The White House Blog: The Vice President
- Posted byon May 25, 2012 at 5:26 PM EDT
My husband Joe and I spent the morning with some of our nation’s bravest heroes -- kids, spouses and parents who have lost loved ones who have served in the military.
We were honored to kick off the 18th annual Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp for Young Survivors. TAPS is a national nonprofit organization providing care to families of the fallen, including peer emotional support, grief and trauma resources and information, casualty casework assistance and crisis intervention, for all those affected by the death of a loved one who served in the military.
This weekend, TAPS will help children and families of fallen service members build relationships that will last a lifetime. They will bond over their shared experiences, support one another, learn ways to cope with their grief, and also have a little fun touring our Nation’s capital. The camp is really making a difference in the lives of the children who attend – many of whom come back year after year, and some go on to become counselors themselves. I met a teenager who lost his father when he was nine, and this weekend he is attending the camp for the fifth time. He is heading off to college in the fall, and I am certain he will continue to inspire and support people he meets throughout his life.
These families have endured so much – and yet they are pillars of strength that inspire us all. The months and years ahead will not be easy for them, and some days will be better than others. But they have one very important thing to help get them through – the military family. And as an Army mom, I know that means they will never be alone. It is my hope that on Memorial Day – and every day – these families will know that our entire Nation mourns alongside them, and that we will never forget their loved ones.
- Posted byon May 15, 2012 at 3:00 PM EDT
Today, the President and Vice President released their 2011 financial disclosure reports.
The Ethics in Government Act of 1978 requires high-level federal officials to publicly disclose their personal financial interests. The public filing system serves to prevent financial conflicts of interest by providing for a systematic review of the finances of government officials. Those finances are set forth in annual disclosures which are reviewed and certified by ethics officials. Neither the President nor the Vice President have any conflicts of interest, and their reports have been reviewed and certified by the independent Office of Government Ethics. We are continuing this Administration's practice of posting these forms online here in the interests of transparency:
- View the President's 2011 financial disclosure report (pdf)
- View the Vice President's 2011 financial disclosure report (pdf)
White House staff are also completing their forms and we anticipate they will be available here next month, also in electronic form.
- Posted byon May 12, 2012 at 4:21 PM EDT
- Posted byon April 25, 2012 at 8:53 AM EDT
This week, the Senate will consider bipartisan legislation, introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID), that would reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). First authored by then-Senator Biden in 1994, VAWA provides funding to states and local communities to improve the criminal justice response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. VAWA supports specialized law enforcement units to investigate these crimes and helps prosecutors get dangerous offenders off the streets. Since the passage of the act, annual incidents of domestic violence have dropped by more than 60 percent.
While tremendous progress has been made, violence is still a significant problem facing women, men, families, and communities. On average, 3 women a day die as a result of domestic violence. The hidden crime of stalking affects 1 in 6 women and sexual assault remains the most underreported violent crime in the country. 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men have been sexually assaulted at some time in their lives. The Leahy-Crapo bill to reauthorize VAWA addresses today’s most pressing issues and builds on what we have learned over the past 17 years. We must continue moving forward to reduce violence against all women.
Native American women suffer from violent crime at some of the highest rates in the United States. One regional survey conducted by University of Oklahoma researchers showed that nearly three out of five Native American women had been assaulted by their spouses or intimate partners. In addition, a recent Center for Disease Control (CDC) study found that 46 percent of Native American women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Tribal leaders say there are countless more victims of domestic violence and sexual assault whose stories may never be told.
With non-Indians constituting more than 76 percent of the overall population living on reservations and other Indian lands, interracial dating and marriage are common, and many of the abusers of Native American women are non-Indian men. Too often, non-Indian men who batter their Indian wives and girlfriends go unpunished because tribes cannot prosecute non-Indians, even if the offender lives on the reservation and is married to a tribal member, and because Federal law‐enforcement resources are hours away from reservations and stretched thin.
- Posted byon April 13, 2012 at 10:30 AM EDT
Today, the President released his 2011 federal income and gift tax returns. He and the First Lady filed their income tax returns jointly and reported adjusted gross income of $789,674. About half of the first family’s income is the President’s salary; the other half is from sales proceeds of the President’s books. The Obamas paid $162,074 in total tax.
The President and First Lady also reported donating $172,130 – or about 22% of their adjusted gross income – to 39 different charities. The largest reported gift to charity was a $117,130 contribution to the Fisher House Foundation. The President is donating the after-tax proceeds from his children’s book to Fisher House, a scholarship fund for children of fallen and disabled soldiers.
The President’s effective federal income tax rate is 20.5%. The President believes we must reform our tax system which is why he has proposed policies like the Buffett Rule that would ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share while protecting families making under $250,000 from seeing their taxes go up. Under the President’s own tax proposals, including the expiration of the high-income tax cuts and limitations on the value of tax preferences for high-income households, he would pay more in taxes while ensuring we cut taxes for the middle class and those trying to get in it.
The President and First Lady also released their Illinois income tax return and reported paying $31,941 in state income tax.
The Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden also released their 2011 federal income tax returns, as well as state income tax returns for both Delaware and Virginia. The Bidens filed joint federal and combined Delaware income tax returns. Dr. Biden filed a separate non-resident tax return for the state of Virginia. Together, they reported adjusted gross income of $379,035. The Bidens paid $87,900 in total federal tax for 2011. They paid $13,843 in Delaware income tax and $3,614 in Virginia income tax. The Bidens contributed $5,540 to charity in 2011.
American taxpayers are able to go online and see exactly how their federal tax dollars are spent. You can visit the taxpayer receipt and after entering a few pieces of information about your taxes, the taxpayer receipt will give you a breakdown of how your tax dollars are spent on priorities like education, veterans benefits, or health care.
