The White House Blog: The President
- Posted byon February 22, 2013 at 7:30 PM EDT
Ed. note: To see state-by-state effects of the sequester on jobs and middle-class families, click here.
In less than a week, harmful automatic cuts — known as the sequester — take effect, threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs, and cutting vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform.
To prevent a costly, self-inflicted wound to our economy and middle class families, President Obama put forward a plan to avoid these cuts and reduce the deficit by cutting spending and closing tax loopholes. Now it's up to Congress to act. Learn more about President Obama's plan here.
Still have questions about what the sequester is, and why American famillies and our national economy face this threat? We've put together the explainer below using some helpful background information President Obama laid out in a statement on Tuesday. Check it out:
$2.5 Trillion in Deficit Reduction
"Over the last few years, both parties have worked together to reduce our deficits by more than $2.5 trillion. More than two-thirds of that was through some pretty tough spending cuts. The rest of it was through raising taxes — tax rates on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. And together, when you take the spending cuts and the increased tax rates on the top 1 percent, it puts us more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances."
So What's the Sequester? Why Now?
"Now, Congress, back in 2011, also passed a law saying that if both parties couldn’t agree on a plan to reach that $4 trillion goal, about a trillion dollars of additional, arbitrary budget cuts would start to take effect this year. And by the way, the whole design of these arbitrary cuts was to make them so unattractive and unappealing that Democrats and Republicans would actually get together and find a good compromise of sensible cuts as well as closing taxloopholes and so forth. And so this was all designed to say we can't do these bad cuts; let’s do something smarter. That was the whole point of this so-called sequestration."
"Unfortunately, Congress didn’t compromise. They haven't come together and done their jobs, and so as a consequence, we've got these automatic, brutal spending cuts that are poised to happen next Friday."
- Posted byon February 22, 2013 at 4:45 PM EDT
Today, President Obama held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. "The U.S.-Japan alliance is the central foundation for our regional security and so much of what we do in the Pacific region," President Obama said.
In the meeting, the two leaders discussed a range of security issues in the Asia Pacific region, and over lunch, talked about the close economic cooperation between our two countries.
"I know that Prime Minister Abe and I both agree that our number-one priority has to be making sure that we are increasing growth and making sure that people have the opportunity to prosper if they're willing to work hard in both our countries."
- Posted byon February 21, 2013 at 6:39 PM EDT
This week, the President visited his old neighborhood in Chicago, conferred one of the nation's highest civilian honors, met with the President of Italy, and continued to urge Republicans to close tax loopholes for the wealthy to prevent dangerous across-the-board budget cuts that are slated to take effect on March 1st.
- Posted byon February 19, 2013 at 6:00 PM EDT
The White House Photo Office just released a set of behind the scenes photos from January 2013. Images include scenes from the Inaugural swearing-in and festivities, meetings around the White House and more.
Check out the gallery below, and see all the images on Flickr.
- Posted byon February 19, 2013 at 1:30 PM EDT
Just 10 days from now, Congress might allow a series of severe and automatic budget cuts to take place that will hurt our economic growth, add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls, and threaten military readiness.
But, as President Obama said this morning, these cuts don’t have to happen -- Congress has the power to stop them.
- Posted byon February 16, 2013 at 11:19 AM EDT
President Barack Obama delivers remarks to discuss proposals unveiled in the State of the Union Address that focus on strengthening the economy for the middle class and those striving to get there, at Hyde Park Academy, Chicago, Ill., Feb. 15, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama was in Chicago on Friday to talk about the importance of making sure every child in America has every chance in life to succeed. Speaking at the Hyde Park Career Academy, which is less than a mile from the Obama's home in that city, the President discussed the recent death of Hadiyah Pendleton, a Chicago teenager who was shot just days after attending the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, DC.
Hadiyah's parents were guests of First Lady Michelle Obama at the State of the Union address on Tuesday, where President Obama discussed the need to prevent this kind of senseless violence and protect American children. But the important goal of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals is not enough to ensure a bright future for all of our children, and the President also laid out a plan to rebuild ladders of opportunity for every American who is willing to work hard and climb them. This includes making sure every child in America has access to high-quality pre-K, and raising the minimum wage so that no family that works hard and relies on a minimum wage is living in poverty. But creating a path into the middle class also means transforming high-poverty communities into places of opportunity that can attract private investment, improve education, and create jobs, and President Obama talked about his plan to make that happen:
- Posted byon February 16, 2013 at 6:40 AM EDT
In this week’s address, President Obama calls for quick action on the proposals he made during the State of the Union to grow our economy and create jobs, including making America a magnet for manufacturing, strengthening our education system through high-quality preschool for every child, and raising the minimum wage.
- Posted byon February 15, 2013 at 7:41 PM EDT
President Barack Obama and President Giorgio Napolitano of Italy address the media at the start of their bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, Feb. 15, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
But the primary focus of the conversation was on the world economy and President Obama's plan to pursue a U.S.-European Union free trade agreement, which he discussed in his State of the Union address earlier this week.
President Napolitano expressed enthusiasm for the proposed agreement, saying he believes it will represent "a relevant contribution for promoting a new wave of development of technologic advancement of social justice on both shores of the Atlantic. And I think it can represent even something more. It is to say a new historic stage in relations between Europe and the United States -- not only economically, but also from a political and moral point of view."
Everything You Need to Know about President Obama's Plan to Ensure Hard Work Leads to a Decent LivingPosted byon February 15, 2013 at 2:15 PM EDT
"America is not a place where the chance of birth or circumstance should decide our destiny. And that’s why we need to build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class for all who are willing to climb them." President Barack Obama, State of the Union, February 12, 2013
In his State of the Union Address, President Obama laid out a plan to build on the progress we’ve made over the last four years to expand opportunity for every American and every community willing to do the work to lift themselves up. But there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the challenges we face. It will take a collaborative effort—between business and federal, state, and local officials; faith-based and non-profit organizations; kids and parents—to ensure that hard work leads to a decent living for every American. Read more about his plan below.
Reward hard work by raising the minimum wage
The President believes that no one who works full time should have to raise their family in poverty. But right now, a full-time minimum wage worker makes $14,500 a year – which leaves too many families struggling to make ends meet. A family of four supported by a minimum wage worker still living below the poverty line, even counting tax credits for working families. That’s why the President is calling on Congress to raise the Federal minimum wage to $9.00 and index it to inflation thereafter, so that working families can keep up with rising costs.
Raising the minimum wage to $9 would directly boost the wages of about 15 million workers by the end of 2015, and a range of economic studies show that raising the minimum wage increases earnings and reduces poverty without jeopardizing employment. For a working family earning $20,000 - $30,000, the extra $3,500 per year from raising the minimum wage would cover:
- The family’s spending on groceries for a year
- The family’s spending on utilities for a year
- The family’s spending on gasoline and clothing for a year
- Six months of housing
- Posted byon February 14, 2013 at 10:10 PM EDT
During the virtual conversation, the President answered questions about a range of topics, from steps to reduce gun violence to his plan to reward hard work by raising the minimum wage. The President also addressed some more personal questions from participants on recommended reading, Valentine’s Day plans and baby names.
Use the links below to jump to specific questions and answers during the hangout (questions are paraphrased):