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Read all posts from June 2014
Lindsay HolstJune 30, 2014
07:05 PM EDT
Today, the Supreme Court ruled on the much-publicized Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. case.
This decision would allow some bosses to withhold contraceptive care from their employees' health coverage based on their own religious beliefs -- which their employees may not share.
At the top of today's press briefing, Press Secretary Josh Earnest delivered a statement about where the President stands on this ruling, noting:
"President Obama believes that women should make personal health care decisions for themselves, rather than their bosses deciding for them."
He went on to state that "today's decision jeopardizes the health of women who are employed by these companies."
You can read a full transcript of the statement and press briefing here.
Lindsay HolstJune 30, 2014
06:30 PM EDT
In the Rose Garden this afternoon, President Obama reiterated his commitment to immigration reform and reproached House Republicans for their unwillingness to confront this important issue.
Speaking a year ago to the month when the Senate passed an immigration reform bill, the President outlined what Republican obstruction has meant over the past year:
- We have fewer resources to strengthen our borders;
- Businesses can still game the system by hiring undocumented workers -- which punishes businesses that are playing by the rules and hurting the wages of hard-working Americans;
- The best and brightest that come to study in the United States are still forced to leave, heading overseas and subsequently competing against our workers; and
- Eleven million immigrants are still living in the shadows, instead of having the opportunity to earn their citizenship.
What's more, "it's meant the heartbreak of separated families," the President stressed.
Meanwhile, the majority of Americans -- ranging from law enforcement to labor to faith communities -- continue to support immigration reform.
David HudsonJune 28, 2014
06:00 AM EDT
President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Blue Room of the White House, June 27, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
In this week’s address, the President discussed his recent trip to Minneapolis where he met a working mother named Rebekah, who wrote the President to share the challenges her family and many middle-class Americans are facing where they work hard and sacrifice yet still can’t seem to get ahead. But instead of focusing on growing the middle class and expanding opportunity for all, Republicans in Congress continue to block commonsense economic proposals such as raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment insurance and making college more affordable.
The President will keep fighting his economic priorities in the weeks and months ahead, because he knows the best way to expand opportunity for all hardworking Americans and continue to strengthen the economy is to grow it from the middle out.
Lindsay HolstJune 27, 2014
02:48 PM EDT
In September 2009, the President announced that—for the first time in history—White House visitor records would be made available to the public on an ongoing basis. Today, the White House releases visitor records that were generated in March 2014. Today’s release also includes visitor records generated prior to September 16, 2009 that were requested by members of the public in May 2014 pursuant to the White House voluntary disclosure policy. This release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to more than 3.74 million—all of which can be viewed in our Disclosures section.
Adam GarberJune 27, 2014
10:43 AM EDT
Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and beyond. This week takes us south of the border with the Vice President, to our nation's capital for the first-ever White House Summit on Working Families, and along for the ride as a woman who wrote the President gets a reply... in person.
David HudsonJune 26, 2014
07:20 PM EDT
Last night, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C., President Obama addressed the League of Conservation Voters at their annual Capital Dinner. In his remarks, he commended them on their work to protect the planet, and emphasized that the work is "even more urgent and more important" now than when he last spoke to the League in 2006, due to the rapidly growing threat of climate change.
Lindsay HolstJune 26, 2014
11:15 AM EDT
This past March, a mom from Minneapolis named Rebekah wrote the President a letter about the increasing costs of taking care of her family. She told him about her day-to-day struggles, and let him know what she thinks needs to change.
Today, the President is traveling to Minnesota to spend some time with her.
That's because Rebekah's experience is representative of the experience of millions of Americans across the country right now: Even though our economy has undoubtedly made a comeback, too many folks are still stretched too thin.
This is the first in a series of "day in the life" trips the President will be taking over the course of the summer -- an opportunity to communicate directly with the people he's working for every day.
We want to make sure you see what the President sees, too.
Maya ShankarJune 25, 2014
07:40 PM EDT
Research shows that during the first years of life, a poor child hears roughly 30 million fewer total words than her more affluent peers. Critically, what she hears has direct consequences for what she learns. Children who experience this drought in heard words have vocabularies that are half the size of their peers by age 3, putting them at a disadvantage before they even step foot in a classroom.
This is what we call the “word gap,” and it can lead to disparities not just in vocabulary size, but also in school readiness, long-term educational and health outcomes, earnings, and family stability even decades later.
It’s important to note that talking to one’s baby doesn’t just promote language development. It promotes brain development more broadly. Every time a parent or caregiver has a positive, engaging verbal interaction with a baby – whether it’s talking, singing, or reading – neural connections of all kinds are strengthened within the baby’s rapidly growing brain.
