Our Top Stories
November 30, 2012
06:20 PM EDT
In the coming week, a delegation of leaders from government, industry, and civil society will represent the United States at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai. At that meeting, they will underscore the President’s commitment to the multi-stakeholder, bottom-up, and decentralized governance structure that has been at the core of the Internet’s success and continues to be the bedrock of U.S. global Internet policy.
In the lead-up to the meeting, three of the Administration’s lead officials have posted their collective thoughts about the WCIT, viewable at any one of these sites:
November 30, 2012
04:45 PM EDT
Here’s a quick glimpse at what happened this week on WhiteHouse.gov:
#My2k: This week, President Obama called on the American people to speak out in favor of keeping taxes low on the middle class. He explained:
If Congress does nothing, every family in America will see their taxes automatically go up at the beginning of next year. A typical middle-class family of four would see its income taxes go up by $2,200. That's $2,200 out of people's pockets. That means less money for buying groceries, less money for filling prescriptions, less money for buying diapers. It means a tougher choice between paying the rent and paying tuition. And middle-class families just can’t afford that right now.
The President asked the American people to speak loudly by sharing what $2,000 means to them online on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #My2k. Here's how you can get involved:
- Join the conversation and share your story
- Read what others are saying about what $2,000 means to them
- Watch the President’s full remarks here
Holidays at the White House: Earlier this week, the First Lady previewed the 2012 White House holiday decorations, showcasing this year’s theme: “Joy to All.” The decorations embrace several beloved White House traditions, including 54 decorated trees throughout the residence and a White House gingerbread house. The First Lady explained that this year’s theme “celebrated the many joys of the holiday season: the joy of giving and service to others; the joy of sharing our blessings with one another; and, of course, the joy of welcoming friends and family as guests into our home over these next several weeks.”
- Watch Bo Inspect the 2012 White House Holiday Decorations
- Read First Lady Michelle Obama Receives the 2012 White House Christmas Tree
- Visit WhiteHouse.gov/holidays
President Obama Welcomes Mexico President-Elect: On Tuesday, President Obama welcomed President-elect of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto to the Oval Office. They discussed the close relationship between Mexico and the United States, and the President noted that President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto’s reform agenda is one that Americans will watch closely.
Matt ComptonNovember 30, 2012
04:00 PM EDT
In September 2009, the President announced that—for the first time in history—White House visitor records would be made available to the public on an ongoing basis. Today, the White House releases visitor records that were generated in August 2012. This release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to more than 2.8 million—all of which can be viewed in our Disclosures section.
Ed. note: For more information, check out Ethics.gov.
Megan SlackNovember 30, 2012
03:30 PM EDT
The Rodon Group, a third-generation family owned business, manufactures Tinkertoy and K’NEX building sets. The company depends on the many Americans who buy gifts for family and friends during the holiday season.
But, if Congress doesn’t act before the end of the year, every family in America will see their income taxes automatically go up on January 1, President Obama said.
A typical middle-class family of four would see their income taxes go up by about $2,200. That’s for a typical family -- it would be more for some folks. That’s money a lot of families just can’t afford to lose. That’s less money to buy gas, less money to buy groceries. In some cases, it means tougher choices between paying the rent and saving for college. It means less money to buy more K’NEX.
“And when folks are buying fewer clothes, or cars, or toys, that’s not good for our businesses; it’s not good for our economy; it’s not good for employment,” President Obama explained.
Ezra MechaberNovember 30, 2012
01:15 PM EDT
Senior Advisor to the President David Plouffe just sent the message below to the White House email list, asking people to continue to speak out about extending tax cuts for the middle class. If you didn't get the email, be sure to sign up.
Adam GarberNovember 30, 2012
12:00 AM EDT
Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. This week, the National Christmas Tree arrived at the White House and holiday decorating got underway, while the President marked Small Business Saturday, and met with leaders of businesses large and small to discuss the importance of avoiding a middle class tax hike next year. He also welcomed the President-Elect of Mexico, his Cabinet, his science and technology council, and the 2012 American Nobel Laureates.
Erin LindsayNovember 29, 2012
06:10 PM EDT
Note: This live session of Office Hours has concluded. View the full question and answer session below or at Storify.com
Last year, on World AIDS Day, President Obama announced ambitious new targets in the global fight against HIV/AIDS, and on the domestic front focused on investment to support the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy to fight the epidemic here at home. In the President’s speech that day he said: “we are going to win this fight. But the fight is not over…”
One year later, the President's commitments have translated into real measurable progress. Internationally, we've seen that ambitious treatment and prevention targets announced by the President are on track to be met, and domestically, the number of Americans living with HIV on waiting lists for medication has dropped by over 95%.
