Matt ComptonJanuary 07, 2013
04:19 PM EDT
Speaking from the East Room of the White House, President Obama today announced two key nominations for his national security team. He tapped John Brennan to serve as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and he asked Sen. Chuck Hagel to serve as Secretary of Defense.
"Chuck Hagel’s leadership of our military would be historic," he said. "He’d be the first person of enlisted rank to serve as Secretary of Defense, one of the few secretaries who have been wounded in war, and the first Vietnam veteran to lead the department. As I saw during our visits together to Afghanistan and Iraq, in Chuck Hagel our troops see a decorated combat veteran of character and strength. They see one of their own."
The President and Hagel have known each other for nearly a decade and served together on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Hagel spent two terms in the upper chamber of Congress and helped to lead the fight for passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Under President Reagan, Hagel served as a deputy administrator of the Veterans Administration, and while co-founding his own business, he served as the CEO of the United Service Organization. He's also co-chaired the Intelligence Advisory Board for President Obama.
"Chuck knows that war is not an abstraction," President Obama said. "He understands that sending young Americans to fight and bleed in the dirt and mud, that’s something we only do when it’s absolutely necessary."
January 07, 2013
04:00 PM EDT
Entrepreneurs and small businesses are the engines of American innovation and our economic success, and President Obama is committed to helping them grow and prosper. Our nation’s small businesses employ over 60 million Americans, or half of the private sector workforce. Both small businesses and especially new businesses that are less than five years old are particularly important in job creation in the United States, with a relatively small number of rapidly growing companies generating an outsized share of new jobs – in every industry and across the country.
Last year, President Obama spoke with his Cabinet about how every Federal agency has a role to play in promoting the success of American entrepreneurs:
[What] we want to do is to make sure that every single agency, even as they’re tending to their energy initiatives or providing homeland security or transportation or defense, that we’re also thinking about how are we’re advancing the cause of giving small businesses and entrepreneurs opportunities to start creating the next Google or the next Apple or the next innovative company that’s going to create jobs and improve our economy.
The Obama Administration recently released a detailed action plan to achieve this goal of increasing Federal services to entrepreneurs and small businesses, with an emphasis on (1) startups and growing firms and (2) underserved markets. This is one of a select group of Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goals, designed to improve government performance on important national priorities.
Valerie JarrettJanuary 07, 2013
01:43 PM EDT
Editor's note: This post was originally published on HuffingtonPost.com.
Earlier today, President Obama announced his intent to nominate former Senator Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense.
Chuck Hagel is uniquely qualified to be Secretary of Defense. He is a decorated war hero who earned two purple hearts for his heroism in Vietnam. He knows the sacrifices that we ask our brave service members to make because he has made them himself. If confirmed, he would be the first enlisted soldier, and first Vietnam veteran, to serve as our nation's Secretary of Defense.
Senator Hagel also has the judgment and experience to serve. He worked tirelessly for two terms on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Intelligence Committee. He helped lead the fight in the Senate to pass the post-9/11 GI Bill, and worked at the VA and as head of the USO, where he dedicated himself to supporting our armed forces. Throughout his career, he has been a champion for our troops, military families and veterans.
President Obama has come to know and trust Senator Hagel over nearly a decade, dating back to their time together in the Senate. Together, they travelled to Afghanistan and Iraq in the summer of 2008, and they share a commitment to end the war in Afghanistan responsibly. Senator Hagel has been a strong supporter of the President's approach to national security, and as Secretary of Defense, he will support and execute the President's vision for our military. That includes continuing the President's historic support for gay and lesbian service members, and overseeing the continued implementation of the full repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The President is fully committed to ensuring that all of our service members and military families are treated equally. He is confident that, as Secretary of Defense, Senator Hagel will ensure that all who serve the country we love are treated equally -- no matter who they love.
Recently, some in the LGBT community have expressed concerns about Senator Hagel's past comments. In response, Senator Hagel issued a statement in which he apologized for comments that he made in the 1990s, and affirmed both his commitment to LGBT civil rights as well as his support for open service and the families of gay and lesbian service members.
