Our Top Stories
Megan SlackNovember 10, 2011
02:26 PM EDT
Today, the United States Marine Corps celebrates its 236th birthday.
The Marine Corps was established before the United States even ratified its Constitution--the Contintenal Congress established two battalions of Marines in 1775 to assist the fledging naval forces in the Revolutionary War. As the country grew, so did the Marines. Today's Marine Corps helps defend our nation on the ground, in the air, and by sea, and is known as America's Expedtionary Force in Readiness because of its ability to respond rapidly whenever the nation calls.
Today, we thank our Marines, both active and retired, for their service and contributions in protecting our country. As we approach Veterans Day, it's important we remember the contributions made by all our servicemembers in all branches of the military. We owe these veterans all the help we can give once they return to civilian life, including helping them find jobs in today's tough economic times. President Obama has challenged the private sector to hire or train 100,000 veterans, and his Administration lauched a host of initiatives this week that help connect veterans with jobs and career support. Just today, Congress passed the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior tax credits, two pieces of the American Jobs Act that provide tax credits to businesses that hire veterans.
We can't wait to help our veterans, because no veteran who fought for our nation should have to fight for a job when they come home.
Matt ComptonNovember 10, 2011
02:03 PM EDT
Today, First Lady Michelle Obama was at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to talk about what private companies are doing to help military families.
She announced that a range of businesses now plan to hire 100,000 veterans and military spouses by 2014. She said that the Veterans Jobs Bank -- launched on Monday -- now hosts more than 550,000 job postings from military-friendly employers.
She told the crowd at the Chamber:
This commitment of 100,000 jobs isn’t about making headlines. These wonderful programs don’t just provide a good opportunity for a press conference. All of these efforts are about upholding our sacred duty to our veterans and their families.
Since Joining Forces got off the ground, 16,000 veterans and spouses have already found new positions.
Later today, the Senate is expected to vote on and approve a provision of the American Jobs Act -- which will offer business a $9,600 tax credit for hiring disabled veterans and create additional tax credits for employers who hire veterans who have spent four weeks or more out of work.
November 10, 2011
12:19 PM EDT
This Friday, as on Veterans Days past, we stand with the men and women who have served this nation in uniform and commemorate their achievements. As preparations are made for a week of USDA events and celebrations, I am reminded of the everyday courage and strength these men and women display, and without whom our great country would not be what it is today. While we can never fully repay our debt of gratitude to the service members who have been wounded and died while protecting our country, we should take time to recognize the more than 20 million living American veterans and offer special thanks to them for all they’ve done for us throughout the years.
About 6.1 million American veterans live in rural communities, making it the most highly concentrated population in the country. At USDA, we have worked with the rest of the Obama Administration to tackle a host of challenges facing our nation’s rural veterans. I described some of this work in my weekly column recently. And we have made a point to hire more veterans to work at USDA in accordance with President Obama’s 2009 executive order on veteran employment. This year, nearly one quarter of our permanent hires have been veterans, bringing our number of USDA employed veterans to over 10,000. I want – especially this week – to thank them and acknowledge their continued service to country.
Earlier this week President Obama announced the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior Tax Credits, two provisions in the American Jobs Act that Congress is scheduled to consider soon and will encourage businesses to hire unemployed veterans. Also, the President announced three executive actions that will help veterans find jobs. This announcement is part of a series of executive actions to put Americans back to work and strengthen the economy.
Here at USDA, we’re celebrating Veterans Day with a number of activities including a fee waiver day for many day-use recreation sites at National Forests, a ceremony honoring military veterans, and a talk by legendary Tuskegee Airman, Dr. Ivan Ware. A more complete list of activities and descriptions can be found by visiting the USDA website.
I hope you’ll join me this Friday in honoring our nation’s heroes and enjoying the freedoms they’ve fought so hard to preserve.
Kori SchulmanNovember 10, 2011
10:55 AM EDT
This week, the Obama Administration announced new initiatives that will provide new resources for veterans to translate military experience to the private sector job market, give veterans additional career development support, and better identify companies looking to hire veterans. This afternoon, Congress is expected to vote on two provisions in the American Jobs Act: the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior Tax Credits.
