Our Top Stories
July 08, 2011
03:58 PM EDT
Watch the video about the First Lady's Trip to Africa here.
As we set out for Africa we knew we were in for a remarkable journey. We knew we would visit historical and sacred sites, and meet with inspirational leaders. And while these events were truly extraordinary, the moments that defined the trip were those we shared with young people who are shaping their countries in Africa, and organizations that are working to strengthen communities. I want to highlight some of the amazing organizations we visited, and share some of the stories behind the events you saw unfold.
Kori SchulmanJuly 08, 2011
02:46 PM EDT
"What matters most to Americans, and what matters most to me as President, in the wake of the worst downturn in our lifetimes, is getting our economy on a sounder footing more broadly so the American people can have the security they deserve," President Obama said this morning in remarks on the latest jobs numbers.
Austan GoolsbeeJuly 08, 2011
09:45 AM EDT
Today’s employment report shows that private sector payrolls increased by 57,000 in June and the unemployment rate ticked up to 9.2 percent. While the private sector has added 2.2 million jobs over the past 16 months, this month’s report reflects the recent slowdown of economic growth due to headwinds faced in the first half of this year.
The unemployment rate remains unacceptably high and faster growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the downturn. Today’s report underscores the need for bipartisan action to help the private sector and the economy grow – such as measures to extend the payroll tax cut, pass the pending free trade agreements, and create an infrastructure bank to help put Americans back to work. It also underscores the need for a balanced approach to deficit reduction that instills confidence and allows us to live within our means without shortchanging future growth.
Overall payroll employment rose by just 18,000 in June. Sectors with employment increases included leisure and hospitality (+34,000), health care (+13,500), and manufacturing (+6,000). Sectors with employment declines included government (-39,000), financial activities (-15,000), and construction (-9,000). Manufacturing has added 251,000 jobs since the beginning of 2010, the best period of manufacturing job growth in over a decade. Meanwhile, local governments lost 18,000 jobs in June and have shed 355,000 jobs since the start of 2010.
The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and employment estimates are subject to substantial revision. Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.
Austan Goolsbee is Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers
Kori SchulmanJuly 07, 2011
05:45 PM EDT
Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. This week, President Obama celebrated Independence day with military families on the South Lawn, hosted a Twitter Town Hall on the economy and jobs and continued to work with leaders from both houses of Congress to find a balanced approach to reducing our long-term deficit. That's July 1st to July 7th or "Ready to Tweet!"
Monday, July 4th:
Tuesday, July 5th:
Wednesday, July 6th:
- Full Footage: The President sends his first live tweet, and participates in the first ever Twitter Town Hall
- Check out each question, with jump-links to the President's video response
Thursday, July 7th:
Thanks for tuning in to watch your West Wing Week.
Nikki SuttonJuly 07, 2011
05:16 PM EDT
Today, President Obama held a meeting with Congressional leaders to discuss the ongoing efforts to find a balanced approach to reduce our deficit. Following the meeting, the President stopped by the press briefing to give a statement on the negotiations:
I just completed a meeting with all the congressional leaders from both chambers, from both parties, and I have to say that I thought it was a very constructive meeting. People were frank. We discussed the various options available to us. Everybody reconfirmed the importance of completing our work and raising the debt limit ceiling so that the full faith and credit of the United States of America is not impaired.
What we decided was that staffs, as well as leadership, will be working during the weekend, and that I will reconvene congressional leaders here on Sunday with the expectation that, at that point, the parties will at least know where each other’s bottom lines are and will hopefully be in a position to then start engaging in the hard bargaining that’s necessary to get a deal done.
Ken SalazarJuly 07, 2011
05:11 PM EDT
President Obama has challenged his Administration to make government work better for the American people, and to find ways to do more with less. Here at the Department of the Interior, we are proud to play a lead role in helping meet the President’s charge.
Today, we are announcing our strategic plan as part of the largest information technology (IT) reform in the federal government. Through this plan, we are making smart changes to IT services across the Department that will make our IT more cost-effective and customer-friendly while saving taxpayers half a billion dollars over the next decade.
Some of the common-sense reforms we are undertaking include:
- Reducing the number of data centers and servers within the Department by up to 50 percent
- Moving to a single email system at half the current cost
- Moving to the cloud, with a cloud-based electronic forms system and cloud-based electronic records, documents and content management solutions.
July 07, 2011
04:48 PM EDT
There’s a new study out today that confirms just how important health insurance and the Medicaid program really are. The study is already making waves with Ezra Klein calling it, “the most important health-care policy experiment since the 1970s.” Here’s how it worked:
In 2008, Oregon expanded Medicaid eligibility to a group of low-income, uninsured adults. But at that time, more people were eligible for Oregon’s Medicaid program than the state could afford, so they set up a lottery to determine who would receive coverage.
The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment looked at what happened to the people who won the lottery and received coverage through Medicaid compared to those who did not. And the results are even more positive than we anticipated. The study found that:
- Providing these Americans with health insurance led to a significant increase in the use of critical preventive services. For example, women with coverage were 60% more likely to get mammograms and 20% more likely to have their cholesterol monitored.
- Those with insurance were 70% more likely to regularly visit their primary care doctor.
- People who gained coverage saw sizable improvements in their health and well-being.
Those with insurance saw greater financial security and savings for providers. According to the report, “Insurance decreased the probability of having an unpaid medical bill sent to a collection agency by 25% -- which also benefits health care providers since the vast majority of such debts are never paid.”
In addition to the positive effects of insurance for those covered, the study also found good news for States that expand Medicaid coverage. Researchers found that:
- The costs of a Medicaid expansion, in terms of increased health expenditures, are considerably smaller than prior research has suggested.
- Improving access to public insurance for uninsured people did not lead to subsequent reductions in private insurance coverage.
Today, our country is having an important debate about the future of Medicaid. President Obama has proposed a framework that will strengthen Medicaid, make it more efficient and continue to provide services and support to the millions of children, families, seniors and pregnant women who depend on Medicaid every day.
In contrast, Republicans have offered a plan to turn Medicaid into a dangerously underfunded block grant. Under their plan, states would get one-third less for Medicaid by 2021. 15 million people could be left without coverage.
We know – and today’s study confirms – that Medicaid is making a difference in the lives of millions of Americans and the President will continue to fight to strengthen Medicaid.
Sherry Glied is HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
July 07, 2011
04:42 PM EDT
The President recently launched the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, a national effort bringing together industry, universities, and the federal government to invest in the emerging technologies that will create high quality manufacturing jobs and enhance our global competitiveness.
California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom reflects on an event in Sacramento that focused on the advanced manufacturing industry:
Following the jobs-focused leadership of President Obama and his Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, I recently hosted a statewide summit in Sacramento with the California Manufacturers and Technology Association. Themed “Everything Grows with Manufacturing” and engaging 200 of our state’s best and brightest business and policy leaders, we discussed California’s past, present and future role in advanced manufacturing and the President’s call to increase our global competitiveness.
California has always been a place of dreamers and doers, where the future is literally invented. We’ve led the world in innovation, cutting-edge discoveries, research and development and technology – but we have to do better in the area of manufacturing. California manufacturing has fallen from 28 percent of our GDP to nearly 11 percent. But it’s not all bad news. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, “since 2003, California manufacturing exports rose 60 percent faster than the state’s overall economy.” Manufacturing is the key to exports and exports are critical to California and the country.
Jeffrey ZientsJuly 07, 2011
01:33 PM EDT
With more than one out of every six dollars of Federal government spending going to contractors, increasing accountability and saving money in contracting is critical to creating a Federal government that is efficient and effective. Last month, President Obama and Vice President Biden launched the Campaign to Cut Waste and issued a new Executive Order on Delivering an Efficient, Effective, and Accountable Government to hunt down misspent tax dollars across the Administration.
As part of the Campaign to Cut Waste, today, we are announcing that all agencies must cut spending for management support service contracts by 15 percent. Instead of paying $40 billion for these services, as agencies did in FY 2010, they will reduce spending to $34 billion a year by the end of FY 2012 – a reduction of $6 billion.
Victoria EspinelJuly 07, 2011
12:15 PM EDT
The Administration is committed to reducing infringement of American intellectual property as part of our ongoing commitment to support jobs, increase exports and maintain our global competitiveness.
The joining of Internet service providers and entertainment companies in a cooperative effort to combat online infringement can further this goal and we commend them for reaching this agreement. We believe it will have a significant impact on reducing online piracy.
