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September 21, 2013
06:20 PM EST
Tune in on Monday from 3 to 4 p.m. at whitehouse.gov/live or youtube.com/whitehouse as President Obama hosts a High Level Event on Supporting Civil Society in New York on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly.
Civil society representatives play a critical role -- voicing the views of citizens, holding governments accountable, and forging solutions that improve people’s lives. For example, in Brazil, civil society recruited a thousand volunteer accountants to participate in a crowd-sourced review of the federal budget. Their work helped eliminate millions of dollars in waste. When many governments turned a blind eye, it was groups of citizen activists who organized themselves to sound the alarm and demand dignity who first generated the momentum to combat HIV-AIDS. Today, civil society groups work for and with small farmers, champion the cause of girls’ education, and run relief supplies into the most dangerous corners of Syria.
Matt ComptonSeptember 21, 2013
05:30 AM EST
In his weekly address, President Obama says the economy is making progress five years after the worst recession since the Great Depression, but to avoid another crisis, Congress must meet two deadlines in the coming weeks: pass a budget by the end of the month to keep the government open, and raise the debt ceiling so America can pay its bills. Congress should vote to do these now, so that we can keep creating new jobs and expanding opportunity for the middle class.
Tanya BradsherSeptember 20, 2013
04:16 PM EST
Today, Friday, September 20, 2013 marks the commemoration of National POW/MIA Recognition Day, where the nation honors those service members who endured captivity and whose remains have yet to be recovered. The day serves as a stark reminder of the risks and sacrifices that American service members and their families make every day.
As President Obama said in his proclamation marking National POW/MIA Recognition Day, “America remains steadfast in our determination to recover our missing patriots. Our work is not finished until our heroes are returned safely to our shores or a full accounting is provided to their loved ones.” As the POW/MIA flag flies over the White House today, it is a reminder that this administration will never forget its commitment to care for our service members and their families.
The Obama Administration is engaged in a sustained effort to achieve the fullest possible accounting of missing service members by locating, recovering, and repatriating their remains. We are determined to fulfill the nation’s duty to its veterans and bring closure to the families of these brave service members. The overwhelming majority of missing in action are veterans of the wars in Vietnam and Korea, and the Second World War. Over 80,000 Americans remain missing and on this day we honor their brave service - they will never be forgotten.
One recent step the Obama Administration has taken to sustain our effort to achieve the fullest possible accounting of missing service members is to reinvigorate our side of the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs with a charter. For over twenty years, this commission’s important work has contributed to the recovery and identification of the remains of fallen U.S. service members.
A relatively small number of people—service members, their families, and civilians—now volunteer to shoulder the burden of serving in the armed forces. It is therefore imperative that the nation strives to acknowledge that service and sacrifice; that we pay our respects to the fallen, and that we meet our sacred responsibility to care for the wounded.
The Obama Administration is committed to providing military families with the benefits and opportunities they've earned. Though less than one percent of the nation serves in the military, 100 percent can help. To see how you can best support those who serve, please visit joiningforces.gov.
Tanya Bradsher is an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement. She serves as the lead for Veterans, Wounded Warriors, and Military Family Outreach.
Valerie JarrettSeptember 20, 2013
03:26 PM EST
I was joined yesterday by members of the Small Business Majority Network Council at the White House to discuss the President’s plans to grow the economy, support small businesses, and back the entrepreneurial spirit that makes America great.
Without question, it has been the resilience and creativity of American small business owners which has sparked and sustained our recovery from the worst economic crisis since the great depression.They have helped us achieve 40 straight months of job growth, and created the majority of the 7.2 million American jobs generated in that timeframe.
We were joined for the second half of the meeting by Chris Jennings, the President’s advisor on health reform, who provided insight on how businesses and their employees can take advantage of expanded coverage options and new benefits made available under ObamaCare. We also talked through the nuts and bolts of Open Enrollment, which begins in October and goes through March and will help millions of uninsured Americans afford the coverage they need.
The President’s commitment to small business has been front and center since he took office. He has enacted 18 small business tax cuts. He has battled back the forces of the recession to dramatically expand access to capital. And he has streamlined processes to encourage more government contracting to small businesses.
The strength and vitality of the U.S. economy is, and always has been, inextricably linked to the success of our small businesses. The men and women who get up every day, flip signs from closed to open, and make our country run.This is who we are, and this is who we must continue to fight for.
To learn more about the President’s support for small businesses visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/economy/business/small-business.
