Megan SlackNovember 07, 2011
12:15 PM EDT
President Obama believes that no veteran should have to fight for a job after fighting for our nation overseas. That’s why he’s introduced a host of new tools to help connect veterans to jobs in the civilian workforce, including the Veterans Job Bank, which has more than 500,000 job listings with private sector employers looking to hire vets.
To launch the Veterans Job Bank, the Obama Administration partnered with leading job search companies to create a new, easy-to-use online service that enables employers to “tag” job postings for veterans. The tool gives users the ability to search for jobs from thousands of military-friendly employers worldwide based on keyword, military occupation code (MOC) and/or location.
Nearly 3 million service members have transitioned back to civilian life, and a million more will join them over the next five years as we end the war in Iraq and wind down the war in Afghanistan. These service members have mastered skills and leadership abilities they couldn’t have learned in any ordinary classroom, and have tremendous talents to offer our nation’s businesses.
President Obama knows we can’t wait to help these heroes and their families. Other initiatives to help get them back to work include:
- The Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior Tax Credits, two pieces of the American Jobs Act that provide tax credits to businesses that hire veterans.
- My Next Move for Veterans, an online tool that helps veterans match their skills with civilian careers that will put their experience to use
- The Veterans Gold Card, which provides personalized case management and career counseling at any of the 3,000 One-Stop Career Centers around the country
Matt FlavinNovember 07, 2011
12:00 PM EDT
Watch President Obama's full remarks here.
The overall unemployment rate ticked down last month and our economy has added more than 350,000 private sector jobs over the past three months. But, over 850,000 veterans were unemployed as of October and the jobless rate for post-9/11 veterans was 12.1 percent. Having served and defended our nation, it just doesn’t make sense that so many of these well-trained, highly skilled, motivated and disciplined veterans can’t find a job worthy of their incredible talents. As the President has said, "If you can save a life in Afghanistan, you can save a life in an ambulance. If you can oversee millions of dollars of assets in Iraq, you can help a business balance its books here at home."
Ensuring our nation’s veterans get the opportunities they have earned has been one of President Obama’s top priorities as Commander-in-Chief. Having already sent 600,000 veterans back to school on the Post-9/11 GI Bill and having hired over 120,000 veterans into the federal government, this Administration continues to take action to help create job opportunities for veterans.
Today at the White House, leading veterans service organizations joined President Obama to announce their support for the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior Tax Credits, two provisions in the American Jobs Act Congress is scheduled to consider this week. The Returning Heroes Tax Credit provides firms that hire unemployed veterans with a maximum credit of $5,600 per veteran, while the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit offers firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities a maximum credit of $9,600 per veteran.
The President also announced a series of executive actions 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. These initiatives include:
Veteran Gold Card:Effective today, post-9/11 veterans will be able to visit dol.gov/vets/goldcard.html to download the Veteran Gold Card, which entitles them to enhanced services including six months of personalized case management, assessments and counseling, at the roughly 3,000 One-Stop Career Centers located across the country. This should help serve the more than 200,000 unemployed post-9/11 veterans. The President directed the Department of Labor to launch this initiative in his August 4, 2011 speech at the Navy Yard.
My Next Move for Veterans: The Department of Labor will launch My Next Move for Veterans (mynextmove.org/vets), a new online resource that allows veterans to enter their military occupation code and discover civilian occupations for which they are well qualified. The site will also include information about salaries, apprenticeships, and other related education and training programs.
Creating a Veterans Job Bank:Today, the Administration launched the Veterans Jobs Bank, at National Resource Directory (NRD.gov), an easy to use tool to help veterans find job postings from companies looking to hire them. It already searches over 500,000 job postings and continues to grow. Additionally, in a few easy steps, companies looking to hire veterans can make sure the job postings on their own websites are part of this Veterans Jobs Bank.
I still believe that all Americans can agree that veterans shouldn’t have to fight for a job once they’ve come home from the fight overseas. While this Administration has been fighting for veterans every day, this week we will commemorate and celebrate Veterans Day. In that spirit, I hope Congress can come together and do the right thing by our nation’s veterans. Together, these initiatives and the tax credits will lower veteran unemployment by increasing hiring, improving resources for veterans to translate their military skills for the civilian workforce, and providing veterans with new tools to aid their search for jobs.
Heather ZichalNovember 07, 2011
11:33 AM EDT
President Obama believes that American families should never be asked to choose between the health of their children and the health of the economy. That is a false choice. Four decades of success under the Clean Air Act have shown clearly that strong environmental protections and a strong economy can go hand in hand.
