Kalpen ModiJuly 13, 2011
12:00 PM EDT
Job creation is crucial to our economic recovery and the number one priority of the Obama administration. Small business owners remain a major driver of American employment and throughout the country; young entrepreneurs are rebuilding our economy with innovative ideas, environmentally friendly products, and groundbreaking business strategies. Young people continue to prove that that their businesses are not simply the ideas of the future.
Today you are invited to join 150 dynamic young business owners from Our Time’s “Buy Young” Initiative, along with Obama Administration officials from the White House Office of Public Engagement, the Small Business Administration, the White House Business Council and the White House Office of the Chief of Staff for an interactive session on access to capital, mentorship and barriers to entrepreneurship for young entrepreneurs. Startup America will be interviewing participants who’d like to share their stories of innovation and entrepreneurship with other young people. Among the attendees are the founders of established businesses including Wordpress, Gilt Group, Invite Media, and Living Social, as well as promising new startups such as Tutorspree, Refinery29 and Genjuice, plus representatives from leading venture capital firms.
July 13, 2011
11:09 AM EDT
It’s been one year since we launched the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy and today we are releasing an implementation update to keep you up to speed on the latest work. We plan to release a more comprehensive progress report after the conclusion of the calendar year, but as we mark this critical first year, we wanted to provide some reflections on key first-year achievements.
The Strategy details President Obama’s three goals: 1) reduce the number of new HIV infections, 2) increase access to care and improve health outcomes for people living with HIV, and 3) reduce HIV-related health disparities. Our mission is for the United States to become a place where new HIV infections are rare and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socio-economic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination. As you will see from the report, agencies throughout government are stepping up to the plate and stakeholders from all sectors are taking action.
Ultimately, for the Strategy to be truly successful, we need you. The Strategy isn’t about what government can do alone. We know that businesses, the faith community, and all sectors have a role to play. The following video above everyday leaders implementing the strategy in their own communities. We hope that you can use this to engage more people in our collective efforts to implement the Strategy and energize key partners to continue their efforts. Go to AIDS.gov to receive more information and take action.
We thank everyone that has worked with us so far, and we look forward to new and productive collaborations over the coming year.
Jeffrey Crowley is the Director of the Office of National AIDS Strategy.
July 12, 2011
07:20 PM EDT
Today the President awarded the Medal of Honor to Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry. Sergeant Petry is the second living Medal of Honor recipient to have earned the award for service during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was an incredible event.
Sergeant Petry, an Army Ranger, was honored for his actions during a deployment to Afghanistan in 2008. While on a high-risk daytime mission, Petry and two of his comrades were injured by enemy fire. Despite his wounds, Petry continued to lead his soldiers, dragging one who had been injured to cover. When an enemy grenade landed near him and his comrades, Sergeant Petry moved toward the grenade and picked it up to throw it back – saving the lives of his fellow Rangers. As he cocked his arm to lob the live grenade away, it exploded. Petry lost his hand, but did not give up the fight. He tied a tourniquet around his own bleeding arm and continued to direct the operation, working to ensure the safety of his comrades until the end of the mission.
Ashley BaiaJuly 12, 2011
05:54 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.
All across the country, young people are taking initiative in their schools and communities to teach others about the importance of environmental stewardship, energy conservation, and reducing waste. This past Friday, the White House honored a group of young leaders who have taken it upon themselves to do just that – educate and change their communities. These young people have taken the initiative to help green their schools and to inform other people, adults and youth alike, about the importance of living a more sustainable life. From teens teaching school-children about environmental issues, to primary school kids starting school gardens and encouraging kids to bring trash-free lunches, these Champions of Change are not only inspiring the adults around them by greening their schools, but they are making sustainability something ‘cool’ and interesting to the kids in their classes and communities.
I was fortunate enough to meet with these young leaders over a video chat from the Situation Room, and to hear their stories, successes, and struggles first hand. The strength of America’s clean energy future depends on the dedication and innovation of our future leaders, and after spending time with these outstanding individuals, I’m encouraged that this generation is taking it upon themselves to make changes that will help and sustain our world.
Please visit the Champions of Change website to learn more about these young people and their work. We hope these Champions and their causes will inspire and energize you, no matter what your age, to educate yourself about sustainability, and to work to make a difference in your own communities.
Ashley Baia is Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement
July 12, 2011
01:02 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Cross posted from the Energy Blog.
At a time when families are struggling to pay their energy bills, leaders in the House are pushing to roll back common sense standards for residential lighting that save families money by saving energy.
It’s important to remember that these standards were passed just a few years ago with overwhelming bipartisan support from 86 Senators and 314 members of the House. They were championed and co-sponsored by the former Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, and signed into law by President Bush.
I also want to take this opportunity to dispel a myth. The standards do NOT ban incandescent bulbs. You’ll still be able to buy energy-saving halogen incandescent bulbs that look exactly the same as the ones you’re used to, and more than pay for themselves over the life of the 100 watt replacement bulb.
