Read all posts from October 2011

  • Zero: The amount added to the deficit by the American Jobs Act because it is paid for in full.

    Over the last few days, President Obama traveled through small towns and communities on the American Jobs Act Bus Tour, talking with folks about how the American Jobs Act will fuel economic growth, get people back to work and put more money in the pockets of those who are working without adding to our deficit.

    By rebuilding America's infrastructure, modernizing America's schools, providing tax credit incentives for hiring veterans and more, the American Jobs Act will begin creating jobs right away, if Congress answers the President's call to pass each piece of the bill. That is why we're featuring numbers that highlight how sections of the bill will impact you. Today's number is zero -- the amount added to the deficit by the American Jobs Act, because it is paid for in full.

    As the President has said, we can invest in our long term prosperity without adding to the deficit:

    I laid out a plan to pay for the American Jobs Act, and then some -- a plan that not only pays for the bill to put folks back to work to raise our growth rate, but to also pay down more of our debt over time.  It builds on the $1 trillion in spending cuts that I already signed this summer, making it one of the biggest spending cuts in history.

    So, look, I believe we’ve got to make cuts in programs that don’t work and things that aren’t helping the economy grow so we can pay for the things that are.  Right?  We all believe that a government needs to live within its means.  We all agree with that.  But we also believe that how you bring down the deficit is important.  If we want to actually close the deficit -- not just talk about closing the deficit, not just using it for a campaign slogan, not just playing politics -- if we want to actually close the deficit, then you’ve got to combine the tough cuts with a strategy to ask the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations to do their part, to pay their fair share.

  • citizens medal ceremony

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Oct. 20, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Today, President Obama recognized the 13 recipients of the Presidential Citizens Medal, one of the highest honors a civilian can receive. The award is given to Americans who have "performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens." At a ceremony in the East Room, the President praised the honorees' commitment to service:

    The 13 Americans that we honor today have all faced that … moment when you see a neighbor in need and you have to ask yourself the question. They come from different backgrounds and they’ve devoted their lives to different causes, but they are united by the choice that they’ve made. They could have made excuses for doing nothing. Instead, they chose to help.

    This year’s winners truly included Americans from all walks of life. John Keaveney, a Scottish immigrant, served two tours in Vietnam before coming back to establish a home for homeless and disabled veterans with addiction and mental health problems. Janice Langbehn of Lacey, Washington went to court to fight for hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples after being denied the chance to say goodbye as her partner of 18 years lay dying in a hospital.

    Dr. Michelle Martin, a Los Angeles resident, founded an organization that connects kids in underserved communities with instruments and music lessons after watching gang members stop to watch a young boy play his violin at the farmer’s market. Roberto Perez is an ordained Methodist pastor who counsels inmates and is president of a nonprofit organization that has taught more than 7 million people to read worldwide.

    The 13 people chosen to receive this year’s medal were nominated by the public, and then carefully selected by the White House. Click here to learn more about the recipients and to watch a video showing their reactions to the news they’d been chosen. President Obama explained that the nomination process was not an easy one:

    I’m happy to say that there was a pretty stiff competition for these medals. Citizens … submitted nearly 6,000 nominations online, and it took us four months to select the winners.  In the end, these 13 individuals were chosen not just for the work they do, but for the example that they set.

    The honorees, their families, and the people who nominated them attended the ceremony this afternoon, followed by a reception in the State Dining Room.

  • Watch President Obama's full remarks here

    For 42 years, Muammar el-Qaddafi ruled Libya, but today, he died a fugitive -- chased from power by his own people.

    Just after 2:00, President Obama delivered remarks from the Rose Garden:

    [This] is a momentous day in the history of Libya. The dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted. And with this enormous promise, the Libyan people now have a great responsibility -- to build an inclusive and tolerant and democratic Libya that stands as the ultimate rebuke to Qaddafi’s dictatorship. We look forward to the announcement of the country’s liberation, the quick formation of an interim government, and a stable transition to Libya’s first free and fair elections.

