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Megan SlackFebruary 21, 2014
06:45 PM EDT
This week, President Obama bet on Team USA, and visited Mexico. The First Lady stopped by the Tonight Show, and the White House reaffirmed its commitment to net neutrality. Check out what you missed in this week's wrap up.
While in Mexico for the North American Leaders' Summit, the President spoke about our strong relationship with our neighboring countries. But every relationship has room for a little friendly competition, so President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided to make things interesting...
While both U.S. teams played valiantly, the Canadian teams came out on top and earned Prime Minister Harper a couple cases of White House beer.
Kasie CoccaroFebruary 21, 2014
06:11 PM EDT
Four years ago, the First Lady launched Let’s Move!, a nationwide initiative to create a healthier future for our kids and families. Last night, on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," she kicked off a week-long celebration to mark how far we’ve come:
"One of the things we’ve realized over four years is that there’s a new norm going on. When we took this issue over, there were a lot of people who were critical; that you couldn’t really talk about obesity, that it might not be an issue. But now, over the past four years, communities have been changing. So the day of a child’s life is different from beginning to end. Daycare centers are changing what they feed kids; they’re getting them up and moving. Schools have new lunch standards. After-school programs are getting kids engaged."
To mark the four-year anniversary, the First Lady is asking people of all ages to show her how they move through their everyday fitness routine, how they are making better food choices, or how they are helping move their community toward new standards of health for our kids. The First Lady even promised an exciting surprise: "The fun thing is, is that if we get enough of a response, we’ll have a little surprise: The President -- and maybe the Vice President -- will show us how they move."
Ezra MechaberFebruary 21, 2014
05:43 PM EDT
Millions of Americans have already signed up for affordable health insurance through HealthCare.gov.
But millions more are eligible for new or improved coverage. And if you're one of them, make sure you get covered before March 31st.
President Obama recorded a message just for you -- watch it now, then go to HealthCare.gov. Make sure you stick around for the end for a special surprise:
February 21, 2014
02:01 PM EDT
As part of his plan to build an economy where everybody who is willing to work hard and take responsibility can get ahead, President Obama is focused on doing everything we can to create new jobs here in America – while also connecting more ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs.
That’s why this week the administration announced the availability of applications for $150 million in “Ready to Work Partnership” grants designed to help those facing long-term unemployment upgrade their skills and build bridges to jobs in growing areas like information technology and advanced manufacturing. These competitive grants will support partnerships between employers, nonprofit organizations and America’s public workforce system that not only continue building the pipeline of skilled workers, but do so by helping the long-term unemployed overcome some of the barriers they face in finding jobs.
The simple fact is that as our economy has recovered, the long-term unemployed still face particular challenges in getting back to work. Even as the overall unemployment rate has fallen, the long-term unemployed rate remains near its historic highs. And research shows that even when the long-term unemployed have the same – or even greater – experiences and skills in their field, they are less likely to get called back for interviews than workers who have been out of work for shorter periods of time.
February 21, 2014
12:45 PM EDT
We at the White House couldn’t be more excited to celebrate Black History Month by highlighting some of our nation’s most prominent and promising African American science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) achievers and shining a light on the importance of ensuring the Nation’s next generation of inventors, discoverers, and innovators fully reflects the diversity of America.
Members of racial and ethnic minority groups are projected to become the majority of America’s population in the next 30 years. Today, however, they account for just 28 percent of America’s STEM workers. We know that for America to remain competitive in a global economy, we need to do all we can to draw upon the nation’s diverse talent pool, which includes historically underrepresented groups in STEM, such as women and minorities.
That’s why, next week, OSTP is hosting and participating in a series of activities to highlight diverse STEM role models and the urgent need to help minority students across the country envision themselves as tomorrow’s discoverers, explorers, developers, and STEM innovators.
To kick off our week of activities, join us Tuesday, February 25 at 3:00 pm EST for "We the Geeks: Celebrating Black History Month"
In this Google+ Hangout, some of the Nation’s most extraordinary African American STEM innovators and STEM-education advocates will share their inspiring personal stories and thoughts on how we can all step up to help strengthen America’s STEM-skilled workforce by making it broader and more diverse.
