Melody BarnesJune 22, 2011
10:01 AM EDT
Since he took office, President Obama has been committed to strengthening the U.S. economy and creating jobs for American workers. To advance those goals, today, the White House is hosting a convening on the Impact Economy (watch live at WhiteHouse.gov/live).
Often, people think that large corporations and the government are the dominant drivers of our economic growth, but there are many types of businesses that expand our economy and catalyze job creation. Today, we are highlighting an emerging sector of the economy, impact investing. Impact investing is currently estimated to be a $50 billion industry globally, but the Monitor Group and Hope Consulting predict that the impact investment industry could reach several hundred billion dollars in total assets under management over the next ten years.
Impact investors, many of whom are gathered today at the White House, are seeking both financial and social returns. They believe that business has an opportunity to create economic value and positive social outcomes. They often make debt or equity investments in organizations that address major societal challenges such as economic opportunity, affordable housing, health care, education, or clean energy and improving the environment, while expecting a return on their invested capital.
Secretary Kathleen SebeliusJune 21, 2011
12:48 PM EDT
Breaking news: smoking cigarettes will kill you. Cigarette smoking kills an estimated 443,000 Americans each year, most of whom began smoking when they were under the age of 18. Protecting our children and reducing tobacco-related death, disease and disability is one of the most important public health goals of our time and a top priority for the President.
On June 22, 2009, President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, giving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to take steps to reduce the deadly effects of tobacco use and prevent companies from advertising their products to our children.
For decades, little has been done to update warning labels to discourage people from smoking. We’re changing that. Today, the FDA unveiled new warning labels that will appear on every pack of cigarettes and every advertisement, sending a strong message about the dangers of smoking.
June 20, 2011
07:59 PM EDT
The First Lady just arrived in South Africa and as we start this journey to meet with young African leaders we hope you will join us.
Since Mrs. Obama announced this trip we’ve heard from young people at home and abroad who are excited to learn more about their peers in Africa, and we want to share your stories with the young leaders we meet. Mrs. Obama hopes you will use this as an opportunity to build connections across the globe, to stretch your imagination, and think of ways you can impact the world around you.
We are already seeing the beginning of great conversations, and we want to continue this important dialogue. So please share your stories and questions with us on Facebook and on Twitter using the hashtag #YoungAfrica, and stay connected with the First Lady’s trip by visiting whitehouse.gov/youngafrica.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Nancy-Ann DeParleJune 20, 2011
07:02 PM EDT
Recently, McKinsey and Company released a survey claiming that a significant number of employers will stop offering insurance to their workers in 2014. The survey left us with more questions than answers. The article from McKinsey was at odds with a series of respected independent analyses and McKinsey previously declined to release critical information about how the survey was conducted.
Today, McKinsey acknowledged that this report is at odds with these independent analyses and said the report was not intended to predict whether or not employers would offer health insurance. Here’s what McKinsey said today:
The survey was not intended as a predictive economic analysis of the impact of the Affordable Care Act… We understand how the language in the article could lead the reader to think the research was a prediction, but it is not.
And the new information makes clear that the survey is flawed and raises new questions:
- Nearly 50 percent of all survey respondents admitted they were not at all familiar or had only heard about the employer responsibility provisions in the Affordable Care Act – nearly one-fourth were “not at all familiar” with the law.
- 6.7 percent of the respondents couldn’t even answer the most basic question “What medical plans does your company currently offer employees?”
- 58.3 percent of respondents did not know how much their companies spend per employee on medical and prescription drug benefits, raising questions about the on-line survey results.
- Only around half of the survey’s respondents described themselves as a “primary decision maker” on employee benefits. Around 49 percent said that they have some influence in the decision-making process.
- The survey that “educated respondents” left out or failed to explain crucial pieces of information about the Affordable Care Act and other existing laws. For example, health insurance benefits are not taxed. Employers who drop health insurance coverage and provide other benefits to their workers would lose this preferred tax treatment. This important fact was unexplained and other key points went unmentioned.
And hidden in the results are some points that didn’t make it into the report:
- 44.5 percent of small businesses report that they definitely or are likely to join the small employer purchasing part of Health Insurance Exchanges where they will be able to secure health insurance coverage for their workers.
