Our Top Stories
Nancy-Ann DeParleJanuary 09, 2012
04:00 PM EDT
Today, we got some good news when the official statistics for health care spending were released. The new statistics from the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services show that health care spending growth in 2009 and 2010 decreased to record lows.
The Affordable Care Act was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. These numbers do not take into account all of the cost saving provisions in the Affordable Care Act that are still being implemented. But they do show why the Affordable Care Act is so important. And we’re confident the law will continue to help hold down cost growth in the years ahead. Here are some important facts to remember if you’re looking at the new stats:
Howard A. SchmidtJanuary 09, 2012
03:58 PM EDT
Protecting the electric system from cyber threats and ensuring its resilience are vital to our national security and economic well-being. This is exactly why cybersecurity is one of four key themes in the White House’s Policy Framework for a 21st Century Grid. For obvious reasons, the private sector shares our interest in a safe and secure electric grid. The Administration has benefited from working closely with industry, including to develop the Roadmap to Achieve Energy Delivery Systems Cybersecurity, released by the Department of Energy last September.
To continue that close cooperation, last week Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Poneman and I, along with senior officials from Department of Homeland Security, hosted industry leaders to discuss a new initiative to further protect the electric grid from cyber risks. This initiative -- the Electric Sector Cybersecurity Risk Maturity Model Pilot -- is a new White House initiative led by the Department of Energy, in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security, to develop a model to help us identify how secure the electric grid is from cyber threats and test that model with participating utilities. Gaining knowledge about strengths and remaining gaps across the grid will better inform investment planning and research and development, and enhance our public-private partnership efforts.
I was encouraged to see an impressive number of electric sector leaders participating and sharing their views with us. Their high level of interest in this new effort reaffirmed for me that these stakeholders share our desire to better understand the strengths and remaining gaps across the sector, so that together we can continue to take concrete steps to protect the electric grid from cyber threats.
We look forward to continued cooperation with our partners in industry to ensure this initiative builds on industry efforts and becomes a meaningful tool to create a modern, secure electric grid that carries us through the 21st century.
Matt ComptonJanuary 09, 2012
03:45 PM EDT
Back in June, the Dallas Mavericks won their first NBA championship, led by strong play from Dirk Nowitzki.
Today, President Obama hosted the team at the White House.
Headed into the NBA Finals, a lot of folks tried to write the Mavericks off, but Dallas won the series in six games, the President said, because they knew how to play smart:
[These] players got it done because they know how good teams win -- not just by jumping higher or running faster, but by finding the open man, working together, staying mentally tough, being supportive of each other, playing smarter.
"This team really does have a heart that’s the size of Texas," the President said. "This was a remarkable run, a great victory."
January 09, 2012
11:30 AM EDT
A recent book titled "The Obamas" is the author's take, reflecting her own opinions, on a remarkably strong relationship between the President and First Lady – both of whom share an unwavering commitment to each other, and to improving the lives of Americans. The book is about a relationship between two people whom the author has not spoken to in years. In fact, the author did not interview the Obamas for the book so the emotions and private moments described in the book, though often seemingly ascribed to the President and First Lady, reflect little more than the author's own thoughts. These second-hand accounts are staples of every Administration in modern political history and are often exaggerated. And as those who have worked in this Administration will tell you, the scenes depicted in the book do not accurately portray how well the East and West Wings work together.
One of the anecdotes that has received wide attention has been a supposedly secret Alice in Wonderland themed Halloween party in 2009. This was an event for local school children from the Washington DC area and for hundreds of military families, and certainly nothing that the White House was ashamed of.
While acknowledging that the press was allowed to attend, which in itself would seem to cast doubt on any alleged secrecy, the author contends that there was "no media coverage beyond the standard, limited pool report noting the president's presence." We would invite all readers to read that extremely detailed and colorful pool report, or the stories that emerged from the party, and decide for themselves. In addition, the event was previewed in the official White House Daily Guidance and discussed by then-Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on camera from the podium -- before he dressed up as Darth Vader at the party of course. The White House released videos and photos of the event on whitehouse.gov and our Flickr account, hardly the actions of a conspiratorial cover-up. The author attempts to paint the fact that some involved in the film attended and were not singled out in previews of the event as an attempt to hide their involvement -- this was a large event, word of their involvement was certain to be reported, and indeed it was.
This mischaracterization of a celebration in support of military families is unfortunate but also instructive. When book authors attempt to stretch isolated incidents into grandiose insights, they end up going down the rabbit hole.
