Matt ComptonMarch 12, 2012
04:18 PM EDT
In his State of the Union Address, President Obama talked about the importance of doing more to help American workers acquire the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow. Today, the Administration is outlining more details of the President's proposal to reform our nation's re-employment system and help up to one million displaced workers each year.
President Obama wants to create a Universal Displaced Worker Program to provide individuals with high-quality job-search assistance and access to critical skills training for high-growth industries. For older workers, the new system would include the option for wage insurance -- which would provide some compensation if they are forced to accept a position with a lower salary.
The President’s proposal also calls for the creation of an American Job Center network. Right now, there are nearly 3,000 employment centers that receive federal funds. Their names vary from state to state or community to community and the tools that exist online are spread across a range of disconnected websites.
President Obama wants to invest $50 million to improve and expand these workforce centers so that both workers and businesses have one, easy to identify source for help and services.
The first piece of this effort will be a new online American Job Center which will launch at JobCenter.USA.gov in the months ahead. When the site rolls out in full, it will provide a single point of access to a full slate of key information for companies and individuals. But in the meantime, we've already begun the process of aggregating some of the best resources – like Opportunity.gov, which helps individuals find new educational opportunities to advance their careers, or MySkillsMyFuture.org, which helps people match their experience with other occupations -- at the site. Go check them out.
To learn more about the President plan, click here.
Heather ZichalMarch 12, 2012
11:59 AM EDT
One year ago, the President put forward a comprehensive plan in the Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future that outlined the Administration’s all-of-the-above approach to American energy – a strategy aimed at reducing our reliance on foreign oil, saving families and businesses money at the pump, and positioning the United States as the global leader in clean energy.
Today, the President received a new progress report, showcasing the Administration’s historic achievements in each of these areas. The accomplishments in this report, which represent the efforts of six Federal agencies, underscore the Administration’s commitment over the past three years to promoting an all-hands-on-deck, all-of-the-above approach to American energy and building a more secure energy future.
March 12, 2012
11:52 AM EDT
This week is Sunshine Week, a joint project of the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Held in mid-March, Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote discussion about the importance of open government and freedom of information.
The theme of this year’s Sunshine Week is “Put Sunshine in Your Government,” and so now is an appropriate time to reflect on the Obama Administration’s strong commitment to open government over the past three years, and more particularly to provide an update on implementation of the U.S. National Action Plan on Open Government.
President Obama unveiled the National Plan in September 2011, as part of the United States’ commitment as a founding member of the Open Government Partnership – a global effort to promote more transparent, effective, and accountable governance in countries around the world.
March 11, 2012
08:04 PM EDT
Sunday afternoon, President Obama called President Karzai to express his shock and sadness at the reported killing and wounding of Afghan civilians. President Obama extended his condolences to the people of Afghanistan, and made clar his Administration's commitment to establish the facts as quickly as possible and to hold fully accountable anyone responsible. He further reaffirmed the United States' deep respect for the Afghan people and the bonds between the two countries.
In a statement earlier in the day, the President described the incident as "tragic and shocking, and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan."
Megan SlackMarch 11, 2012
09:00 AM EDT
One year ago today, one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded struck off the coast of Japan and triggered a massive tsunami. Waves reached as far as 6 miles inland, claiming nearly 16,000 lives and causing billions of dollars in damage to roads, bridges, and buildings. The threat of nuclear meltdown at several of the country’s badly damaged reactors loomed large, and months of around-the-clock work was required to avoid catastrophe.
The United States sent help to assist in the search, rescue, and recovery efforts, and worked closely with Japanese officials in the days, weeks and months following the initial disaster. At the peak of Operation Tomodachi—our single, largest bilateral military operation with Japan ever—the Department of Defense had 24,000 personnel, 190 aircraft, and 24 Navy ships supporting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.
President Obama, on March 17 of last year, explained that the Japanese people were not alone in their time of need:
Across the Pacific, they will find a hand of support extended from the United States as they get back on their feet. After all, we have an alliance that was forged more than a half century ago, and strengthened by shared interests and democratic values. Our people share ties of family, ties of culture, and ties of commerce. Our troops have served to protect Japan’s shores, and our citizens have found opportunity and friendship in Japan’s cities and towns.
Matt ComptonMarch 10, 2012
05:30 AM EDT
Speaking from a factory in Virginia, President Obama talks about how companies are creating more jobs in the United States, making better products than ever before, and how many are developing new technologies that are reducing our dependence on foreign oil and saving families money at the pump.
Matt ComptonMarch 09, 2012
06:42 PM EDT
On a day when we received another strong jobs report -- private employers added 233,000 jobs in February, marking the 24th straight month of job growth -- President Obama headed to Petersburg, Virginia to talk about additional steps we can take to continue boosting the economy.