Have questions about steps the Obama Administration has taken both domestically and abroad as we move toward an AIDS-free generation? Tomorrow, Friday, November 30th at 3:00 p.m. ET join us for a special session of White House Office Hours with Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and Gayle Smith, Senior Director, National Security Council. During a live Q&A on Twitter they will answer your questions about the Obama administrations role in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.
Here’s are the details:
- Ask your questions now and during the live event on Twitter with the hashtag #WHChat
- Follow the Q&A live through the @WHLive and @VJ44 Twitter accounts
- If you miss the live Q&A, the full session will be posted on WhiteHouse.gov and Storify.com/WhiteHouse
So take a few minutes and learn more about how the White House is honoring World AIDS Day 2012 and then join us for Office Hours on Twitter with Valerie Jarrett and Gayle Smith on November 30th at 3:00 p.m. ET.
Megan SlackNovember 29, 2012
03:31 PM EDT
Today, Vice President Joe Biden visited a newly opened Costco in Washington, DC. After picking out a few Christmas gifts and other items, he talked about the importance of extending tax cuts for middle-class families.
“All the people you meet in here today and you see, these are hardworking folks who don't need to see their taxes go up,” he said.
But, if Congress doesn’t take action before the end of the year, the typical middle-class family will pay about $2,200 more in taxes starting in 2013.
“And so I think it’s important Congress acts now -- I mean right now,” Vice President Biden said. “All it has to do is take a single vote to extend the middle-class tax cut.”
November 29, 2012
03:00 PM EDT
In his Budget, the President proposes to raise $1.56 trillion in revenue from high-income households, including $1 trillion from the expiration of the Bush high-income and estate tax cuts and additional revenue from limiting tax expenditures for high-income households as a part of reforming the tax system to make it simpler, fairer and more efficient. Some have suggested that limits on high-income tax expenditures could substitute for rate increases and that it would be possible to raise $1 trillion or more while keeping the top income tax rate at 35 percent. But a careful look at the math of these types of caps and limits shows that, once one takes into account the reality of their impact on middle-class families and on charitable donations, plausible limits raise only a fraction of the $1 trillion or more some have suggested.
Consider the example of a $25,000 cap on itemized deductions, which some claim would raise in the range of $1 trillion or more from high-income households:
November 29, 2012
02:20 PM EDT
Yesterday marked the launch of Entrepreneur Pathways, an online resource center that gives immigrant entrepreneurs an intuitive way to navigate opportunities to start and grow a business in the United States. This new resource was announced during a visit to MIT’s entrepreneurship center by Alejandro Mayorkas, Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Federal agency responsible for administering visa programs.
Immigrant entrepreneurs have always made extraordinary contributions to our Nation’s economic growth and competitiveness, creating jobs and new businesses all across the country. Immigrants started 25 percent of the highest-growth companies in America, including iconic success stories like Intel, Google, Yahoo, and eBay, which together employ an estimated 220,000 people within the United States.
President Obama is committed to attracting the world’s best and brightest entrepreneurs to start the next great companies here in the United States, and Entrepreneur Pathways is an important and concrete next step to facilitating that. For example, imagine that an entrepreneur from another country participates in a startup mentorship program in the United States, raises a first round of funding from investors, and wants to stay here to grow the company and hire more people. Entrepreneur Pathways explains, in plain English, which existing visa categories might be available to that entrepreneur under current law, and what evidence would be necessary to demonstrate eligibility.
November 29, 2012
01:41 PM EDT
Editor’s Note: Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez on Wednesday announced the launch of the “Doing Business in Africa” campaign at an event in Johannesburg, South Africa. This campaign is part of a larger U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, which President Obama issued earlier this year. This campaign will leverage the federal government’s trade promotion, financing and strategic communications capabilities to help U.S. businesses identify and seize opportunities in Africa, and to help them overcome any challenges they face to establishing business relationships with Africa. This is a cross post from the International Trade Administration's blog.
Now is a great time to do business in Africa. Consider these stats, highlighted this week in remarks given by Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank:
- Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 6 of the 10 fastest growing markets in the world.
- Economic growth in the region is predicted to be strong – between 5 and 6 percent – in coming years.
- And – most importantly – millions of Africans are finding a path from poverty to greater opportunity and prosperity.
This progress is good news for our friends in Africa; it’s also good news for American businesses. As these numbers show, the growing African market is an increasingly attractive destination for quality products and services. It just so happens that goods that are “Made in America” are the best in the world. Now, we just need to link this supply with the demand, and make it easier for U.S. firms to operate in the dynamic African market.