Kori SchulmanJanuary 09, 2012
10:38 AM EDT
Last week, the Commerce Department and the White House sent Congress the Administration’s plan on The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States, fulfilling an important requirement under the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 which President Obama signed into law one year ago this month.
Today, we’re holding a special session of "Office Hours" on Twitter with Rebecca Blank, Acting Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Under Secretary for Economic Affairs (@commercegov), and Aneesh Chopra, United States Chief Technology Officer (@aneeshchopra), to answer your questions about the new report. The report explores the impact of federal support of research, educating our workforce, digital infrastructure for the 21st century, revitalizing manufacturing, and other important topics.
Have questions on investing in innovation for economic growth and competitiveness? Ask them now using the hashtag #WHChat. Today, Monday, January 9th at 3:30 p.m. EST, we’ll answer your questions live on Twitter.
Here’s how White House Office Hours work:
- Ask your questions now and during the live event on Twitter with the hashtag #WHChat. We'll also use the hashtag #COMPETES
- Follow the Q&A live through the @WHLive and @WhiteHouseOSTP Twitter accounts
- If you miss the live Q&A, the full session will be posted on WhiteHouse.gov and Storify.com/WhiteHouse
We hope you'll stop by for at 3:30 p.m. EST on Monday, January 9th at 3:30 EST. Be sure to follow @WhiteHouse on twitter for the latest news and more opportunities to engage.
This live event has concluded. Check out the full Q&A below or over on Storify.
Matt ComptonJanuary 07, 2012
05:30 AM EDT
January 06, 2012
02:49 PM EDT
What happened this week on WhiteHouse.gov:
Consumer Watchdog: After appointing Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau earlier this week, the President traveled to Shaker Heights, Ohio to talk about his decision-- and the fight to help secure a better future for the middle class. The CFPB is in place to ensure the integrity of the financial system and protect all American consumers from fraud and unfair play. The President said: “See, most people in the financial services industry do the right thing, but they're at a disadvantage if nobody is enforcing the rules. We can't let that happen. Now is not the time to play politics while people’s livelihoods are at stake. Now is the time to do everything we can to protect consumers, prevent financial crises like the one that we’ve been through from ever happening again. That starts with letting Richard do his job.”
Jobs for Youth: ‘We Can’t Wait’ to help young Americans find jobs. The President announced Summer Jobs+, a new initiative that will create internship and job opportunities for America’s young people. It calls for businesses, non-profits and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth in the summer of 2012. Employers are still signing on to commit jobs to the Summer Jobs+ Bank, a one-stop search tool for youth to access postings from participating employers that is targeted to launch in 60 days.
Military Strategy: The President spoke at the Pentagon Thursday to outline a new global military strategy-- moving away from the expansive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and toward a different posture that emphasizes a new focus for the future. He also reminded us of our duty here at home – to ensure that our troops returning from war receive the care and benefits they deserve. He Said: “We’re also going to keep faith with those who serve, by making sure our troops have the equipment and capabilities they need to succeed, and by prioritizing efforts that focus on wounded warriors, mental health and the well-being of our military families. And as our newest veterans rejoin civilian life, we’ll keep working to give our veterans the care, the benefits and job opportunities that they deserve and that they have earned.”
Year in Photos: From his trip to Ireland to Sasha Obama’s basketball game, the White House photographers have captured it all. Don’t miss some of the most memorable moments from 2011. Check out the slideshow.
Matt ComptonJanuary 06, 2012
02:13 PM EDT
Two days after appointing Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, President Obama headed over to the CFPB offices to help staff welcome their boss and talk about the day's economic news.
First, the President discussed the new jobs figures:
This morning, we learned that American businesses added another 212,000 jobs last month. Altogether, more private sector jobs were created in 2011 than any year since 2005. And there are a lot of people that are still ... hurting out there. After losing more than 8 million jobs in the recession, obviously we have a lot more work to do. But it is important for the American people to recognize that we’ve now added 3.2 million new private sector jobs over the last 22 months -- nearly 2 million jobs last year alone. So after shedding jobs for more than a decade, our manufacturing sector is also adding jobs two years in a row now. So we’re making progress. We’re moving in the right direction.
But as the economy starts to rebound, the President said, we have a responsibility to do more than just get back to where we were before the financial crisis. We have to remake the system so that the middle class knows that hard work pays off, that everyone plays by the same set of rules.
