanie Cutter is Assistant to the President and Deputy Senior Advisor.
Arun ChaudharyMay 06, 2011
01:00 AM EST
This week, the President announced the death of Osama bin Laden, visited New York City to honor the victims of 9/11 and their families, made sure the federal government was doing its part in the states devastated by storms and much more.
Secretary Kathleen SebeliusMay 05, 2011
04:21 PM EST
How can you help improve community health across the country? By sharing your opinion with us. Are you interested in healthy nutrition in the work environment? Or does physical activity for children get your vote? We want to hear from you!
Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services announced the Healthy Living Innovation Awards, an exciting chance to foster the spread of effective, community-based efforts that employ innovative approaches to promote healthy weight, physical activity, and nutrition. We asked for communities to submit creative, replicable, and sustainable innovations that demonstrate outstanding leadership and promising results---and today I’m pleased to say that by March we had received 245 applications.
Jesse LeeMay 05, 2011
04:12 PM EST
In New York City this afternoon, there was a profound mix of old grief and perhaps some new closure just a few days after the death of somebody responsible for such immense suffering in that city. The President didn’t speak as he laid a wreath at the National September 11th Memorial. And he kept it private when he met with 9/11 family members afterwards. But speaking separately to police officers from the city and firefighters at the "Pride of Midtown" Firehouse, Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9 -- which lost 15 firefighters at the World Trade Center on 9/11 -- the President had messages for all of America.
This is a symbolic site of the extraordinary sacrifice that was made on that terrible day almost 10 years ago. Obviously we can't bring back your friends that were lost, and I know that each and every one of you not only grieve for them, but have also over the last 10 years dealt with their family, their children, trying to give them comfort, trying to give them support.
What happened on Sunday, because of the courage of our military and the outstanding work of our intelligence, sent a message around the world, but also sent a message here back home that when we say we will never forget, we mean what we say; that our commitment to making sure that justice is done is something that transcended politics, transcended party; it didn’t matter which administration was in, it didn’t matter who was in charge, we were going to make sure that the perpetrators of that horrible act -- that they received justice.
So it’s some comfort, I hope, to all of you to know that when those guys took those extraordinary risks going into Pakistan, that they were doing it in part because of the sacrifices that were made in the States. They were doing it in the name of your brothers that were lost.
And so since that time I know a lot of you have probably comforted loved ones of those who were lost. A lot of you have probably looked after kids who grew up without a parent. And a lot of you continue to do extraordinary -- extraordinarily courageous acts without a lot of fanfare. What we did on Sunday was directly connected to what you do every single day. And I know I speak for the military teams, the intelligence teams that helped get bin Laden in saying that we know the sacrifices and courage that you show as well, and that you are part of the team that helped us achieve our goal, but also help us keep our citizens safe each and every day.
So I couldn't be prouder of all of you. I couldn't be more grateful to you. And I hope that you know that the country will continue to stand behind you going forward, because there are still going to be threats out there and you're still going to be called on to take courageous actions and to remain vigilant, and you're going to have an entire country behind you when you do it.
May 04, 2011
05:35 PM EST
Watch the President's full remarks here.
This afternoon, the South Lawn of the White House was full of veterans, military families, and their bicycles, as the Wounded Warrior Project's Soldier Ride came to the White House. The Soldier Ride started as a way to help wounded soldiers recover from their injuries through adaptive cycling. Nearly a decade later, the program has expanded to involve civilians as well, raising money for and promoting the cause of America's wounded warriors.
In welcoming the riders, President Obama said a few words about the beginnings of the Soldier Ride effort:
Today is a reminder -- as Michelle and Jill Biden have already said -- that every American, every single person in this country, can do something to support our remarkable troops and their families. Everybody can do something.
So seven years ago, a bartender from Long Island had the same idea. He wasn’t from a military family. He had never served in the military. But he knew that he owed our military something. He was just an ordinary American who was grateful for the service of all those who wear the uniform. And he said, “I just wanted to give something back.”
