The White House Blog: The President

  • Harnessing the Power of Data, Technology, and Innovation for a Clean Energy Economy

    Today, the White House, the Energy Department, and the General Services Administration are teaming up to host an Energy Datapalooza, highlighting important new steps in the public and private sectors to leverage data and innovation in ways that promote a clean energy economy in America.

    Advances in technology are making it easier for consumers and businesses across the nation to better understand how they are using and saving energy. Empowering citizens with information about their energy usage can help them make smart choices that cut energy waste, cut down energy bills, and preserve our environment.

    The federal government has an important role to play in unleashing energy-related data and catalyzing innovation to support these savings. That is why the Obama Administration has taken unprecedented steps to make open government data more available to citizens, companies, and innovators — including by launching both an Energy Data Initiative and a Climate Data Initiative.

    In addition, in 2011, the Administration launched the Green Button Initiative to provide families and businesses with easy and secure access to their own energy-usage information. And today, the Obama Administration is announcing a number of new steps to continue this momentum, including: a successful federal pilot applying the Green Button to help building managers achieve greater efficiencies; and new or expanded data resources and tools in the areas of geothermal, solar, hydropower, bio energy, and buildings.


  • Of Selfless Sacrifice and Shared Burdens

    Clara Gantt Reunited with Husband

    Clara Gantt waited to be reunited with her husband, a veteran of World War II and the Korean War. She waited, and waited, and waited -- never to remarry. An American story of timeless love and loyalty was shared by the President during the annual Memorial Day remarks at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday.

    I was able to sit down with Ms. Gantt and her nephew for a special trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with the President over a Memorial Day breakfast, as well as other gold star families and several Veteran and Military Family Service Organizations.

    Ms. Gantt was elated at the chance to meet the Commander-In-Chief, and shared the story of her husband, who was captured in the Korean War, and presumed dead. For more than 60 years, the remains of the war hero, who was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, were never identified nor returned to the United States.


  • President Obama Marvels at Brilliant Minds, Incredible Inventions at White House Science Fair

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    Today at the White House, President Obama caught basketballs shot off a hand-built catapult, test drove a remote-controlled search-and-rescue robot, and used his hand to activate an auto-retracting bridge made of Legos – all part of his tour of the 2014 White House Science Fair.

    This year’s event brought 100 incredible kids from more than 30 states to participate in a day-long showcase of innovative projects, patent-worthy inventions, and potentially life-saving discoveries made by America’s brightest young minds. The student exhibitors included a young researcher making progress to develop an anti-flu vaccine, an engineer who built an electric car and then raced it in a national competition, a group of girl coders who built an app to help their visually impaired classmate, and multiple teens with patents pending on groundbreaking inventions that could one day save lives.


  • Bringing the War in Afghanistan to a Responsible End

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks regarding Afghanistan to the press in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 27, 2014.

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks regarding Afghanistan to the press in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 27, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    This afternoon, in the White House Rose Garden, President Obama talked briefly about the United States' next steps in Afghanistan, and how "we will bring America's longest war to a responsible end."

    Over the last several years, we’ve worked to transition security responsibilities to the Afghans. One year ago, Afghan forces assumed the lead for combat operations. Since then, they’ve continued to grow in size and in strength, while making huge sacrifices for their country. This transition has allowed us to steadily draw down our own forces -- from a peak of 100,000 U.S. troops, to roughly 32,000 today. 

    The President announced today that 22,000 more troops will return home by the end of the year, ending the U.S. combat mission in December 2014.

    "When I took office, we had nearly 180,000 troops in harm's way," President Obama said. "By the end of this year, we will have less than 10,000."


  • Alongside Expanded Coverage, Underlying Slow Growth in Health Costs Is Continuing

    It is no secret that the last several months have seen dramatic progress in expanding access to high-quality, affordable health insurance.  Over the Affordable Care Act’s first open enrollment period, more than 8 million people signed up for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplaces, and, through March 2014, 4.8 million people gained coverage through Medicaid or CHIP.  Meanwhile, multiple independent surveys have reported sharp drops in the share of Americans without health insurance.

    What is not widely known is that the last several months have also seen a steady stream of good news on health care costs.  This good news suggests that even as coverage expands, the underlying slow growth in health care prices, per-enrollee spending, and premiums that we have seen in recent years is continuing.  That slow cost growth, which is thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act, is helping keep families’ premiums and out-of-pocket costs down, making it easier for businesses to hire workers and pay a good wage, and improving our fiscal future.


  • Meet the Exhibitors in the 2014 White House Science Fair

    Today, President Obama is hosting the fourth-ever White House Science Fair, which will feature extraordinary science projects and experiments from some of America’s most innovative students.

    Find out more below about the students participating in this year’s Science Fair:

    Elana Simon, 18
    Elana Simon, 18 (New York, New York)
    After surviving a bout with a rare liver cancer at age 12, Elana Simon, now 18, teamed up with one of the surgeons who treated her, set up shop in a medical lab, and began to collect much-needed data about the rare illness she'd endured. She gathered tissue samples from patients coping with the same cancer, fibrolamellar, performed genomic sequencing tests, and found a common genetic mutation across all of the samples she collected. Elana's results were published in the top journal Science, and formed a basis for a new website, the Fibrolamellar Registry, which she built to help empower fibrolamellar patients to share their own medical data for use by researchers working to find a cure. Elana is a recent winner of the American Association for Cancer Research's Junior Champion in Cancer Research Award. She has presented her work before an audience of 16,000 cancer researchers and is headed to Harvard to study computer science in the fall.
    Deidre Carrillo, 18
    Deidre Carrillo, 18 (San Antonio, TX)
    Deidre Carrillo, 18, knows what it's like to sit behind the wheel of an innovative electric vehicle she helped design and build, and to feel the adrenaline rush of racing it over a finish line. Deidre leads and helped found her high school's Southwest Engineering Team, which competes annually in Florida's Emerald Coast Electrathon-a national competition for student-built electric cars. For the first six months of the team's existence, Deidre was the only female member. As driver of the team's Dragon 1 vehicle, she helped lead her team to second place finishes in the Electrathon for two years in a row, before grabbing a first place finish in the 2014 competition this year. After graduation, Deidre plans to study public relations at Texas A&M University.