Katelyn SabochikJanuary 06, 2012
12:06 PM EDT
Earlier this week, President Obama appointed Richard Cordray to be the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB is new organization with one important mission: fighting for American families. The folks at the CFPB go into the office every day to make sure that credit cards, mortgages, and loans work better for the people who use them.
On Thursday, Mr. Cordray put out a special video and sent an email to the CFPB email list asking the American people to share their stories about your experiences with everyday consumer financial products like credit cards, mortgage agreements and loans.
Check out the video and email below and then head over to ConsumerFinance.gov to share your story.
Email from Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:
Happy New Year,
As the new Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and as someone who has been helping to build the Bureau for about a year now, I can tell you it's an extraordinary privilege to work on behalf of American consumers.
Consumers like you. Tell your story.
In our first six months, our team at the Bureau has been answering calls and reading stories from hundreds of American consumers every week. Their stories illustrate the kinds of issues people are dealing with around the country.
These things can happen to anyone. We are not talking about some impersonal abstraction, not about somebody "else." We are talking about each one of us. We're talking about our mothers and fathers, our sisters and brothers, our sons and daughters. Regular people who are trying to make the right choices for themselves and their families.
We've heard from people like Rebecca from North Carolina. She told us she missed a mortgage payment nine months after her husband lost his job. In the two years since then, her mortgage servicer has increased her payments even though she entered a trial modification in an effort to lower her monthly payments. The servicer has charged her monthly fees for inspections and appraisals that she never asked for and she believes have never occurred, all while repeatedly threatening her with foreclosure unless she shells out more money in unexplained fees. Rebecca has frantically complied with all of these demands because she is afraid of foreclosure and so is doing whatever she can to stay in her home.
Tell us your story at https://help.consumerfinance.gov/app/tellyourstory
Megan SlackJanuary 06, 2012
11:29 AM EDT
Ed. note: Today, at 3:00 p.m. EST, Brian Deese, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, will hold a special session of "Office Hours" on Twitter moderated by Yahoo! Finance. Ask your questions about jobs and the economy now and during the live event on Twitter with the hashtag #WHChat.
Today’s employment report shows that private sector payrolls increased by 212,000 in December and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent. After losing more than 8 million jobs in the recession, the economy has added private sector jobs for 22 straight months.
In those 22 months, the economy added 3.2 million jobs. In the last 12 months alone, the economy added 1.9 million private sector jobs, more than in any year since 2005. Nonetheless, we need faster growth to put even more Americans back to work.
The fact is, our economic problems weren’t created overnight, and they won’t be solved overnight. The President will continue to look for every opportunity to work with Congress to move this country forward and create jobs. And he’ll continue to take steps to rebuild an economy where hard work and responsibility pay off, and everybody has a chance to succeed.
Most importantly, Congress needs to extend the middle class payroll tax cut and pass other pieces of the American Jobs Act. It’s time to get to work and pass the bipartisan pieces like putting construction workers back on the job rebuilding our roads and bridges, keeping teachers in the classrooms and cops and firefighters on the streets.
Alan KruegerJanuary 06, 2012
10:36 AM EDT
Today’s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue the economic policies that are helping us to dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the recession that began at the end of 2007. Most importantly, we need to extend the payroll tax cut and continue to provide emergency unemployment benefits through the end of this year, and take other steps the President has proposed in the American Jobs Act.
Private sector payrolls increased by 212,000 jobs and overall payroll employment rose by 200,000 jobs in December. The unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage point to 8.5 percent, the lowest level since February 2009. The drop in unemployment over the month was mostly due to employment growth, not lower labor force participation. The unemployment rate has fallen by 0.9 percentage point in the last 12 months. Despite adverse shocks that have created headwinds for economic growth, the economy has added private sector jobs for 22 straight months, for a total of 3.2 million payroll jobs over that period. In the last 12 months, 1.9 million private sector jobs were added on net, more than in any year since 2005. Nonetheless, we need faster growth to put even more Americans back to work.
Sectors with net job increases in December included transportation and warehousing (+50,200), health care and social assistance (+28,700), retail trade (+27,900), manufacturing (+23,000), leisure and hospitality (+21,000), and construction (+17,000). Local governments lost 14,000 jobs and state government employment was unchanged.
The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.
January 06, 2012
10:00 AM EDT
[Ed. Note: Watch Secretary of Commerce John Bryson unveil the report details live today from 10 am - noon]
Today, the Commerce Department and the White House sent to Congress the Administration’s plan on The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States, fulfilling an important requirement under the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 which President Obama signed into law one year ago this month.
