Our Top Stories
Kori SchulmanOctober 13, 2011
08:08 AM EDT
This morning, the President and the First Lady will welcome President Lee Myung-bak and First Lady Kim Yoon-ok of the Republic of Korea to the White House for a State Visit. The Visit begins with an arrival ceremony on the South Lawn, a tradition that started during the Kennedy Administration to formally welcome a visiting head of state.
Today’s arrival ceremony for the Republic of Korea -- one of the most wired nations in the world -- marks the largest White House Tweetup to date. Korean and American citizens are active users of social media and both the Blue House, the Republic of Korea’s Presidential office and residence, and the White House utilize social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, to engage with citizens.
Hundreds of White House fans and followers are gathering on the South Lawn now to attend the ceremony. Tweetup attendees, or Tweeple, are sharing their experience through their own networks using the hashtags #WHTweetup and #AtTheWH. You can follow the event on Twitter, watch the State Arrival live at 9:00 a.m. EDT on WhiteHouse.gov/live and keep up with the Tweetup on Storify which we’ll update throughout the day.
The State Arrival Tweetup marks the fifth White House Tweetup, past Tweetups have included a Twitter Town Hall with President Obama, a Town Hall with the President at University of Maryland, a Tweetup Briefing with Press Secretary Jay Carney and most recently, a Let's Move! Tweetup for the First Lady's garden harvest. Follow @WhiteHouse on Twitter and like us on Facebook for upcoming chances to attend White House Tweetups.
October 12, 2011
08:33 PM EDT
This past weekend, I traveled to Iowa to meet with local leaders about the urgent need to pass President Obama’s American Jobs Act. Just as in the other states I visited across the country this past month, the folks in Iowa said loud and clear that they are ready to see the economy flourish again and believe this Act will get us back to work.
On Saturday, I held a White House Business Council meeting with local business, community and agricultural leaders to discuss the Act and what it will do to strengthen the economy in Riverdale and Cedar Rapids, IA. I talked about how—without adding a dime to the deficit—it will provide a tax cut for over 60,000 Iowa businesses, support the jobs of 4,100 teachers and first responders and immediately provide over 5,000 construction workers a job improving highways and other critical infrastructure. In addition, a typical household in Iowa will receive a tax cut of around $1,580.
October 12, 2011
06:36 PM EDT
Small businesses in emerging industries – like clean energy – have cutting-edge ideas that are strengthening our country and changing the world. Today, we’re helping them continue to do just that in two major ways.
First, unlike larger firms, many small firms don’t have the staff or time to search for all of the federal opportunities that can help them grow and create jobs.
We’re pleased to announce that today, they’ve got a new tool with green.sba.gov, where they can find all federal opportunities in a single location.
How did this come about? For the past year, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Small Business Administration worked together to help Navy tap into the innovation that is happening throughout America’s strong and growing number of small, clean-energy businesses.
One of the first, simplest efforts was to create a single web page where all of Navy’s green and renewable energy contracts could be easily found by small businesses. Navy created that site in just a couple of months.
When it was completed, we thought, “Why don’t we do this across the entire federal government?”
So we did.
Colleen CurtisOctober 12, 2011
06:08 PM EDT
President Obama today vowed to keep fighting for the American Jobs Act, despite the Senate’s failure to pass the bill that would keep teachers in the classroom, cops on the beat, and put construction workers back on the job while providing tax cuts for middle-class families and small business owners and help our veterans share in the opportunity they defend.
The President was speaking at the White House Forum on American Latino Heritage, where he joined Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in celebrating Latino culture, and honoring the contributions that so many Latinos have made to our nation. He also spoke about the struggles facing the Latino community, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country during this time of economic crisis, and promised that his focus would remain on to restore a sense of security and fairness for all Americans:
Colleen CurtisOctober 12, 2011
05:46 PM EDT
Three of the biggest stars in America are lending their voices to Joining Forces, the initiative started by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr.Jill Biden to bring attention to the unique needs and strength of America’s military families. Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg have each created public service announcements (PSAs) that tell real stories about America's military families and call on all Americans to give back to ensure service members and military families have the support they have earned.