Katelyn SabochikJuly 07, 2011
10:38 AM EDT
The President answered a series of questions on jobs and the economy at the first-ever Twitter Town Hall at the White House. Check out the full video of the event below, or just the jump links to skip to the questions.
Katelyn SabochikJuly 06, 2011
05:10 PM EDT
Today, President Obama participated in the first ever Twitter Town Hall at the White House, answering questions from Americans across the country submitted on Twitter using the #AskObama hashtag.
The President kicked off the event with a tweet asking the American public for their ideas on reducing the deficit.
July 06, 2011
01:04 PM EDT
I commend the decision of our Commander-in-Chief, President Obama, reversing the long-standing policy of not sending condolence letters to the families of service members who commit suicide while deployed to a combat zone. The greatest regret of my military career was as Commanding General of the 1st Cavalry Division in Iraq in 2004-05. I lost 169 Soldiers during that year-long deployment. However, the monument we erected at Fort Hood, Texas in memoriam lists 168 names. I approved the request of others not to include the name of the one Soldier who committed suicide. I deeply regret my decision.
The brave individuals who wear the cloth of this great Nation in combat deserve our deepest gratitude. It is remarkable all they have accomplished. I am incredibly proud of them and of their families. That said, they are tired. The persistent high operational tempo of this war, the terrible things some have seen or experienced in combat, have undoubtedly taken a toll on them. Many are struggling with the ‘invisible wounds’ of this war, including traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety. Any attempt to characterize these individuals as somehow weaker than others is simply misguided.
July 06, 2011
11:42 AM EDT
On the 4th of July, I joined a wide array of leaders ranging from the Department of Homeland Security’s Chief of Staff of the Office of General Counsel to the 2010 Miss America in welcoming and congratulating our nation’s newest citizens during a naturalization ceremony at the historic George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens on our nation’s 235th birthday.
This moving and meaningful ceremony is part of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ annual celebration of Independence Day. More than 24,000 candidates will become citizens at approximately 350 ceremonies held across the country from June 27 to July 4.
Erin LindsayJuly 05, 2011
07:06 PM EDT
Watch the President's full remarks here.
Today, President Obama delivered remarks to discuss the status of efforts to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction. The President stated that progress has been made, and though we still need to work through some real differences, that even greater progress is within reach.
However, he also stressed that we can’t afford to do the bare minimum to avoid defaulting on our debt in the short-term, and we must seize the opportunity to make substantial progress reducing the deficit:
Now, I’ve heard reports that there may be some in Congress who want to do just enough to make sure that America avoids defaulting on our debt in the short term, but then wants to kick the can down the road when it comes to solving the larger problem of our deficit. I don’t share that view. I don’t think the American people sent us here to avoid tough problems. That’s, in fact, what drives them nuts about Washington, when both parties simply take the path of least resistance. And I don’t want to do that here.
I believe that right now we’ve got a unique opportunity to do something big -- to tackle our deficit in a way that forces our government to live within its means, that puts our economy on a stronger footing for the future, and still allows us to invest in that future.
Most of us already agree that to truly solve our deficit problem, we need to find trillions in savings over the next decade, and significantly more in the decades that follow. That’s what the bipartisan fiscal commission said, that’s the amount that I put forward in the framework I announced a few months ago, and that’s around the same amount that Republicans have put forward in their own plans. And that’s the kind of substantial progress that we should be aiming for here.
Secretary Tom VilsackJuly 05, 2011
11:08 AM EDT
Last week, I met with 20 business leaders from all over Colorado at a White House Business Council roundtable in Denver. It was an opportunity for me and my Colorado staff to get feedback on government programs, policies, and innovative ideas that are working to help create jobs – as well as ones that could be improved. Other Cabinet officials and top White House staffers have hosted more than 100 of these sorts of roundtables around the country. And over the coming weeks we will be holding these conversations in rural areas.
In Denver, I heard from business leaders who discussed the value of President Obama’s tax policies for businesses of all sizes, and appreciated the administrations work to better partner with the business community. We had a productive dialogue about how the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama will benefit local agricultural producers, with the potential to create hundreds of jobs in Greeley, Colorado and other towns. And we discussed how resorts might form partnerships on recreation to make better use of forests and other natural environments to help create jobs in communities throughout the Rocky Mountains.
Everyone in the room agreed that there are incredible opportunities for growth in the economy as long as we believe in the strength and determination of the American people to work hard and innovate.
July 05, 2011
09:47 AM EDT
Watch a video from the Independence Day celebration at the White House. The President and First Lady joined more than 1,200 military heroes and their families for a barbeque, a special USO show featuring Train and Amos Lee, and a viewing of the fireworks over the National Mall.
Watch the celebration, here.
Amy DudleyJuly 04, 2011
10:55 AM EDT
Watch out @whitehouse… Vice President Biden’s office is now on Twitter.
Today, the Office of the Vice President launched an official Twitter account – @VP – with a call from Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden asking all Americans to remember our troops and military families on Independence Day.
VP&Dr. B hope you take time to think about our troops & military families this Independence Day, Happy July 4th from OVP! @JoiningForces
@VP is the latest addition to the growing White House community on Twitter and comes as the White House prepares for its first ever Twitter Town Hall with President Obama this Wednesday, July 6th at 2:00 EDT.
Through @VP, Vice President Biden’s staff will keep followers up to speed on all things happening in the Office of the Vice President (OVP) – from the West Wing, to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and the Office of Dr. Jill Biden, to the Naval Observatory. @VP will be on the road with the Vice President across the country and around the world, providing updates on the latest news and announcements coming out of OVP, as well as a behind the scenes look at Veep-life.
We hope you’ll connect with the Vice President’s office today by following us @VP, as well as tune in to hear the President discuss jobs and the economy with @whitehouse followers at the White House Twitter Town Hall.
Kori SchulmanJuly 04, 2011
10:38 AM EDT
Tonight, the First Family is celebrating the Fourth of July by hosting more than 1,200 military heroes and their families for a barbeque, a USO show featuring Train and Amos Lee, and an extraordinary view of national capital fireworks from the South Lawn. You can check it all out on WhiteHouse.gov/Live, or watch from anywhere with our mobile apps.
Here's the full live stream schedule:
- 6:30 PM EDT: President Obama delivers remarks from the South Lawn
- 8:15 PM EDT: USO show featuring Grammy Award-winning band Train and celebrated singer/songwriter Amos Lee
- 9:10 PM EDT: National capital fireworks display
Erin LindsayJuly 04, 2011
09:07 AM EDT
This morning, the First Lady sent the following message to the White House email list, wishing them a Happy Independence Day and encouraging all Americans to honor our brave men and women in uniform by volunteering to give back to the military families who sacrifice so much to keep us safe.
If you didn’t get the email, be sure to sign up for the White House email list.
This Independence Day, I hope you’ll join me and my family in recognizing both our brave men and women in uniform and their families for everything they do to protect our country and our way of life.
We know that when our troops are called to serve, their families serve right along with them. For military kids, that means stepping up to help with the housework and putting on a brave face through all those missed holidays, bedtimes and ballet recitals. For military spouses, it means pulling double-duty, doing the work of both parents, often while juggling a full-time job or trying to get an education.
That’s why, a few months ago, Dr. Jill Biden and I started Joining Forces, a nationwide campaign to recognize, honor, and serve our military families. Our troops give so much to this country and they ask us for just one thing in return: to take care of their families while they’re gone. So we’ve put out a call to action. We’re urging all Americans to ask themselves one question: What can I do to give back to these families that have given so much?
To answer that question you can go to JoiningForces.gov and learn more about how you can get involved. And you can get started right now through Operation Honor Card by pledging to spend a certain number of hours serving military families in your community.
Our motto for Joining Forces is very simple: Everyone can do something. We've met folks in every corner of the country who are stepping up and helping out in their own small ways in their neighborhoods and in their communities. They’re popping over to rake the leaves, or bringing a family a home-cooked meal, or offering to babysit. And I know that if we each do whatever we can, if we all join forces, we can show military families across this country that we have them in our hearts, we have them in our prayers, and we always have their backs.
Happy Independence Day!
First Lady Michelle Obama
P.S. Today, my husband and I will welcome troops and their families from across the country to the White House for a special USO concert and a great view of the fireworks on the National Mall. You can watch the whole thing live on WhiteHouse.gov/live starting at 7 p.m. EDT.