Today, Matt Flavin, Director of Veterans and Wounded Warrior Policy, is holding a session of Office Hours on Twitter to answer your questions about the . At 5:00 p.m. EST, Matt will be on the @WHLive account to answer questions and getting veterans back to work.
Here’s how White House Office Hours work:
- Ask your questions now and during the live event on Twitter with the hashtag #WHChat
- Follow the Q&A through the @WHLive Twitter account
- If you miss the live session, the full session will be posted on WhiteHouse.gov and Storify.com/WhiteHouse
So, stop by for Office Hours at 5:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday, November 10th with Matt Flavin. Be sure to follow @WhiteHouse on twitter for the latest news and more opportunities to engage.
November 10, 2011
08:00 AM EDT
On Veterans Day, we recognize the service and sacrifice of our nation’s veterans, including many of our colleagues at the Department of Homeland Security. Every day, these men and women bring their skills, talents and experience to our many mission areas in order to keep our nation safe.
Because veterans play such an important role in our Department’s mission, Secretary Napolitano set a goal to employ 50,000 veterans at DHS by the end of 2012. We are proud that today, thanks to the commitment of individuals across the Department, we have reached that goal, more than a year ahead of schedule. Veterans now comprise 25 percent of our civilian workforce, in addition to the 49,000 active duty and reserve members of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Who are some of these individuals? Jim Bryant, a Human Resources Specialist at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), is a former service member who is now helping us expand our outreach to the veteran community. Bryant, who served for 21 years in the U.S. Marines, shares information with veterans about finding jobs at FLETC – where 40 percent of employees have a military background.
Or Michael Lozano, a 20-year military veteran, whose career included a combat deployment with the U.S. Marines as a Sergeant during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, and a recent deployment with the Air Force Reserve. Michael and his wife, Valery, currently serve as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agents in the Phoenix Field Office in Phoenix, AZ.
Veterans like these bring their talents to every corner of our Department, continuing their service to our country as Transportation Security Officers, U.S. Border Patrol and ICE agents, Federal Protective Service officers, and headquarters staff.
In addition to hiring veterans, we are proud to announce that, for the second year in a row, DHS spent more than $1 billion in purchases and contracts with veteran owned small businesses, which provide critical goods and services to our Department.
As a former member of the U.S. Army, I am proud to join with my fellow veterans in the important and remarkable work of DHS. We will continue our efforts to hire veterans, to contract with veteran owned businesses, and to engage the veteran community, as we work together to build a more secure and resilient Nation.
November 09, 2011
05:02 PM EDT
This week, the United States is hosting the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers and Economic Leaders’ Meetings in Honolulu, Hawaii. As President Obama’s lead negotiator and spokesperson on trade, I will host a meeting for my fellow APEC Trade Ministers in preparation for President Obama’s meeting with APEC Leaders later this week and to build on the success of the APEC Trade Ministers’ meeting held in Big Sky, Montana last May.
At Big Sky, the United States and its APEC trade partners identified ways to improve regulation and transparency, made advances on reducing trade barriers impacting environmental goods and services, and determined specific next-generation issues on ensuring how trade rules can reflect the realities of the region today. Tomorrow in Honolulu, my fellow Ministers and I will address key hindrances to trade for businesses across the Asia-Pacific in order to achieve these important goals. By making it easier for all our exporters to enter markets in APEC economies, we are helping businesses grow exponentially. This dynamic growth leads to further job creation across the region, including in the U.S. – an important component to President Obama’s economic policy.
One priority goal the United States has pursued this year is making the Asia-Pacific a seamless regional economy. In support of that goal, this week, we will ask our APEC trade partners to reduce barriers to trade for environmental goods and services, promote innovation policies that encourage competition and open markets, and improve their regulatory systems. Value-added improvements in these areas will make it easier for American businesses to export to the Asia-Pacific region, supporting the creation of much-needed American jobs.
