The White House Blog: The President
- Posted byon December 19, 2014 at 6:19 PM EST
As 2014 winds down, President Obama stopped by the press briefing room in the White House to offer his thoughts on what the past year has meant for the country. "I said that 2014 would be a year of action and would be a breakthrough year for America," he said. "And it has been."
Here's a look at what happened this year, in the President's own words:
- Posted byon December 19, 2014 at 3:44 PM EST
This week, the President traveled to Fort Dix to thank our troops, took action to protect Alaska's Bristol Bay, and announced historic changes to America's relationship with Cuba. That's December 12th to December 18th or, "Todos Somos Americanos."
- Posted byon December 19, 2014 at 11:34 AM EST
Today, Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer joined the new publishing platform Medium -- authoring a post that reflects on the incredible amount of progress made in 2014 despite some claims that the President had "the worst year in Washington." Moving forward, he will continue to post important highlights, insights, and reflections on the President's agenda.
In today's post, he reflects on 2014 as a year of real and meaningful progress for President Obama and the progressive agenda -- no matter what the critics have said. He goes on to note a few meaningful progress points from the year:
2014 has been the strongest year of job growth since the 1990s.
America's uninsured rate dropped to near-historic lows in 2014 -- In spite of the fact that this time a year ago, politicians and the press were predicting the demise of the Affordable Care Act.
The President made historic progress across the board on the central global challenge of the next century: Climate change and environmental protection.
President Obama's Executive Action to fix our immigration system is the most meaningful effort in decades to make the system fairer, more transparent, and more predictable.
In his six years in office, the President has reshaped the federal judiciary to include more women, minorities, gays, and lesbians, so it might resemble more closely the nation it serves.
- Posted byon December 19, 2014 at 7:59 AM EST
On Wednesday, December 17, the President and Mrs. Obama welcomed members of the American Jewish community to the White House to celebrate Hanukkah. For the second year, they hosted two receptions in the Grand Foyer of the White House. Guests represented the breadth of the Jewish community, including leaders from a wide range of local and national Jewish organizations, religious leaders representing the various Jewish denominations, state and local elected officials, Administration officials, Members of Congress, academics, musicians, authors, and other members of the Jewish community.
The receptions featured performances from Jewish college a cappella groups and the U.S. Marine Band. The food preparation occurred under the strict rabbinical supervision of Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Lubavitch Center of Washington (Chabad), in cooperation with the Rabbinical Council of Greater Washington.
- Posted byon December 18, 2014 at 5:28 PM EST
Trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve is essential to the stability of our communities, the integrity of our criminal justice system, and the safe and effective delivery of policing services.
In light of the recent events in Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland, and around the country, the Administration announced new steps to strengthen the relationships between local police and the communities they are supposed to protect and serve. One of the primary actions was the creation of a task force to improve community policing.
This afternoon, President Obama signed an Executive Order to create the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, and announced the members of the new task force.
- Posted byon December 18, 2014 at 3:52 PM EST
Yesterday, after more than 50 years, we began to change America's relationship with the people of Cuba.
We are recognizing the struggle and sacrifice of the Cuban people, both in the U.S. and in Cuba, and ending an outdated approach that has failed to advance U.S. interests for decades. In doing so, we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.
I was born in 1961, just over two years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, and just as the U.S. severed diplomatic relations with that country.
Our complicated relationship with this nation played out over the course of my lifetime -- against the backdrop of the Cold War, with our steadfast opposition to communism in the foreground. Year after year, an ideological and economic barrier hardened between us.
That previous approach failed to promote change, and it's failed to empower or engage the Cuban people. It's time to cut loose the shackles of the past and reach for a new and better future with this country.
- Posted byon December 17, 2014 at 6:23 PM EST
We've koshered the kitchen and set up the menorah. And this afternoon, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed hundreds of guests here at the White House for the second night of Hanukkah.
Joined by the First Lady and Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, President Obama retold the story of Hanukkah, "a story that took place more than 2,000 years ago, when a small group of Maccabees rose up to defeat their far more powerful oppressors."
In the face of overwhelming odds, they reclaimed their city and the right to worship as they chose. And in their victory, they found there wasn’t enough oil to keep the flame in their temple alive. But they lit the oil they had and, miraculously, the flame that was supposed to burn for just one night burned for eight. The Hanukkah story teaches us that our light can shine brighter than we could ever imagine with faith, and it’s up to us to provide that first spark.
The President also took time to highlight a new Hanukkah story: the return of American aid worker Alan Gross from Cuba.
- Posted byon December 17, 2014 at 3:39 PM EST
Before the Senate adjourned last night, it confirmed 12 federal district court nominees, for a total of 307 lifetime-appointed federal judges confirmed during President Obama’s first six years. These confirmations include two Supreme Court Justices, 53 circuit court judges, 250 district court judges, and two Court of International Trade judges. Over the past two years, the Senate has confirmed 134 judges—44% of President Obama’s judicial confirmations, and the most in a two-year Congress since 1979-1980. We’re proud of all of our nominees and grateful to the Senate for its action.
President Obama will continue to consult with Senators—Democrats and Republicans—to identify lawyers with the necessary intellect, integrity, temperament, and commitment to equal justice under law to serve as lifetime-appointed judges. He also will continue his unprecedented commitment to expanding the gender, racial, sexual orientation, and experiential diversity of the men and women who enforce our laws and deliver justice.
President Obama’s judges have broken barriers across the nation, including four who were confirmed last night:
- Loretta Biggs, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, is the first African American female judge to serve on her court.
- Elizabeth Dillon, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, is the first female judge to serve on her court.
- Amit Mehta, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is the first Asian American Pacific Islander judge to serve on his court.
- Robert Pitman, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, is the first openly gay lifetime appointed federal judge in Texas.
- Posted byon December 17, 2014 at 3:35 PM EST
Today, the President announced the most significant changes to our Cuban policy in more than 50 years -- ending an outdated approach that has failed to advance our interests for decades.
People and organizations from around the world are weighing in. Take a look at what they're saying, and then add your voice to the conversation using hashtag #CubaPolicy.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 17, 2014
- Posted byon December 17, 2014 at 2:53 PM EST
"Change is hard -- in our own lives, and in the lives of nations. And change is even harder when we carry the heavy weight of history on our shoulders. But today we are making these changes because it is the right thing to do. Today, America chooses to cut loose the shackles of the past so as to reach for a better future -- for the Cuban people, for the American people, for our entire hemisphere, and for the world."
-- President Obama, December 17, 2014