One important effort towards achieving this goal: the “Doing Business in Africa” (DBIA) campaign which I launched with Acting Secretary Blank in South Africa this week.
Matt ComptonNovember 29, 2012
12:44 PM EDT
Yesterday, President Obama called on Americans to speak out in favor of keeping taxes low on the middle class. Some took their voices to Twitter and Facebook, and tens of thousands of people wrote in to tell the White House what $2,000 means to their families.
These stories are moving and powerful, and we're going to start sharing some of the best of them -- because real people have to be part of this debate.
Here's what Americans from all over the country told us that $2,000 meant to them:
Crystal, Alabama -- That money would be two house payments. Or three car payments. It would pay for my medication for a year.
Bryan, Michigan -- I'm a small market farmer in northern Michigan. $2000 in additional taxes would mean that we may not be able to buy the two greenhouses that we need to extend our short growing season.
Colby, Mississippi -- $2,000 would allow me to pay off the student loan debt I have incurred to go to college. I am a first generation college graduate currently pursuing a Masters of Taxation degree.
Ruby, Illinois -- With 2 young adults in college, $2,000 is not small change but the difference in having money to pay the mortgage, college tuition, books. Middle class families cannot be held hostage by partisan politics, obstruction in Washington.
Cise, Washington -- A whole year's worth of diapers for my daughter and my gas to commute to work. That is what $2,000 means to me & my family.
Jaime, Arkansas -- $2000 means a hot school lunch to my kids. It means propane in our tank for the whole winter season. It means badly needed dental work for my husband. It means insurance for our vehicles. It means payments on my student loans.
Sheri, Arizona -- $2,000 to me is the January mortgage payment, February mortgage payment, March car payment.
Anne, Pennsylvania -- Groceries on my table for four months. Heating my home for a year. Two mortgage payments.
Dr. Jill BidenNovember 29, 2012
11:26 AM EDT
Dr. Jill Biden speaks at the Ceremonial Groundbreaking of The Education Center at The Wall on November 28, 2012. (Photo by Bill Petros)
Along with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, members of Congress, military leaders and other Gold Star families, we gathered for the Ceremonial Groundbreaking of The Education Center at The Wall, a future national landmark that will bring to life the stories of the more than 58,261 Americans who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.
Located on the National Mall, the Education Center will uniquely bridge past, present and future by connecting veterans from all eras to one another. In addition to Vietnam veterans, the Education Center will also serve as a memorial to the lives of service members lost in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Colleen CurtisNovember 28, 2012
06:28 PM EDT
The theme of the 2012 White House Holiday decorations is "Joy to All".
The custom of selecting an official holiday theme began in the 1960s when First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy created a nutcracker-themed Christmas for her daughter Caroline. And in welcoming a crowd of military families who were the first of more than 90,000 anticipated visitors, First Lady Michelle Obama explained that this year's theme "celebrates the many joys of the holiday seasons: the joy of giving and service to others; the joy of sharing our blessings with one another; and, of course, the joy of welcoming our friends and families as guests into our homes over these next several weeks."
The 2012 decorations embrace several beloved White House traditions: There are 54 decorated trees throughout the residence, and four of them on display in the Grand Foyer are trimmed with ornaments that pay tribute to the holiday legacies of former First Ladies dating back to Mrs. Kennedy, including some original ornaments from years past.
Two of the rooms pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of our Armed Forces and their families. The walls of the East Landing are adorned with wreaths crafted with red, white, and blue yarn, and a tree decorated with red, white and blue ornaments completes the space. The official White House Christmas tree, which stands tall in the center of the Blue Room, honors the courageous service of the troops, veterans, and military families who serve our country with pride. The 18-foot-6- inch Fraser Fir from Jefferson, North Carolina is trimmed with ornaments decorated by military children living on U.S. Military Bases all over the world, and these one-of-a-kind ornaments honor their parents’ commitment to service.
Erin LindsayNovember 28, 2012
05:34 PM EDT
Note: This live session of Office Hours has concluded. View the full question and answer session below or at Storify.com
If Congress doesn't act by the end of the year, every American family’s taxes will automatically go up. A typical middle-class family of four would see their taxes rise by $2,200 in 2013. Surrounded by American's who had written in support of his plan, President Obama called on the American people to speak up and add their voices to the debate:
"Today, I’m asking Congress to listen to the people who sent us here to serve. I’m asking Americans all across the country to make your voice heard. Tell members of Congress what a $2,000 tax hike would mean to you. Call your members of Congress, write them an email, post it on their Facebook walls. You can tweet it using the hashtag “My2K.”
Tomorrow, Thursday November 29th at 1:00 pm ET, Brian Deese, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council will join us for a special session of Office Hours. During a live Q&A on Twitter, Brian will answer your questions about a balanced approach to reducing the deficit and the importance of extending the middle-class tax cuts.
Megan SlackNovember 28, 2012
05:30 PM EDT
Today, President Obama held his first full Cabinet meeting since the election took place.
He first thanked Cabinet members for doing “a remarkable job on behalf of the American people, across the board, on a range of issues” including growing our economy, putting people back to work, and keeping Americans safe around the world.
But there’s still much work to be done, he reminded them. In today’s meeting, President Obama said the Cabinet would discuss efforts to help communities recover and rebuild after Hurricane Sandy, as well as something that’s on the minds of many American families across the country: making sure taxes on the middle class don’t go up.
There is no reason why taxes on middle-class families should go up. It would be bad for the economy. It would be bad for those families. In fact, it would be bad for the world economy. And so I think it’s very important that we get that resolved, and I am very open to a fair and balanced approach to reduce our deficit and provide the kind of certainty that businesses and consumers need so that we can keep this recovery going.
November 28, 2012
04:48 PM EDT
A red ribbon is displayed on the North Portico of the White House, Nov. 30, 2010, in advance of World AIDS Day. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson) (Official White House Photo)
What a year it has been! One year ago on World AIDS Day, President Obama announced ambitious new targets in the global fight against HIV/AIDS, and on the domestic front focused investment to support the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy to fight the epidemic here at home. In the President’s speech that day he said: “we are going to win this fight. But the fight is not over…” As we celebrate World AIDS Day 2012, it is worth taking a moment to look back at what’s been achieved and what remains to be done to meet the goal of an AIDS-free generation.
We’re pleased to announce that the President’s commitments have translated into meaningful action over the last year and that we’re making measurable, real progress. We’ll talk about that progress in detail this week, when the White House will host an event for World AIDS Day on November 29 from 1pm-3pm, which you can watch at www.whitehouse.gov/live. We’ll discuss the results we have achieved over the last year – including towards meeting the targets set by the President one year ago, and the next steps we will be taking to turn the tide on this epidemic. Please join us!
This summer, we were reminded that HIV impacts all of us, no matter who we are or where we live. The International AIDS Conference returned to the United States for the first time in 22 years, thanks to President Obama concluding a successful bipartisan effort to end the entry ban on persons living with HIV. The Conference was an unqualified success, with new and exciting treatment and prevention research announced and representation of persons living with HIV from all regions of the world. President Obama welcomed delegates to the conference and hosted HIV-positive conference delegates and others for a White House reception. Six senior White House staff recorded powerful and personal videos on how the HIV/AIDS epidemic has impacted their lives.
Kori SchulmanNovember 28, 2012
03:00 PM EDT
If Congress fails to act before the end of the year, every American family’s taxes will automatically go up. A typical middle-class family of four would see their taxes rise $2,200 starting in 2013. Standing with middle-class families at the White House today, President Obama called on all Americans to speak out:
So today, I’m asking Congress to listen to the people who sent us here to serve. I’m asking Americans all across the country to make your voice heard. Tell members of Congress what a $2,000 tax hike would mean to you. Call your members of Congress, write them an email, post it on their Facebook walls. You can tweet it using the hashtag #My2K.
And they did. Take a look at what $2,000 means to Americans below, or over on Storify.
Matt ComptonNovember 28, 2012
02:49 PM EDT
Surrounded by Americans who had written into the White House in support of his plan, President Obama today renewed his call to prevent a tax increase on the middle class.
"If Congress does nothing, every family in America will see their taxes automatically go up at the beginning of next year," the President said. "A typical middle-class family of four would see its income taxes go up by $2,200. That's $2,200 out of people's pockets. That means less money for buying groceries, less money for filling prescriptions, less money for buying diapers. It means a tougher choice between paying the rent and paying tuition. And middle-class families just can’t afford that right now."
To help find an agreement President Obama pledged to keep up the pressure -- meeting with lawmakers, labor leaders, and business executives. And he called on the American people to speak up and add their own voices to the debate.
"If there's one thing I've learned, when the American people speak loudly enough, lo and behold, Congress listens," he said.
You can share your story by visiting WH.gov/My2K, or help keep the conversation going online on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #My2K. Or, read what others are saying about what $2,000 means to them.
Matt ComptonNovember 28, 2012
01:06 PM EDT
President Obama just sent the message below to the White House email list, asking people to speak out about extending tax cuts for the middle class. If you didn't get the email, be sure to sign up.