While in Honolulu, we are also seeking solid progress with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which is a 21st-century agreement that tackles pressing trade concerns in new ways, addresses cross-cutting issues previously unaddressed in trade agreements, and benefits from an unprecedented level of stakeholder input. While APEC is a voluntary, cooperative forum where we can collectively tackle critical trade and investment topics in the Asia-Pacific, TPP parties are negotiating binding commitments and obligations which reflect our highest ambitions.
In considering trade in the 21st-century, TPP parties are discussing comprehensive issues like building regional production, promoting development, and facilitating the participation of small- and medium-sized businesses in global trade. By eliminating traditional barriers that prevent smaller businesses from entering the world marketplace, we are opening pathways for these enterprises to expand and grow through trade. If even just a few more businesses out of every hundred in America export, we will see a dramatic increase in jobs here in the United States.
This weekend, President Obama, in hosting meetings with his fellow APEC Leaders, will attempt to achieve these trade goals and grow American jobs through increasing export opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region.
During the meetings, USTR.gov will be updated in real time to keep you fully abreast of our work. Be sure to visit our APEC 2011 page and follow us on Twitter to get the most up-to-date information on the progress of APEC meetings in Hawaii.
Megan SlackNovember 09, 2011
03:17 PM EDT
The Federal Government is the largest property owner in the United States. But some 14,000 of its properties sit unused and unneeded, costing taxpayers millions of dollars a year in operating and maintenance expenses. To cut down on this wasteful and inefficient spending, the Obama Administration has taken unprecedented steps to reduce this stock of unused property and is on track to save $3.5 billion by the end of Fiscal Year 2012.
To see a sampling of this unneeded and unused real estate, check out our interactive map, which shows some of the progress the Administration is making on getting rid of excess property.
President Obama is committed to cutting wasteful and inefficient Federal spending. Today, he signed an Executive Order asking Federal agencies to cut their spending on travel, printing, and IT by 20 percent. Earlier this year, he launched the Campaign to Cut Waste with Vice President Joe Biden to eliminate government waste, save taxpayer dollars, and make government work better.
Matt ComptonNovember 09, 2011
01:35 PM EDT
Yesterday was Election Day across the country, and last night, once the results were known, Vice President Joe Biden issued a statement congratulating the people of Ohio for rejecting Issue 2 -- a law that would have stripped public employees of their collective bargaining rights.
The Vice President said:
Tonight the people of Ohio delivered a gigantic victory for the middle class with their overwhelming rejection of a Republican attempt to strip away collective bargaining rights. Fundamental fairness has prevailed. By standing with teachers and firefighters and cops, Ohio has sent a loud and clear message that will be heard all across the country: The middle class will no longer be trampled on. The people of Ohio are to be congratulated.
Press Secretary Jay Carney echoed those thoughts:
The President congratulates the people of Ohio for standing up for workers and defeating efforts to strip away collective bargaining rights, and commends the teachers, firefighters, nurses, police officers, and other workers who took a stand to defend those rights.
In his joint address to Congress to introduce the American Jobs Act, President Obama touched on the importance of collective bargaining -- and why doing away with those rights is not the way to get people back to work:
I reject the idea that we have to strip away collective bargaining rights to compete in a global economy. We shouldn’t be in a race to the bottom, where we try to offer the cheapest labor and the worst pollution standards. America should be in a race to the top. And I believe we can win that race.
The Ohio measure lost in a landslide, with 62 percent of voters choosing to reject the law.
November 09, 2011
01:19 PM EDT
Ed. Note: This blog is cross-posted from fastlane.dot.gov.
As Chairman of the federal Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility, I’ve enjoyed collaborating with my colleagues across the government to better coordinate our transportation, housing, medical, and other services on behalf of America’s neediest citizens. Today, I’m thrilled to announce the fruits of our latest collaboration, the Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative.
The new FTA initiative will invest $34.6 million in 55 different "one-click, one-call" transportation resource centers across the country, bringing more transportation choices and better job access to a very special group of Americans—our military heroes, veterans, wounded warriors, and their families.
Many military families live in suburban and rural communities where long car commutes eat up the family’s gas budget, and public transportation options are limited. The projects funded by this initiative will bridge the transportation gap by helping states and communities build or expand centers that offer information on local transportation options by phone or internet.
