Our Top Stories
May 15, 2012
03:00 PM EDT
Today, the President and Vice President released their 2011 financial disclosure reports.
The Ethics in Government Act of 1978 requires high-level federal officials to publicly disclose their personal financial interests. The public filing system serves to prevent financial conflicts of interest by providing for a systematic review of the finances of government officials. Those finances are set forth in annual disclosures which are reviewed and certified by ethics officials. Neither the President nor the Vice President have any conflicts of interest, and their reports have been reviewed and certified by the independent Office of Government Ethics. We are continuing this Administration's practice of posting these forms online here in the interests of transparency:
- View the President's 2011 financial disclosure report (pdf)
- View the Vice President's 2011 financial disclosure report (pdf)
White House staff are also completing their forms and we anticipate they will be available here next month, also in electronic form.
Megan SlackMay 15, 2012
02:02 PM EDT
True to his roots as a frontier farm boy, on May 15, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation to create the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Over the next two months - in the midst of the Civil War - he signed additional legislation that expanded and transformed American farming, including the Homestead Act, and the establishment of the Land Grant agricultural university system.
Megan SlackMay 15, 2012
01:27 PM EDT
Tuesday is the second day of National Women’s Health Week, and an opportunity for all women to prioritize their health well-being by scheduling annual screening and exams.
President Obama’s health reform law requires that new health insurance plans cover preventive services such as mammograms, pap smears, and well-woman visits with no co-pay or deductible. Because of this provision in the Affordable Care Act, more than 20.4 million women with private health insurance have received preventive health services at no additional cost.
Lynn RosenthalMay 15, 2012
11:06 AM EDT
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee approved legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994, but failed to include critical provisions that would ensure that all victims of domestic violence can access vital services and protections. Victims are victims, and, if you have been battered, stalked or otherwise threatened with violence, you should not be turned away by a shelter or denied the assistance you need merely because the aggressor is the same sex as you or because you are transgender. Yet, the legislation approved by the House Judiciary Committee and being considered this week on the House floor would allow just that.
The guiding principle behind VAWA and each of its subsequent reauthorizations has been an unyielding commitment to the notion that no sexual assault or domestic violence victim should be beaten, hurt or killed because they could not access the support, assistance and protection that they need. In enacting VAWA in 1994, Congress acknowledged that the criminal justice system chronically failed to respond to the crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, too often blaming victims and refusing to hold offenders accountable as violent criminals. In reauthorizing VAWA in 2000, Congress included new VAWA programs and provisions to help particularly vulnerable populations, including younger victims, immigrant victims, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. In the 2005 reauthorization, Congress once again strengthened the Act to improve the health care response to domestic violence, to include a new focus on prevention, and to expand protections for children exposed to violence.
This year, the VAWA reauthorization bill passed by the Senate in April would remove barriers faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) victims, whose needs often are overlooked by law enforcement, prosecutors, courts, and victim service providers. LGBT victims experience domestic violence at roughly the same rate as the general population. Nonetheless, recent surveys show that LGBT victims frequently are turned away when attempting to access services. For example, according to a 2010 survey by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 45% of LGBT victims were denied services when they sought help from a domestic violence shelter, and nearly 55% were denied protection orders.
Brad CooperMay 15, 2012
10:03 AM EDT
Last November, the President signed into law the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011. Included in this law is a new program designed to help put veterans who aren’t eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill back to work – interested veterans can start to apply through the Veterans On-Line Application today!
The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) offers up to 12 months of training assistance to unemployed veterans age 35-60. The re-training program will help our nation’s heroes gain meaningful training in a new skill that will increase their employability.
Matt ComptonMay 14, 2012
05:37 PM EDT
This afternoon, President Obama offered some advice to the 2012 graduates of Barnard College in New York:
After decades of slow, steady, extraordinary progress, you are now poised to make this the century where women shape not only their own destiny but the destiny of this nation and of this world.
But how far your leadership takes this country, how far it takes this world -- well, that will be up to you. You’ve got to want it. It will not be handed to you. And as someone who wants that future -- that better future -- for you, and for Malia and Sasha, as somebody who’s had the good fortune of being the husband and the father and the son of some strong, remarkable women, allow me to offer just a few pieces of advice. That's obligatory. Bear with me.
My first piece of advice is this: Don’t just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.
Barnard is one of the famous "Seven Sisters" -- private female liberal arts colleges founded to offer first class education to women before many elite institutions allowed their admittance. It counts Maya Soetoro-Ng, President Obama's sister, among its alumni.
