Robin SchepperJune 09, 2011
04:24 PM EDT
You may have seen the blog post on Let’s Move! yesterday announcing Let’s Move! Child Care, a new effort to work with child and day care providers to help our youngest children get off to a healthy start. Using a checklist and web tools developed in a public-private partnership between the HHS, Nemours, and other partners child and day care providers will emphasize positive choices like increased physical activity, reduced screen time, and eating fruits and vegetables. The Department of Defense, General Services Administration, and the nation’s second largest childcare provider, Bright Horizons, have already committed to implementing this checklist, which will make a difference in the lives of over 280,000 children.
June 09, 2011
04:24 PM EDT
Troy Yocum returned from Iraq in the Summer of 2009 with one thought on his mind: he had to do more. While deployed, he had received a letter from a friend who’d been laid off and was in need of help. Troy found help for his friend, but knew that there were many other veterans and military families out there in need. He wanted to do something for them, too. So he pulled out a map. “I drew a line from Lexington [Kentucky] to Louisville [Kentucky],” he said. He thought that by walking between two cities in his home state, he could help raise money and awareness for veterans and military families in need. “But then I said, I need to go bigger than that – what if I walked across the country and back in one single trek?”
Secretary Tom VilsackJune 09, 2011
11:23 AM EDT
This morning, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing a White House Rural Council, the first entity of its kind established to focus on policy initiatives for Rural Americans. The President’s signature on this document represents a truly historic moment for the nation. I am honored to serve as the Chair of the Council and work directly with my Cabinet colleagues from across the federal government to improve the economic conditions and quality of life for millions of Rural Americans.
President Obama has already established an impressive record in rural areas, which the Rural Council will build on. The Administration’s record includes substantial investments in rural America to modernize our Nation’s infrastructure, provide broadband access to 10 million Americans, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, and provide affordable health care. Nevertheless, the President believes that even more needs to be done in order to fully capitalize on the emerging opportunities in Rural America. Despite recent advances, rural communities continue to struggle to maintain the population and businesses needed for sustained economic growth.
June 09, 2011
10:47 AM EDT
For generations, America's great outdoors have ignited our imaginations, bolstered our economy, and fueled our national spirit of adventure and independence. That is why during the month of June, we celebrate Great Outdoors Month and rededicate ourselves to experiencing and protecting our nation’s unique landscapes and treasured sites.
President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative has launched a national dialogue about conservation in America. The AGO Initiative is based on the tenet that lasting conservation solutions should start with the American people – that nobody know which places are most important to American communities better than the people who live, work and recreate in them. The Department of the Interior and other government agencies are hard at work talking with communities and implementing the recommendations of the AGO report. And now we’d like to update you on the progress we’ve made over the last few months.
Please join us on Friday June 10th at 2:00 pm, EDT, as Secretary Ken Salazar answers your questions about what the Department is doing implement the AGO initiative and discuss how all American’s can enjoy the great outdoors.
We look forward to speaking with you on Friday June 10th at 2:00 pm, EDT.
Katelyn SabochikJune 08, 2011
06:09 PM EDT
Watch the President's full remarks here.
Today, President Obama welcomed the 2010 BCS National Champion Auburn Tigers to the White House and congratulated the team on “winning their first national title since before I was born.”
Former Press Secretary (and Auburn fan) Robert Gibbs and his son Ethan were also on hand to celebrate the occasion.
During his remarks, President Obama reflected on the team’s commitment to helping those in their home state of Alabama in the wake of the recent devastating tornadoes:
Now, this visit was originally scheduled to happen a couple of months ago. But two days before this team was supposed to be in Washington, the state of Alabama was hit by a series of devastating tornados.
So Michelle and I went down with many members of the congressional delegation to meet some of the folks who had lost loved ones, make sure everything possible was being done to help the community get back on its feet. And it was a heartbreaking visit. Coach and I were just talking about -- you don't understand the devastation until you see it firsthand.
But what was also inspiring was the amount of strength and generosity that was shown by so many people in the midst of so much tragedy. And that includes the members of this program. Two days after the tornado, almost 70 Auburn coaches, players, and athletic department staff -– led by Coach -– traveled to Pleasant Grove and Cullman to help out with relief efforts.
And even though one of the toughest-hit areas by the storm was the home of the Crimson Tide, this team knew what we all know in situations like this, which is we’re all on the same team. We’re all Americans first and foremost, and we’ve got an obligation to support each other in times of need.
