Our Top Stories
Megan SlackApril 09, 2012
07:10 PM EDT
After nearly 12 hours of fun and excitement, another successful Easter Egg Roll has come to a close. The day featured live music, a dance party, opportunities to participate in tennis, basketball and yoga, cooking demonstrations, and story time.
If you weren’t able to join us on the South Lawn this year, check out the gallery of images from the day and videos from many of the performances, readings, and demonstrations will be available on our YouTube channel.
Megan SlackApril 09, 2012
06:39 PM EDT
President Obama met with President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil today to discuss the bilateral relationship between the two countries. The United States and Brazil are the two largest economies and democracies in the Western Hemisphere, and share one of the most important trade and economic relationships in the world. U.S. goods and services exports to Brazil totaled $63 billion in 2011 and support approximately 300,000 U.S. jobs.
The two leaders also discussed a wide range of global issues, including global economic growth, the situation in the Middle East, and progress the two countries have made as co-chairs of the Open Government Partnership, which is increasing transparency and accountability in governments all around the world.
But, as President Obama explained, there is more work to be done.
We are consulting around the Summit of the Americas meeting this weekend to make sure that we are coordinating closely on issues of great importance like expanding educational exchanges, improving the cooperation between our countries on clean energy, dealing with issues like narco-trafficking and citizen security issues that are so important to the region.
We have important progress to make on energy cooperation. Brazil has been a extraordinary leader in biofuels and obviously is also becoming a world player when it comes to oil and gas development. And the United States is not only a potential large customer to Brazil but we think that we can cooperate closely on a whole range of energy projects together.
For more information, read the fact sheet on the growing partnership between the United States and Brazil.
Erin LindsayApril 09, 2012
05:00 PM EDT
Note: This live session of Office Hours has concluded. Check out the full question and answer session below or at Storify.com
In 2009, 1,470 people who made more than $1 million paid $0 in federal income tax. That means that while millions of middle class families paid their fair share in taxes that year—money that went to funding things like education, our military, and health care for seniors—a small group of high-income Americans paid nothing at all. Want to know how your tax dollars are spent? Check out your 2011 Federal Taxpayer Receipt.
President Obama believes in building an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. That’s why he proposed the Buffett Rule. The Buffett Rule is simple: if you make more than $1 million a year, you should pay at least the same percentage of your income in taxes as middle class families do.
Have a question about the Buffett Rule? Want to know more where your tax dollars are spent? Join us on Wednesday, April 11th at 3:00 p.m. EDT, for a session of Office Hours on Twitter with Brian Deese, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council. Ask your question now using the hashtag #WHChat.
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 through the @WHLive Twitter account
- If you miss the live session, the full session will be posted on WhiteHouse.gov and Storify.com/WhiteHouse
So, stop by for Office Hours at 3:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 11th with Brian Deese. We’ve already noticed lots of people engaging in an active dialogue around this issue by using the hashtag #fairshare. We’re looking forward to joining the discussion. Be sure to follow @WhiteHouse on twitter for the latest news and more opportunities to engage.
Megan SlackApril 09, 2012
09:30 AM EDT
Today, the First Family is hosting the 134th annual White House Easter Egg Roll. Throughout the day, more than 30,000 people will gather on the South Lawn for games, snacks, music and, of course, the Egg Roll.
The tradition of the Easter Egg Roll dates back to 1878, when President Rutherford B. Hayes welcomed children to the White House to roll hard-boiled eggs down the sloping hills of the South Lawn. This year, some 14,500 dyed and hard-boiled eggs will be used for the game.
This year’s theme is “Let’s Go, Let’s Play, Let’s Move!” and focuses on promoting health and wellness and encouraging children to lead healthy and active lives. Activities at today's event include:
- Musical performances on the Rock n' Egg Roll Stage from artists Janelle Monae, Cody Simpson, Rachel Crow, Sesame Street, Zendaya, China Ann McClain and the McClain Sisters
- Reading on the Storytime Stage with Robin Roberts, Julianne Moore, Jeff Kinney from Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Etan Thomas, Forest Whitaker and Bella Thorne
- An Eggtivity Zone featuring an obstacle course, players and coaches from professional sports teams teaching kids fun ways to stay active and fit
- Healthy eating and food demonstrations at the Play with your Food station with Chefs Andrew Zimmern, Richard Blais, Marcus Samuelsson, Paul Qui, Carla Hall, Pat and Gina Neel,; Bryan Voltaggio and the White House
Download the program and activity book for this year’s event, and catch all the fun as it happens on www.whitehouse.gov/live. Also visit the 2012 Easter Egg Roll page for more photo galleries and videos from years past.
