The White House Blog: The President
- Posted byon October 25, 2013 at 10:17 AM EST
This week, the President announced his nominee for the next secretary of Homeland Security, spoke on the Affordable Care Act and immigration reform, and welcomed the Prime Minister of Pakistan and this year's Sammy Award winners to the White House. That's October 18th to October 24th or, "Saving Money as We Speak."
- Posted byon October 24, 2013 at 4:11 PM EST
Today, President Obama joined leaders from business, labor, and faith communities who are united around one goal: fixing our broken immigration system.
People across the political spectrum understand that our current system is broken, President Obama said today. And earlier this year, the Senate passed a bill with bipartisan support that addresses "the core challenges of how we create a immigration system that is fair, that’s just, that is true to our traditions as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants."
It’s a bill that would continue to strengthen our borders. It would level the playing field by holding unscrupulous employers accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers.
It would modernize our legal immigration system, so that even as we train American workers for the jobs of the future, we’re also attracting highly-skilled entrepreneurs from beyond our borders to join with us to create jobs here in the United States.
It would make sure that everybody plays by the same rules by providing a pathway to earned citizenship for those who are here illegally -- one that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes, paying a penalty, getting in line behind everyone who is trying to come here the right way.
- Posted byon October 21, 2013 at 2:14 PM EST
On October 1, HealthCare.gov opened for business, offering Americans a new way to compare health insurance plans and enroll in coverage. Nearly 20 million people have visited the site, and Americans all over the country are signing up for affordable, high-quality health insurance.
But, as President Obama explained today, the web site hasn’t worked as well as it’s supposed to.
"The problem has been that the website that’s supposed to make it easy to apply for and purchase the insurance is not working the way it should for everybody. And there’s no sugarcoating it. The website has been too slow, people have been getting stuck during the application process," he said. "And there’s no excuse for the problems, and these problems are getting fixed."
President Obama also reminded Americans that while HealthCare.gov will ultimately be the easiest way to buy insurance through the marketplaces, it isn’t the only way to apply and enroll.
"Even as we redouble our efforts to get the site working as well as it’s supposed to," he said, "we’re also redoubling our efforts to make sure you can still buy the same quality, affordable insurance plans the old-fashioned way – offline, either over the phone or in person.”
- Posted byon October 21, 2013 at 9:39 AM EST
On Sunday, the Department of Health and Human Services provided an update on the state of HealthCare.gov, addressing initial issues with the site and explaining its improvements. The following is crossposted from HHS.gov.
Read the original post here.
Over the past two and a half weeks, millions of Americans visited HealthCare.gov to look at their new health care options under the Affordable Care Act. In that time, nearly half a million applications for coverage have been submitted from across the nation. This tremendous interest – with over 19 million unique visits to date to HealthCare.gov– confirms that the American people are looking for quality, affordable health coverage, and want to find it online.
Unfortunately, the experience on HealthCare.gov has been frustrating for many Americans. Some have had trouble creating accounts and logging in to the site, while others have received confusing error messages, or had to wait for slow page loads or forms that failed to respond in a timely fashion. The initial consumer experience of HealthCare.gov has not lived up to the expectations of the American people. We are committed to doing better.
Aside from the difficulties since launching the site, there are parts of the overall system that have proved up to the task. The “Data Hub,” component, which provides HealthCare.gov with information that aids in determining eligibility for qualified health plans, is working. Individuals have been able to verify their eligibility for credits, enabling them to shop for and enroll in low or even no-cost health plans.
- Posted byon October 19, 2013 at 5:00 AM EST
In this week’s address, President Obama said that now that the Federal government is reopened and the threat of default is lifted from the economy, there are three places Washington can take action to serve the American people. First, it’s time for a balanced, responsible approach to the budget that grows the economy and shrinks our long term deficits. Second, we must fix our broken immigration system. And finally, Congress should pass a farm bill to give rural communities the opportunity to grow. The President said it’s time to put aside politics and work on behalf of the American people and the country we love.
- Posted byon October 17, 2013 at 5:41 PM EST
Today, President Obama sent a letter to Federal employees welcoming them back to work following the government shutdown and thanking them all for their service. Read the full letter here, or below.
- Posted byon October 17, 2013 at 10:33 AM EST
President Barack Obama makes remarks in the Press Briefing Room at the White House, Oct. 16, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Last night, President Obama signed legislation to reopen our government and pay our bills.
“Because Democrats and responsible Republicans came together, the first government shutdown in 17 years is now over,” he said today in the State Dining Room. “The first default in more than 200 years will not happen. These twin threats to our economy have been lifted.”
There was no economic rationale for all this, President Obama said.