As the report emphasizes, innovation has been a key driver of U.S. prosperity and competitiveness throughout our history. Government investments in the building blocks of innovation – basic research, education, and infrastructure – have helped fuel and sustain the ingenuity of the inventors and innovators. Innovation-based economic growth has brought us higher paying, higher quality jobs as well as improved health and quality of life. Federally-supported research has led to world-changing advancements in a variety of fields, including laying the groundwork for the integrated circuit and computer industry; the Internet; advances in chemicals, agriculture, and medical science; and GPS. Millions of workers can trace their industries and companies back to technological breakthroughs funded by the Federal government.
In the 20th century, our schools turned out high school and college graduates at a higher rate than anywhere else in the world, creating a highly-skilled workforce and boosting innovation. And Federal infrastructure investments helped electrify the country, make clean water widely available, make air travel more affordable, and construct an interstate highway system. These developments helped businesses compete by opening up new markets to sell their products and services, while keeping costs low.
Aneesh ChopraJanuary 06, 2012
09:56 AM EDT
In December, the Obama Administration announced the Startup America Policy Challenge to identify high-impact ideas to support entrepreneurship in areas of national interest: education, energy, and health care.
To kick off the challenge, Secretary Arne Duncan (Department of Education), Secretary Steven Chu (Department of Energy), and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (Department of Health and Human Services) each asked the American public for ideas about how the U.S. government can break down barriers to entrepreneurship and enable the use of clean energy, digital learning, and health information technologies.
On Quora, a public question and answer website, I asked the America people to respond to these specific questions:
- In the U.S. education system, what can the government do to best enable the use of new learning technologies?
- In the U.S. energy system, what can the government do to best enable the use of new clean energy technologies?
- In the U.S. healthcare system, what can the government do to best enable the use of new health information technologies?
The response has been thoughtful, wide ranging, and inspiring.
- On the subject of learning technologies, respondents had ideas to increase the flexibility of existing funds, spread best practices of what works, and improve basic infrastructure. And a number of respondents provided feedback about reducing bureaucracy and empowering teachers.
- On the subject of clean energy technologies, respondents had ideas on how the US Government could support consumer awareness of clean energy, be an anchor customer, and invest in research and development. Respondents also suggested including negative externality costs into the price of fossil fuels, and were adamant that government not pick a “winning technology.”
- On the subject of health care IT, respondents proposed ideas to promote interoperability standards, ensure a greater focus on the end user experience, share industry best practices, and measure the impact of specific technologies.
This is just a sampling of the great dialogue and answers – please feel free to vote on which ideas resonate with you and/or provide your own feedback. In the White House and in the Agencies, we are reading your responses.
To sharpen the dialogue a bit further and solicit additional input, I posted follow-up questions on Quora about specific barriers that customers face:
- Learning Technologies: Parents and teachers – what’s your biggest barrier to educating your kids that technology could solve? How important is the ability to access your child’s assessment data in electronic form?
- Clean Energy: Building and business owners – what’s your biggest barrier to using clean energy in your building or business? How important is the ability to access your building energy usage data in electronic form?
- Health IT: Doctors and patients – what’s your biggest barrier to using information technology to improve health outcomes? How important is the ability to share or receive your health records data in electronic form?
We look forward to hearing your feedback – so please keep it coming!
Aneesh Chopra is U.S. Chief Technology Officer
Lynn RosenthalJanuary 06, 2012
09:56 AM EDT
For many rape survivors, today is an important day. It means that the devastating violence they suffered will now be counted in this nation’s crime statistics. Attorney General Holder announced today that the FBI will be changing the definition of rape used to collect data from local law enforcement about these crimes. This data is published in the Uniform Crime Report and is the nation’s main source of information about crime trends.
The definition of rape used to compile these crime statistics has not been revised since 1927. Revisions are long overdue and welcomed by law enforcement officials and victim advocates. The definition will now include rapes committed against men, as well as a broader range of sexual acts. The new language also removes “forcible” from the definition of rape. These changes mean that rapes that are already being reported to local law enforcement will now be included in our nation’s crime data.
Changing this definition is about more than statistics - it’s about the women and men behind the statistics and what happened to them. It’s about how we view rape and how seriously we take this crime. The act of rape causes intense physical and emotional suffering. Rape victims are much more likely to need mental health services, to attempt suicide, and to face ongoing health problems than those who have not experienced this type of crime. When victims are suffering so greatly yet are invisible in our crime data, it limits our ability to fully understand the extent of the problem.