Megan SlackApril 07, 2012
05:30 AM EDT
Valerie JarrettApril 06, 2012
05:37 PM EDT
This morning, I had the privilege of attending the White House Forum on Women and the Economy. We hosted nearly 200 women from all over the country to join in a conversation about the critical role that women play in driving our economic progress. We also released a report that details a wide range of policies, programs, and legislative initiatives under the Obama Administration that are supporting women and girls at all stages of their lives and careers. President Obama also attended the forum, and he said, “When it comes to our efforts on behalf of women and girls, I’m proud of the accomplishments we can point to. Yes, we’ve got more to do. But there’s no doubt we have begun to make progress.” I am also proud of our accomplishments and look forward to continuing the important work we are doing to promote the interests of women and girls across the country and around the world.
My remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below.
It is my pleasure to welcome you to our White House Forum on Women and the Economy. I am delighted to see so many familiar faces in the audience. We have an extraordinary array of accomplished women and a few good and brave men. You represent a wide range of stakeholders from all across our country. You are the trailblazers and innovators that drive our country, and you have the insight and vision that we need to create an economy that’s built to last. A number of you have worked closely with us throughout the last few years and deserve a lot of credit for many of our accomplishments. I’d also like to thank members of the President’s Cabinet for joining us today, and for your exceptional service. And finally, welcome to those of you who are watching online. We will stream today’s whole forum, including breakout sessions.
I am so proud to be the chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls and to join Tina in leading this important initiative.
When President Obama created the Council in early 2009, he said, and I quote, “It is up to us to ensure that our daughters and grand-daughters have no limits on their dreams, and no obstacles to their achievements.” His executive order ensured that the Council would include representatives of every single government agency. A first for any president. I’d like to ask all of the members of the Council who are here to stand and be recognized.
April 06, 2012
03:00 PM EDT
North American Leaders Summit: Leaders of Mexico and Canada joined President Obama at the White House on Monday for a summit aimed at promoting economic growth and creating jobs in all three countries. At a press conference in the Rose Garden, President Obama remarked, "I'm pleased to announce that our three nations are launching a new effort to get rid of outdated regulations that stifle job creation." The leaders also discussed security, energy, and efforts to combat drug cartels, as well as ways to continue boosting exports.
#AskVP about College Affordability: "College costs high. Debt burdensome. Help needed. That's why I'm here. Fire away. Use #AskVP –vp," the Vice President tweeted as a kickoff to his chat with the Twitterverse regarding college affordability and how the Obama Administration is tackling rising costs. Check out the question and answer session – covering topics from student loan debt to the emphasis on high education in the proposed budget – on Storify.
April 06, 2012
01:57 PM EDT
On Tuesday, the President gave a speech in which he contrasted his vision for our economy – one where everyone pays their fair share and everyone plays by the same set of rules – with the Republican approach of giving massive tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires paid for by cuts to programs that the middle class and seniors depend on.
Congressman Ryan and his staff has since taken issue with some of the critiques the President made about the Republican approach. We believe in backing up our facts – so here’s some further explanation of some of the core problems with the Ryan Republican Budget.
1. The Republican budget enacts a drastic, unspecified 19 percent cut in non-defense discretionary programs that help the middle class and help our economy grow.
The House Budget resolution includes a $1.060 trillion cut in non-defense discretionary spending, below the levels to which both Democrats and Republicans agreed in the Budget Control Act. We did the math, and a $1.060 trillion cut to discretionary programs – as called for in the Republican budget - would amount to a 19 percent cut in non-defense discretionary spending. By comparison, the cuts proposed in the House Budget resolution would be three times as great as the cuts required by the sequester and because of the lack of detail in the resolution, we are left to assume that they would be applied in the same arbitrary, across the board, manner. The President carefully described the impact of those cuts if they were distributed across the board, and noted that protecting some places would require even deeper cuts in other places.
