Our Top Stories
December 11, 2012
03:20 PM EDT
As part of his balanced approach to deficit reduction, the President has signed $1 trillion in discretionary spending cuts into law through the Budget Control Act, and his budget calls for more than $340 billion in entitlement savings from Medicare and Medicaid, and $250 billion from other mandatory programs.
Matt ComptonDecember 11, 2012
03:09 PM EDT
Yesterday, President Obama introduced the world to "Pretty Willie" Carter — a man who has clocked in at Detroit Diesel for 60 years. The only other job he ever worked was fighting for his country in the Korean War. Through six decades, he's only been late to work once, and it was so long ago, he can't even remember why.
Here's what President Obama said about Pretty Willie:
"Willie believes in hard work. You don’t keep a job for 60 years if you don’t work hard. Sooner or later, someone is going to fire you if you don’t work hard. He takes pride in being part of something bigger than himself. He's committed to family; he's committed to community; he's committed to country. That’s how Willie lives his life. That’s how all of you live your lives."
"And that makes me hopeful about the future, because you're out there fighting every day for a better future for your family and your country. And when you do that, that means you're creating value all across this economy. You're inspiring people. You're being a good example for your kids. That’s what makes America great."
Learn more about President Obama's trip to Detroit Diesel.
Matt ComptonDecember 11, 2012
01:12 PM EDT
On Saturday, the attention of the college football world was focused on the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia, and Vice President Joe Biden was on hand to witness an instant classic.
The Army team, losers in the series in each contest since 2001, led for much of the second half, and controlled the ball late, deep in Navy territory.
Then a botched handoff between Army quarterback Trent Steelman and fullback Larry Dixon led to a fumble, which the Midshipmen recovered.
That mistake would deliver the win for Navy -- their 57th in this storied rivalry. As victors, they'll take home the Commander-in-Chief trophy, which will spend the next year on display in Bancroft Hall in Annapolis.
After the game, Vice President Biden talked about what it meant to meet the players -- whom he described as members "of the greatest generation of young people, maybe ever."
Matt ComptonDecember 11, 2012
11:32 AM EDT
Senior Advisor to the President David Plouffe just sent the message below to the White House email list, describing how stories from real people are making a difference in the fight to extend the tax cuts for the middle class. If you didn't get the email, be sure to sign up.
Unless Congress acts, middle-class income taxes are going up on January 1. That's why President Obama is asking people to speak out, and it's why so many folks from across the country are taking him up on that request.
Now we're doing everything we can to make sure those voices become part of the debate here in Washington.
We're putting these stories on the front page of the White House website. We're sharing them on Facebook and Twitter. The President and Vice President are talking about them in their speeches, and taking time to sit down with folks who have written in.
To tell a couple of those stories, we've put together a really great video, highlighting two people who've written in.
Tiffany Santana is a teacher. Her husband is an autoworker. They have a son, who is in elementary school. Their family lives with her parents -- both of whom still work. Tiffany wrote to the White House to say that a $2,000 tax increase would mean losing a month of rent.
Ann Marie Munos works full time while caring for her mother, her sister, and her husband, all of whom are living with disabilities. She described the impact that raising taxes would have on the broader economy -- how middle-class families would have less "buying power."
Because they spoke out, Tiffany hosted President Obama in her home and Ann Marie went to lunch with Vice President Biden. But they're not alone. Every person who has written in to us will have their story read by someone here at the White House. That's the bottom line -- someone is going to take time to listen.
And here's what all that means: This debate, which affects millions of middle-class families, isn't happening in a typical Washington bubble where pundits and policymakers talk past each other as they try to rack up political points.
Instead, your voices are being heard, and that's making a difference.
Now we need your help to keep the conversation going. Watch this video, then share it so that others in your community will join the debate:
December 11, 2012
11:00 AM EDT
This holiday season, we pay tribute to our military families, service members, veterans, and their families, and remember how grateful we are for their courageous service, and we take time to honor their countless contributions to our nation. At the 2012 Holiday press preview, the First Lady remarked:
I have said this many times before and I will say it again, because I can't say it enough -- our military families truly represent the very best that this country has to offer.
The very first tree visitors see as they enter the White House is the Gold Star Family tree. Standing in the East Landing, the tree is brightly decorated with special Gold Star ornaments bearing the names of some of America’s greatest heroes—those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. The walls in that room are adorned with wreaths crafted by volunteers using red, white and blue yarn.
December 11, 2012
07:00 AM EDT
This week, U.S. government officials, investors, entrepreneurs, NGO leaders, and policy makers from more than 50 countries are gathering in Dubai, United Arab Emirates for the third annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit. President Obama announced the creation of this annual event during his 2009 speech at Cairo University in Egypt, and he hosted the inaugural Summit in Washington, D.C. in 2010.
In Cairo, the President pledged to pursue a new partnership between the United States and the Muslim world based on mutual interest and mutual respect. At the core of that vision was the need to build stable societies that provide broad-based opportunity for people to pursue their aspirations and shape their destiny. At the time, the President noted that innovation and entrepreneurship were a key part of unlocking the potential of the Middle East and of millions of young people yearning for opportunity.
Since then, dramatic changes across the region have only underscored the importance of this work. As the President notes in his video address to this year’s Summit, “…just as democratic revolutions can be triggered by a lack of opportunity, democratic progress will depend on economic growth that is broad and sustained. And that demands entrepreneurs.”
Over the past four years, this Administration has worked to leverage America’s entrepreneurial strength in support of our foreign policy. We have strived to build the skills, networks, regulatory environments, and access to capital necessary to realize the potential and aspirations of up-and-coming entrepreneurs. We have linked them with U.S. investors and entrepreneurs to unlock their pooled potential and to expand the frontiers of innovation and commerce.
This week’s Summit provides an opportunity to build on this progress, bringing together over 1,000 global leaders to forge deeper partnerships across borders and cultures and to accelerate global economic growth.
Watch President Obama's address to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit:
December 11, 2012
12:00 AM EDT
Across his Administration, President Obama has taken bold steps advancing a digital environment that rewards innovation and empowers individuals the world over. These ideas, and the policies that support them, are cornerstones of America’s economy. But the benefits from this approach extend well beyond the United States; they are equally important to the social and economic wellbeing of Internet users across the globe. This is why the United States is strongly represented at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) treaty conference in Dubai this month, where over 100 delegates from the public sector, private sector, and civil society are joining with our international partners to ensure the future of global, interoperable telecommunications networks.
Several White House officials were on hand for the Conference’s opening days, where the hosts in the United Arab Emirates welcomed delegates and took some positive steps to address concerns the Conference be accessible to those outside its halls. As a crossroads in the interconnected global economy, Dubai is a natural venue to bring together the diversity of voices and views at the WCIT.
From the start, the U.S. position has been clear: the WCIT should be about updating a public telecommunications treaty to reflect today’s market-based realities — not a new venue to create regulations on the Internet, private networks, or the data flowing across them.
Matt ComptonDecember 10, 2012
06:04 PM EDT
President Barack Obama watches as workers explain the process of assembling connecting rods and pistons during a tour of the Detroit Diesel Facility in Redford, Mich., Dec. 10, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Obama was in Detroit today to talk about the economy -- how companies are reinvesting in American workers and why it's so important to extend tax cuts for middle class families.
"I believe America only succeeds and thrives when we’ve got a strong and growing middle class," he said to the crowd at the Daimler Detroit Diesel Plant. "I believe we’re at our best when everybody who works hard has a chance to get ahead; that they can get a job that pays the bills; that they’ve got health care that they can count on; that they can retire with dignity and respect, maybe take a vacation once in a while -- nothing fancy, just being able to pack up the kids and go someplace and enjoy time with people that you love; make sure that your kids can go to a good school; make sure they can aspire to whatever they want to be. That idea is what built America."
In many ways, the Detroit Diesel Plant is an example of a resurgence in American manufacturing. Eight years ago, the workers started building axles in addition to engines. Today, President Obama announced that Daimler is investing $120 million into the plant, which will support 115 new jobs building transmissions and turbochargers, as well.
Megan SlackDecember 10, 2012
02:50 PM EDT
Last night, President Obama spoke at Christmas in Washington. The concert, hosted by Conan O’Brien, featured performances including Diana Ross, Demi Lovato, Megan Hilty and others, was held to support the Children’s National Medical Center.
“Tonight is a chance to get in the Christmas spirit, to spread some joy and sing along with artists who have much better voices than we do,” President Obama said. “But it’s also a chance to make a real difference in the lives of some very brave young people being treated at Children’s National Medical Center. Many of these kids and their parents are going through tough times right now, and your support helps give them a reason to hope –- not just during the holidays, but all year round.”
President Obama said that Christmas is a time to share the blessings we have have with those who have less, especially those who are “spending this holiday in a hospital bed, or a shelter, or protecting our freedom on a battlefield far from home.”
Learn more about holidays at the White House
December 10, 2012
12:00 PM EDT
On Friday afternoon, seven middle-class Americans with a personal stake in Washington’s “fiscal cliff” debate sat down with the Vice President at the Metro 29 Diner in Arlington, Virginia. Should Congress fail to extend tax cuts for middle-class families by the end of this year, a typical American household’s taxes would go up by over $2,000. Friday’s lunch gave several concerned Americans the chance explain how this would impact them.
Though they hailed from seven different cities and brought distinct stories to the table, the Vice President’s dining companions shared an understanding that $2,000 is too much to lose. Fernando Garabito, a naturalized citizen from Colombia, has a wife who recently lost her job and two sons in school. With $200 less per month, Garabito would have a hard time paying his bills and providing for his family’s basic needs.
Bob Hage, a small business owner from Pennington, New Jersey, is the father of three children, two of whom have severe developmental disabilities. A $2,000 increase in taxes would force him and his wife, Odette, to choose between making ends meet and financing their children’s crucial speech therapy sessions.
Kori SchulmanDecember 08, 2012
12:00 PM EDT
Today, the White House joins millions of pinners around the country with an official presence on Pinterest, a virtual pinboard sharing site. On Pinterest, the White House will share pins and boards that range from inspiring images and quotes to infographics that help explain key issues to details about the life inside the White House.
From the very beginning, President Obama and the First Lady have taken steps to make this the most open White House in history. “It’s the “People’s House,” said First Lady Michelle Obama, “It’s a place that is steeped in history, but it’s also a place where everyone should feel welcome. And that's why my husband and I have made it our mission to open up the house to as many people as we can."
That’s why the White House is open for virtual tours 24/7 through the Google Art Project and why you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and other places around the web. And, it’s why we're now thrilled to add Pinterest to the list.
The holidays are an especially exciting time for the White House to start pinning. During the 2012 holiday season alone, more than 90,000 visitors will have the chance to tour the White House holiday decorations, all hung with care by a team of crafty staff and volunteers. To kick off our presence on Pinterest, we're inviting some of our newest followers to join us for a Holiday Social at the White House. Pinners will be invited to check out the décor, meet with the people that helped transform the White House for the holidays, join us for a craft project — and share it all with the Pinterest community.
We’ll roll out our first pinboards on December 17th, the day of our Holiday Social. Before we do, we’d like to hear from you. Let us know the kinds of things you’d like to see on the White House Pinterest account by leaving us comment on our first pin. We look forward to hearing from you (and meeting some of you) soon!
For many more ways to engage with the White House, check out WhiteHouse.gov/engage.
Matt ComptonDecember 08, 2012
05:30 AM EDT
President Obama urges Congress to extend the middle class income tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses without delay, making it clear that a balanced approach to deficit reduction means that Republicans in Congress must agree to ask the wealthiest Americans to pay higher tax rates.
December 07, 2012
06:00 PM EDT
Here’s a quick glimpse at what happened this week on WhiteHouse.gov:
#My2k: On Monday, President Obama connected directly with Americans on Twitter, where he answered questions about extending middle class tax cuts, using the hashtag #My2k. During the conversation, the hashtag #My2k was used more than 31,000 times and trended nationally on Twitter throughout the chat.
Gayle SmithDecember 07, 2012
05:14 PM EDT
Sometimes small things indicate big changes. This week, Tanzania is rolling out two new vaccines that protect against the world’s biggest childhood killers - pneumonia and diarrhea. Together these diseases account for nearly one third of child deaths in low-income countries. Tanzania joins Ghana as only the second developing country to simultaneously introduce these new vaccines.
This was possible because of U.S. investments with the United Kingdom, the Gates Foundation and others in the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations, or GAVI. Since 2000, GAVI has helped immunize 370 million children against the leading vaccine-preventable diseases in the world’s poorest countries and prevented more than 5.5 million deaths. Over the next 5 years, GAVI will immunize 250 million children with new vaccines, and save 4 million more children’s lives.
Vaccines are some of the most powerful life-saving interventions the world has ever seen, and we’re working together to roll them out where they are most needed.
The big change is how quickly this is unfolding. It took 184 years from the time Edward Jenner developed the first smallpox vaccine until the world was able to deliver it to every person in need and ultimately eradicate the disease in 1980. It’s been almost 60 years since the development of the first polio vaccine, and we’re still working to reach every person in need in an extraordinary effort to eradicate that disease from the planet. But this week, we are simultaneously vaccinating children in rich and poor countries at the same time with two new vaccines developed within the last few years. This means we’re rapidly closing the gap in time between when a vaccine is developed and when it actually reaches those most in need and starts saves lives! While we can do even better, this is an encouraging sign of progress worth celebrating.
December 07, 2012
02:23 PM EDT
Right now, America faces a series of critical fiscal choices that will affect the economy for years to come. One of the most critical steps we can take is to reduce the deficit in a balanced way in order to lay the foundation for long-term middle-class job growth. But we need to do that in a way that’s consistent with our values.
As part of his balanced approach to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion, President Obama proposes to raise $1.6 trillion in new revenue over 10 years for deficit reduction, including $1 trillion from the expiration of the Bush high-income and estate tax cuts. The President’s plan asks the wealthy to pay their fair share by raising tax rates for the wealthiest 2% to the level they were at under President Clinton—39.6%—which was a time when we created 23 million new jobs. It also prevents an income tax increase for 98% of Americans and 97% of small businesses.
Some have suggested that, rather than raising tax rates for the most fortunate, policymakers should make up the revenue by cutting high-income tax benefits – in particular, by imposing a dollar cap on itemized deductions, including charitable contributions.
But what is clear is that proposals that take tax rates off the table would threaten donations to universities, non-profit hospitals, social services providers, arts and cultural institutions and other nonprofit organizations. This is because – to make the math work – these proposals rely on hundreds of billions of dollars of revenue that would result from drastically cutting or eliminating the charitable deduction as we now know it.
Currently, the tax code encourages gifts to charity by allowing taxpayers to claim itemized deductions for charitable giving. But – as a new report by the National Economic Council (NEC) shows, the most prominent dollar cap proposals would effectively eliminate the charitable deduction for up to 13 million households and for as much as 60 percent of currently deductible giving.
December 07, 2012
12:13 PM EDT
The White House Photo Office just released its latest set of behind the scenes photos, including images from President Obama's trip to Asia, his tour of Hurricane Sandy storm damage in New Jersey, and the White House holiday press preview.
Check out a few images below, then head over to Flickr to see all 60 images in the gallery.
To learn more:
Matt ComptonDecember 07, 2012
11:56 AM EDT
Last night, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, Malia and Sasha, made their way to the Ellipse, just south of the White House, where they helped to light the National Christmas Tree.
"We’ve been lighting the National Christmas Tree for 90 years now," the President said. "In times of war and peace, triumph and tragedy, we’ve always come together to rejoice in the Christmas miracle."
The President used the occasion to describe another Christmas tree -- one he saw in a Staten Island neighborhood, devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
"This evening, in Midland Beach, New York, on a street lined with houses and businesses devastated by the storm, a great big Christmas tree shines out of the darkness," he said. "Just a couple of weeks ago, as impacted families were still seeking some sense of getting back to normal, one local nursery donated the tree, another chipped in for the lights and a star, and 70-year-old Tom Killeen and his longtime buddies from the area planted it at the end of the street, overlooking the town beach. As Tom says, the tree has one message: 'It’s Christmas time, not disaster time.' "
December 07, 2012
11:00 AM EDT
In the China Room, a table has been set to illustrate the joy of families sitting down to enjoy a holiday dinner. The dinner plates are from the Truman China set, which was selected by First Lady Bess Truman in 1951 and is the first state china service to feature the Presidential Coat of Arms as redesigned by President Harry Truman in 1945. Following the end of World War II, President Truman issued an Executive Order to standardize the Presidential Seal, and the Coat of Arms was modified so that the eagle faces to its right, the direction of honor, and also toward the olive branch, a symbol of peace, rather than toward the arrows which represent war.
In addition to the Truman China, the table is set with select pieces used by previous Presidents and First Ladies for formal entertaining—including a candlestick dating back to 1791. The other pieces used to decorate the table are the Clinton China service plate, the Johnson China center bowl, the Kennedy glassware, one brass candlestick from the Reagan administration, and some gilded silver candlesticks from the Eisenhower administration.
Alan KruegerDecember 07, 2012
09:30 AM EDT
While more work remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue the policies that are building an economy that works for the middle class as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007.
Most pressing, President Obama has proposed, and the Senate has passed, an extension of middle class income tax cuts that would prevent the typical middle class family from facing a $2,200 tax increase at the beginning of next year. In addition, the President has proposed a plan that will enable responsible homeowners to refinance their mortgage and take advantage of today’s historically low interest rates. To create more jobs in particularly hard-hit sectors, President Obama continues to urge Congress to pass elements of the American Jobs Act, including further investment in infrastructure to rebuild our Nation’s ports, roads and highways, and assistance to State and local governments to prevent layoffs and to enable them to rehire hundreds of thousands of teachers.
Today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that private sector businesses added 147,000 jobs last month. Total non-farm payroll employment rose by 146,000 jobs in November. The economy has now added private sector jobs for 33 straight months, and a total of 5.6 million jobs have been added during that period, taking account of the preliminary benchmark revision.
The household survey showed that the unemployment rate declined from 7.9 percent in October to 7.7 percent in November, the lowest since December 2008. The labor force participation rate declined by 0.2 percentage point last month. Over the last 12 months, the unemployment rate has decreased by 1.0 percentage point as a result of growing employment, and the labor force participation rate has been essentially unchanged.
Adam GarberDecember 07, 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 visited a toy factory, hosted Kennedy Center Honorees, held the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference, welcomed the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, answered questions live on twitter, spoke on National Security achievements, visited a family who had written the White House, and lit the National Christmas Tree. That's November 30th to December 6th or "I Have to Pinch Myself."