So he jumped on his bike and rode across the country -- over 5,000 miles -- to raise funds and awareness for our wounded warriors. Today, there are Soldier Rides all across America giving our wounded warriors the confidence and support they need to recover. That’s the difference a single person can make. Today we want to thank Chris Carney and everyone from the Wounded Warrior Project for reminding us of our obligations to each other as Americans.
Jeffrey ZientsMay 04, 2011
04:25 PM EST
As we look at our fiscal situation, the President understands that the Federal Government must do what American families are doing all across the country: find ways to live within our means and invest in the future. That means cracking down on waste and getting the most from taxpayer dollars.
Since President Obama took office, we’ve made unprecedented progress in reforming the way Washington works - saving billions of taxpayer dollars through IT reform, cut contracting spending, and eliminated duplicative and ineffective programs.
In his State of the Union address, the President discussed another area that is ripe for savings and reform -- the real estate footprint of the Federal government. For too long, the American people’s hard-earned tax dollars have gone to waste, funding empty buildings and holding on to valuable properties the government no longer needs. That is something that shouldn’t be tolerated at any time, but especially with this challenging fiscal environment, it’s unacceptable.
Today, we’re sending legislation to the Hill that will cut through red tape and politics to rid the government of the burden of excess property and save taxpayers at least $15 billion. We look forward to working with members of Congress to pass this legislation, the Civilian Property Realignment Act.
Karen MillsMay 04, 2011
11:35 AM EST
Ed. note: This was originally posted on the SBA website.
On Sunday, I traveled with Secretary Napolitano, Secretary Vilsack, Secretary Donovan, Administrator Fugate, and others to Alabama and Mississippi. We saw communities that were devastated by the storms and tornadoes that hit one week ago today. We’re coordinating our resources and manpower across the federal, state, and local levels, working together more closely than ever to make sure that these hard-hit communities get the assistance they need as quickly as possible.
I met a woman who had lost her home, who was searching through the debris and had found only a few items worth keeping. I talked with her and others throughout the day about applying for low-interest SBA disaster loans of up to $200,000 for homeowners and up to $2 million for businesses. I encouraged them to go ahead and fill out an application, even if they’re waiting on an insurance settlement. I also explained Economic Injury Disaster Loans that help meet working capital needs even if a business didn’t have any property damage.
Smithville, Mississippi, was particularly hard hit. The Mayor said that over 100 homes were destroyed and every store on Main Street was either damaged or demolished. He and others in City Hall took shelter under the boardroom table in order to survive.
Jaime MulliganMay 03, 2011
06:27 PM EST
You may have heard that the National Association of Broadcasters organized over 600 schools nationwide to perform a dance popularized by Beyonce in her video for “Move Your Body,” which encourages kids to get up and get moving. All the performances took place at 1:42 pm today. First Lady Michelle Obama stopped by Alice Deal Middle School in Washington, DC, to check out their event, and had some fun herself.
Watch the video of the Let's Move! flash dance here.
May 03, 2011
06:00 PM EST
Today, we, at VA, are posting the interim final rule that will allow us to roll out enhanced services, including a monetary stipend, health insurance, expanded training and other support services to a whole new category of people serving our Nation – our Family Caregivers of Veterans who sustained a serious injury in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001. This new program will offer those Veterans the ability to remain in a comforting home environment surrounded by loved ones and supported by a dedicated Family Caregiver.
VA has long known that having a Family Caregiver in a home environment can enhance the health and well-being of Veterans under VA care. Therefore, we are pleased to add this new program to the wide range of services VA already offers to support Veterans and their Family Caregivers at home. The regulation is available on our Caregiver website and the application process for the new program for post-9/11 Veterans injured in the line of duty is also described in a fact sheet. We’re excited to begin accepting applications on May 9th. Look for the application at www.caregiver.va.gov the morning of the 9th or call our Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274. We’re waiting to assist.
May 03, 2011
05:35 PM EST
By the time I arrived in his eighth grade classroom, Mr. Jones was already a legend at North Reading Middle School. In addition to teaching American history, he was also the school’s vice principal, and enforced discipline among students in a way that often made him seem more like a drill sergeant than a teacher. He was feared but also deeply respected, and you wanted to work hard to impress him every day.