"The entertainment community answered the Joining Forces call and has done what they do best -- bring to life stories that move us," said Mrs. Obama. "Through this PSA campaign, Americans will learn more about the unique challenges and needs of our military families, see their strength, resilience and service, and find out how they can give back to these extraordinary troops and families who have given us so much."
The project was conceived by Academy Award-winning producer Bruce Cohen, who leads the Inter-Guild Joining Forces Task Force, an entertainment industry coalition that provides creative and production support for Joining Forces. Each of the PSAs tells the story of a military family as they endure the hardship of a deployment overseas. The PSAs will be airing on A + E, CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, and WB networks.
Dr Biden, whose son served in Iraq, said, "As a military mom, I know just how much it means when people reach out to show their support for our service members and their families. The first lady and I hope that this campaign will inspire more Americans to take action and reach out to military families in their own communities around the country."
October 12, 2011
03:37 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Cross posted from the Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transitional Policy blog.
Since World War II, British and American Service personnel have operated side-by-side in conflicts around the world, never letting station, rank, or color of uniform get in the way of looking out for one another. Today, our two governments are honoring that commitment by moving forward with our own commitment to improve the way we share lessons learned for the care and treatment of wounded warriors, transitioning service members, and their families.
Dan PfeifferOctober 12, 2011
12:30 PM EDT
Last night, Republicans blocked the American Jobs Act. That’s right -- not a single member of the Republican Party voted for a bill that independent economists estimate would put up to 1.9 million Americans back to work next year.
They blocked a piece of legislation filled with ideas that they have supported in the past that would keep teachers in the classroom, police officers on the beat, and put construction workers back on the job rebuilding our roads and bridges. The next step now is for Congress to take up each individual piece of the American Jobs Act. Will they oppose each of these common-sense measures that will get the American people back to work and put money in the pockets of middle class families?
Take a look at the front page of the Cincinnati Enquirer. With so many Americans out of work and so many families struggling, we can’t take “no” for an answer. It’s time for Congress to meet their responsibility, put their party politics aside and take action on jobs right now.
Nikki SuttonOctober 12, 2011
12:11 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Cross-posted from the Let's Move! blog.
Yesterday, something special happened. People around the world joined together towards the same goal: to set a Guinness World Record® for the most people doing jumping jacks in a 24-hour period. The challenge was to have more than 20,000 people from around the world do jumping jacks for one minute.
Joined by National Geographic Kids Magazine, First Lady Michelle Obama had the chance to launch the effort to break the record from the South Lawn of the White House:
I get to do a lot of cool things, but this is really exciting. I never thought in my entire life that I would be here today to break a Guinness World Record. Woohoo! And I’m here doing it with all of you and that makes it even more fun, because the whole country -- the world is going to see just how much fun we can have not just breaking a world record but also doing some exercise, right? Because that’s one of my big things. “Let’s Move” is about kids eating healthy and moving and staying active, so you all are ready for life and for all the challenges that you’re going to face.
And what we’re going to show people today is that moving is fun, right? You can do it just dancing around in your backyard. You can get moving if you’re walking your dog. Or you can get moving doing some jumping jacks, right? There are so many ways to keep moving.
October 12, 2011
09:28 AM EDT
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and it’s an important time to consider the role that each of us can and must play in combating this disease. Far too many of us have lost a loved one to breast cancer – or seen a neighbor or a colleague endure painful treatments or a long battle with the disease.
We know that early detection can make all the difference. And I am proud to be a part of an Administration that is working hard to ensure that affordable and accessible preventive care is a reality. Thanks to the health reform law, the Affordable Care Act, most private health plans and Medicare cover women’s preventive health care – such as mammograms and screenings for cervical cancer –with no co-pays or other out-of-pocket costs. This year to date, 3.8 million women in traditional Medicare have received a free mammogram.
Last week, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Jennifer Aniston, and I toured a state-of-the-art breast health center in Northern Virginia. We met with committed health professionals as well as with women who shared personal stories about their battles with breast cancer.
There is no question that we have a lot of work ahead of us – but I will say that we were all inspired and hopeful after the visit. Please take a minute to see some highlights of our visit, and hear first-hand from some of these inspiring women.
Forward this video to your loved ones, together we will win this fight!
