The White House Blog: The President
- Posted byon May 30, 2014 at 10:55 AM EDT
Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and beyond. This week, the President nominated two new Cabinet Secretaries, honored servicemembers for Memorial Day, hosted the fourth-ever Science Fair and the first-ever Concussion Summit, and traveled to West Point, to graduate 1,000 brand-new Army officers. That's May 23rd to May 29th or, "I Love These Kids!"
- Posted byon May 29, 2014 at 6:18 PM EDT
Whether he's on the court for a pick-up game of basketball, or filling out his March Madness bracket, President Obama doesn't hide the fact that he's an avid sports fan. And as a parent with two young daughters, he also realizes the importance of protecting our kids' health and safety.
To help ensure children's safety in sports, the President hosted the Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit this morning at the White House to address the growing risk of concussions in youth.
- Posted byon May 29, 2014 at 10:19 AM EDT
Today’s GDP revision was due almost entirely to a downward revision to the highly volatile inventories category, with small upward revisions to consumer spending and business fixed investment being offset by small downward revisions to net exports and state and local purchases. Overall the first quarter was subject to a number of notable influences, including historically severe winter weather, which temporarily lowered growth. A range of more up-to-date data from March and April, including jobs, manufacturing, housing and other indicators, provide a more accurate and timely picture of where the economy is today and show that it continues to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression. The President will do everything he can either by acting through executive action or by working with Congress to push for steps that would raise growth and accelerate job creation, including fully paid-for investments in infrastructure, education and research, a reinstatement of extended unemployment insurance benefits, and an increase in the minimum wage.
FIVE KEY POINTS IN TODAY’S REPORT FROM THE BUREAU OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS
1. Real gross domestic product (GDP) fell 1.0 percent at an annual rate in the first quarter of 2014, according to the second estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. This drop follows an increase of 3.4 percent annual pace in the second half of 2013. Looking at the various components of GDP, consumer spending grew at a rapid pace, mainly reflecting sharp increases in health care and utilities consumption, while the other elements of consumer spending on net rose only slightly. Consumer spending on food services and accommodations fell for the first time in four years, one of several components that was likely affected by unusually severe winter weather. Exports and inventory investment, two particularly volatile components of GDP, also subtracted from growth.
- Posted byon May 28, 2014 at 3:33 PM EDT
Graduating cadets listen to President Barack Obama deliver the commencement address at the United States Military Academy at West Point commencement ceremony at Michie Stadium in West Point, N.Y., May 28, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
This morning, President Obama traveled to West Point to congratulate the newest officers in the United States Army and to reflect on America's foreign policy agenda. In the President's remarks, he acknowledged that our world is changing with accelerating speed and that America must be equipped to respond to an increasingly dynamic environment.
It will be your generation's task to respond to this new world. The question we face; the question you will face; is not whether America will lead, but how we will lead, not just to secure our peace and prosperity, but also to extend peace and prosperity around the globe.
- Posted byon May 28, 2014 at 2:50 PM EDT
This afternoon, the President released a statement on the passing of Dr. Maya Angelou – one of the most prolific writers and activists of our time:
When her friend Nelson Mandela passed away last year, Maya Angelou wrote that “No sun outlasts its sunset, but will rise again, and bring the dawn.”
Today, Michelle and I join millions around the world in remembering one of the brightest lights of our time – a brilliant writer, a fierce friend, and a truly phenomenal woman. Over the course of her remarkable life, Maya was many things – an author, poet, civil rights activist, playwright, actress, director, composer, singer and dancer. But above all, she was a storyteller – and her greatest stories were true. A childhood of suffering and abuse actually drove her to stop speaking – but the voice she found helped generations of Americans find their rainbow amidst the clouds, and inspired the rest of us to be our best selves. In fact, she inspired my own mother to name my sister Maya.
Like so many others, Michelle and I will always cherish the time we were privileged to spend with Maya. With a kind word and a strong embrace, she had the ability to remind us that we are all God’s children; that we all have something to offer. And while Maya’s day may be done, we take comfort in knowing that her song will continue, “flung up to heaven” – and we celebrate the dawn that Maya Angelou helped bring.
- Posted byon May 28, 2014 at 9:46 AM EDT
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.
- Posted byon May 27, 2014 at 5:51 PM EDT
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.
- Posted byon May 27, 2014 at 5:11 PM EDT
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.
- Posted byon May 27, 2014 at 4:20 PM EDT
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)
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."
- Posted byon May 27, 2014 at 12:13 PM EDT
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.