Read all posts from July 2013

  • President Barack Obama and President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania watch as an honor guard passes during the arrival ceremony

    President Barack Obama and President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania watch as an honor guard passes during the arrival ceremony at Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 1, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Today, President Obama flew to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, the third and final stop on his three-country trip to Africa.

    President Barack Obama and President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, along with First Lady Michelle Obama and Salma Kikwete

    President Barack Obama and President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, along with First Lady Michelle Obama and Salma Kikwete, watch performers during an arrival ceremony at Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 1, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    After an afternoon arrival ceremony, he held a bilateral meeting and press conference with President Jakaya Kikwete. Read the remarks from the press conference here.

    President Barack Obama participate in a joint press conference with President Jakaya Kikwete

    President Barack Obama participate in a joint press conference with President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania at the State House in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 1, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • First Lady Michelle Obama and Salma Kikwete, along with daughters Malia and Sasha, watch the Baba Watoto performance

    First Lady Michelle Obama and Salma Kikwete, along with daughters Malia and Sasha, watch the Baba Watoto performance at the National Museum in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 1, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    I just watched the most extraordinary group of young people sing, dance and perform gravity-defying acrobatic feats – and they did it all with rhythm, style and grace! 

    These kids are part of the Baba wa Watoto (which is Swahili for “father of children”) Center, an amazing community organization that gives kids the opportunities they need to succeed in school and in life. Many of you might participate in programs like this – such as Girl Scouts or 4H or the Boys and Girls Club – in your own communities, so you know what a difference they can make. Like these programs, Babawatoto teaches kids about the power of hard work, discipline and leadership, skills they can apply to every part of their lives. And seeing the talent, energy and passion these kids brought to that stage today, I’m confident that they’ll be successful wherever their journeys take them.

  • President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama shake hands as they arrive at the State House in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

    President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama shake hands as they arrive at the State House in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 1, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    When we stepped off the plane in Tanzania today, we received a welcome that warmed our hearts and made us feel right at home. We were greeted by the President of Tanzania, President Jakaya Kikwete and his wife, Tanzania's First Lady, Mrs. Salma Kikwete. We then took part in an official arrival ceremony which included a military honor guard, the playing of the Tanzanian and American national anthems, and a magnificent dance and drumming performance with hundreds of dancers. And people lined the streets waving American and Tanzanian flags as we drove away.

    Arrival ceremonies like this one are a vital part of diplomacy – they’re how countries and their leaders welcome each other and show their respect for each other. Here in the U.S., we have our own arrival ceremony for visiting leaders where we play their country’s national anthem as well as our own; we give them either a 21 or 19 gun salute (where members of our military fire guns into the air either 21 or 19 times as a show of respect); and both my husband and the foreign leader give brief speeches.

    Later that evening, we host a special dinner where we honor our guests and do our best to make them feel at home here in the U.S. For example, we knew that President Calderon of Mexico was born in a region where the monarch butterflies migrate each spring. So when we held our Mexico State dinner, we had a butterfly theme for our decorations. 

    First Lady Michelle Obama and Salma Kikwete pause for a moment of silence

    First Lady Michelle Obama and Salma Kikwete pause for a moment of silence while visiting the U.S. Embassy Bombing Memorial at the National Museum in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 1, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

  • On Friday, we got even more proof of the high costs of inaction on bipartisan commonsense immigration reform.

    In a letter to Senator Rubio released on Friday, the independent Social Security Office of the Chief Actuary provided a long-term analysis of the bipartisan Senate-passed Immigration Reform bill, demonstrating that commonsense immigration reform will strengthen Social Security over the long-term. Reform will ensure full Social Security solvency through 2035 and reduce Social Security unfunded liabilities by nearly half a trillion dollars through 2087.

    The Social Security long-term report follows the recent analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that showed commonsense immigration reform is good for the budget and good for economic growth. The new Social Security report confirms that the bipartisan Senate-passed Immigration Reform Bill is also good for Social Security. The Senate-passed bill will strengthen the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund in the short run and the long run by reforming the legal immigration system and by allowing undocumented workers to work above-board and thus ensuring that they pay payroll taxes.

    The Actuary’s long-term report confirms that the net effect of the bipartisan Senate-passed Immigration Reform Bill is to strengthen Social Security solvency. The Actuary found that the Senate-passed immigration reform bill will keep the Social Security Trust Fund fully solvent through 2035. (Without reform, the Social Security Actuary and Trustees expect the Social Security Trust Fund to be depleted by 2033.) The Chief Actuary notes that, “Even after depletion of the trust fund reserves, however, the actuarial status of the program is improved because continuing income would be sufficient to pay a higher percentage of scheduled benefits than under current law.” In fact, the Senate-passed bill will reduce the 75-year Social Security shortfall by nearly half a trillion dollars, in present value terms.

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