We were issued a standard variety textbook, but that was just a starting point. Even though it was a U.S. history class, we were expected to read the newspaper and be prepared to discuss current events each morning. Mr. Jones didn’t just want us to know the dates and battles of the Civil War, he asked us to memorize each word of the Gettysburg Address, so that we could understand the power of presidential speech. And then he took us on a camping trip to Gettysburg, so that we could appreciate the sacrifices made for the sake of our union.
Over the course of my year with Mr. Jones, American history was brought to life with creative projects, mock trials, and debates about political issues that were still in the headlines. There was an infamous test that involved us knowing every amendment and provision in the U.S. Constitution. And the culmination of the entire class was another camping trip, this time across the country.
For the entire month of June, Mr. Jones took thirty-three eighth graders, fifteen chaperones, three vans, and a big yellow Ryder truck from Massachusetts to Nevada and back. We saw Rushmore and Yellowstone, the Tetons and the Grand Canyon, Crazy Horse and the Four Corners. Even though class was over, we were quizzed at each stop about history and geography, and assigned journal entries to chronicle the adventure. It was the first time I really started to enjoy writing.
May 03, 2011
03:16 PM EST
On a day set aside for National Teacher Appreciation Day, President Obama hosted 2011's National and State Teachers of the Year for a reception in the White House Rose Garden. The President thanked them for their service to America's youth, and shared the story of one of his favorite teachers.
But even after all this time, I still remember the special teachers that touched my life. And we all do. We remember the way they challenged us, the way they made us feel, how they pushed us, the encouragement that they gave us, the values that they taught us, the way they helped us to understand the world and analyze it and ask questions. They helped us become the people that we are today.
For me, one of those people was my fifth-grade teacher, Ms. Mabel Hefty. When I walked into Ms. Hefty’s classroom for the first time, I was a new kid who had been living overseas for a few years, had a funny name nobody could pronounce. But she didn’t let me withdraw into myself. She helped me believe that I had something special to say. She made me feel special. She reinforced the sense of empathy and thoughtfulness that my mother and my grandparents had tried hard to instill in me -- and that’s a lesson that I still carry with me as President.
Ms. Hefty is no longer with us, but I often think about her and how much of a difference she made in my life. And everybody has got a story like that, about that teacher who made the extra effort to shape our lives in important ways.
May 03, 2011
12:29 PM EST
Watch the President's full remarks here.
On Monday evening, President and First Lady Obama welcomed Congressional leadership from both parties to the White House for an evening away from typical Washington politics. The President spoke about the previous day's special forces operation that had resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden:
Obviously we’ve all had disagreements and differences in the past. I suspect we’ll have them again in the future. But last night, as Americans learned that the United States had carried out an operation that resulted in the capture and death of Osama bin Laden, we -- (applause) -- you know, I think we experienced the same sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. We were reminded again that there is a pride in what this nation stands for, and what we can achieve, that runs far deeper than party, far deeper than politics.
I want to again recognize the heroes who carried out this incredibly dangerous mission, as well as all the military and counter-terrorism professionals who made the mission possible. I also want to thank the members of Congress from both parties who have given extraordinary support to our military and our intelligence officials. Without your support, they could not do what they do.
Dr. Jill BidenMay 03, 2011
12:00 PM EST
Ed. Note: May 3rd is National Teacher Appreciation Day. Join Dr. Biden and thank a teacher today.
The best teachers are the ones whose lessons stay with you long after you leave their class. For me, that teacher was Mrs. Helwig, my composition teacher in high school.
At first, all of us were intimidated by her. Up there at the front of the room, she just had so much presence. As much as she was a force in the classroom, she had even more effect on me through what she demanded of our writing. Every paper would be covered in notes and comments, and we would have to go back and correct what we’d done wrong, or improve on things we could do better. It was hard work, but eventually I came to love Mrs. Helwig for having the confidence in me to demand so much. For her to take the time to review my work with such close detail told me, and all of my classmates, that she was invested in us.