The only difference is that your electric bills will be lower.
To save even more money, there are a wide range of new options like CFLs and LEDs. These options are 75 or 80 percent more efficient than traditional lighting, and they’ll last 10 or 25 times longer. In some cases, you might never have to replace them.
July 12, 2011
12:17 PM EDT
Today President Obama, formalizing one of several steps he announced this spring to continue to increase safe and responsible domestic oil and gas production, announced the formation of a new, high-level interagency working group to coordinate on energy development in Alaska. Officially created through an Executive Order, President Obama established the Interagency Working Group on Coordination of Domestic Energy Development and Permitting in Alaska. As Deputy Secretary of the Interior, I am honored to lead this cross-agency team.
The formation of this group is only the most recent step the President has taken to support the increased development our nation’s important resources, while ensuring that we do so safely and responsibly, including being guided by the important lessons learned by the largest oil spill in our nation’s history. The foundation for this effort is laid out in the President’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future , which charts a path to build a 21st century clean energy economy over the long term and dramatically cut our oil imports by 2025, through the responsible development of oil and gas at home, while at the same time facilitating the development of cleaner, alternative fuels and increasing efficiency .
July 12, 2011
11:26 AM EDT
Many are familiar with our work on behalf of the President to reduce cybersecurity vulnerabilities, such as hardening government systems and building public awareness about cybersecurity for end-users. But what you don’t always hear about are our efforts to reduce the overall risk to our national networks through active diplomacy and international technical collaboration. Both are key efforts for realizing the President’s International Strategy for Cyberspace (pdf) released in May.
Risk reduction is crucially important to our relationship with Russia, where we continue regular policy coordination at the highest levels, including on issues related to cybersecurity. Just last month we hosted a Russian delegation, led by my counterpart, Russian National Security Council Deputy Secretary Nikolay Klimashin, for another round of in-depth discussions here in Washington. Joined by senior officials from across the U.S. and Russian governments, our goal was to continue building mutual confidence in our two governments’ activities in cyberspace to reduce the risk of misperception and inadvertent crisis. It’s a prime example of the “Reset” in U.S.-Russia relations taking on a new and important dimension.
Both the U.S. and Russia are committed to tackling common cybersecurity threats while at the same time reducing the chances a misunderstood incident could negatively affect our relationship. We’re actively working on doing so in numerous ways: through regular exchanges of information on technical threats to both sides like botnets; by better understanding each other’s military views on operating in cyberspace; and by establishing 24/7 systems allowing us to communicate about cybersecurity issues via our existing and highly successful crisis prevention communications links between our two capitals. We plan to have all three mechanisms established by year’s end. Through progress like this, our countries are leading the way in developing pro-active bi-lateral measures that use cyberspace to more broadly enhance our national, and international security.
You can read the joint statement Deputy Secretary Klimashin and I issued about the meeting here (pdf).
Stephanie CutterJuly 11, 2011
06:53 PM EDT
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:
Cass SunsteinJuly 11, 2011
06:28 PM EDT
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.
Erin LindsayJuly 11, 2011
05:32 PM EDT
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:
- Join us live on Tuesday, July 12th, at 4:00 PM EDT on WhiteHouse.gov or the White House facebook app
- Ask us questions now through a form on WhiteHouse.gov
- Ask questions in advance on the White House facebook wall
- Ask a question on Twitter using the #dotgov hashtag
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.
Katelyn SabochikJuly 11, 2011
02:16 PM EDT
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.
The questions below are paraphrased from the questions asked by reporters during the news conference:
The latest CBS News poll showed that only 24 percent of Americans said you should raise the debt limit to avoid an economic catastrophe and 69 percent oppose raising the debt limit. Isn’t the problem that you and others have failed to convince the American people that we have a crisis, and how are you going to change that?
Rajiv ShahJuly 11, 2011
02:07 PM EDT
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.
Melody BarnesJuly 11, 2011
12:28 PM EDT
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:
Erin LindsayJuly 11, 2011
09:22 AM EDT
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 Whitehouse.gov/live.
Katelyn SabochikJuly 09, 2011
04:54 PM EDT
Today, South Sudan became the world’s newest nation. Several months ago West Wing Week took you behind the scenes of the referendum that led to today’s celebration of an Independent South Sudan. We traveled to all parts of the country with the President’s Special Envoy, General Scott Gration. We went behind the scenes at polling stations from Juba to Khartoum, met some of the international community who helped to ensure the vote was fair and peaceful, and traveled to Darfur to inspect conditions and learn about the commitment of the United States to peace in this region after decades of civil war.
In case you missed it, be sure to check out this special edition of West Wing Week here.
Earlier today President Obama sent an email to organizations and individuals in the United States and in Sudan who worked along the South Sudanese people to make this day possible. You can read the email below and check out the President's statement on recognition of South Sudan.
Erin LindsayJuly 09, 2011
02:29 PM EDT
On the passing of former First Lady Elizabeth Anne Ford, President Obama and Vice President Biden released the following statements:
Statement by the President:
Throughout her long and active life, Elizabeth Anne Ford distinguished herself through her courage and compassion. As our nation’s First Lady, she was a powerful advocate for women’s health and women’s rights. After leaving the White House, Mrs. Ford helped reduce the social stigma surrounding addiction and inspired thousands to seek much-needed treatment. While her death is a cause for sadness, we know that organizations such as the Betty Ford Center will honor her legacy by giving countless Americans a new lease on life.
Today, we take comfort in the knowledge that Betty and her husband, former President Gerald Ford, are together once more. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to their children, Michael, John, Steven, and Susan.
And a statement by the Vice President:
It is with deep sadness that Jill and I learned of the loss of Betty Ford. Throughout her life, Betty displayed strength, courage and determination that provided hope for millions of Americans seeking a healthier, happier future. Her legacy and work will live on through the millions of lives she has touched and the many more who will continue to look to her for inspiration. Her family will remain in our thoughts and prayers in the coming days.
Nikki SuttonJuly 09, 2011
05:30 AM EDT
July 08, 2011
07:15 PM EDT
A few weeks ago, I went back home to Los Angeles to host a conversation on immigration reform. More than 300 people packed the auditorium at East Los Angeles College (ELAC).
The immigration issue in communities like this one is about a lot more than numbers. For families in this neighborhood, it represents a daily struggle guided by great uncertainty, anxiety, and fear.
I was raised by immigrant parents in a town about fifteen minutes from ELAC, so I’m familiar with this story. Not surprisingly, many in the audience were, too. I heard about families being separated because of our broken immigration laws; about fearful workers who had been treated terribly; and about brilliant students, with big dreams who can’t make them come true. It broke my heart. It made me think about my story – about the people who raised me and how much they’ve meant to my life.
Storytelling is one way to learn about the immigration issue, one way to connect with it, and with each other. Stories help link our commonality – our common struggles, goals and victories. Stories bring us closer as people. But they also provide a unique framework from which to better make the case for building a 21st century immigration reform.
Kori SchulmanJuly 08, 2011
06:14 PM EDT
This week on WhiteHouse.gov, we celebrated our Independence and introduced a new kind of Town Hall meeting.
@TownHall: The President held the first ever Twitter Town Hall on Wednesday. He answered questions posted on the social network covering a variety of topics, including the economy, job creation and the deficit. Watch the video above, or check out individual questions with video links to the President's responses. You can also read the full remarks here.
West Wing Week features some behind-the-scenes footage of the historic event: "Ready to Tweet"
Space Shuttle Atlantis: The President hails the brave crew of Atlantis as they successfully launch the Space Shuttle's final mission. He challenges the men and women of NASA to break new boundaries in space exploration and send an American team to Mars.
Jon CarsonJuly 08, 2011
04:26 PM EDT
It’s no secret that our country is in the middle of a tough dialogue about the budget and spending. President Obama knows that the American people and ordinary families should be at the heart of these discussions.
In recent days, White House officials have been meeting with organizations like The Arc, MomsRising, and Family Voices to discuss the important role Medicaid plays in the lives of millions of Americans. They heard from parents of children with developmental, intellectual and physical disabilities who told us about Medicaid providing the services and supports so their children could thrive in the community when no one had given them a chance. They heard from mothers who would go without health care but for Medicaid and families where Medicaid has helped change and save lives.
The families we met and the stories they told put a human face on the discussions going on in Washington. From Family Voices we met Laura, a passionate young girl and aspiring author from Indiana. Through MomsRising we met Gail from Utah who would not be here today without the support Medicaid provided as she dealt with breast cancer . And through The Arc we met the Keaton family of West Virginia and their 18-month-old son Graysen, who has DiGeorge Syndrome.
We know that Medicaid helps provide services so that people with disabilities can be sisters, and brothers, daughters and sons, friends, peers, and classmates -- not patients. And yesterday, Sherry Glied from HHS wrote about a landmark new study that outlines the tremendous benefits that come from having Medicaid coverage. That’s why President Obama has proposed a package of reforms that save money and strengthen this critical program without shifting the cost of care to our seniors or people with disabilities.
Medicaid can be more efficient and the President’s plan helps streamline the program to save money and provide better care. But the President’s plan stands in sharp contrast to the Republican plan that transforms Medicaid into a dramatically underfunded block grant. Under the Republican plan, states would get one-third less for Medicaid by 2021, potentially leaving 15 million people without coverage, including seniors in nursing homes, people with disabilities, children and pregnant women.
The families my colleagues met with traveled many miles to share their stories with us and as the discussion about our fiscal future continues, we will be doing all we can to fight for them and the millions of Americans who depend on Medicaid each and every day.
Jon Carson is Deputy Assistant to President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement
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