- When asked about their company’s overall view of U.S. healthcare reform, 77.8 percent reported that they were positive, neutral, were not sure, or that it is too early to tell.
The Affordable Care Act will make health insurance more affordable and make it easier for employers to offer coverage to their workers. In fact, a new study released today from Avalere Health, a respected consulting firm, looked at the validity of the various analyses published on the subject and found that the employer-sponsored health insurance market will be stable after 2014 and that “large employers are unlikely to stop offering coverage …” And as we learn more, it’s become clear that this one flawed study from McKinsey is truly an outlier.
Nancy-Ann DeParle is the Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff
Joshua DuBoisJune 20, 2011
06:18 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Champions of Change is a weekly initiative to highlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping our country rise to meet the many challenges of the 21st century.
Watch this Champions of Change video here.
President Obama, like millions of fathers around the country, has said that being a dad is the most important job a man can have. That’s why this past Tuesday, the White House honored 15 Champions of Change who are standing in the gap for our kids, and serving their families, their communities and our nation. Along with Michael Strautmanis from the Office of Public Engagement, I was proud to participate in a discussion with these fathers and leaders as we shared our stories about what fatherhood meant to us and how each person had contributed to strengthening fatherhood in their own lives and in their communities.
Some of these stories are of redemption. Others are about the supportive role that mothers, grandparents and mentors play when fathers aren’t around. More than one is about a father who initially didn’t fully understand his responsibilities, but came to recognize the sacredness of being a dad.
I hope you’ll enjoy these stories as much as I enjoyed meeting these wonderful Champions of Change. We’re excited to honor fatherhood—not just on Father’s Day, but in the months and years to come.
Joshua DuBois is Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and Co-Coordinator of President Obama’s Fatherhood Initiative.
Dr. Jill BidenJune 20, 2011
04:56 PM EDT
Last week, I visited with Illinois National Guard families and encouraged members of the cable industry to Join Forces with the First Lady and me in supporting military families and veterans across the country.
On Wednesday evening, I joined National Guard families for dinner at a Chicago pizzeria. As the mother of a Delaware Army National Guardsman, I always feel like I am with family when I’m with members of the Guard and their loved ones. All the dinner guests were family members of deployed Guardsmen, or soldiers who have deployed multiple times. After dinner, we went to a Chicago Cubs game together. I am always inspired when I visit with military families, and last week was no exception. Their pride in their service is contagious, and their courage is awe-inspiring.
The next morning, I addressed industry leaders and representatives from the cable and telecommunications industries at the 2011 Cable Show. The cable industry is uniquely positioned to support military families. Some members of the industry are telling the stories of military families through PSAs and television programming. Others are extending access to technology so military families can communicate with loved ones during deployments, or helping teachers of military children share content to boost student achievement. So many businesses and organizations are stepping up.
Pete SouzaJune 20, 2011
02:20 PM EDT
We’ve just uploaded our latest batch of behind-the-scenes photographs to our Flickr photostream from the last two weeks of May. This batch includes images from the President and First Lady’s trip to Ireland and England, and the President’s trip to Poland and France. I included several from Ireland to show how enthusiastically the people reacted to the President and First Lady.
Check out the photostream:
Austan GoolsbeeJune 20, 2011
01:20 PM EDT
Today, President Obama released a statement on the United States Commitment to Open Investment Policy. The CEA also released a report on the benefits of foreign-based companies investing in the United States (known more formally as “Inbound Foreign Direct Investment”).
Our report highlights how the Administration’s open investment policy allows foreign-based companies to grow and expand their businesses across the country. These companies are building new facilities, investing in research and development, and growing warehouses, sales offices and service centers—creating millions of high-quality, well-paying jobs for American workers. These firms paid out wages and other forms of compensation that averaged more than $71,000 per U.S. employee in 2008, as compared to average earnings of $54,000 for full-time annual workers in the economy as a whole.
The U.S. continues to receive the most foreign direct investment of any country in the world. In 2010, U.S. inbound foreign direct investment rebounded sharply and increased by 49 percent from the economic crisis level it reached in 2009. This investment is particularly important to the U.S. manufacturing sector. In 2008, the U.S. affiliates of foreign corporations employed 13 percent of the entire manufacturing workforce in the United States. And over 42 percent of the US affiliates’ total value-added production in 2008 was concentrated in the U.S. manufacturing sector.