Improving our nation’s response to rape and sexual violence has long been a priority for Vice President Biden and the White House Council on Women and Girls. Early in the Administration, the Vice President convened federal agencies to assess trends and identify gaps in our response to violence and abuse. We identified data collection as one of the biggest challenges we face in understanding and combatting these crime. Thanks to the hard work of the Attorney General Holder, the FBI, law enforcement leaders, and the women’s organizations who have long advocated for this change, we are one step further towards meeting that challenge.
Matt ComptonJanuary 06, 2012
12:00 AM EDT
This week, the President traveled to Cleveland, Ohio, to discuss appointing Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- which will protect families from predatory lenders -- spoke on a comprehensive review of our defense strategy, and the White House staff shared its New Year's resolutions.
Kori SchulmanJanuary 05, 2012
04:41 PM EDT
Tomorrow, the White House will hold a special session of "Office Hours" on Twitter moderated by Yahoo! Finance with Brian Deese, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council. Do you have questions on the economy and jobs? Ask them now using the hashtag #WHChat. On Friday, January 6th at 3:00 p.m. EST, Brain will be on the @WHLive account to answer your questions posed by the team @YahooFinance.
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 live through the @YahooFinance and @WHLive Twitter accounts
- If you miss the live Q&A, the full session will be posted on WhiteHouse.gov and Storify.com/WhiteHouse
We hope you'll stop by for at 3:00 p.m. EST on Friday, January 6th with Yahoo Finance! and Brian Deese. Be sure to follow @WhiteHouse on twitter for the latest news and more opportunities to engage.
Update: This live event has concluded. Check out the full Q&A session below or over on Storify.
Matt ComptonJanuary 05, 2012
02:18 PM EDT
This morning, President Obama traveled to the Pentagon to discuss a major shift in the nation's strategic military objectives -- with a goal of moving away from the expansive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and toward a different posture that emphasizes a new focus for the future.
This is what the President said from the Pentagon briefing room:
We will be strengthening our presence in the Asia Pacific, and budget reductions will not come at the expense of that critical region. We’re going to continue investing in our critical partnerships and alliances, including NATO, which has demonstrated time and again -- most recently in Libya -- that it’s a force multiplier. We will stay vigilant, especially in the Middle East.
As we look beyond the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and the end of long-term nation-building with large military footprints -- we’ll be able to ensure our security with smaller conventional ground forces. We’ll continue to get rid of outdated Cold War-era systems so that we can invest in the capabilities that we need for the future, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, counterterrorism, countering weapons of mass destruction and the ability to operate in environments where adversaries try to deny us access.
So, yes, our military will be leaner, but the world must know the United States is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats.
The President also outlined another important objective -- ensuring those who wear the uniform of the United States receive the care and the benefits they've earned:
We’re also going to keep faith with those who serve, by making sure our troops have the equipment and capabilities they need to succeed, and by prioritizing efforts that focus on wounded warriors, mental health and the well-being of our military families. And as our newest veterans rejoin civilian life, we’ll keep working to give our veterans the care, the benefits and job opportunities that they deserve and that they have earned.
Watch the President's speech.
Megan SlackJanuary 05, 2012
01:03 PM EDT
Nearly 20 million Americans use payday loans, which offer short-term funds at very high interest rates. Studies have found that the average interest charged on a two-week, $100 loan is about $16—a 400 percent interest rate.
Many people who rely on payday loans are often in desperate need of cash, making them more likely to agree to astronomical interest rates and hefty fees for late payments. But, more often than not, payday loan terms are not clearly explained upfront, if at all. Payday loans end up putting more strain on those who are already struggling financially, including people who have already depleted their resources due to extended unemployment, illness, or emergency, as well as members of the military and their families, who are often targeted by short-term lenders.
Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, launched the nation’s first program for supervising “non-bank” financial services, an extension of their bank supervision program that began last July. (A non-bank is a company that provides consumer financial services, but doesn’t take deposits or have a bank, thrift, or credit union charter.)
Under this new program, non-banks like payday lenders, as well as private mortgage companies and private education lenders, will be regulated and subject to federal oversight to ensure they play by the rules and don’t take advantage of consumers. CFPB will be able to establish regulations that require payday lenders to disclose borrowers’ obligations and responsibilities in clear, easy to understand terms, so that people know what they are agreeing to when taking out a payday loan.
