Read all posts from July 2012

  • President Obama honors the victims of the tragedy in Colorado, the people who knew them and loved them, and those who are still struggling to recover.

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    Additional information from the White House

  • President Barack Obama pauses for a moment of silence for the victims of the Colorado shootings (July 20, 2012)

    President Barack Obama pauses for a moment of silence for the victims of the Colorado shootings, following his remarks in Fort Myers, Fla., July 20, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Just after midnight, a gunman walked into a busy movie theater in Aurora, Colorado and opened fire into the crowd. Police report that 12 people have been killed and dozens more are currently being treated for injuries.

    Just moments ago, President Obama discussed the shooting, calling on the country to stand with those who have been touched by the tragedy:

    [Even] as we learn how this happened and who's responsible, we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this. Such violence, such evil is senseless. It's beyond reason. But while we will never know fully what causes somebody to take the life of another, we do know what makes life worth living.  The people we lost in Aurora loved and they were loved. They were mothers and fathers; they were husbands and wives; sisters and brothers; sons and daughters, friends and neighbors. They had hopes for the future and they had dreams that were not yet fulfilled. 

    Earlier, the President spoke with both the mayor of Aurora, Steve Hogan, and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper -- and pledged the full support of federal law enforcement to aid the investigation.

    To read President Obama's full remarks, click here. To read a statement from the President, click here.

    Vice President Joe Biden has also issued a statement.

    Update: President Obama has issued a proclamation that the flag of the United States be flown at half-staff at the White House and at all public buildings and grounds until sunset on July 25.

  • This week, the President attended the Team USA basketball game, hosted the Baylor University Lady Bears basketball team, and proposed a STEM Master Teacher Corps, while the First Lady traveled to Philadelphia for 'Let's Move!' and to Birmingham to get an update on recovery efforts in the region from last year's violent storms. Also, the Vice President spoke to seniors about retirement security, and the administration hosted a Google+ hangout on local foods.

    Watch the West Wing Week here.

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted from Treasury Notes

    Two years ago this week, President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act -- the most significant set of financial reforms since the Great Depression. The landmark law is designed to help protect Americans from the excessive risk, fragmented oversight, and poor consumer protections that played leading roles in bringing about the recent financial crisis.

    Treasury and the independent regulators have made meaningful progress implementing the law, which is vital to restoring trust in the underlying safety, stability, and integrity of the financial system, and to rebuilding a pro-growth, pro-investment environment.  To outline the progress made, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has developed an overview of where reform stands and the changes it has effected on the financial system to date. For a copy of the overview, please click here​.

  • The White House Photo Office just released their latest batch of behind-the-scenes photos, featuring images of President Obama's reaction to the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, visits with students at the White House and on the road, as well as some new shots of First Dog Bo. Check out a few of the images below, then head over to Flickr to see all 54 images in the gallery.

    • President Barack Obama has lunch with Vice President Joe Biden on the Oval Office patio, June 28, 2012

      President Barack Obama has lunch with Vice President Joe Biden on the Oval Office patio, June 28, 2012.

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    • Brian Mosteller sits with Bo Obama in the Outer Oval Office, June 20, 2012

      Brian Mosteller, Director of Oval Office Operations, sits with Bo, the Obama family dog, in the Outer Oval Office, June 20, 2012.

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    • Michelle Obama at Mom's Apple Pie Co. in Occoquan, Va., June 7, 2012

      First Lady Michelle Obama poses with an employee during a visit to Mom's Apple Pie Co. in Occoquan, Va., June 7, 2012.

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    • June Flickr gallery: President Obama Gets a Kiss from a Little Boy June 27, 2012

      A little boy leans over to kiss President Barack Obama during the Congressional picnic on the South Lawn of the White House, June 27, 2012.

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    • President Obama with Jack Lew and Kathryn Ruemmler after the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act, June 28, 2012

      President Obama with Chief of Staff Jack Lew and Kathryn Ruemmler after learning the Supreme Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act

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    • President Barack Obama talks college affordability with students in the Blue Room, June 21, 2012

      President Barack Obama greets students in the Blue Room of the White House before delivering a statement on college affordability and interest rates.

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  • President Barack Obama welcomes the 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball Champion Baylor Bears to the White House (July 18, 2012)

    President Barack Obama welcomes Coach Kim Mulkey and the 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball Champion Baylor Bears to the East Room of the White House, July 18, 2012, to congratulate them on their historic 40-0 season and their NCAA Championship victory. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    President Obama welcomed the Baylor Lady Bears to the White House yesterday to celebrate their NCAA women's basketball national championship and their historic, undefeated season.