Ezra MechaberSeptember 20, 2013
01:25 PM EST
Ed. note: Today at 12:50 pm ET, President Obama will deliver remarks at the Ford Kansas City Stamping Plant in Liberty, MO, highlighting the progress we have made since the beginning of the financial crisis five years ago and the work that lies ahead to continue strengthening our economy and deliver a better bargain for the middle class. Watch live at whitehouse.gov.
In the early hours of September 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers announced it would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, setting off shock waves through the global economy that had devastating implications for families and businesses. In the months before the President took office, the economy was shrinking at a rate of more than 8 percent and we were losing 800,000 jobs a month.
There's no diminishing the severity of the challenge we've overcome together, and we’ve got a lot more work to do to rebuild an economy where everyone who works hard has a chance to get ahead.
But five years after Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy, we want to help everyone get the context and see the full picture. To mark the anniversary, we've asked senior staff from across the Obama administration to sit down and talk about the moments when key decisions were made — the factors they weighed, the results of the actions that President Obama took.
Erin LindsaySeptember 20, 2013
01:00 PM EST
Update: Unfortunately, due to a scheduling conflict, the Google+ Hangout with Secretary Moniz and Administrator McCarthy has been cancelled.
Less than three months ago, President Obama delivered an address at Georgetown University that underscored the moral obligation we have to leave our children a planet that’s not polluted or damaged. The President issued a Climate Action Plan for his second term that laid out commonsense steps to reduce carbon pollution and address the effects of climate change both here and across the globe.
Today, the Administration issued a Climate Action Plan progress report detailing important implementation milestones on everything from cutting carbon pollution, preparing the United States for the impacts of climate change and ways we are leading global efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, advance international negotiations and promoting new actions to promote energy efficiency. Check out highlights from our progress since the President announced the Climate Action Plan.
Want to know more about President Obama's Climate Action Plan? Join us Monday, September 23rd at 12:15 p.m. EDT for a White House Google+ Hangout with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy, and moderated by Lisa Hymas, Senior Editor of Grist.org.
Heather ZichalSeptember 20, 2013
10:36 AM EST
In June, President Obama laid out the case for action on climate change and the steps his Administration will take to address it. In his Climate Action Plan, the President announced steps to cut the emissions of carbon pollution, prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to combat global climate change.
Three months later, the Administration is well on its way implementing the President’s plan. Already, the Administration has announced new renewable energy projects on public lands, we are taking steps to make our communities more resilient to the effects of severe weather, and we are working with our international partners to reduce emissions of powerful greenhouse gasses. At home and abroad, we are making real progress, and we have results to show for it.
Today, the EPA announced another milestone by re-proposing carbon pollution standards for new power plants. With this announcement, the EPA is taking responsible, steady steps to cut carbon pollution, protect the air we breathe, and develop affordable, American-made clean energy. For years we have had limits in place for arsenic, mercury and lead that power plants can release, and today we are taking a common-sense step to reduce the carbon pollution that is contributing to higher rates of asthma attacks and more frequent and severe floods and heat waves. The President is serious about taking on the challenge of climate change, and with today’s announcement we are proving that we can deliver on that promise.
Here are some more highlights from our progress since the President announced the Climate Action Plan.
Progress Report: President Obama’s Climate Action Plan
Taking Action for Our Kids
Less than three months ago, President Obama delivered an address at Georgetown University that underscored the moral obligation we have to leave our children a planet that’s not polluted or damaged. The President issued a Climate Action Plan for his second term that – building on the accomplishments of the first four years – advances policies to cut carbon pollution, keeping our air and water clean and protecting our kids.
Adam GarberSeptember 20, 2013
12:00 AM EST
This week, the President responded to the shootings at the Navy Yard in DC, invited small business owners to the White House as he spoke on the 5 year anniversary of the financial crisis, addressed the Business Roundtable and the Export Council, sat down for interviews with ABC & Telemundo, welcomed the Amir of Kuwait, newly appointed Foreign Ambassadors, and Youth of the Year winners, and the First Lady spoke on marketing healthier food to children.
Megan SlackSeptember 19, 2013
07:07 PM EST
Today President Obama met with his Export Council, a committee of government and private-sector leaders who advise him on trade and export related issues.
President Obama told the council that although there is more work to do five years after the start of the financial crisis, our economic recovery is well underway thanks to the grit and resilience of the American people, the work of our business sector and timely government response to the crisis .