    Read the full text here.

  • President Obama is back at the White House after the three-day American Jobs Act Bus Tour where he traveled through North Carolina and Virginia. Over the past few days he had the opportunity to hear from folks in Asheville, North Carolina, sit down with teachers in Jamestown, North Carolina, and meet with veterans in Hampton, Virginia.

    He also made a few unannounced stops to grab lunch at Countryside Barbeque and picked out a few pumpkins at Wood’s Orchards Farm Market. Whether he was talking to folks in Millers Creek, North Carolina or Emporia, Virginia he heard the same message at each stop along the way: Leaders in Washington need to work together and pass this bill, piece by piece, to put folks back to work and get the economy moving at a faster pace.

    It’s time for Congress to meet their responsibility, put their party politics aside and take action on jobs right now.

    Take a quick look at the front pages over the last few days:

    The Asheville Citizen-Times
     

    2011 AJA Asheville Citizen-Times

  • If you visit Facebook today, or Twitter, or Tumblr, there's a good chance you'll be seeing purple.

    October 20th is Spirit Day -- a celebration begun one year ago by a teenager named Brittany McMillan to honor the memory of young people who have taken their lives after being bullied.

    It has become a day when people all over the world wear purple to show support for LGBT people and speak out against the bullying of LGBT teens.

    In 2010, millions participated.

    This year, the White House is going purple on Facebook, as well. You can also join the celebration by making your social networking icon purple, or just adding a statetment of support.

    And October 20th is also a day to remember that it does get better.

    Watch a message from President Obama here

    Watch a message from Vice President Biden here

    Hear how it gets better from White House staff here

  • Excess Properties Map

    Over the years the federal government accumulated tens of thousands of properties that are no longer needed, wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars annually on upkeep. Last June, President Obama directed Federal agencies to end this waste and improve the management of the government’s real estate by getting unneeded properties off our books – setting an initial goal of netting $3 billion in savings by the end of 2012. Since then, agencies across the government have been hard at work scrutinizing their real estate holdings and identifying properties that have outlived their utility.

    Today, I’m pleased to report that these efforts are paying off. Agencies have already identified real estate savings opportunities that exceed the President’s goal, and that put the federal government on pace to shed $3.5 billion in real estate costs by the end of 2012. To help track the Administration’s progress with these efforts – and to give the American people an unprecedented window into the government’s management of federal real estate – today we’re launching two new online tools.

    The first is an updated White House Excess Property map that uses new data to pinpoint the location and status of federal properties that agencies have targeted for closure or consolidation. Ranging from small sheds in rural locations to sprawling warehouses and office complexes in urban and suburban areas, the map shows some 12,000 properties scattered all across the country. We’re also rolling out a new dashboard on Performance.gov that allows the American people to track the Administration’s progress in meeting the President’s $3 billion goal. The dashboard now shows that agencies plan to surpass the President’s goal by the end of 2012 and have already achieved $1.5 billion in savings through a combination of sales, consolidations, canceled projects, and reduced maintenance and utility costs. And in the coming years, we’ll continue to target more and more unneeded properties that squander billions of dollars and make the government less efficient. 

    One such property is the U.S. General Service Administration’s (GSA) West Heating Plant, a two-acre property in the Georgetown section of Washington, DC. It’s been 10 years since this facility last played a role in the boiler and pipe network that heats many of the capital’s government buildings. In the decade since it was last in use it has racked up $3.5 million in maintenance costs. The plant was retained as a back-up for emergencies, but GSA has determined the facility is no longer needed and ready for closure so we are labeling it “excess” today. Getting this property off the books is a win-win for the American people. It will eliminate maintenance costs, ensure that this property will be put to a more productive use, and could earn the government tens of millions in revenue from potential sales proceeds. This is exactly the type of waste and inefficiency the President and Vice President pledged to root out when they launched the Campaign to Cut Waste.