One of the great successes of the LGBT civil rights movement is that it provides the space and opportunity for people to change their hearts and minds, to right past wrongs, and, over time, to evolve. The President believes Senator Hagel's statement of apology, and his commitment to ensuring that all service members and their families are treated equally. The President would not have chosen him unless he had every confidence that, working together, they will continue to ensure that our military and DoD civilian workforce are as welcoming, inclusive, and respectful as possible.
Megan SlackJanuary 05, 2013
06:00 AM EDT
In this week’s address, President Obama talks about the bipartisan agreement that Congress reached this week which prevented a middle-class tax hike, congratulates the newly sworn-in members of Congress, and looks forward to working with the new Congress in the new year to continue to grow our economy and shrink our deficits in a balanced way.
Jonathan GreenblattJanuary 04, 2013
06:12 PM EDT
On January 21, 2013, our nation will celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (MLK Day), a national holiday during which we honor the legacy of the civil rights leader Dr. King through a day of service and volunteering.
This year, MLK Day commemorations will coincide with the Presidential Inauguration, so the President is asking all citizens to join him in participating in a National Day of Service on Saturday, January 19. Earlier today, the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced that it will host a wide range of volunteering events in Washington, DC and around the country. Additionally, the Committee is encouraging people to pledge a commitment to serve after MLK Day throughout 2013.
President Obama has been deeply committed to engaging more Americans in service since taking office four years ago. He expanded AmeriCorps through measures such as signing the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in 2009 and creating the FEMA Corps program last year. He launched the Serve.gov platform to make it easier for Americans to find and post local volunteer opportunities.
Megan SlackJanuary 04, 2013
02:55 PM EDT
The White House photo team has a front row view for all the events — both big and small — that take place at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., as well as on the road with the President, the Vice President and the First Family.
Each January, Pete Souza, Chief Official White House Photographer and Director of the White House Photography Office, selects his favorite images from the past twelve months, and now, we're sharing them with you. Featuring exclusive perspectives of everything from Presidential trips and events to private moments between President Obama and his family, his staff and American citizens, this collection offers a unique view of 2012.
Matt ComptonJanuary 04, 2013
10:13 AM EDT
In this new White House White Board, Brian Deese, the Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, explains what the new agreement to extend tax cuts for the middle class means for the economy and how it met President Obama's key economic priorities.
Alan KruegerJanuary 04, 2013
09:30 AM EDT
While more work remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue the policies that are building an economy that works for the middle class as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007.
With the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act earlier this week, more than 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses now have certainty that their income taxes will not rise. Additionally, unemployment insurance was extended for two million Americans who are searching for a job, and companies will continue to receive tax credits for the research that they do and continue to have tax incentives to accelerate investment in their businesses. By allowing income tax cuts for the top two percent of earners to expire, this legislation further reduces the deficit by $737 billion over the next decade. It is important that we continue to move toward a sustainable federal budget in a responsible way that balances revenue and spending while protecting critical investments in the economy and essential support for our most vulnerable citizens.
Today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that private sector businesses added 168,000 jobs in December. Total non-farm payroll employment rose by 155,000 jobs last month. The economy has now added private sector jobs for 34 straight months, and a total of 5.8 million jobs have been added over that period, taking account of the preliminary benchmark revision. In 2012, private businesses added two million payroll jobs, taking account of the preliminary benchmark revision.
Adam GarberJanuary 04, 2013
12:00 AM EDT
Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. This week, the President spent several days in talks with Congressional leaders in an ultimately successful effort to reach a bipartisan compromise around the central promise of the president's re-election campaign: preventing an income tax increase on middle class families while asking the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans to pay more to help deal with our deficit. Also, White House staffers shared some of their New Year's resolutions.
Kori SchulmanJanuary 03, 2013
06:54 PM EDT
Update: This session of Office Hours has concluded. Check out the full Q&A below, or at Storify.com/whitehouse.
This week, President Obama signed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 into law. That means middle-class families won't see an increase in their income tax rates, and the fiscal cliff has been avoided.
Do you have questions about the deal and how it will impact you? Brian Deese, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, will be on hand to answer your questions during a session of White House Office Hours on Twitter with Yahoo! Finance.