Manufacturing is one of the sectors helping to lead the recovery, and today American factories are adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s. That's a valuable trend, and President Obama is doing everything in his power to support it.
Through an initiative called the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, the President has convened some of the leading minds in science, education, and industry with a goal of ensuring that products that change the world are invented and assembled right here in the United States. In Petersburg, he discussed his plans to build on their work:
I’m laying out my plans for a new National Network of Manufacturing Innovation–-and these are going to be institutes of manufacturing excellence where some of our most advanced engineering schools and our most innovative manufacturers collaborate on new ideas, new technology, new methods, new processes.
The President is investing $45 million in a pilot program aimed at promoting collaboration between government and industry in order to encourage innovation in manufacturing:
With that pilot in place, we’ll keep on pushing Congress to do the right thing because this is the kind of approach that can succeed, but we’ve got to have this all across the country. I want everybody thinking about how are we making the best products; how are we harnessing the new ideas and making sure they’re located here in the United States.
To learn more, read the President's full remarks.
Luis MirandaMarch 09, 2012
05:05 PM EDT
On Thursday, March 8th, 2012, the U.S. Department of State hostedthe first-ever Spanish-language press briefing on current U.S. foreign policy issues. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Mike Hammer took questions in Spanish from the podium in the Department’s press briefing room.
Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Mike Hammer
Luis Miranda is Director of Hispanic Media for the White House
March 09, 2012
05:03 PM EDT
A quick look at what happened this week on WhiteHouse.gov:
A Special Bond: Addressing the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, the President reaffirmed the strength of our relationship with Israel, discussing both countries’ mutual interests, the importance of securing peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and the actions his Administration has taken to support Israel. The President’s statements at the conference were followed by a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Monday. Speaking to reporters before sitting down for the meeting, the President noted, “As I’ve said repeatedly, the bond between our two countries is unbreakable.”
An Important Milestone: On Thursday, President Obama welcomed Prime Minister Abdurrahim ElKeib of Libya to West Wing—marking the first White House visit from a Libyan prime minister in nearly 60 years. At the meeting, President Obama applauded Dr. ElKeib’s leadership and encouraged his government continue making progress with the country’s democratic transition.
Mutually Beneficial Partnership with Ghana: In 2009, Ghana was one of the first nations to host the President and First Lady Michelle Obama. On Thursday, the President returned the favor, welcoming the President of Ghana, John Atta Mills, to the White House to discuss the growing commercial and economic ties between the two nations. The President outlined a number of initiatives in which both countries are working together—“[The] President’s government recently is collaborating with a number of American businesses to build infrastructure inside of Ghana, which will create thousands of jobs here in the United States. And the trade that we engage in creates jobs for tens of thousands of people back in Ghana.”
Megan SlackMarch 09, 2012
02:39 PM EDT
Today’s jobs report shows that private sector employers added 233,000 jobs to their payrolls in February. That means the economy has added jobs for 24 consecutive months—that’s two full years of job growth. More than 3.9 million jobs were added during that time.
These numbers tell the story of our economic recovery from the worst recession since the Great Depression. And although we’re steadily moving in the right direction, these numbers also tell the story of how much work still has to be done to restore the middle class security—and the 8 million jobs—that were lost as a result of the financial crisis.
These numbers are your story, too, whether you’ve found a job or are still looking for one. Maybe you’ve hired new employees for your small business or maybe you’re still waiting for business to pick back up—these numbers tell the story of your progress.
So help us add to the narrative by sharing your story. If you’re a business owner who’s been able to hire new employees in the last two years, tell us when you started hiring and what enabled your business to grow. If you’ve been hired in the past two years, tell us what that job means for you and your family. And if you’re still looking for work, tell us why it’s so important that we do more than just recover from this crisis, and instead build an economy that offers true security for the middle class.
We’ll use these stories to help illustrate the progress of the last two years and the importance of doing everything we can to continue strengthening our economy and creating jobs in the months and years ahead.
John P. HoldrenMarch 09, 2012
01:11 PM EDT
I’m very excited that President Obama today is appointing Todd Park as the new U.S. Chief Technology Officer, with the important task of applying the newest technology and latest advances to make the Federal government work better for the American people.
For nearly three years, Todd has served as CTO of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where he was a hugely energetic force for positive change. He led the successful execution of an array of breakthrough initiatives, including the creation of HealthCare.gov, the first website to provide consumers with a comprehensive inventory of public and private health insurance plans available across the Nation by zip code in a single, easy-to-use tool.
On his first full day in office, President Obama created the position of “Chief Technology Officer” to help modernize a Federal government relying too heavily on 20th century technology, and to better use technological tools to address a wide range of national challenges. In his role as U.S. CTO, Todd will continue the work of Aneesh Chopra, the Nation’s first Chief Technology Officer, who stepped down last month after an inspired and productive three years on the job.