Secretary Ray LaHood announces a Veterans initiative to help the Jacksonville Transportation Authority create a one-call, one-click transportation resource center. November 9, 2011. (by Department of Transportation)
November 09, 2011
12:53 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Cross-posted from the Department of Homeland Security blog
Today, President Obama signed an Executive Order entitled “Promoting Efficient Spending” as part of the administration-wide Campaign to Cut Waste. I am proud that one of our DHS colleagues, Celeste Steele, from the Management Directorate, was able to join the President as he highlighted the Administration’s efforts to more effectively and efficiently use taxpayer dollars, including through the DHS Efficiency Review, which Vice President Biden recently highlighted as a model effort for other agencies.
Celeste, a DHS employee since 2004, with more than 30 years of federal experience, is committed to cutting costs and finding efficiencies in her day-to-day work. “I try to find better ways of doing things every day. I am always looking for innovative value added solutions that will save taxpayer money. Efficiency and cutting costs is what drives me,” says Celeste.
In response to the ThinkEfficiency Campaign, in which DHS employees provide suggestions on ways the Department can avoid costs, streamline processes, and improve customer service, Celeste proposed that rather than using multiple smaller contracts, DHS leverage the purchasing power of the entire Department for commonly used items such as intelligence services, fleet management, and aviation parts, which will save the Department tens of millions of dollars. Building on this idea, as part of the DHS-wide Efficiency Review, we now look to leverage the Department’s buying power on many other commonly-used items, such as office equipment and uniforms which will save the department more than $370 million over the next five years.
Through the Efficiency Review, other Department-wide efforts, and component initiatives, DHS has identified more than $1 billion in cost avoidances and implemented 36 efficiency initiatives across the agency. Behind each of these initiatives are the employees like Celeste from across DHS who propose efficiency ideas, implement them, and fundamentally change the way the federal government operates.
November 09, 2011
12:01 PM EDT
Since day one, this Administration has been committed to rooting out waste and misspent tax dollars in every agency across the Federal government. From getting unneeded federal properties off our books, to cracking down on improper payments, to reducing the number of federal data centers, we have made great strides in delivering a government that is more efficient and effective for the American people. In addition, this past June, the President and Vice President launched the Campaign to Cut Waste, a redoubling of our efforts to end what doesn’t work and do more for less.
Today, the Administration announced additional steps we’re taking to build on these efforts. This morning, President Obama signed an Executive Order that will cut waste and promote more efficient spending across the federal government. The Order sets bold goals for agencies to reduce spending on travel; limit the number of information technology devices (e.g. cell phones, smartphones, tablets, laptops) that can be issued to individual employees; stop unnecessarily printing documents that can be posted online; shrink the executive fleet of the federal government; and stop using taxpayer dollars to buy swag -- the unnecessary plaques, clothing, and other promotional items that agencies purchase. Overall spending in the areas covered by the Executive Order will be reduced by 20 percent, saving billions.
Secretary Kathleen SebeliusNovember 08, 2011
04:04 PM EDT
We know that the first years of our children’s lives are critical. That’s when the most rapid development happens in their brains and when they pick up the social, emotional, and academic skills that will help them succeed. When children get what they need during these early years, it can lay the foundation for success in school and through every stage of their lives.
President Obama and HHS’s announcement today of historic reforms to the Head Start program will help to ensure that all children in Head Start are attending top-notch programs that will help them reach their full potential. The Department of Health and Human Services will implement new rules that will – for the first time in the program’s history– require all Head Start grantees that fail to meet a new set of rigorous quality benchmarks to compete for continued federal funding.
Under the new rules, programs that fall short of quality benchmarks will have to compete. We will put out a notice to all early education providers in their communities: If you can do better, you’ll get the Head Start funding. And after the initial round of reviews, Head Start providers will continue to be evaluated every five years to make sure they’re maintaining a high standard of performance.
The best Head Start programs do much more than teach kids their ABCs. They help children develop the self-control and critical thinking they need to become successful learners. They connect kids with essential health services like immunizations that they may otherwise go without. They get moms and dads engaged in their children’s education. They put kids on a path to opportunity.
This rule is a key part of the President’s broader agenda to strengthen Head Start. In the last two years, we’ve also improved training for Head Start providers, provided mentors for programs that want to improve, and created 20 Centers of Excellence that are models for the rest of the Head Start community. Combined with this new system of evaluation and competition, Head Start providers today have more tools and more incentives to improve than ever before in the program’s history.
In a world where the jobs follow the best trained workers, America’s capacity to lead the world will depend on our success in educating all of our children, including those most at risk for falling behind. The early years are critical to that success. This Administration will continue to work to make sure our children can grow up with the tools and experience they need to compete.
Today’s Head Start children are tomorrow’s workforce. Today we are taking a historic step toward making sure all children in Head Start get the top notch early education they need to succeed.
Megan SlackNovember 08, 2011
03:03 PM EDT
A top-notch educational system is critical not just for our children’s futures, but also for the future of our economy. Countries that out-educate us in the classroom today will out-compete us in the global economy tomorrow, and we can’t wait to invest in our students’ success. That’s why President Obama is taking steps to ensure our students get a world class education starting from their earliest years—steps like the recently announced Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, which will provide $500 million in state-level competitive grants to improve early learning and development programs.
Research shows that high-quality early learning programs improve children's health, development, cognitive ability, and even their chances of graduating from high school and college. High-quality programs also help close the wide school readiness gap between children with high needs and their peers.
Thirty-five states have already applied for the competitive grant program. To qualify for a piece of the funding, schools must show they are committed to improving their early learning programs and adopt common standards that define what children should know and be able to do.
President Obama also announced changes today to help improve the quality and accountability of Head Start, the federally funded early education program. Those programs that do not meet high standards will have to compete against others in their communities for federal funding, rather than receiving money automatically.
Stephanie CutterNovember 08, 2011
01:17 PM EDT
Today, the Affordable Care Act scored another win in court when the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law is constitutional. In upholding the constitutionality of the law, Judge Laurence H. Silberman reaffirmed that Congress has the constitutional authority “to forge national solutions to national problems” like the need to provide affordable, quality health care to all Americans.
The ruling is yet another victory for the millions of Americans who are already benefitting from the law including the parents of children with preexisting conditions, women getting mammograms with no out-of-pocket cost, seniors saving hundreds of dollars on their prescription drugs, and one million young adults now newly insured through their parent’s plan.
The ruling also marks the third time a federal appeals court has ruled in favor of the law. Previously, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed opponents’ cases against the law.
The Administration has also asked the Supreme Court to hear these cases. We’re confident that, like today, we will prevail. Here’s why:
- The Affordable Care Act, through the individual responsibility requirement, will require everyone, if they can afford it, to carry some form of health insurance since everyone at some point in time participates in the health care system, and incurs costs that must be paid for. For the 83% of Americans who have coverage and who are already taking responsibility for their health care, their insurance premiums will decrease over time. Only those who are able to pay for health insurance will be responsible for obtaining it and new tax credits and other provisions in the law will make health insurance affordable for middle class families. That’s why the Congressional Budget Office estimated that only 1 percent of all Americans would pay a penalty for not having health insurance in 2016.
- Opponents of reform wrongly claim that Congress exceeded its authority in regulating when and how people pay for health care. Those who claim that the “individual responsibility” provision exceeds Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce are simply wrong. People who make a decision to forego health insurance do not opt out of the health care market. Their action is not felt by themselves alone. Instead, when they become ill or injured and cannot pay their bills, their costs are shifted to others. Those costs – $43 billion in 2008 alone – are borne by doctors, hospitals, insured individuals, taxpayers and small businesses throughout the nation.
- Additionally, banning insurance companies from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions helps to ensure that every American who can afford it has insurance. We don’t let people wait until after they’ve been in a car accident to apply for auto insurance and get reimbursed, and we don’t want to do that with health care. If we’re going to outlaw discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, people should not be allowed to game the system and raise costs on everyone else.
Stephanie Cutter is Assistant to the President and Deputy Senior Advisor
Marie JohnsNovember 08, 2011
11:29 AM EDT
Ed. Note: Cross-posted with the Small Business Administration blog.
Like many Americans in my generation, my father was a World War II veteran. My life has been shaped and influenced by his service. Now, as Deputy Administrator at the SBA, I am committed to supporting America’s veteran entrepreneurs and business owners as they grow their business and put America back to work.
Just yesterday, I hosted a forum for young veterans on the campus of San Diego State University as part of SBA’s Young Entrepreneurs Series and National Entrepreneurship Month. I was happy to meet so many young veterans who are using the skills and leadership they learned in the military to start and run a business.
We talked about a number of important issues facing veteran-entrepreneurs who are part of America’s small business community. We discussed important American Jobs Act proposals such as the call that President Obama made yesterday for Congress to provide large tax credits to businesses that hire veterans and service-disabled veterans. This is something that everyone can and should support.
Today, we’re putting forth even more ideas to support veteran business owners as they grow and hire with a report from the Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development, which the President created and I have the honor to chair. The Task Force came up with 18 recommendations across three priority areas:
Matt ComptonNovember 08, 2011
10:43 AM EDT
We've all heard tests of the Emergency Alert System. They occur all the time at the local level, but on Wednesday, at 2:00 ET, the federal government will conduct the first-ever nationwide evaluation of the system.
The test will last about 30 seconds and be broadcast on television and radio stations across the country. It will allow emergency personnel to assess and improve our alerting capabilities in the event of a crisis.
Watch Craig Fugate -- the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency -- as he discusses the plan for Wednesday:
Colleen CurtisNovember 07, 2011
06:30 PM EDT
The Obama Administration today launched a new tool that is designed to help put our veterans in contact with companies that appreciate their skills, and are eager to hire them. Built in collaboration with some of the country's leading technology companies, this easy to use tool means that veterans are now just a click or two away from career opportunities. Watch this video and find out how you or a veteran you know can get started right now/
November 07, 2011
03:24 PM EDT
On Monday morning, the Census Bureau released findings that provide a more accurate look at the impact public policy has on poverty. These data demonstrate that policies supported and extended by the President to give a helping hand to those hit hardest by the recession – tax cuts for working families, assistance for basic food costs and school lunches, and help with housing – kept millions of Americans out of poverty last year.
Additionally, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a new report based on the Census Bureau’s new data which found that provisions passed as part of the Recovery Act directly lifted nearly 7 million Americans out of poverty in 2010 and reduced poverty for 32 million more. This is on top of 6 million people lifted out of poverty by these policies in 2009. And these numbers are conservative estimates that do not reflect the indirect benefits from the jobs created through these policies.
In contrast to this approach, Republicans in Congress opposed all of these measures and passed a budget that would both cut back on many of these programs and also convert them into block grants, which would prevent them from automatically expanding in hard times. Had we followed that path, many more Americans would be in poverty today.
Aneesh ChopraNovember 07, 2011
02:44 PM EDT
Today, the Obama Administration launched the Veterans Job Bank, a new search tool designed to help connect veterans with employers. The Job Bank works by bringing jobs listings directly to veterans—instead of the other way around—via a search widget that provides a single window into the myriad job boards, social media platforms, and corporate employment sites that are currently spread across the Internet.
Kasie CoccaroNovember 07, 2011
01:30 PM EDT
White House Fellows Program Director Cindy Moelis, Dr. Anish Mahajan (WHF Class of 2009-2010) and Erica Jeffries (WHF Class of 2010-2011) will be answering your questions about the White House Fellow application process and the Fellowship experience in a live video chat on Thursday, November 10 at 12:00 p.m. EST.
The White House Fellows Program is America's most prestigious fellowship for leadership and public service. We're answering your questions about the program designed to provide exceptional men and women with first-hand experience working at the highest levels of the Federal Government. The President’s Commission on White House Fellowships is currently accepting applications for the 2012-2013 Class. The application deadline is Friday, January 13, 2012 at 5:59 p.m. (EST).
Right now, submit your questions:
Thursday, November 10 at 12:00 p.m. EST:
- Watch live on WhiteHouse.gov/live
- Ask questions through the White House Live app on Facebook
- Ask questions live with the hashtag #WHFellows
Visit WhiteHouse.gov/fellows to learn more about the program.