Ken SalazarOctober 12, 2011
09:00 AM EDT
As a 12th generation native of the American Southwest, my roots in this country stretch back before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock or before America declared its independence. Like many other American Latinos today, I learned about my heritage firsthand through the cuentos, or stories, passed down by my parents and grandparents.
From the heroic service of my father and mother during World War II to my brother’s tireless work alongside César Chavez, the tales of my family’s past have always been a great source of identity and pride for me. It is a pride I carry with me every day, and it is a pride I will one day share with my granddaughter.
Every family has stories like these - stories that provide a deeper understanding of where we are from and what we have done to make this country what it is today. It is time that these stories, like those of my parents and brother, are shared beyond our families and reflected in our national narrative.
Colleen CurtisOctober 11, 2011
10:45 PM EDT
Tamara Washington is a single mother whose main priority in life is taking care of her 3 year old son, Amir. Washington, who lives in in Torrance, California hopes Congress passes the American Jobs Act, because there are provisions in that bill that can change people’s lives. Washington knows that from experience, because she benefitted from one of the programs that will be extended if the American Jobs Act is passed.
Washington lost her job at Hunter Douglas early in the economic crisis, and she struggled mightily to find another. “I could be homeless right now. I can never forget the experience – I was at a bad place. When you are out there trying to find jobs, you’re not sitting at home, you are out there looking and no one is hiring. My unemployment was running out, my son was an infant and I was afraid I was going to lose my home.”
Fortunately for Washington, she received a “blessing” in the form of subsidized employment in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund, which enabled her to obtain a job and support her son. “It allowed me to start back on the ladder, which I am still climbing.”
Through her TANF job, Washington learned all new skills in visual technology and sales. “I started out at a lower rate, but what I learned enabled me to get another job somewhere else and I got a lot more money. The program funded my training and gave me the experience to get the job I have now and I can take care of my son.”
Nikki SuttonOctober 11, 2011
10:00 PM EDT
Every day, President Obama reads ten letters from the public in order to stay in tune with America's issues and concerns. One recent one came from Alice Johnson of Oregon who, along with her husband, has been looking for a job for about two years. Last week, President Obama described Johnson's letter in his Weekly Address:
She writes, “I have faithfully applied for work every week…Of the hundreds of applications I have put in, I received interview requests for about 10…I too, am sick of all the fighting in Washington DC. Please tell the Republicans that people are hurting and are hungry and need help, pass the jobs bill.” Alice Johnson needs our help.
After working hard her whole life and playing by the rules, Johnson is one of the millions of Americans who have been affected by the recession through no fault of their own. "I'm an honest, loyal, dependable person who has always worked," Johnson said. She knows there are many others going through the same experience.
The American Jobs Act will help create job opportunities for people like Johnson by providing a $4,000 tax credit to employers for hiring long-term unemployed workers. The Jobs Act will also prohibit employers from discriminating against unemployed workers when hiring.
October 11, 2011
09:00 PM EDT
Jamail Larkins wants Congress to pass the American Jobs Act so he can reduce his payroll expenses and put more people to work. "The Jobs Act is critically important to small firms like mine. One of our biggest expenses is payroll, and the ability to reduce our payroll taxes will allow us to hire more people by stretching our limited capital."
Larkins, 27, is the President and CEO of Ascension Aircraft, an airplane sales and leasing company in Augusta, Georgia that he founded in 2006. This entrepreneur's love of flying began the first time he piloted a plane -- at the age of twelve. He continued taking lessons, but his decision to volunteer to wash planes at his local airport helped him establish relationships with pilots and more quickly gain confidence in his flying abilities. Eventually Larkins petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration to allow him to fly solo before his 16th birthday. Though his exemption was denied, he was undeterred and traveled to Canada, where the minimum age to fly solo was fourteen. That year, Larkins became one of the youngest American pilots to solo a powered aircraft in Canada. “I was fortunate that I discovered my calling in life at a young age. Flying a small aircraft is a very unique experience. It’s challenging, it’s exciting, always changing, and it allows you to see the world from a completely different perspective.”