“But I tell you, one of the biggest bright spots in our economy has been exports,” President Obama said, “the fact that "Made in America" means something and has provided a boost to our domestic economy, and has reminded the world just how competitive we are.”
Now, we can still do more when it comes to exports, and thanks in part to new trade deals that I’ve signed as well as obviously really great products and services that you’ve all designed, America now exports more to the rest of the world than ever before. We’re on track to export even more this year. Last year, $1 billion in exports supported nearly 50,000 jobs -- or 5,000 jobs in the United States.
President Obama said his Administration is focused on keeping that momentum going by completing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations as well as expanding our trade relationship with Europe.
Secretary Ernest MonizSeptember 19, 2013
03:30 PM EST
For decades, America has chased after the promise of clean, domestic energy. But even as costs fell and technology matured, that clean energy future seemed to linger just beyond our reach. Critics often said this new world would “always be five years away.” Today, that is changing.
In recent years, costs for numerous critical clean energy technologies -- wind power, solar panels, super energy-efficient LED lights and electric vehicles -- have fallen significantly. The accompanying surge in deployment has been truly spectacular. Such a surge is tantamount to topping the barricades -- a level of cost reduction and market penetration that will enable a full scale revolution in the relatively near term. A new Department of Energy report, "Revolution Now: the Future Arrives for Four Clean Energy Technologies" documents this transformation and what it means for America’s energy economy. The clean technology revolution is upon us.
While these technologies still represent a small percentage of their respective markets, that share is expanding at a rapid pace and influencing markets. For instance:
- In 2012, wind was America’s largest source of new electrical capacity, accounting for 43 percent of all new installations. Altogether the United States has deployed about 60 gigawatts of wind power -- enough to power 15 million homes.
- Since 2008, the price of solar panels has fallen by 75 percent, and solar installations have multiplied tenfold. Many major homebuilders are incorporating rooftop panels as a standard feature on new homes.
- In that same five years, the cost of super-efficient LED lights has fallen more than 85 percent and sales have skyrocketed. In 2009, there werefewer than 400,000 LED lights installed in the U.S.; today, the number has grown 50-fold to almost 20 million.
- During the first six months of 2013, America bought twice as many plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) as in the first half of 2012, and six times as many as in the first half of 2011. In fact, the market for plug-in electric vehicles has grown much faster than the early market for hybrids. Today, EVs rangingfrom the Chevy Volt to the Tesla Model S also boast some of the highest consumer satisfaction ratings in America. And prices are falling and exportmarkets are opening up. Since 2008, the cost of electric vehicle batteries -- which really drive the economics of EVs -- has dropped by 50 percent.
September 19, 2013
02:23 PM EST
Ed. Note: This is adapted from the Let's Move! blog. You can see the original post here.
From the State Dining Room of the White House yesterday, the First Lady addressed a diverse cross section of leaders from food and media industry executives, advocates, parent leaders, government agency representatives and researchers about the power of marketing in influencing kids’ food choices and the need for leveraging this power toward healthier food options for our nation’s children. The goal of the convening was to begin a constructive, collaborative dialogue and strategize about ways to shift the marketing of unhealthy products to healthier products and decrease the marketing of unhealthy products to kids.
When the average child is now spending nearly eight hours a day in front of some kind of screen, many of their opinions and preferences are being shaped by the marketing campaigns you all create. And that’s where the problem comes in.
And I’m here today with one simple request -- and that is to do even more and move even faster to market responsibly to our kids.
Mrs. Obama praised companies such as Disney and Birds Eye Vegetables for their success in utilizing marketing to encourage healthier food choices in our kids. However, children are still being exposed to thousands of food ads each year for products loaded with sugar, fat, and salt.
Megan SlackSeptember 19, 2013
02:00 PM EST
On October 1, Americans will have a new way to find affordable health insurance: the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Whether you need coverage or have insurance already and want to look at other options, you’ll be able to use the Marketplace to see all your options side-by-side, find out if you qualify for lower costs and enroll in a plan that fits your needs and your budgets – all online at healthcare.gov.
You can learn more right now about the Marketplace visiting healthcare.gov, or watch this episode of Tech Feed News featuring Bryan Sivak, Chief Technology Officer at the Department of Health and Human Services, to find out more about the process of building a straightforward and user-friendly online health care marketplace.
