Read all posts from July 2013

  • I just finished reading the draft of a speech the President plans to deliver on Wednesday, and I want to explain why it’s one worth checking out.

    Eight years ago, not long after he was elected to the United States Senate, President Obama went to Knox College in his home state of Illinois where he laid out his economic vision for the country. It’s a vision that says America is strongest when everybody’s got a shot at opportunity – not when our economy is winner-take-all, but when we’re all in this together.

    Revisiting that speech, it’s clear that it sowed the seeds of a consistent vision for the middle class he’s followed ever since. It’s a vision he carried through his first campaign in 2008, it’s a vision he carried through speeches like the one he gave at Georgetown University shortly after taking office that imagined a new foundation for our economy and one in Osawatomie, Kansas on economic inequality in 2011 -- and it’s a vision he carried through his last campaign in 2012.

    Watch that history here and see why this moment is so important.

    All of these speeches – Knox College, Georgetown, Osawatomie – make clear that since day one, the President has had one clear economic philosophy: The American economy works best when it grows from the middle-out, not the top down.

  • In this week’s address, President Obama discusses the Senate’s confirmation of Rich Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB is an independent watchdog set up to protect families from irresponsible behavior in the financial sector – one that puts mortgage lenders, student lenders, payday lenders, and credit reporting and debt collection agencies under greater scrutiny, while providing the American people a place to get some measure of justice if they don’t play by the rules. 

    Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

  • Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks on U.S. policy towards the Asia-Pacific region

    Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks on U.S. policy towards the Asia-Pacific region, in the Jack Morton Auditorium at George Washington University, in Washington, D.C., July 18, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    On Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden discussed the Administration’s elevated engagement in the Asia-Pacific region during a speech at George Washington University, sponsored by the Center for American Progress. Citing the potential for strengthened alliances, institutions and partnerships, the Vice President emphasized an “absolute commitment” to the Asia-Pacific region.

    “We want to hasten the emergence of an Asian-Pacific order that delivers security and prosperity for all the nations involved. We want to help lead in creating 21st century rules of the road that will benefit not only the United States, and the region, but the world as a whole.”

    Vice President Biden called relations with China as “a healthy mix of competition and cooperation,” and urged China to shift to a more consumer-driven economy. He emphasized the importance of institutions like ASEAN in providing stability and security, as well as their role in fighting climate change. 

    “That’s why we’re working with ASEAN to promote investment in clean energy and why we’re helping Pacific island nations mitigate the effects of rising sea levels. We just concluded an agreement with China to reduce the use of pollutants called HFCs that cause climate change. And there’s no reason we cannot do more with India as well.”

  • Watch the West Wing Week here

    Two Presidents in the White House: Former President George H.W. Bush joined President Obama at the White House on Monday to honor the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award winners. This award recognizes Americans that serve their communities in unique ways. At the event, President Obama announced his plan to continue President Bush’s legacy: a new Presidential Memorandum on expanding national service. The President’s initiative will help Americans become more engaged in service by tapping the full resources of the federal government.

    Immigration Reform: Spanish-language television anchors from around the country were offered a unique opportunity on Tuesday – the chance to visit the White House with behind-the-scenes access and interview President Obama. After attending briefings surrounding issues important to Latinos, the reporters spoke with President Obama about the importance of comprehensive immigration reform. “Immigration is always difficult – it always has been in this country,” said President Obama. “But what’s also been true is that this is the thing that separated America from every other country on Earth. It’s part of what makes us special, and we have to continue that tradition by passing comprehensive immigration reform.” 

    Protecting Americans: After blocking a vote on his nomination for two years, the Senate confirmed Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Tuesday. President Obama spoke from the East Room on Wednesday about the significance of Cordray’s role – one that looks out for the financial interests of every day Americans. The President noted the accomplishments already made by the CFPB and said that with a leader in place, the Bureau would be well equipped to continue protecting consumers. 

    Today, if you want to take out a mortgage or a student loan or a payday loan, or you’ve got a credit reporting agency or debt collector who’s causing you problems -- maybe they're not playing by the rules, maybe they're taking advantage of you -- you have somewhere to go.  The CFPB has already addressed more than 175,000 complaints from all across the nation, giving people an advocate who is working with them when they're dealing with these financial institutions that may not always be thinking about consumers first.

  • President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, July 19, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    This afternoon, President Obama spoke from the White House Press Briefing Room about Trayvon Martin and the verdict of the court trial that followed the Florida teenager’s death.