    “[If] there’s one thing to describe this team, it was dominant,” the President told the crowd gathered in the East Room. "Last season, the Lady Bears scored more points than any team in women’s college basketball history. They became the first team ever -- men’s or women’s -- to win 40 games in a season."

    President Barack Obama greets Haley Klepper (July 18, 2012)

    President Barack Obama greets Haley Klepper in the East Room of the White House, July 18, 2012, during a ceremony for the 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball Champion Baylor Bears. The President mentioned Haley during his remarks. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Among those on hand for the event was Haley Klepper -- a ten year old girl from Waco, Texas with a rare disorder -- who through the course of the season became an unofficial part of the Baylor team.

    President Obama made a point to pause and acknowledge Haley, saying: "[When] the team found out about Haley and all the stuff that she goes through every day, and she’s such a brave little girl, they immediately took her under their wing. So she has her own spot reserved in the Baylor locker room, and -- she’s a pretty big fan."

  • This morning, the Obama Administration announced the President’s plan to create a national Science, Math, Technology, and Engineering (STEM) Master Teacher Corps. The STEM Master Teacher Corps will begin in 50 locations across the country, each with 50 exceptional STEM educators. Over the next four years the Corps will expand to include 10,000 of the best STEM teachers in the nation. 

    In the afternoon, Kumar Garg, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Steve Robinson, Domestic Policy Council, took to Twitter to answer questions about the STEM Master Teacher Corp and other Obama Administration initiatives to support STEM education. You can check out the full Q&A below or at Storify.com.

    Be sure to follow @WhiteHouse on Twitter for the latest news and more opportunities to engage.

  • Today, the Obama Administration announced a plan to create a national STEM Master Teacher Corps, which will recognize and reward 10,000 exceptional science, math, technology and engineering teachers in our nation’s classrooms. Educators who join the STEM Master Teachers Corps will make a commitment to champion the cause of STEM education in their respective communities, and will receive additional resources to mentor math and science teachers, inspire students, and help their communities grow

    A world-class STEM workforce is essential to virtually every goal we have as a nation – whether it’s broadly shared economic prosperity, international competitiveness, a strong national defense, a clean energy future, and longer, healthier, lives for all Americans.  By creating a STEM Master Teaching Corps to inspire students, and by giving these educators the necessary resources to teach well, we are investing in America’s future.

    To learn more about the administration’s efforts to promote excellence in STEM education visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp

  • Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services released guidance regarding waivers for the TANF program. These waivers will strengthen welfare reform by accelerating job placement and moving more Americans from welfare to work. Under this policy, no waivers that undercut work requirements in welfare reform will be approved. 

    This policy will allow States to test new, more effective ways to help people get and keep a job.  For years, Republican and Democratic Governors have requested more flexibility in implementing welfare reform so they can meet their States’ specific needs. 

    Below is a letter from Republican governors written in 2005 asking Congress for increased flexibility (click the image to download).

     
     

  •  First Lady Michelle Obama to announces public and private sector commitments

    Local elected officials from across the country joined First Lady Michelle Obama to announce public and private sector commitments to get our kids healthier as part of her Let’s Move! initiative to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation, in Philadelphia, Pa. June 18, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    Ed. Note: This article is a cross-post from LetsMove.gov

    Today in Philadelphia, First Lady Michelle Obama joined local elected officials from across the country to announce new opportunities to bring Let’s Move! to cities, towns and counties across America. Since she launched Let’s Move!, the First Lady has encouraged local solutions to solving the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. Today, she announced opportunities for local elected officials to do just that through Let’s Move! Cities, Towns & Counties, an initiative that calls upon all local elected officials to work for changes that make their communities healthier.

    “Every day, local officials like these are changing our children’s lives and helping them learn and grow and fulfill every last bit of their potential.  And thanks to the commitments we’re announcing today, our cities, towns and counties will be able to do even more,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “We still have a long way to go to solve this problem.  But if leaders like these keep coming to the table and we all keep working together, then I am confident that we can give all our children the happy, healthy futures they so richly deserve.”

  • Ed. Note: This piece is cross-posted from Commerce.gov

    Yesterday, I spoke with around 100 women from across the U.S. financial services industry at the White House. The forum included business executives as well as stewards of institutional funds.

    I’m an economist by training and I’ve studied the role that women play in the workforce. When it comes to decision-making, in the boardroom or anywhere else, the best decisions get made when there is more diversity of perspectives and opinions at the table. So it was great to hear from these leaders.