This was President Obama's first commencement address of 2012. You can read his full remarks here.
Secretary Ray LaHoodMay 14, 2012
01:00 PM EDT
Ed. note: This is cross-posted from fastlane.dot.gov
Yesterday, DOT helped launch a national dialogue on strengthening transportation choices for America’s military veterans, wounded warriors, and their families. This online conversation, “Strengthening Transportation Choices So We Can Serve Those Who Have Served Their Country,” is open until June 8, and we invite those interested in helping veterans and service members to participate by visiting veteransdialogue.ideascale.com.
The benefits Americans enjoy today wouldn't be possible without the courageous service of our nation's veterans. So when they return home, we must turn our sincere appreciation of the men and women who bravely protect and defend the United States of America into action. We must help them and their families find meaningful work, a good education, and quality medical care—none of which is possible without access to reliable, affordable transportation.
May 14, 2012
12:20 PM EDT
Last week, the House Judiciary Committee considered legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). However, the bill that came out of the House Judiciary Committee failed to include a key provision which has already been accepted by the Senate on a bipartisan basis and is essential to protecting Native American women.
Since 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been an essential tool in helping to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence. Since the passage of the Act, annual incidents of domestic violence have dropped by more than 60 percent. Over the years, Congress has continued its commitment to addressing violence against women by working with advocates, law enforcement officials, court systems, and victims in order to build on what we have learned and make improvements to the Act in each subsequent reauthorization. This was recently demonstrated by the Senate’s VAWA reauthorization bill (S. 1925), introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) which passed last month with strong bipartisan support.
The Leahy-Crapo VAWA reauthorization bill addresses many pressing issues facing all victims of domestic violence, including those in Indian Country. Rates of domestic violence against Native women in Indian Country are now among the highest in the United States and the Leahy-Crapo bill directly confronts this epidemic.
May 14, 2012
11:20 AM EDT
Ed. Note: This post was originally published on Treasury Notes.
Today, millions of Americans who are current on their mortgage payments cannot refinance at historically-low interest rates. The President is proposing legislation that would allow more homeowners to refinance. Under the President’s plan, they would have two refinancing options.
Check out what those options are in this infographic (click here or on the image below to see the full infographic):
Matt ComptonMay 14, 2012
10:32 AM EDT
President Obama has been focused on making refinancing simpler for responsible homeowners since he took office, and in Nevada, where the President visted Friday, refinancing applications are up 237% since last November.
It began in 2009 when the administration launched the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), which helped nearly 1 million homeowners save thousands of dollars. But despite that success, the benefits from HARP have been limited because of eligibility requirements and costs associated with the program.
So last October, the President announced that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Finance Housing Agency would work with lenders to make it easier for even more mortgage holders to refinance.
And it's having an impact: Refinancing applications have increased by 50 percent since the fall.
But the reason that President Obama is in Nevada, calling on Congress to act, is because we've reached the upward limit for what the Obama administration can do alone. As part of his To-Do List, he's calling on lawmakers to cut the red tape so that responsible homeowners across the country who have been paying their mortgage on time can feel secure in their home and refinance at today’s lower rates.
Colleen CurtisMay 14, 2012
10:08 AM EDT
Summer Jobs+ is a call to action for businesses, non-profits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for young people in the summer of 2012. It's about helping people find their first jobs.
Omar Epps is well known these days for his role as Dr. Eric Foreman on the tv show "House," but in the video below, the actor says he still has very fond memories of his first job, back when he was a teenager in Brooklyn.
So far, employers have committed to providing more than 300,000 jobs, mentorships, and other employment opportunities this summer through Summer Jobs+.
You heard about Omar's first job. Now go find yours.
Colleen CurtisMay 14, 2012
09:00 AM EDT
First Lady Michelle Obama invoked the example of the "Greensboro Four" in her commencement address to North Carolina A&T University's class of 2012. More than half a century ago, four A&T students started the movement that led to desegregation at lunch counters across the country, and Mrs Obama said this shows what can happen when someone decides to "wake up and change the situation." The First Lady challenged the students to follow their lead:
As graduates of this proud university, as young people like those who always stoked the fires of progress, our country is counting on all of you to step forward and help us with the work that remains. We need you.
Mrs Obama also challeged each member of the graduating class to think about what’s important, and ask themselves three questions:
- Who are you going to be?
- What’s going on in the world around me? and
- How can I help?
