Our Top Stories
May 11, 2012
12:25 PM EDT
On June 8, 2011, President Obama announced key steps by private sector partners towards building the educated and skilled workforce U.S. manufacturers need to successfully compete in the 21st century economy. This includes a five-year goal by the Manufacturing Institute and its partners to award 500,000 industry-based credentials to individuals, positioning them for employment and advancement in manufacturing jobs.
In less than a year, the Manufacturing Institute and its partners have announced significant progress towards achieving that five-year goal. Over the past year, the certification bodies partnered with the Institute have issued 84,738 certifications to students and incumbent workers that cover in-demand, portable skill-sets necessary across multiple manufacturing sectors.
Brad CooperMay 11, 2012
12:08 PM EDT
Today is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. In reflecting on this holiday, I can’t help but think of my own wife, an incredible example of a military spouse. We met in high school, and married after I graduated from college. She finished college after we got married and earned her Master's Degree from George Washington University in between duty stations. 17 moves, 10 deployments and 2 teenagers later, she's even more wonderful than the day we met.
I'm grateful for my very special military spouse - and best friend - and encourage you to extend your appreciation to the military husbands and wives in your life, whether it’s a neighbor, a co-worker or a mom at your children’s school. Our nation's more than 1,000,000 military spouses are among the most inspirational men and women in this nation. Through more than 10 years of war, they serve bravely on the homefront as their service members deploys abroad. Our military spouses juggle all the challenges that every American family faces - but often with the added pressure of a lovedone deployed in a war zone for extended periods of time. To all of the military wives and husbands, thank you for your service.
Military spouses have given this nation so much. Now it's our turn to give back. We want this country to recognize, honor and support our military families - and not just through words, but through meaningful action. Today, we honor and show our military spouses our appreciation. But our military spouses have earned the support of our nation for all days, not just today.
Secretary Kathleen SebeliusMay 11, 2012
12:04 PM EDT
Ed note: this post was originally published on the blog at healthcare.gov
When we pay for health insurance, we want to know that most of what we are paying for is for health care, not advertising, executive bonuses or overhead. It’s pretty simple: we want to get a good value for our premium dollars.
Thanks to a new rule (the “80/20 rule”) in the Affordable Care Act, you can be sure that insurance companies are spending generally at least 80 cents of every dollar you pay in premiums on your health care or activities that improve health care quality. If the insurance company fails to meet this standard, or the “medical loss ratio”, in any year, they have to pay you a rebate.
Insurance companies that didn’t meet the standard for coverage provided in 2011 are required to provide these rebates no later than August 1 of this year, and to make sure you know what you are owed, insurance companies that owe rebates will also send a letter telling you how much you’ll receive. You can see what that letter will look like here. According to early estimates from the Kaiser Family Foundation, insurance companies will provide 15.8 million Americans with $1.3 billion in rebates.
Today, we’re also finalizing a notice for insurance companies to send you if they meet or exceed the standard. If your insurance company is providing fair value for your premium dollars, you should know that too. You’ll be able to see your plan’s medical loss ratio on HealthCare.gov starting this summer.
If you don’t get a rebate, that means your plan may have lowered prices or improved your coverage already. For example, one insurer in West Virginia improved its medical loss ratio by lowering premiums by an average of $2,500 for 4,200 small businesses, cutting their premiums to give consumers welcome cost relief. This is one of the ways the 80/20 rule is bringing value to consumers for their health care dollars.
May 11, 2012
11:22 AM EDT
Behind every President is the mother who raised him. In honor of Mother’s Day (which is this Sunday, May 13) our colleagues at the National Archives put together a gallery of Presidents and their moms, selected from the holdings of the 13 Presidential Libraries.
Lynn RosenthalMay 11, 2012
09:27 AM EDT
Ed. Note: This is the first in a series of posts on the importance of strengthening the Violence Against Women Act. Additional posts will follow on addressing violence against Native women and LGBT victims.
Since 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been an essential tool in helping to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence. While seeking to improve criminal justice and community-based responses to victims of abuse, VAWA ultimately changed the landscape for those previously left to suffer in silence.
