The White House Blog: The President

  • West Wing Week 2/14/14 or, "The Red, White, and Blue -- and the Blue, White, and Red"

    This week, the President hosted the first state visit for the French President in 20 years, signed the farm bill and raised the minimum wage for federal contractors. That's February 7th  to February 13th or, "The Red, White, and Blue -- and the Blue, White, and Red."


  • President Obama: "What I Signed Today"

    Earlier today, the President sent the message below to the White House email list, describing the Executive Order he signed today and asking Americans to let him know they're ready for a year of action in 2014.

    Didn't get the email? Join millions of other Americans and make sure you're in the loop.


    Hello everyone,

    Earlier today, I signed an Executive Order to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for federal contract workers.

    It's the right thing to do. But what's more, companies have found that when their employees earn more, they're more motivated, they work harder, and they stick around longer. You should expect the same of your federal government.

    The bottom line is this: We are a nation that believes in rewarding honest work with honest wages. And America deserves a raise.

    If you agree, let me know you're standing with me -- and take a look at what else we're going to do in 2014.


  • The Economic Case for Raising the Minimum Wage

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the importance of raising the federal minimum wage for all workers

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the importance of raising the federal minimum wage for all workers, during an event in the in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 12, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    Update: Read President Obama's remarks on the importance of raising the minimum wage before signing today's Executive Order

    In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama announced his intention to move forward using his own authority and raise the minimum wage for workers on new and replacement Federal service contracts to $10.10 an hour. As the President said, “If you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty.” Today, the President will sign an Executive Order making this vision a reality.

    This step is a smart business decision for the government because it will make Federal procurement more economical and efficient. An extensive body of research suggests that giving a raise to lower-income workers reduces turnover and raises morale, and can thus lower costs and improve productivity. In addition, firms that already pay a decent wage and realize these kinds of efficiencies should not have to radically alter their bids to comply with the Executive Order. This means the new rule can allow Federal agencies to select from a higher-quality group of bidders without a marked increase in costs—a fact that is borne out by empirical studies of municipal government contracts.

    This Executive Order will also give a boost to hardworking Americans struggling to make ends meet, and the President still believes that Congress should act to do the same for millions more. 

    A presentation prepared by the Council of Economic Advisers, “The Economic Case for Raising the Minimum Wage,” can be viewed below.


  • White House Social: French Arrival Ceremony

    Today, President Obama, Vice President Biden, and the First Lady welcomed French President François Hollande to the White House during an arrival ceremony on the South Lawn at the White House. More than 90 White House Social guests attended the event and documented the arrival through their social media channels using the hashtag #WHSocial. After the ceremony, White House Social guests headed over to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to talk to various administration officials about the arrival ceremony, state visits, and the ways the administration works to engage citizens online. 

    For your chance to attend a White House Social, make sure to follow the White House on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, and Instagram and keep an eye out for upcoming events.


  • Behind the Scenes at the France State Dinner: See the Menu

    President François Hollande of France raises a toast with President Barack Obama during the State Dinner on the South Lawn

    President Barack Obama raises his glass in a toast with President François Hollande of France during the State Dinner at the White House, Feb. 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    Update: Read President Obama and President Hollande's remarks in an exchange of toasts at tonight's state dinner.

    This evening, the President and Mrs. Obama will host a state dinner in honor of President François Hollande of France. The French State Dinner menu and theme was inspired by the shared history and friendship between the United States and France.  

    White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford and White House Executive Pastry Chef William Yosses have created a menu that features delicacies from across the United States and celebrates the best of American cuisine. The menu incorporates produce grown by farmers across the country and those grown here at the White House in the White House Kitchen Garden. 

    Go behind the scenes in the White House kitchen to see how Chefs Comerford and Yosses prepared for tonight's meal, then check out what's on the menu below. 


  • Protecting Iconic Species for Future Generations: A New National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking

    To protect threatened species like elephants and rhinoceroses for future generations, today the President approved a new National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. The Strategy strengthens U.S. leadership on countering the global security threat posed by poaching and illegal trade in wildlife, which is decimating iconic animal populations. Because of the actions of poachers, today species like elephants and rhinoceroses face the risk of significant decline or even extinction. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Today, we are taking action to stop these illicit networks and ensure that our children have the chance to grow up in a world with and experience for themselves the wildlife we know and love.

    The new Strategy establishes three strategic priorities: strengthening domestic and global enforcement; reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife at home and abroad; and strengthening partnerships with international partners, local communities, NGOs, private industry, and others to combat illegal wildlife poaching and trade.

    Given escalating threats to African elephants, we have also decided to implement a ban on commercial elephant ivory trade to ensure that U.S. markets do not contribute to the decline of this iconic species. The ban will impose new restrictions on the import, export, and commercial sale of elephant ivory within the United States, with some limited exceptions. Taken together, these actions will help ensure that the United States is not contributing to poaching of elephants and illegal trade in ivory.