  • President Obama has made revitalizing manufacturing a top U.S. priority, and as part of that effort he launched the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) in June of last year to bring together industry, academia and government to recommend joint investments and solutions in response to recommendations in a report from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).

    “Right now we have a real opportunity to bring manufacturing back, and we need to seize it together. That’s why I launched the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership—to make it easier for business, academia, and government to pull in the same direction and put more Americans back to work,” said President Obama.

    Yesterday, the AMP steering committee—which operates within the framework of PCAST and is comprised of leading experts from industry and academia—outlined 16 recommendations for spurring investment and positioning the United States for long-term leadership in advanced manufacturing.

    You can read the report, Capturing Domestic Competitive Advantage in Advanced Manufacturing, here.

  • First Lady Michelle Obama talks with President Nelson Mandela

    First Lady Michelle Obama talks with former South African President Nelson Mandela about his book during a visit at Mandela's home in Houghton, South Africa, June 21, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

    Today, July 18, marks the fourth annual Nelson Mandela International Day. Below, read the statement from President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama honoring the day, and Mandela's life and work. 

    On behalf of the people of the United States, we would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Nelson Mandela on the occasion of his 94th birthday and the fourth annual Nelson Mandela International Day. Mandela’s extraordinary life and steadfast commitment to the principles of democracy and reconciliation continues to be a beacon for people of all backgrounds who strive for dignity, justice, and freedom. 

    Nelson Mandela’s personal story is one of unbreakable will, unwavering integrity, and abiding humility.  On a personal note, our family has been inspired by Madiba’s example, and has deeply appreciated the time we have spent with him, and his wisdom, grace and generosity of spirit.  By any measure, Nelson Mandela has changed the arc of history, transforming his country, continent, and the world.

    In 2009, the United States joined 192 United Nations member states in the creation of Nelson Mandela International Day. On this important occasion, we honor Madiba’s commitment to service and the betterment of our communities. There is no more fitting tribute to a man who has demonstrated to the world the extraordinary power of non-violence, of tolerance, and of unwavering service to our fellow men and women.

  • Watch Cass Sunstein in Advise the Advisor here.

    How can we continue to streamline, simplify, and improve rules and regulations? Which rules should be eliminated, streamlined, or made more effective? How can we reduce reporting and paperwork burdens? What are the best ways to cut regulatory costs? We’re looking for your ideas.

    In January 2011, the President directed all executive agencies to undertake an unprecedented government-wide review of regulations on the books, in order to figure out what is working and what is not, and where appropriate, to streamline or eliminate ineffective, overly burdensome, and outdated rules. Over two dozen agencies responded with regulatory reform plans, listing more than 800 initiatives.

    We are already seeing big results. Just a small fraction of those initiatives, already finalized or formally proposed to the public, will save more than $10 billion over the next five years. Far more savings are expected as the plans are implemented and improved.

    This May, the President made regulatory reform a continuing responsibility of all executive agencies and departments. All agencies must engage with the public to obtain suggestions about which regulations should be reassessed, modified, improved, streamlined, or eliminated. All agencies must give priority to reforms that would produce significant quantifiable savings or big reductions in paperwork and reporting burdens. And all agencies must report regularly to the public on their progress.

    The next reports are due fairly soon – this fall. To improve our review, and to make it as ambitious as possible, we are announcing, today, an opportunity for members of the public to offer their ideas. Which rules are outdated? Which ones are imposing unjustified costs? Which ones can be improved or made more effective? Submit your ideas at WhiteHouse.gov/Advise. They will be given careful consideration.

    Cass Sunstein is Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. 

     

  • In recent weeks, the Department of the Interior announced a key component of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy: a five-year program for offshore oil and gas leasing that will allow our nation to expand safe and responsible oil and gas development to help power our economy.  The five year program, which we developed after extensive input from the public, states, tribes, and others, makes more than 75% of recoverable energy resources in our oceans available for exploration and development – including frontier areas in the Alaskan Arctic. At the same time, we are also taking steps to identify additional resources in currently undeveloped areas to inform future development decisions.

    The five year program we are implementing builds on the President’s strong record on oil and gas development. Nationwide, domestic oil and natural gas production has increased every year President Obama has been in office. In 2011, American oil production reached the highest level in nearly a decade and natural gas production reached an all-time high. 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 – a million barrels a day – in the last year alone.  At the same time, we have implemented comprehensive reforms in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that has made offshore development safer and more responsible.

    Under the administration’s five year program, we have delivered what the American people have asked for: a smart way forward that focuses on the areas that contain the overwhelming majority of the resources rather than simply opening areas for the sake of achieving an imaginary acreage threshold.