Since then, Congress – on a bipartisan basis -- has repeatedly shown its commitment to preserving and enhancing the core goals of VAWA by increasing protections in all subsequent VAWA reauthorizations. 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) that passed last month on a vote of 68 to 31, with strong bipartisan support. S. 1925 was introduced after months of input from a wide range of stakeholders. Unfortunately, Republican leaders in the House have taken a different approach, with the introduction of H.R. 4970, a bill authored by Rep. Sandy Adams (FL-24), that actually rolls back protections for victims of domestic violence. On Tuesday, on a vote of 17-15, House Republicans passed this measure out of the House Judiciary Committee, without properly considering the cross-jurisdictional sections that provide for protections on tribal lands, in federal housing programs, and on college campuses around the country.
The Adams bill adds burdensome, counter-productive requirements that compromise the ability of service providers to reach victims, fails to adequately protect Tribal victims, lacks important protection and services for LGBT victims, weakens resources for victims living in subsidized housing, and eliminates important improvements to address dating violence and sexual assault on college campuses. Among the most troubling components of this bill are those that jettison and drastically undercut existing and important, long-standing protections that remain vital to the safety and protection of battered immigrant victims.
Matt ComptonMay 11, 2012
12:00 AM EDT
This week, the President traveled to Virginia and New York to urge Congress not to let interest rates double on student loans and to introduce a to-do list for Congress. He also hosted the University of Kentucky Wildcats, the Fermi Science award winners, and this year's Gershwin Award Winners.
Kori SchulmanMay 10, 2012
08:49 PM EDT
This week, President Obama announced a "to-do list" for Congress to create jobs and help restore middle class security.
Tomorrow, the President is traveling to Reno to discuss an initiative on the list which calls on Congress 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.
Watch the latest White House White Board video with Brian Deese, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council. Then, ask Brian your questions on Twitter:
After the speech, Brian will be on Twitter starting at 2:00 p.m. EDT to answer questions during a session of Office Hours. Do you have questions about the President's plan? Here’s how it works:
- Ask your questions now and during the live event on Twitter with the hashtag #WHChat
- Follow the Q&A live 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 2:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, May 10th with Brian Deese and be sure to follow @WhiteHouse on Twitter for the latest news and more opportunities to engage.
Josh EarnestMay 10, 2012
07:31 PM EDT
Yesterday, during an interview with ABC News, President Obama said, “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
It’s no secret the President has gone through some soul-searching on this issue. He’s talked to the First Lady about it, like so many couples do. He’s heard from folks—gay and lesbian friends, staff members in long-term, loving relationships, as well as brave young servicemen and women he got to know through the fight to end Don’t, Ask Don’t Tell.
He’s sat around his kitchen table with Sasha and Malia, who have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. As the President said during the interview, “it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them. And frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change of perspective -- not wanting to somehow explain to your child why somebody should be treated differently when it comes to eyes of the law.”
In the end, the President said, he believes it's important to "treat others the way you would want to be treated."We need to recognize that people are going to have differing views on marriage and those views, even if we disagree strongly, should be respected.
Newspapers across the country commented on yesterday’s news. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
New York Times: “It Has Always Taken Strong National Leadership To Expand Equal Rights In This Country, And It Has Long Been Obvious That Marriage Rights Are No Exception. President Obama Offered Some Of That Leadership On Wednesday.” “It has always taken strong national leadership to expand equal rights in this country, and it has long been obvious that marriage rights are no exception. President Obama offered some of that leadership on Wednesday. ‘I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,’ Mr. Obama said in an interview with ABC News that the White House arranged for the purpose of giving Mr. Obama a forum to say just that….Mr. Obama consciously presented his change of position (he used to favor so-called civil unions but not marriage) as a personal journey. He said he thought about ‘members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together,’ and about ‘those soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage.’ That process will seem familiar to Americans of his and older generations who have reached the same place, or are still getting there. Polling shows that younger Americans have firmly supported same-sex marriage for some time. Mr. Obama said denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples ‘doesn’t make sense’ to his daughters. ‘Frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective,’ he said.” [The New York Times, 5/10/12]
May 10, 2012
07:20 PM EDT
Today, the White House hosted a Summit on Financial Capability and Empowerment, aimed at empowering Americans to make informed financial decisions. At the Summit, the Administration announced new private and public sector commitments to promote financial empowerment,as well as a new resource guide for schools, colleges and universities, employers, and communities to help leaders begin their own financial capability initiatives. Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Richard Cordray gave opening remarks highlighting the work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). In the below blog post, Gail Hillebrand, Associate Director of Consumer Education and Engagement for CFPB, highlights some of the Bureau’s important work related to financial literacy.
