Adam GarberFebruary 14, 2013
05:17 PM EDT
This week, the President delivered the first State of the Union address of his second term, and then brought his proposals to a factory in North Carolina and a school in Georgia, presided over a Medal of Honor ceremony, honored the outgoing Secretary of Defense, and hungout on Google Plus.
Colleen CurtisFebruary 14, 2013
05:12 PM EDT
President Barack Obama delivers remarks on early education and his plan to ensure high-quality preschool for every child, at the Decatur Community Recreation Center in Decatur, Ga., Feb. 14, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Obama laid out a plan for reigniting the true engine of America’s economic growth: a thriving, growing, rising middle class. A key component of that plan is making sure that every American has the skills they need for the competitive global job market, which means that education must begin at the earliest possible age.
The President proposed working with states like Georgia to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America, and today he paid a visit to that state to see firsthand how the programs they have put in place are making a difference in the lives of our youngest citizens:
Study after study shows that the earlier a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road. But here’s the thing: We are not doing enough to give all of our kids that chance. The kids we saw today that I had a chance to spend time with in Mary's classroom, they're some of the lucky ones -- because fewer than 3 in 10 four-year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program.
Most middle-class parents can’t afford a few hundred bucks a week for private preschool. And for the poor children who need it the most, the lack of access to a great preschool education can have an impact on their entire lives. And we all pay a price for that. And as I said, this is not speculation. Study after study shows the achievement gap starts off very young. Kids who, when they go into kindergarten, their first day, if they already have a lot fewer vocabulary words, they don’t know their numbers and their shapes and have the capacity for focus, they're going to be behind that first day. And it's very hard for them to catch up over time.
Secretary Janet NapolitanoFebruary 14, 2013
03:08 PM EDT
Flying on the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border and overlooking the Rio Grande River, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano tours the border in a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine helicopter over Clint, Texas, Feb. 5, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
Last week, I travelled to San Diego, CA and Clint and El Paso, TX where I saw firsthand the need for more modernized immigration laws that make it harder for criminals and transnational criminal organizations to operate, while encouraging immigrants to choose to pursue a pathway to legal immigration rather than breaking the law.
Over the past four years, we have dedicated historic levels of personnel, technology, and resources to the Southwest border, and undertaken an unprecedented effort to transform our Nation's immigration enforcement systems into one that focuses on public safety, border security, and the integrity of the immigration system. We have matched our success at the border with smart, effective immigration enforcement, with a focus on identifying and removing criminal aliens and other public safety threats, recent border crossers, repeat violators, and employers who break the law. We have also increased funding to our state and local law enforcement partners to make sure they have the resources they need.
February 14, 2013
02:27 PM EDT
On Tuesday, President Obama laid out his agenda for the coming year. Citing the importance of a strong middle class, he provided the framework necessary to move America forward.
The White House Photo Office followed the President throughout the day, and they've put together a collection of images from the State of the Union, which include the President greeting Members of Congress, reactions of his speech from the audience and a few special behind the scene looks. Check out the gallery below and visit our State of the Union page to share your own reactions from the State of the Union.
This afternoon, President Obama will sit down for a discussion about the State of the Union and his plan to create jobs and strengthen the middle class. Be sure to check it out.
Jesse LeeFebruary 14, 2013
12:49 PM EDT
Happy Valentine's Day to everybody, but most especially my wife Nita! We got engaged a little over three years ago in one of our country's great National Parks, in our case the home of the world’s most famous Portuguese Water Dog (read our story here). That made me a natural candidate to promote this great new video from the good folks at the Interior Department highlighting some of America's epic National Park engagements. For those mulling locations for that most special and anxiety-filled popping of questions, I can't recommend them highly enough, and they hold up very well in subtle "whose engagement was better" contests.
Megan SlackFebruary 14, 2013
11:43 AM EDT
“In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children…studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own. We know this works. So let’s do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind.”
President Barack Obama, State of the Union, February 12, 2013
The beginning years of a child’s life are critical for building the early foundation needed for success later in school and in life. Leading economists agree that high-quality early learning programs can help level the playing field for children from lower-income families on vocabulary, social and emotional development, while helping students to stay on track and stay engaged in the early elementary grades. Children who attend these programs are more likely to do well in school, find good jobs, and succeed in their careers than those who don’t.