When I became a teacher, I tried to bring some of Mrs. Helwig into the classroom with me. I want each of my students to know that I care about them and what they do as much as Mrs. Helwig cared about me. For thirty years, I’ve had the privilege of working with students who inspire me -- students who work hard to make it to class, in hopes of making a better life for themselves and their families. I hope I’ve been able to pass on to them the confidence and self-esteem that teachers like Mrs. Helwig helped build in me.
Just yesterday, I had the honor of welcoming the 2011 Teachers of the Year to the Vice President’s Residence. This gathering is always one of my favorite events of the year. The teachers always share stories about how they try to inspire their students, and in turn – how their students inspire them.
May 3 is National Teacher Appreciation Day. I hope you’ll join me in remembering the great teachers you’ve had in your life. Our young people are our future, and it is teachers who will make that future bright.
May 03, 2011
09:41 AM EST
Ed. note: This was originally posted on the Department of Education blog.
In the video below, Secretary Duncan explains that today, May 3, “is a special day to give teachers the appreciation that they deserve every day,” and he asks all of us to join him in thanking a teacher on our own Facebook page.
Posting a simple “thank you” and the name of a teacher who has inspired you is just one small way to appreciate such important individuals, but it isn’t limited to only Facebook. If you are a regular on Twitter, give a shout-out to your favorite teacher by using the hashtag #thankateacher, or feel free to thank teachers wherever you frequent online. Some of us may be more comfortable picking up the phone or writing a quick note to a truly influential teacher, yet no matter your method of communication, we can all reach out and provide a heartfelt “thank you.” After all, if you can read this blog post, you have a teacher to thank.
Publicly recognizing great teachers is an easy way to show appreciation, but there are, of course, more enduring ways to elevate the teaching profession to its rightful place in our society. We at the Department of Education know that support for teachers should be continuous, which is why one of ED’s top priorities is to continue strengthening the teaching profession. In an open letter to teachers yesterday, Arne said that he considers teaching “an honorable and important profession, and it is my goal to see that you are treated with the dignity we award to other professionals in society.” It’s about time we recognize teachers for what they truly are: the nation-builders of the 21st century.
Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player.
Vivek KundraMay 03, 2011
09:28 AM EST
For too long, the Federal Government allowed the American people’s hard-earned tax dollars to fund ineffective and duplicative projects, failing to leverage advances in technology to achieve savings. The result is that taxpayer dollars have been wasted. This should never be tolerated, but particularly with the tough fiscal situation, it’s unacceptable. It’s time that we live within our means, cut the waste too prevalent in Washington, and live up to our responsibility to the American people.
The President has made it a priority of his Administration to change the way Washington does business. As he has said many times, including in his State of the Union Address, reducing overlap and duplication within the federal government is critical to ensuring that our government operates more efficiently and effectively.
When it comes to information technology, there is no better way to identify duplication than to look at the very infrastructure that powers duplicative systems. Since 1998, the number of Federal data centers has risen from 432 to more than 2,000. The proliferation of infrastructure has created an environment that enables redundant systems and applications to sprout like weeds – with hundreds of redundant applications, more than 24,000 websites and hundreds of HR and financial management systems across the government.
May 03, 2011
09:00 AM EST
Ed. note: First Lady Michelle Obama sent a video message to public servants as part of the White House's observance of Public Service Recognition Week.
What do you know about public servants? Probably more than you think. And during Public Service Recognition Week, you have the opportunity to learn even more.
Watch Director Berry's full remarks here.
John Berry is the Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management
Macon PhillipsMay 02, 2011
08:28 PM EST
Two years ago, the White House launched official profiles on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Since then we’ve grown quite a bit, both in terms of the number of connections we’ve made through these sites, as well as other places on the web that now feature an official White House presence.
As I wrote then, technology continues to change how and where Americans get information and discuss important issues online. It’s also means that any organization, including the White House, must recognize that its website is only one part of an effective online platform.