Our Top Stories
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.
Erin LindsayDecember 28, 2012
10:17 AM EDT
To comemmorate the end of 2012, we're looking back at the best of Whitehouse.gov videos, blog posts and White House tweets. We're also highlighting some of the best online engagement events of the past year.
From his first day in office, President Obama has been committed to creating the most open and participatory administration in history, whether by taking questions and comments from citizens, inviting Americans to join online events with White House officials, or providing a way to engage with the government on the issues that matter most through the online petitioning platform, We the People.
In 2011, senior staff at the White House began holding regular "Office Hours" to answer questions on a variety of issues and topics. Administration officials respond in real-time to questions submitted on Twitter using the hashtag #WHChat.
And 2012 has seen an even greater variety of online conversations, from a session to celebrate the second anniversary of the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative to an exchange on college affordability with Education Secretary @ArneDuncan, and indepth chats about the Affordable Care Act. There was even a full day of back to back discussions with policy experts following the President's State of the Union Address in January.
Cabinet Secretaries and Senior White House staff have found these sessions to be incredibly useful, and the enthusiasm for connecting this way with citizens now goes all the way to the top: Both @VP Biden and "-bo, President Obama" also took part in twitter Q&A's this year. Check out some of the most memorable moments from Office Hours in 2012 below or on Storify.
Adam GarberDecember 28, 2012
12:00 AM EDT
Welcome to the "Best of the West (Wing Week)!" That's right, folks, West Wing Week took some time over the holidays to reflect on a busy year in video, and to bring you some highlights from the archive. But first, a quick wrap up of the President's week.
Megan SlackDecember 27, 2012
12:54 PM EDT
As 2012 comes to a close, we’re looking back at some of the year’s policy milestones, including legislation President Obama signed this summer that stopped student loan interest rates from doubling for more than 7 million students.
The legislation saved young people $1,000 on average, but it was also important for another reason: it happened because of you. President Obama called on Congress to keep interest rates low on student loans, and thousands of you made your voice heard on the issue, telling Congress “don’t double my rate.”
All across the country, people like you spoke out. You raised your voices on Twitter and Facebook. You sent emails and talked to your friends and neighbors.
Colleen CurtisDecember 27, 2012
09:42 AM EDT
It was a busy year for President Obama and his Administration, and a look at some of the most viewed blog posts from whitehouse.gov throughout the year provides a quick snapshot of 2012 at the White House.
January: Early in the year, Congress was evaluating two legislative approaches to combat online piracy, and petitions submitted to the White House's petition platform, We the People, about Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), and the Online Protection and Digital ENforcement Act (OPEN) crossed the threshold for a response from the White House. A post explaining the Administration’s desire for legislation that protects intellectual property online but does not threaten an open and innovative internet was widely viewed and shared by our readers.
February: On February 7, more than 100 students from over 45 states brought their robots, research and new inventions to Washington for the second-ever White House Science Fair. The honorees met with Senior Administration officials, educators, and leading advocates for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math training, and some got the chance to show their projects to the President. A post and video recapping the day was a highlight that month.
March: Since taking office, the President and First Lady have made it their mission to open up the White House to as many people as possible and the annual Easter Egg Roll is the day that sees more Americans coming to visit than any other. This year more than 35,000 tickets were issued via the public lottery, and the blog post announcing how people could enter was the most viewed post in March.
Colleen CurtisDecember 24, 2012
01:00 PM EDT
Paying a visit to the young patients at the Children's National Medical Center is a holiday tradition that dates back to the 1950s, when Bess Truman was First Lady. When First Lady Michelle Obama stopped by earlier this month with Bo, she took some time to read the holiday classic, "A Visit from St. Nicholas", which is better known to many Americans as "Twas the Night Before Christmas".
December 24, 2012
11:46 AM EDT
Ed. note: This is cross-posted from energy.gov
Every year since 1998, the Energy Department's Los Alamos National Lab has been using state-of-the-art technology to track Santa Claus as he circles the globe the night before Christmas. You'll be able to monitor St. Nick's journey here starting at 6 am ET on Christmas Eve.
Since Santa doesn’t file his flight path with the Federal Aviation Administration, Los Alamos uses the latest technology to track his whereabouts on the globe, particularly the Cibola Flight Experiment (CFE) and Fast On-orbit Recording of TransientEvents (FORTE) satellites.
These satellites were built respectively by Los Alamos National Lab and another partnership with Sandia National Labs, and mark a significant technological leap in the size of satellites and their abilities. They were originally put into their low-earth orbits (meaning an altitude of 1,200 miles) to help detect nuclear detonations and study lightning from space.
Kori SchulmanDecember 24, 2012
07:59 AM EDT
Last week, the White House hosted some of our newest followers on Pinterest for a Holiday Social. This was the latest in a series of White House social events that create opportunities for people who engage with us online to attend in-person events.
Pinners came from near and far to take in the 2012 holiday decorations and learn about how it all came together. After touring the White House and live-pinning their photos of the decorated pine, attendees met with Chief Floral Designer Laura Dowling and participated in a DIY craft. Later in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, pinners learned how Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses and his team created this year's White House gingerbread house, and took part in conversations with Ellie Schafer, Director of the White House Visitors Office, and Tina Tchen, Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama. Finally, the expert pinners talked to Macon Phillips, the Director of the Office of Digital Strategy, about what they’d like to see from the White House on Pinterest and shared tips on using the social network.