To build on the tremendous success of the Clean Air Act, the Obama Administration has taken the most significant steps in a generation to reduce harmful pollution and promote public health. The new standards that we have issued or proposed – to curb interstate pollution, reduce mercury exposure, and make our cars more fuel efficient, just to name a few – will result in significant economic and health benefits each year.
Just over forty years ago, the Senate did something that would be almost unthinkable today: It passed major legislation by a unanimous vote. That legislation was the Clean Air Act of 1970, signed by President Richard Nixon. Two decades later, the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 were passed, again with large bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress, and signed by President George H. W. Bush.
But today, Republicans in Congress are trying to use our current economic climate as an excuse to roll back clean air protections that Americans have counted on for decades. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is currently leading an effort to block the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) that would save tens of thousands of lives each year. In doing so, Senator Paul is using the Congressional Review Act to repeal this important rule and prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from protecting American families from cross-state pollution in the future.
Let’s be clear – this brazen effort doesn’t just undermine the public health, it also undermines the judgment of the courts. In 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C. Circuit found critical flaws in the Bush Administration’s efforts on interstate air pollution and directed the EPA to issue a replacement rule as quickly as possible. After seeking and incorporating extensive input from the public, the states, environmental and public health groups, as well as industry, the EPA finalized the Cross-State Air Pollution rule in July of this year.
Matt ComptonNovember 05, 2011
05:30 AM EDT
Speaking from the University of Pittsburgh, Vice President Biden argues that this month’s jobs numbers demonstrate that Congress should pass the American Jobs Act to strengthen our economy and create jobs right away.
Watch Vice President Biden's full remarks here.
Brian LevineNovember 04, 2011
06:29 PM EDT
On Friday, Vice President Biden spoke to a group of students at the University of Pittsburgh. Making it easier to pay for college has been a top priority of the Middle Class Task Force and our entire Administration since the President and Vice President came into office. We stopped paying private lenders to act as middlemen for federal student loans, and invested the savings in student aid. We increased the maximum Pell Grant award by more than $800. And we created the American Opportunity Tax Credit to give students up to $10,000 over four years to help with tuition and other expenses.
Today, the Vice President focused on our latest initiative – capping student loan payments. Current law allows borrowers to limit their federal loan payments to 15 percent of their discretionary income and forgives all remaining debt after 25 years, or 10 years for graduates working in public service jobs. Last year, following a recommendation from the Middle Class Task Force, the President proposed, and Congress enacted, a plan to lower payments even further starting in 2014. But many students can’t wait until 2014 for relief. So last Wednesday, the President announced an executive action that will cap federal loan payments at 10% of discretionary income and shorten the forgiveness timeline to 20 years starting next year.
We estimate that this new cap lower payments for 1.6 million borrowers, including 60,000 Pennsylvanians. Many of these borrowers will save hundreds of dollars every month. For example, a teacher with $25,000 in debt and a $30,000 salary would see her monthly payments drop from $287 under the standard repayment plan to $114 under the new cap. You can learn more about our plan to help students here.
Brad CooperNovember 04, 2011
06:00 PM EDT
On November 3, I attended a moving kickoff event for the Holiday Mail for Heroes program run by the American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes. This program now in its fifth year encourages all of us to send a holiday card to a service member this season. Making a card is a simple act of kindness that means the world to our soldiers and their families.
In the Hall of the historic American Red Cross headquarters, I heard from several current and former members of the military who spoke poignantly about what it meant to receive a touch of home during the holiday season. I was inspired to sign my own card and now want to make sure to let the American people know how they can participate in the program, too.
If you'd like to make a hero feel special this holiday season, please consider sending a card to
Holiday Mail For Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456
All cards must be postmarked no later than Friday, December 9.
If you'd like to help us spread the word about this program, or to find tips for getting your friends, church members, scout troops, and family together to make and send cards together, the American Red Cross encourages you to visit their blog. Over the last four years, millions of cards have been sent to support our services members. By joining forces, our military will continue to get the support we all want them to feel this holiday season and throughout the year.
Brad Cooper is the Executive Director of Joining Forces
November 04, 2011
05:55 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Cross-posted with the US Department of Agriculture blog.
The U. S. Forest Service will waive fees honoring those brave men and women who have protected our country and nation’s lands during the long Veterans Day weekend November 11-13 at some recreation sites. This is the third time this year that fees have been waived to encourage visitors to come to a national forest.
Fee waivers are a perfect opportunity for new and not-so-new visitors to get out onto our nation’s forests and grasslands to bike, hike, explore and more.
Day-use fees will be waived at all standard amenity fee sites operated by the Forest Service. Concessionaire operated day-use sites may be included in the waiver if the permit holder wishes to participate.