    Closing these types of facilities represents important progress, but more work needs to be done in the long-term to get excess properties off our books. For too long, the sale of excess federal real estate has been slowed by a process fraught with delays and hurdles. 

    That’s why in his budget last year, the President put forward a proposal called the Civilian Property Realignment Act – legislation that would cut through red tape and politics to accelerate the disposal of unnecessary government properties well beyond 2012. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress to ensure passage of this legislation to end wasteful Federal spending on properties that we simply do not need and return billions of dollars to American taxpayers. 

    Stopping the waste of taxpayer dollars is a priority for this Administration. Particularly in these tough budgetary times, we have a responsibility to deliver the American people an efficient, effective government that makes smart use of its resources. By aggressively targeting unneeded federal real estate, that’s exactly what we are doing. 

  • First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden watch Game one of the 2011 World Series

    First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden watch Game one of the 2011 World Series between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals with Marine Lance Cpl. James Sperry and his daughter Hannah, 5, at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri, Oct. 19, 2011.(Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    This afternoon, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden headed to St. Louis, Missouri for Game One of the World Series to meet with military families and recognize Major League Baseball’s (MLB) support of those who serve and their families.

    During the game, a new Joining Forces and MLB Public Service Announcement will premiere featuring New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira and Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Johnny Damon, encouraging Americans to support Joining Forces and MLB’s Welcome Back Veterans program to stand with veterans, the troops and their families. Watch a sneak peek here

    Download Video: mp4 (31.7MB)

  • 2011 AJA Bus Tour Chesterfield

    In Chesterfield, Virginia, President Obama stopped by Fire Station 9 to talk about the challenge facing police and fire fighters across the country.

    In too many communities, local governments have made the choice to respond to tough economic times by cutting police forces and scaling back fire stations. Speaking to a crowd that included around 100 first responders, the President called the situation "dangerous":

    Now, Chesterfield has been lucky. It isn't facing layoffs right now. But a lot of these guys have seen their pay frozen. You've got cities and states like Michigan and New Jersey that have had to lay off big chunks of their forces. That means that firefighters can't always get to fires before they become major fires. And that makes their job more dangerous. It means police officers can't respond to every crime. And when giving our children the best education possible we know is the ingredient for success in this new information and technology-rich economy, how can we be laying off teachers -- when other countries are hiring teachers in droves? It's unfair to our kids. It undermines our future.

    The first piece of the American Jobs Act -- a $35 billion proposal to help keep teachers and first responders on the job-- is designed to tackle that problem and ensure that public safety isn't put at risk.

    It is currently in the Senate.

    And in Chesterfield, President Obama pressed Congress to take action right away:

    [If] they vote against these proposals, if they say no to steps we know that will put people back to work right now, they're not going to have to answer to me -- they're going to have to answer to you. They're going to have to come down here and tell folks in Virginia and all across the country why people are going to have to cope with fewer first responders; why your kids can’t have teachers back in the classroom. They’re going to have to look construction workers in the eye and tell them why they’re sitting idle instead of rebuilding infrastructure that we know needs to be rebuilt.

    President Obama on the American Jobs Act at Fire Station No. 9 in Virginia

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the American Jobs Act at Fire Station No. 9 in North Chesterfield, Virginia during the American Jobs Act bus tour, Oct. 19, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Today, Senator Harry Reid, the Majority Leader, announced that the legislation could see a vote as soon as Friday.

  • Ed. Note: Cross-posted from Energy.gov

    On Energy.gov, we’ve been showcasing a series of stories about innovations from our National Laboratories that have been successfully commercialized – and how they impact Americans’ lives. During 2010 alone, our National Laboratories engaged in more than 13,500 technology transfer transactions – from licensing lab-developed technologies to using lab resources to drive industry innovation and commercial success.

    But to ensure American leadership in emerging energy technologies, we must address the financial and deployment obstacles facing renewable energy.