Nancy SutleyJune 20, 2011
01:00 PM EDT
Throughout America, even in this difficult economic environment, there are examples of innovation and entrepreneurship that inspire us with their creativity and success. I came across one of these places recently at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in not surprisingly, Brooklyn New York, a former shipyard that is now a thriving urban industrial park. There, a small manufacturer named IceStone has capitalized on the demand for safe and sustainable products by creating countertops and surfaces from 100 percent recycled glass, diverting hundreds of tons of glass from landfills each year. In doing so, they've created more than 40 good jobs in a daylit facility and sustainable work environment that their workers feel good about.
As a New York native myself, I remember what the Brooklyn Navy Yard used to look like when I was growing up – a bleak space that was not an obvious boon to the community. Today, it is transformed – it's a thriving place in a vibrant community. With Federal, State and local support, it is an innovation hub, and a unique urban haven for small green manufacturers. In addition to Icestone, this includes companies like Duggal, which has designed and manufactured a wind-solar street lamp, and SMIT, which is designing an ivy-inspired wind and solar energy system that can be draped over the sides of a building. To support homegrown jobs and manufacturers like these, the Brooklyn Navy Yard has 12 new green industrial buildings in design or construction, and is adding 2 million square feet of space over next two years.
President Obama has launched a plan to spark manufacturing growth and new jobs for American families. The Navy Yard is a great example of the growth of small green manufacturing across industrial sectors, and it's a model that can be replicated in other urban centers for how to grow a city's economy, grow good middle class jobs, and build a more sustainable city. Manufacturing remains one of America's most globally competitive economic sectors, and even amid the biggest recession since the Great Depression, we are seeing this sector bounce back. My time at the Brooklyn Navy Yard gave me a valuable opportunity to engage in a conversation about how the Federal Government can better support small manufacturers that provide good middle-class jobs in their communities. We will keep engaging in these types of conversations and following them up with action to ensure we are investing in the spark and ingenuity of our entrepreneurs, good American jobs, and a strong foundation for the American economy in the 21st century.
Besides all this, I got to be an honorary Brooklynite for the day!
Nancy Sutley is Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality
Victoria EspinelJune 20, 2011
11:13 AM EDT
As part of the U.S. Government’s efforts to create jobs for American workers and increase U.S. exports to overseas markets, I recently travelled to Europe to press for greater cooperation in fighting intellectual property theft overseas, which hurts innovators and brands here in America. Counterfeiting and piracy is a global crime, and it requires a global solution.
At the World Copyright Congress in Brussels, I spoke about the need to work with foreign governments and the private sector to stop criminals who attempt to evade intellectual property laws by operating overseas. In Brussels, I met with members of the European Commission and European Parliament, as well as American businesses. In London, I met with members of UK’s Parliament and the UK IP Crime Group, a group of enforcement agencies and industry groups which seek a collaborative approach to fighting intellectual property crime.
Katelyn SabochikJune 19, 2011
09:27 AM EDT
This morning, President Obama sent the email below to the White House email list in honor of Father's Day. If you didn't get the email, be sure to sign up for the White House email list.
I grew up without a father around. I was lucky enough to be raised by a wonderful mother who, like so many heroic single mothers, never allowed my father's absence to be an excuse for me to slack off or not always do my best. But I often wonder what it would have been like if my father had a greater presence in my life.
So as a father of two young girls, I've tried hard to be a good dad. I haven't always been perfect – there have been times when work kept me away from my family too often, and most of the parenting duties fell to Michelle.
I know many other fathers face similar challenges. Whether you're a military dad returning from deployment or a father doing his best to make ends meet for his family in a tough economy, being a parent isn't easy.
That's why my Administration is kicking off the Year of Strong Fathers, Strong Families. We're joining with dads across the country to do something about father absence. And we're taking steps to offer men who want to be good fathers but are facing challenges in their lives a little extra support, while partnering with businesses to offer fun opportunities for fathers to spend time with their kids. For example, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Major League Baseball and the WNBA are offering discounts for fathers and their kids, and companies like Groupon and LivingSocial will be featuring special offers for activities fathers can do with their children.
