Our Top Stories
Macon PhillipsMarch 14, 2013
01:53 PM EDT
Today, Vice President Biden launched an audio series called “Being Biden.”
The series will combine a photo that offers a glimpse into the Vice Presidency with an audio recording of the Vice President narrating the moment and its significance. He will tell the story behind the story – of where he was when the photo was snapped, why it matters to him, and how the experience fits into the broader narrative of this Administration. From meetings at the White House to travels around the country, the Vice President will share his perspective in candid, behind-the-scenes snapshots.
In other words, he’ll explain what it’s like “Being Biden.”
Check out the first installment at whitehouse.gov/beingbiden. The series will be available at whitehouse.gov/beingbiden, and will also be shared through the @VP Twitter account. To recieve an email update when new stories are posted, sign up here.
Valerie JarrettMarch 14, 2013
01:19 PM EDT
A mother survives domestic abuse, but realizes she needs a civil protection order, as well as custody of her child, but she may not be able to afford legal representation.
Five years ago, a group of lawyers came together to support clients like her. They founded the DC Volunteers Lawyer Project (DCVLP) to recruit, train, and support attorneys to provide pro-bono services in three areas: (1) domestic violence, including with divorce, custody, child support, and immigration matters, (2) high-conflict child custody cases, and (3) assisting foster parents.
The DCVLP now has more than 700 volunteer lawyers who provide pro-bono services.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of visiting the DCVLP. I met with the remarkable founders and staff, listened to the story of a former client serving on the board, and heard about all the great work they are doing every single day here in Washington, DC.
Lynn RosenthalMarch 14, 2013
11:30 AM EDT
Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks at a Domestic Violence Homicide Reduction Event at the Montgomery County Executive Office Building in Rockville, MD, March 13, 2013. Also pictured are (from left) Janet Blackburn, Attorney General Eric Holder, Actress Mariska Hargitay, and Chief Jeff Spaulding, Chief of Police of the Westminster Police Department. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
Yesterday I attended an event held by Vice President Biden and Attorney General Holder focused on reducing domestic violence homicides. The Vice President spoke movingly about the changes that have occurred since the passage of the Violence Against Women Act but also reminded us that three women a day still die as a result of domestic violence. The Attorney General announced grants to twelve communities to screen victims for risk of homicide and create high risk teams to contain these dangerous offenders. He stressed the importance of understanding the warning signs that could indicate the risk of homicide is increasing and linking those victims with services. The Vice President was joined by Mariska Hargitay of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, domestic violence advocate Janet Blackburn, and state and local officials from around Maryland.
The event was held in Maryland to showcase the success of their model lethality assessment program. By screening victims for risk factors at crime scenes, in hospital emergency rooms, and in court and linking those most at risk with immediate crisis intervention services, Maryland has reduced its domestic violence homicide rate by 34% over the past five years. The Vice President also highlighted the work of Newburyport, Massachusetts, which launched a multi-disciplinary high risk team to identify and address the most dangerous cases of domestic violence in their community. Since beginning this approach in 2005, there have been no domestic violence homicides in Newburyport. The grants announced today will help communities around the country replicate these two successful models.
Kori SchulmanMarch 13, 2013
05:24 PM EDT
This afternoon, Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council, turned to Reddit to answer some questions about the President’s plan to reduce the deficit. During the 'Ask Me Anything', Sperling responded to questions on a range of topics, including the President's proposal to raise the minimum wage and how the "The West Wing" (television show) compares to the actual West Wing.
You can see all of the responses on Reddit, or check out the questions and responses below.
Gene SperlingMarch 13, 2013
04:36 PM EDT
America’s immigration system is broken. Too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers and there are 11 million people living in the shadows. Neither is good for the economy or the country. We must come together on a plan that requires responsibility from everyone —both from the workers who came here illegally and those who hire them—and guarantees that everyone is playing by the same rules.
Together we can build a fair, effective and common-sense immigration system that strengthens our economy and the middle class. As the President has made clear, any effort must include continuing to strengthen border security, creating an earned path to citizenship, holding employers accountable, and streamlining legal immigration.
Folks on both side of the aisle agree that we need to work together to bring millions of undocumented individuals out of the shadow economy and provide U.S. businesses with a stronger, legal workforce so we can better compete in the 21st century global economy.
It’s clear commonsense immigration reform is good for the economy as a whole. Don’t take our word for it – study after study has shown that commonsense immigration reform will strengthen the economy, spur innovation and increase US trade and exports.
Colleen CurtisMarch 13, 2013
03:49 PM EDT
First Lady Michelle Obama today met with the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies which combined have nearly 16 million employees, and challenged these leaders to make bold commitments to hire our veterans and military spouses and help them reach their full potential within their companies.
Mrs. Obama highlighted the need for action, referring to the hundreds of thousands of veterans and military spouses currently looking for work, and pointing out that in the coming years, over one million more will be hanging up their uniforms and transitioning back to civilian life. "These men and women will be returning to their families, rejoining their communities, and figuring out what’s next in their lives," said the First Lady. "And as they do all of that, the one thing that they're going to be thinking about is a job."
Macon PhillipsMarch 13, 2013
10:45 AM EDT
Ed. Note: This post is part of our Sunshine Week series on the blog. Sunshine Week is a national initiative to celebrate and focus on government transparency and open government. Macon Phillips will also discuss We the People in a Yahoo! News Chat today at 12:30 PM ET.
We have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and the wisdom, energy, and creativity of the American public is the nation’s greatest asset. Sunshine Week seeks to encourage public participation in government, and the U.S. has worked hard to expand opportunities for civic engagement. As one example of this, We the People gives the Obama Administration a way to connect with the public on the issues that matter most to them.
We the People allows anyone to create or sign a petition asking the Administration to take action on an issue. If the petition gets enough signatures, the Administration issues an official response.
Since its creation, 7.2 million people have logged more than 11.6 million signatures on more than 178,000 petitions on issues ranging from education to immigration to tax policy.
Megan SlackMarch 12, 2013
04:35 PM EDT
Today, President Obama hosted His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei for a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office to affirm the relationship between our two countries that dates back more than 160 years.
The two leaders discussed their shared interest in a strong, peaceful, and prosperous Asia-Pacific region, and continued cooperation between our nations on a range of issues.
With Brunei set to host October’s ASEAN East Asia Summit meeting, President Obama said they would be working together on “everything from how we deal with issues of energy and climate change to how we expand commerce, potentially through the Trans-Pacific Partnership that has the opportunity of creating jobs and prosperity here in the United States but also throughout the region.”
Megan SlackMarch 12, 2013
03:07 PM EDT
Today, President Obama stopped by a meeting of his Export Council, a group of business executives and government leaders who advise him on trade and export issues.
“The good news is we are well on our way to meeting a very ambitious goal that we set several years ago to double U.S. exports,” President Obama said. “The question now becomes how do we sustain this momentum?”
Part of that means building on progress that put strong trade deals in place, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which “sets a high bar that ensures that trade is fair and free,” the President said.
“And for those of us who abide by high labor standards and high environmental standards, obviously being able to lock in those kinds of high standards in the fastest-growing region of the world and the most populous region of the world can yield enormous benefits and help to generate billions of dollars in trade and millions of jobs.”
President Obama also discussed expanding trade with Europe through efforts to lock in the EU-U.S trade deal he announced in his State of the Union Address.
Kori SchulmanMarch 11, 2013
06:25 PM EDT
Ed. note: This post was originally published on the Let's Move! website.
Earlier today, First Lady Michelle Obama hopped on Twitter to discuss Let's Move!, her initiative to ensure our nation’s kids grow up healthy. During the chat with people from around the country, Mrs. Obama shared her favorite cardio workout (it’s kickboxing), winter recipes she loves (and a great resource for Pinspiration), plus a new program that will bring physical activity back to schools (and how you can get involved).
— FLOTUS (@FLOTUS) March 11, 2013
Jonathan GreenblattMarch 11, 2013
11:00 AM EDT
Each generation of Americans embraces the belief that no problem is too big for a determined group of people to conquer. This challenge is central to national service, which gives thousands of Americans a chance to unite with like-minded people and work toward improving the lives of our most-vulnerable citizens.