Despite the benefits of early education, our nation has lagged in making sure high-quality programs are available for our youngest kids. While 39 states and the District of Columbia offer state funded pre-school, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that the United States ranks 28th out of 38 countries for the share of four-year olds enrolled in early childhood education. And just 3 in 10 four-year-olds are enrolled in high-quality programs that prepare kids with the skills they need for kindergarten.
Administrator Lisa P. JacksonFebruary 14, 2013
11:00 AM EDT
When I first became Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, I made a list of my priorities for the Agency. Working for environmental justice was at the top of that list. Ensuring equal environmental protections for all Americans is the unfinished business of the environmental movement.
It’s a simple idea – that all Americans are entitled to clean air to breathe, safe water to drink and a healthy community to raise their families – but often, it is America’s low-income and minority communities that bear the brunt of our country’s pollution.
As a result, these communities are also hit harder by the many illnesses pollution is linked to – conditions like asthma, heart disease, cancer and strokes. Studies show that minority groups face a greater risk of having asthma, and once they have it, they are at a greater risk of needing emergency treatment. African-American children are hospitalized for asthma at twice the rate of white children, and asthma-related deaths among African-American children take place at a rate of four times that of non-Hispanic white children. Hispanic children -- especially of Puerto Rican descent -- also face higher rates of asthma.
Dirty air, polluted water and contaminated lands not only put families at higher risks of serious and potentially costly diseases – they also discourage new developments and new jobs. Poison in the ground often means poison in the economy. Limiting the economic possibilities of low-income and minority communities only makes it harder to break the cycle of poverty.
Megan SlackFebruary 13, 2013
07:00 PM EDT
Today, Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, answered questions from the public about President Obama's State of the Union Address in an “Open for Questions” session moderated by Popular Science. Check it out below.
Michael DanielFebruary 13, 2013
06:39 PM EDT
The Nation increasingly relies on the Internet to run the systems that light our houses, provide gas for our cars, and ensure our water is safe to drink. Collectively, these diverse systems represent our cyber critical infrastructure. Linking our critical infrastructure to the Internet brings considerable benefits, but our daily reliance on this critical infrastructure means that we are vulnerable to disruptions in our ability to use it. Unfortunately, the threats against our cyber critical infrastructure are numerous, ranging from sophisticated nation states to common criminals.
The government’s senior-most civilian, military, and intelligence professionals all agree that inadequate cybersecurity within this critical infrastructure poses a grave threat to the security of the United States. Most recently, we have seen an increased interest in targeting public and private critical infrastructure systems by actors who seek to threaten our national and economic security. Along with dissuading their actions, we must better protect the critical systems that support our way of life.
Because of the importance of our cyber critical infrastructure, and the seriousness of the threats, the President issued an Executive Order yesterday directing federal departments and agencies to use their existing authorities to provide better cybersecurity for the Nation. These efforts will by necessity involve increased collaboration with the private sector and a whole-of-government approach.
Megan SlackFebruary 13, 2013
05:15 PM EDT
Today, Alan Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, answered questions from the public about President Obama's State of the Union Address in an “Open for Questions” session moderated by Yahoo! Finance. Check it out below.
Colleen CurtisFebruary 13, 2013
05:00 PM EDT
Last night President Obama used his State of the Union address to lay out his plan to strengthen the middle class. Today he was in Asheville, NC to talk more specifically about his committment to making America a magnet for jobs and manufacturing so we continue to build things the rest of the world buys:
A few years ago, manufacturing comebacks in North Carolina, a manufacturing comeback in Asheville may not have seemed real likely, because Volvo had just left town. This plant had gone dark -- 228 jobs had vanished. And that was a big blow for this area, because part of what happens is when those manufacturing jobs go away, then suddenly the restaurant has fewer customers, and suppliers for the plant start withering. And it's hard for everybody. It has a ripple effect.
But then local officials started reaching out to companies, offering new incentives to take over this plant. Some of the workers who got laid off, like Stratton, went back to school and they learned new skills. And then, a year later, Linamar showed up. They were looking for a place to build some big parts. And these parts are big, I got to say, hubs and wheels and anchors for 400-ton mining trucks. And while they could have gone any place in the world, they saw this incredible potential right here in Asheville. They saw the most promise in this workforce, so they chose to invest in Asheville, in North Carolina, in the United States of America.
So to date, Linamar has hired 160 workers. It will be 200 by the end of the year, and it's just going to keep on going after that. So the folks at Linamar said, they came to Asheville to grow their business. They came here to stay and put down some roots.
