Colleen CurtisJuly 21, 2011
09:21 AM EDT
When the space shuttle Atlantis safely touched down at 5:57 this morning at Kennedy Space Center, it marked the end of one era of American space exploration. In a call from the White House to Commander Chris Ferguson and the crew of the mission on July 15, President Obama praised the work of the thousands of men and women who "have poured their hearts and souls into America's space shuttle program over the last three decades. I want to say thank you, you've helped our country lead the space age and you continue to inspire us"
The President spoke to the influence NASA has had on the American psyche, noting the shuttle and the space station are "a unique part of our history," one that "embodies our sense of adventure, exploration and courage."
He also looked to the future, saying that while this mission marked the final flight of the space shuttle program, it "ushers in an exciting new era to push the frontiers of space exploration and human space flight" even further, with the eventual goal of "ultimately sending humans to Mars."
Nikki SuttonJuly 20, 2011
06:24 PM EDT
Today, First Lady Michelle Obama announced nationwide commitments from major food retailers to open or expand over 1,500 stores to help provide healthy, affordable food to millions of people in areas that do not currently have easy access to fresh, nutritious food. Across the country, 23.5 million Americans – including 6.5 million children – live in underserved communities that do not have readily available fresh foods for reasonable prices.
July 20, 2011
03:32 PM EDT
Cross-posted with The GSA Blog
Last week I saw firsthand two groundbreaking clean energy projects – the Midwest’s largest rooftop solar panel array at GSA’s Major General Emmett J. Bean Federal Center in Indianapolis and the country’s largest geothermal project at Ball State University. These two Indiana projects are creating jobs that will form the backbone of our nation’s 21st century economy while providing useful information that will inform decision-making nationwide.
GSA has invested in solar power technology to cut operating costs at federal buildings across the country, but what makes the Bean Center’s solar array special is its sheer size with over 6,000 panels, as well as the building’s solar test lab. The lab will test how four different solar technologies perform under diverse Midwestern weather conditions. The rooftop installation created over 100 high paying green collar jobs, and the data collected at the test lab will be widely shared to foster continued growth in the solar industry.
Jeffrey ZientsJuly 20, 2011
11:37 AM EDT
Just as our cell phones and computers have gotten progressively more efficient over the past decade, so too have data servers. However, the government has not taken advantage of the increasing efficiency of data storage. Rather than follow the private sector's lead of shrinking the size and number of the facilities used to house the computers that store their data, agencies have gone in the opposite direction.
Between 1998 and 2010, the Federal government quadrupled the number of data centers we operate. Moreover, on average these centers have been using only 27 percent of their computer power even though taxpayers are footing the bill for the entire infrastructure, real estate and energy costs. The need for backup power supplies, environmental controls (air conditioning, fire suppression, etc.) and special security devices mean that data centers can consume 200 times as much electricity as standard office spaces.
While such inefficiency is unacceptable at anytime, cracking down on waste is particularly important in these challenging budgetary times. By shrinking our data center footprint we will save taxpayer dollars, cutting costs for infrastructure, real estate and energy. At the same time, moving to a more nimble 21st century model will strengthen our security and the ability to deliver services for less.
Colleen CurtisJuly 19, 2011
06:43 PM EDT
President Obama is proud to support the Respect for Marriage Act, which has been introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Jerrold Nadler. This legislation would uphold the principle that the federal government should not deny gay and lesbian couples the same rights and legal protections as straight couples.
The President has long called for a legislative repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which continues to have a real impact on the lives of real people -- our families, friends and neighbors.
Nikki SuttonJuly 19, 2011
04:17 PM EDT
Over the weekend, President Obama continued to urge both parties to come together around a balanced package to deficit reduction. Today, the President provided an update on the efforts to lift the debt ceiling and also tackle the underlying challenges we face with our national debt and deficits:
Some progress was made in some of the discussions, some narrowing of the issues. Speaker Boehner and the Republican House caucus felt it necessary to put forward the plan that they're going to be voting on today. I think everyone's estimation is, is that that is not an approach that could pass both chambers, it's not an approach that I would sign and it's not balanced. But I understand the need for them to test that proposition.
The problem we have now is we're in the 11th hour and we don't have a lot more time left. The good news is that today a group of senators, the Gang of Six, Democrats and Republicans -- I guess now Gang of Seven, because one additional Republican senator added on -- put forward a proposal that is broadly consistent with the approach that I've urged. What it says is we've got to be serious about reducing discretionary spending both in domestic spending and defense; we've got to be serious about tackling health care spending and entitlements in a serious way; and we've got to have some additional revenue so that we have an approach in which there is shared sacrifice and everybody is giving up something.
July 19, 2011
03:28 PM EDT
Cross-posted with Ed.gov Blog
It’s no secret that schools around the country are facing deep budget cuts, often resulting in layoffs of staff and teachers and putting the burden on teachers to purchase much-needed supplies for their classrooms. The lack of school supplies caused one Lodi, California middle school student to take his case directly to President Obama in a letter.
In the President’s personal response, he thanked Henderson for sharing his ideas and commended him for his commitment to the community. “In America, each of us can write our own destiny,” the President wrote. “So long as you are willing to dream big and work hard, you can accomplish great things and help others to do the same.”
July 19, 2011
02:30 PM EDT
In the single largest round of awards in the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund's history, Treasury will distribute a total of $142,302,667 to 155 financial institutions serving economically distressed communities across the United States. CDFI Fund Director Donna Gambrell joined Senator Dick Durbin and Representative Danny Davis in Chicago yesterday to make the historic announcement.
Jason FurmanJuly 19, 2011
07:30 AM EDT
Democrats and Republicans agree that getting our fiscal house in order is one of the critical challenges facing America. To address it we are going to have to make tough choices, bringing to the table a commitment to examine every area of the budget and every loophole in the tax code without presumptively taking any of the options off the table. But it is critical that we not bring down our deficits and debt at the expense of economic growth, innovation and job creation, or place the greatest burden on older Americans and the most vulnerable. That is precisely what the House’s Cut, Cap and Balance plan would do – a proposal that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney described as “duck, dodge and dismantle.”
The House plan fails to achieve a balanced plan to reduce the deficit, which is precisely the approach that has worked successfully in America in the past and has recently been recommended by a number of different fiscal commissions.
Kenneth BaerJuly 19, 2011
06:00 AM EDT
We deal with a lot of big numbers in our daily work here at OMB, but now we will start focusing on a small one: 140.
Yes, OMB’s communications shop is joining the Twitterverse to give the American people insight into the work we do in 140 characters or less.
We hope to use this outlet to bring attention both to the important budget and fiscal issues before us and to the full range of initiatives that OMB is involved with including regulations, information technology, Executive Orders and Presidential Memoranda, federal contracting, the management of the federal government, the President’s Campaign to Cut Waste, statements of Administration policy, and statistical standards and practices.
I'll be the main person behind the account for now, and others from the OMB communications team will pitch in too.
Kenneth Baer is Senior Advisor and Associate Director for Communications and Strategic Planning at the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Melody BarnesJuly 18, 2011
06:21 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.
One of the most gratifying aspects of working in the White House is that you never know who you might see on a daily basis. A wonderful and diverse cadre of Americans pass through for meetings and events, including renowned scientists, members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and occasionally even entertainment celebrities. Often, these visitors represent the most talented leaders in their respective fields.
With this in mind, I was particularly pleased to recently participate in a Champions of Change roundtable with eighteen Rural Americans, representing the spectrum of excellence in Rural America. The group included farmers, ranchers, local educators, small business owners, and folks who are improving their communities through innovative actions. These rural champions represent the best of the best in their respective fields.
We were honored to be joined by President Obama, who shared his vision for economic growth and development in rural areas. The President highlighted the importance of exports in agricultural areas, and the critical nature of transportation issues. He emphasized the need for high-speed internet access and stated that rural areas should expect to have opportunities equivalent to those in other areas of the nation. The President also discussed the importance of identifying rural Americans’ success stories and sharing that knowledge across the country.
Dr. Jill BidenJuly 18, 2011
05:25 PM EDT
I just returned home from an incredible trip to Germany where I was truly honored to lead the Presidential Delegation to the Women’s World Cup soccer final. While in Frankfurt, we were all thrilled to have the opportunity to meet the team and their families, and to cheer proudly and wave the U.S. flag for our heroes on the field.
As I told the team last night, though the final outcome of the game was not what we had hoped, we left the stadium so proud of this incredible group of women – and I am sure everyone at home feels the same way.
Nikki SuttonJuly 18, 2011
03:55 PM EDT
Today President Obama took a big step forward in his goal to strengthen the economy and strengthen the middle class with the nomination of Richard Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
It has been one year since President Obama passed financial reform to help tackle the problems that created the financial crisis that pulled the economy into the worst recession we've seen since the Great Depression, As the President described today, the law did three things, "First, it made taxpayer-funded bailouts illegal, so taxpayers don’t have to foot the bill if a big bank goes under. Second, it said to Wall Street firms, you can’t take the same kind of reckless risks that led to the crisis. And third, it put in place the strongest consumer protections in history."
As part of financial reform, President Obama tasked one consumer watchdog with "looking out for regular people in the financial system." The President got the idea from Elizabeth Warren:
And that’s why I asked Elizabeth Warren to set up this new bureau. Over the past year she has done an extraordinary job. Already, the agency is starting to do a whole bunch of things that are going to be important for consumers -- making sure loan contracts and credit card terms are simpler and written in plain English. Already, thanks to the leadership of the bureau, we’re seeing men and women in uniform who are getting more protections against fraud and deception when it comes to financial practices. And as part of her charge, I asked Elizabeth to find the best possible choice for director of the bureau.
Ezra MechaberJuly 18, 2011
11:42 AM EDT
On July 18th, the President hosted an education roundtable with key leaders in both the private and public sectors to discuss ways we can ensure a competitive American workforce. The attendees, including business leaders, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes, and General Colin and Mrs. Alma Powell of the America’s Promise Alliance, talked about expanding strong industry-led partnerships that are working to transform the American education system.
The President’s meeting with America's CEOs builds on his continued focus on addressing the pressing needs of educating our children:
“A world-class education is the single most important factor in determining not just whether our kids can compete for the best jobs but whether America can outcompete countries around the world. America's business leaders understand that when it comes to education, we need to up our game. That's why were working together to put an outstanding education within reach for every child.”
Kori SchulmanJuly 18, 2011
11:10 AM EDT
Ed. Note: In 2009, the United States joined the United Nations General Assembly in declaring July 18th Nelson Mandela International Day. Today, the global community honors Nelson Mandela through acts of service. You can find service opportunities in your community on Serve.gov.
"As the people of the world celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 93rd birthday on July 18, Madiba continues to be a beacon for the global community, and for all who work for democracy, justice and reconciliation," President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama said in a statement, "On behalf of the people of the United States, we congratulate Nelson Mandela, and honor his vision for a better world."
The President and First Lady continued:
Nelson Mandela said, ‘There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.’ A man who devoted 67 years of his life to public service, Madiba sets the standard for service worldwide, whether we are students, shopkeepers or farmers, cabinet ministers or presidents. He calls on us to serve our fellow human beings, and better our communities.
Elizabeth WarrenJuly 18, 2011
09:21 AM EDT
This is a big week for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Today, the President will announce his intent to nominate Richard Cordray to serve as the first Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. On Thursday, the CFPB makes its transition from a start-up to a real, live agency with the authority to write rules and to supervise the activities of America's largest banks.
Rich will be a strong leader for this agency. He has a proven track record of fighting for families during his time as head of the CFPB enforcement division, as Attorney General of Ohio, and throughout his career. He was one of the first senior executives I recruited for the agency, and his hard work and deep commitment make it clear he can make many important contributions in leading it. Rich is smart, he is tough, and he will make a stellar Director. I am very pleased for him and very pleased for the CFPB.
Kori SchulmanJuly 17, 2011
07:58 PM EDT
This afternoon, the First Family gathered in the Treaty Room office in the residence of the White House to cheer on the US women's soccer team in the World Cup Final. Here's a photo of the First Family enjoying the game (view the full size on Flickr here):
Courtney O'DonnellJuly 17, 2011
01:03 PM EDT
Game Day is here! The day of the Women’s World Cup Final is here, and the U.S. Delegation has arrived in Frankfurt to cheer on Team USA.
The delegation landed in Germany early this morning and had a chance to visit with some of the friends and family members of the team. Ambassador Phil Murphy, Dr. Biden and Chelsea Clinton addressed the group in an atmosphere of growing excitement, pride and anticipation.
Dr. Biden thanked Team USA for honoring our country with their amazing performance – and also noted that the strong foundation for that has been laid by Title IX in the United States. She wished the team good luck from everyone back at the White House and a proud nation back home.
Kori SchulmanJuly 17, 2011
11:29 AM EDT
Yesterday morning President Obama met with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House. Here's the statement from the Press Secretary on their meeting:
The President reiterated his strong support for the preservation of the unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions of Tibet and the Tibetan people throughout the world. He underscored the importance of the protection of human rights of Tibetans in China. The President commended the Dalai Lama’s commitment to nonviolence and dialogue with China and his pursuit of the “Middle Way” approach. Reiterating the U.S. policy that Tibet is a part of the People’s Republic of China and the United States does not support independence for Tibet, the President stressed that he encourages direct dialogue to resolve long-standing differences and that a dialogue that produces results would be positive for China and Tibetans. The President stressed the importance he attaches to building a U.S.-China cooperative partnership. The Dalai Lama stated that he is not seeking independence for Tibet and hopes that dialogue between his representatives and the Chinese government can soon resume.
July 16, 2011
09:14 AM EDT
Last Friday, the Space Shuttle Atlantis embarked on the Space Shuttle program’s final mission—a mission to the International Space Station (ISS) to deliver one year of supplies and a new technology demonstration project. President Obama joined millions of Americans and people around the world in taking a moment to watch the incredible liftoff. Yesterday, President Obama gave the ISS a call—you can watch the full video below:
A unique view of 2012