    On Thursday, October 20th, at 2:00 p.m. EDT, please join Richard Kauffman, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Energy, for a live discussion about the challenges and opportunities of renewable energy innovation and deployment.

    Kauffman recently joined the Energy Department from the private sector, where he served as the Chief Executive Officer of Good Energies, a global investor in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Regarded as one of the country’s leading experts on private sector investment in clean energy, Kauffman is looking forward to working with the business community to break down financial obstacles that stand in the way of deploying clean technologies.

    You can submit your questionsand ideas about renewable innovation and deployment to Richard Kauffman in advance of the event through email, Twitter or Facebook, by:
        •     Sending an email to newmedia@hq.doe.gov;
        •     Tweeting your question to @energy with the hashtag #energymatters; or
        •     Leaving a question for Kauffman at Facebook.com/energygov.

    You’ll also be able to send him questions live during the event using the above methods or by visiting Energy.gov.

    The United States can transform our energy future, but we must address market obstacles facing new technologies. We hope to see you online on Energy.gov this Thursday at 2:00 p.m. EDT to discuss what can be done.

  • President Barack Signs "Skrappy" the Robot

    President Barack Obama signs "Skrappy" the robot during a tour of the computer lab and robotics workshop at Bluestone High School in Skipwith, Va., Oct. 18, 2011. The Bluestone Robotics team was founded in 2004 and built their first robot with a basic kit of parts and scraps from area businesses. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Tracy Ellis teaches robotics and computer classes at Bluestone High School in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, one of the stops on President Obama's American Jobs Act Bus Tour this week. Ellis supports President Obama’s jobs plan because the investments in school infrastructure and modernization will help his students access the tools they need to train for 21st century jobs.

    Ellis said that computers play an important role in our society. Everyone has one, but no one is willing to open them up and fix them if something goes wrong, he said. He teaches his students to repair computers and address many of the problems computer users encounter, which he says is a valuable skill that gives them practical experience for future careers. His more advanced classes are even responsible for providing technical support for the school’s computers.

    Ellis also teaches an afterschool robotics program that attracts 25 to 30 students each school year. He said the robotics program is a great way to get students involved in science and engineering who might not otherwise be interested, especially female students. Six other teachers as well as engineers from the community help students build a robot each spring, which they enter in competitions with other schools. President Obama met the team’s robot, Skrappy, when he visited Bluestone yesterday.

  • Yesterday, the Vice President traveled to Philadelphia to participate in a roundtable about the American Jobs Act with Chiefs of Police from the region.  

    Alongside Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske, and more than 10 local police chiefs, the Vice President underscored how the piece of the American Jobs Act the Senate is considering this week would put thousands of cops back on the job. 

    “I call on the members of Congress to step up this week.  Step up and make a choice.  Make a choice.  Make a choice for the people in your district.  Should they have more teachers back in school?  Should they have more police on the beat?  Should they have firefighters in the firehouse?  Or should you save a millionaire from a $500 tax? Ladies and gentlemen, it's that basic and that simple.”  

    The Chiefs told the Vice President about the devastating impact budget cuts have had on their communities. Chief Scott Thomson of Camden, NJ, had to lay off 168 officers – nearly half of his force – in January of this year. In the wake of those layoffs, Camden has seen a 14 increase in violent crime, and homicide has risen 30 percent. 

    The story echoed what the Vice President heard last week in Flint, Michigan – a city that has also seen an uptick in crime and a significant increase in police response times after cutting their police force in half since 2008.  Today, we released a video that shows what Flint’s first responders say the impact of the American Jobs Act would be:

     

  • 2011 AJA Bus Tour Hampton

    This morning, President Obama visited Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia to talk about what he calls an "American responsibility" -- honoring and supporting our nation's veterans.

    He was introduced by the First Lady, Michelle Obama, who joined the American Jobs Act Bus Tour to make an announcement as part of the Joining Forces initiative. Mrs. Obama told the soldiers, airmen, and military spouses gathered at Langley-Eustis that too often potential employers fail to recognize the skills and talents that veterans and military families can bring to a job -- but, she said, this is a trend that can change:

    [Today], I am proud to announce that the American Logistics Association has said they’re going to step up and do something about that. So today they’re committing to hiring 25,000 veterans and military spouses in the next two years. They do not want to miss out on your potential. They want America’s businesses to have the best, most talented, most hardworking employees around. Now, this announcement is a huge deal -- which is why the President is here...This commitment includes 270 companies of all shapes and sizes, which makes this the largest coordinated effort by the private sector to hire veterans that we’ve seen in years. And this commitment puts us a quarter of the way toward reaching the President’s challenge to the private sector to hire or train 100,000 vets and military spouses by the end of 2013.

    The President discussed an another initiative to get those who served in our nation's Armed Forces into the civilian workforce -- a series of tax credits for employers who hire veterans that's part of the American Jobs Act. He told the crowd that he was going to push Congress to vote on the proposal:

    And one of the votes I’m going to urge members of Congress to take is on whether or not they think it’s a good idea to give companies an incentive to hire the men and women who have risked their lives for our country. And I’m hopeful we can get both parties on board for this idea. When I first proposed this idea in a joint session of Congress, people stood up and applauded on both sides of the aisle. So when it comes for a vote in the Senate, I expect to get votes from both sides of the aisle. Don’t just applaud about it, vote for it. Vote for it.

    "Standing up for our veterans," President Obama said, "is not a Democratic responsibility or a Republican responsibility. It is an American responsibility."
     


     

     

  • Outside the 94th Operations Hangar at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, First Lady Michelle Obama announced a major private sector commitment to veteran and military spouse employment. The commitment comes from the American Logistics Association (ALA) and their 270 affiliate companies coming together to hire 25,000 veterans and spouses by the end of 2013.  

    The commitment by the ALA and its affiliate companies reflect the largest coordinated effort by the private sector to date to hire veterans and military spouses. The effort speaks to the capacity of the private sector to positively influence veteran and spouse employment.  

    President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet people at Joint Base Langley-Eustis

    President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet people along the ropeline at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton, Virginia during the American Jobs Act bus tour, Oct. 19, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    On August 5 during a Veterans Jobs Initiatives speech at the Washington Navy Yard, President Obama challenged the private sector to hire 100,000 veterans or spouses by the end of 2013. President Obama asked the First Lady and Dr. Biden to lead this effort as part of their Joining Forces initiative.  

    To date, more than twenty-five individual companies have stepped up and committed to veteran hiring or training targets and ninety-six companies formed a public private partnership with the Department of Defense to hire military spouses. This collective effort has resulted in more than 12,000 veterans and spouses hired. 

    Today’s announcement takes the private sector commitment to an entirely new level. 

    As a country, we recognize that veterans have completed complex missions, all with high stakes on the line and enough variables to make most people’s head spin. Our veterans are trained in state of the art technologies, they’ve managed dozens, even hundreds, of people, and their leadership skills directly translate into value-added to any business. 

    We also know that military spouses bring skills from all walks of life. Our military spouses are managers, accountants, doctors, nurses and lawyers; they are strong and resilient parents who are at home in a pace and lifestyle that would be unthinkable to many in this country.  So, when businesses ask what they can do, our answer is simple: hire a veteran or military spouse; or hire 3, or 30, or 300 or 3,000 – whatever the capacity of your company would allow. 

    The Joining Forces team is working every day to energize the nation’s support for its military families and we are asking folks to step-up and do what they do best. This new commitment makes it clear that business owners recognize the value in our nation’s veterans and military spouses and are looking to add their exceptional talent to their ranks.

  • For more than 40 years, the Presidential Citizens Medal has honored Americans who have "performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens." Past recipients have included some of America's most respected public figures as well as everyday heroes committed to helping their fellow citizens.

    This year, President Obama asked the public to submit nominees, hoping to recognize exemplary citizens and local heroes who have significantly impacted their communities but who may not have garnered national attention. Watch the video below to find out how the outstanding Americans President Obama selected to recieve the this year's medals responded to the news they'd been chosen, and tune in tomorrow at 1:45 p.m. EDT to watch the award ceremony on WhiteHouse.gov/Live

  • $5,600: The tax credit for businesses that hire veterans who have been unemployed six months or longer

    This morning, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia as part of the American Jobs Act Bus Tour to discuss how the American Jobs Act will create jobs and put people back to work, including America's veterans.

    While the President is on the road, we're pulling out numbers that show how the American Jobs Act will make an immediate impact in communities across the country.  Numbers like $5,600, the tax credit for businesses that hire veterans who have been unemployed for six months or longer.

    Providing a tax credit incentive for businesses to employee veterans will help encourage hiring and make it easier for America's heroes to find jobs when they return home. And the tax credit rises to $9,600 for hiring veterans who also have service-connected disabilities.

    As President Obama said when he first introduced the American Jobs Act to a joint session of Congress, "We ask these men and women to leave their careers, leave their families, risk their lives to fight for our country. The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they come home." During the address to Congress, members on both sides of the aisle stood and applauded in support of tax credits for businesses that hire veterans. President Obama is now calling for action:

    So when it comes for a vote in the Senate, I expect to get votes from both sides of the aisle.  Don’t just applaud about it, vote for it.  Vote for it. 

  • Vice President Biden was in Flint, Michigan to talk with fire fighters and police officers about the American Jobs Act.

    Right now, local communities across the country are laying off first responders as policymakers struggle with budget cuts in the tough economy. It’s putting public safety at risk. 

    In Michigan, the Vice President said, "The President and I believe that the single-most basic obligation a government has -- it exceeds -- the single-most basic obligation is to keep its citizens safe.  It’s literally -- everything flows from that.  All our civil rights flow from being able to be safe in our streets, in our homes, our schools, our businesses.  Everything flows from it.”

    That's why the American Jobs Act calls for $5 billion for local governments to keep police and fire fighters on the job. 

    Watch the Vice President and listen to these first responders tell their stories about why these funds are so necessary.

  • President Obama Talks with Secretary Locke and John Bryson

    President Barack Obama talks with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and John Bryson in the Ground Floor Corridor of the Residence at the White House, May 31, 2011. The President nominated Bryson to replace Secretary Locke, who was nominated to serve as Ambassador to China. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    At a time when the nation is focused on jobs, we need a Commerce Secretary who knows American business - a leader who has led a company through crisis, created jobs and has a firsthand understanding of the challenges facing US companies.  And that's exactly the experience that President Obama's nominee John Bryson has. 

    Bryson spent nearly two decades as the CEO of the California-based energy company Edison International and has served on the boards of some of America's top companies, including Disney and Boeing, and now, widely-respected business and civic leaders are pressing lawmakers to confirm this imminently qualified nominee. 

    Individuals ranging from the COO of Facebook to the former Treasury Secretary John Snow to Mayors across the country support the nomination of John Bryson. 

    Check out what some of these folks have to say about John Bryson:

    Business Roundtable:  "John Bryson is a proven, well-respected executive who will bring his private sector experience to the Commerce Department’s broad portfolio."  “[The] Business Roundtable applauds President Obama’s nomination of John Bryson, a seasoned business leader, to be the next Secretary of Commerce. We fully support the President’s choice and urge swift Senate confirmation. John Bryson is a proven, well-respected executive who will bring his private sector experience to the Commerce Department’s broad portfolio that includes technology, trade, intellectual property and exports, which will be crucial to expanding the economy and creating jobs. We look forward to working with Bryson,” said Business Roundtable President John Engler. 

    National Association of Manufacturers: Bryson Has “a strong business background…which gives him the advantage of having exposure to the difficult issues manufacturers face in today’s global marketplace.”  National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons said, “Mr. Bryson has a strong business background and serves on the board of many manufacturing companies, which gives him the advantage of having exposure to the difficult issues manufacturers face in today’s global marketplace.” 

    Facebook: "John knows what it takes to promote job growth." Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said: “I applaud the President’s decision to nominate John as the next Commerce Secretary. With decades of experience in the public and private sectors, John knows what it takes to promote job growth, advance American goods and services and, most importantly, expand the markets for America’s next generation of entrepreneurs.” 

  • Emporia, VA

    This afternoon, the American Jobs Act Bus Tour made its way into Virginia. 

    Just after 3:00, President Obama arrived at Bluestone High School in Skipwith, where he received a tour of a computer lab and met Skrappy -- the robot built by students in the Bluestone Robotics Program. 

    After handing the President a pair of safety glasses, the high school students demonstrated Scrappy's capabilities. 

    From there, the President was off  to Emporia, where he visited Greensville County High School. 

    Over the past three years, the high school has cut six teaching positions due to budget cuts. In the year ahead, school officials might need to layoff more teachers if they can't secure additional funding. 

    Under the American Jobs Act, Greensville County Public Schools -- including the high school -- would be eligible for $1.6 million in federal money for retaining educators. 

  • On Thursday, October 20th at 5:30pm ET, the White House will host a special "Open for Questions" conversation moderated by The Root to discuss the recently released Pathways to Opportunity Report and the American Jobs Act.

    President Obama has called for our Nation to "out innovate, out educate, and out build the rest of the world." To answer this call, we must ensure that all Americans have the foundation and opportunities they need to build a strong economic life.  In recent years, too many American families have lost economic ground.  The recession of the late 2000's has left many middle class families facing unemployment and economic hardship, and many more were struggling long before the recession began, and are falling even farther behind today.  The statistics are especially stark for minority communities: over 30 percent of Hispanic, African American, American Indian and Alaska Native children today live in poverty.

    Since taking office, President Obama has focused on dramatically expanding access to opportunity for all Americans in his commitment to ensure all Americans have the tools to weather these difficult economic times and a clear pathway to economic stability and security.  Central to this commitment moving forward is the American Jobs Act, a key part of President Obama's plan to spur economic growth and put Americans back to work.

    Do you have questions?  Submit them now and tune in to watch The Root's Cynthia Gordy pose them to Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and Domestic Policy Director Melody Barnes on Thursday.

    Right now, submit your questions to The Root for selection:

    Thursday, October 20th at 5:30pm ET, we hope you'll watch and engage live:

    • Watch live on WhiteHouse.gov/live or The Root
    • Pose a question to Valerie Jarrett or Meloday Barnes on Twitter with the hashtag #TheRootWH

  • Linda Phillips is a teacher at Ragsdale High School in Jamestown, North Carolina. She teaches a special support course called Academic Edge that helps ninth graders who read and write below grade level catch up to their peers. Without funding like the American Jobs Act could provide, Phillips’s class may be discontinued and leave these students to fall further and further behind.

    Phillips said that her school relies on state funding as well as private grants to support special classes and programs like Academic Edge. State funding has dried up, and if the grant that funds her class isn’t renewed, it will likely be cancelled. Ending the class will set students up for failure, Phillips said. Without this extra help, these students will be poorly equipped to succeed as they continue high school.

    Ending programs like Phillips’s class also means cutting the teaching jobs that go with them, leaving teachers out of a job. In fact, nearly 300,000 educator jobs have been lost since 2008 due to state and local budget cuts. Phillips introduced President Obama at an event today in Jamestown where he explained how the American Jobs Act will help put teachers back to work. His plan includes funding to support nearly 400,000 education jobs—enough for states to avoid more harmful layoffs and rehire tens of thousands of teachers who lost their jobs over the past three years. These teachers are sorely needed to give students the time and attention they need to be successful.

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