Read all posts from July 2011

  • Earlier today, President Obama held a press conference to give an update on the ongoing efforts to find a balanced approach to get our fiscal house in order and reduce our nation’s deficit to help our economy grow. The President believes this is the moment to put politics aside, rise above the cynicism, and prove to the American people that Washington can solve problems and do big things.  As he has said, “If not now, when?”   

    To solve our deficit problems, the President is willing to make tough choices -- it’s time for members of both parties to do the same. But, solving our fiscal problems requires shared sacrifice -- which means the wealthiest and special interests should pay their fair share. 

    Here are a few highlights from today’s press conference:

  • Today, President Obama took the next step in his ambitious and unprecedentedly open process for streamlining, improving, and eliminating regulations – by issuing a new Executive Order asking the independent regulatory agencies, including the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, to take new steps to ensure smart, cost-effective regulations, designed to promote economic growth and job creation.  

    In a historic initiative, the President has requested the independent agencies to produce plans to reassess and to streamline their existing regulations, and to disclose those plans for public scrutiny. In addition, the President has asked the independent agencies to follow the cost-saving, burden-reducing principles in his January Executive Order on improving regulation.  

  • Tomorrow, Tuesday, July 12th, 2011 at 4:00 PM EDT, you’re invited to participate in a live chat with White House Director of Digital Strategy, Macon Phillips, Federal Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra and Director of the GSA’s Center for Excellence in Digital Government, Sheila Campbell to discuss ways to improve the online experience with Federal websites.

    Here’s how you can participate:

    There are nearly 2,000 top-level web domains across the Federal Government.  While many of these sites provide taxpayers with valuable services and information, this proliferation of separate websites creates unnecessary confusion and inefficiency, wastes taxpayer dollars, and makes it difficult for the public to find important government information and resources. 

    As part of the continuing efforts of the Campaign to Cut Waste, an initiative launched last month by the President and Vice President to root out wasteful spending, the Administration has put a halt to the creation of new websites and set a goal of cutting the number of separate, stand alone sites in half over the next year through consolidation of existing sites or shutting down sites that are no longer needed.

    As a first step to understanding what’s working and what isn’t, the Administration will post the list of existing dot gov domains, invite feedback from the public, and will reach out to experts from the public and private sectors to develop an efficient and effective Federal government website policy that will ensure the American people can easily access the information they need moving forward.

    To stay updated on this and other Campaign to Cut Waste efforts sign up for our newsletter.

  • President Barack Obama responds to a question during a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

    President Barack Obama responds to a question during a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on the status of efforts to find a balanced approach to the debt limit and deficit reduction, July 11, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    Today, President Obama hosted a news conference at the White House to discuss the status of efforts to find a balanced approach on deficit reduction.  Over the weekend, the President and Vice President met with Congressional leadership at the White House as part of the ongoing negotiations. 

    During his remarks, the President encouraged members of Congress on both sides to work together to solve our long term deficit problems now, rather than finding short term solutions:

    I will not sign a 30-day or a 60-day or a 90-day extension.  That is just not an acceptable approach.  And if we think it’s going to be hard -- if we think it’s hard now, imagine how these guys are going to be thinking six months from now in the middle of election season where they’re all up.  It’s not going to get easier.  It’s going to get harder.  So we might as well do it now -- pull off the Band-Aid; eat our peas.  (Laughter.)  Now is the time to do it.  If not now, when? 

    We keep on talking about this stuff and we have these high-minded pronouncements about how we've got to get control of the deficit and how we owe it to our children and our grandchildren. Well, let's step up.  Let's do it.  I'm prepared to do it.  I'm prepared to take on significant heat from my party to get something done.  And I expect the other side should be willing to do the same thing -- if they mean what they say that this is important.

    Check out the video of the President’s press conference or use the jump links to skip to the answers to questions you’re most interested in.

    Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (397MB) | mp3 (38MB)

    The questions below are paraphrased from the questions asked by reporters during the news conference:


  • Editor's Note: This has been cross-posted from USAID's IMPACT blog.

    On Thursday, I had the opportunity to speak with American youth from the White House about the importance of getting involved in international development. Kalpen Modi, the Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement, invited me to answer questions from a room full of young innovators and the Twitter and Facebook online communities.

    I found this experience especially meaningful because I believe that young people today have a deeper and more thoughtful understanding of global development and its ties to our nation’s prosperity, security and values than at any time in our history. Through the power of social media and political advocacy, as well their ground efforts, they have gained a profound appreciation of the difficulties developing countries face and the interests our nation has in alleviating them.

    A few weeks ago in Southern Sudan, I met a group of kids who are learning English and math in a USAID-supported primary education program.  The students ranged in ages from four to fourteen years old. Many of the older students have lived through a period of violence and suffering and have not yet had the opportunity for even a basic education. When you see American taxpayer money being effectively used to provide education in a way that improves the lives of these children and contributes to the peaceful founding of a new nation—the 196th country in the world—you get a genuine sense for the significance of this work.

    More than ever before, young people recognize the importance of sustainable, long-term development and are getting directly involved in issues like education, hunger, climate change, and global health. They understand that a world in which hunger is beaten, diseases are eradicated, the planet is protected, markets are free and people are equal is a world that makes us safer, enhances our prosperity and reflects our values as Americans.

    Today, the opportunities exist for young people to steer their talents towards serving those in greatest need, no matter what professions or degrees they choose. Whether you’re a teacher, investment banker, or engineer, you have valuable skills that can help drive meaningful change around the world. Visit our website to learn more, stay connected and tell us about the global development issues that concern you.

    Stay tuned for more blog posts with additional answers to your specific development questions.

  • President Obama knows that the hard work of strengthening American communities and revitalizing the American economy happens at the local level – in neighborhood schools and community colleges, at town meetings and neighborhood associations, through new start-ups and small businesses. That’s why the White House is excited today to announce the launch of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative.

    Strong Cities, Strong Communities is a new interagency pilot initiative that aims to strengthen neighborhoods, towns, cities and regions around the country by strengthening the capacity of local governments to develop and execute their economic vision and strategies. Strong Cities, Strong Communities bolsters local governments by providing necessary technical assistance and access to federal agency expertise, and creating new public and private sector partnerships. By leveraging existing assets, providing new resources, and fostering new connections at the local and national level, Strong Cities, Strong Communities will support towns and cities as they develop comprehensive plans for their communities and invest in economic growth and job creation.

    For more information about this innovative new initiative and its goals, check out the launch video:

    Download Video: mp4 (44MB)

  • Yesterday, President Obama met with Congressional Leadership, including Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in the Cabinet Room of the White House as part of ongoing negotiations to find a balanced approach to the debt limit and deficit reduction. 

    At 11:00 a.m. today, The President will hold a press conference giving an update on the status of the talks.

    You can watch it live at

    President Barack Obama Meets with Congressional Leadership in the Cabinet Room

    President Barack Obama meets with Congressional Leadership in the Cabinet Room of the White House to discuss the ongoing efforts to find a balanced approach to the debt limit and deficit reduction, Sunday, July 10, 2011. House Speaker John Boehner, left, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are pictured with the President. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)