Josh EarnestNovember 28, 2012
12:38 PM EDT
As we move into the holiday shopping season, the President met yesterday with small business owners from across the country at the White House to discuss the importance of preventing a tax increase on small businesses before the end of the year. Given that consumer spending is roughly 70% of our economy, the President also heard directly from these local business leaders on how they would be affected by a tax increase on middle class families.
News of their visit and the important messages that these small business owners brought to the table on Tuesday was carried in their home towns from St. Louis to Jacksonville, across television, newspapers and radio. Let’s take a look at some of the coverage of their meeting from local media outlets across the country:
Detroit News: Wayne business owner: Extend some tax cuts
Detroit Free Press: Owner of Detroit-area trucking firm tells Obama she's OK with higher taxes
Detroit – NBC (MI): Andra Rush, Founder, Rush Trucking: “The president agrees with having tax cuts extended to 98% of the population and has already agreed to that, he’s cut $1.1 trillion in government spending already, and he's ready and willing to get the job done, as well as cut the red tape to help continue to create jobs and support small business. I think by having our economy sound and by having a budget that has been approved by all parties, bipartisan, what it does is it creates a certainty so consumers purchase. I'm in the auto industry, so people buying cars made in America is fantastic and that helps us create jobs right in the city of Detroit.” Read more here.
Matt ComptonNovember 27, 2012
07:18 PM EDT
This afternoon, President Obama welcomed Enrique Peña Nieto, the President-elect of Mexico, to the Oval Office.
By long-standing tradition, newly elected Mexican presidents hold early meetings with the United States, in part because it symbolizes the close relationship between our two countries.
And President-elect Peña Nieto is himself no stranger to the United States, having spent a year in Maine as a student.
"But I think that’s representative of the strength of the relationship between the United States and Mexico," President Obama said. "It’s not just a matter of policy, but it’s a matter of people, as represented by the many U.S. citizens who travel to Mexico, who live in Mexico, and obviously the incredible contribution that Mexican Americans make to our economy, our society, and to our politics."
President Obama noted that President-elect Peña Nieto's reform agenda is one that Americans will watch closely -- as what happens in Mexico affects our society as well.
Jonathan GreenblattNovember 27, 2012
06:44 PM EDT
America has a tradition of generosity. Today, we celebrate Giving Tuesday, a new nationwide effort to raise attention and motivate action for the common good. It’s a trend worth encouraging.
The organizers have named the Tuesday after Thanksgiving as an annual moment to support the most vulnerable and uplift our communities.
Giving Tuesday is intended to encourage Americans to reflect and give back. This commemoration does not seek to coordinate funds toward a particular charity or to direct volunteers to support a specific cause. Instead, it attempts to encourage active citizenship. It seeks to open a national conversation about the ability of all Americans to participate in positive action.
We know that such charitable activities can bring multiple levels of benefit. First, they help the immediate beneficiaries that are affected by charity or service. Beyond this direct impact, we know that charitable activities yield indirect dividends in many ways. For example, we know that active volunteering has been linked to expanding opportunity and increasing employment.
November 27, 2012
05:39 PM EDT
The Obama Administration has continued to bring all available resources to bear to support the states affected by Hurricane Sandy as they continue to respond and recover from the storm.
On Thursday, November 15th, the President travelled to New York, marking his second trip to the region since Sandy made landfall. The President announced that he has asked Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to continue to work closely with Governors, mayors and local officials in the affected states as they identify longer term priorities to help communities rebuild and recover.
In this new role, Secretary Donovan will coordinate Federal support as States design individual redevelopment plans, identify priorities, and over time work to implement them. This structure will streamline the process for Governors as they seek assistance for longer-term projects and identify community redevelopment priorities. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continue to provide all available federal resources to support the immediate response and recovery efforts.
November 27, 2012
11:48 AM EDT
In response to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, the Federal, state, and local governments immediately started to work with outside partners to provide relief, support, and reconstruction. In New Jersey and New York, government, civil society, and the private sector have partnered to restore power, provide fuel, and temporarily shelter the displaced. These partnerships are excellent examples of different sectors coming together to make a difference in people’s lives and illustrate the importance of cross-sector collaboration for homeland security.
Executive Order 13629 directs the establishment of a new White House Homeland Security Partnership Council (Council) to provide advice on how the Federal Government can more effectively work with partners to address disasters and other homeland security priorities. A Steering Committee is being selected for the Council and in the next few weeks will meet to discuss the nomination and selection process for Council members.
The Council will be comprised of current Federal Government employees, outside of Washington, D.C., who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in building partnerships. Its role will be to promote the use of partnerships to achieve homeland security priorities and to advise the White House and other Federal officials on building partnerships (more information in Fact Sheet). Some of the best partnerships and expertise reside at the local level, and the Council will enable the Federal Government to more effectively tap into this experience and best practices to secure the homeland.
November 27, 2012
09:30 AM EDT
During the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh on November 20, President Obama asked us to join with U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia William E. Todd in gathering Cambodian human rights organizations to discuss the state of human rights and civil society in Cambodia.
The courageous individuals we met represented many others who advocate daily, sometimes at personal risk, for the protection and strengthening of human rights in Cambodia. Much of our conversation centered around three issues: land rights, the rule of law, and free and fair elections.
Land tenure issues are a serious problem in Cambodia. Due to the lack of a dependable titling system and a weak judiciary, conflicts frequently arise over land rights. Even more troubling, the Cambodian government has at times forced families to relocate from their homes without due process or compensation. Residents who have protested these steps have been harassed, and some have been arrested and convicted on criminal charges.
Cambodia’s weak judicial system also faces many challenges. Suspects often spend long periods in pre-trial detention – Cambodian law allows for such detention for up to six months for misdemeanors and 18 months for felonies. At times, outspoken activists and opposition politicians have been given lengthy prison terms based on questionable evidence. Most notably, a well-known critic of the Prime Minister and owner of an independent radio station was recently imprisoned for 20 years based on what many observers described as inadequate evidence. Charges of defamation or disinformation – or threats of such charges – have been used as a means to intimidate journalists and human rights activists alike.
November 27, 2012
08:00 AM EDT
(Picture drawn by Abigail Dabu, Age 14)
“…I would like to run for some political office when I grow up. Why? Because there are so many changes that need to be made regarding important issues that are not happening. And we need more women making decisions in our country!” -- Meera Kota, Age 15
“This week, the United States signed a new Declaration on Women’s Participation. Next year, we should each announce the steps we are taking to break down economic and political barriers that stand in the way of women and girls. That is what our commitment to human progress demands.” -- President Barack Obama, September 21, 2011
Building on President Obama’s challenge at the UN General Assembly in September 2011, the United States will be working with countries around the world as part of a new international effort – the Equal Futures Partnership – to politically and economically empower women in each of our countries.
Among the United States’ commitments through this partnership are new efforts to promote civic education and public leadership for girls, including the launch of an Equal Futures App Challenge earlier this year: to create an app that promotes civic education and/or inspires girls to serve as leaders in our democracy.
Today we are pleased to announce that the following leaders have signed on to act as judges:
· Representative Barbara Ballard
· Anna Maria Chavez, CEO, Girl Scouts
· Geena Davis, Academy Award-Winning Actor; Founder, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
· Jack Dorsey, Creator and Co-Founder, Twitter; Founder and CEO, Square
· Tiffany Dufu, President, the White House Project
· Jocelyn Goldfein, Director of Engineering, Facebook
· Mayor Elizabeth Kautz
· Senator Lisa Murkowski
· Andrew Shue, Co-Founder, dosomething.org; Co-Founder, cafemom.com
· Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis
· Judy Vredenburgh, President and CEO, Girls Inc.
November 26, 2012
05:30 PM EDT
On each leg of his trip to Southeast Asia this week, President Obama raised with foreign leaders one of his priority human rights issues: ending human trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery.
In September, the President spoke passionately about this issue, noting that human trafficking is an issue that ought to concern every person, community, business, and nation around the world. Making good on those words, during the trip the President secured new commitments from the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to strengthen and harmonize their anti-trafficking laws, and established a landmark joint plan with the Government of Burma to help eliminate that country’s use of forced labor, including child soldiers.
At the President’s request, on Tuesday we had the pleasure of joining U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia William Todd in gathering with trafficking survivors in Cambodia, as well as some of our partners who are working to combat the crime. The conversations we had with trafficking survivors and advocates on the front lines of this fight left us feeling inspired by their courage, and encouraged by some of the progress made to date, but also concerned about the ongoing vulnerability of Cambodians to human trafficking.
Ending human trafficking is a top U.S. priority in Cambodia. To get there, progress will have to be made in preventing trafficking, protecting survivors, and holding offenders accountable. Our partners help educate the public to understand the key ways in which traffickers seek to exploit the vulnerable, particularly those migrating to neighboring countries for work. They also provide victims with rehabilitation services and vocational training, and train law enforcement personnel to more effectively investigate and prosecute perpetrators.
Jason FurmanNovember 26, 2012
03:30 PM EDT
Today, as we move into the holiday shopping season, the National Economic Council and the Council of Economic Advisers released a report called The Middle-Class Tax Cuts’ Impact on Consumer Spending and Retailers. This report provides new analysis on the impact to retailers and consumer spending if Congress fails to act to avoid taxes going up on 98 percent of Americans at the end of the year.
If Congress doesn't act, middle-class families will see their income taxes go up on January 1st. The typical middle-class family will see their taxes go up by $2,200 next year, negatively impacting businesses and retailers across the nation. The President has called on Congress to take action and stop holding the middle class and our economy hostage over a disagreement on tax cuts for households with incomes over $250,000 per year.
While the President is committed to working with Congress to reach compromises on areas of disagreement, there is no reason to delay acting where everyone agrees: extending tax cuts for the middle-class. There is no reason to hold the middle-class hostage while we debate tax cuts for the highest income earners.
Our economy can’t afford that right now. New analysis by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) finds that:
- Allowing the middle-class tax rates to rise and failing to patch the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) could cut the growth of real consumer spending by 1.7 percentage points in 2013. This sharp rise in middle-class taxes and the resulting decline in consumption could slow the growth of real GDP by 1.4 percentage points, which is consistent with recently published estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.
- Faced with these tax hikes, the CEA estimates that consumers could spend nearly $200 billion less than they otherwise would have in 2013 just because of higher taxes. This reduction of $200 billion is approximately four times the total amount that 226 million shoppers spent on Black Friday weekend last year. As the figure below shows this $200 billion reduction would likely be spread across all areas of consumer spending.
November 26, 2012
11:48 AM EDT
Medical school student, volunteer firefighter, active duty member of the United States Armed Forces, fashion designer, spouse, sailor who’s completed a 3,000 nautical mile voyage, neuroscientist, Ph.D. student, professional DJ, high school math teacher, Division I athlete, parent, freelance videographer, ballerina, college freshman...
The list above isn’t just a random collection of words and phrases. It’s actually a list of the interests, backgrounds and skills of a handful of former White House Interns – and it’s nowhere near exhaustive.
White House Interns are a wonderfully diverse group of community leaders and campus trailblazers. They begin the Internship Program with a passion for public service, and during their time at the White House, they find ways to couple that passion with new skills so that they’re better equipped to serve after their internships are done. They come from all over the country and have unique dreams.
Megan SlackNovember 23, 2012
12:30 PM EDT
Today, First Lady Michelle Obama greeted the official White House Christmas Tree, which arrived via horse-drawn carriage. Daughters Sasha and Malia and First Dog Bo also helped welcome the tree.
This year’s official tree is a 19-foot Fraser Fir that was selected in early October and harvested this month at Peak Farms in Jefferson, North Carolina. It will be displayed throughout the holiday season in the Blue Room. Members of the National Christmas Tree Association have presented the official White House Christmas Tree for display in the Blue Room each year since 1966.
Megan SlackNovember 22, 2012
06:00 AM EDT
Adam GarberNovember 22, 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 President made an historic trip to Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia, attended the East Asia Summit, and pardoned the National Thanksgiving Turkey at the White House with the First Family.
Megan SlackNovember 21, 2012
04:00 PM EDT
Today, President Obama pardoned Cobbler, the National Thanksgiving Turkey, in a ceremony at the White House. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation, and the first time the American people cast their vote via the White House Facebook page to decide which of two turkeys would receive the honor.
Although Cobbler was selected for the title of National Thanksgiving Turkey, both he and his alternate, Gobbler, received a pardon. The two 19-week old, 40-pound turkeys were named by elementary school students Rockingham County, Virginia, where the turkeys were raised.
President Obama, the First Lady and daughters Malia and Sasha will be taking two not-so-lucky turkeys to a local food bank this afternoon, and he asked that "every American to do what they can to help families who are in need of a real Thanksgiving this year."
Tomorrow, in the company of friends and loved ones, we will celebrate a uniquely American holiday. And it’s a chance for us to spend time with the people we care about and to give thanks for the blessings that we enjoy; and to think about just how lucky we are to live in the greatest nation on Earth.
But it’s also a time to remember those who are less fortunate -– and this year, that’s particularly true for our neighbors in the Northeast who have lost their homes and their possessions, and even their loved ones to Hurricane Sandy.
November 21, 2012
10:00 AM EDT
Did you know that before the 1940s Thanksgiving was not on a fixed date but was whenever the President proclaimed it to be?
George Washington issued the first Presidential proclamation for the holiday in 1789. That year he designated Thursday, November 26 as a national day of “public thanksgiving.” The United States then celebrated its first Thanksgiving under its new Constitution. Seventy-four years later, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday on the last Thursday in November.
By the beginning of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Presidency, Thanksgiving was not a fixed holiday; it was up to the President to issue a Thanksgiving Proclamation to announce what date the holiday would fall on. Tradition had dictated that the holiday be celebrated on the last Thursday of the month, however, this tradition became increasingly difficult to continue during the challenging times of the Great Depression.
Roosevelt’s first Thanksgiving in office fell on November 30, the last day of the month, because November had five Thursdays that year. This meant that there were only about 20 shopping days until Christmas and statistics showed that most people waited until after Thanksgiving to begin their holiday shopping. Business leaders feared they would lose the much-needed revenue an extra week of shopping would afford them. They asked President Roosevelt to move the holiday up from the 30th to the 23rd. He chose to keep the Thanksgiving holiday on the last Thursday of the month, however, as it had been for nearly three-quarters of a century.
November 20, 2012
12:15 PM EDT
On Sunday, Vice President Biden traveled to the New Jersey Shore and the City of Hoboken to personally survey the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy and meet with first responders on post-storm response and recovery efforts. The trip began with a helicopter flight along the shoreline of Monmouth and Ocean Counties to provide the Vice President an overhead view of the destruction Sandy brought to the North Barrier Islands. He was joined by Senator Bob Menendez, Congressman Jon Runyan, and New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno.
Once he landed, the Vice President received briefings at the Seaside Heights City Hall and Volunteer Fire Department by Seaside Park Mayor Robert Matthies, Seaside Heights Mayor William Akers of Ocean County Freeholder John Bartlett, Jr, Seaside Heights Fire Chief James Samarelli and Police Chief Thomas Boyd. Vice President Biden had the opportunity to meet and thank local first responders, many of whom had also lost their own homes during the storm.
While the Vice President found the briefings to be very informative, putting boots in the sand was key to getting a full appreciation of the conditions on the island. As Vice President Biden surveyed the beach at Seaside Park, he was able to see first-hand how an “engineered” beach can diffuse the impact of storm surge waves, better protecting homes and businesses close to the shore. Representatives from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) discussed the range of federal programs available to address damage to public beaches.
Erin LindsayNovember 20, 2012
10:20 AM EDT
Turkeys have been carving out a special place in American history since 1963. That's when John F. Kennedy became the first U.S. President to "pardon" a turkey at the White House -- a tradition that's grown to be known as the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation.
On Wednesday, President Obama will pardon the 2012 National Thanksgiving Turkey and this year, for the first time ever, the American public will get its say. People all across the country are flocking to cast their vote.
Which of two turkeys will be named the 2012 National Thanksgiving Turkey?
Born on the same day on a farm in Rockingham Country, Virginia, Cobbler and Gobbler may look alike, but they're no birds of a feather. Cobbler craves cranberries, is known for his strut, and enjoys the musical stylings of Carly Simon. Gobbler, a patient but proud bird, loves to nibble on corn and enjoys any music with a fiddle.
Which turkey is your favorite? Go to the White House Facebook page and "Like" and "share" their post to cast your vote.
Polls close at 8:00 pm ET on Tuesday, November 20th 2012, so be sure to visit the White House Facebook page to cast your vote.
Choose the National Thanksgiving Turkey!
Don't forget to tune in to the 2012 ceremony on Wednesday, November 21st on http://wh.gov/live at 2:00 pm ET to find out which turkey has been selected as the 2012 National Thanksgiving Turkey. And for more on how this Presidential tradition came to be check out the definitive history of the Presidential Turkey Pardon.
Note: It's all gravy -- no turkeys will be harmed during the selection of the National Thanksgiving Turkey. After the pardoning, both turkeys travel to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens to reside in a custom-made enclosure at Mount Vernon’s nationally recognized livestock facility. Additionally, if for any reason one turkey is unable to perform the duties of the National Thanksgiving Turkey, his alternate will take his place during the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation.
Megan SlackNovember 20, 2012
10:00 AM EDT
In Cambodia, President Obama’s final stop on his trip to Asia, the President met with the leaders of the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) to deepen our ties with members of the key Asian multilateral organization.
ASEAN is the United States’ fourth largest export market, and includes two of our treaty allies, one of our closest security partners, several emerging regional powers. Additionally, its nations are located along some of the world’s most important trading routes and sea lines of communication.
While in Phnom Penh, President Obama also attended the East Asia Summit, a gathering of leaders from ASEAN as well as six other Asia-Pacific powers. The United States’ economic and security future is inextricably linked to the region, and President Obama used the summit to explore with other Asia-Pacific leaders ways to enhance cooperation on the region’s most pressing challenges, including energy, maritime security, non-proliferation, and humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
Megan SlackNovember 19, 2012
05:00 PM EDT
Today, First Lady Michelle Obama honored 12 of the nation’s most outstanding arts and humanities programs for young people.
These exemplary after-school and out-of-school arts and humanities program are recipients of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards. Their work fosters the creative and intellectual development of America’s youth through education and practical experience in the arts.
I know that many of you who are here today, you make all this happen on shoestring budgets; you do it in unbelievable ways, in some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable. And I know that you put a lot of late nights and long hours in to give these kids opportunities worthy of their promise.
But you keep on doing this year after year because you have seen firsthand the transformative power of the arts and arts education in the lives of young people across this country. You know that the skills that you’re teaching -- skills like problem-solving and teamwork, self-expression -- these skills aren’t just valuable in the studio or in the theater, but they are critical in the classroom and will be in the workplace when you all get there.
A group of students from the Mariachi Master Apprentice Program also performed at the event.
Karen MillsNovember 19, 2012
03:00 PM EDT
Editor's note: This post was originally published on www.sba.gov.
In between the Black Friday sales and the Cyber Monday deals is Small Business Saturday (November 24th) – a day set aside to support the small businesses that play a vital role in creating jobs and economic opportunities all across the country.
Small businesses are the back bone of our communities. And when we shop small, we not only get great products and services, but we support our neighbors and strengthen our local economies.
Over the last two decades, small and new businesses have been responsible for creating two out of every three net new jobs in the U.S., and today over half of all working Americans own or work for a small business.
Last year, Small Business Saturday gave a boost to many of these Main Street businesses, with more than 100 million Americans shopping at independently-owned small businesses. And this year we can do even better!
So what can you do to participate?
- If you are a business owner, register your business at www.shopsmall.com so your customers know where to find you and you can receive free Small Business Saturday promotional materials. You can also make sure you’re prepared for the holiday season by checking out SBA’s advice at www.sba.gov/saturday.
- If you are a customer, learn which businesses in your community are participating in Small Business Saturday at www.shopsmall.com. The website provides information on businesses currently registered and how you can rally your community to support the initiative.
By shopping small, we can help America’s small businesses do what they do best: grow their businesses, create good jobs, and ensure that our communities are vibrant.
I encourage you to join small business owners and the more than one hundred million people who were part of Small Business Saturday last year.
Shop small this holiday season. I know I will.
A unique view of 2012