  • The Most Important Family Value

    This was originally posted on the Huffington Post, and is part of a series of essays about the issues facing working families in the 21st century, leading up to the White House Summit on Working Families on June 23, 2014.

    You can learn more about the summit and how you can get involved at www.workingfamiliessummit.org.


    On the first Friday of every month, the Labor Department announces new employment numbers that help set the tone for the conversation about our economy and where it's headed.

    But that's not the only set of data on my mind. My older daughter, who will leave for college in a few months, just played her last high school varsity lacrosse game, and I kept the team statistics this season (Amalia had 15 goals and 14 assists, in case you were wondering).

    Involvement in my kids' sports teams is something I have made time for over the years. I've also been able to coach all three of them in baseball and basketball, something that has strengthened our bonds and given me indescribable joy. I wouldn't trade it for anything. I lost my own father when I was 12, and I am the same age today that he was when he died suddenly of a heart attack. So when it comes to family time, I have a strong sense of the fierce urgency of now.

    But I'm lucky. I've had jobs that allow me the flexibility to achieve work-life balance, to be there when one of the kids sinks a jump shot or for the parent-teacher meetings. I can move tasks around. If I don't get something done at the office at 4:30 in the afternoon, I can go back to it at 10:00 in the evening.

    But if you work in retail or in hospitality or at a call center, or if you need to take a second job at night to make ends meet, you probably don't have that option, and you can't be there for your kids. Often, it's not just about missing a game. It means you can't help with homework. It means you can't be involved enough to know when your kids are in trouble at school. Or it means if they get sick in the middle of the day, you have no way to pick them up.

    I think our families deserve better. They shouldn't have to choose between the family they love and the job they need. And it's not just about being able to put food on the dinner table -- it's about being able to actually be at the dinner table as well. The most important family value of all is time with your family.

    That's why we're convening the Summit on Working Families -- to tackle issues like childcare, paid leave and equal pay that speak to the anxieties that keep people awake at night. These issues go to the heart of middle-class economic security. Addressing them is part of fully restoring America's basic bargain -- that if you work hard and take responsibility, you will have a chance to succeed.

    We are way behind the rest of the world when it comes to progress on this front. Everything has changed in recent decades -- the economy, technology, cultural attitudes, the demographics of the workforce, the role of women in society and the structure of the American family. It's about time our laws caught up. We watch Modern Family on television, but we're still living by Leave It To Beaver rules.

    I'm proud to be Secretary of Labor. But I'm even prouder of two more important titles: dad and husband. I've been able to be all three. I want all working people, no matter what their jobs are, to be able to meet their obligations both at work and at home.


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  • President Obama Speaks from Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day

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    Today, President Obama traveled to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and deliver remarks at a memorial service honoring our fallen servicemembers and their families.

    The President, who returned from Afghanistan this morning, thanked troops and veterans for their service to our nation, and paid tribute to the fallen:

    Today, in small towns across America, in cemeteries throughout our country and around the world, and here on these solemn hillsides, the families of our fallen share stories of the lives they led. Our hearts ache in their absence. But our hearts are also full -- full in knowing that their legacy shines bright in the people that they loved the most. Through almost unimaginable loss, these families of the fallen have tapped a courage and resolve that many of us will never know. And we draw comfort and strength from their example.

    We draw strength from the promise of their children. Today, Michelle and Jill are with 200 brave boys and girls whose parents gave everything they had in service to their country.

    The First Lady and Dr. Biden were seated in the audience with children who are participating in the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors' "Good Grief" camp -- a program that provides a safe and supportive atmosphere to help young survivors learn coping skills and identify support systems.


  • "We Stand in Awe of Your Service": President Obama Makes a Surprise Trip to Thank Troops in Afghanistan

    Afghanistan 14

    U.S. troops react as they shake hands with President Barack Obama at Bagram Airfield in Bagram, Afghanistan, Sunday, May 25, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    President Obama made a surprise visit to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan today to thank the American troops and civilians stationed there for their service.

    Following an opening performance by Brad Paisley, the President addressed about 3,000 troops in a hangar on the base.

    He let them know that he was there "on a single mission" -- and that was to say thank you.

    "I thank you as your Commander-in-Chief because you inspire me," the President said. "Your willingness to serve, to step forward at a time of war, and say 'send me,' is the reason the United States stays strong and free. Of all the honors that I have serving as President, nothing matches serving as your Commander-in-Chief."


  • TAPS Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of Good Grief Camps on Memorial Day Weekend

    Memorial Day is a very poignant and somber reminder for all Americans of the lives that have been lost in service to our Nation. This Memorial Day weekend, as the new Executive Director of Joining Forces, I have the deep honor of attending and supporting the 20th Annual Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp for Young Survivors. These events, held in and around Washington DC, will have 4,000 participants this year -- more than 500 children. As a service member, and past participant in the Good Grief Camp, this weekend is especially meaningful. The loss and the grief for many is still fresh and for mentors and other volunteers -- the work is very personal. So too, is the national commitment to honoring the fallen and assisting their families -- thanks to organizations like TAPS.