And the good news is what’s happening here is happening all around the country. Because just as it’s becoming more and more expensive to do business in places like China, America is getting more competitive and more productive.
Colleen CurtisFebruary 13, 2013
04:55 PM EDT
First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks during a “Beasts of the Southern Wild” movie workshop in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 13, 2013. Participating, from left, are: movie director Benh Zeitlin; actor Dwight Henry; actress Quvenzhané Wallis; and moderator Rachel Goslins, a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. (Official White House Photo by ) (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
First Lady Michelle Obama today welcomed 80 middle and high school students to an interactive workshop with the cast and crew of the film Beasts of the Southern Wild, in the State Dining Room. The students, who were from Washington, DC and New Orleans, LA, got to talk with director Benh Zeitlin, actor Dwight Henry and the movie's 9-year-old star, Oscar-nominated actress Quvenzhané Wallis, who stars as Hushpuppy.
Mrs. Obama described the film as "beautiful, joyful and devastatingly honest," and praised its underlying message of strength and resilience:
It's a movie that makes us all think deeply about the people we love in our lives who make us who we are. It shows us the strength of our communities, no matter what they look like. It shows us that those communities can give us the power to overcome any kind of obstacles. And it also tells a compelling story of poverty and devastation, but also of hope and love in the midst of some great challenges.
So there are so many important lessons to learn in that little 93 minutes. That’s the other cool thing -- that a director and a set of writers and producers can say so much in just 93 minutes. And it doesn’t always happen in a movie, quite frankly, but this one did it, and that’s why I love this movie so much and why our team wanted to bring it here to the White House and share it with all of you.
Megan SlackFebruary 13, 2013
04:30 PM EDT
Secretary Arne DuncanFebruary 13, 2013
11:00 AM EDT
Editor's note: This post was originally published on the official blog of the U.S. Department of Education.
“… My administration will release a new “College Scorecard” that parents and students can use to compare schools based on a simple criteria — where you can get the most bang for your educational buck.” - President Obama, 2013 State of the Union
The interactive College Scorecard gives students and families five key pieces of data about a college: costs, graduation rate, loan default rate, average amount borrowed, and employment.
Too often, students and their families don’t have the right tools to help them sort through the information they need to decide which college or university is right for them. The search can be overwhelming, and the information from different colleges can be hard to compare.
That’s why, today, our Administration released a “College Scorecard” that empowers families to make smart investments in higher education. As the President said last night, we want to help families get the most bang for their educational buck.
The College Scorecard – as part of President Obama’s continued efforts to hold colleges accountable for cost, value and quality – highlights key indicators about the cost and value of institutions across the country to help students choose a school that is well-suited to meet their needs, priced affordably, and is consistent with their educational and career goals.
Kori SchulmanFebruary 13, 2013
10:49 AM EDT
On Thursday, February 14th at 4:50 p.m. EST, President Obama will sit down with Americans from all across the country for a “Fireside Hangout” – our 21st century take on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats. The President will join a live, completely virtual interview from nowhere other than the Roosevelt Room in the White House’s West Wing.
This online event comes just days after the State of the Union address, where the President laid out his plan to create jobs and strengthen the middle class. During the hangout, which is hosted and moderated by Google, the President will connect with people who are active online to discuss the policies and proposals in the speech.
Do you have a question that you’d like President Obama to answer? Right now, you can submit a text or video question for the President, and also vote on your favorites. Then, be sure to tune in for the hangout live on Thursday, February 14th at 4:50 p.m. EST. Watch it live on the White House YouTube Channel, Google+ page and at WhiteHouse.gov/live.
Thursday’s event with the President is the latest in a series of Fireside Hangouts and White House engagement programs on Google+. Last month, Vice President Biden kicked off the series with a virtual conversation about reducing gun violence. And after President Obama presented his plan to fix our broken immigration system, Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, joined a Fireside Hangout on the issue.
The White House uses Google+, and other social media networks and online tools, to directly connect President Obama and his Administration directly with the American people. Since our inaugural White House hangout with President Obama after the State of the Union in January 2012, the White House has hosted hangouts about everything from healthy families to small business and mortgage refinancing to human trafficking.
More than 1.4 million people have followed the White House since we joined Google+ a little over a year ago -- and we've invited those followers to join hangouts with senior staff and Cabinet members and come to the White House for special events, like our State of the Union Social and a Google+ photowalk. Follow us on Google+ to stay connected to the White House and get the latest updates on how you can engage. You can also check out the White House on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Learn more about all the ways you can engage with the White House at WhiteHouse.gov/engage.
Colleen CurtisFebruary 13, 2013
12:32 AM EDT
Earlier tonight, the nation heard from President Obama, when he laid out his plan for a strong middle class and a strong America. And now, the White House is hearing from many of you.
Jason, who described himself as a veteran, told us: "I went to college using the GI Bill and was able to buy a home using the VA Home Loan. Please continue to give veterans the benefits they deserve and give them more help for transitioning out of the military back into civilian life." Jason was responding to something the President said during his address: "We will keep faith with our veterans – investing in world-class care, including mental health care, for our wounded warriors; supporting our military families; and giving our veterans the benefits, education, and job opportunities they have earned."
A new tool created by the White House enables Americans to find the passages in the President's speech that highlight the issues you believe are most important, and then offers you the chance to let us know why.
Matt ComptonFebruary 13, 2013
12:23 AM EDT
Tonight President Obama outlined his plan for a thriving middle class and a strong America.
"Together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis," he said, "and we can say with renewed confidence that the State of our Union is stronger."
The President described a strategy that will make the United States a magnet for jobs and manufacturing, equip every American with the skills they need to do those jobs, and ensuring that hard work leads to a decent living -- through investments manufacturing, clean energy, infrastructure, and education.
He asked Congress to send him legislation to reform immigration, combat climate change, increase the minimum wage, and reduce gun violence.
To make sure you get the most out of the State of the Union, we put together an enhanced broadcast with charts, infographics, and important statistics. Watch that here:
We're also introducing new tool you can use to dig in to the President's speech, line by line, and tell us what resonates with you and matters for your community. It's called the Citizens Response. Check it out here.
Kasie CoccaroFebruary 12, 2013
02:28 PM EDT
For nearly three decades, extraordinary Americans who exemplify the themes and ideals laid out in the State of the Union Address have been invited to join the First Lady in her viewing box. From students to teachers and innovators, to entrepreneurs and those serving in our armed forces – use the interactive feature below to learn more about the remarkable individuals who will join First Lady Michelle Obama for the 2013 State of the Union Address.
The First Lady's Box at the 2013 State of the Union
Check out WhiteHouse.gov/sotu for an enhanced viewing experience of President Obama's State of the Union address and check out opportunities to engage online with White House officials and even President Obama himself.
Learn more about the State of the Union:
- Inside the process of making a State of the Union Address
- Watch the enhanced version of the 2012 State of the Union Address
- Video: Go behind the scenes as the President prepared his 21012 State of the Union speech
- Photo Gallery: Scenes from the 2012 State of the Union
Matt ComptonFebruary 11, 2013
10:14 PM EDT
This afternoon, former Army Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha received the Medal of Honor in a ceremony at the White House. He's the fourth living individual to do so.
On Oct. 3, 2009, Romesha was part of a unit attached to Combat Outpost Keating in the northeastern mountains of Afghanistan. In the early morning, while most of the unit was still asleep, they came under attack. Fifty-three Americans found themselves defending a position the Defense Department later called "indefensible" from more than 300 Taliban fighters.
It soon became one of the most intense battles in the war in Afghanistan.
"With gunfire impacting all around him," President Obama said, "Clint raced to one of the barracks and grabbed a machine gun. He took aim at one of the enemy machine teams and took it out. A rocket-propelled grenade exploded, sending shrapnel into his hip, his arm, and his neck. But he kept fighting, disregarding his own wounds, and tending to an injured comrade instead."
Erin LindsayFebruary 11, 2013
09:23 PM EDT
On Tuesday, February 12 at 9:00 p.m. ET, President Obama will deliver his annual State of the Union Address. Once again, we will be streaming an enhanced version of the speech that features graphics, data and stats that highlight the issues thePresident is discussing on WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU. We will also live stream that broadcast through the White House Live App on Facebook, YouTube and our Google+ page.
Immediately following the speech, we’ll be streaming a virtual Q&A live from the White House. During this special “Open for Questions” event, a panel of senior advisors will be answering questions about the President's address submitted by citizens via Twitter (using the hashtag's #WHChat & #SOTU), Google+ and Facebook, as well as from the live in-person audience of White House Social participants.
In the days following the speech, Administration officials will continue to take questions on key issue areas addressed in the President's speech submitted by the public on social media during an "Open for Questions" marathon.
A unique view of 2012