House Budget Committee Chairman Ryan’s office responded that considering the cut across-the-board wasn’t fair because “the House Budget Committee made dozens of specific assumptions to justify our numbers, and we made these assumptions public in the hundreds of pages of text we posted in plain view on the House Budget Committee’s website.” But if you look at the report, it only includes a list of “illustrative policy options.” But they’re just that—as you can see on page 30 of that same PDF: “this report offers a range of policy options to help demonstrate how the budget’s fiscal goals could be achieved. These options are illustrative….” So it’s not as though the House is taking ownership of these proposals—as President Obama has owned his specific ideas in each of his budgets.
Megan SlackApril 06, 2012
10:58 AM EDT
On Wednesday, we released the updated Federal Taxpayer Receipt, which lets you enter a few pieces of information about the taxes you paid last year and calculates how much of your money went toward different national priorities like education, defense, and health care.
President Obama spoke about the receipt earlier this week as a “terrific way for people to be able to get information about where their tax dollars are actually going.”
Alan KruegerApril 06, 2012
09:30 AM EDT
There is more work to be done, but today’s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue to make smart investments that strengthen our economy and lay a foundation for long-term middle class job growth so we can continue to dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began at the end of 2007.
Employer payrolls increased by 121,000 jobs in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ establishment survey. The unemployment rate ticked down to 8.2% in March, according to the household survey. However, employment was virtually unchanged in the household survey.
Both surveys indicate the continuing challenges facing construction workers, as a result of the collapse in homebuilding following the bursting of the housing bubble. The unemployment rate for construction workers stands at 17.2%, more than double the national average. Because of weak private sector demand for construction investment and the nation’s continuing need for improved infrastructure, including maintenance of existing highways, bridges, and ports, the President’s Budget proposal to increase and modernize the nation’s infrastructure is well targeted to support the economy today and in the future.
Despite adverse shocks that have created headwinds for economic growth, including weak construction investment, the economy has added private sector jobs for 25 straight months, for a total of 4.1 million jobs over that period.
Matt ComptonApril 06, 2012
12:00 AM EDT
This week, the President hosted a summit with North American leaders, addressed the Associated Press, signed his economic report, the STOCK Act, and the JOBS Act, and held an Easter Prayer Breakfast.
Steve VanRoekelApril 05, 2012
04:12 PM EDT
Earlier this week, I was back in my home state of Iowa talking with tech entrepreneurs about the Administration’s progress leveraging technology to innovate with less, improve transparency and efficiency, and better serve the American people. As fellow tech junkies, we spent plenty of time talking about Government’s role in open data, application programming interfaces to Federal systems and more. But we also had a chance to talk more broadly about the vital role start-ups and small businesses play in strengthening our economy, creating jobs, and nurturing innovation.
President Obama recognizes the critical role these types of high-growth startups and innovative entrepreneurs play in creating an economy that’s built to last. That’s why back in the fall – and again in his State of the Union Address – the President put forward a series of specific proposals to ease regulations that prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from accessing the capital they need to grow and create jobs. Today, the President put many of those proposals to work when he signed into law the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act – a bipartisan bill that will help encourage startups and support our nation’s small businesses.
As the President said at today’s signing, “this bill is a potential gamechanger” for America’s entrepreneurs. For the first time, Americans will be able to go online and invest in small businesses and entrepreneurs. Not only will this help small businesses and high-growth enterprises raise capital more efficiently, but it will also allow small and young firms to expand and hire faster.
Karen MillsApril 05, 2012
01:57 PM EDT
Ed. note: This is crossposted from the Small Business Administration Community Blog
Today, President Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS), making it easier for small businesses and entrepreneurs to obtain much needed access to capital. This new law creates an enhanced environment for growth.
Last year, senior SBA officials traveled around the country listening to high-growth entrepreneurs. We heard your concerns and learned about the barriers to expansion particularly for high-growth industries and the need for a simplified process-one that any business could use to grow and create jobs. We know that small businesses have struggled to find access to capital in this environment, not just in lending, but in equity financing as well, and in all stages of the company’s development.
The SBA has already helped thousands of high-growth businesses. The Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program - a great source of equity capital for high-growth companies - licensed twice the number of funds in half the time in FY 2011 compared to the average from FY 2006 through FY 2009. In FY 2011, the SBIC Program provided a 50-year record high of $1.6 billion in financing for small businesses. SBA also revitalized the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and helped agencies distribute $2.5 billion in funding to qualified small businesses.