The U.S. CTO’s office is situated here within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where Todd will work closely with U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Telecommunications Tom Power. Tom will perform the duties of OSTP’s Associate Director for Technology—a position previously held by Chopra in conjunction with his role as U.S. CTO—while a search is conducted for a permanent replacement.
Welcome aboard, Todd!
Luis MirandaMarch 09, 2012
11:05 AM EDT
Vice President Biden interviewed with Telemundo, Univisión and CNN en Español this week after returning from a visit to Mexico and Honduras as part of the administration’s sustained, high-level engagement with the Americas. The Vice President’s visit comes in advance of the President’s participation in the Summit of the Americas this April in Colombia, which will focus on leveraging Hemispheric connections and partnerships to improve the lives of people throughout the region.
In addition to discussing his visit, the Vice President talked about the DREAM Act, immigration reform, and what it meant to him to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe – one of the most visited Roman Catholic sites in the world and the most holy Roman Catholic site in Mexico.
Both Telemundo and Univision will air larger portions of the interview on their Sunday shows Enfoque and Al Punto so tune in, but here are clips of the interviews they have already run.
To see the Vice President’s interview with CNN en Español: Click Here
For an excerpt of the Vice President’s comments to Maria Elena Salinas from Univisión: Click Here
To read more about the Vice President’s trip to Mexico and Honduras Click Here, and for a blog post on his visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe Click Here. See a slideshow of the Vice President's triphere.
And don’t forget to tune in on Sunday!
Luis Miranda is White House Director of Hispanic Media
March 09, 2012
10:14 AM EDT
Ed note: this post was originally published at On Safety, the Consumer Product Safety Commission's official blog
One year! That’s how long it’s been since the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission launched SaferProducts.gov. This first year of the government’s consumer products safety information website has been the year of the empowered consumer.
Here’s what Year One has looked like:
So far, more than 6,600 of you have reported products to CPSC that caused harm or have the potential to harm someone in and around your home. These reports are published and available for all consumers to see and use. More are published every day.
SaferProducts.gov is valuable to consumers because now there is a single place where you can search for incident reports about products, file an incident report, or check for recall information. Before SaferProducts.gov, you would have had to file a Freedom of Information Act request about a specific product and manufacturer to learn about consumer product complaints received by CPSC. Now, you can search for this public information easily on the website.
About 36% of your reports involve kitchen products. Mostly, those involve electric ranges or ovens, dishwashers, refrigerators, microwaves and coffee and tea pots. Here’s a list of the Top 10 reports to SaferProducts.gov:
Alan KruegerMarch 09, 2012
09:37 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 dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the recession that began at the end of 2007, including measures to help the sectors that were most severely harmed by the bubble economy that misdirected investment and created too few durable jobs.
After losing millions of good manufacturing jobs in the years before and during the recession, the economy has added 429,000 manufacturing jobs in the past two years. For the first time since the 1990s, the manufacturing sector is adding jobs. To support a revival in manufacturing jobs and output, the President has proposed tax incentives for manufacturers, enhanced training for the workforce, and measures to create manufacturing hubs.
Private sector payrolls increased by 233,000 jobs and overall payroll employment rose by 227,000 jobs in February. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.3%. The unemployment rate has fallen by 0.8 percentage point over the last 6 months.
There was an increase in the size of the labor force last month of 476,000. Importantly, the increase in the labor force last month was due in large part to a reduction in the number of workers who exited the labor force between January and February.
Despite adverse shocks that have created headwinds for economic growth, the economy has added private sector jobs for 24 straight months, for a total of more than 3.9 million payroll jobs over that period. In the last 12 months, 2.2 million private sector jobs were added on net. In the last 6 months, 1.3 million private sector jobs were added, the most of any 6 month period in nearly 6 years.
Sectors with net job increases included health care and social assistance (+61,100), temporary help services (+45,200), leisure and hospitality (+44,000), and manufacturing (+31,000). Construction lost 13,000 jobs, reflecting a loss of 15,400 specialty trade contractor jobs. Employment in the Federal government fell by 7,000 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 ComptonMarch 09, 2012
12:00 AM EDT
This week, President Obama addressed both the Conservation and AIPAC conferences and sat down with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, Prime Minister Al-Keeb of Libya, and President Mills of Ghana. He also hosted a White House news conference, announced steps the administration is taking to support homeowners, and traveled to the Daimler Mount Holly Truck Plant in North Carolina.
Matt ComptonMarch 08, 2012
06:20 PM EDT
Today, President Obama welcomed the President of Ghana, John Atta Mills, to the White House where they discussed the growing commercial and economic ties between the two nations.
Ghana was one of the first nations to host the President and First Lady Michelle Obama in 2009.