  • Today, the Obama Administration announced the President’s plan to create a national Science, Math, Technology, and Engineering (STEM) Master Teacher Corps. The STEM Master Teacher Corps will begin in 50 locations across the country, each with 50 exceptional STEM educators. Over the next four years the Corps will expand to include 10,000 of the best STEM teachers in the nation. In joining the STEM Master Teachers Corps, these educators will make a commitment to champion the cause of STEM education in their respective communities, and will receive additional resources to mentor math and science teachers, inspire students, and help their communities grow.

    Improving America’s STEM education is one of President Obama’s top priorities.  As he has said repeatedly, efforts to improve STEM education are “going to make more of a difference in determining how well we do as a country than just about anything else that we do here.” A world-class STEM workforce is essential to virtually every goal we have as a nation – whether it’s broadly shared economic prosperity, international competitiveness, a strong national defense, a clean energy future, and longer, healthier, lives for all Americans.   If we want the future to be made in America, we need to redouble our efforts to strengthen and expand our STEM workforce.

    The Obama Administration is committed to ensuring America’s students are prepared to succeed in an increasingly competitive economy. To do so, we must make sure effective, capable teachers are guiding our youth in the classroom. By creating a STEM Master Teaching Corps to inspire students, and by giving these educators the necessary resources to teach well, we are investing in America’s future.

  • Ed note: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced yesterday that they adopted a rule to begin supervising larger consumer reporting agencies, which include what are popularly called credit bureaus or credit reporting companies. This is the first time these companies will be supervised at the federal level. This blog post, originally published on the CFPB blog, explains what this will mean for consumers.

    You may know about the three biggest nationwide credit reporting companies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. But did you know that there are other companies out there that may be providing reports on you that could be used to decide if you’re eligible for consumer financial, insurance, medical and other products?

    Today the CFPB is posting a list of consumer reporting companies – companies that collect information and write reports that could be used to decide if you will be able to get credit, insurance, or a job. This list doesn’t cover every company in the industry. It’s a list of companies that have identified themselves as consumer reporting companies or provide consumers access to their consumer reports. (1) The list includes both the biggest nationwide credit reporting companies and a longer list of “specialty reporting companies.”

    Specialty reporting companies focus on certain industries. Just like the three biggest nationwide credit reporting companies, specialty reporting companies collect and share information with creditors and other businesses. There are a lot of these companies on the list, so we’re also trying to give tips on which of them may be important to you. The list also has information about how you can get copies of your reports (see below).

  • Today, I hosted a Google+ Hangout with Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan to highlight efforts to strengthen local and regional food systems across the United States.

    The event was an opportunity to talk about local food with inspiring women from around the country, from Valerie Segrest, of the Muckelshoot Indian Tribe near Seattle, WA, who sees local and traditional foods as a way to preserve her heritage, to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore, MD, who has made great strides in building her city’s local food system to increase access to healthy affordable food. You can watch the full video from the hangout below or on YouTube.

    The hangout also marked the launch of the 2.0 version of the USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass. An innovative digital guide and map, the KYF Compass highlights USDA-supported local food projects around the country. The 2.0 version features thousands of local food projects in all 50 states and includes keyword and zip code search features.

  • President Obama attends the U.S. Men's Olympic basketball team's game against Brazil (July 17, 2012)

    President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, with granddaughter Naomi Biden, attend the U.S. Men's Olympic basketball team's game against Brazil at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., July 16, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    In the lead up to the 2012 London Olympics, the USA men's basketball team last night played an exhibition game against Brazil at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.

    President Obama was on hand, along with First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Biden.

    The Obamas and company watched Team USA take on a talented and experienced Brazil squad, also featuring multiple NBA starters. Led by 30 points, six rebounds, and four steals from LeBron James, the Americans forced 23 turnovers to capture an 80-69 win.

    Earlier, the USA women's team routed their Brazilian counterparts, 99-67 -- led by 21 points from the three-time WNBA All Star Lindsay Whalen.

    President Obama met with both teams to offer some words of encouragement before the players and coaches head to the United Kingdom to defend their gold medals. The Olympics start on July 28, and the First Lady will help to lead the U.S. delegation.

    We managed to grab some behind the scenes video from the night. Check it out below.

    Earlier, we talked with Alonzo Mourning, a gold medalist in the 2000 Sydney Olympics with Team USA, about the challenges this year's squad will face in London. Watch Alonzo Mourning talk about Team USA basketball.