    Read the President’s remarks here, or watch here

  • This week, the 44th President hosted the 41st President at the White House to confer the 5,000th Daily Point of Light award, honored Richard Cordray as the newly confirmed Director of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, sat down to talk with Spanish language news anchors, and spoke on the importance of supporting full implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

  • While we know that lasting change takes time, perseverance, and a commitment to the truth that we can make this world a better place, we also know that there are defining moments in every major movement, where we feel the ground shift, and we know that change is in fact coming.

    Tomorrow, marks the 165th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention, where Elizabeth Cady Stanton first presented the “Declaration of Sentiments,” and dared to propose that women had the right to vote, or, as she put it “to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise.” We know that a great deal has changed – and yes improved – for women in America, but we know that there is much more work to be done.

    Since taking office in 2009, President Obama has made empowering women and girls a top priority, starting with the creation of the White House Council on Women and Girls, which I have the honor to Chair. Our job is to ensure that in every agency, department, and office in our federal government – with the policies they draft, the programs they create, and the legislation they support – takes into account the needs, and aspirations of women and girls.

    I’m delighted that today, Democratic Leader Pelosi and many of her colleagues are continuing to fight for the women of this country, rolling out their comprehensive plan “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds,” #WomenSucceed. These women are fighting to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work,  access to fair policies for paid leave, and improved access to safe, affordable, high quality child care.  As the President often says, “you can tell how well a society is doing based on the success of its women and girls.” He also reminds us that “women’s issues” are not just women’s issues, they are family, and economic issues. We know that when women are able to earn a living wage, and fully participate in our country’s workforce in all sectors, that America will prosper.”

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted from USAID.gov. See the original post here.
     
    President Barack Obama and USAID Administrator Raj Shah attend a Feed the Future Technology Marketplace

    President Barack Obama and USAID Administrator Raj Shah attend a Feed the Future Technology Marketplace in Dakar, Senegal, June 28, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    When I first got the idea back in 2008 that the women farmers like myself in central Senegal should join together to help one another succeed, I never would have guessed that five years later I would be sharing that story of success with the president of the United States.

    On June 28, I found myself before President Barack Obama himself, explaining to him how bringing my producers’ network together with others in the Kaolack region and receiving assistance from a USAID project, part of the Feed the Future initiative helped us help each other, leading to the formation of a federation of some 3,000 producers who last year produced and sold 13,000 tons of corn on 5,000 hectares of land to feed our families and plan for next season.

    In our conversation, President Obama explained my story back to make sure he understood: “So you’ve got all these small farmers, and they all came together to better compete with big agribusiness.”

    “That’s right,” I told him. “We created a network in the villages and each network worked together as the Saloum Federation of Corn Producers.”

    I explained that our larger numbers afforded us better access to credit, with which our federation was able to access modern farm equipment, like the 12 tractors we have today. I pointed to a picture of the tractors on the display at the agricultural technology marketplace prepared for the president, and he asked me if I could drive a tractor myself.

  • President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the Affordable Care Act's Medical Loss Ratio Refunds

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the Affordable Care Act's Medical Loss Ratio Refunds, in the East Room of the White House, July 18, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    Did you know that 8.5 million Americans are getting a refund this year from their health insurance companies?

    Thanks to a provision in the Affordable Care Act, if your insurance company isn’t spending at least 80 percent of your premium dollars on medical care, they have to send you some money back.

    Today in the East Room, President Obama explained that “last year, millions of Americans opened letters from their insurance companies -- but instead of the usual dread that comes from getting a bill they were pleasantly surprised with a check. In 2012, 13 million rebates went out, in all 50 states." Another 8.5 million rebates are being sent out this summer, averaging around $100 each, he said.

    Morgan, a woman from Maryland who has been purchasing her own health insurance for many years, introduced the President today. She said that after she got a rebate for the first time, “it felt like someone was actually being held accountable for the dollars I was spending on health care.”

    That’s one of core principles of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama said today – “holding insurance companies and providers accountable so that we all get a better deal.” 

    • León Krauze, KMEX Univision, Los Angeles, Calif., interviews the President

      León Krauze, KMEX Univision, Los Angeles, Calif., interviews President Obama at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

      1 of 4
    • Norma Garcia, KXTX Telemundo, Fort Worth, Texas, interviews the President.

      Norma Garcia, KXTX Telemundo, Fort Worth, Texas, interviews President Obama at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

      2 of 4
    • Adriana Vargas, WXTV Univision, New Jersey/NYC, interviews the President

      Adriana Vargas, WXTV Univision, New Jersey/NYC, interviews President Obama at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

      3 of 4
    • Maria Rozman, KDEN Telemundo, Denver, Colo., interviews the President

      Maria Rozman, KDEN Telemundo, Denver, Colo., interviews President Obama at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

      4 of 4

     

    For the first time ever, the White House invited four local Spanish-language television anchors to participate in the “Live from the White House” series, or in this case “En Vivo desde la Casa Blanca”. During this full day of behind-the-scenes and special access, each reporter had the opportunity to interview President Barack Obama. “Live from the White House” is an initiative which provides reporters outside of the Beltway a unique opportunity to cover the President and the Administration.

    Spanish language television anchors from Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles and New Jersey/New York City were given the opportunity to broadcast Tuesday from a special location on the South Lawn and attended briefings with some of the President’s top advisers on issues that are important to their Latino audiences like healthcare and immigration reform.

    The reporters interviewed the President in the Blue Room, where he made the case for bipartisan, commonsense immigration reform which would be a big boost to our economy; offer a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals and modernize our legal immigration system to make it more consistent with our values.

    In the interviews, the President made clear the key principles which must be a part of any bipartisan, commonsense effort, including continuing to strengthen border security, creating an earned path to citizenship, holding employers accountable, and bringing our immigration system into the 21st century. Immigration reform has broad bipartisan support from Democrats and Republicans, CEOs and labor leaders, and law enforcement and faith leaders.  Most importantly, it has the support of the American people.

  • President Barack Obama listens to Richard Cordray deliver remarks following his confirmation as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

    President Barack Obama listens to Richard Cordray deliver remarks following his confirmation as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, in the State Dining Room of the White House, July 17, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Today, President Obama thanked lawmakers from both parties for coming together to confirm Richard Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB was established to make sure American consumers are treated fairly in the financial market place, whether applying for a credit card, taking out a loan to buy a home or pay for college, dealing with a debt collector or other activities.

    “Four years ago, even as we were working on restoring the economy and dealing with the immediate crisis,” President Obama said, “we also wanted to figure out how do we set new rules for the road to make sure that a few bad apples in the financial sector couldn't break the law, or cheat consumers, or put the entire economy at risk.”

    Those efforts led to the creation of the CFPB in 2011, and two years ago this week, President Obama first nominated Cordray to run the new agency. But the Senate wouldn't vote on his confirmation, and the CFPB was severly hampered without a director, President Obama said.

    The CFPB wasn’t able to give consumers the information they needed to make good, informed decisions. Folks in the financial system who were doing the right thing didn’t have much certainty or clear rules of the road. And the CFPB didn’t have all the tools it needed to protect consumers against mortgage brokers, or credit reporting agencies, or debt collectors who were taking advantage of ordinary Americans.

    President Obama took action to temporarily appoint Cordray as Director so CFPB could get to work. And as a result, President Obama said, Americans everywhere are better off.

    Today, if you want to take out a mortgage or a student loan or a payday loan, or you’ve got a credit reporting agency or debt collector who’s causing you problems -- maybe they're not playing by the rules, maybe they're taking advantage of you -- you have somewhere to go.  The CFPB has already addressed more than 175,000 complaints from all across the nation, giving people an advocate who is working with them when they're dealing with these financial institutions that may not always be thinking about consumers first.

  • Ed. note: This event has concluded. Watch the full hangout below.


    This week, as thousands of sci-fi and superhero enthusiasts gather in San Diego for Comic-Con, here at the White House we’ll be gathering some of the Nation’s top innovators who are designing materials to enable real-life superpowers—including invisibility and super-strength.

    This Friday, July 19th at 12:00 pm EDT for a “We the Geeks” Google+ Hangout on “The Stuff Superheroes Are Made Of – where we’ll be talking about some of the most exciting new developments in materials science and how they can change our world for the better.

    You’ll meet American scientists and innovators working on materials and technologies with amazing capabilities—seemingly ripped straight from the pages of a comic book or film script—including invisibility cloaks, impenetrable liquid armor, self-healing, touch-sensitive synthetic skin, and more. You’ll also hear how the Obama Administration’s Materials Genome Initiative – which just celebrated its second birthday – is helping to enable and accelerate these breakthroughs with the goal of making them happen faster and cheaper than ever before.

  • Watch this video on YouTube

    This summer, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Ocean Exploration and Research invites YOU to get involved in ocean exploration through two unique opportunities.

    Follow Ocean Exploration LIVE: Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition 2013

    Between now and August 17, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, America’s ship for ocean exploration, will be exploring deep coral communities, undersea canyons, cold gas seeps, landslide features, and a seamount. Sound interesting? Good news: You can watch the action live right here.

    Using satellite and high-speed Internet pathways, live video from cameras on the Deep Discoverer remotely operated vehicle and Seirios camera sled and lighting platform located thousands of meters deep on the seafloor is streamed to scientists and the public around the world. Scientists follow along online, providing input and helping to guide the expedition from shore. These same live video feeds are available online 24/7, so that anyone, anywhere can follow the exploration.

    To learn more about the expedition, you can access daily updates, mission logs, photos and video clips, maps, and educational materials. You can also follow the expedition on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to keep up-to-date on the latest dive plans, operations, and discoveries.

  • Michelle Nunn, the CEO of Points of Light, delivers remarks during an event to honor Outreach Inc. co-founders

    Michelle Nunn, the CEO of Points of Light, delivers remarks during an event to honor Outreach Inc. co-founders Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton, winners of the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award, in the East Room of the White House, July 15, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    The first immigrants to America came seeking freedom, but they survived -- and, in time, came to thrive -- because of their determination and because of each other. They valued self-reliance, but in times of strife they also knew could rely on neighbors, friends, sometimes even strangers to offer a helping hand.

    That neighbor-helping-neighbor spirit is woven into the DNA of the American spirit. It defines in a very real sense who we are as a people.

    It also unites us.

    That unity was on vivid display this Monday when President Obama welcomed the man who launched the modern service movement, President George H. W. Bush, back to the White House to honor the recipients of the 5,000th Daily Point of Light award. Together, they lauded Kathy Hamilton and Floyd Hammer of Union, Iowa for stepping up to fight hunger and improve the lives of children worldwide.

    President Barack Obama and former President George H. W. Bush present the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award to Outreach Inc. co-founders

    President Barack Obama and former President George H. W. Bush present the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award to Outreach Inc. co-founders Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton, winners of the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award, in the East Room of the White House, July 15, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Nearly 10 years ago, Hamilton and Hammer participated in a volunteer mission to Tanzania to help renovate an HIV/AIDS hospital there. Startled by the starvation they saw, the couple started Outreach, Inc., which has engaged thousands of volunteers in packaging and distributing 230 million free meals to children in more than 15 countries, including the United States.

    Their story is a simple one: Two people decided that they simply had to do something. Telling that story, day in and day out, is what the Daily Point of Light Award is all about.

    President Bush was the first president in U.S. history to institute a daily presidential recognition program from the White House, conferring 1,020 Daily Point of Light Awards between 1990 and 1993. And President Bush helped launch a nonprofit – Points of Light – that has become the largest organization in the world dedicated to volunteer service.

    While he didn't originate the notion of helping our fellow man, he reasserted it as a national priority and insisted that "there can be no definition of a successful life that does not include service to others."

    President Obama built on this commitment to service when he signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in 2009, which will increase the size of AmeriCorps from 75,000 volunteers to 250,000 by 2017. In 2012, the President created the FEMA Corps program, which established a FEMA-dedicated unit of AmeriCorps members to work solely on disaster preparedness, response and recovery efforts -- and he launched the Serve.gov platform to make it easier for Americans to find and post local volunteer opportunities. 

  • Editor's note: This post was originally posted on The Huffington Post. You find it here.

    Three years ago, President Obama announced an historic comprehensive plan to help turn the tide on HIV/AIDS in the United States: the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The Strategy has given a new sense of direction, and purpose in our fight against HIV and AIDS.

    Since the Strategy’s release, scientific developments have advanced our understanding of how to best fight HIV.  We now understand that to prevent long-term complications of HIV, treatment is recommended for all adults and adolescents living with HIV in the United States.

    This is a significant shift; previous recommendations were to hold treatment until people showed signs of immune decline. Recent research also shows that an important benefit of earlier treatment is that it dramatically reduces the risk of HIV transmission to partners.  Furthermore, HIV testing technology is faster, and more accurate than ever before, and HIV drug treatment is less toxic, and easier to administer. 

    All of this has powerful implications for how we focus our efforts. 

    And there is a clear need to do so: data released since the Strategy shows that along the HIV continuum of care-- which is the progression from diagnosis to receiving optimal treatment -- nearly 200,000 persons living with HIV in the United States are undiagnosed, and only 1 in 4 has the virus under control.

    Today we are thrilled to announce two new developments specifically focused on addressing many of the factors that lead people to fall out of the continuum of care.

    First, President Obama signed an Executive Order creating the HIV Care Continuum Initiative.

    The Initiative directs Federal agencies to prioritize addressing the continuum of HIV care, by accelerating efforts and directing existing federal resources to increase HIV testing, services, and treatment, and improve patient access to all three.

  • President Barack Obama, with former President George H. W. Bush, delivers remarks before they present the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award

    President Barack Obama, with former President George H. W. Bush, delivers remarks before they present the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award to Outreach Inc. co-founders Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton, winners of the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award, in the East Room of the White House, July 15, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    In his 1989 Inaugural Address, when President George H.W. Bush uttered the words “a thousand points of light” he launched a movement. By signing the first National Service Act in 1990, President Bush ushered in the modern era of national service, setting the stage for the creation of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

    Likewise, President Obama long has believed that service builds stronger communities and can improve the lives of those who take part. In his first 100 days in office, he signed the bipartisan Serve America Act that set out a plan to increase AmeriCorps, our flagship national service program. Since that time, applications to AmeriCorps have reached an all-time high and more Americans are volunteering than at any previous point in the past five years. 

    The Administration has responded to this new demand by launching new programs such as FEMA Corps and School Turnaround AmeriCorps that create new pathways for people to serve. In these new “Corps,” young people are serving their country, while gaining valuable experience in fields such as emergency management or classroom instruction that can help to prepare them for the workforce. 

    Building on the momentum of these new pathways, during an event with President Bush earlier today, the President unveiled a new Presidential Memorandum on Expanding National Service. With this memo, President Obama seeks to tap the full resources of the federal government to provide more opportunities for citizens to engage in service and volunteering.

  • President Obama discusses how a large, bipartisan majority in the Senate voted to pass comprehensive immigration reform, which would add a big boost to our economy, strengthen Social Security, and modernize our legal immigration system to make it more consistent with our values. He calls on Congress to pass this commonsense bill quickly so that we can fix our broken immigration system and keep America strong for years to come.

    Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3


    Learn more

  • Watch the West Wing Week here.

    A More Efficient Government: On Monday, the President laid out his plan his vision for building a better, smarter, and faster government during his second term.

    Over the last four years, the Administration has already made great progress on one of President Obama’s first priorities after taking office: bringing a government built for the 20th century into the 21st century. And on Monday, the President highlighted some of the new technologies and innovations that are already making a positive impact on Americans across the country – including data analytics and internet and mobile apps used by FEMA to help survivors of natural disasters locate recovery centers and apply for financial assistance. The President also discussed Data.gov, a project from the Open Data Initiative, which gives Americans access to government data for the first time ever.

    Kids’ State Dinner: Winners of Epicurious’ second annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge spent their Tuesday at the White House for the Kids’ State Dinner, hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama.

    While at the White House, the 54 children ate lunch with the First Lady – and the President even stopped by for a surprise visit!

  • This week, the White House hosted the second Annual Kids' State Dinner, while the President laid out his vision for building a better, smarter, faster government, awarded the 2012 National Medals of Arts and Humanities, met with the Congressional Black and Congressional Hispanic Caucuses, and honored the Washington Kastles and the 1963 Ramblers.

  • Today, President Obama met with members of the 1963 Loyola University Chicago Ramblers championship team, and celebrated the 50th anniversary of their Division I basketball title.

    President Barack Obama greets members of the 1963 Loyola University Chicago Ramblers.

    President Barack Obama greets members of the 1963 Loyola University Chicago Ramblers NCAA Championship men's basketball team in the Oval Office, July 11, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    On March 15, 1963, the Ramblers played Mississippi State in a regional semifinal game known as the Game of Change.

    The year: 1963, right in the midst of the Civil Rights movement. The team: The Loyola Ramblers, coached by George Ireland. The controversy: The Ramblers started four African-American players on the “Iron Five” lineup, even though the unwritten rules of college basketball allowed only two African-American players to start, and an unwritten law in Mississippi wouldn’t allow play against integrated teams.

    Earlier in the year, the Ramblers had won 20 consecutive games and earned a tournament berth. The Game of Change took place in East Lansing, Michigan. The all-white Mississippi State team snuck into Michigan in defiance of an injunction issued by the Governor of Mississippi that was intended to prohibit the game.  

    Judy Van Dyck, the daughter of the Head Coach, George Ireland, accompanied the team today. She told me that she remembered her father saying, with tears in his eyes, that the time had come for change, that these were his kids, and he wanted to make a difference so that no other kids would have to go through what they went through.

    And that’s just what happened.

    The Ramblers won 61-51. Before tip-off, photographers captured one of the great moments in college sports history when Loyola captain Jerry Harkness, and Mississippi State captain Joe Dan Gold shook hands at center court. The team gave President Obama a framed copy of that famous photo today.

JUMP TO: