Colleen CurtisFebruary 26, 2012
10:00 AM EDT
Warren Haynes is one of Rolling Stone's 25 greatest guitarists of all time. He's earned a powerful reputation for his fiery blues work with The Allman Brothers Band, The Dead and the Dave Matthews Band and also distinguished himself as a songwriter and leader of his own group, Gov't Mule.
Haynes was at the White House last week for the Red, White & Blues event, and he sat down for a backstage performance in the East Wing.
Watch as he sings "River's Gonna Rise," and tune in for the entire “In Performance at the White House” concert on PBS tomorrow, Monday, February 27:
Learn more about “In Performance at the White House”
Megan SlackFebruary 25, 2012
07:30 AM EDT
Oil companies receive $4 billion every year in taxpayer-funded subsidies, despite continually bringing in record high profits. Meanwhile, gas prices are on the rise—just like they were this time last year—and the same people funding those subsidies are paying more at the pump for the gas they need to get to school and work.
As the President explained in his weekly address, there are no quick fixes to this problem. But we can develop a strategy to take control of our energy future and avoid gas spike prices down the line.
In his State of the Union, President Obama introduced an all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American-made energy. This includes everything from tapping our offshore oil supplies and vast natural gas reserves, to doubling down on clean energy resources like wind and solar power, to developing new technologies that help us use less energy altogether.
But we need the right incentives in place to help put this strategy in place. Instead of $4 billion in yearly taxpayer-funded subsidies to the oil industry, we should renew tax credits that encourage new investments in clean energy.
Want to know more about President Obama’s blueprint for an America built on homegrown energy? Here’s everything you need to know.
Matt ComptonFebruary 25, 2012
05:30 AM EDT
February 24, 2012
08:00 PM EDT
Ed note: This was originally published on The CMS Blog, the official blog for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Fighting fraud and waste in the health care system is a top priority for the Obama Administration. We are committed to using all resources at our disposal in these efforts – and they are paying off.
Just last week, the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS) released an updated annual report showing that in FY 2011 anti-fraud efforts have recovered more than $4.1 billion in fraudulent Medicare payments – the second year in a row recovery efforts reached this unprecedented level. Compare this to just $2.14 billion recovered in FY 2008. Prosecutions are way up too: the number of individuals charged with fraud increased from 821 in fiscal year 2008 to 1,430 in fiscal year 2011 – nearly a 75 percent increase.
But we know we need keep doing more to end the “pay and chase” model of fighting fraud. We need to stop fraud and waste from happening in the first place. Today we’re taking an important step to protect taxpayer dollars by reducing improper payments to Medicare Advantage plans, an action that is estimated to save $370 million in the first audit year alone. By improving the way we audit Medicare Advantage contracts, we will reduce the payment error rate for the Medicare Advantage program and that saves money for Medicare.
We are also using new, advanced techniques to fight fraud. Starting last year, we have been using “predictive modeling” technology – similar to technology used by credit card companies to identify and fight fraud nationwide. This effort is just getting started but it’s already making a difference. Since the predictive modeling system was activated, CMS has stopped, prevented or identified $20 million in payments through November 2011 that should not have been made.
In addition, predictive modeling has identified 2,500 leads for further investigation, 600 preliminary law enforcement cases under review and resulted in 400 direct interviews with providers who would not have otherwise been contacted.
Predictive modeling won’t reach its full potential in overnight, but it’s already making an incredible difference and will do even more in the weeks, months and years ahead.
February 24, 2012
06:35 PM EDT
Throughout today and the rest of the weekend, President Obama will be meeting with governors from around the country. Today, he met with Democratic governors and talked about ways the federal government and the states can work together to create jobs and grow the economy. In particular, the President talked about ways to accelerate the growing trend of ‘insourcing’ – where companies are bringing jobs back to the United States and making additional investments here in America. The President’s conversation with governors about how we can work together to put Americans back to work and build an economy built to last will continue with a larger, bipartisan group of governors Monday.
Last year, around this time – along with similar meetings with governors – the President instructed agencies to work closely with State, local, and tribal governments to identify any Federal barriers that prevent efficient use of taxpayer dollars to achieve the best results.
Today we’re releasing a report highlighting examples of where these new partnerships are leading to real benefits for States, which include:
- More flexibility to design and implement education reforms. In exchange for agreeing to implement bold reforms around standards and accountability, the Administration is granting flexibility to states from the burdensome mandates of No Child Left Behind. The Administration recently granted waivers to the first 11 States that applied and looks forward to working with additional States.
- New job and workforce opportunities through the $37 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to promote economic development in high-growth industries, the $15 million Rural Jobs Accelerator to support jobs development, and $166 million to hire veterans under 2012 grants for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency (SAFER).
- Development of streamlined rules for Federal grants that focus resources on targeting high-risk areas to improve performance and target waste, fraud, and abuse.
- A forthcoming Executive Order to clear away the red tape that can slow down the construction of infrastructure projects.
Matt ComptonFebruary 24, 2012
06:30 PM EDT
Five months after becoming the first female prime minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt was at the White House today for a meeting with President Obama.
The two leaders talked through a range of issues -- including counterterrorism cooperation and international security. The President also took time to thank Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt for what he called the "extraordinary contributions" of Danish troops in the Helmand area of Afghanistan.
But in comparing notes, President Obama said that he learned that -- just like Americans -- Danes are focused intensely on creating jobs and growing the economy.
The President said:
[We] agreed that there has been some progress in resolving the sovereign debt issues, that there has been some progress with respect to the agreements between the EU and the IMF and Greece, the new government in Italy, new governments in Spain and Portugal are all making significant progress, but that there's a lot more work to do. And we will be consulting closely with Denmark.
President Obama will meet again with a range of leaders from Europe in Chicago in May -- for a NATO summit and a meeting of the G-8.
February 24, 2012
06:07 PM EDT
A quick look at the week of February 20th on WhiteHouse.gov:
Your Voice, Your $40: On Wednesday, the President signed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which extends the payroll tax cut and emergency jobless benefits through the end of the year. He credits the Americans who added their voices to the debate by letting their representatives know what $40 means to them—“This got done because of you…You made it clear that you wanted to see some common sense in Washington.”
President Obama, In Performance: Some huge names in music—Mick Jagger and B.B. King, among others—joined the President and the First Lady for a night of blues on Tuesday as part of the PBS “In Performance at the White House” series. By now, we’re no strangers to the President’s impressive pipes, and he certainly held his own against the music legends as he sang a few lines of “Sweet Home Chicago.”
New Museum on the Block: Tourists and locals alike appreciate Washington, D.C.’s museums. In 2015, a new one will open its doors—the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The President, who was accompanied by the First Lady at the future museum’s ground breaking on Wednesday morning, remarked that, “This museum should inspire us…It should stand as proof that the most important things rarely come quickly or easily. It should remind us that although we have yet to reach the mountaintop, we cannot stop climbing.”
CC2C: Dr. Jill Biden and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis hit the road this week for their three-day “Community College to Career” bus tour to highlight the integral role community colleges play in developing a flexible, highly-skilled 21st century workforce.
Welcome to Miami: President Obama visited the Sunshine State on Thursday and stopped at the University of Miami to check out their Industrial Assessment Center (IAC)—a smart and important piece of the administration’s “all-of-the-above” approach to domestic energy sources. He also spoke to the Hurricanes about securing a future for America built on home-grown energy, and his blueprint to help us get there.
Megan SlackFebruary 24, 2012
04:44 PM EDT
Thanks to fuel economy standards established by the Obama Administration, cars and trucks on the road in 2025 will average 55 miles per gallon of gas. These tougher fuel standards will reduce our oil consumption by more than 2 million barrels a day, but we have to do more.
In his State of the Union, President Obama introduced an all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American-made energy. This includes everything from tapping our vast natural gas reserves, to doubling down on clean energy resources like wind and solar power, to developing new technologies that help us use less energy altogether. The President’s strategy will help us depend less on imported oil that’s subject to annual price spikes and create job jobs for American workers.
And, as the President explained at the University of Miami on Thursday, we need the right incentives in place to help put this strategy in place. Instead of $4 billion in yearly taxpayer-funded subsidies to the oil industry—which is reaping record profits—we should renew tax credits that encourage new investments in clean energy.
Want to learn more about President Obama’s blueprint for an America built on homegrown energy? Here’s everything you need to know.
Matt ComptonFebruary 24, 2012
04:24 PM EDT
Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks are American music royalty. Tedeschi has an iconic voice and has toured with B.B. King, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones. Trucks is a prodigy -- who Rolling Stone has twice named one of the best guitarists of all time. The two married in 2001 and formed the Tedeschi Trucks Band in 2010.
They were on hand for the Red, White & Blues event at the White House this week, where they sat down for a backstage performance in the East Wing.
Watch as they sing, "Rollin' and Tumblin' " and tune in the entire “In Performance at the White House” concert on PBS next Monday, February 27
Matt ComptonFebruary 24, 2012
03:00 PM EDT
In September 2009, the President announced that—for the first time in history—White House visitor records would be made available to the public on an ongoing basis. Today, the White House releases visitor records that were generated in November 2011. Today’s release also includes visitor records generated prior to September 16, 2009 that were requested by members of the public in January 2011 pursuant to the White House voluntary disclosure policy. Today’s release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to nearly 2.1 million—all of which can be viewed in our Disclosures section.
Ed. note: For more information, check out Ethics.gov.
February 24, 2012
12:09 PM EDT
Ed note: this post originally appeared on energy.gov
During his visit to Florida yesterday, President Obama highlighted the University of Miami's Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) as a smart and important piece of the administration's "all-of-the-above" approach to domestic energy sources.
In September of last year, the Energy Department gave 24 universities a total of $30M in grants to help train the next generation of industrial energy-efficiency experts. Each school will receive $200,000 to $300,000 per year for up to 5 years to train students on core energy management concepts. The teams conduct energy assessments in a broad range of manufacturing facilities, which prepare students to compete in today's economy while helping local companies and factories reduce energy waste, save money, and become more competitive.
As President Obama said yesterday, "We're taking a step that will make it easier for companies to save money by investing in energy solutions that have been proven here at the University of Miami -- new lighting systems; advanced heating and cooling systems that can lower a company's energy bills and make them more competitive."
Since the Industrial Assessment Center program began in 1976, university teams have conducted more than 15,000 energy assessments at U.S. manufacturing plants nationwide. To date, more than 3,000 students have graduated from the Industrial Assessment Center program, with more than 60 percent going on to careers in the energy industry. Critically, these assessments have helped save over 530 trillion BTUs of energy -- enough to meet the energy needs of 5.5 million American homes -- and have helped participating manufacturers save more than $5.6 billion in energy costs.
Matt ComptonFebruary 24, 2012
09:00 AM EDT
It's hard to believe that when West Wing Week was born, "Don't Ask Don't Tell" was still around, American troops were still fighting in Iraq, the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse, and nobody knew that President Obama could sing -- what a difference 694 days makes. We've got a great week for you -- featuring BB King, the Boeing Dreamliner, a speech about American energy, a payroll tax cut extension, and special musical guest Keb Mo.
February 23, 2012
07:11 PM EDT
One thing I have learned in my 3 ½ years as CEO of The Arc is that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), their parents, siblings and family members are a passionate lot. So when the White House invited us to bring in 150 of The Arc’s chapter leaders, including people with I/DD, I knew we would have an enthusiastic response. Yet little did I expect the extraordinary energy that erupted when President Obama entered the room to speak to the group. Our leaders from throughout the country were quick to their feet with a rousing welcome, rising again when the President concluded his remarks telling the disability community “I’ve got your back.”
