The White House Blog: The President
- Posted byon August 30, 2013 at 5:30 PM EST
Today, President Obama hosted Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, and Latvian President Andris Bērziņš for a meeting at the White House.
The visit underscored the close ties between the United States and the Baltic states, which are grounded in our shared values, ideals, and interests. The leaders highlighted ongoing cooperation on issues including defense and security, trade and investment, energy and the environment, and global development.
- Posted byon August 29, 2013 at 2:10 PM EST
Energy efficiency is one of the clearest and most cost-effective opportunities to save families money, make our businesses more competitive, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In President Obama’s first term, the Energy Department established new minimum efficiency standards for dishwashers, refrigerators, and many other products. Through 2030, these standards will cut consumers’ electricity bills by hundreds of billions of dollars and save enough electricity to power more than 85 million homes for two years.
To build on this success, the President set a new goal in his Climate Action Plan: Efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings set in the first and second terms combined will reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030 – equivalent to nearly one-half of the carbon pollution from the entire U.S. energy sector for one year – while continuing to cut families’ energy bills.
Today, the Energy Department is taking steps towards achieving this new goal by issuing two proposed rules that could cut energy bills by up to $28 billion and cut emissions by over 350 million metric tons of CO2 over 30 years. This reduction in CO2 emissions would be the equivalent of taking nearly 109 million new cars of the road for one year. Or put another way, the energy saved from these proposed rules would be equal to the amount of electricity used by 50 million homes in a year.
Vice President Biden Swears in ATF Director, Announces Two New Executive Actions to Reduce Gun ViolencePosted byon August 29, 2013 at 1:52 PM EST
Even as Congress fails to act on common-sense proposals to reduce gun violence, like expanding criminal background checks and making gun trafficking a federal crime, President Obama and Vice President Biden remain committed to using all the tools in their power to make our communities safer.
Today, as part of that commitment, Vice President Biden swore in B. Todd Jones as the first permanent Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in seven years. As the Vice President said, “ATF is the key agency enforcing our gun laws, and they need a permanent director in order to do that and to do the job to the best of their ability.” The Vice President was joined by Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole.
First, ATF is closing a loophole that has allowed machine guns and other particularly dangerous weapons to get into the wrong hands. This loophole allows prospective buyers to license these weapons to shell corporations, which lets them bypass a required background check. ATF is proposing a rule to change that, requiring anyone associated with those corporations to go through the very same kind of background check process. Closing this loophole will make a difference—last year alone, there were more than 39,000 requests for transfers of these restricted firearms to trusts or corporations.
- Posted byon August 28, 2013 at 6:52 PM EST
Watch: President Obama's speech from the Lincoln Memorial
Fifty years ago, the heroic voice of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. rang out across our capital, our country, and the world, and called on us to become the more perfect union he believed we were destined to be. A country which endows every man, woman and child with unalienable rights to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
These are words which we repeat so often, that their depth and relevance today can easily be missed.
Any nation which pledges to honor its citizen’s right to “life” should enact and protect laws which ensure high quality and affordable access to the doctors, treatment, and preventative care we need to live full and healthy lives.
Any country committed to defending “liberty” should protect our fundamental right as Americans; the right to vote. Our liberty is dependent upon free and inclusive elections, and our ability to peacefully hold our leaders accountable, while directing the course of our country. Dr. King was the first to tell us that the “arc of the moral universe is long, but that it bends toward justice.” President Obama went further today, to remind us all that "the arc of the moral universe may bend toward justice, but it doesn't bend on its own."
The right to “pursue happiness” is most secure when we put the education of all of our children, the growth of our economy, the health of our businesses, the creation of jobs, and the stability of our markets ahead of self-interest, and political posturing. Every American deserves to feel the pride of a hard-earned paycheck, and the opportunity to achieve their dreams, regardless of who they are, or the zip code of their birth.
- Posted byon August 26, 2013 at 3:19 PM EST
Today, President Obama presented the Medal of Honor to Army Staff Sgt. Ty M. Carter.
For this is a historic day -- the first time in nearly half a century, since the Vietnam War, that we’ve been able to present the Medal of Honor to two survivors of the same battle. Indeed, when we paid tribute to Clint Romesha earlier this year, we recalled how he and his team provided the cover that allowed three wounded Americans -- pinned down in a Humvee -- to make their escape. The Medal we present today, the soldier that we honor -- Ty Carter -- is the story of what happened in that Humvee. It’s the story of what our troops do for each other.
Carter was one of 53 American soldiers who woke up the morning of October 9, 2009 as the outpost where they were stationed -- one of the most remote and vulnerable in Afghanistan – came under attack by more than 300 Taliban fighters.
President Obama told the story of Carter's actions in battle that day, which he called the "essence of true heroism – ‘not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.’”
Ty jumped out of bed, put on his boots and his helmet and his Kevlar vest, grabbed some ammo and he ran -- into bullets coming down like rain, for a hundred meters -- to resupply his comrades out in that Humvee. When they needed more, he ran back, blasted the locks off supply rooms and sprinted yet again -- dodging explosions, darting between craters -- back to the Humvee.
The ferocious fire forced them inside. And so it was that five American soldiers -- including Ty and Specialist Stephan Mace -- found themselves trapped in that Humvee, the tires flat, RPGs pouring in, peppering them with shrapnel, threatening to break through the armor of their vehicle. And, worst of all, Taliban fighters were penetrating the camp. The choice, it seemed, was simple -- stay and die, or make a run for it.
So once more, Ty stepped out into the barrage, and along with Sergeant Brad Larson, he laid down fire, providing cover for the other three -- including Stephan -- as they dashed for safety. But in those hellish moments, one man went down, and then another. And Stephan disappeared into the dust and smoke.
President Obama, President Clinton and President Carter to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington on Wednesday August 28thPosted byon August 26, 2013 at 10:10 AM EST
This Wednesday will mark 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech at the base of the Lincoln Memorial; a moment which served to punctuate a movement that changed America.
To honor this occasion, President Obama will be joined Wednesday, August 28th, by President Jimmy Carter and President Bill Clinton, members of the King family and other civil rights leaders and luminaries at the Let Freedom Ring Commemoration and Call to Action event at the Lincoln Memorial, to commemorate Dr. King’s soaring speech and the 1963 March on Washington.
As we mark this important anniversary, we reflect on what the Civil Rights Movement has meant for the country, and perhaps most importantly, the hard work that lies ahead as we continue to pursue the ideals laid out by Dr. King, and sought by the hundreds of thousands of Americans who marched through our nation’s capital fifty years ago.
This event is open to the public. Doors open at 9:00 AM, for an 11:00 AM program start on Wednesday, August 28th at the Lincoln Memorial. Guests arriving after 12:00 PM are not guaranteed admittance. In order to access the venue, you must enter from the east side of the Reflecting Pool, on 17th street, near the World War II Memorial.
- Posted byon August 24, 2013 at 5:00 AM EST
In his weekly address, President Obama notes that while college education has never been more important, it has also never been more expensive, which is why he proposed major new reforms this week to make college more affordable for middle class families and those fighting to get into the middle class.
- Posted byon August 23, 2013 at 6:43 PM EST
President Obama went to Lackawanna College in Vice President Biden's hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania for the final stop of his college affordability bus tour. After an introduction from the VP, the President talked about his plan to shake up the current system and make higher education more affordable for middle class families.
Rethinking how we pay for higher education isn't just an intellectual exercise. The President explained why:
If you get some kind of higher education -- whether it’s a 2-year degree, a 4-year degree, a technical college -- you’re more likely to have a job. You're more likely to see your income going up. More than ever before, some form of higher education is the surest path into the middle class, and the surest path that you stay there.
That's why ensuring that a good education stays within reach is a cornerstone of the President's better bargain for the middle class.
- Posted byon August 23, 2013 at 5:20 PM EST
Yesterday at the University of Buffalo, as part of his plan to offer a better bargain for the middle class, President Obama announced an ambitious new agenda to combat rising college costs, make college more affordable, and improve value for students and their families. As the President said in his speech, just tinkering around the edges won’t be enough. If we’re really serious about making sure that all qualified students have access to a quality and affordable college education, we have to fundamentally rethink how higher education is paid for in this country, shake up the system and build on innovation.
Reaching these goals will be a team effort with Congress, the President, colleges and universities, states and students all doing their part. And while the proposals the President laid out are bold and may not be popular with those who benefit from the status quo – we believe they are achievable. In fact many of the reforms the President put forth are built on innovative efforts already being put in place by university systems and campuses across the country, and many have bipartisan roots in the governors and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who have been leaders in state efforts to promote competition and increase transparency.
Here’s a look at some of the initial reviews coming in from the higher education community and other stakeholders:
Muriel A. Howard, President of The American Association of State Colleges and Universities: “AASCU is very pleased that President Obama is continuing his commitment to the issue of college affordability, a concern of on-going relevance to us and our members… our goals are the same: to provide students with access to a quality, affordable education and to ensure that they succeed. Their success is America’s future.”
State Higher Education Executive Officers Association: “The Association Of State Higher Education Executive Officers is fully committed to increasing educational attainment in the United States and applauds the aims of the of the Obama Administration’s initiatives to improve the adequacy and effectiveness of federal student financial assistance programs and to foster innovation to enhance student learning.”
Peter McPherson, President, Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities: “I am pleased to see President Obama continue his commitment to strengthening our higher education system to help ensure that students and families get the best value for their tuition dollars.
National Council of La Raza President Janet Murguía: “We welcome the positive steps that the president has taken today to help rein in the cost of going to college… we look forward to working with the White House to implement some of the ideas discussed today, and we urge Congress—which also must act—to come to an agreement on legislation that will help mitigate the costs of obtaining higher education for our nation’s young people.”
- Posted byon August 23, 2013 at 1:08 PM EST
President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York, during the college affordability bus tour in Buffalo, N.Y., Aug. 22, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Yesterday, as part of his plan to deliver a better bargain for the middle class, President Obama kicked off a two-day bus tour across New York and Pennsylvania in which he announced an ambitious agenda to tackle rising college costs, make college more affordable, and improve value for students and families.
In his first stop at the University at Buffalo, the President laid out the three key steps that we need to take to ensure that college remains affordable and a viable ladder of economic opportunity for the middle class and those working to get there. First, connect financial aid to school performance, second support academic innovation and finally, keep the cost of higher education within the reach of all young Americans.
Here is a small sample of the coverage that the President’s plan has received across the country:
AL – The Birmingham News (Underwood): New Obama college affordability plan would tie federal aid to the school’s educational value -- A new plan being proposed by President Barack Obama Thursday would rate the educational value of colleges and tie their value to federal aid offered to students, essentially paying colleges for better performance, the White House revealed Thursday. The plan would address rising college tuition costs have increased over 250 percent in the past three decades. Under the proposal, borrowers would be allowed to cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of their monthly income. The college rating system would tie aid to the college’s affordability, the number of students on Pell grants, and the college’s ability to produce outcomes, such as graduates with degrees, earnings of graduates, and other factors. LINK