Our Top Stories
Karen MillsApril 20, 2012
03:02 PM EDT
It’s almost time for National Small Business Week 2012 - and to kick things off we are launching a video contest.
Each week I travel around the country and hear from business owners about how SBA has helped them start, grow and succeed. I’m often inspired by each business’ ingenuity, and it’s the small business owners I meet each week that are making communities strong and keeping America competitive.
I want to share these stories, and so many more, with everyone. The video contest is an opportunity for small business owners and entrepreneurs to share their success stories with a larger audience and emphasize how important they are to their local economy.
Karen MillsApril 20, 2012
11:52 AM EDT
Ed note: This is was originally posted on the Small Business Administration Community blog.
Graduation season is right around the corner and to help grads who are looking to start a small business, SBA and the U.S. Department of Education will host a Twitter Q & A Session on April 25 at 2 pm EDT to connect soon-to-be grads or recent grads with resources that will help them startup, succeed and create an economy built to last.
U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and I will answer your questions about starting a business and highlight the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan, which supports young college grads who are looking to start a business, join a startup, or work in a public service job by making Federal student loan repayment manageable. IBR helps to keep loan payments affordable by using a sliding scale to determine how much you can afford to pay on your Federal loans—empowering you to take risks with new opportunities like starting a small business.
Colleen CurtisApril 20, 2012
12:00 AM EDT
This week, the President visited one of the Sunshine State's largest ports, attended the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, announced new steps to strengthen oversight of energy markets, welcomed champion NASCAR drivers and the Alabama Crimson Tide football team to the White House, and traveled to Ohio to speak with unemployed workers about the importance of job training program. That's April 13th to April 19th or "Roll Tide."
Colleen CurtisApril 19, 2012
06:21 PM EDT
President Obama welcomed the University of Alabama's football team to the White House this afternoon for a ceremony on the South Lawn celebrating their second national championship win in three years -- and their 14th overall.
Today's visit comes almost exactly a year since an F4 tornado hit the town of Tuscaloosa, killing 248 people including six students from the University. The President toured the devastation two days later, and spoke about that experience today:
I’ve got to tell you, I’d never seen anything like it.
And I remember something the Mayor said that day. He said that when something like that happens, folks tend to forget all their petty differences. Things like politics, religion, race -– when we’re confronted with a tragedy of such magnitude, all that just fades away. We’re reminded that all we have is each other. And if you need proof of that, just look how the Auburn community stepped up during that time of need.
Secretary Hilda SolisApril 19, 2012
05:15 PM EDT
Ed note: this post was originally published on Work in Progress, the Department of Labor's blog
Two months ago, the President signed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. That legislation extended the vital payroll tax cut and federal unemployment insurance programs that have been so crucial for American families and to the continued and sustained economic recovery. But it also included several important reforms to the Unemployment Insurance system that didn’t grab the headlines the day it passed.
The Obama Administration is committed to finding new and innovative ways to turn the unemployment system into a reemployment system. States, as laboratories of democracy, can play a crucial role in developing creative strategies that help us accomplish this goal in ways that may inform the policies of other states and the federal government in the future.
Today, I had the privilege to announce guidance to states interested in developing demonstration projects to help their unemployed obtain jobs faster and more efficiently. These demonstrations are a key component in the first major overhaul of the Unemployment Insurance system in decades.
Through this initiative, 10 states will have the opportunity to develop new and creative ways to help recipients of UI funds get back to work faster. These states will design programs that help the unemployed get back to work, while lowering costs and ensuring that all participants receive the same worker protections. This will create a level playing field for employers who follow the rules and have their employees’ welfare in mind.
The Labor Department is preparing to announce more guidance in the coming months that further improve the functionality of the UI system. These reforms will provide states with more flexibility to respond to changes in the economy, provide employers tools to avoid layoffs, help the unemployed get back into the workforce faster and even expand opportunities for the unemployed to start their own businesses.
Erin LindsayApril 19, 2012
01:48 PM EDT
Note: This live session of Office Hours has concluded. Check out the full question and answer session below or at Storify.com
Earlier this month, President Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act making it easier for small businesses and entrepreneurs to obtain much needed access to capital. Tomorrow April 20th at 3:30 pm EDT join us for a special session of Office Hours with Todd Park, Assistant to the President and U.S. Chief Technology Officer (CTO) who will answer your questions about how the JOBS Act will help Main Street small businesses and high-growth enterprises to raise capital from investors more efficiently, and allow small and young firms across the country to grow and hire faster. You can ask your question on Twitter using the hashtag #WHChat.