Each year, we take time to honor this American tradition of service as we mark AmeriCorps Week.
During this week, March 9th – 17th, we salute AmeriCorps members and alums for their service, thank AmeriCorps community partners, and communicate AmeriCorps’ impact on communities and on the lives of those who serve.
Since 1994, more than 800,000 AmeriCorps members have contributed more than 1 billion hours in service to others across America. Currently, more than 75,000 AmeriCorps members are touching the lives of millions as they tackle challenges that improve lives, strengthen communities, expand economic opportunity, and bolster civic and faith-based organizations.
AmeriCorps may be one of America’s best assets, with members making an impact through organizations such as the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Public Allies, and Teach for America. In addition, AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) and VISTA, the longtime anti-poverty program, are transforming communities every day.
March 11, 2013
09:59 AM EDT
Ed. Note: This post is the first in a Sunshine Week series on whitehouse.gov. Sunshine Week is a national initiative to celebrate and focus on government transparency and open government.
As President Barack Obama has stated, "Openness will strengthen our democracy, and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government." This week, we celebrate Sunshine Week -- an appropriate time to discuss the importance of open government and freedom of information, and to take stock of how far we have come, and think about what more can be done.
Over the last few weeks, we have asked for your feedback on some of our open government efforts, and you have responded, whether in meetings with civil society or via Quora, or a web form on WhiteHouse.gov. We thank you for taking the time to talk to us about this important work, and we hear you – and we will continue to consult with you.
In the spirit of Sunshine Week, the White House will highlight one initiative a day which demonstrates the Obama Administration’s continued commitment to open and accessible government. Today, we will focus on progress made improving the administration of the FOIA. As Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, "sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants." In our democracy, FOIA, which encourages accountability through transparency, is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open government.
Kori SchulmanMarch 10, 2013
05:36 PM EDT
— FLOTUS (@FLOTUS) March 10, 2013
To celebrate the third anniversary of Let’s Move!, First Lady Michelle Obama traveled around the country to highlight healthy changes being made in schools, towns and businesses across America.
Tomorrow, we're continuing the celebration on Twitter to discuss the First Lady's initiative to ensure that all our children grow up healthy and reach their full potential.
Megan SlackMarch 09, 2013
05:45 AM EDT
In his weekly address, President Obama says that businesses have created jobs every month for three years straight – nearly 6.4 million altogether, and have added 246,000 new jobs in February. We must keep this momentum going, and that’s why the President recently met with Republican leaders to discuss how we can replace the harmful, arbitrary budget cuts, called the “sequester,” with balanced deficit reduction.
Colleen CurtisMarch 08, 2013
06:33 PM EDT
First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry marked International Women's Day at the State Department where they presented the International Women of Courage Awards to nine remarkable women who, as Mrs. Obama said in her remarks, show us what our most basic values look like when they are put to the test.
When these women witnessed horrific crimes or the disregard for basic human rights they spoke up, risking everything they had to see that justice was done. When they saw their communities or their countries were ignoring issues like sexual violence or women’s rights, they gave those issues a face and a voice. And with every act of strength and defiance, with every blog post, with every community meeting, these women have inspired millions to stand with them, and find their own voices, and work together to achieve real and lasting change.
Valerie JarrettMarch 08, 2013
05:55 PM EDT
Today is International Women’s Day, and I can think of no better way to mark it than with all the different events this week around women’s empowerment.
President Obama has made promoting gender equality and advancing the status of women and girls central to our foreign policy and national security strategy, including by leading by example at home.
A few events this week highlighted the theme of women’s empowerment:
Today, the First Lady attended the International Women of Courage Awards at the Department of State with Secretary Kerry, an annual event that recognizes the incredible strength and courage of women from around the world – women who have stood up for our most basic rights, even when it meant risking their own safety. The First Lady emphasized that we must not only stand with these women and their efforts, but also use their example as a guide as we work to lift up the women and girls in our own communities. You can learn more about the women here.
March 08, 2013
05:33 PM EDT
Violence Against Women Act: On Thursday, President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act of 2013, which provides resources for thousands of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. The renewed version of the law extends to protect LGBT victims, immigrants, Native Americans, and victims of sex-trafficking. The act will ensure victims and survivors will have the resources they need. With survivors and advocates standing behind him President Obama recognized the significance of the day:
But everybody on this stage worked extraordinarily hard. Most of all, though, this is your day. This is the day of the advocates; the day of the survivors. This is your victory.
- Watch President Obama and Vice President Biden deliver remarks at the signing.
- Read the remarks by President Obama and Vice President Biden here.
First Cabinet Meeting: On Monday, President Obama opened the 17th Cabinet meeting of his presidency and the first of the new term. The President welcomed to the table his newest cabinet members, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. In his remarks, President Obama shared his deep concerns of the harmful and automatic budget cuts known as the sequester and advocated for bipartisan solutions so Americans can be poised for progress:
So one of the things that I’ve instructed not just my White House but every agency is to make sure that, regardless of some of the challenges that they may face because of sequestration, we’re not going to stop working on behalf of the American people to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to continue to grow this economy and improve people’s prospects.
Valerie JarrettMarch 08, 2013
03:58 PM EDT
Ed. note: The full text of the op-ed by Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett is printed below. The piece is published today on TheGrio.com and can be found HERE.
A child’s zip code should never determine her destiny. But today, a child’s health, educational outcomes, and lifetime economic opportunities are often negatively impacted when she grows up in a high poverty community.
Harlem Children’s Zone is working to change that. This week, I visited this neighborhood nonprofit, with its President and CEO, Geoffrey Canada. I took a tour of the health clinic and library inside their new school building. While I was impressed by the facilities, I was even more impressed by the passionate commitment and energy of Geoffrey and his team in truly transforming Harlem into an environment that allows children to achieve their dreams.
Since 1990, Harlem Children’s Zone has provided free support for the community through new schools, parenting workshops, a pre-school program, after-school programs and child-oriented health programs for thousands of families.
March 08, 2013
02:50 PM EDT
In October 2011, President Obama nominated Magistrate Judge Patty Shwartz to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Judge Shwartz is widely respected, having earned the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association – “unanimous well qualified” -- and has bipartisan support, including from Governor Chris Christie, who has praised her as “hard working, bright, articulate, great with people and conversant in the law.” And yet, today marks the one year anniversary since Judge Shwartz has been waiting for a floor vote in the United States Senate.
Unfortunately, the delay for Judge Shwartz is not unique. Last week, my colleague wrote about Judge Robert Bacharach, who was recommended to the White House by one of his Republican home state Senators, but waited 263 days for a floor vote before being confirmed 93-0. And on Monday – after 347 days of delay -- the Senate will consider the nomination of Richard Taranto to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Overall, President Obama’s judicial nominees wait an average of 117 days on the Senate floor for a vote -- more than three times longer than President Bush’s judicial nominees, who waited an average of only 34 days. The Senate must promote the administration of justice by returning to the prompt consideration of judicial nominations. It should consider Judge Shwartz’s nomination without further delay, as well as the fifteen district court nominees awaiting votes. Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved five district court nominees. There is no reason they – and the others approved before them – should not be confirmed within 34 days.
March 08, 2013
11:53 AM EDT
Editor's Note: this post originally appeared as part of a series for National Consumer Protection Week on ConsumerFinance.gov.
Filing taxes doesn’t have to be the worst. For some, tax time can offer an opportunity to set some money aside for goals or a rainy day.
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals and families. EITC can even reduce taxes and result in a refund. Last year, over 27 million consumers received nearly $62 billion in EITC.
Many people who are eligible for free tax services, for example, at IRS-approved Volunteer Income Tax Assistant (VITA) sites, pay to have their taxes prepared. Money saved by using free tax prep, added to part of a refund, could go right into a savings account or be used to pay down debt.
In addition to taking advantage of free tax services, there are many other ways to save. You can save automatically by having a portion of your refund or your paycheck deposited directly to a savings account.