That’s why today we are releasing a new video message from President Obama focused on the importance of supporting learning in our youngest children to help bridge the word gap and improve their chances for later success in school and in life. The President’s message builds on the key components of his Early Learning Initiative, which proposes a comprehensive plan to provide high-quality early education to children from birth to school entry.
David HudsonJune 25, 2014
07:00 PM EDT
This afternoon, President Obama welcomed six-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson and his Hendricks Motorsports team members to the White House for his 2013 Sprint Cup Series championship.
Being "a Chicago guy," the President noted that he usually quips at these sports events about "how the football is not as good as the '85 Bears or the basketball team is not as good as the Bulls." He then admitted, however, that Jimmie Johnson is basically "the Michael Jordan of NASCAR." Like Mike, Jimmie has won six championships in eight years -- while also taking a two-year break from his sport.
Lindsay HolstJune 25, 2014
06:15 PM EDT
This past Monday, Administration officials, businesses, economists, legislators, advocates, and working citizens came together for the first-ever White House Summit on Working Families. The Summit focused on igniting a national conversation and setting a concrete agenda to bring American workplaces into the 21st century.
These issues are real for everyone. Over the course of the past few months, senior Administration officials -- from the Secretary of Transportation to the First Lady's Chief of Staff -- have been sharing how they're real for them.
"Many businesses already see the competitive advantage of organizing work to ensure that women and workers with families succeed."
Tina Tchen, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady
Ezra MechaberJune 25, 2014
02:57 PM EDT
With more than 14 million users and 21 million signatures, We the People, the White House's online petition platform, has proved more popular than we ever thought possible. In the nearly three years since launch, we've heard from you on a huge range of topics, and issued more than 225 responses.
But we're not stopping there. We've been working to make it easier to sign a petition and today we're proud to announce the next iteration of We the People.
Since launch, we've heard from users who wanted a simpler, more streamlined way to sign petitions without creating an account and logging in every time. This latest update makes that a reality.
We're calling it "simplified signing" and it takes the account creation step out of signing a petition. As of today, just enter your basic information, confirm your signature via email and you're done. That's it. No account to create, no logging in, no passwords to remember.
Dan UtechJune 25, 2014
01:16 PM EDT
President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy is working – enhancing our energy security, cutting carbon pollution, and spurring economic growth.
Since the President took office, U.S. production of electricity from wind has more than tripled, production of electricity from solar is up more than ten-fold, and production of oil and gas has grown each year. Today, the U.S. is the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas.
Let’s drill down on the facts:
- According to Energy Information Agency (EIA) estimates, U.S. crude oil production averaged more than 7.4 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2013, up from 5.0 million bpd in 2008. And that was just last year: EIA expects production to increase to more than 8.4 million bpd in 2014; U.S. crude oil production averaged nearly 8.2 million bpd in March already.
- Domestic natural gas production is on pace to set a new record high in 2014. EIA estimates marketed production averaged more than 72 billion cubic feet per day in March, up more than 5 percent from March of last year and up nearly 25 percent from 2008.
- The number of oil and gas drilling rigs has grown over the last four years. As of April 2014, there were 1,835 operating oil and gas rigs, up over 18 percent from 1,553 when President Obama took office in January 2009.
Dan UtechJune 25, 2014
10:44 AM EDT
The effects of climate change are already being felt across the nation. In the past three decades, the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled, and climate change is putting those Americans at greater risk of landing in the hospital. The impacts of extreme weather events – from more severe droughts and wildfires in the West, to more powerful hurricanes and record heat waves – are hitting communities across the country. These changes come with far-reaching consequences and real economic costs.
At the same time, clean energy represents a significant economic opportunity, and we know we can meet this challenge in a way that advances our economy, our environment, and public health at the same time.
That is why, on this day last year, President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan – a comprehensive plan to cut carbon pollution, prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to combat global climate change.
One year later, the Administration has made real progress in advancing the goals in the President’s Climate Action Plan. The policies President Obama has put forward in just one year – when implemented – are expected to cut nearly 3 billion tons of carbon pollution between 2020 and 2025. That’s an amount equivalent to taking more than 600 million cars off the road for a year.
June 25, 2014
10:09 AM EDT
Yesterday, the White House hosted the first-ever Forum on Global LGBT Human Rights, bringing together participants from around the world, and across sectors — including faith and business leaders, health advocates, representatives of civil society and philanthropic organizations, and members of the diplomatic corps. During panel discussions and in breakout sessions, these committed leaders discussed how to advance a common goal: promoting and protecting the human rights and dignity of LGBT people wherever they are threatened around the globe.