The President believes that our small businesses and startups are driving the recovery and job creation and the JOBS Act includes new ways to encourage small business and startup investment by allowing for “crowdfunding,” expanding “mini-public offerings,” and creating an “IPO on-ramp” consistent with investor protections.
• Allowing Small Businesses to Harness “Crowdfunding”: The Internet already has been a tool for fundraising from many thousands of donors. Subject to rulemaking by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), startups and small businesses will be allowed to raise up to $1 million annually from many small-dollar investors through web-based platforms, democratizing access to capital.
• Expanding “Mini Public Offerings”: Prior to this legislation, the existing “Regulation A” exemption from certain SEC requirements for small businesses seeking to raise less than $5 million in a public offering was seldom used. The JOBS Act will raise this threshold to $50 million, streamlining the process for smaller innovative companies to raise capital consistent with investor protections.
• Creating an “IPO On-Ramp”: The JOBS Act makes it easier for young, high-growth firms to go public by providing an incubator period for a new class of “Emerging Growth Companies.” During this period, qualifying companies will have time to reach compliance with certain public company disclosure and auditing requirements after their initial public offering (IPO). Any firm that goes public already has up to two years after its IPO to comply with certain Sarbanes-Oxley auditing requirements. The JOBS Act extends that period to a maximum of five years, or less if during the on-ramp period a company achieves $1 billion in gross revenue, $700 million in public float, or issues more than $1 billion in non-convertible debt in the previous three years
Josh EarnestApril 19, 2012
12:00 PM EDT
Yesterday, the President visited Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio to highlight how federal job training funding is providing critical services for unemployed workers and helping them to get jobs in high-demand, high-growth industries. The President sat down with students in the college’s Transformations program for Computerized Numerically Controlled Machining, a program with a proven track record of success – placing more than 90 percent of participants in jobs within three months of graduation.
If Republicans in Congress had their way, they would actually cut funding to programs that help middle class families get back on their feet in order to provide more tax cuts to the wealthy. That doesn’t make any sense.
- Their proposed cuts would reduce funding for federal employment and training programs to help laid-off and out-of-work adults–eliminating services to 425,000 Americans in 2013, and nearly 1.1 million in 2014.
- Across America, in 2013 an estimated 13,000 young people and 45,000 in 2014 would also lose employment and training services, and job search assistance services would be eliminated for over 1.4 million job-seekers in 2013 and 3.5 million in 2014.
Colleen CurtisApril 19, 2012
11:25 AM EDT
Go behind the scenes as First Lady Michelle Obama travels from Washington DC to Philadelphia, New York City, Shreveport and Jacksonville to honor our servicemen and women and their families. Join us on set at the Colbert Report, on stage with Ellen DeGeneris and on the ground with thousands of nurses and meet the 50,000 person to get a job through the Joining Forces hiring initiatives.
Macon PhillipsApril 19, 2012
10:53 AM EDT
On Wednesday evening, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew offered remarks at the presentation of the Elie Wiesel Award to Aung San Suu Kyi at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Tribute Dinner. In the speech, Lew spoke about his own experience as a young man and the importance of the work that Aung San Suu Kyi and the Museum do.
His full remarks as prepared for delivery are below:
It is an honor for me to join such a distinguished group of speakers and guests this evening. I’d also like to add my thanks to all of the board members, contributors, and staff who support the mission of the Holocaust Museum. And I know how much President Obama is looking forward to visiting the museum on Monday.
My father was born in Poland, and his family left their small town at the end of World War I.
Many of his neighbors and relatives were not so lucky. And he made it here to America, a country where he did not need to live in fear. A country where even the son of an Eastern European immigrant could become Chief of Staff to the President of the United States.
As a child, there were constant reminders of how lucky my family had been. I grew up in a neighborhood that was home to many Holocaust survivors, at a time when the Holocaust was something that just wasn’t talked about. When peoples’ numbers showed on their arm, they would pull their sleeve down.
It is amazing how much has changed. Today, thanks in no small part to your work at the Holocaust Museum, the Holocaust is something we do talk about. A child born in America today may never meet a Holocaust survivor, or even a veteran of World War II. But they will always know what happened, and be able to remember and honor those who lost their lives.
Ari Isaacman AstlesApril 19, 2012
10:00 AM EDT
Have you ever wanted to dive deep beneath the ocean’s surface? Discover a sunken shipwreck? Watch sea cucumbers dance and crabs scurry amongst deep corals? Or witness as scientists make new discoveries? Here is your chance.
Matt ComptonApril 19, 2012
09:26 AM EDT
Ed note: This event occurred in the past.
The White House LGBT Conference on HIV/AIDS will provide advocates, community leaders, and members of the public with an opportunity to engage with the Obama Administration on issues related to the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the LGBT community and HIV/AIDS-related health disparities, with a specific focus on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. You'll be able to watch live here, starting at 8:30 AM ET.
April 19, 2012
09:00 AM EDT
In his video message, President Obama speaks for all Americans who remember the courageous and selfless acts of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. In 2012, Sweden is celebrating the 100thanniversary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg, a diplomat who chose not to be indifferent and to rise to a higher moral calling. We remember and revere this courageous man whose efforts saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust. Wallenberg paid with his life for his commitment to basic values. And we all have the obligation to ponder the full measure of Wallenberg’s personal sacrifice and tragedy.
Born into wealth, for Wallenberg turning a blind eye to the hardship and suffering of others would have been easy. Instead, as First Secretary at the Swedish Legation in Budapest, Hungary during the darkest days of World War II, Wallenberg demonstrated a sense of self-sacrifice to the greater good of his fellow human beings that is a lesson for all of us.
Other diplomats chose to risk their careers and even their lives, and defied official protocols, rules and immigration “policies” to rescue Jews. Many of these diplomats were censured or punished for their acts of courage. Some were fired or were stripped of their ranks and pensions. Their rescue efforts took many forms. Among other selfless acts, they issued visas, citizenship papers and other forms of documentation that allowed Jews to escape the Nazis.
Today at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, you will find not only Raoul Wallenberg's tree planted along the Avenue of the Righteous, but also 2,000 other trees and 18,000 other names engraved in the walls of The Garden of the Righteous in remembrance of those who risked their lives to save European Jews from the Holocaust.
Colleen CurtisApril 18, 2012
06:34 PM EDT
President Obama was in Elyria, Ohio today where he met with students at Lorain County Community College. The President was there to talk about the Administration’s job training initiatives to help more Americans get back to work and connect unemployed Americans with the skills training they need to find jobs in high-demand, high-growth industries, including the Community College to Career Fund. He told the students that taking classes at community colleges and getting new skills doesn't just benefit students and their future employers but adds economic value to the entire region:
Investing in a community college, just like investing in a new road or a new highway or broadband lines that go into rural communities, these investments are not part of some grand scheme to redistribute wealth. They’ve been made by Democrats and Republicans for generations because they benefit all of us. That's what leads to strong, durable economic growth. That's how America became an economic superpower. That's how we built the Transcontinental Railroad. That's why we’ve got the best universities and colleges in the world. That's why we have cutting-edge research that takes place here, and that then gets translated into new jobs and new businesses, because somebody did the groundwork. We created a foundation for those of us to prosper.
When you take classes at a community college like this one and you learn the skills that you need to get a job right away, that does not just benefit you; it benefits the company that ends up hiring and profiting from your skills. It makes the entire region stronger economically. It makes this country stronger economically.
In this country, prosperity does not trickle down; prosperity grows from the bottom up. And it grows from a strong middle class out. That’s how we grow this economy.
Megan SlackApril 18, 2012
04:39 PM EDT
While 1 in 3 women in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some time in their lives, domestic violence doesn’t stay within the four walls of someone’s home. It often spills over in to the workplace and can affect the safety and productivity of employees. Victims are often harassed at work or distracted from their jobs because of the abuse.
Today, President Obama directed federal agencies to develop policies for addressing domestic violence in the federal workforce. These new policies will build on ongoing efforts of federal agencies to improve workplace safety, and outline steps employers can take to provide support and assistance to employees whose lives are affected by domestic violence.
Megan SlackApril 18, 2012
12:35 PM EDT
The financial crisis and the recession both began when the housing bubble burst. Since then, home prices have plummeted, and today, millions of American families with little to no equity in their homes remain locked in mortgages at high interest rates. Despite staying current with payments, they can't refinance at today's historically low interest rates.
President Obama has already worked to help make sure that more responsible homeowners with mortgages backed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have a chance to save money each month by allowing them to refinance their mortgages at today’s low rates.
In his State of the Union Address, President Obama called on Congress to pass a plan that would allow millions of additional homeowners with Fannie and Freddie loans, as well as those whose loans don’t happen to be backed by the government, finally access streamlined refinancing -- save $3,000 a year or more.
We've put together a short video that helps to explain the steps that President Obama has introduced to reduce the barriers to refinancing that are preventing responsible homeowners from saving money on their mortgages each month. Check it out and learn why refinancing is good for homeowners, neighborhoods and our economy.
Matt ComptonApril 18, 2012
11:50 AM EDT
Today, Dr. Jill Biden will visit Reading Area Community College (RACC) as part of her “Community College to Career” tour. You can watch the livestream, starting at 12:15 PM ET.
Megan SlackApril 18, 2012
11:45 AM EDT
In his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out a Blueprint for an America Built to Last, and called for action to help our housing market recover by assisting responsible homeowners who are trapped by high interest rate mortgages and falling home values. While the government cannot fix the housing market on its own, the President believes that responsible homeowners should not have to wait for the market to hit bottom to get relief: There are available measures that can make a meaningful difference, including allowing these homeowners to save thousands of dollars each year by refinancing at today’s low interest rates.
The President has outlined a plan that uses a broad range of tools to support homeowners, including expanding access to refinancing that will help them save hundreds of dollars per month on their mortgage payments --even if they owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth -- establishing new protections against risky or predatory lending practics, putting construction workers back on the job, and helping rebuild communities that were hit hard by the mortgage crisis.
We’ve put together a guide to help you understand some of the details behind the President’s plan for the housing market and explain how it could help millions of homeowners across the country.
April 18, 2012
09:32 AM EDT
Small businesses are the engine of the American economy. Over the past 17 years, they have generated 65 percent of all net jobs and today the 27.5 million small businesses in the U.S. employ about half of all private sector workers.
The Affordable Care Act is helping fix a health care market that has been broken for small business owners. For too long, many small businesses couldn’t afford to provide coverage for their employees. And those who did paid more and knew their premiums could skyrocket if one employee got sick. For many business owners, this meant choosing between keeping their employees covered or dropping coverage and running the risk of losing good employees.
The new health care law is giving business owners new resources and options to cover their employers. The law helps small business owners by providing tax credits to help them afford coverage. These tax credits have already benefited an estimated two million workers who get their insurance from an estimated 360,000 small employers. This includes businesses like Vahallan Papers in Lincoln, Nebraska. Vahallan Papers has produced custom, hand-made wallpaper for 14 years, and seven years ago, started offering health insurance to attract high quality employees. They were able to get the tax credit in both 2010 and 2011, and used that tax credit to increase the amount they contributed to their employee’s health care costs, saving their employees around $400 a year each.
Colleen CurtisApril 17, 2012
06:47 PM EDT
All eyes were on the sky above the White House this morning as Space Shuttle Discovery did a lap across the nation's capital. The Shuttle was getting a piggyback ride from a Boeing 747 jet -- known as NASA 905 -- as it made its way from the Kennedy Space Center to Washington Dulles International Airport for delivery at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steve F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Check out this gallery of images NASA photographers took of the dramatic flight:
Colleen CurtisApril 17, 2012
06:25 PM EDT
President Obama today congratulated Tony Stewart on winning his third Sprint Cup Championship as he welcomed the NASCAR champ and his fellow drivers to the White House at an event on the South Lawn. The President reminded Stewart of his prediction that he would not in fact emerge as the winner this year: "In fact, he said that if he did end up winning the championship -- this is a quote -- 'I’ll declare I’m a total bumbling idiot.' Here’s your chance, Tony."
The President highlighted all the work NASCAR has done to support our troops, and thanked them for their partnership with Joining Forces. "You look out for Gold Star families. You make regular visits to Walter Reed to raise spirits there. And for you guys to give that much back to folks who have given so much to us as a country and help protect us and keep us safe is remarkable. So I want to thank all of you for what you do on behalf of our troops."