There are certain occasions in everyone’s life when one decision can have long-lasting effects. How will you pay for college? Which mortgage should you choose? Where will you turn when you need credit? When will you start saving for retirement? How you answer these questions and others like them can profoundly impact your financial future.
Unfortunately, too many graduates are entering the workforce saddled with student loan debt, limited employment opportunities, and important financial decisions for which they are often unprepared. There is simply too wide a gap between complex financial products and the level of education that many consumers have about them.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is dedicated to closing that gap by making financial products more transparent and helping to educate consumers so they can make better-informed choices when pursuing their own financial goals.
May 10, 2012
07:05 PM EDT
Earlier this week the President visited the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering’s NanoTech Complex in Albany, New York where he called on Congress to act on a “To-Do List” that’ll create jobs and help restore middle class security. I’m sure you’ve seen the To-Do List by now. It’s about the size of a post-it note, and outlines five common-sense initiatives that’ll grow our economy and make a real difference for millions of families across the nation.
In Albany the President emphasized the importance of rewarding companies who bring jobs back to America. Tomorrow, he’s heading to Reno, NV where he’ll discuss the second item on the To-Do List: cutting the red tape to allow hardworking homeowners to refinance and take advantage of today’s lower rates.
The To-Do List is simple:
- Reward companies who bring jobs back to the U.S. with lower taxes and pay for it by eliminating tax incentives for companies to ship jobs overseas.
- Cut red tape so hardworking, responsible homeowners who are paying their mortgage can refinance at today’s lower rates.
- Help hardworking small business owners create jobs by giving them a tax credit for new hires.
- Invest in American clean energy manufacturers who create American jobs through innovation of new technologies and new fuels that reduce our reliance on foreign oil and lead to more secure energy sources.
- Ensure our commitment to our veterans is as strong as they are by creating a Veterans Job Corps that helps hire veterans as cops, firefighters, and serving their communities.
Over the past few days, we’ve seen some movement from members of Congress on Capitol Hill. They’re taking action. Senator Jeff Merkley introduced the Rebuilding Equity Act, a bill that gives folks the opportunity to take advantage of today’s lower rates and the savings from refinancing to build back equity in their homes. Senator Feinstein introduced a bill yesterday, and today Senators Robert Menendez and Barbara Boxer introduced legislation to help millions of responsible homeowners take advantage of today’s lower rates, saving an average of $3,000 per homeowner. These are reforms that the Members of the House have called for, including Leader Pelosi, Barney Frank, Luis Gutierrez, Maxine Waters, and we hope that the Congress can send a responsible package to the President’s desk.
We’re pleased Congress is taking up these housing measures. Now it’s time for Republicans to get on board. There’s no excuse for inaction. Congress needs to work together and start checking these items off the list. It’s the right thing to do. The President knows it, and the American people do to. It’s time for Congress to get to work.
Amy Brundage is the Deputy Press Secretary for the Economy.
Ken SalazarMay 10, 2012
06:12 PM EDT
As we celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week, the U.S. government is doubling down on its commitment to create more jobs for Americans by growing international and domestic travel and tourism that powers our economy.
Last year, 62 million international tourists visited the United States and pumped a record $153 billion into local economies, helping to support the 7.6 million jobs in our travel and tourism industry. These numbers make tourism America’s number one service export.
That’s why the White House released a new National Travel and Tourism Strategy today, charting a new course toward making America a more attractive and accessible destination than ever before. The Strategy sets a goal of drawing 100 million international visitors by 2021, which is expected to generate $250 billion annually in visitor spending by 2012. The strategy also encourages more Americans to travel within the United States.
America is the land of extraordinary natural wonders – from the Grand Canyon to the Florida Keys; from Yellowstone to Yosemite. America is where we do big things, and as a result, we have incredible landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Empire State Building; the Hoover Dam and the Gateway Arch. This is the land of iconic cities and all their sights – from Independence Hall in Philadelphia to the Space Needle in Seattle to the skyline of Chicago. From the Mall of America to Walt Disney World, we have it all right here.
Ari Isaacman AstlesMay 10, 2012
12:57 PM EDT
Ed. Note: This live event has concluded. Watch the video below or on YouTube.