Secretary Hilda SolisApril 05, 2012
12:58 PM EDT
Ed note: this post originally appeared on the Department of Labor's Work in Progress blog
Today marks the second anniversary of the worst U.S. coal mining disaster in nearly four decades, as well as the single most heartbreaking day of my tenure as U.S. Secretary of Labor. The day after the explosion at Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, I went to the site and sat vigil with the family members and loved ones of the miners who were trapped underground. We prayed for a miracle that never came. I will never forget the 29 men who perished in an explosion that ripped through the chambers of the mine, the two miners who were seriously injured, or their loved ones.
Since then, MSHA has introduced tough new practices to counteract the type of misdeeds that were so prevalent at Upper Big Branch under Massey Energy. Joe Main, my assistant secretary of labor for MSHA, testified to Congress last week detailing the steps the agency is taking to make sure that we never again see such a senseless loss of life among miners. Our impact inspection program, which targets mines with chronic compliance problems, is an important new tool in our enforcement efforts. Many of the surprise inspections conducted under this program have forced mine operators to shut down production until they have addressed hazards.
Joe and his team are also making sure that we hold mine operators more accountable. A new rule to be published April 6 and effective in August, requires underground coal mine operators to examine their mines more thoroughly by finding and fixing common violations, including some of those that were cited in the investigation of the UBB mine disaster.
We have more to do. We cannot allow mine operators to hide hazards from inspectors, which was a major problem at many Massey mines. We need stronger criminal penalties for rogue operators who skirt the law, enhanced whistleblower protections so that miners can speak out about safety, and a host of other reforms.
Mines across the country operate productively every day while adhering to sound health and safety programs. There is never an excuse for cutting corners on worker protection. Employers should never put profits over people. If every mine operator meets its legal obligation to ensure the safety and health of its workers, we can prevent another tragedy like Upper Big Branch from ever happening again.
Kori SchulmanApril 05, 2012
10:48 AM EDT
President Obama dropped by a meeting at the White House to speak with journalists and editors from a range of personal finance and financial news sites.
Before the President stopped by, senior White House officials discussed the Administration’s policies to address key issues, including rising gas prices, jobs, housing and the economy at large. And with tax day just around the corner, speakers highlighted the new federal taxpayer receipt on WhiteHouse.gov and discussed the importance of passing the Buffett Rule.
Participating officials included Alan Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers; Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council; Jason Furman, Principal Deputy Director of the National Economic Council; Brian Deese, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council; and Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change. Additionally, Dan Pfeiffer, Director of Communications, Macon Phillips, Director of Digital Strategy, Sarah Bernard, Deputy Director of Digital Strategy, and Jon Carson, Director of the Office of Public Engagement, participated in a candid dialogue about online engagement and communications.
The summit was part of an ongoing series aimed to reach out to online communities. The White House invited personal finance sites for the first time last year. Additional discussions have included African-American and Latino-focused online publishers, as well as editors of prominent women's sites.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to attend the event:
Jarrod BernsteinApril 05, 2012
10:19 AM EDT
Starting tomorrow night, the Jewish community in the United States, Israel, and throughout the world will come together to celebrate the holiday of Passover.
President and Mrs. Obama will join them, continuing their tradition of hosting a small Seder at the White House. By now, the story of how that tradition began has been told and retold, but in the spirit of Passover, I’ll tell it again: In April of 2008, the President and his staff were on the trail in Pennsylvania in the midst of a long primary campaign. Weary from a long day of work and away from their families, a small group of staffers came together to hold an impromptu Seder. When then-Senator Obama got wind of the Seder, he gathered some other staff and friends and decided to join. At the end of the Seder, the President followed the traditional “Next year in Jerusalem” declaration with a pledge of his own – “Next year in the White House.” Each year since, he has followed through on that promise. This year, he also added a new touch, a video message to Jews everywhere wishing them Chag Sameach as they continue their own traditions or start new ones this Passover.
Here it is:
Tina TchenApril 04, 2012
07:17 PM EDT
Today, more than ever before, women are a driving force behind the success of the American economy. Expanding economic opportunities for women and ending discriminatory practices is critical to building an economy that restores security for middle class families, one where hard work and responsibility are rewarded, and where everyone who wants to can find a good job.