You can learn more and sign the Fatherhood Pledge at Fatherhood.gov:
We know that every father has a personal responsibility to do right by their kids – to encourage them to turn off the video games and pick up a book; to teach them the difference between right and wrong; to show them through our own example the value in treating one another as we wish to be treated. And most of all, to play an active and engaged role in their lives.
But all of us have a stake in forging stronger bonds between fathers and their children. All of us can support those who are willing to step up and be father figures to those children growing up without a dad. And that's what the Year of Strong Fathers, Strong Familiesis all about.
So I hope the dads out there will take advantage of some of the opportunities Strong Fathers, Strong Families will offer. It's one way of saying thank you to those who are doing the most important job of all: playing a part in our children's lives.
Happy Father's Day.
President Barack Obama
P.S. Earlier this week, I did a TV interview and wrote an op-ed on this topic. You can see both on WhiteHouse.gov.
Katelyn SabochikJune 19, 2011
07:43 AM EDT
This Father’s Day President Obama is kicking off the Year of Strong Fathers, Strong Families as part of his Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative. It’s an effort with partners from around the nation to create simple opportunities for dads and kids to connect. Whether it’s a free game of bowling, a Major League Baseball or WNBA game, a visit to the zoo or aquarium, or discounts for dads and kids through partners like Groupon and LivingSocial, we’re excited to help create small moments that can have a big impact. You can learn more and take the fatherhood pledge at on www.fatherhood.gov.
In addition, President Obama sat down of a TV interview and wrote an op-ed this week discussing the important role fathers play and his own experience as a father. Check out the links to both and other Father’s Day content below:
- TV Interview: Earlier this week, President Obama sat down with Robin Roberts from Good Morning America and discussed the important role fathers play in the lives of their children and his own experience being a father to two young daughters. You can watch the interview on ABC.com.
- Op-Ed: President Obama also wrote an op-ed in People magazine discussing the importance of being a good dad. Check it out on People.com.
- Champions of Change: In honor of Father’s Day, the White House is honoring 15 Champions of Change who recognize the importance of good fathers as role models in young children’s lives and have dedicated themselves to mentoring and supporting fathers across the country.
- Weekly Address: In his Weekly Address this week, President Obama discusses his hardest, but most rewarding job – being a dad.
- Email: President Obama sent an email to the White House email list this morning in honor of Father’s Day. Check out the email and if you didn’t get it, sign up for the White House email list.
Katelyn SabochikJune 18, 2011
01:56 PM EDT
Today, President Obama and Vice President Biden played golf with Speaker Boehner and Governor Kasich at Andrews Air Force Base. Check out the photos.
June 17, 2011
07:03 PM EDT
A quick look at the week of June 13th, on Whitehouse.gov:
Cutting Government Waste: This week the President announced a new effort to eliminate government waste and help improve Government accountability.
Watch the video about the Campaign to Cut Waste here.
West Wing Week: The President meets with his Jobs Council in North Carolina, tours a high-tech manufacturing facility, travels abroad and much much more.
There's an app for that: The EPA challenges developers to manipulate public data into a useable form - winners will be publicized on the EPA website. More info here.
Karen RichardsonJune 17, 2011
06:14 PM EDT
Next week, the First Lady will travel to Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa and Gaborone, Botswana during an official visit to Africa. During the trip, which will go from June 21 – 26, Mrs. Obama will deliver the keynote address to a U.S.-sponsored Young African Women Leaders Forum in South Africa. Forum participants include young women from across sub-Saharan Africa, like Toyosi and Annah, who are leading or involved in social and economic initiatives in their own countries. The Forum will build on the Obama Administration’s ongoing engagement with the next generation of African leaders and the momentum of the August 2010 President’s Forum with Young African Leaders held at the White House.
On Monday, June 20 at 8:30 AM EDT, join us for a pre-Forum overview and discussion with Edward Kemp, Deputy Director for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the Bureau of African Affairs; and Larry Garber, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa at USAID and me.
Here's how you can join us to discuss the First Lady’s Forum and talk about the issues that matter to you and your community:
- Join the discussion: https://statedept.connectsolutions.com/youngafrica
- Stream audio-only: https://statedept.connectsolutions.com/audioonly
Karen Richardson is a Deputy Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement.
