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February 03, 2012
04:53 PM EDT
A quick look at this week on WhiteHouse.gov:
Talking Tuition with the Wolverines: Shortly after delivering his State of the Union address, the President took his Blueprint for making college more affordable straight to the people at the frontlines of the issue—students. Speaking from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the President noted that a college degree “will be the best tool you have to achieve that basic American promise.”
A Georgian Visitor: Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili met with the President in the Oval Office on Monday, discussing relations between our two countries—including Georgia’s contributions to the military operation in Afghanistan and the potential for a free trade agreement between the United States and Geogia—and marked the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between both countries.
Hanging Out on Google+: The President participated in the first-ever virtual interview from the White House on Monday from the Roosevelt Room. After more than 227,000 people submitted questions or voted for their favorites, the President sat down for a discussion with a group of Americans from across the country in a Google+ Hangout. In case you missed it, you can watch the full video here.
The Cabinet Convenes: On Tuesday, the President held a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House to discuss the ideas he laid out in the State of the Union. A top priority mentioned by the President during the State of the Union was the need to promote small business throughout the country, which was echoed in the meeting, where a new Cabinet member and the head of the Small Business Administration, Karen Mills, joined the discussion and ensured that entrepreneurs were represented.
In the Showroom: With Detroit’s newest vehicles on display at the Washington Auto Show, the President took a trip across town to get a glimpse of the outstanding work produced within the U.S. auto industry. He was impressed by what he saw, saying, “Because of folks coming together, we are now back in a place where we can compete with any car company in the world.”
Fairness, Responsibility and Housing: One way the President plans to achieve his Blueprint for an America Built to Last is by taking action to help responsible borrowers and support a housing market recovery. On Wednesday, he expanded on the ideas he presented in the State of the Union—including a proposal for a Homeowners Bill of Rights—at the James Lee Community Center in Falls Church, Virginia, where home values have fallen by about a quarter from their peak.
The National Prayer Breakfast: At the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., the President spoke about how his faith and values guide the difficult decisions he makes as he leads the country.
Megan SlackFebruary 03, 2012
03:26 PM EDT
This week, we celebrated the 1-year anniversary of Startup America, a White House initiative to encourage and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship.
Forgot to send a card in honor of the occasion? Don’t worry, we won’t tell. But you should take a few minutes to watch this White House White Board, released this day last year, and learn about how Startup America can help entrepreneurs overcome the “valley of death” they often face when launching a new project.
Find out more about how Startup America can help to boost startups and small businesses that create so many jobs in this country:
- Read the details of the Startup America legislative agenda President Obama sent to Congress
- Watch the Gene Sperling, Steve Case, and Aneesh Chopra answer questions about Startup America in a White House Hangout
- Video: What Can Startup America Do for Me?
- Video: Advice for Young Entrepreneurs from Startup America
Matt ComptonFebruary 03, 2012
02:42 PM EDT
Even with the news that the economy added 257,000 private sector jobs in January, there is more work to do to help our veterans returning from war find new jobs at home. And this morning, President Obama visited a fire station in Arlington, Virginia to discuss a new set of ideas to do just that -- including a Veterans Job Corps.
In the State of the Union, President Obama said:
[Our] freedom endures because of the men and women in uniform who defend it. As they come home, we must serve them as well as they’ve served us. That includes giving them the care and the benefits they have earned –- which is why we’ve increased annual VA spending every year I’ve been President. And it means enlisting our veterans in the work of rebuilding our nation.
That's a sentiment the President echoed today at Fire Station #5:
Our veterans are some of the most highly trained, highly educated, highly skilled workers that we’ve got. These are Americans that every business should be competing to attract. These are the Americans we want to keep serving here at home as we rebuild this country. So we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that when our troops come home, they come home to new jobs and new opportunities and new ways to serve their country.
Already, the Obama Administration has helped 600,000 veterans and their family members go back to school on the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and hired more than 120,000 veterans to serve in the federal government. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden have worked with the private sector to secure a pledge from businesses to hire 135,000. And President Obama worked with Congress last fall to pass two new tax credits for companies that put veterans to work.
Now President Obama is making a new push to help veterans build the lives the deserve. In Arlington, he called for three new initiatives.
First, President Obama is working to help state and local communities hire veterans to work as first responders. The administration will make available $166 million in 2012 Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Grant funding and $320 million in 2012 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants and award that money with a preference to communities that recruit and hire post-9/11 veterans. The President's budget for the 2013 fiscal year will include additional $5 billion for these grant programs.
Second, the President is working to develop a Veterans Job Corps conservation program that will put up to 20,000 veterans to work over the next five years. They'll work to restore habitats, eradicate invasive species, maintain public lands, and operate public facilities.
Third, President Obama wants to expand entrepreneurship training opportunities for service members and veterans. Back in August, the Administration established a two-day course in entrepreneurship as part of the Transition Assistance Program with the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, along with the Small Business Administration. The SBA also offers an eight week online training program that will teach the fundamentals of small business ownership to more than 10,000 veterans every year.
Colleen CurtisFebruary 03, 2012
11:35 AM EDT
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama invited a group of American heroes to the White House for a very special movie night. The guests were retired Tuskegee Airmen, the African American veterans who overcame segregation and prejudice to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of World War II, and whose achievements paved the way for full integration of the U.S. military.
The movie was "Red Tails", a new film that tells the Tuskegee story. "Red Tails"was produced by George Lucas, directed by Anthony Hemingway and stars Cuba Gooding Jr., who all joined the President, the First Lady and the Airmen for the screening in the White House theater.
Alan KruegerFebruary 03, 2012
09:31 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 the additional steps that President Obama proposed in his State of the Union address to create an economy built to last.
The unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage point to 8.3%, from a high of 10% in October 2009. The drop in unemployment over the month was entirely due to employment growth, as the labor force participation rate remained constant, once new population weights are taken into account. The unemployment rate has fallen by 0.8 percentage point in the last 12 months. Private sector payrolls increased by 257,000 jobs and overall payroll employment rose by 243,000 jobs in January. Despite adverse shocks that have created headwinds for economic growth, the economy has added private sector jobs for 23 straight months, for a total of 3.7 million payroll jobs over that period. In the last 12 months, 2.2 million private sector jobs were added on net. Nonetheless, we need faster growth to put more Americans back to work.
Sectors with net job increases in December included professional and business services (+70,000), manufacturing (+50,000), leisure and hospitality (+44,000), health care and social assistance (+29,700), and construction (+21,000). Government lost 14,000 jobs.
The monthly employment and unemployment numbers can be 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; nevertheless, the trend in job market indicators over recent months is an encouraging sign.
Matt ComptonFebruary 03, 2012
12:00 AM EDT
This week, the President made history by holding the first completely virtual interview at the White House on Google+. He also tackled the rising cost of tuition at the University of Michigan, welcomed the President of Georgia, convened a cabinet meeting, stopped by the Washington Auto Show, announced a major refinancing plan for responsible homeowners, and attended the National Prayer Breakfast.