Join us on Friday, January 4th at 11:30 a.m. ET for a live Twitter Q&A. Here’s how it works:
Kori SchulmanJanuary 03, 2013
04:02 PM EDT
As 2012 has now drawn to a close, the White House has compiled some of our top tweets of the year. This year, the @WhiteHouse twitter account surpassed three million followers, and Twitter has become an increasingly important tool for the White House to engage with citizens and provide updates from the Obama Administration. From live-tweeting the State of the Union address in January to President Obama's twitter Q&A on #My2k in December, 2012 was a year filled with nearly 3,000 tweets, more than 50 sessions of White House Office Hours and tweetups that invite our followers on twitter to attend in-person events.
January 03, 2013
02:39 PM EDT
Ed. note: The application for the Summer 2013 White House Internship Program is now open. This blog post introduces readers to Simon Boehme, a former intern who worked in the Office of Management and Administration in the summer of 2011. When asked about his internship experience, Simon writes:
When people ask about my time as a White House intern, a smile emerges before I say anything at all. After a rush of nostalgia, I often refer to the extraordinary opportunities and memories forged throughout my time as an intern. But, what resonates most, when reflecting on my internship experience, is the importance of always giving back.
Inspired by the President and the First Family’s commitment to helping others and making America stronger, White House interns play an integral role in furthering this mission. In addition to the opportunity to work in one of 16 different departments in the White House, interns also participate in community service projects throughout Washington, D.C. For example, within the first week of my internship, my fellow interns and I helped clean a local park, and over the course of the term, our service expanded to serving at food banks, supporting the elderly and tutoring schoolchildren.
Matt ComptonJanuary 02, 2013
12:00 PM EDT
Last night, Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives joined the Senate in passing the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. That means middle-class families won't see an increase in their income tax rates. We've avoided the fiscal cliff.
President Obama will sign the legislation soon. Last night, he described the agreement as, "one step in the broader effort to strengthen our economy and broaden opportunity for everybody."
"Under this law, more than 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses will not see their income taxes go up," he said. "Millions of families will continue to receive tax credits to help raise their kids and send them to college. Companies will continue to receive tax credits for the research that they do, the investments they make, and the clean energy jobs that they create. And 2 million Americans who are out of work but out there looking, pounding the pavement every day, are going to continue to receive unemployment benefits as long as they’re actively looking for a job."
We know that that a lot of people have questions about the deal, so we've pulled together some of the most important facts. Here are the seven things you need to know:
Colleen CurtisJanuary 02, 2013
12:09 AM EDT
UPDATE: The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was also passed by a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives on January 1, 2013.
President Obama has repeatedly called this a make-or-break moment for the middle class. That's why we worked with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to reach an agreement that keeps income taxes low for the middle class and helps to grow the economy. And as the President promised, millionaires and billionaires will also begin doing more to help pay down the deficit through a combination of permanent tax rate increases and reduced tax benefits.
This is the first time in twenty years that a bipartisan agreement has increased tax rates on the wealthy. Additionally, this deal ensures that America will continue to invest in education, clean energy, and manufacturing to strengthen our economy and the middle class.
As President Obama noted in a statement about the deal, while neither Democrats nor Republicans got everything they wanted, this agreement is the right thing to do for our country. And the President looks forward to working with Republicans to reduce the deficit in a balanced and bipartisan way.
The agreement passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the Senate last night permanently extends the middle-class tax cuts and also extends credits for working families. It provides additional measures to protect families and promote economic growth. The lower tax rates, an expanded Child Tax Credit, and marriage penalty relief will provide certainty for 114 million households and together will prevent the typical family of four from seeing a $2,200 tax increase.
By raising income tax rates on the wealthiest and keeping taxes low for the middle class, it means we will now have the most progressive tax code in decades. The agreement also prevents two million people from losing unemployment insurance benefits in January by extending emergency UI benefits for one year.
Colleen CurtisDecember 30, 2012
11:44 AM EDT
In August of 2011, President Obama challenged the private sector to hire or train 100,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013. In August of this year, First Lady Michelle Obama visited Mayport Naval Station in Florida to announce that 2,000 American companies had stepped up to the challenge, and had already exceeded that goal, hiring 125,000 veterans and military spouses more than a year ahead of schedule.
In addition, those companies doubled down on their commitment to our troops and military families and made a new promise, a pledge to hire or train an additional 250,000 of our nation's heroes, including 50,000 military spouses.
Colleen CurtisDecember 29, 2012
05:45 AM EDT
Colleen CurtisDecember 29, 2012
05:05 AM EDT
Earlier this month, we reached a milestone with the news that our videos have been viewed more than 100,000,000 (that's one hundred million!) times since we launched the official White House YouTube channel on Inauguration weekend in 2009. Two of our most watched videos of all time were posted in the first week of President Obama’s term.
Since then, viewers have had a chance to follow the President, the First Family and the Obama Administration on YouTube via almost daily video updates, including the President’s weekly address, on demand versions of all of his speeches and remarks at public events, video of events that take place at the White House like our Champions of Change celebrations, plus behind the scenes looks at everything from preparing for the holiday season and planting the Kitchen Garden each year, to West Wing Week, an up-close review of the President’s schedule.
Check out the 10 most viewed videos below. If you want to see more, visit our YouTube channel -- you can subscribe for regular updates.
December 14, 2012: President Obama makes a statement in the Brady Press Briefing room on the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
May 1, 2010: President Obama makes a statement from the East Room at the White House on the death of Osama bin Laden.
Colleen CurtisDecember 28, 2012
07:16 PM EDT
President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the press in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Dec. 28, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
With just four days left before tax rates are scheduled to rise, President Obama met with Senate and House leaders at the White House to talk about how Congress can prevent every American from seeing a smaller paycheck next week.
Speaking in the Brady Press Briefing room after that meeting, the President characterized the discussion as "good and constructive" and said that he is optimistic an agreement that can pass both houses will be reached in time. But he warned Congress that the American people are losing patience, and that they must act now:
if an agreement isn’t reached in time between Senator Reid and Senator McConnell, then I will urge Senator Reid to bring to the floor a basic package for an up-or-down vote –- one that protects the middle class from an income tax hike, extends the vital lifeline of unemployment insurance to two million Americans looking for a job, and lays the groundwork for future cooperation on more economic growth and deficit reduction.
I believe such a proposal could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities as long as those leaders allow it to actually come to a vote. If members of the House or the Senate want to vote no, they can –- but we should let everybody vote. That’s the way this is supposed to work. If you can get a majority in the House and you can get a majority in the Senate, then we should be able to pass a bill.
Matt ComptonDecember 28, 2012
02:00 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’s release also includes visitor records generated prior to September 16, 2009 that were requested by members of the public in November 2012 pursuant to the White House voluntary disclosure policy. This release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to nearly 2.9 million—all of which can be viewed in our Disclosures section.
Ed. note: For more information, check out Ethics.gov.
Colleen CurtisDecember 28, 2012
11:04 AM EDT
Continuing what has become an annual tradition that is a highlight of their holiday celebrations, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama spent some time on Christmas Day at the Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
Obviously, the greatest honor I have as President is being Commander-in-Chief. And the reason it’s an honor is because not only do we have the finest military in the world but we also have the finest fighting men and women in the world. And so many of you make sacrifices day in, day out on behalf of our freedom, on behalf of our security.
And not only do those in uniform make sacrifices, but I think everybody here understands the sacrifices that families make each and every day as well. And Michelle, working with Dr. Jill Biden, has done a lot of work to focus attention on our military families to make sure that you get the support that you have earned and that you deserve.
So I’m not going to make a long speech. Obviously, we’re still in a wartime footing. There are still folks, as we speak, who are overseas, especially in Afghanistan, risking their lives each and every day. Some of you may have loved ones who are deployed there. Some of you may be about to be deployed there. And so we know that it’s not easy. But what we also want you to know is that you have the entire country behind you, and that all of us understand that we would be nowhere without the extraordinary service that you guys provide.
And so we want to say thank you, we love you.
A unique view of 2012