Read all posts from July 2011
Nikki SuttonJuly 16, 2011
05:30 AM EST
July 15, 2011
07:19 PM EST
A quick look at this week on WhiteHouse.gov:
Compromise isn’t a dirty word: To a group of young Americans of different political persuasions, President Obama spoke candidly the importance of compromise in our democracy.
Remembering Betty Ford: First Lady Michelle Obama celebrated the life of former First Lady Betty Ford at a historic gathering at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, California.
July 15, 2011
06:54 PM EST
When Ruby Bridges visited the Oval Office on July 15, President Obama told her, "I think it's fair to say that if it wasn't for you guys, I wouldn't be here today."
November 14, 2010 marked the 50th anniversary of six-year-old Ruby's history-changing walk to the William Franz Public School in New Orleans as part of court-ordered integration in 1960. Six years after the 1954 United States Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education declared that state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students were unconstitutional, this event represented a victory for the American Civil Rights Movement.
Bridges was at the White House to see how a painting commemorating this personal and historic milestone looks hanging on the wall outside of the Oval Office. American artist Norman Rockwell was criticized by some when this painting first appeared on the cover of Look magazine on January 14,1964; now the iconic portrait will be on display throughout the summer of 2011 in one of the most exalted locations in the country.
David PlouffeJuly 15, 2011
04:07 PM EST
Back in March, I was in the room as President Obama spoke to a group of young Americans of different political persuasions in Massachusetts. He spoke candidly and openly about the importance of compromise in our democracy — even from people who care passionately about their position.
Take a look:
One quote stuck with me: “the nature of our democracy and the nature of our politics is to marry principle to a political process that means you don't get 100% of what you want.”
This is a President who believes searching for common ground is the right way to approach solving our problems. And in fact, in the divided government our country has chosen, it’s the only way we can.
Unfortunately, that view isn’t shared by everyone in Washington, DC. And you can see that right now as the President is trying to bring people together to tackle our debt and get our fiscal house in order.
Colleen CurtisJuly 15, 2011
01:58 PM EST
President Obama today challenged Congressional leaders to step back and look at what is good for the country in a press conference held to address the ongoing negotiations on raising the debt ceiling.
He stressed that while Washington has been "obsessing" over the debate, what the "American people are obsessing about right now is that unemployment is still way too high and too many folks’ homes are still underwater, and prices of things that they need, not just that they want, are going up a lot faster than their paychecks are if they’ve got a job."
July 15, 2011
12:26 PM EST
Earlier this week, a team from the Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Command in Warren, MI parked a unique vehicle in the Pentagon courtyard. Dubbed the Fuel Efficiency Demonstrator-Alpha (FED-Alpha), the vehicle has all the capability of an up-armored M1114 Humvee, but with modifications that can improve fuel economy by 70%.
Efforts such as the FED-Alpha are important, because each gallon of gas counts in a war. Every military capability, every mission, and every warfighter needs a steady, reliable supply of energy to keep the country safe, today and in the future.
Kori SchulmanJuly 15, 2011
09:35 AM EST
This week, President Obama held meetings with bipartisan congressional leaders, awarded the Medal of Honor to Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry, and discussed ongoing efforts to get our fiscal house in order and reduce our nation’s deficit at the White House. That's July 7th to July 14th, or "Our Heroes Are All Around Us."
Thursday, July 8th:
Saturday, July 10th:
Monday, July 11th:
- Watch Live: President Obama Holds a Press Conference Today at 11:00 a.m. EDT
- President Obama on Deficit Reduction: “If Not Now, When?”
- President Obama on Tackling our Debt and Deficit
Tuesday, July 12th:
July 14, 2011
06:12 PM EST
Earlier this week, President Obama spoke with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, and a small bi-partisan group of mayors on the progress towards finding a solution that both lets our nation keep its obligations and finds a balanced approach to deficit reduction. The President explained why getting our nation’s fiscal house in order must be a top priority, and highlighted how we have a unique opportunity to find a solution that not only raises the debt ceiling so we can pay our nation’s bills, but also takes our fiscal challenges head on by significantly reducing our deficits. The President understands that just like families across the nation, mayors in every state struggle everyday to make the tough choices necessary to keep their local economies going. He believes that leaders in Washington need to make the same kinds of tough choices and come together to find common ground and show the American people that we can do big things as a nation.
Mayors across the country share what they think:
Our government needs to do what families across America have done since this recession began – solve its financial problems and start living within its means. As a nation, it is imperative that we get our finances under control, reduce our deficit, and work to fix the country’s long-term financial problems. Playing politics with the full faith and credit of the United States of America is simply not an option.
July 14, 2011
06:06 PM EST
Highlighting the importance of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and jobs, the U.S. Commerce Department today released a new report profiling U.S. employment in the critical fields that drive our nation’s innovation and competitiveness. STEM workers are helping America win the future by generating new ideas, new companies and new industries.
Not surprisingly, President Obama has made STEM education a key priority of his administration, with an ambitious agenda to move American students to the top of the pack internationally in science and math achievement over the next decade.
Initiatives like Race to the Top and the “Educate to Innovate” campaign demonstrate the administration’s ongoing commitment to making sure Americans get the science and technology skills they need to fill the jobs of the future.
STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future, by Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration, shows that growth in STEM jobs has been three times greater than that of non-STEM jobs over the last 10 years. And throughout the next decade, STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17 percent, compared to 9.8-percent growth for other occupations.
Kenneth BaerJuly 14, 2011
02:17 PM EST
Today, we launched the third annual SAVE Award (Securing Americans Value and Efficiency) – a contest for federal employees to submit ideas about how to cut waste, save taxpayer dollars, and make government more effective and efficient.
Over the past two years, OMB has received more than 56,000 cost-cutting ideas through the SAVE Award from federal employees from across the country. The ideas range from stopping the overnight, express delivery of empty containers to allowing people to make appointments with their Social Security office online and ending the printing and shipping to employees across the country of thousands of Federal Register volumes that could be read online.
These ideas have made a difference. The President’s last two budgets each included approximately 20 SAVE Award ideas. Already, those submissions are saving hundreds of millions of dollars, rooting out redundancy and waste, and giving the American people a more accountable government.
Wasting taxpayer dollars is unacceptable at anytime, but particularly when we face huge budget deficits. That’s why this year’s SAVE Award is a critical part of the recently launched Campaign to Cut Waste – an Administration-wide initiative to hunt down and eliminate wasted tax dollars in every agency and department across the federal government.
The idea behind the SAVE Award is the belief that federal employees on the front lines know better than anyone where there is waste to cut and how to make government more effective and efficient. If you’re a federal employee, please take a minute and send us your idea. You will help your government, your fellow citizens, and if you win, will get to present your idea directly to the President.
Make no mistake: these ideas alone aren’t going to close the deficit of fix our fiscal situation, but they are critical to making sure that the American people can trust their government to treat every tax dollar with the same care and attention they do.
So, if you’re a member of the federal workforce, please send us your idea, and for everyone else, stay tuned as we will ask your help in picking the winner.
As Vice President Biden wrote in an Op-Ed today, “This effort involves more than just eliminating fraud and waste; it means instilling a new culture of efficiency, of responsiveness, of accountability. We're changing the way government does business. We're working to give the American people the government they expect - and deserve.”
Kenneth Baer is Senior Advisor and Associate Director for Communications and Strategic Planning at the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Valerie JarrettJuly 14, 2011
12:40 PM EST
This week, my colleagues and I met with families from all over the country that are affiliated with the American Association of People with Disabilities, Easter Seals, and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities.
Their stories sent the message that social safety net programs such as Medicaid are more than just numbers in a budget. I’m honored to share some of those stories with all of you.
Linda Guzman told us about her son Javi, who has both autism and a connective tissue disorder. Medicaid pays for medications, surgeries, and therapies to help him stay healthy, and for personal care services to help him stay productive. Without Medicaid, Linda would have to quit her job and go on public assistance to care for him full time.
Shannon Saunders, a 13 year-old from Columbus, Ohio, was another one of our guests at the White House. When Shannon was two, doctors diagnosed her with cerebral palsy, and thought she would never be able to walk or talk. But eleven years later, I watched as she stood from her wheelchair and proudly told me that Medicaid had helped prove her doctors wrong. Her mother was able to ensure that she received treatment in order to live up to her full potential. When she grows up, she intends to become a teacher, and live independently.
Kareem DaleJuly 14, 2011
11:30 AM EST
Today, at 1:00 p.m. EDT members of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Office of Public Engagement and Office of Presidential Personnel will take your questions on disability policy in partnership with Disability.gov. I will be joined by Jeffrey Crowley, Senior Advisor on Disability Policy and Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy and Rebecca Cokley, Director of Priority Placement in the White House Presidential Personnel Office.
We will be answering questions on disability policy including employment, education, health care, transportation, housing, and other disability related areas.
Submit your questions before the event by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to watch live at Disability.gov or at WhiteHouse.gov/live.
Kareem Dale is Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy and Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement
July 14, 2011
11:00 AM EST
On July 7, 2011 the U.S. Department of the Treasury hosted a symposium to discuss economic revitalization through investment in community development financial institutions (CDFIs).
The event was a partnership between the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund and Living Cities, and the focus was on the role of CDFIs in the Living Cities Integration Initiative.
The CDFI Fund supports financial institutions that provide loans, investments, and technical assistance to underserved communities. Since its creation has awarded $1.11 billion to community development organizations and financial institutions. It has awarded allocations of New Markets Tax Credits, which will attract private-sector investments totaling $26 billion, including $1 billion of special allocation authority to be used for the recovery and redevelopment of the Gulf Opportunity Zone.
Living Cities is a collaborative of 22 of the world's largest foundations and financial institutions who are working to revitalize American cities. The Integration Initiativewill provide $85 million in grants, below-market interest rate loans and commercial debt to spur public-private partnerships in Baltimore, MD, Cleveland, OH, Detroit, MI, Newark, NJ, and the Twin Cities region of Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN. In each community, the public, private, non-profit, and philanthropic sectors have agreed to tackle critical issues impeding access of low-income residents to education, housing, health care, transit, and jobs.
CDFIs play a pivotal role in the Integration Initiative. Living Cities' members from the financial services sector are providing the CDFIs with $55 million in commercial debt, and the Living Cities Catalyst Fund is providing an additional $16 million in below-market rate loans.
Those in attendance included: Derek Douglas, Special Assistant to the President for Urban Policy, White House Domestic Policy Council; Michael Strautmanis, Deputy Assistant to the President and Counselor for Strategic Engagement to Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, White House Office of Public Engagement; The Honorable Rosie Rios, Treasurer of the United States, U.S. Department of the Treasury; Donna J. Gambrell, Director, CDFI Fund, U.S. Department of the Treasury; Ben Hecht, Chief Executive Officer, Living Cities; and other federal officials from the Departments of Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Transportation, the Small Business Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Click here to learn more about Urban Policy
Alejandra CampoverdiJuly 13, 2011
06:46 PM EST
President Obama was wrapping up an interview with Mario Andres Moreno for Univision Miami’s Channel 23 at the White House in May when the conversation turned to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Bulls were one game away from facing the Miami Heat and a friendly wager was struck between the two loyal and competitive fans – if the Bulls won, Moreno would send the President some Cuban Fritas -- a treat the President had enjoyed on a recent visit to Miami -- and if the Heat won, the President would send Moreno some fully loaded Chicago Dogs. As fate would have it, the Bulls lost to the Heat and Moreno won the bet.
Last week, as promised, a large package of hot dogs with all the fixins arrived at Channel 23’s offices in Miami with everything needed to bring the Chicago Dog experience to the Sunshine State. Inside the insulated box were packages of all beef hot dogs, poppy seed buns, yellow mustard, bright green relish, onions, tomato wedges, pickle spears, sport peppers and celery salt – as well as a note from President Obama himself. The anchorman generously shared his victors prize with his Univision colleagues and everyone gathered together in the studio for an impromptu hot dog party, courtesy of the President himself.
During the evening news broadcast, Mario Andres Moreno sat in his anchor’s chair with his Chicago Dog waiting in front of him as he recounted the story with his co-anchors. A screen shot behind them featured a picture of the President, a hot dog, and the tag, “Palabra Cumplida”– “Kept His Word.”
The President is looking forward to a delivery of Cuban Fritas to the White House next season!
Alejandra Campoverdi is White House Deputy Director of Hispanic Media
Secretary Kathleen SebeliusJuly 13, 2011
05:08 PM EST
Today, we are taking a new approach in our effort to address dating violence and sexual assault.
Working together with my colleagues in the Office of the Vice President and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, we launched the “Apps Against Abuse” technology challenge – a national competition to develop an innovative software application, or “app,” that provides young adults with tools to help prevent sexual assault and dating violence. I had a chance to discuss the challenge, along with other ways agencies can attack this problem, during a meeting hosted by Vice President Biden at the White House earlier today.
Having spent years volunteering with victims of domestic violence, I’ve seen firsthand how vulnerable some women are in their own homes and their communities as a result of violence and abuse. Young women face the highest rates of dating violence and sexual assault. Nineteen percent (nearly 1 in 5) of women report experiencing sexual assault while in college. And while a majority of college students say that it is important to intervene, many often say they don’t know how. Moreover, over half – sixty percent – of college students who have been in an abusive relationship say no one helped them.
Through the “Apps Against Abuse” challenge, developers will be charged with creating an easy-to-use application that provides a targeted way for young women to designate trusted friends, allies, or emergency contacts and provide a means for checking-in with these individuals in real-time, particularly in at-risk situations. The winning application will also provide quick access to resources and information on sexual assault and teen dating violence, as well as where to go for help.
Kasie CoccaroJuly 13, 2011
03:44 PM EST
On Tuesday, July 12th the 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 answered your questions from Facebook, Twitter and WhiteHouse.gov on ways to improve the online experience with Federal websites.
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 halving the number of separate, stand alone sites over the next year, through consolidation of existing sites or shutting down sites that are no longer needed.
Kasie CoccaroJuly 13, 2011
03:20 PM EST
Yesterday, we took a major step forward in improving how you get government information and services online. For the first time, the federal government has published the list of all .gov domains managed by federal executive branch agencies– all 1759 of them!
Before today, no one – except for the few folks who manage the .gov registry – has had a clear picture of what our federal web space looks like. Now, anyone can see how many different domains and websites agencies manage, what topics they cover, which sites may duplicate or overlap with others, and which sites are no longer being actively maintained. As part of President Obama’s Executive Order on Customer Service and Campaign to Cut Waste, we can identify and consolidate unnecessary websites, saving money and providing better service to the American public.
We invite you to view the list of .gov domains and give us suggestions in the comments section about how we can best use this information to make good business decisions. If you’re a developer, download the dataset, make discoveries about the data, or provide us with a creative way to visualize the .gov domain.
In the next several weeks, agencies will review each domain on the list and gather key metrics that will help determine what action to take – to maintain the site, merge the content into another existing site, or eliminate it. At the same time, we’ll launch a national dialogue to engage the public in conversation about improving federal websites. We’ll tap into voices from every corner to ensure we have broad input -- from students, teachers, and librarians to the tech industry, scientists, innovators, and anyone who has an interest in improving the online customer experience with government.
We kicked off this initiative yesterday with a live video chat, and you can see much of that great conversation by watching the #dotgov hashtag on Twitter. We’ve also enabled commenting on the domains dataset. Making government data transparent can spark the creativity of many bright minds across the country, and we hope you’ll explore, discuss, and remix this data, and maybe even use it to map the .gov domain in ways we haven't seen before.
The .Gov Task Force will oversee all of these efforts, always looking for more ways to keep the conversation going.
Nikki SuttonJuly 13, 2011
02:42 PM EST
On the attacks in Mumbai, President Obama just released the following statement:
I strongly condemn the outrageous attacks in Mumbai, and my thoughts and prayers are with the wounded and those who have lost loved ones. The U.S. government continues to monitor the situation, including the safety and security of our citizens. India is a close friend and partner of the United States. The American people will stand with the Indian people in times of trial, and we will offer support to India’s efforts to bring the perpetrators of these terrible crimes to justice. During my trip to Mumbai, I saw firsthand the strength and resilience of the Indian people, and I have no doubt that India will overcome these deplorable terrorist attacks.
July 13, 2011
12:30 PM EST
Yesterday I was honored to accompany the First Lady to the celebration of life for former First Lady Betty Ford, at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, California. An historic gathering of others who have shared the privilege of serving the country in the White House were also in attendance, including President George W. Bush, First Lady Nancy Reagan, First Lady Rosalynn Carter and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. President and Mrs. Ford’s four children, Mike, Jack, Steve and Susan, and their children and grandchildren, were warm and welcoming, and embodied the joy and spirit of their parents, especially their mother who we all came to honor. The trailblazing life of this remarkable woman was highlighted throughout the service.
Her son, Mike Ford, spoke of the love between his parents, and the love they showered on their family. Mrs. Carter noted their longstanding friendship, which was forged out of the unique circumstances when President Carter defeated President Ford, and Mrs. Ford welcomed Mrs. Carter to the Carters’ new home in the White House. Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Carter went to jointly champion the cause of health care coverage for mental illness and addiction, and Mrs. Carter hailed the progress that has been made on this important issue. Geoffrey Mason of the Betty Ford Center spoke directly to Mrs. Ford, thanking her for saving his life and the lives of so many others who struggle with addiction.
July 13, 2011
12:10 PM EST
Ed. Note: Cross posted from the Energy Blog.
Having served in the military, I’m intimately aware of the role that energy plays in our ability to defend and uphold our national security. This became apparent to me in many ways during my time in the field, to the safety of my unit who ran fuel supply convoys in theater and the dangers we faced in carrying our duties, to hearing about the economic struggles of my relatives and friends back home to afford gas to drive and heat their homes. We understand, perhaps better than anyone, that our pursuit of energy independence and national security are closely linked.
I also know the struggles faced by many Veterans once they leave the service and try to find quality work. Last year for example, the unemployment rate for veterans who served after September 11th was 11.5% compared to 9.4% unemployment amongst non-veterans. Potential employers don’t always understand the value and experience that Veterans can bring to the workforce. And in some cases, it’s difficult for Veterans to express how the jobs we were trained to do in the military are transferable to jobs on the outside. Veterans have the skills, knowledge, leadership and professionalism to excel in any number of fields – including the energy sector. We simply need a bridge to join the wider workforce and contribute to the jobs of the future.