Jason FurmanSeptember 19, 2013
11:30 AM EST
New data out yesterday from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and discussed in a piece in Health Affairs show that economy-wide health spending continues to grow at a historically slow rate. After adjusting for inflation, health spending growth was 1.7 percent (3.9 percent nominal) in 2011, is estimated at 2.1 percent in 2012 (3.9 percent nominal), and is projected at 2.3 percent (3.8 percent nominal) for 2013. Assuming the projections hold, these rates of spending growth are the three lowest on record, well below the 4.2 percent average inflation-adjusted rate observed over the decade ending in 2010 and the 5.5 percent average inflation-adjusted rate from 1965 to 2010. As the President said earlier today, these reductions in health cost growth are good for American companies’ bottom lines, good for our economy, and good for jobs.
September 19, 2013
06:00 AM EST
Right now, Congress’ top priorities should be growing the economy and creating good middle class jobs so we build on the progress we’ve made over the last four years. But a few extreme Republicans in Congress are attempting to reverse that progress by shutting down the government and threatening to force the United States to default on the bills it has already racked up and owes.
For decades, Congress has paid its bills dozens of times by raising the debt limit on schedule with little drama or delay. Unfortunately, as Treasury Secretary Jack Lew noted on Tuesday, that all changed two years ago when:
…the issue of raising the debt ceiling turned into a high stakes political drama. We saw for the first time a debate take place over whether the United States should voluntarily default on its obligations. Some actually argued that default was a viable outcome. There were in fact members of Congress willing to default on our full faith and credit rather than reach a good faith compromise.
Even the hint of defaulting on our obligations by a minority of Republicans in Congress had great consequences for our economy in the summer of 2011:
- The stock market plummeted 17%
- The US credit rating was downgraded
- Consumer confidence dropped to its lowest points since the financial crisis in 2008
- Widespread uncertainty for middle class families
- Businesses froze hiring—initially reported zero jobs added for August of 2011, and even with later revisions was one of the lowest months of job growth over the last two years
That’s why the President has been clear that there is no negotiating over the whether or not Congress should pay its bills; Congress needs to pass a budget to keep the government functioning for the American people. Many Republicans have agreed that it would be reckless and irresponsible to use the threat of default as a bargaining chip:
Speaker John Boehner: “[D]o you want to risk the full faith and credit of the United States government over ObamaCare? That’s a very tough argument to make.” [BuzzFeed, 3/13/13]
Sen. Kelly Ayotte: "I don't think that shutting down the government is going to be productive." [CNN, 9/18/2013]
Rep. Tom Cole: “….shutting down the government to, you know, get your way over an unrelated piece of legislation is political equivalent of throwing a temper tantrum. It's just not helpful, and I think it's the sort of thing that can create a backlash, that could cost the Republicans majority in the House…” [Fox News Network, 7/24/13]
Megan SlackSeptember 18, 2013
07:25 PM EST
Today President Obama spoke to members of the Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs of the country’s leading companies.
“I’m hugely invested in your success because this room represents not only an enormous amount of economic output, but also represents the hopes and dreams of people who are working very hard trying to make a living,” President Obama told the business leaders. “When you succeed, when you’re doing well, when you’re competitive at a global scale, then America can do well also.”
President Obama said that our economy has come a long way since the financial crisis that began with the collapse of Lehman Brothers five years ago. For example, 7.5 million jobs have been created in the private sector, thanks in part to the many Business Roundtable members who have added to their payrolls over the last five years.
"We are in a much stronger position now than when we were then," President Obama said.
September 18, 2013
02:50 PM EST
On Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefed members of the Security Council on the report of the United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria. Professor Ake Sellstrom, the UN Chief Investigator on the mission to Syria, joined the Council and the Secretary General to discuss the report’s findings. The report concludes unequivocally that chemical weapons were used on a relatively large scale in the Ghouta area of Damascus on August 21, 2013, causing numerous casualties, particularly among civilians.
While the United States will continue analyzing the UN’s findings carefully, a preliminary review makes clear that only the regime could have carried out this large-scale chemical weapons attack.
Indeed, several crucial details confirm the regime’s guilt. The United States has associated one of the munitions identified in the UN report - 122 mm improvised rockets - with previous Assad regime attacks. We have reviewed thousands of open source videos related to the current conflict in Syria, but have not observed the opposition manufacturing or using this style of rocket.
Equally significant, the environmental, chemical, and medical samples that the UN investigators collected provide clear and compelling evidence that the surface-to-surface rockets used in the Ghouta area of Damascus on August 21 contained the nerve agent sarin. We know the regime possesses sarin. We have no evidence, however, that the opposition does.