  • Inside the French State Visit

    President Barack Obama and President François Hollande of France listen to the French and U.S. national anthems during the state arrival ceremony

    President Barack Obama and President François Hollande of France listen to the French and U.S. national anthems during the state arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, Feb. 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    • 01 Honor Guard Hats Are Lined Up
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    • 02 President And First Lady Stand On Red Carpet
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    • 03 Listen To The National Anthems
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    • 04 Reviewing The Troops
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    • 05 President Obama And President Hollande Greet Attendees
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    • 06 President Hollande Delivers Remarks
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    • 07 Color Guard Member Holds A French Flag
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    • 08 Waving From The South Portico
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    • 09 President Hollande Signs Guest Book
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    • 10 Admiring Kennedy Portrait
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    • 11 President Obama And President Hollande On The Colonnade
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    • 12 President Obama And President Hollande Bilateral Meeting
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    • 13 President Obama And President Hollande In Expanded Bilateral Meeting
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    • 14 President Obama And President Hollande Press Conference
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    • 15 President Obama Says Goodbye To President Hollande
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    • 16 President Obama and the First Lady Wait In The Cross Hall
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    • 17 President Obama and The First Lady Greet President Hollande
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    • 18 President Obama The First Lady Enter the Grand Foyer
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    • 19 Talking In the Yellow Oval Room
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    • 20 Waiting With The Color Guard
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    • 21 Descending The Grand Staircase
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    • 22 Talking In The Blue Room
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    • 23 View Of The White House South Portico Exterior
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    • 24 President Obama Delivers Remarks And A Toast
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    • 25 President Obama Talks With Guests
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    • 26 First Lady Thanks Chefs, Organizer
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    • 27 President Obama Helps First Lady Michelle Obama
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    • 28 Mary J. Blige Performs
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    • 29 Guests Watch Mary J. Blige Perform
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    This morning, President Obama, Vice President Biden, and the First Lady welcomed French President François Hollande to the White House – the first state visit by a French president in nearly 20 years. Check out photos from throughout the day, including images from Chief White House Photographer Pete Souza's Instagram feed, and then learn more about how the White House kitchen prepared for the France State Dinner, which the President and First Lady will host tonight in honor of the visit.


  • President Obama and President Hollande Visit Monticello

    President Barack Obama and President François Hollande of France tour Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville, Va.

    President Barack Obama and President François Hollande of France tour Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville, Va., with Leslie Bowman, President of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Feb. 10, 2014 (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    This afternoon, President Obama and French President François Hollande visited Monticello, the home of former President Thomas Jefferson, just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. Jefferson, who drafted the Declaration of Independence, was a noted Francophile, and served as the U.S. Minister to France from 1785 to 1789.

    Monticello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is widely regarded as an architectural masterpiece. Jefferson began work on his home at age 26, designing – and continually redesigning – the house following neoclassical principles.

    After touring Monticello, President Obama remarked that it symbolizes the “incredible history between the United States and France,” and the "incredible bond and the incredible gifts that France gave to the United States.” The house also represents the "complicated history of the United States," President Obama said, as well as the “complex relations” between Jefferson and the institution of slavery. President Obama added that for France and the United States, Monticello is “a reminder for both of us that we’re going to continue to fight on behalf of the rights of all peoples."

    Tomorrow morning, President Obama and the First Lady will welcome the French President to the White House, holding a state dinner in his honor tomorrow evening.

    Take a look inside the kitchen as White House Chef Cris Comerford and Pastry Chef Bill Yosses take over the White House Instagram ahead of tomorrow's dinner.


  • New Additions to the Oval Office

    Two paintings by Edward Hopper (1882–1967), widely recognized as one of the most significant artists of the 20th century, were hung in the Oval Office on Friday, February 7, 2014. Cobb’s Barns, South Truro, and Burly Cobb’s House, South Truro -- oil on canvas works painted in 1930-33 on Cape Cod -- have been lent by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the world’s largest repository of Hopper’s works.

    Before building a house on Cape Cod in 1934, Hopper and his wife rented a hillside cottage for four summers. From that house, Hopper executed a series of paintings and drawings of the buildings on their landlord’s farm below, exploring the structures from several angles and at different times of the day.

    Emblematic examples of his work, the two paintings lent by the Whitney Museum capture the strong sense of atmosphere and light as well as the empty stillness that characterize much of Hopper’s imagery. They also demonstrate Hopper’s fascination with the various forms of this country’s vernacular architecture -- a subject he would return to again and again, resulting in some of the most enduring images of American art.


  • The President Said 2014 Will Be a Year of Action. Here's What Happened Next:

    When the President took the stage to deliver this year's State of the Union, he told the American people that he intends for 2014 to be a year of action. He said:

    "…What I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require Congressional action, and I'm eager to work with all of you.

    But America does not stand still -- and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do."