Nikki SuttonOctober 11, 2011
08:02 PM EDT
Iraq veteran Joe Kidd said one of the hardest parts of coming home was finding a job. After two deployments in Iraq, the first in 2007 and again in 2009, Kidd was appointed to the emergency room at Camp Lejeune and later became the Leading Petty Officer, managing about forty people. Yet, like many veterans, Kidd found it was difficult for potential employers to understand his experience, making finding a job outside of the service a challenge.
“I had forty people underneath me and then I got out in April, you know thinking, hey some of this should transfer, but no nothing really transferred. That’s pretty much been the hardest thing, knowing that nothing transfers….employers don’t understand military jobs”
Last month when Kidd heard President Obama introduce the American Jobs Act from the First Lady's box at a joint session of Congress, he was heartened to hear that it included a call for ensuring we have a career-ready military. Both sides of Congress stood in support as President Obama spoke about our national obligation to help veterans find jobs:
Pass this jobs bill, and companies will get extra tax credits if they hire America’s veterans. 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.
The American Jobs Act includes tax credits to encourage businesses to hire unemployed veterans and that makes sense to Kidd. "Hiring a veteran is one of the most patriotic things you can do," Kidd said. And with the American Jobs Act there is an added incentive.
Businesses that hire veterans who have been unemployed six months or longer would receive a tax credit up to $5,600, and that credit rises to $9,600 for veterans who also have service-connected disabilities. That is why President Obama is urging Congress to pass the Jobs Act right away.
Colleen CurtisOctober 11, 2011
06:55 PM EDT
President Obama today attended a meeting of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, where he heard recommendations from the group on how to get the economy moving and create more jobs. The advisory council, which includes leaders from business, labor and academia, was created by the President earlier this year to provide diverse perspectives and ideas on how to create jobs and strengthen our competitiveness.
The third quarterly meeting of the Council today in Pittsburgh was focused on a report that team presented to the President that offered five major initiatives to increase employment while improving competitiveness:
- Measures to accelerate investment into job-rich projects in infrastructure and energy development
- A comprehensive drive to ignite entrepreneurship and accelerate the number and scale of young, small businesses and high-growth firms that produce an outsized share of America’s new jobs
- A national investment initiative to boost jobs-creating inward investment in the United States, both from global firms headquartered elsewhere and from multinational corporations headquartered here
- Ideas to simplify regulatory review and streamline project approvals to accelerate jobs and growth;
- Steps to ensure America has the talent in place to fill existing job openings as well as to boost future job creation.
October 11, 2011
06:45 PM EDT
Wendy Jameson, the co-founder of ColnaTec in Gilbert, Arizona says that the American Jobs Act will enable her company to "concentrate on what we do best – putting Americans and American innovation to work. Every dollar saved by the American Jobs Act is one more dollar we can spend on innovation. This changes the growth trajectory of our company, creating opportunities at every turn. In these difficult times, with most Americans worried about what tomorrow holds, who wouldn’t want that?"
Jameson and Scott Grimshaw’s “green tech” manufacturing business lives up to its founders' motto: “fear mediocrity.” Since its launch in October 2009, ColnaTec has become one of the world’s only firms that makes the electronic sensors needed to manufacture thin film solar cells and display screens used in devices such as cell phones. The holder of numerous patents, ColnaTec has received two research grants from the Department of Energy for a new self-cleaning sensor, which will not only be more accurate than existing models, but also capable of clearing off the coating that forms on them, which leads to sensor failure – a process Grimshaw has said will work like a “self-cleaning oven.”
The co-founders, who met on Twitter, say “can’t” is a word they don’t believe in. Jameson, who has 25 years experience in sales, marketing and business strategy is the CEO, and Grimshaw, the founder of two other high tech manufacturing businesses, is the chief technology officer. Their business (which is named after Jameson's sons, Colton and Nathan) is self-funded, and the owners say their aim is to develop manufacturing products that haven’t existed before – designing those products for long life and the highest accuracy and efficiency possible.
October 11, 2011
04:45 PM EDT
Jane Iredale says that the American Jobs Act "will make a significant difference to my company and our family of 160 employees. By cutting my employees' payroll taxes in half, they will be able to use the extra money for help with mortgages, rents, fuel bills and college tuitions. Happy employees are productive employees. Cutting my company's payroll taxes in half will allow me to put those gains back into the company to aid with growth. We will also be able to continue hiring because of the elimination of payroll taxes for new hires and wage increases up to $50 million."
But the payroll tax holidays are not the only provision of the President's plan to immediately put workers back on the job and put more money in the pockets of working Americans that will benefit Iredale's cosmetics company, the 100% depreciation deduction for qualifying investment will also help her bottom line. "We are currently renovating a building that will become our global headquarters. By extending the deductions for the purchasing of new equipment and machinery, we will be able to outfit the building in a timely fashion."
Nikki SuttonOctober 11, 2011
04:22 PM EDT
Last month, President Obama introduced the American Jobs Act, a plan to to put more people back to work and put more money in the pockets of working Americans, to a special joint session of Congress. Marlena Clark from Maryland watched the President's address from the First Lady's box as a guest of Dr. Jill Biden. When asked what she thought of the President's plan, Clark said, "passing the jobs bill is just common sense."
A couple years ago, Clark was working multiple minimum wage jobs, including cleaning houses, to put herself through school so she would have a chance at a brighter future. The first person in her family to go to college, she attended her local community college where she was involved in a mentoring program focused on retaining women in IT careers and had an internship at a local IT company. Now a graduate of Anne Arundel Community College (AACC), Clark is working as a full-time systems engineer at the company where she interned, supporting the sales team and customers with networking solutions.
Clark plans to continue her education and get a bachelor's degree and she knows the American Jobs Act would help her reach her goal. The Jobs Act, which will cut payroll taxes in half next year for 160 million workers, will make her goal more affordable: The typical American family will take home an additional $1,500 in 2012 if this tax cut is approved.
Clark explained why she believes it is so important to pass the American Jobs Act, "the same struggles I went through are what so many other Americans are going through...all of us are going to benefit from it. I hope they go ahead and pass this jobs bill because people need jobs now."
See how the American Jobs Act will impact others:
What do teachers think of the American Jobs Act?
Manufacturer hopes to expand and hire through the American Jobs Act.
How the American Jobs Act will help pay for education
How small business owners will be affected by the American Jobs Act
Tax savings created by the American Jobs Act
What the American Jobs Act means for high tech manufacturers
American Jobs Act creating jobs for veterans
Creating more jobs for small firms
Putting the unemployed back to work
How the American Jobs Act will impact families
October 11, 2011
12:07 PM EDT
Philip Maung, founder and CEO of Hissho Sushi, believes that Congress should pass the American Jobs Act so that small businesses like his can fast track their growth. “The American Jobs Act has provisions that will motivate small businesses owners like me to expand in an environment in which we have been forced to put some hiring decisions on hold for quite some time. Hopefully, with these incentives, small businesses will get back on track and our company, along with many other companies, can continue in our role of being the driving engine behind job growth.”
Maung arrived in this Los Angeles from Burma in 1989 with $13 in his pocket. He had a dream of making something of himself and wanted to make his family proud. In 1998, Maung and his wife started Hissho Sushi in their dining room. What began as a tiny company providing fresh sushi to supermarkets and cafes has evolved into a dynamic foodservice and distribution enterprise, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. Hissho Sushi now employs more than 200 people and trains sushi chefs, distributes sushi ingredients throughout the United States and operates more than 400 sushi bars across the country.
Colleen CurtisOctober 11, 2011
11:00 AM EDT
Sabrina Mangrum works hard as a student teacher in Maryland, and even harder at home, where she and her husband are raising six children, aged two-25. Sabrina and Dannie, who has been a corrections officer for 17 years, are hoping Congress passes the American Jobs Act, because the extra money in every paycheck will enable them to put something aside for their children’ educations.
Education is extremely important to the Mangrum family, who are in the process of adopting the three children they have been fostering through Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area. “All of my heart and mind are focused on giving them a better life,” says Sabrina Mangrum. The extra money is not about luxuries in this family, but the chance to have something left over, some money to spend taking the children to museums and to places where they can expand their worldview.
“We are teaching our children the difference between wants and needs,” she said. The payroll tax holiday that is central to President Obama’s plan to put workers back on the job and put more money in the pockets of working Americans would offer a cushion to the Mangrum family. “Now it’s all hustle and bustle to make ends meet, we would be able to more easily enjoy life with additional funds – bring home, do what’s necessary and have some left over.”