Matt ComptonFebruary 23, 2012
06:55 PM EDT
President Obama was in Miami today to talk about securing a future for America built on home-grown energy -- and his blueprint to help us get there.
Part of the conversation focused on fuel prices -- and the fact that they're increasing. It's a real problem for people all over the country, which the President said required a real solution, not a slogan from a bumper sticker.
You know there are no quick fixes to this problem. You know we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices. If we’re going to take control of our energy future and can start avoiding these annual gas price spikes that happen every year -- when the economy starts getting better, world demand starts increasing, turmoil in the Middle East or some other parts of the world -- if we’re going to avoid being at the mercy of these world events, we’ve got to have a sustained, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy. Yes, oil and gas, but also wind and solar and nuclear and biofuels, and more.
As President Obama pointed out, that's a vision toward which we are making progress:
In 2010, our dependence on foreign oil was under 50 percent for the first time in over a decade. We were less reliant on foreign oil than we had been. In 2011, the United States relied less on foreign oil than in any of the last 16 years. That's the good news. And because of the investments we’ve made, the use of clean, renewable energy in this country has nearly doubled -– and thousands of American jobs have been created as a consequence.
But there is still much more that needs to be done. The President is fighting to roll back the $4 billion in tax subsidies that the oil industry receives every year. And in the weeks and months ahead, the President will continue to finding ways to invest in clean energy technologies and innovation.
Want more details about the President's blueprint? Here's everything you need to know.
February 23, 2012
04:00 PM EDT
Today at the White House, the Obama Administration unveiled a blueprint for a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights to protect consumers online. As the President wrote in his cover letter to the report:
“Never has privacy been more important than today, in the age of the Internet, the World Wide Web and smart phones. In just the last decade, the Internet has enabled a renewal of direct political engagement by citizens around the globe and an explosion of commerce and innovation creating jobs of the future. Much of this innovation is enabled by novel uses of personal information. So, it is incumbent on us to do what we have done throughout history: apply our timeless privacy values to the new technologies and circumstances of our times.”
In a related announcement, leading Internet companies and online advertising networks in the Digital Advertising Alliance came to the White House to commit to using Do Not Track technology now available in most major web browsers to make it easier for users to control online tracking.
The White House has proposed a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights as part of a strategy to improve consumers’ privacy protections and to ensure that the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth. These rights give consumers clear guidance on what they should expect from those who handle their personal information, and set expectations for companies that use personal data. With the Internet as a leading engine for economic growth, the Administration is committed to building consumer trust in a rapidly changing digital environment.
Acting Secretary Rebecca BlankFebruary 23, 2012
03:49 PM EDT
Ed. note: This was originally posted on The Commerce Blog
As President Obama said when he launched the Campaign to Cut Waste in June 2011, “No amount of waste is acceptable, not when it’s your money. Just as families are living within their means, government should, too, so we can invest in the things that we know will create good jobs and grow the economy.” As part of those ongoing efforts to make government more accountable to the American people and cut wasteful spending, I am happy to report today that the Commerce Department has awarded a contract for computers that is expected to save taxpayers $20-25 million over the next five years.
Through the contract with Intelligent Decisions Inc., we will reduce our cost for desktops and laptops by 40 percent. The contract leverages the large volume of computers that Commerce purchases each year and standardizes specifications to achieve significant cost reductions. Making wise spending decisions like this will enable Commerce to focus resources on its primary mission, which is supporting innovation, helping American businesses create jobs, and driving U.S. competitiveness around the world.
Intelligent Decisions Inc., is a small business reseller offering products manufactured by Dell Inc. By awarding this contract to a small business, the Commerce Department will increase its small business participation for computer purchases by over thirty percent. Intelligent Decisions Inc. will be providing valuable services to Commerce, including helping to better monitor its inventory of computers, improving delivery time, and loading custom images onto computers. Through the new contract, Commerce will be able to do the following:
- Reduce the thousands of employee hours required to award hundreds of separate contracts for computers;
- Reduce IT complexity and longer term support and maintenance costs by standardizing PC specifications across the Department; and
- Streamline the computer ordering process.