September 18, 2013
02:34 PM EST
Last year, President Obama articulated an ambitious and multifaceted agenda to combat human trafficking in his speech at the Clinton Global Initiative. This week, the Administration took two important steps to advance that agenda.
In 2012, the President charged the Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships with making recommendations for strengthening the partnerships the federal government forms with community organizations, both religious and secular, to prevent and combat trafficking. The Advisory Council delivered its report of recommendations, “Building Partnerships to Eradicate Modern-day Slavery,” to the President in April 2012.
In partial fulfillment of those recommendations, we welcomed more than one hundred leaders to the White House this week for a day-long convening focused on human trafficking. The gathering included heads of religious denominations, rabbis and nuns, CEOs of large non-profits such as the United Way and Girl Scouts, foundation leaders, along with human trafficking survivors and experts, all united in their interest to join forces to eradicate modern-day slavery. Participants discussed ways their organizations can work together to raise awareness and educate the public, identify victims, expand services for survivors and eliminate slavery in the goods and products we consume. We look forward to continuing to work with this group in coming days.
Valerie JarrettSeptember 18, 2013
11:25 AM EST
America was founded as a beacon of freedom, inclusion, and opportunity for the world, and has since thrived – powered largely by our unique diversity and constant influx of fresh energy, talent, and ideas. This is who we are, and what makes us great.
On September 17th, we paused to recognize National Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, and to reaffirm our pride as a nation of immigrants. In more than 180 naturalization ceremonies taking place this week, over 18,000 new citizens are being welcomed into the American family.
But today we are also reminded of the countless individuals who at this point in our nation’s history do not have the opportunity to earn their citizenship. 11 million people are waiting in the shadows as a result of our broken immigration system, which is why the President and his Administration stand firmly with the majority of Americans pushing for commonsense, comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to earned citizenship. We know it is possible, we just need Congress to act, and finish the job.
September 17, 2013
01:30 PM EST
Earlier today, the Census Bureau released estimates of the number of Americans who lacked health insurance in 2012, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimated that nearly 6 out of 10 uninsured Americans could be able to access low-cost, high value health insurance for under $100 per person per month starting in 2014. The numbers indicate that the President’s policies are making progress in expanding access to affordable health care – progress that will accelerate in the months ahead, as the Affordable Care Act creates simple new ways for every American to get the secure health care coverage they deserve.
Overall, Census found that the share of Americans without health insurance declined by 0.3 percentage points, from 15.7 percent in 2011 to 15.4 percent in 2012. Adding this to last year’s decline, the share of Americans without health insurance has declined by 0.9 percentage points since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010.
The declines in uninsurance were especially large for young adults ages 19-25. From 2011 to 2012, the share of young adults in this age group without insurance declined by 0.5 percentage points to 27.2 percent, which tied the largest drop for any age group in 2012 and which comes on the heels of a sharp 3.7 percent decline from 2009 to 2011. Research has found that most of the recent coverage gains in this age group can be attributed to the ACA’s provision allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans through age 25.
Megan SlackSeptember 16, 2013
06:01 PM EST
Today, before delivering remarks on the economy, President Obama gave a brief statement about the tragic events at the Washington Navy Yard.
“We still don’t know all the facts, but we do know that several people have been shot, and some have been killed,” he said. “So we are confronting yet another mass shooting -- and today, it happened on a military installation in our nation’s capital.”
It’s a shooting that targeted our military and civilian personnel. These are men and women who were going to work, doing their job, protecting all of us. They’re patriots, and they know the dangers of serving abroad -- but today, they faced unimaginable violence that they wouldn't have expected here at home.
So we offer our gratitude to the Navy and local law enforcement, federal authorities, and the doctors who’ve responded with skill and bravery. I’ve made it clear to my team that I want the investigation to be seamless, so that federal and local authorities are working together. And as this investigation moves forward, we will do everything in our power to make sure whoever carried out this cowardly act is held responsible.
In the meantime, we send our thoughts and prayers to all at the Navy Yard who’ve been touched by this tragedy. We thank them for their service. We stand with the families of those who’ve been harmed. They’re going to need our love and support. And as we learn more about the courageous Americans who died today -- their lives, their families, their patriotism -- we will honor their service to the nation they helped to make great. And obviously, we're going to be investigating thoroughly what happened, as we do so many of these shootings, sadly, that have happened, and do everything that we can to try to prevent them.