Fee waivers are offered in cooperation with other federal agencies under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act and were offered earlier this year on National Get Outdoors Day in June and National Public Lands Day in September.
The Fee Waiver days support the goals of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Outside. The waiver is an incentive to encourage people to visit our nation’s forests and grasslands, which offer a wide range of recreation and educational benefits such as improved physical and mental health, emotional well being, a concern for nature and a conservation ethic.
Traditionally, fees are not charged on 98 percent of national forests and grasslands and over two-thirds of developed recreation sites in national forests and grasslands can be used for free. Many recreation opportunities such as camping, sightseeing and hiking can be enjoyed throughout the year at no cost.
The Forest Service operates approximately 17,000 recreation sites nationwide. Of those, approximately 6,000 require recreation fees, which are used to provide visitor services, repairs and replacements, and facilities maintenance.
Gautam RaghavanNovember 04, 2011
05:47 PM EDT
Earlier today, Dr. Jill Biden delivered a passionate and powerful address at the Opening Ceremony of the 2011 National Convention of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).
She began her remarks with an inspiring story:
I recently read an open letter written from a PFLAG father to America’s youth. He wrote, “My wife and I have two sons. We think that they are the best kids in the whole world. They’re very different, with very diverse personalities, talents, and interests. One of the other things that makes them different is that one is straight and one is gay. But the important thing is this: we love them equally.”
At its core – it’s such a simple message – “we love our sons” – both of them. But that acceptance and support can make all the difference.
And as you all know well – acceptance by those you love is the greatest acceptance of all.
Megan SlackNovember 04, 2011
04:34 PM EDT
Watch former Republican Mayor of Meridian Mississippi, John Robert Smith, discuss the importance of investing in our nation's infrastructure here.
John Robert Smith says we can’t wait to invest in our nation's infrastructure. Smith, the former Republican Mayor of Meridian, Mississippi, said that expanding and improving our system of roads, highways, railways, and airports creates jobs for people who need them now as well thriving, well-connected communites and engines of economic growth.
“We can’t walk away from transportation infrastructure investment and expect to ever grow ourselves out of the recession that we’re in today,” he said.
Smith is president of a coalition called Reconnecting America that helps cities and towns make smart investments in transportation infrastructure. He believes that easy access to transportation is critical to because it connects people to their communities and resources like jobs, health care, education, and more. Plus, well-planned infrastructure links towns and cities with other towns and cities, creating a vibrant network of connected communities.
Smith said that infrastructure is “not a red issue, a blue issue, or a Republican issue, or a Democrat, liberal or conservative. It’s about how we connect our people to jobs and our children to their future.
“I was mayor of my hometown in Meridian, Mississippi for 16 years and there I never met a pothole that could identify itself as a Republican or a Democrat. It was an issue to be resolved,” he said. “I want our country to face the transportation infrastructure investment we need today with that same type of approach.”
Matt ComptonNovember 04, 2011
03:05 PM EDT
When world leaders gathered this week in France, they acknowledged that the global economy was facing significant challenges that put recovery from the recession at risk.
The debt crisis in Europe has put stress on the continent's banking system, and countries like Greece and Italy are struggling to restore fiscal order.
In our country, the economy hasn't rebounded how anyone had hoped. We're adding jobs, but not at anywhere near the pace we need, and too many remain out of work.
And in emerging economies, the rate of growth seems to be slowing as continued financial instability in the rest of the world begins to drag these countries down, as well.
To counter these threats, the G20 leaders in France pledged to coordinate actions and policies to reinvigorate the global economy.
And the focus of that coordination? Jobs.
"There's no excuse for inaction," President Obama said in a press conference earlier today. "That's true globally and it's certainly true back home right now."
While European governments were vowing to do everything necessary to ensure the stability of the euro, the United States made a pledge of its own in the G20 action plan:
The US commits to the timely implementation of a package of near-term measures to sustain the recovery, through public investments, tax reforms, and targeted jobs measures, consistent with a credible plan for medium-term fiscal consolidation.
This commitment puts even greater emphasis on the need for Congress to take action on the American Jobs Act.
The world is looking for American leadership, and that's exactly what the President's job proposal is.
Alan KruegerNovember 04, 2011
11:46 AM EDT
Today’s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but the pace of improvement is not fast enough.