Katelyn SabochikMay 13, 2012
11:46 AM EDT
It's Mother's Day!
As rewarding as being a mom can be, it sure isn't easy. That's part of why the Obama Administration is taking steps to level the playing field for mothers and their families.
To help you show some appreciation for the mom in your life, we've put together two Mother's Day cards. One focuses on important health care reforms and the other on heroic military moms across the country.
Colleen CurtisMay 13, 2012
07:45 AM EDT
It's a tradition in the White House to celebrate Mother's Day with a tea hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama and this year, the guests of honor were some of the most inspiring women in the country: moms who proudly serve as members of our armed forces, their children and their own mothers.
For Mrs. Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, the event was an opportunity to highlight the important work these women do and the sacrifices they and their families have made in service of our country -- and to say thank you. And as you can see in the video below, their kids had a message of their own to share with mom:
Erin LindsayMay 12, 2012
04:21 PM EDT
Colleen CurtisMay 12, 2012
03:00 PM EDT
Speaking to Virginia Tech's graduating class of 2012, First Lady Michelle Obama highlighted the remarkable resilience students at the school have shown, and told the graduates they are an inspiration.
"I know that as one of your commencement speakers today, I’m supposed to offer you all kinds of wisdom and advice and life lessons, Mrs. Obama said. "But the truth is, like so many people across this country and around the world, I have been following the journey of this school. I have witnessed the strength and spirit of the Hokie Nation."
The First Lady focused on the school's tradition of service, and said that through serving others, "we can heal ourselves." She encouraged the graduates to chart their own course for the future, and live life on their own terms:
Colleen CurtisMay 12, 2012
05:45 AM EDT
President Obama is calling on Democrats and Republicans to come together and act on his Congressional “to-do list,” which will create jobs and help restore middle class security. In this make-or-break moment for the middle class, these five initiatives have bipartisan support and will help create an economy that is built to last.
May 11, 2012
06:00 PM EDT
A quick look at this week on WhiteHouse.gov:
Congratulating the Wildcats: President Obama welcomed the victors of the 2012 NCAA championship – the University of Kentucky Wildcats – to the White House to congratulate them, despite his original skepticism that they’d take the title. “I had them in the championship game. But in the end, I though, they got all these freshman. These guys are too young,” he said. “But let’s face it, sometimes talent trumps experience.”
On the To-Do List: President Obama has put together a To-Do List for Congress, full of initiatives that have bipartisan support and will help create jobs and restore middle class security. The items on the list include eliminating tax incentives to ship jobs overseas and cutting red tape so responsible homeowners can refinance, among others – you can check the full list here.
To-Do List Goes to Albany: On Tuesday, President Obama traveled to the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering’s NanoTech Complex in Albany, New York, where he laid out his to-do list of actions Congress should take before leaving for summer recess. The first item on the To-Do List will help spur American manufacturing, an industry that is growing in upstate New York. “At the very least what we can do right away is stop rewarding companies who ship jobs overseas and use that money to cover moving expenses for companies that are moving jobs back here to America,” the President remarked.
“I think…”: In an interview with ABC News, President Obama said, “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” His statement came after giving this issue serious consideration, which involved conversations with his family, friends, neighbors and people who work with him at the White House.
Matt ComptonMay 11, 2012
04:45 PM EDT
Today in Nevada, President Obama pushed Congress to cut red tape and make it simpler for responsible homeowners to refinance and take advantage of today’s historically low interest rates.
First, he sat down with Val and Paul Keller -- two homeowners from Reno. They were able to refinance their mortgage after the President made changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program, and because of that, they're currently saving around $240 a month.
The President said that their experience is one that should be open to more Americans:
The pool of folks who can refinance right now, when their homes are underwater, is still too small. The reason the Kellers were able to refinance is because the only thing that we could do without congressional action was to give opportunities for refinancing for folks with a government-backed loan, an FHA-backed loan. But in order to expand that opportunity -- we want to include everybody; people whose mortgages aren't government-backed. And in order to do that we've got to have Congress move.
President Obama's refinancing proposal is part of his To-Do List for Congress. To learn more, and watch a video from one of his economic advisors explaining how the President's plan would help homeowners more easily refinance their mortgages, click here.
May 11, 2012
03:00 PM EDT
Tonight, at 7:30 PM CT, Dr. Jill Biden will give the commencement address at Southwestern Community College in Creston, Iowa. You can watch live using the video player below.