June 17, 2011
05:17 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Cross-posted from Treasury Notes
In his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out a vision for America to win the future by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building our competitors. At a meeting with small business owners in Cleveland on that initiative, President Obama charged members of his Administration to travel across the country and speak directly with business leaders on the ground in local communities—to hear how we can help them succeed, so that they can help America succeed.
On Wednesday, as part of that outreach effort, I held a roundtable with small business owners in Chicago. That followed meetings I had with business leaders in New Jersey and New York over the last two months.
The Women’s Business Development Center of Chicago, which hosted yesterday’s event, is one of the largest and oldest women’s business assistance programs in the country. This year, they will celebrate their 25th anniversary. The center continues to grow each day, and, to date, they have served approximately 65,000 women small business owners, focusing on companies at every stage in the growth cycle. Their organization has also served as a national model, helping six states establish their own business centers.
June 17, 2011
05:12 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Cross-posted with Energy Blog
Watch the video about Virginia Tech's winning EcoCAR Challenge Team here.
Since childhood, Lynn Gantt has had a deep seeded passion for cars and the mechanics that drive them. The Virginia native spent his weekends rebuilding antique tractors with his dad to race at tractor pulls across the state, and now the Virginia Tech graduate student is the proud team co-leader of Virginia Tech’s EcoCAR Challenge team—the winners of the three-year long competition, as announced last night at an awards ceremony in Washington, DC.
Lynn grew up around mechanics and engineering, which is why he says the Mechanical Engineering undergrad and graduate programs at Virginia Tech were a perfect fit for him. In addition to the family hobby of rebuilding antique tractors, Lynn’s dad runs a small electrical contracting business (Swing Electrical Company) out of Newport News, VA, and his older brother is an auto mechanic at a car dealership. “Clearly this program was just a natural fit for me,” he says.
Lynn has been a member of the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team of Virginia Tech (HEVT) for all three years of the EcoCAR Challenge, which began his senior year in Fall 2008. As the only remaining original Virginia Tech participant, Lynn has spent the last three years working with teams of 25 student volunteers modifying the team’s 2009 Saturn Vue—which the team aptly named the VT-REX (for Virginia Tech - Range Extended Crossover) . The car was donated to each of the 16 teams by General Motors, who partnered with Department of Energy to sponsor the competition and its predecessor, Challenge X.
Ken SalazarJune 17, 2011
03:51 PM EDT
With the desert sun warming our backs and our shovels in the ground, California Governor Jerry Brown, BLM Director Bob Abbey and I participated in a groundbreaking ceremony this morning for the Blythe Solar Power Project, the world’s largest solar energy project to be built on public lands.
Located eight miles west of Blythe, California, members of the small community, local officials, and representatives from Solar Trust of America braved the 100 degree heat to witness a historic moment in America’s new energy frontier. In the near future, the ground where we stood today will hold a solar power plant that will generate up to 1000 megawatts of power—enough energy to power more than 300,000 homes.
Today’s ceremony not only launched the beginning of construction, but it also marked another important step in making America’s clean energy future a reality. This project shows in a real way how harnessing our own renewable resources can create good jobs here at home and contribute to our nation’s energy security.
Just the first phase of this project will put about a thousand people to work out here in Blythe during construction and will create more than 200 permanent jobs. The second phase is expected to do the same. These are big numbers for the Blythe community.
June 17, 2011
03:09 PM EDT
Just days after the White House launch of the Campaign to Cut Waste, an Administration-wide initiative to crack down on unnecessary spending, two federal agencies announced new progress in fighting fraud and cracking down on improper payments.
In a dose of bad news for criminals looking to take advantage of our seniors and defraud Medicare, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today they’ll be deploying innovative technology in the fight against Medicare Fraud. Starting July 1, CMS will begin using predictive modeling technology, similar to that used by credit card companies, to identify potentially fraudulent Medicare claims on a nationwide basis, and help stop fraudulent claims before they are paid. This initiative builds on the strides made with the Recovery Act to utilize the kinds of cutting edge tools used by the private sector -- as well as new anti-fraud tools and resources provided by the Affordable Care Act.
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