Private sector payrolls increased by 104,000, and overall payroll employment rose by 80,000 in October. The unemployment rate edged down 0.1 percentage point to 9.0 percent, a level that remains unacceptably high. Despite adverse shocks that have created headwinds for economic growth, the economy has added private sector jobs for 20 straight months, for a total of 2.8 million jobs over that period. We need faster economic growth to put more Americans back to work. Today’s report provides further evidence for why it is so important that Congress pass the President’s American Jobs Act to put more money in the paychecks of working and middle class families; to make it easier for small businesses to hire workers; to keep teachers in the classroom; to put construction crews to work rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure; and other measures that will help the economy grow while not adding to the deficit over ten years. The report underscores that one area that remains notably weak is the construction sector. That’s why it is disappointing that the Senate was not able to proceed to the infrastructure part of the American Jobs Act.
Sectors with employment increases included professional and business services (+32,000), leisure and hospitality (+22,000), retail trade (+17,800), health care and social assistance (+16,300), and manufacturing (+5,000). Sectors with employment declines included government (-24,000) and construction (-20,000). State and local governments lost 22,000 jobs and have shed more than 430,000 jobs since February 2010.
The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and employment estimates are subject to substantial revision. There is no better example than August’s jobs figure, which was initially reported at zero and in the latest revision increased to 104,000. This illustrates why the Administration always stresses it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.
Matt ComptonNovember 04, 2011
12:00 AM EDT
This week, the President urged Congress to pass the infrastructure component of the American Jobs Act and continued to take executive action to strengthen the economy and put folks back to work. The President also celebrated Diwali and hosted Halloween, spoke at the Italian American Heritage Gala, signed two Executive Orders, welcomed NASA Astronauts in the Oval Office, and interviewed with local news stations from across the country.
Katelyn SabochikNovember 03, 2011
07:42 PM EDT
This evening, Vice President Biden sent the email below to the White House email list. If you didn't get it, be sure to sign up for our list.
I want to make sure you heard a piece of news from Capitol Hill today.
This morning, Holly Petraeus, who has been leading an office at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to protect military families, went to Capitol Hill to highlight some of the most abusive practices our service members face in today's financial marketplace.
She explained that military families are the targets of predatory lenders. She talked about how many service members and their families struggle to make ends meet -- especially during deployments. And she said that the CFPB will help combat the lenders who try to take advantage of people with deceptive, unfair, and abusive lending practices.
But here's the thing: The Senate still hasn't confirmed President Obama's nominee to lead the CFPB, a former Attorney General from Ohio named Rich Cordray. The bureau needs a director to fully ensure that the debt collectors, private student loan providers, and payday loan providers are properly supervised and that consumers are not put at risk of falling prey to the same kinds of abusive practices that helped cause the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Rich has spent his career advocating for middle class families, and enjoys broad, bipartisan support from the elected officials, business leaders, and consumer groups who have worked with him.
Matt ComptonNovember 03, 2011
06:53 PM EDT
Today, President Obama is in France for a meeting of the G20 -- a gathering of 20 nations that represent the world's most important industrialized economies. In addition to working sessions with the full assembly of leaders, the President also held bilateral talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
In his conversation with President Sarkozy, he discussed the focus of this week's talks:
I think it's no surprise that we spent most of our conversation focused on strengthening the global economic recovery so that we are creating jobs for our people and stabilizing the financial markets around the world. The most important aspect of our task over the next two days is to resolve the financial crisis here in Europe. President Sarkozy has shown extraordinary leadership on this issue. I agree with him that the EU has made some important steps towards a comprehensive solution, and that would not have happened without Nicolas's leadership. But here at the G20 we're going to have to flesh out more of the details about how the plan will be fully and decisively implemented.
The President elaborated on that theme in his conversation with Chancellor Merkel:
This is going to be a very busy two days. Central to our discussions at the G20 is how do we achieve greater global growth and put people back to work. That means we’re going to have to resolve the situation here in Europe. And without Angela’s leadership we would not have already made the progress that we’ve seen at the EU meeting on October 27th.
Talks will continue tomorrow.
Macon PhillipsNovember 03, 2011
06:49 PM EDT
It's been a little over a month since We the People launched and it's still going strong. Here's a chart of its growth:
We the People is averaging nearly 20,000 new users and 31,000 new signatures every day. Our most active day for new users and signatures was the day of our launch, but we certainly haven’t slowed down: more petitions were created on October 26 than any other day since We the People has been active. Not surprisingly, we saw a spike when we started posting responses -- it was important to show people that we would follow through on our commitment to respond to petitions that meet the threshold.
At the risk of getting a little "meta," it's been interesting to see the response to our responses. There has been some frustration with the answers from those who disagree with Administration policy, and that's fair. But even more importantly, there has been subsequent debate about the merits of the Administration position based on the arguments laid out in the response. That's a big deal: while people may not agree with a position, it's crucial to understand its rationale. Take for example, this blog post about a recent response on patent reform. If these petitions are fostering a debate that might not otherwise take place about the issues Americans care about, that’s a positive thing.