So I’ve said before, I will say again, we will continue to stand with the victims of these disasters -- whether they’re in Tuscaloosa or in Joplin, Missouri, which I just visited a couple weeks ago -- we’re going to do this as long as it takes until families are able to rebuild.
Katelyn SabochikJune 08, 2011
02:20 PM EDT
Watch the President's full remarks here.
Today, President Obama visited Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria, Virginia where he discussed the importance of training and preparing our workforce to compete for manufacturing jobs of the future.
The manufacturing sector currently employs over 11 million Americans and serves as the backbone of communities and families across the country. Thanks to several new commitments by the private sector, community colleges and the National Association of Manufacturers as part of the Skills for America’s Future initiative, 500,000 community college students across the country will have the opportunity to get industry-accepted credentials for manufacturing jobs that companies across the country are looking to fill.
In his remarks today, President Obama stressed the importance of matching the skills manufacturers need with curriculums at local community colleges, stating that the “goal isn’t just making sure that somebody has got a certificate or a diploma. The goal is to make sure your degree helps you to get a promotion or a raise or a job.”
June 08, 2011
12:45 PM EDT
Three weeks ago President Obama traveled to Memphis, Tennessee to deliver the commencement address to the graduating class of Booker T. Washington High School, the winner of this year’s Race to the Top Commencement Challenge. Booker T. Washington High School beat out over 400 high schools from across the country with their efforts to prepare students for college and career and help meet the President’s goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.
In a new television special premiering this week, viewers will have the chance to follow the experiences of students at Booker T. Washington High School, as they win this year’s competition and the opportunity to host President Obama as their commencement speaker. The Race to the Top Commencement Challenge Special, produced by Viacom and the Get Schooled Foundation in partnership with the White House, will air on Viacom’s cable networks over the next week. Get a sneak peak in an interview later today on BET’s 106 & Park with Christopher Dean and Cassandra Henderson, the two seniors profiled in the special.
In the meantime, check out this behind-the-scenes video of President Obama surprising students at Booker T. Washington right before the commencement ceremony.
Kalpen ModiJune 08, 2011
10:29 AM EDT
Yesterday afternoon, I had the privilege of leading a meeting with 10 incredible young Americans who had participated in the “100 Youth Roundtables” Initiative and came to Washington, DC for a de-brief with President Obama, his Senior Staff, and DC-based youth advocates.
The young leaders were joined by Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Nancy-Ann DeParle (Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy), Zakiya Smith (Senior Policy Advisor for Education), Macon Phillips (Director of Digital Strategy), and myself in the Roosevelt Room of the White House for a listening session on the topics that young leaders discussed in their respective roundtable sessions all over the country. The leaders briefed the White House on their conversations and solutions around jobs for young people, youth entrepreneurship, workforce development, energy & the environment, global poverty, racial & ethnic profiling, human rights, and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) policy.
Halfway through the meeting, President Obama dropped by (with Bo in tow), and after meeting everyone, took a seat and talked about a range of topics: from the economic situation to climate change, education, incarcerated youth, Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, the Social Work and Reinvestment Act, and civic engagement.
Participants of yesterday’s de-brief were chosen from the feedback sheets we received (from folks who organized roundtables in their communities), and reflected the trends that were discussed nationwide (the data from all roundtables will be launched with the E-book in a couple of weeks).
We listened and de-briefed on the roundtables & issues that young Americans raised as the most important, and learned how they are dealing with and successfully tackling specific challenges in their communities. Some pretty cool video from the meeting, as well as an announcement that the President made to the leaders in the room are coming your way soon, so check back on our blog and sign up for the newsletter to stay connected!
