February 26, 2013
09:07 AM EDT
MyPlate is one of the easiest ways to learn about healthy eating. It's simple to look at the icon and recognize how to pile up your own plate. But can you cook with it? Mrs. Obama thinks so. Today, the First Lady joined Robin Roberts and Chef Marcus Samuelsson on Good Morning America to announce a new partnership that highlights healthier recipes that align with MyPlate.
Your favorite recipe sites -- and Pinterest, an online tool millions use to find the inspiration for their lives-- have teamed up with the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) to make it easier to find healthier recipes online. Each of the sites will indicate which of their recipes meet nutrition guidance from the US Department of Agriculture, meaning you can now find delicious MyPlate-inspired recipes on the sites you already visit for cooking inspiration. Thousands of recipes will also be featured on new Pinterest boards that launched today. This one-stop-shop for home cooks will give parents the information and tools they need to make healthy choices for their families.
"As a mom, I know how challenging it can be to think of new meal ideas that your kids will like and that will be good for them,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “This partnership takes the guess work out of finding healthier recipes and gives parents the information and the tools they need to make healthy choices for their families every day.”
Jennifer PalmieriFebruary 25, 2013
06:14 PM EDT
This evening the Senate confirmed Robert Bacharach to the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Oklahoma. Judge Bacharach waited 263 days for a Senate floor vote, only to be approved overwhelmingly, by a vote of 93-0. Not only was Judge Bacharach supported by the two Republican Senators from Oklahoma, he was recommended to the White House for this judgeship by Senator Coburn in October 2011. Yet, early last summer, Senate Republicans blocked Judge Bacharach from even getting an up or down vote – the first successful filibuster of a judicial nominee who had bipartisan support in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In short, Republicans recommended Robert Bacharach for this important position, endorsed him publicly, supported him nearly unanimously out of the Judiciary Committee, then blocked him from getting a vote – and now, after almost a year of pointless delay, joined in unanimously confirming him. Even Senator Coburn, himself a participant in this partisan chicanery, called this “stupid.”
Unfortunately this is not a unique case. On February 13, the Senate confirmed William Kayatta for the First Circuit from Maine. His nomination languished for 300 days, yet he was easily confirmed with 88 Senators supporting him. And next up is Richard Taranto for the Federal Circuit, whose nomination has been pending for 333 days.
To put this obstruction in some perspective, the average wait time for President George W. Bush’s federal appellate judicial nominees, from Committee vote to confirmation, at this point in his presidency was 35 days. By contrast, the average wait time for President Obama’s federal appellate judicial nominees has been 147 days.
Today, there are 14 judicial nominees pending before the Senate, most of whom were approved by the Judiciary Committee unanimously and several of whom would fill judicial emergency seats. An additional 21 nominees are pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. These 35, highly-qualified nominees signify the President’s unprecedented commitment to a judiciary that reflects the nation it serves: 17 are women; 6 are African American; 6 are Hispanic; 4 are Asian American; and 5 are openly gay.
The Senate should move to confirm all of the judicial nominees pending before it. These nominees deserve immediate consideration by the full Senate, and the interest of justice demands it.
Colleen CurtisFebruary 25, 2013
01:34 PM EDT
In a meeting with the National Governors Association today at the White House, President Obama stressed the need for bipartisan cooperation, and pressed the leaders in attendance to work together with their partners in Washington to put the focus back on the next generation, rather than the next election.
All of us are elected officials. All of us are concerned about our politics, both in our own party’s as well as the other party’s. But at some point, we've got to do some governing. And certainly what we can't do is keep careening from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis. As I said in the State of the Union, the American people have worked hard and long to dig themselves out of one crisis; they don't need us creating another one. And unfortunately, that's what we've been seeing too much out there.
The American people are out there every single day, meeting their responsibilities, giving it their all to provide for their families and their communities. A lot of you are doing the same things in your respective states. Well, we need that same kind of attitude here in Washington. At the very least, the American people have a right to expect that from their representatives.
Colleen CurtisFebruary 25, 2013
11:15 AM EDT
Too often the talented men and women who have served our country face barriers that make it difficult to find jobs that capitalize on the skills they have gained through their military education and experience. Many service members and veterans are required to repeat education or training in order to receive industry certifications and state occupational licenses, even though much, and in some cases, all, of their military training and experience overlaps with credential requirements.
The members of our Armed Forces and their families make great sacrifices, and when their service is concluded, we owe it to our veterans and their families to help them accomplish a successful transition to the civilian labor force. That is why over the past year and a half, President Obama has taken significant action to create a “career-ready military” and streamline the transition process.