Matt ComptonNovember 03, 2011
05:12 PM EDT
This morning, Holly Petraeus -- the assistant director for the Office of Servicemember Affairs in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- testified before the Senate Banking Committee.
She was there to talk about the way that predatory lenders often target servicemembers and how military families cope with economic hardships -- especially during deployments.
She told Senators:
In my role as a military family member, I have seen the problems that can arise for our servicemembers who may experience “too much month and not enough money.” I have also seen first-hand the devastating impact financial scams and predatory lending can have on servicemembers and their families. Unfortunately there are still too many young troops learning about wise spending through hard experience and years of paying off expensive debt.
Her remarks make a powerful argument for the ways that the CFPB will help combat the lenders who try to take advantage of consumers -- and underscores why it's so important that the Senate confirm Rich Cordray.
Take a minute to check them out: http://go.usa.gov/XMf
Megan SlackNovember 03, 2011
04:11 PM EDT
Want to attend this year’s National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony? The event is free and open to the public, and will be held Thursday, December 1 at 5:00 p.m. on the Ellipse of President’s Park. Tickets are available through an online lottery system, open now through 10:00 a.m. EST on Monday, November 7.
To enter the lottery, visit www.thenationaltree.org, and follow the link to the online ticket lottery application page.
For more information, please see:
Megan SlackNovember 03, 2011
12:05 PM EDT
Entrepreneurs and the businesses they create play a critical role in sparking new industries, expanding our economy, and generating new job growth across the country. Companies less than five yeas old created 44 million new jobs over the last three decades. In fact, these firms accounted for all net new jobs created in the United States during that time. Huge Fortune 500 companies like Apple, FedEx, and Boeing all began as startups from entrepreneurs with big ideas.
Entrepreneurship has long been a cornerstone of America's economic power. Helping entrepreneurs access the capital and support they need to get new businesses off the ground in these tough economic times is one of the most important things we can do to help our economy grow. That's why President Obama included help for entrepreneurs in the American Jobs Act and introduced the Startup America Initiative earlier this year. Both the Jobs Act and the initiative help entrepreneurs cut through regulatory red tape and access the investment capital they need, enabling them to turn new ideas into new businesses and new jobs more quickly and easily. The President also signed the America Invents Act in September of this year to fast-track startups and help them put their products on the market more efficiently. enable them to put their products on the market more quickly.
Matt ComptonNovember 03, 2011
11:41 AM EDT
Yesterday, with the Key Bridge, which connects Washington, DC with Arlington, Virginia, as a backdrop, President Obama discussed the ways that the American Jobs Act will invest in the nation's highways, airports, roads, and bridges -- and create new jobs for construction workers.
Today, the Senate is set to take up one idea that the President touted -- the creation of a national infrastructure bank.
Here's how it would work:
1) Congress would appropriate an initial $10 billion in startup money to capitalize the bank.
2) The new bank would identify transportation, energy, and water infrastructure projects that lack funding, offer a clear benefit for taxpayers, and are worth at least $100 million or $25 million for rural projects.
3) Loans made by the bank would then be matched by private sector investments or money from local governments -- so that the infrastructure bank provides half or less than half the total funding.
4) Each project would generate its own revenues to help ensure repayment of the loan.
5) Decisions would be made by a seven-person board of governors -- of whom, no more than four could be from the same political party -- and a CEO chosen by the President.
One bonus fact: The legislation that would create the bank has serious bipartisan backing -- and the support of both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO.
November 03, 2011
11:40 AM EDT
Ed. Note: Cross-posted with the NASA blog
Earlier today at an awards ceremony in Herndon, Virginia, I got a chance to recognize the men, women and companies that have made outstanding contributions to NASA’s indispensable partnership with small business. The Fourth Annual NASA Small Business Symposium and Awards Ceremony was a two-day event, providing opportunities for small businesses to network and learn about NASA programs and initiatives, while recognizing outstanding individuals and companies that support the agency’s small business program. Awards were presented to both NASA civil servants and large and small businesses that were instrumental in NASA awarding $4.3 billion to small businesses in FY 2011. This represented 17.9 percent of NASA contracting and exceeded our goal for 2011.
Small businesses are not only crucial to NASA’s trailblazing achievements in space exploration; they are the backbone of the American economy. As the wheels of our economy continue to pick up speed, it is important to remember that small business is the engine that is getting us moving again. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), small firms have generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years. And federal procurement for women, minority and veteran-owned small businesses are a big part of that equation.
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