Tobin MarcusFebruary 11, 2013
06:00 PM EDT
Today, Vice President Biden traveled to Philadelphia to meet with law enforcement officials and hold a roundtable discussion to talk about the Administration’s plan to reduce gun violence.
In addition to Vice President Biden, the roundtable included Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, Senator Robert Casey, Congressman Robert Brady, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, Congressman Chaka Fattah, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and police chiefs and prosecutors from other cities and communities.
In the meeting, the participants discussed the challenges for law enforcement as they work to reduce gun crime. The Vice President pledged to continue the Administration’s fight to put 15,000 police officers on the street – and also argued that there is a consensus growing behind sensible gun safety legislation. He called for getting assault weapons and high capacity magazines off the streets, requiring background checks for all gun purchases, and a federal gun trafficking statute, among other proposals.
Macon PhillipsFebruary 11, 2013
06:00 AM EDT
With Tuesday's State of the Union address only 39 hours away (9:00 p.m. ET), we're putting the final touches on a week that's jam-packed with opportunities to respond to the speech, get answers to your questions and join an online video-chat with the President.
In addition to some things that have been really popular for past "SOTU" Addresses, we've got some exciting new features to introduce. Here's the rundown:
When the President addresses the nation, the White House will provide something you can't find anywhere else: an enhanced version of the speech that offers charts, facts and other info as the President speaks (check out last year's here). You can watch live on WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU, through the White House mobile apps for iPhone, Android and iPad, and also on the official White House presences on YouTube, Google+, Hulu, Facebook, and Ustream. And if you'd like, you can embed the stream on your own site.
Dan PfeifferFebruary 10, 2013
01:40 PM EDT
With less than three weeks before devastating, across the board cuts - the so-called "sequester" - are slated to hit, affecting our national security, job creation and economic growth, we must make sure we are having a debate over how to deal with these looming deadlines that is based on facts- not myths being spread by some Congressional Republicans who would rather see these cuts hit than ask the wealthiest and big corporations to pay a little bit more.
First, the notion that President Obama hasn't put forward a solution to deal with these looming cuts is false. In the fall of 2011, the President put forward a proposal to the Supercommittee for the specific purpose of laying out his vision to resolve the sequester and reduce our deficit by over $4 trillion dollars in a balanced way- by cutting spending, finding savings in entitlement programs and asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share. That proposal would have completely turned off the sequester while further reducing our deficit and ensuring we could still invest in the things we need to grow our economy and create jobs. That same approach was presented to Congress in the President's budget last year. And the President's last offer to Speaker Boehner in December remains on the table- an offer that meets the Republicans halfway on spending and on revenues, and would permanently turn off the sequester and put us on a fiscally sustainable path.
We should have a debate over how to best reduce the deficit. But with only three weeks until these indiscriminate cuts hit, Congress should find a short term package to give themselves a little more time to find a solution to permanently turn off the sequester. That package should have balance and include spending cuts and revenues.
Colleen CurtisFebruary 09, 2013
05:45 AM EDT
President Obama urges Congress to act to avoid a series of harmful and automatic cuts—called a sequester—from going into effect that would hurt our economy and the middle class and threaten thousands of American jobs. The President urges Congress to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction that makes investments in areas that help us grow and cuts what we don’t need.
February 09, 2013
04:50 AM EDT
First Lady Michelle Obama launched Let’s Move! on February 9, 2010 to unite the country around our kids’ health and create real support for families to live healthier lives. Since then we’ve seen substantial commitments from parents, business leaders, educators, elected officials, military leaders, chefs, physicians, athletes, childcare providers, community and faith leaders, and kids themselves to improve the health of our nation’s children. Thanks to these efforts, families now have access to more of the information they need to make healthier decisions for their children. Young people now have more opportunities for physical activity in their communities. Food in schools has been dramatically improved. And more Americans now have access to healthy, affordable food right in their communities.
Later this month we’ll be celebrating Let’s Move!’s third anniversary by showcasing progress and announcing new ways the country is coming together around the health of our children. Until then, here’s a look back on what the nation has accomplished over the past 3 years.
February 08, 2013
06:21 PM EDT
Here’s a quick glimpse at what happened this week on WhiteHouse.gov:
Common-sense reforms: On Monday, President Obama traveled Midwest to Minneapolis to speak with local police, community leaders and folks who have experienced gun violence in their family. The President firmly believes “law enforcement and other community leaders must have a seat at the table.”
With mounting support for universal background checks, President Obama is driving Congress to listen and take action. While pressing for background checks, the President did not let up.
“We shouldn’t stop there. We should restore the ban on military-style assault weapons and a 10-round limit for magazines,” said President Obama. “And that deserves a vote in Congress -- because weapons of war have no place on our streets, or in our schools, or threatening our law enforcement officers.”