Today, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden highlighted the work that has been done across the country to change laws that require military spouses to attain new credentials when they move to a new state, and challenged the governors of all 50 states to take legislative or executive action to help our troops get the credentials they need by the end of 2015. Speaking to the National Governors Association in the State Dining Room, Mrs. Obama talked about the pressing need to take action and fulfill our responsibilities to the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much over the past decade:
In the coming years, more than one million service members will make the transition to civilian life.
Think about that – a million people hanging up their uniforms… figuring out what’s next… and doing everything they can to make that change as seamless as possible for their families.
So the fact is, while this time of war may be ending, our responsibilities to our troops and their families will only be ramping up.
And that’s what I want to talk to you about today—how we can fulfill what is perhaps our most pressing responsibility to our troops: making sure that when they come home, they can find a job—and not just any job, but a good job, a job they can raise a family on.
Matt ComptonFebruary 23, 2013
05:35 AM EDT
President Obama urges Congress to stop the sequester -- the harmful automatic cuts that threaten thousands of jobs and affect our national security from taking effect on March 1.
Megan SlackFebruary 22, 2013
06:30 PM EDT
Ed. note: To see state-by-state effects of the sequester on jobs and middle-class families, click here.
In less than a week, harmful automatic cuts — known as the sequester — take effect, threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs, and cutting vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform.
To prevent a costly, self-inflicted wound to our economy and middle class families, President Obama put forward a plan to avoid these cuts and reduce the deficit by cutting spending and closing tax loopholes. Now it's up to Congress to act. Learn more about President Obama's plan here.
Still have questions about what the sequester is, and why American famillies and our national economy face this threat? We've put together the explainer below using some helpful background information President Obama laid out in a statement on Tuesday. Check it out:
$2.5 Trillion in Deficit Reduction
"Over the last few years, both parties have worked together to reduce our deficits by more than $2.5 trillion. More than two-thirds of that was through some pretty tough spending cuts. The rest of it was through raising taxes — tax rates on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. And together, when you take the spending cuts and the increased tax rates on the top 1 percent, it puts us more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances."
So What's the Sequester? Why Now?
"Now, Congress, back in 2011, also passed a law saying that if both parties couldn’t agree on a plan to reach that $4 trillion goal, about a trillion dollars of additional, arbitrary budget cuts would start to take effect this year. And by the way, the whole design of these arbitrary cuts was to make them so unattractive and unappealing that Democrats and Republicans would actually get together and find a good compromise of sensible cuts as well as closing taxloopholes and so forth. And so this was all designed to say we can't do these bad cuts; let’s do something smarter. That was the whole point of this so-called sequestration."
"Unfortunately, Congress didn’t compromise. They haven't come together and done their jobs, and so as a consequence, we've got these automatic, brutal spending cuts that are poised to happen next Friday."
February 22, 2013
05:54 PM EDT
Since taking office, President Obama has made clear that his Administration is committed to Open Government—that the Nation is made stronger by making the Federal Government accountable to citizens and by giving those citizens opportunities to participate in their government.
That’s why, in September 2011, President Obama, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, and the leaders of six other governments launched the global Open Government Partnership – a global effort to encourage transparent, effective, and accountable governance driven by citizens and civil society around the world. Demonstrating the Nation’s domestic commitment to the Partnership, President Obama launched the U.S. National Action Plan on Open Government that same day, saying:
“We pledge to be more transparent at every level -- because more information on government activity should be open, timely, and freely available to the people. We pledge to engage more of our citizens in decision-making -- because it makes government more effective and responsive. We pledge to implement the highest standards of integrity -- because those in power must serve the people, not themselves. And we pledge to increase access to technology -- because in this digital century, access to information is a right that is universal.”
In just over a year, the Administration has made significant progress toward implementing the National Action Plan, working closely and in partnership with American citizens and organizations.
February 22, 2013
04:21 PM EDT
Sequester Looming: On Tuesday, with just days left until a set of deep, across-the-board budget cuts are set to take effect, President Obama discussed what’s at stake for our country’s economy, security and future and pushed lawmakers to work out a deal for the American people.
“So these cuts are not smart. They are not fair. They will hurt our economy. They will add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls,” said President Obama, as emergency respondents stood behind him. “This is not an abstraction -- people will lose their jobs. The unemployment rate might tick up again.”
Giving Every Child a Chance: Last Friday, President Obama headed home to Chicago to promote his proposals from the State of the Union address and emphasized the importance of protecting our children from gun violence, illustrating the importance of family in our communities.
“And so that means that this is not just a gun issue. It’s also an issue of the kinds of communities that we’re building. And for that, we all share a responsibility, as citizens, to fix it.”
