The White House Blog: The President
- Posted byon December 7, 2013 at 6:00 AM EST
In this week’s address, President Obama says that before Congress leaves for vacation, they should extend unemployment benefits for 1.3 million hardworking Americans who will lose this lifeline at the end of the year.
- Posted byon December 6, 2013 at 10:45 AM EST
The White House is officially bedecked with cheer for the holiday season, which means it’s time for another special tradition: the lighting of the National Christmas Tree.
This evening, President Obama, the First Lady and their family will participate in the 91st annual holiday tree lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in President’s Park, just outside the White House gates.
Hosted by Emmy Award-winning actress Jane Lynch, this year’s National Christmas Tree Lighting features a talented line-up of performers including: The Avett Brothers, Joshua Bell, Mariah Carey, Renée Fleming, Forte, Aretha Franklin, Janelle Monáe, Prince Royce, Arturo Sandoval, Train, and Nolan Williams, Jr. and Voices of Inspiration.
- Posted byon December 6, 2013 at 10:00 AM EST
Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, the President spoke on the importance of addressing economic mobility and supporting implementation of the Affordable Care Act, visited fasting immigration reform activists, marked World AIDS Day, celebrated Hanukkah, and visited a local bookstore for Small Business Saturday. That's November 29th to December 5th or, "Olde English."
- Posted byon December 5, 2013 at 6:10 PM EST
This afternoon, from the White House Briefing Room, President Obama delivered a statement on the passing of former South African President and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, calling him "a man who took history in his hands, and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice."
"We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again," the President said. "So it falls to us as best we can to forward the example that he set: to make decisions guided not by hate, but by love; to never discount the difference that one person can make; to strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice."
- Posted byon December 5, 2013 at 10:45 AM EST
Ed. note: Today at 4:10 ET, tune in to whitehouse.gov/live to see President Obama deliver remarks at a White House Hanukkah Reception
Among the gifts from heads of state that are in the holdings of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum is a menorah presented to President Truman by Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion. The menorah dates back to at least 1767, when it was donated to a synagogue in Buergel, Germany.
The menorah was used in the synagogue until 1913, when it was found broken in pieces. A man by the name of Siegfried Guggenheim asked for the broken pieces and provided a replacement. The Guggenheim family restored the old menorah for their personal use, and brought it to the United States when they immigrated in the 1930s. Eventually, the menorah was acquired by the Jewish Museum in New York.
When Prime Minister Ben-Gurion visited the United States in 1951, he searched for a suitable gift to give to Harry S. Truman in light of the President’s recognition and support of the State of Israel. The Jewish Museum suggested the menorah, and Prime Minister Ben-Gurion presented it to Truman on his birthday, May 8, 1951.
In 1979, Jimmy Carter participated in lighting a Hanukkah menorah on the Ellipse, just south of the White House. Each President since then has commemorated Hanukkah at the White House. The ceremonies have ranged from small presentations in the Oval Office to large parties with the First Family, but they have all shared the common element of a Hanukkah menorah.
- Posted byon December 4, 2013 at 7:50 PM EST
This afternoon, youth leaders from across the country gathered here for our White House Youth Summit. The Summit was made of up 160 of this country's finest national and local leaders aged 18-35. Joined by White House and Administration staff, these millennial participants discussed issues important to their generation -- especially spreading the word about the Affordable Care Act and organizing to get people enrolled in their respective communities. They also participated in a series of panels and breakout workshops with administration officials, stakeholder groups, and advocates.
To kick off the event, a very special guest dropped by to speak to the Youth Summit: President Obama -- who let young Americans know he needed their help.
So I'm going to need you all to spread the word about how the Affordable Care Act really works, what its benefits are, what its protections are and, most importantly, how people can sign up. I know people call this law Obamacare. And that's okay -- because I do care. I care about you. I care about families. I care about Americans.
But no matter how much I care, the truth is, is that for your friends and your family, the most important source of information is not going to be me, it's going to be you. They are going to trust you. If you're taking them on a website, walking them through it saying, look at the price you're able to get, look at the benefits you're able to get. That's what's going to be making a difference.
- Posted byon December 4, 2013 at 5:16 PM EST
Today in Southeast Washington, DC, President Obama spoke about what he called the defining challenge of our time: reversing a decades-long slope toward growing inequality and a lack of upward mobility. It's a trend that has jeopardized middle-class America’s basic bargain, the idea that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead.
In the years after World War II, America built the largest middle class the world has ever known, President Obama said.
[D]uring the post-World War II years, the economic ground felt stable and secure for most Americans, and the future looked brighter than the past. And for some, that meant following in your old man’s footsteps at the local plant, and you knew that a blue-collar job would let you buy a home, and a car, maybe a vacation once in a while, health care, a reliable pension. For others, it meant going to college -- in some cases, maybe the first in your family to go to college. And it meant graduating without taking on loads of debt, and being able to count on advancement through a vibrant job market.
“Everyone’s wages and incomes were growing,” President Obama said “And because of upward mobility, the guy on the factory floor could picture his kid running the company some day.”
But by the late 1970s, this social compact began to unravel as jobs began to disappear and our economic foundation weakened. Inequality started to grow, and it got harder for children of lower-income families to move upward. Today, a family in the top 1 percent has a net worth 288 times higher than the typical family. And a child born in the top 20 percent has about a 2-in-3 chance of staying at or near the top, while a child born into the bottom 20 percent has a less than a 1-in-20 shot at making it to the top.
- Posted byon December 3, 2013 at 4:47 PM EST
Today, President Obama hosted President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia at the White House. Their visit underscored the growing partnership with Colombia, founded on our shared democratic values, deepening economic ties, and our long history of shared security goals.
Colombia is a respected leader in the region. We are expanding our partnership far beyond security into new areas of mutual interest like commerce, energy access, regional infrastructure and economic integration. Thanks to the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement – a win-win for both countries - U.S. exports to Colombia are up nearly 20 percent, supporting thousands of American jobs and helping to achieve President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports.
Colombia is an example of the profound transformations underway in Latin America. Elections that once were exceptions are now largely the norm. Some of the world’s fastest growing economies are in Latin America and across the region. Tens of millions of people have escaped poverty and entered the middle class. This represents an incredible opportunity for a new era of relations between the United States and the Americas.
America’s Manufacturing Sector Continues to Show Momentum, With New Data Monday Showing Manufacturing Growing at Fastest Pace Since Early 2011:Posted byon December 3, 2013 at 9:49 AM EST
A core component of President Obama’s agenda to grow the middle class is to make the U.S. a magnet for the location of high-quality jobs – especially those that support manufacturing and innovation.
The President has already taken significant steps to support America’s manufacturers, including by announcing nearly $250 million in funding to support four new manufacturing innovation institutes, aggressive new efforts to enforce trade agreements and open new markets, new investments in community colleges to help workers get the high-demand advanced manufacturing credentials needed by our manufacturers, and launching the first-ever federal effort to bring job-creating foreign investment to the U.S.
And going forward, the President will continue to push a comprehensive agenda to support a manufacturing renaissance that includes supporting a network of up to 45 manufacturing innovation institutes with a one-time $3 billion investment, making the U.S. more cost competitive by reforming our business tax code including a rate no higher than 25% for manufacturing, expanding and making permanent the R&D tax credit, continuing to ensure that trading partners like China are playing by the rules, and pushing new efforts to train workers for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
Our emphasis on manufacturing is due to the unique role that the sector plays in creating positive “spillover” benefits to our broader economy, particularly in its connection to our ability to innovate. Manufacturing punches above its weight; despite representing 12 percent of GDP, manufacturing accounts for roughly 70 percent of private sector research and development, 60 percent of all US R&D employees, over 90 percent of patents issued, and the majority of all U.S. exports. The benefits from a stronger manufacturing sector go far beyond factory jobs and include the production capabilities needed in design and innovation for many technologies, the high-skill talent that enable our services industries, and the dense web of suppliers that employ millions outside of the manufacturing sector.
While our emphasis on manufacturing must have a long-term focus – one that goes beyond the ups and downs in our economy in any month or quarter – today we received more good news that growth in America’s manufacturing sector continues to be strong.
On Monday, ISM released its monthly purchasing managers’ index (PMI), which rose to 57.3 in November – the fastest monthly pace of growth since April 2011, with all five components of the index showing strength, including employment (a reading above 50 indicates expansion). he index has shown sector expansion for six straight months and is on track to have its strongest quarter since mid-2011. Recent strength in the ISM report underscores that America’s manufacturing sector is helping to lead our recovery. Today there is little disagreement that the U.S. is a more competitive location for production, and we are beginning to see the results. America’s manufactures have created jobs at the fastest pace in 15 years, with over 500,000 new jobs added since February 2010, and our manufacturing sector has grown roughly twice as fast as the overall economy since the beginning of 2010. And there is little doubt that without the threat of default and harm from the arbitrary sequester, America’s manufacturing sector and the economy would be performing even better today.
- Posted byon November 29, 2013 at 4:06 PM EST
On her first foreign trip as National Security Advisor, Ambassador Susan Rice spent three and a half days in Afghanistan to thank our troops and civilians around the holidays, and assess the situation on the ground.
Afghanistan continues to be one of the United States’ top national security priorities, and this was opportunity for Ambassador Rice to take stock of our efforts and meet with American troops serving in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and our civilians at the U.S. Mission to Afghanistan.