In welcoming participants, Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama, highlighted the work all of these groups are doing to advance equality for LGBT people in America, and called on them to continue that work internationally in partnership with the U.S. government.
And in a keynote address, Ambassador Susan Rice, the President's National Security Advisor, spoke of the Obama administration’s deep commitment to promoting respect for the human rights of LGBT people at home and abroad.
Jason FurmanJune 25, 2014
09:30 AM EDT
First-quarter GDP was revised down today, largely reflecting updated estimates of consumer spending on health care, which was substantially lower than originally reported, as well as exports, which were below the initial estimates. The GDP data can be volatile from quarter to quarter; a range of other data show a more positive picture for the first quarter, and more up-to-date indicators from April and May suggest that the economy is on track for a rebound in the second quarter. The recovery from the Great Recession, however, remains incomplete, and the President will continue to do everything he can to support the recovery, either by acting through executive action or by working with Congress on steps that would boost growth and speed job creation.
FIVE KEY POINTS IN TODAY’S REPORT FROM THE BUREAU OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS
1. Real gross domestic product (GDP) fell 2.9 percent at an annual rate in the first quarter of 2014, according to the third estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. This drop follows an increase of 3.4 percent at an annual rate in the second half of 2013. The entire decline in overall GDP in the first quarter can be accounted for by a decline in exports and a slowdown in inventory investment, two particularly volatile components of GDP. In addition, several components were likely affected by unusually severe winter weather, including consumer spending on food services and accommodations, which fell for the first time in four years.
David HudsonJune 24, 2014
06:55 PM EDT
This afternoon, the Vice President ceremonially swore in Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the new Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Ambassador Susan RiceJune 24, 2014
02:28 PM EDT
As the President’s National Security Advisor, I am focused every day on keeping our country secure and our citizens – at home and abroad – safe. But these goals are hindered and our stature abroad is weakened when we are not fielding a full team. That’s why I urge the Senate to let the President’s qualified ambassadorial nominees get to work on behalf of the American people.
Right now, 48 nominees for ambassador are pending and 26 are on the Executive Calendar and eligible for confirmation by the full Senate – 16 of whom are career Foreign Service Officers. Together, all ambassadorial nominees have been waiting an average of 161 days, while those on the Executive Calendar have been waiting an average of 262 days. This is simply too long.
These crucial posts are vacant and American interests are therefore underrepresented. The longer we wait to fill these roles the harder it becomes to maintain our effective American diplomacy.
Lindsay HolstJune 24, 2014
02:03 PM EDT
Yesterday, the White House, in partnership with the Department of Labor and the Center for American Progress, hosted a Summit on Working Families with the aim of having a national conversation and set a concrete agenda to bring American workplaces into the 21st century.
That conversation brought together businesses, economists, labor leaders, legislators, advocates, and working citizens to talk through the very real issues facing the full spectrum of working families — from low-wage workers to executives.
And you didn't have to be in Washington to join in. Americans across the country tuned in and raised their voices online.
As Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett noted yesterday: "This is a movement, not a moment." So if you missed the event yesterday, you can still add your voice. Take a look at our recap of yesterday's Summit, and if you've got a story tell — get involved.
Ezra MechaberJune 24, 2014
10:48 AM EDT
This morning, Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer sent the message below to the White House email list to share the story of Rebekah -- a hardworking mom from Minneapolis who wrote the President to share her story, and will meet with him later this week.
Didn't get the email? Be sure to sign up.
Hi, all --
Every day, the Office of Presidential Correspondence sorts through thousands of letters. Every night, President Obama reads ten of them. Some people write to share what his decisions mean in their daily lives, to talk about the economy, or to ask a question about a policy. Others just write in to say hello.
Each letter is a chance for President Obama to hear directly from folks across the country about the sorts of issues they face every day.
The President makes notes in the margins, and sits down to reply personally. He often sends the letters to the staff as reminder of what we are fighting for or to ask us to follow up on an issue raised in the letter. So when Rebekah, a hardworking mom from Minneapolis, wrote in to share how much harder it's become to get ahead and do right by her family, you can bet the President set that letter aside for a reply.
Ezra MechaberJune 23, 2014
08:28 PM EDT
Ahead of the Working Families Summit today, President Obama stopped by a local Chipotle in the Woodley Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C. for a burrito bowl, and a conversation with a few working parents.
It was an opportunity for him to hear from Americans balancing the responsibilities of work and family -- aided by companies with flexible, supportive policies -- and he was "looking forward to comparing notes about changing diapers."
Policies like paid leave and flexible hours aren't just smart for parents, they're smart for business. As President Obama said, "not only do families benefit and children benefit, but the businesses benefit and the economy benefits."
Watch the video: