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.
Alan KruegerMarch 08, 2013
09:31 AM EDT
While more work remains to be done, today’s employment report provides evidence that the recovery that began in mid-2009 is gaining traction. Today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that private sector businesses added 246,000 jobs in February. Total non-farm payroll employment rose by 236,000 jobs last month. The economy has now added private sector jobs every month for three straight years, and a total of 6.35 million jobs have been added over that period.
The household survey showed that the unemployment rate fell from 7.9 percent in January to 7.7 percent in February, the lowest since December 2008. The labor force participation rate edged down 0.1 percentage point to 63.5 percent in February.
It is important to bear in mind that the reference period for today’s surveys was the week of February 10-16 for the household survey and the pay period containing February 12th for the establishment survey, both of which were before sequestration began. The Administration continues to urge Congress to move toward a sustainable Federal budget in a responsible way that balances tax loophole closing, entitlement reform, and sensible spending cuts, while making critical investments in the economy that promote growth and job creation and protecting our most vulnerable citizens.
Adam GarberMarch 08, 2013
12:34 AM EDT
This week, the President urged Congress to resolve harmful budget cuts and reduce the deficit in a way that helps grow the economy and strengthen the middle class, held his first Cabinet meeting of the second term, announced three key Cabinet nominations, and signed the Violence Against Women Act.
March 07, 2013
07:01 PM EDT
Last week, I had the privilege of speaking with thousands of cybersecurity practitioners and stakeholders at the 2013 RSA Conference USA in San Francisco, CA.
The conference was an ideal venue for discussing the President’s new Executive Order on Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity (E.O. 13636) that was announced in this year’s State of the Union address. The E.O. will be the catalyst for a variety of new initiatives to develop cybersecurity standards, improve public-private information sharing, and ensure privacy and civil liberties protections. With so many cybersecurity professionals in one place, I and several senior leaders from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Commerce were able to provide in-depth explanations of the E.O., answer questions on its implementation, and engage with industry partners on how they can help.
Kori SchulmanMarch 07, 2013
04:55 PM EDT
Note: This live session of Office Hours has concluded. View the full question and answer session below or at Storify.com
Today, President Obama signed a bill that both strengthened and reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Thanks to the bipartisan agreement, thousands of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking will be able to access resources they need in their communities to help heal from their trauma.
Do you have questions about the Violence Against Women Act? On Friday, March 8th at 3:45 p.m. ET, we're holding a session of White House Office Hours on Twitter with Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, and Lynn Rosenthal, White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, to answer your questions.
Here's how it works:
- Ask your questions now and during the live event on Twitter with the hashtag #WHChat
- Follow the Q&A live through the @WHLive and @VJ44 Twitter accounts
- If you miss the live session, the full session will be posted on WhiteHouse.gov and Storify.com/Whitehouse
Valerie JarrettMarch 07, 2013
03:59 PM EDT
Ed. note: This article by Valerie Jarrett was first published on the Huffington Post. You can read it here. On Friday, March 8th at 3:45 p.m. ET, Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, will participate in a session of White House Office Hours to answers your questions about the Violence Against Women Act on Twitter. Ask questions now with #WHChat, and then follow the Q&A live.
Today, President Obama signed a bill that both strengthened and reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Thanks to this bipartisan agreement, thousands of women and men across the country who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking will be able to access resources they need in their communities to help heal from their trauma. In addition, thousands of law enforcement officers will be better equipped to stop violence before it starts, and respond to calls of help when they are needed.
President Obama and Vice President Biden have steadfastly supported reauthorization—it’s what’s right for our country. We thank Senators Patrick Leahy, Mike Crapo, and Patty Murray and Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Gwen Moore for guiding this legislation to passage.
For the past 18 years, since Vice President Biden initially wrote the Act in 1994, VAWA has helped to decrease the rates of domestic violence across the country. Three years ago, our federal interagency group on violence against women began meeting to consider gaps in our country’s response to this violence and make recommendations to Congress to fill those gaps. We are proud that many of these recommendations were included in the final bill. Now, we will be better equipped to recognize violence in its early stages, and help to reduce the number of domestic violence homicides.
Acting Secretary Rebecca BlankMarch 07, 2013
11:45 AM EDT
Ed. note: This is cross-posted from The Commerce Blog
Yesterday, I was in California to talk with business executives who are part of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. We discussed key issues facing them as they continue to grow, create jobs, and drive both innovation and competitiveness here in the U.S.
They just completed an annual survey of their own membership. The biggest business challenge that they identified was their ability to attract and retain a skilled workforce.
I let them know that President Obama understands that we are in a global competition for talent and we want the best people right here in the U.S.
I gave two examples that are part of his commonsense plan for immigration reform:
First, many foreign graduate students come to the U.S. and study areas like science, technology, engineering and mathematics—STEM fields—at our universities. Upon graduation, we can't afford to lose those high-skilled workers to a competitor nation simply because they can't get a green card. That's why we need to "staple" a green card to their degrees, especially if there is a U.S. company that needs their particular knowledge or expertise to keep growing and creating more American jobs.
March 07, 2013
11:13 AM EDT
Editor’s Note: On March 7, Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns led the U.S. delegation to the Friends of Yemen ministerial meeting in London, United Kingdom. This meeting reaffirmed the international community’s continued support for the people of Yemen during their historic transition process, including the upcoming National Dialogue and, ultimately, national elections in early 2014. The United States is committed to the Friends of Yemen process and its goal of supporting Yemen as it endeavors to achieve meaningful political, economic, and security sector reform. As part of this commitment, Rashad Hussain, Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, recently traveled to Yemen.
As a part of our on-going efforts to deepen and expand partnerships with Muslim communities around the world, I recently visited Sana'a, Yemen. I heard first-hand from Yemeni government officials, civil society, and religious leaders about a variety of issues, including the country’s political transition and National Dialogue, U.S.-Yemen cooperation, and U.S. engagement with Muslim communities around the world. I was impressed by the passion and optimism of Yemen’s vibrant civil society, and by the determination and sincerity of its people. There is so much more happening in Yemen than what is conveyed in news headlines that I wanted to share some of my observations.
Just before my arrival, the government announced that the National Dialogue would officially begin on March 18. I spoke with a broad array of civil society activists about their goals and concerns about the National Dialogue. I encouraged the full and active participation of all parts of Yemeni society in the National Dialogue, and highlighted the important role that civil society plays in ensuring the Dialogue’s success.
March 06, 2013
03:25 PM EDT
Americans owe more than a trillion dollars in student loan debt. That’s more than we owe on credit cards, more than we owe on car loans – and it’s still growing.
So, if you’re going to invest in a college degree, we want you to be able to choose the best deal for your situation. Students are overwhelmed with options and aren’t sure how to compare them. In the absence of apples-to-apples comparisons, they’re left to their own devices when making a choice that will have significant consequences for their financial future.
Here is the suite of tools we’ve developed to help you along the way:
From start to finish, we can help you make informed financial decisions about paying for college.
While we can’t give you advice for your exact situation, we can point you in the right direction.
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