     

  • There’s a lot of room for debate about taxes and we welcome that debate, which is why the President continues to push Congress to act on extending tax cuts for 114 million middle-class families. But we will continue to demand that this debate is based on facts and analysis from non-partisan, independent sources—not based on industry studies like one that was released this morning by Ernst & Young done by former Bush appointee and paid for by industries that have a record of opposing the President’s policies.

    The study’s estimates are based on policies that are at odds with the President has actually proposed, omit key proposals the President has made and employ flawed assumptions that are at odds with respected independent analysts like the Congressional Budget Office – and even with the findings of the Bush Administration Treasury Department. Relying on analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, the Joint Committee on Taxation, and even Chairman Paul Ryan’s own budget demonstrates that the President’s proposals are good for job growth in both the short and long run.

    Below is an analysis by Jason Furman, Principal Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, highlighting the major flaws, errors and misleading statements in the study:

    • The study fallaciously assumes that the tax cuts are used to finance additional spending, ignoring the benefits of what the President actually proposed which was to use the revenue as part of a balanced plan to reduce the deficit and stabilize the debt. The President has proposed to let the high-income tax cuts expire and use the resulting $1 trillion in savings (over 10 years) as part of a balanced plan to reduce deficits and debt and put the nation on a sustainable fiscal course that includes $2.50 of spending cuts for every $1.00 of revenue.  But rather than modeling the President’s proposal to reduce the deficit, the headline numbers in the study explicitly assume that the revenue would be used entirely to finance additional spending.  In fact, the study explicitly states, “Using the additional revenue to reduce the deficit is not modeled.”  [Source:  footnote on page 3]
    • The study also leaves out the President’s proposed new tax cuts for business hiring and investment.  The President has proposed to cut taxes by $80 billion in 2012 and 2013 by enacting a new 10 percent tax credit for business hiring and wage increases and allowing immediate write-offs of new investment through the end of 2012.  Not only are these tax cuts larger in dollar-terms than the near-term tax increase for the top two percent of Americans that would result from letting the high-income tax cuts expire, but they are far better targeted toward boosting jobs and growth. In fact, even Chairman Paul Ryan’s Budget shows that the President supports taxes that are $42 billion lower in 2012 and 2013 than under the Republican plan. [Source]
    • The authors of the new study acknowledge that it has no bearing on the impact of the President’s proposals on the economic recovery and employment in the short-run.   In fact, even they acknowledge that the short-run impact of extending the high-income tax cuts will be proportionately less than the impact of the middle-income cuts, noting that a “disproportionate share of the tax change is likely to be channeled through savings for taxpayers facing the top tax rates as compared to other taxpayers.”  This is consistent with conclusions of the Congressional Budget Office and other independent analysts.  For example, CBO concluded that – compared to extending all of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, including those for the highest-income Americans – the President’s proposal to extend just the middle-class tax cuts “would be more cost-effective in boosting output and employment in the short run because the higher-income households that would probably spend a smaller fraction of any increase in their after-tax income would receive a smaller share of the reduction in taxes.”  [Source]
    • Even setting aside the fact that the study ignores the effects of the President’s tax proposals on short-term growth and long-term deficit reduction, the conclusions are still dramatically out-of-line with estimates by other analysts, including not only the Congressional Budget Office but also the Bush Administration Treasury Department.  The authors’ unrealistic assumptions lead them to find a larger increase in long-run output and about twice as large an effect on employment over the long-run as the Bush Administration Treasury Department found when conducting a similar analysis of extending the high-income tax cuts.  [Source]  This appears to mostly result from the fact that the study makes highly unrealistic assumptions about the economic impacts of tax cuts.  In particular, it assumes a labor supply response to tax rates that is about ten times as large as what the Congressional Budget Office assumes for medium- and high-earners. [Source] The new study is also inconsistent with recent historical experience.  Under the President’s plan, income tax rates on high earners would simply return to what they were in the 1990s – when the economy created 23 million jobs.

    The truth is that the Congressional Budget Office, the Joint Committee on Taxation, and other independent analysis have found that letting tax cuts expire and using the resulting revenue for deficit reduction would help the economy over the long-run because it would lead to lower interest rates and higher investment–the opposite of what the industry-financed study concludes.  For example, CBO found that output would be higher in 2020 if the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire than if they were extended and led to higher deficits.  Likewise, a 2005 Joint Committee on Taxation study reached the same conclusion about individual income tax rate cuts. And the President’s additional tax cuts to encourage business job growth and investment would have further benefits as well.

    Amy Brundage is the Deputy Press Secretary for the Economy

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