- Posted byon April 4, 2012 at 5:51 PM EDT
In his first #AskVP chat on Twitter, Vice President Biden answered your questions about college affordability and discussed how the Obama Administration is tackling rising costs. To kick things off, the Vice President tweeted, "College costs high. Debt burdensome. Help needed. That's why I'm here. Fire away. Use #AskVP -vp." He responded to nearly twenty questions with the hashtag #AskVP and covered topics including student loan debt, rising college costs and the emphasis on higher education in the proposed budget.
- Posted byon April 4, 2012 at 1:50 PM EDT
Ed note: This post is updated with a correction to the number of children who would lose access to Head Start.
Yesterday, the Vice President had a powerful message for the graduating seniors, parents, and teachers at Maury High School in Norfolk, Virginia – one that students across the country should hear and one that drives this Administration’s commitment to higher education. He told the Maury students:
You are the most qualified generation in history. And we have an obligation. We have an obligation to equip you or at least give you the opportunity to go out and plumb that potential.
For months now, Vice President Biden has been traveling around the country talking about the importance of college and the need to make it more affordable. But the graduating seniors and parents the Vice President spoke to and heard from yesterday know all too well that college isn’t as accessible as it used to be. And when college isn’t accessible, the potential of the next generation is at risk. As a result of rising tuitions and the tough economy, more and more families are facing difficult choices about how or even if they can finance a college education for their children.
As the Vice President said yesterday, that’s why this Administration has consistently focused on making college more affordable and accessible for low-income and middle-class families. Since President Obama and Vice President Biden took office, this Administration has supported college affordability and access through multiple measures:
- We increased the maximum Pell award from $4,731 in 2008 to $5,550 today. Nearly 10 million students go to college with the help of a Pell grant each year.
- We made our education spending go further by ending subsidies for banks that act as middlemen for federal student loans.
- We created a tax credit that provides up to $2,500 per year – that’s $10,000 over four years – to help students and their families pay for tuition, fees and books. An estimated 9.4 million families are expected to claim this tax credit for 2011.
- We reformed the way students pay back their federal loans, so students will be able to cap their monthly payments at 10 percent of their discretionary income. This will help make sure that graduates aren’t forced to choose between paying for food or rent or their college loans.
- Posted byon March 29, 2012 at 1:32 PM EDT
On Tuesday, April 3rd, Vice President Biden is traveling to Norfolk, VA to discuss how the Obama Administration is tackling rising college costs. Higher education can’t be a luxury – it’s an economic imperative for every family in America, so that our students and workers are prepared for the jobs of the 21st century.
In the afternoon, the Vice President will answer questions about college affordability on Twitter. People from across the country can ask questions using the hashtag #AskVP and follow the chat live from the @VP Twitter account.
Here's how you can participate:
- Starting now, ask the Vice President about college affordability using the hashtag #AskVP
- On Tuesday, April 3rd at 3:45 p.m. EDT the Vice President will answer some of your questions from the @VP account
- Follow the whole chat live on Twitter live through the @VP handle
- If you miss the live event, the full conversation will be posted on WhiteHouse.gov and on Storify
We hope you can join us.
Be sure to follow @VP on Twitter for the latest from the Vice President's office. If you missed the Vice President's first Twitter interview following the President's State of the Union Address, you can check out the full conversation here.
- Posted byon March 27, 2012 at 7:39 PM EDT
As Women’s History Month comes to a close, the Vice President and Dr. Biden hosted a reception last night in honor of Women’s History Month to celebrate the history, accomplishments, and contributions of women across the spectrum of American life, from academia and science, business and labor, philanthropy and advocacy, athletics and the arts, to the military and government.
Speaking to a distinguished crowd of women (and some men) who are at the pinnacle of their careers, the Vice President applauded their courage and achievements over the last few decades, saying “you’ve empowered entire generations” of women. He continued, “I’ve learned it from Jill, I learned it from my sister, and I’ve learned from the over thousand hours of hearings we held in the Violence Against Women Act that the single most important thing that empowers young women is powerful women – powerful women.”
Dr. Biden praised the guests for their "courage, strength and resilience." In addition, she paid special tribute to several members of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Female Engagement Team, known as the FETs, who attended the reception. These women volunteer to join otherwise all-male Marine patrols in Afghanistan, where they build relationships with Afghan women – a population mostly off-limits to male troops – learn about the country’s culture, and support our battlefield operations in Afghanistan. To highlight the incredible work of FETs, the Vice President and Dr. Biden also installed this photo exhibit of Female Engagement Teams at work in Afghanistan on the walls of the Naval Observatory.
- Posted byon March 20, 2012 at 4:24 PM EDT
Today, President Obama welcomed Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach of Ireland, to the White House. While both men have had the opportunity to engage in a bit of St. Patrick's Day revelry, there was plenty of serious business on the agenda for this morning's meeting.
President Obama explained:
We have had a terrific discussion about a wide range of issues. Obviously for both our countries, one of the biggest priorities is getting the economy moving in the right direction and putting our people back to work. And the Taoiseach described to me the steps that they've taken to try to stabilize the banking system there, to get control of their budget, and to be in position to grow in the future.
And it is important that both the people of Ireland and the American people understand the extraordinary benefits of trade, commerce, and investment between our two countries. We are, obviously, an extraordinary contributor to investment in Ireland, and that's something of great importance to the people of Ireland. Conversely, Irish businesses invest and employ huge numbers of Americans as well.
Earlier, Vice President Biden hosted the Taoiseach for breakfast at the Naval Observatory, and all three leaders attended a St. Patrick’s Day lunch at the United States Capitol.
Later tonight, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will host a St. Patrick’s Day reception in the East Room. You can watch live at 7:00 PM ET.