“Over the past four years, our economy has been growing, our businesses have been creating jobs, and our deficits have been cut in half,” he said, “but nothing has done more to undermine our economy these past three years than the kind of tactics that create these manufactured crises.”
The way business is done in Washington has to change, President Obama said.
Because we’ve all got a lot of work to do on behalf of the American people – and that includes the hard work of regaining their trust. Our system of self-government doesn’t function without it. And now that the government is reopened, and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists, and the bloggers, and the talking heads on radio, and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do – and that’s grow this economy, create good jobs, strengthen the middle class, lay the foundation for broad-based prosperity, and get our fiscal house in order for the long haul.
President Obama laid out three places where he believes we can make progress right now: Pursuing a budget that grows our economy faster and shrinks our long-term deficits further; fixing our broken immigration system; and passing a farm bill.
“I will look for willing partners wherever I can to get important work done,” President Obama said. “And there's no good reason why we can't govern responsibly, despite our differences, without lurching from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis.”
- Posted byon October 15, 2013 at 3:57 PM EST
Today, President Obama presented the Medal of Honor to U.S. Army Captain William Swenson.
Last month, the United States Army released a remarkable piece of video. It’s from the combat helmet cameras of a Medevac helicopter crew in Afghanistan. It’s shaky and grainy, but it takes us to the frontlines that our troops face every day. And in that video, as the helicopter touches down by a remote village, you see, out of a cloud of dust, an American soldier.
He’s without his helmet, standing in the open, exposing himself to enemy fire, standing watch over a severely wounded soldier. He helps carry that wounded soldier to the helicopter, and places him inside. Then, amidst the whipping wind and deafening roar of the blades, he does something unexpected. He leans in and kisses the wounded soldier on the head – a simple act of compassion and loyalty to a brother in arms. And as the door closes and the helicopter takes off, he turns and goes back the way he came, back into the battle.
In our nation’s history, we have presented our highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, nearly 3,500 times for actions above and beyond the call of duty. But this may be the first time that we can actually bear witness to a small part of those actions for ourselves. And today we honor the American in that video – the soldier who went back in – Captain William Swenson.
Swenson received the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as an Embedded Trainer and Mentor of the Afghan National Security Forces with Afghan Border Police Mentor Team, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, during a lengthy battle with the Taliban in Kunar Province, Afghanistan on September 8, 2009.
Moments like this, Americans like Will, remind us what our country can be at its best – a nation of citizens who look out for one another; who meet our obligations to one another, not just when it’s easy, but when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. Will, you’re an example – to everyone in this city, to our whole country – of the professionalism and patriotism we should strive for – whether we wear the uniform or not.
It was only the second time in nearly half a century that the Medal of Honor has been awarded to two survivors of the same battle. Corporal Dakota Meyer who fought not far from Swenson, was presented the Medal of Honor two years ago.
President Obama told the story of Swenson's actions in battle that day.
I want to take you back to that September morning four years ago. It’s around sunrise. A column of Afghan soldiers and their American advisors are winding their way up a narrow trail towards a village to meet with elders. But just as the first soldier reaches the outskirts of the village, all hell breaks loose.
- Posted byon October 15, 2013 at 2:55 PM EST
On Monday, the President traveled to Martha’s Table, a local food pantry, to thank the many furloughed federal employees who have spent time during the government shutdown volunteering for charities and non-profits. In a brief statement, he lauded their commitment to public service, noting: “They're here contributing and giving back to the community, and I think that shows the kind of spirit that we have among all kinds of federal workers all across the country -- people who dedicate their lives to public service.”
While there, the President joined volunteers and helped prepare food for the pantry. He spent some time with a few elementary school students working alongside furloughed federal employees, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Americans who are in need of a helping hand.
With the shutdown dragging into its third week, it’s time to let these furloughed employees return to work. In the President’s words:
This week if we don’t start making some real progress, both the House and the Senate and if Republicans aren’t willing to set aside their partisan concerns in order to do what’s right for the country, we stand a good chance of defaulting and defaulting could have a potentially have a devastating effect on our economy.
Martha’s Table has been serving the DC community for over 30 years. The organization helps more than 1,100 people per day obtain healthy food and needed clothing, daycare and after-school programs, and other family support services. To learn more about them, you can visit their website at marthastable.org.
- Posted byon October 12, 2013 at 5:00 AM EST
In this week’s address, President Obama discussed his meetings with members of Congress of both parties and the ongoing effort to reopen the government and remove the danger of default from our economy. The President urged Congress to pass a budget, put people back to work, and end this shutdown. In his message, the President also called for paying our bills, and preventing an economic shutdown.