Watch the full speech here and read our blog post tracking the two weeks since President Obama released his plan for reducing gun violence.
Ezra MechaberFebruary 08, 2013
05:47 PM EDT
Vice President Biden's Chief of Staff Bruce Reed sat down with us to give us a quick update on the work the President and Vice President have been doing since the President released his plan to reduce gun violence.
The Administration is making good progress -- and legislation is already working its way through Congress -- but as Bruce Reed says: "We're going to need your help, because we're only going to get this done if you make your voice heard."
Valerie JarrettFebruary 08, 2013
03:45 PM EDT
Ed. note: This was cross-posted from The Root.
Yesterday, on Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, I had the pleasure of meeting with leaders who are doing outstanding work to prevent new HIV infections and improve health outcomes for African-Americans. We shared stories and discussed the importance of engaging everyone in these efforts, including faith leaders, educators, athletes, entertainers, artists, scientists, healthcare providers as well as friends, families, and neighbors.
This approach also reflects the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which calls for a collective response to the ongoing domestic epidemic, and sets specific goals with regard to addressing HIV-related disparities among African-Americans.
Our conversation was both sobering and inspiring. Sobering because of the challenges that remain in addressing the epidemic, including confronting the myths about HIV transmission and the virus itself. Inspiring because during our dialogue it became clear that these leaders are committed to breaking down barriers that impede our progress in preventing and treating HIV/AIDS.
Data highlight the urgency of this work. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV/AIDS and nearly 50,000 people become infected with HIV each year. In 2010, African-Americans accounted for only 14% of the U.S. population, but 44% of new HIV infections. The majority (70%) of new HIV infections among African-Americans occur among black men, and are concentrated among gay men. In fact, young black gay and bisexual men who are the only group in the black community where new HIV infections are increasing. Black women represent 30% of new infections among African-Americans. Transgender black women are also at risk for HIV with as many as one in three in some studies diagnosed with HIV. And only 21% of black Americans have a suppressed viral load, the key health marker for HIV treatment.
Kasie CoccaroFebruary 08, 2013
03:17 PM EDT
Last April, President Obama called on the public to help identify outstanding Americans for the 2012 Citizens Medal, the nation's second-highest civilian honor. After receiving more than 6,000 submissions from the public, the President has selected 18 outstanding Americans to receive the award for performing "exemplary deeds of service for their country and their fellow citizens."
Each winner is called, and told that the President has personally selected them to receive the Citizens Medal:
Watch this video on YouTube
On Friday, February 15, 2013, President Obama will welcome the recipients of the 2012 Citizens Medal to the White House for a special ceremony to recognize their efforts to serve their communities, and inspire others to do the same.
Take a moment to read the incredible stories of this year’s Citizens Medal recipients. If you know someone like the recipients below, please take a moment to nominate him or her by Sunday, March 31, 2013.
Adam GarberFebruary 07, 2013
07:27 PM EDT
This week, the President honored our nation's top scientists and innovators, nominated a new Secretary of the Interior, and worked toward reducing gun violence, enacting immigration reform, and reducing our deficit in a balanced way.
Matt ComptonFebruary 07, 2013
03:37 PM EDT
In discussing his faith at the National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama made a call for humility -- a trait which, he noted, Washington could embrace more fully.
"In a democracy as big and as diverse as ours, we will encounter every opinion," he said. "And our task as citizens -- whether we are leaders in government or business or spreading the word -- is to spend our days with open hearts and open minds; to seek out the truth that exists in an opposing view and to find the common ground that allows for us as a nation, as a people, to take real and meaningful action. And we have to do that humbly, for no one can know the full and encompassing mind of God. And we have to do it every day, not just at a prayer breakfast."
Presidential attendance at the breakfast is a long-standing tradition, and this is President Obama's fifth appearance.
Read his full remarks here.
Cecilia MuñozFebruary 06, 2013
05:46 PM EDT
Last week the President traveled to Nevada to redouble his Administration’s efforts to work with Congress to enact bipartisan common-sense reform to fix our nation’s broken immigration system. In his remarks the President pointed out that we need a system under which everyone plays by the same rules: “The question now is simple: do we have the resolve as a people, as a country, as a government to finally put this issue behind us?”
The President believes that we do, but we need the American people engaged to keep Washington moving forward. That’s why he went to Nevada, and that’s why today, we are pleased to share that there is now a new and updated online resource center available through the White House website to help you stay on top of this critical debate. The new website, which you can find at WhiteHouse.gov/Immigration, includes all of the basic resources you’ll need on the issue and on the President’s proposal and will be your guide as we work with Congress on advancing legislation for common-sense immigration reform in the coming weeks and months.
The new site highlights the four principles at the heart of the President’s proposal: continuing to strengthen border security, cracking down on employers that hire undocumented workers, creating a pathway to earned citizenship and streamlining our legal immigration system. And it also includes links to the latest blog posts and videos.
Be sure to visit the new website, but more importantly, stay involved. The President isn’t going to be satisfied until a bill gets to his desk, and your voices are critically important in making that happen.
Colleen CurtisFebruary 06, 2013
05:24 PM EDT
President Barack Obama and Sally Jewell applaud outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar after President Obama announced Jewell as his nominee to replace Salazar, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 6, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Speaking in the State Dining Room at the White House, President Obama today announced that he has chosen Sally Jewell to be the next Secretary of the Interior. For the past eight years, Ms. Jewell has been the CEO of REI, one of America's most successful and environmentally conscious retailers. Previously, she had worked in oil fields in Oklahoma and Colorado, and as an energy expert in banking -- experience the President highlighted as he introduced Ms. Jewell to the American people:
So even as Sally has spent the majority of her career outside of Washington -- where, I might add, the majority of our interior is located -- she is an expert on the energy and climate issues that are going to shape our future. She is committed to building our nation-to-nation relationship with Indian Country. She knows the link between conservation and good jobs. She knows that there’s no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress; that in fact, those two things need to go hand in hand. She has shown that a company with more than $1 billion in sales can do the right thing for our planet.
Megan SlackFebruary 06, 2013
12:36 PM EDT
Four years ago, Vice President Biden spoke at the annual Munich Security Conference to outline the Obama administration’s foreign policy agenda and reset our relationship with Russia. On Tuesday, Vice President Biden wrapped up a similar trip to Europe during which he stressed our strong cooperation with our European allies and highlighted our many joint accomplishments over the last four years.
Travelling first to Berlin, the Vice President met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss our bilateral relationship with Germany and the common challenges we face in Iran, Syria, Mali, and Afghanistan. The Vice President and the German Chancellor also traded views on their respective economies as well as energy and climate change.
Continuing on to Munich, Vice President Biden delivered remarks at the 49th Munich Security Conference and held a series of bilateral meeting with world leaders. His speech stressed the continued importance the U.S. places on the transatlantic relationship. “It’s hard to imagine a single threat or opportunity that we cannot address more effectively together,” he said.
Megan SlackFebruary 05, 2013
03:00 PM EDT
In a statement from the briefing room today, President Obama explained that while our economy is headed in the right direction, looming automatic budget cuts will cost jobs and slow down our recovery.
But, those deep, indiscriminate cuts to job-creating investments and defense spending, also known as the sequester, don't have to happen, the President said. He's already worked with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to cut the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion through a balanced mix of spending cuts and higher tax rates for the wealthiest Americans, but there's more to be done to meet the $4 trillion in deficit reduction needed to stabilize our debt.
"I think this balanced mix of spending cuts and tax reform is the best way to finish the job of deficit reduction," the President said.
The reforms to Medicare and other entitlements the President proposed during the fiscal cliff negotiations are still on the table, he said. "These reforms would reduce our government’s bills by reducing the cost of health care, not shifting all those costs on to middle-class seniors, or the working poor, or children with disabilities, but nevertheless, achieving the kinds of savings that we're looking for"
Kasie CoccaroFebruary 05, 2013
12:48 PM EDT
On Tuesday, February 12th, President Obama will deliver his fourth State of the Union Address from the Capitol. Over at the White House, we’ll be hosting our second State of the Union Social event. The White House Social program invites people that engage with us online to attend in-person events, and then share their experience with their own online networks in real time.
We’re excited to announce that the first White House Social of the second term will be a unique opportunity for our followers on social media to watch President Obama’s State of the Union Address live from the White House, and then participate in a panel discussion with Administration officials about the vision and policies presented during the speech.
Interested in joining? Apply for the White House social today! Registration closes at 6:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, February 6th at http://www.wh.gov/social. After you sign up, spread the word. Let your followers know that you signed up for a #WHSocial.
If you plan on watching from home, we will be streaming an enhanced version of the speech on WhiteHouse.gov that features graphics, data and charts that help explain policies and the issues. You can also tune in live on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and through our mobile apps.
After the speech, stay tuned for a chance to ask White House officials your questions about the issues that were highlighted in President’s address. Before, during and after the speech, you can submit your questions for the panel here, or on Twitter using the hashtags (#WHChat & #SOTU).
Take a look back at the 2012 State of the Union:
- Watch the enhanced version of the 2012 State of the Union
- Go behind the scenes as the President prepared his 2012 State of the Union speech
- View scenes from the 2012 State of the Union
Peter WelschFebruary 05, 2013
10:58 AM EDT
Since we launched We the People, our team of developers has been hard at work on the code that makes the whole thing tick. Good thing, too! More than 2 million users joined We the People in the last two months of 2012 alone and some 6 million of you have logged in to the system and left more than 10 million signatures. That's a lot of citizen engagement for one application to handle, but it's done well, and we continue to release updates to the source code on GitHub and Drupal.org
Today, though, we're starting the next stage of We the People's development. I'm pleased to announce that Petitions 1.0, the code that We the People runs on, is complete. We're now working towards Petitions 2.0.
In software development, when you go from one version number to another it means that something big is going on. We're taking a new approach to how the application works, one that starts with the assumption that it should be as open, transparent, and flexible as possible.
February 05, 2013
10:02 AM EDT
The American public increasingly relies on the Internet for socializing, business transactions, gathering information, entertainment, and creating and sharing content. The rapid growth of the Internet has brought opportunities but also risks, and the Federal Government is committed to empowering members of the public to protect themselves against the full range of online threats, including online radicalization to violence.
Violent extremist groups ─ like al-Qa’ida and its affiliates and adherents, violent supremacist groups, and violent “sovereign citizens” ─ are leveraging online tools and resources to propagate messages of violence and division. These groups use the Internet to disseminate propaganda, identify and groom potential recruits, and supplement their real-world recruitment efforts. Some members and supporters of these groups visit mainstream fora to see whether individuals might be recruited or encouraged to commit acts of violence, look for opportunities to draw targets into private exchanges, and exploit popular media like music videos and online video games. Although the Internet offers countless opportunities for Americans to connect, it has also provided violent extremists with access to new audiences and instruments for radicalization.
As a starting point to prevent online radicalization to violence in the homeland, the Federal Government initially will focus on raising awareness about the threat and providing communities with practical information and tools for staying safe online. In this process, we will work closely with the technology industry to consider policies, technologies, and tools that can help counter violent extremism online. Companies already have developed voluntary measures to promote Internet safety ─ such as fraud warnings, identity protection, and Internet safety tips ─ and we will collaborate with industry to explore how we might counter online violent extremism without interfering with lawful Internet use or the privacy and civil liberties of individual users.
February 05, 2013
09:00 AM EDT
We are happy to announce that applications are now being accepted for Round 2 of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program! You can apply here.
Launched last year, the Presidential Innovation Fellows program recruits top innovators and entrepreneurs from the private sector for 6-12 month “tours of duty” in government to help develop innovative solutions in areas of national significance. Our 18 inaugural Fellows arrived last August, teamed up with top government innovators, and have been doing extraordinary work on five projects:
- Open Data Initiatives have unleashed data from the vaults of the government as fuel for entrepreneurs and innovators to create new apps, products, and services that benefit the American people in myriad ways and contribute to job growth.
- RFP-EZ has created a new online marketplace and built tools that make it easier for innovative small tech businesses to bid on government contracts, while also making it easier for government contracting officers to identify the bids that offer the best value for taxpayers.
- Blue Button for America has moved personal health records ahead significantly by giving millions of veterans and other Americans massively improved, secure access to their own health information.
- Better Than Cash is working with an array of foreign and non-governmental partners to transition “the last mile” of international development assistance payments from cash to electronic mobile money, resulting in increased funding transparency and more impact for American taxpayer dollars.
- MyUSA (formerly MyGov) has reimagined how citizens can interact with government, developing a prototype of an online system that allows people to more easily find and access the information and services that are right for them from across government.
Grant T. HarrisFebruary 05, 2013
06:00 AM EDT
In these videotaped remarks, President Obama delivers a clear message to the people of Kenya: the upcoming elections are a historic opportunity for Kenyans to stand together, as a nation, for peace and progress, and for the rule of law. The President has strong ties to the people of Kenya. From visiting his father’s village to touring the country as a U.S. Senator, he has a deep and personal interest in seeing Kenya flourish.
Kenyans have made remarkable progress since the devastating violence that followed the elections five years ago. Lives and communities have been rebuilt, the economy has rebounded, and Kenyans have peacefully stood together to pass a historic constitution and advance important political reforms. While the international community has assisted these efforts, the Kenyan people have stood together to solidify the rule of law and put Kenya on a path to greater prosperity.
As Kenyans prepare for the March elections, President Obama urges the people of Kenya to put aside tribal and ethnic differences; to clearly reject intimidation and violence; to address electoral disputes through Kenya’s courts, rather than on the streets; and to come together as a nation on the 50th anniversary of Kenyan independence. It is a moment to put strife and impunity firmly in the past, and to embrace a bright and peaceful future.
A unique view of 2012