This Friday, April 6th, the White House Council on Women and Girls is hosting a Forum on Women and the Economy. President Obama will deliver remarks at the Forum to highlight ways the Administration has helped create economic security for women and recognizes that women are key to economic growth and competitiveness. Starting at 8:30 a.m. EDT, the half-day forum will also include a panel discussion with Senior Administration officials, followed by breakout sessions on: Women at Work, Education, Health, Women’s Entrepreneurship, and Violence Against Women and Girls (check out the complete Forum schedule below).
People from across the country can watch the event live at www.wh.gov/live. During the Forum, Administration officials will answer questions from a live audience and also take questions submitted through a form on WhiteHouse.gov and via Twitter with the hashtag #WomenEconForum.
Here's how you can participate:
- Right now, you can ask the White House your questions about women and the economy through a web form or on Twitter with the hashtag #WomenEconForum
- On Friday, April 6th from 8:45 a.m. EDT to 12:30 p.m. EDT watch the forum live at wh.gov/live. President Obama will deliver remarks at 10:15 a.m. EDT.
- Join the discussion live on Twitter and follow what others are saying with the hashtag #WomenEconForum
- If you miss the live event, the full video will be posted on WhiteHouse.gov
We hope you can join us. Here's the full schedule:
Brad CooperApril 04, 2012
06:58 PM EDT
Earlier today, I joined with First Lady Michelle Obama, to announce a major commitment by forward looking businesses that have launched an ambitious new effort to deliver more than 15,000 jobs to military spouses and veterans in the coming years. This new effort will help deliver jobs that are physically located near bases, as well as thousands of highly sought-after at-home employment opportunities to military families across the country.
Military families are 10 times more likely to move across state lines than civilian families. Home based jobs are especially valuable for military families because they can move with military spouses as they relocate from base to base across the country, accommodate flexible work hours, enable spouses who care for children or elderly parents to work from home, and give home-bound veterans with disabilities new opportunities to have a fulfilling job.
At home jobs with flexible work schedules can also lead to better work life balance, and extend job opportunities into communities often left behind. Military families will also benefit from the new job commitments being announced at nearly two-dozen physical contact centers located in close proximity to active military bases. These contact centers often support military families through: family-friendly scheduling, maintaining service accrual records, enabling the seamless transfer from one contact center to another in an event of a relocation, as well as extensive training and immense growth opportunities from agents to supervisors.
These companies and their associated job opportunities will also be integrated into the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP), a Department of Defense-led effort with more than 100 companies in the private sector who have committed to a focused effort on military spouse employment. MSEP was launched by Dr Jill Biden last summer.
Additional information specifics of the commitments can be found at: www.joiningforces.gov/commitments
Kori SchulmanApril 04, 2012
05:51 PM EDT
In his first #AskVP chat on Twitter, Vice President Biden answered your questions about college affordability and discussed how the Obama Administration is tackling rising costs. To kick things off, the Vice President tweeted, "College costs high. Debt burdensome. Help needed. That's why I'm here. Fire away. Use #AskVP -vp." He responded to nearly twenty questions with the hashtag #AskVP and covered topics including student loan debt, rising college costs and the emphasis on higher education in the proposed budget.
Matt ComptonApril 04, 2012
05:16 PM EDT
Recently, President Obama has spent a lot of time talking about fairness.
As he says, "The powerful shouldn’t get to create one set of rules for themselves and another set of rules for everybody else."
That's why he stood before Congress during the State of the Union and asked lawmakers to pass the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act.
Today, in a ceremony at the White House, he signed their bill into law:
The STOCK Act makes it clear that if members of Congress use nonpublic information to gain an unfair advantage in the market, then they are breaking the law. It creates new disclosure requirements and new measures of accountability and transparency for thousands of federal employees. That is a good and necessary thing. We were sent here to serve the American people and look out for their interests -- not to look out for our own interests.
But the President also said that no one's work is done:
There’s obviously more that we can do to close the deficit of trust and limit the corrosive influence of money in politics. We should limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries that they have the power to impact. We should make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress can’t lobby Congress, and vice versa. These are ideas that should garner bipartisan support. They certainly have wide support outside of Washington. And it’s my hope that we can build off today’s bipartisan effort to get them done.
Read the full remarks here.