The full list of participants are:
- Fatima Al- Zeheri, Arab & Muslim American Youth Roundtable (AZ)
- Sujatha Jahagirdar, Political Director, Student Public Interest Research Groups (DC)
- Xavier Jennings, Youth Build Denver (CO)
- Ian Johnson, Research Fellow, St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development at the University of Wisconsin River Falls (WI)
- Esther Lee, Co-Chair, Minnesota Alliance With Youth Board of Directors (MN)
- Tobin van Ostern, Network Associate, Campus Progress (DC)
- Ryan O’Toole, Fordham University Student Body President (NY)
- Javier Pinedo, Gay Straight Alliance Youth Council of Northern California (CA)
- Aaron Smith, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Young Invincibles (DC)
- Sarah Tarrant, Masters Student, Ohio State University (OH)
- Sam Vaghar, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Millenium Campus Network (MA)
- Layla Wright, Youth Build Kingsport AmeriCorps Case Manager (TN)
- Shengxiao Yu, Chicago District Director, Millenium Campus Network (IL)
White House participants:
- Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President
- Nancy-Ann DeParle, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy
- Macon Phillips, Director of Digital Strategy
- Zakiya Smith, Senior Policy Advisor for Education
- Kalpen Modi, Associate Director of Public Engagement and Youth Liaison
- Bo, The First Dog
Kalpen Modi is Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement
Nancy-Ann DeParleJune 08, 2011
09:30 AM EDT
You might have seen reports about a study from McKinsey and Company claiming that a significant number of employers will stop offering insurance to their workers in 2014. Unfortunately, the study misses some key points and doesn’t provide the complete picture about how the Affordable Care Act will strengthen the health care system and make it easier for employers to offer high quality coverage to their employees. Here are the facts:
The McKinsey Study is an Outlier
Respected independent organizations have examined whether employers will continue to offer coverage. Here’s what they found:
The Rand Corporation: "The percentage of employees offered insurance will not change substantially, but a small number of employees in small firms (defined as those with under 100 employees in 2016) will obtain employer-sponsored insurance through the state insurance exchanges."
The Urban Institute: "Some have argued that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would erode employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) by providing incentives for employers to stop offering coverage. Others have claimed that most businesses would face increased costs as a result of reform. A new study finds that overall ESI coverage under the ACA would not differ significantly from what coverage would be without reform."
Mercer: "In a survey released today by consulting firm Mercer, employers were asked how likely they are to get out of the business of providing health care once state-run insurance exchanges become operational in 2014 and make it easier for individuals to buy coverage. For the great majority, the answer was 'not likely.'"
Kori SchulmanJune 07, 2011
06:49 PM EDT
Celebrating the first harvest of the spring, the German State Dinner menu uses local ingredients – including vegetables and herbs from the White House Kitchen Garden. Take a look inside with White House Kitchen on the morning of the dinner with Executive Chef Cris Comerford.
Created by First Lady Michelle Obama in March of 2009, the Kitchen Garden has become a hub for activities at the White House. Just four days shy of the State Dinner, children joined Mrs. Obama to harvest vegetables just in time for the dinner and plant new crops. The “White House Garden Chopped Salad," the first course of the dinner, reflects a cornucopia of spring harvest, tossed in a vinaigrette made with White House honey and garnished with pecans from Georgia.
Tonight, the President and Mrs. Obama will host Her Excellency Dr. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany for a State Dinner held in the Rose Garden of the White House, just outside the West Wing and Oval Office. Tune in for the reception and toasts on WhiteHouse.gov/live.
Stephanie CutterJune 07, 2011
04:30 PM EDT
Tomorrow, judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit will hear arguments in a case challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Four weeks ago, judges in the 4th Circuit heard arguments in two similar cases. Last week, an additional case was argued in the 6th Circuit.
In all of these cases, the plaintiffs may be different, but the arguments they bring to the courthouse are essentially the same. The challenges focus primarily on one provision of the law - people on both sides of the debate agree that the vast majority of the act is clearly constitutional. And the arguments for overturning the Affordable Care Act are simply without merit.
Opponents of reform claim that the law’s individual responsibility provision exceeds Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce because it penalizes “inactivity.” They are wrong. Individuals who choose to go without health insurance are actively making an economic decision that affects all of us. When people without insurance obtain health care they cannot pay for, those with insurance and taxpayers are often left to pick up the tab.
That’s why the Affordable Care Act requires everyone who can afford it to carry some form of health insurance. 83 percent of Americans already have insurance and only those who are able to afford health insurance will be responsible for obtaining it. And the Congressional Budget Office estimated that only 1 percent of all Americans would pay a penalty for not having health insurance in 2016.
The individual responsibility provision also enables us to finally ban discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions. Without the individual responsibility provision, people could wait until they’re sick or injured to apply for coverage since insurance companies could no longer say no or charge more. That would lead to double digit premiums increases – up to 20% – for everyone in the individual insurance market.
We know that there will be a number of arguments and decisions in courts across the country in the weeks and months ahead and when the legal process ends, we are confident that the Affordable Care Act will be found constitutional.
Stephanie Cutter is Assistant to the President and Deputy Senior Advisor.
Nikki SuttonJune 07, 2011
04:09 PM EDT
This morning, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Federal Republic of Germany to the White House. During the Germany Official Arrival Ceremony the President spoke of the strong alliance between our two countries:
Today marks the first official visit and State Dinner for a European leader during my presidency. It’s only fitting. The transatlantic alliance is the cornerstone -- is the heart -- of our efforts to promote peace and prosperity around the world. And Germany -- at the heart of Europe -- is one of our strongest allies. And Chancellor Merkel is one of my closest global partners.
Our alliance, at its core, is a partnership between our peoples. The generations of German Americans who helped build a strong America. The Americans who, during a long Cold War, helped to defend a free Germany. And citizens of both our countries -- entrepreneurs, innovators, students, scientists, and soldiers -- who work together, and forge the future, every day.
At a time when some have asked whether the rise of new global powers means the decline of others, this visit reaffirms an enduring truth. Our alliances with nations like Germany are more important than ever. Indeed, they’re indispensable to global security and prosperity.
Robin SchepperJune 07, 2011
01:00 PM EDT
Cross-posted from the Let's Move! Blog.
Last Friday, just a week after the launch of Let’s Move! in Indian Country, First Lady Mrs. Obama and American Indian kids spent the afternoon in the White House kitchen garden planting the “three sisters” crops (corns, beans, and squash). The kids also helped Mrs. Obama harvest crops in the garden, including lettuces, rhubarb, chard, kohlrabi, sugar snap peas, turnips, broccoli and herbs – some of which will be used in Tuesday’s State Dinner in honor of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a Garden Harvest Event with children and members of the American Indian community, in the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn of the White House, June 3, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)
This “three sisters” traditional Native American planting technique grows crops in a mutually beneficial manner: the corn provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles; the beans provide the soil with nitrogen that the other plants use; and the squash spreads along the ground, blocking the sunlight and preventing weeds.
“Today’s a big day for us in the garden because it’s the first time we’re going to use native seeds of corn, beans and squash in the way they’ve been planted for thousands of years,” Mrs. Obama said. “We’re all pretty excited to continue this tradition. This is another example of a fun, easy way that we all can work together to be healthier. And that’s what we’re trying to accomplish with Let’s Move!”
Let’s Move! in Indian Country comes as a response to the current obesity trend within the American Indian community. American Indian or Alaska Native children between the ages of two and four have a higher prevalence of obesity (20.7% in 2009) than any other racial or ethnic group. Let’s Move! in Indian Country, in an effort to stem the tide of childhood obesity, brings together federal agencies, communities, nonprofits, corporate partners, schools and tribes to focus on four areas:
- Early childhood development
- Healthy learning communities
- Physical activity
- Increasing access to affordable, healthy foods
Check out the video of Friday’s garden event here.
Dan PfeifferJune 07, 2011
11:30 AM EDT
No one’s perfect, not even the anointed fact checkers who take on the admirable and valuable task of holding public officials accountable for what they say. Sometimes in their zeal for accountability, they get ahead of themselves and the facts. And that seems to be what happened today, when the Washington Post fact checked the President’s remarks last week on the resurgent American auto industry. So let’s take a minute to restore that context before we discuss the specific facts in question.
In the year before the President took office, the American auto industry lost more than 400,000 jobs. Chrysler and GM were facing liquidation.
President Obama had a choice: He could have extended billions of dollars of taxpayer support without requiring any real changes. He also could have allowed the companies to collapse, which, because they are closely linked to networks of suppliers, dealers and other auto companies, would have had a dramatic ripple effect through the industry. Independent forecasts projected that, were the companies to fail, it could have eliminated more than 1 million jobs. Instead he chose a different way: standing behind the American auto industry, but requiring the companies to undergo painful restructuring to become competitive for the future.
So last week – two years after making that difficult decision – the President delivered an accounting of its results to date. In doing so, he pointed out that Chrysler had more than repaid the $8.5 billion that the Obama administration invested in the company. That’s a fact. Chrysler has repaid $10.6 billion in loans, and the Treasury recovered another $560 million by selling its remaining stake in the company to Fiat last week.
Kori SchulmanJune 07, 2011
08:48 AM EDT
This morning, the President and First Lady will welcome Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Federal Republic of Germany to the White House for an Official Visit. Watch events live on WhiteHouse.gov all day and join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #statevisit.
Secretary Shaun DonovanJune 06, 2011
09:06 PM EDT
Cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Housing and Development's blog The HUDdle.
When I spoke with the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans this morning, I had a chance to talk about one of the top priorities for President Obama and myself: Ending homelessness among veterans. One out of every six men and women in our shelters has worn our country’s uniform, and that is a national disgrace. It is also the reason HUD put together a strategic plan to end homelessness among veterans by 2015. Not reduce it, not redefine it, but end it.
New York Times columnist David Brooks recently visited HUD and sat in on one of our regular meetings designed to monitor the progress we’re making toward that goal. Even though Brooks is a conservative columnist covering a Democratic administration, he came away impressed. That’s because ending veterans’ homelessness is one of those issues that has nothing to do with ideology, or whether you have a “D” or an “R” after you name. Making sure the heroes who answered the call to service are treated with the dignity they deserve when they return is absolutely central to upholding our nation’s values.
With that mission in mind, HUD has dedicated itself to collaboration across governmental agencies, focusing on finding out what works. The first step was knowing the scope of our problem: How many veterans are homeless and where are they? President Obama and I both know the importance of good data. That’s why, in the effort to end homelessness among veterans, the department is using a program called HUDStat to monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of our services to veterans.
This effort isn’t about spin or scoring political points. It’s about knowing where the need for support is greatest and the best ways to deliver that help. So far, we have seen that HUD’s efforts to eliminate homelessness among servicemen and women have been incredibly successful, with the collaboration between HUD and Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing helping more than 21,000 veterans.
I know fiscal discipline is important in this budget climate. And we also know investing in efforts to end homelessness save taxpayers money by making sure America’s most vulnerable are not sent through the revolving doors of emergency rooms, shelters and jails. The data backs it up. That is why HUD has not cut funding to end homelessness, and instead increased the support going to those programs in 2011, including a request for 10,000 more vouchers specifically for homeless veterans.
When I spoke with the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, I was talking about an issue that goes beyond politics. No matter what side of the aisle our lawmakers fall on, we know what the brave men and women who wear our uniform deserve when they return to the nation they defended. They deserve stability. They deserve a place to call home. Anything less is unacceptable.
Everyone knows we must do more to help veterans and eliminate homelessness among the selfless Americans who defend us abroad. That is why HUD is dedicated to addressing this crisis. We have seen how effective these programs can be, and will continue to work until homelessness is no longer a problem for our nation’s veterans.
Katelyn SabochikJune 06, 2011
07:21 PM EDT
Today President Obama convened a monthly meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan with his national security team. Check out the readout from the meeting and photo below.
June 06, 2011
06:42 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Cross posted from The Department of Defense News
First Lady Michelle Obama lauded the graduating seniors of Quantico Middle/High School here last night for their strength, resilience and maturity as they came of age in military families during a time of war.
"I think that all of you are incredibly special,” Obama told the class of 36 students, who greeted the first lady with a standing ovation and a resounding cheer at their commencement.
June 06, 2011
05:18 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.
This month marks the 30th year of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, when the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported the first case of which would become known as HIV/AIDS. More than 50,000 people in the United States are infected with HIV annually, and today, more than 33 million people around the world are living with HIV. Two million people across the globe die every year from AIDS. Over 600,000, fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, aunts and uncles in this country have died due to this pandemic. Like others marking this milestone, some of the people who have been lost over the past 30 years are individuals that I had the privilege of calling my friends.
There have been many positive efforts in combating this devastating disease, but more work needs to be done. Last year, the President announced the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States. This strategy focuses on combinations of evidence-based approaches to decrease new HIV infections in high risk communities, improve care for people living with HIV/AIDS, and reduce health disparities. Also, the Administration increased domestic HIV/AIDS funding to support the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and HIV prevention, and to invest in HIV/AIDS-related research.
But as the President has said, “government cannot take on this disease alone.” That is why, as part of the Champions of Change initiative, the White House invited nine inspiring HIV/AIDS advocates for a roundtable discussion to meet with Administration officials including Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) Director Jeffrey Crowley, the HHS Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Howard Koh, and key staff from HHS, DOJ and HUD. The roundtable was intended to provide an opportunity for people living with HIV to reflect on their own lives and personal experiences as the Nation reflects on what has been achieved over the last three decades. It is also an opportunity for us to continue shining a light on this pandemic.
Secretary Hilda SolisJune 06, 2011
03:40 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Cross posted from the Department of Labor blog.
This morning I had the honor of hosting an event on the National Mall to commemorate 100 Years of Registered Apprenticeship.
First established by Wisconsin state legislation in 1911, the United States Congress instituted federal registered apprenticeships in 1937 when it passed the Fitzgerald Act. The bill’s sponsor, Connecticut congressman William J. Fitzgerald, worked in a foundry as a young man.
The Fitzgerald Act protects the safety and welfare of apprentices and brings together employers and labor for the formulation of apprenticeship programs to train workers in specialized skills while earning a living wage.
A unique view of 2012