Erin LindsayFebruary 23, 2012
02:00 PM EDT
Yesterday, the White House responded to a petition asking us to give the National Guard a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In the response, Christine Wormuth, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Defense Policy explained that through the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau became a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with the specific responsibility of addressing matters involving non-Federalized National Guard forces in support of homeland defense and civil support missions.
The response also included a video from Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting, that explains the important role Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Craig R. McKinley plays as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
You can read the full response below. To check out more of the nearly 50 official petition responses from the White House, or to create or sign a petition visit the We the People platform at Whitehouse.gov/petitions.By Christine E. WormuthThank you for signing the petition “Give the National Guard a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” On December 31, 2011, the President signed the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which made the Chief of the National Guard Bureau a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with the specific responsibility of addressing matters involving non-Federalized National Guard forces in support of homeland defense and civil support missions.The President looks forward to continuing to work with the Chief of the National Guard Bureau in his new role as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and appreciates the contributions of our National Guard across the 50 states and four U.S. territories. He also deeply values the dedication and sacrifices that all members of the Armed Forces, their families, and veterans make for our Nation's security.In this video, Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting, explains the important role Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Craig R. McKinley plays as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Christine E. Wormuth is Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Defense Policy
Secretary Kathleen SebeliusFebruary 23, 2012
11:49 AM EDT
Before the Affordable Care Act, Americans like Deborah Sferlazza of Shelby Township, Michigan, were locked out of health insurance due to a pre-existing condition. This often a meant going without the care they need for those conditions.
Now, 50,000 Americans have health coverage through the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan in their state – and are getting the care they need to manage their medical conditions. The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, or PCIP, is a temporary high-risk health insurance program that makes health coverage available and more affordable for individuals who are uninsured and have been denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition.
In 2005, Deborah suffered a back injury that left her unemployed and struggling to afford health insurance premiums. She runs her own small business out of her home, but like many self-employed Americans, particularly those with a pre-existing condition, health insurance was out of reach.
All that changed when Deborah found out about Michigan’s PCIP program and was able to enroll this past summer. She received back surgery in August 2011 and is now on the road to recovery.
Secretary Hilda SolisFebruary 23, 2012
10:34 AM EDT
Dr. Jill Biden and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis kicked off a three-day “Community College to Career” bus tour yesterday to highlight the unique role community colleges play in developing a flexible, highly-skilled 21st-century workforce to meet emerging regional business needs. Secretary Solis is writing updates on the trip from the road.
We just saw the great things happening in Cincinnati to train up our next generation of nurses. The average age of the registered nurse is climbing. There are more nurses in their 50s right now than any other age range. They account for almost one-quarter of our nursing workforce. So it’s critical that we prepare for these retirements and train up our next generation of nurses.
Many schools across the country have struggled to meet the rising need for more nursing professionals. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, more than 32 million Americans will soon gain access to healthcare services, including access to care provided by registered nurses.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing found that nursing schools turned away more than 67,000 qualified applicants in 2010 due to insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, and budget constraints. Nine years ago, in response to the urgent nursing shortage, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College began a health careers collaborative with local hospitals. The goal was to train up local workers for entry-level health care jobs like office assistants and medical coders—and help incumbent workers who wanted to continue their education and perhaps become nurses.
Matt ComptonFebruary 22, 2012
06:59 PM EDT
Just now, President Obama signed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 -- extending the payroll tax cut and emergency jobless benefits through the end of the year.
Last week, the President called on Americans from across the country to add their voices to the debate and let us know what they would do without an extra $40 in their paychecks. Thousands of individuals did exactly that, and it made all the difference.
At the time, President Obama said, "Until you see me sign this thing, you've got to keep on speaking up...If it's not on the White House website, it hasn't happened."
It happened. Here's that picture the President promised:
A unique view of 2012