Megan SlackFebruary 22, 2013
03:45 PM EDT
Today, President Obama held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. "The U.S.-Japan alliance is the central foundation for our regional security and so much of what we do in the Pacific region," President Obama said.
In the meeting, the two leaders discussed a range of security issues in the Asia Pacific region, and over lunch, talked about the close economic cooperation between our two countries.
"I know that Prime Minister Abe and I both agree that our number-one priority has to be making sure that we are increasing growth and making sure that people have the opportunity to prosper if they're willing to work hard in both our countries."
Matt ComptonFebruary 22, 2013
03:00 PM EDT
In September 2009, the President announced that—for the first time in history—White House visitor records would be made available to the public on an ongoing basis. Today, the White House releases visitor records that were generated in November 2012. Today’s release also includes visitor records generated prior to September 16, 2009 that were requested by members of the public in January 2013 pursuant to the White House voluntary disclosure policy. This release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to more than 3 million—all of which can be viewed in our Disclosures section.
Ed. note: For more information, check out Ethics.gov.
Adam GarberFebruary 21, 2013
05:39 PM EDT
This week, the President visited his old neighborhood in Chicago, conferred one of the nation's highest civilian honors, met with the President of Italy, and continued to urge Republicans to close tax loopholes for the wealthy to prevent dangerous across-the-board budget cuts that are slated to take effect on March 1st.
Jennifer PalmieriFebruary 21, 2013
01:10 PM EDT
In eight days, harmful automatic cuts are slated to take effect, threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs, and cutting vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform.
Only Congress can avoid this self-inflicted wound to our economy and middle class families, and the only thing standing in the way of a solution today is Congressional Republicans’ refusal to even consider closing tax loopholes that benefit wealthy Americans and well-connected corporations. The President and Congressional Democrats have put forward solutions to avoid these cuts and allow time for both sides to work on a long-term, balanced solution to our deficit challenges.
The President is serious about cutting spending, reforming entitlements and the tax code to reduce the deficit in a balanced way. The question is, will Congressional Republicans come to the table to get something done?
Let’s take a moment to look what we’ve done so far: The President has already reduced the deficit by over $2.5 trillion, cutting spending by over $1.4 trillion, bringing domestic discretionary spending to its lowest level as a share of the economy since the Eisenhower era [see below]. As a result of these savings, together with a strengthening economy, the deficit is coming down at the fastest pace of anytime in American history other than the demobilization from World War II.
Colleen CurtisFebruary 21, 2013
12:53 PM EDT
Are you in? Don't miss your chance to join the First Family for the 135th annual White House Easter Egg Roll on Monday April 1. This year's theme is “Be Healthy, Be Active, Be You” -- and more than 35,000 people will be joining the First Family on the South Lawn for activities including games, stories, singing, dancing, and of course, the traditional egg roll.
Once again, tickets will be distributed through an online lottery system, allowing guests from across the United States to participate in a tradition that dates back to 1878. Starting today, you can click here to enter the lottery and win a chance to join the fun (the lottery closes at 10 am EST on Monday February 25, 2013). The event is open to children aged 13 years and younger and their families.
In addition to all the fun and games, the day's activities -- which will include sports and cooking demonstrations -- will help educate families on smart ways to incorporate healthy eating and exercise choices into their daily routines, which are key pillars of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative.
Families and schools who can't make the trip to Washington, DC but want to participate in the festivities can enter the annual poster contest.
Learn more about the White House Easter Egg Roll
February 21, 2013
10:54 AM EDT
Editors Note: This blog was originally posted on letsmove.gov.
First Lady Michelle Obama invited Big Bird to to the White House to learn how easy and delicious it is to eat fruits and vegetables. Check out the latest PSAs from Mrs. Obama and Sesame Workshop celebrating Let's Move!'s third anniversary!
Colleen CurtisFebruary 20, 2013
06:11 PM EDT
Vice President Joe Biden congratulates Officer Reeshemah Taylor of the Osceola County Corrections Department after presenting her with the Medal of Valor, during a Medal of Valor ceremony with Attorney General Eric Holder, in the South Court Auditorium at the White House, Feb., 20, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
Vice President Joe Biden today recognized 18 public safety officers for exhibiting exceptional courage in a Medal of Valor ceremony at the White House. The Medal of Valor is the highest national award for valor by a public safety officer, and it is bestowed on those whose heroic actions were above and beyond the call of duty.
The Vice President, who was joined by Attorney General Eric Holder, highlighted the bravery of the men and women who were being honored, and paid tribute to the spouses of the recipients who had lost their lives in the line of duty. He also talked about the special qualities that are unique to those who put themselves in danger to save others:
My association with firefighters and police has been... the essence of my public life. And as many of these things that I do, I still grapple with what makes you do what you do? I’m just thankful that you do.
You can't explain it, but you know it when you see it. I see it in the shield over someone’s heart. I see it in the men and women who are sitting here before us today...Thank God for you. You’re from different backgrounds, but you’re the glue that literally binds communities together at times of stress. You’re that face that shows up for a woman on the second floor of a burning building just when she thinks it’s all over for her... The amazing thing about all of you is that the very things you do when you’re on duty to save people’s lives, you do when you're off duty. There’s no separation.
February 20, 2013
10:28 AM EDT
In his State of the Union address last week, President Obama issued a call to better equip American graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy. Specifically, he called on the nation’s high schools to forge new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math—the “STEM” subjects – calling them “the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill the jobs that are there right now and will be there in the future.”
Indeed, students with STEM skills are a driving force that keeps America competitive, creative, and innovative. As just one example—the most common educational background of CEO’s in the S&P 500 companies is not finance or business… but engineering. Whether it’s by unearthing new discoveries, inventing new technologies, or starting innovative companies—STEM-educated students are well-poised to make an enormous positive impact when they enter the workforce.
Earlier this month, at a White House ceremony where some of the nation’s top scientists and innovators were awarded the National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation, President Obama spoke about this tremendous potential of STEM-educated Americans to make a difference. He marveled at the honorees’ great range of extraordinary accomplishments, including new discoveries about the depths of space and our oceans, the invention of batteries that today help power everything from cell phones to cars, and the development of the LASIK eye surgery technique and other medical innovations that have improved countless lives.
Dan PfeifferFebruary 19, 2013
11:53 PM EDT
In less than two weeks, dangerous across the board budget cuts are slated to take effect, potentially threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs, our national security and our economic recovery. The President has laid out a specific plan with detailed cuts to avoid the sequester and reduce the deficit in a balanced way by cutting spending, reforming entitlements and closing tax loopholes for the wealthiest and big corporations - loopholes not available to the middle class -- and Congressional Democrats have put forward a balanced approach as well.
The only party unwilling to compromise to avoid these devastating cuts are Congressional Republicans, who would rather see our recovery and middle class economic security be put at risk than close one tax loophole for big corporations and the wealthiest.
Tonight, in an effort to distract from this reality, the Leader of the Republican party took to the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal to engage in an amazing act of revisionist history. Instead of communicating with the American people - who support a balanced approach to reduce the deficit - about finding a compromise, the Republican Leadership once again launched a series of false attacks instead of putting forward ways to resolve this issue in a bipartisan way.
So let's set the record straight.
- Speaker Boehner asked “What spending are you willing to cut to replace it?” Here they are: The fact is, the President has a detailed, balanced plan with spending cuts. He is willing to make tough choices. Now it’s time for the Speaker to do the same. The Speaker has yet to name one tax loophole he’s willing to close. Not one.
- The Speaker said the sequester is "an ugly and dangerous way" to cut spending. We agree. But in the past he’s led Congressional Republicans to threaten the sequester as a political tool. In the Wall Street Journal on January 6, 2013: “Mr. Boehner says he has significant Republican support, including GOP defense hawks, on his side for letting the sequester do its work. ‘I got that in my back pocket,’ the speaker says.”
- In that same article in the Wall Street Journal Speaker Boehner boasts about using the sequester as leverage. “Republican willingness to support the sequester, Mr. Boehner says, is ‘as much leverage as we're going to get.’ That leverage, he reasons, is what will force Democrats to the table on entitlements.”
Megan SlackFebruary 19, 2013
05:00 PM EDT
The White House Photo Office just released a set of behind the scenes photos from January 2013. Images include scenes from the Inaugural swearing-in and festivities, meetings around the White House and more.
Check out the gallery below, and see all the images on Flickr.
Megan SlackFebruary 19, 2013
12:30 PM EDT
Just 10 days from now, Congress might allow a series of severe and automatic budget cuts to take place that will hurt our economic growth, add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls, and threaten military readiness.
But, as President Obama said this morning, these cuts don’t have to happen -- Congress has the power to stop them.
Matt ComptonFebruary 18, 2013
11:19 AM EDT
For President's Day, we thought we'd do a bit of catching up with Bill Allman, the White House curator. He took us to the East Room of the White House and gave us the story on Theodore Roosevelt's official portrait.
President Roosevelt served in the White House from 1901 to 1909, and even in keeping with the standard for activity for commanders in chief, our 26th president was famously busy. That made finding time to sit down so that John Singer Sargent could do his work difficult.
Hear how this portrait came about:
A unique view of 2012