In honor of the upcoming Military Spouse Appreciation Day on May 11 and in support of military families celebrating Mother’s Day this Sunday, May 13, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden host a Joining Forces Mother’s Day event at the White House for three generations of military families – military mothers, as well as their mothers and their children. Tune in live as Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden deliver remarks from the East Room of the White House to honor military moms at 1:45pm today.
Learn how you can show your support for military moms by visiting our Joining Forces site dedicated to thanking military moms and contribute to the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #ThankAMilitaryMom.
Cass SunsteinMay 10, 2012
09:15 AM EDT
Smart regulations save lives and dollars. For example, the number of deaths on the highways is now down to its lowest level in over 60 years. This is an extraordinary achievement, produced not only by the commitment and creativity of the private sector but also by educational and regulatory initiatives from local, state, and national governments. In areas that include food and workplace safety, clean air, fuel economy, energy efficiency, and investor protection, well-designed regulations are preventing tens of thousands of premature deaths and hundreds of thousands of illnesses and accidents -- and saving billions of dollars.
Under the President’s direction, we have finalized rules, in our first three years, with more than $91 billion in net benefits – over 25 times the corresponding figure in the first three years of the Bush Administration, and over 6 times the corresponding figure in the first three years of the Clinton Administration.
But we don’t need all of the regulations that are on the books. By streamlining some and eliminating others, we can save billions of dollars in unnecessary costs. As President Obama has emphasized, it is possible, even indispensable, both to issue sensible, protective regulations and to eliminate rules that are no longer justified. Today, we are taking three important steps in that direction.
Matt ComptonMay 09, 2012
06:12 PM EDT
Today, in an interview with ABC News, President Obama said, "I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."
With that one statement, he made it clear that he believes that it’s wrong to prevent couples who are in loving, committed relationships from getting married.
Obviously, the President has spent time giving this issue serious consideration, and his view has been shaped by conversations with his family, his friends, neighbors, and the people who work with him at the White House.
In the interview, he said that he had discussed the issue around the dinner table with his wife and daughters. He said he'd heard from service members who, even after the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, felt constrained because they aren't allowed to get married.
And in the end, the President said, he believes it's important to "treat others the way you would want to be treated."
Later tonight, ABC will air excerpts of the interview on "World News With Diane Sawyer" and “Nightline.”
Tomorrow, the entire interview will run on "Good Morning America."
Megan SlackMay 09, 2012
02:33 PM EDT
Manufacturing accounts for 26 percent of our national economic growth since 2009. Over the same period, our workers and factories have become more productive, leading companies to open their businesses here in the United States instead of overseas. This, in turn, creates good, middle-class jobs jobs and generates broader economic benefits for the communities where these companies choose to set up shop, and our economy as a whole. In fact, since February of 2010, the industry has added 485,000 jobs.
But more can be done to continue this trend. On Tuesday, President Obama traveled to Albany to introduce his To-Do List for Congress, a list of 5 initiatives that will create jobs and help the middle class—if Congress takes action before leaving for summer recess. The first item on that list: pass legislation that gives companies a new 20 percent tax credit for the cost of moving their operations back to the U.S. and pay for it by eliminating tax incentives that allow companies to deduct the costs of moving their business abroad.
Want to know what else is on the To-Do List? Check it out here
Ed. note: This post was updated on May 17.
Colleen CurtisMay 09, 2012
02:30 PM EDT
Sergeant Sheena Adams is a member of an elite corps of female Marines, soldiers who have volunteered to join otherwise all-male patrols in Afghanistan, where they build relationships with Afghan women, a population mostly off-limits to our male troops. Sergeant Adams and her colleagues belong to the Female Engagement Team, also called FETs, and they work with women in these villages to gain their trust, and bring them better access to health care and education.
During her deployment as a FET, Sergeant Adams met a widowed Afghan woman -- a mother of nine who could barely feed her children. Due to cultural restrictions, this mother could not work outside the home. Sergeant Adams found a way for this Afghan woman to earn an income. The answer was pretty simple. Using the mother’s baking talents and a son’s capacity to sell at a local bazaar, Sergeant Adams helped the family create their own bread business.
Dr. Jill Biden has met Sergeant Adams and some of her colleagues over the past few months, on a visit to Camp Pendleton and in Washington, D.C. where these heroes were invited to a reception at the Naval Observatory to celebrate Women's History Month. When Dr. Biden heard about the work they are doing, she was inspired:
I thought this story captured something beautiful – underneath all the inevitable tensions that come with war, these female Marines and Afghan women are building relationships based on their similarities rather than their differences. That’s a message we can apply to so many situations.
See for yourself in this video:
Megan SlackMay 09, 2012
12:21 PM 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.
Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, says her first job taught her about working with people who are under enormous amounts of stress, the importance of paying attention to details and something that virtually every worker deals with each day--showing up to work on time. Check it out:
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 Valerie's first job. Now go find yours.
Katelyn SabochikMay 09, 2012
10:43 AM EDT
On Thursday, May 10 at 1:00 p.m. EDT Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis will host a Google+ Hangout to talk about the Obama Administration’s Summer Jobs+ initiative. Summer Jobs+ is a call to action for businesses, non-profits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for youth in the summer of 2012. To date, companies, non-profits and governments have committed to creating nearly 300,000 summer jobs, mentorships and other employment opportunities for young people this summer.
And last week, we launched the Summer Jobs+ Bank, a single-stop resource for young people looking for jobs, internships, mentorship programs and other opportunities this summer. Just enter your city and state in the search widget on the right to get started. Or check out some of these cool Summer Jobs+ apps to access this information via Facebook, your web browser or your smart phone. In addition to these online resources, the National Association of Workforce Boards is promoting more than 30 youth job fairs across the country on Thursday. |
Have questions about how to find a job this summer? Want to know more about what the Obama Administration is doing to help young people connect to employment opportunities? Here’s how you can get involved:
- Starting now, you can ask questions on the White House Google+ page
- Ask questions in advance on the White House facebook page or on Twitter with #WHChat
- Watch live at 1:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday May 10, 2012 on WhiteHouse.gov/live, YouTube.com/whitehouse or the White House Google+ page.
- For upcoming White House Hangouts and more chances to engage, follow the White House on Google+. We hope you'll join us!
May 09, 2012
09:54 AM EDT
Our military families make many sacrifices for our nation, and not just when a servicemember goes into combat. Military families also face challenges when a servicemember receives orders for a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move to another base, and the family has to decide whether to go along or live apart. Unfortunately, for many military families, this challenge has become more difficult in the wake of the housing market downturn.This is because like other Americans, many military homeowners are currently underwater on their mortgage. Because their home’s value has decreased since they purchased it, these servicemembers may not be able to sell their home at a price that will pay off their mortgage, and they may not be able to rent out their home at a price that will cover their monthly mortgage payments. These military homeowners also may get a lower housing allowance at their new duty station, and may face additional loss of income while their spouse looks for a new job.Suddenly, military homeowners who have been faithfully paying their mortgage on time face a real risk of falling behind.
In the last few weeks, Treasury and the Office of Servicemember Affairs at the CFPB have worked together to address this issue. And, as a result, Treasury is making important changes to its Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) that will provide more opportunities for mortgage assistance to military homeowners.
Ken SalazarMay 09, 2012
08:09 AM EDT
President Obama has made it clear that our country needs an all-of-the-above strategy to develop American energy – energy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and generates new jobs for Americans.
On Tuesday, we took another major step forward in President Obama’s commitment to responsibly expand development of America’s abundant natural gas resources by approving the Greater Natural Buttes gas development project in Utah.
This project, proposed by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, could produce more than six trillion cubic feet of natural gas over its life, support more than 4,000 American jobs during the different phases of development, and infuse millions of dollars into local Utah communities.
The project is a model for a balanced approach to energy development: by using innovative technologies and best practices, the project will limit new surface disturbance to just five percent of the area. And, as part of a landmark cooperative agreement with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Anadarko will drill the 3,600 new wells while safeguarding air quality and ensuring the protection of critical wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation values.
Today’s announcement exemplifies the kind of progress we are making as part of the Administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy. In 2011, U.S. natural gas production grew by more than 7 percent – the largest year-over-year increase in history. U.S. gas production is now at an all-time high and oil production is at an eight-year high. And America’s dependence on foreign oil has gone down every single year since President Obama took office; we have cut net imports by ten percent – or a million barrels a day – in the last year alone.