After their meeting, they spoke briefly with reporters, where President Obama outlined a number of initiatives where our countries are working together:
[The] President’s government recently is collaborating with a number of American businesses to build infrastructure inside of Ghana, which will create thousands of jobs here in the United States. And the trade that we engage in creates jobs for tens of thousands of people back in Ghana.
So that’s a good-news story. And what we’ve also been able to do is collaborate with the Ghanaian government through the Millennium Challenge Corporation -- they are a grant recipient -- and it has helped to improve a wide range of infrastructure and institutions inside of Ghana. Our Feed the Future program -- we’ve been able to help increase productivity there, and the Partnership for Growth -- that is also another mechanism where we’re collaborating, for example, on power generation and credit to small businesses and medium-size businesses inside of Ghana.
To read the full remarks, go here.
March 08, 2012
03:12 PM EDT
Yesterday, President Obama welcomed Prime Minister Abdurrahim ElKeib of Libya to the White House, kicking off three days of meetings for the Libyan leader in New York and Washington with U.S. officials, members of Congress, and business and policy leaders. Dr. ElKeib was the first Libyan prime minister to visit the White House in nearly 60 years, indicating a new era of friendship between the United States and Libya.
During yesterday’s meeting President Obama applauded Dr. ElKeib’s leadership and encouraged his government to make continued progress with the country’s democratic transition. He pledged the support of the United States to the people of Libya as they work to hold the country’s first free and fair national elections later this summer. Rebuilding their country and establishing security will take time, and the President encouraged Prime Minister ElKeib to take full advantage of American and international expertise as the Libyan people address the challenges of the days ahead.
Hallie SchneirMarch 08, 2012
12:59 PM EDT
Earlier today, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at the International Women of Courage Awards at the Department of State. Please see below for her remarks, and don’t forget to check out President Obama’s 2012 Proclamation on Women’s History Month.
Thank you. Thank you so much. Good morning, everyone. To say it is a pleasure to be here with all of you today would be an understatement. This is truly an important opportunity, it is an uplifting opportunity, and I am happy to be a part of it every single year.
And I have to start by thanking Secretary Clinton not just for that very kind introduction, but she has been an outstanding -- should I say that again? -- an outstanding Secretary of State. And she has been an inspiration to women and girls around the world. She is a role model for me in so many ways. I don't think she realizes how what she has done has made what I am doing partially possible. So with all the respect and admiration that I can give to her, I will be wherever she needs me to be, whenever she needs me to be there.
I also want to join in recognizing our special guest, First Lady Mills, who is a dear friend. We enjoyed our visit to Ghana. And she is going to have a productive stay here in Washington, so she's going to be busy. Just take it easy. And of course, Secretary Vanda Pignato, who is a dear friend as well. We are honored to have you with us as well. I also want to thank them for taking the time to be here today. It means so much to us all for you to be here.
I have to thank Ambassador Melanne Verveer for her terrific work she is doing -- what she is doing for -- for Global Women’s Issues. This event is top-notch, and it wouldn't happen if not for her. We are so grateful.
Megan SlackMarch 08, 2012
12:12 PM EDT
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has declared March 8, 2012 as "What's on My Plate?" day to help raise awareness about the importance of choosing healthy, nutritious foods to fill our plates.
White House Chef and Let's Move Policy Advisor Sam Kass invited his friend Elmo to talk about the healthy foods that many students will see on their school lunch plates as a result of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act that President Obama signed in December of 2010.
The USDA introduced MyPlate as a reminder to include the five food groups that form the building blocks of a healthy diet—fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy—into our meals.
So tell us: What’s on your plate? Post pictures of your plate on Twitter with the hashtag #MyPlate or add your photo to the USDA Flickr group http://www.flickr.com/groups/choosemyplate
March 08, 2012
11:12 AM EDT
At the United Nations General Assembly in September 2010, President Obama said: “The common thread of progress is the principle that government is accountable to its citizens.” A government, however, is only truly accountable to its citizens when it is transparent and subject to citizens’ direct participation.
These principles have guided the Administration from the beginning. On his first full day in office, President Obama signed the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government—a document that has helped to guide the federal government into a new era of openness and public engagement. Since then, the President has redoubled his Administration’s efforts to live up to that early promise—creating Data.gov to increase public access to government information, aggressively tracking the federal government’s use of federal dollars with websites like Recovery.gov and USASpending.gov, introducing the “We the People” initiative to give all Americans an opportunity to petition the government on a range of issues affecting our nation, calling for a large-scale transformation in how agencies maintain their records, and launching an effort to cut waste and streamline government operations.
These efforts and others demonstrate that President Obama has made open government a high priority. In furtherance of that commitment and in celebration of Sunshine Week, the President is taking yet another step that ensures an unprecedented level of openness in government.
A unique view of 2012