Josh EarnestJanuary 05, 2012
12:14 PM EDT
Yesterday, the President traveled to Cleveland, Ohio to announce the appointment of Richard Cordray as America’s consumer watchdog. Mr. Corday has one job: look out for the best interest of American consumers. He’ll lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and work tirelessly to protect millions of families across the nation from the abuses of bad actors in the financial industry.
The President nominated Mr. Cordray six months ago, but Republicans in the Senate blocked his confirmation. They wouldn’t even let the Senate proceed with an up or down vote. They didn’t have a problem with Mr. Cordray, they just don’t think we need a consumer watchdog protecting families. The President disagrees. That’s why he took action and appointed Mr. Cordray. Millions of Americans can’t afford to wait for Congress to act. He’s the right man for the job. And as we’ve seen, editorial boards from across the country agree -- let’s take a look:
Philadelphia Daily News: Cordray's consumer bureau appointment a good move
President Obama says his recess appointment yesterday of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Product Bureau was an "obligation.
He wasn't referring to the urgency for action three-plus years after a combination of hinky financial products brought the economy to its knees. What he said was, "When Congress refuses to act . . . and puts people at risk, I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them," he said. Finally.
New Jersey Star-Ledger: President Obama's recess appointment of Richard Cordray fulfills promise
Republicans have been hellbent on sabotaging financial regulatory reform, but yesterday they got a rude awakening: President Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The Party of No blocked Obama’s first pick, Elizabeth Warren, and it was determined to block Cordray, the highly regarded attorney general of Ohio. Getting the agency up and running on all cylinders is crucial to enshrine into law the lessons from the 2008 housing and mortgage meltdown.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: With recess appointments, the president calls the GOP's bluff
With long overdue defiance, President Barack Obama on Wednesday named former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to be director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Hours later, he appointed Sharon Block, Terence Flynn and Richard Griffin to fill three vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board, which would have had to cease operations without new members to constitute a quorum.
All are recess appointments, which the Constitution authorizes presidents to make when Congress is not in session. They do not require Senate confirmation; the appointees may serve until year's end. The president formally nominated Mr. Cordray in July, but Senate Republicans used the threat of a filibuster to prevent a confirmation vote.
Salt Lake Tribune - Power grabs: Obama is Right to name Cordray
Yes, President Obama’s decision to use a recess appointment to name a boss for the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is something that might fairly be described as “a power grab.”
Some Republicans are fuming at the news that former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray will be running the agency without Senate confirmation. What they don’t say is that the power here is being grabbed away from obstructionist tools of Wall Street — we’re looking at you, Sen. Orrin Hatch — and placed in the service of the American people.
Colleen CurtisJanuary 05, 2012
10:41 AM EDT
Your first job brings you more than just a steady paycheck – the experience teaches young people life and work skills that serve them long after the job is done. But as our nation continues to recover the deepest recession since the Great Depression, American youth are struggling to get the work experience they need for jobs of the future.
Today President Obama announced a new initiative, Summer Jobs+, that will make a difference.
“America’s young people face record unemployment, and we need to do everything we can to make sure they’ve got the opportunity to earn the skills and a work ethic that come with a job. It’s important for their future, and for America’s. That’s why I proposed a summer jobs program for youth in the American Jobs Act – a plan that Congress failed to pass. America’s youth can’t wait for Congress to act. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment. That’s why today, we’re launching Summer Jobs+, a joint initiative that challenges business leaders and communities to join my Administration in providing hundreds of thousands of summer jobs for America’s youth,” said President Obama.
Summer Jobs+ is a call to action for businesses, non-profits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth in the summer of 2012. The President proposed $1.5 billion for high-impact summer jobs and year-round employment for low-income youth ages 16-24 in the American Jobs Act as part of the Pathways Back to Work fund. When Congress failed to act, the Federal government and private sector came together to commit to creating nearly 180,000 employment opportunities for low-income youth in the summer of 2012, with a goal of reaching 250,000 employment opportunities by the start of summer, at least 100,000 of which will be placements in paid jobs and internships.
A centerpiece of the program will be the Summer Jobs+ Bank , a one-stop search tool for youth to access postings from participating employers that is targeted to launch in 60 days, which will use the same technology that powers the Veterans Jobs Bank that was launched late last year. Employers who want to offer opportunities to America’s young people can find out more here.