February 21, 2014
09:47 AM EDT
As a former NBA point guard, I know a thing or two about assists. And with just over a month of open enrollment left, I know how important it is to assist one another and reach out to friends, family, and neighbors to let them know that they need to get covered.
In my city of Sacramento and across the country, millions of Americans have already taken the time to look out for their health and enroll in coverage.
But we still have lots of work left to do in the coming weeks to make sure everyone out there knows their options and gets the health insurance they need.
As an athlete and mayor, I know how important it is to prepare for the unexpected. It’s important for folks to get covered so they can get the care they need without losing everything they’ve worked hard for.
Take a look at my video and visit HealthCare.gov to explore your options and sign up for coverage. Folks can still enroll through March 31, so help get the word out to people in your community that it’s not too late to get covered.
Adam GarberFebruary 21, 2014
12:00 AM EDT
This week, the President traveled to the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca, Mexico, to California to address the current drought and to meet with the King of Jordan, and to Upper Marlboro, Maryland to announce an increase in fuel efficiency standards for heavy trucks. That's February 14th to February 20th or "Don't Make Small Plans, Make Big Plans."
Megan SlackFebruary 20, 2014
07:05 PM EDT
Update: March 12, 2014
Update 6: March 6, 2014
This afternoon, President Obama delivered a statement from the White House Press Briefing Room on efforts to address the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Watch the statement here. Later, he spoke by phone with President Putin of Russia. On the call, President Obama emphasized that Russia's actions are in violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. See a readout from the call here.
As a statement issued from the White House Press Secretary earlier today explained, the United States is pursuing and reviewing a wide range of options in response to Russia’s actions.
Pursuant to the President’s guidance, today the State Department is putting in place visa restrictions on a number of officials and individuals, reflecting a policy decision to deny visas to those responsible for or complicit in threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. In addition, the President has signed an Executive Order that authorizes sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for activities undermining democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine; threatening the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine; contributing to the misappropriation of state assets of Ukraine; or purporting to assert governmental authority over any part of Ukraine without authorization from the Ukrainian government in Kyiv.
Yesterday, Dr. Jill Biden joined President Bush at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas for a Summit focused on how Americans can support post-9/11 veterans as they transition back to civilian life. Dr. Biden noted that while the troops serving our nation represent only one percent of the population, the other 99 percent of Americans need to find ways to honor and support them.
In her remarks, Dr. Biden highlighted the many ways Americans have already stepped up since she and First Lady Michelle Obama started Joining Forces nearly three years ago:
- Businesses have made it a priority to hire veterans and military spouses, not only because it is their patriotic duty, but because they know our service men and women are highly-skilled, hardworking employees;
- Educators, including teaching colleges, are doing more to prepare teachers for the unique needs of military-connected children in the classroom, and higher education institutions are taking steps to help veterans succeed on campus; and
- Doctors, nurses, and social workers have pledged support to enhance the preparation of our nation’s medical providers to care for returning service men and women, and their families.
February 20, 2014
01:15 PM EDT
“The Recovery Act is the largest public works project since President Eisenhower laid out our nation’s interstate highway system—and all of you here at America’s Central Port are continuing this American story of boldness and doing big things that are so deeply ingrained in our history,” Vice President Biden said at an event marking the fifth anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which saved our country from an economic depression and helped rebuild the middle class.
Speaking on the Mississippi River at America’s Central Port in Granite City, Illinois on Wednesday. February 19, the Vice President outlined how the Recovery Act’s TIGER grants at the port and across the country have modernized the way we do business, created good-paying middle-class jobs, and strengthened our global economic competitiveness.
Joined by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, current Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, along with local and port officials, the Vice President described how the grants significantly improve the way we finance and strengthen the capacity of our nation’s ports, railroads, and highways. At America’s third largest inland port, the TIGER program has already helped hire workers who installed new levee relief wells, laid down a new rail track, and started work on a new harbor, all of which help increase the Port’s efficiency and reduce shipping costs.
David HudsonFebruary 19, 2014
08:50 PM EDT
Today, the President traveled to Toluca, Mexico for this year’s North American Leaders’ Summit, along with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Shortly after arriving in Toluca, President Obama held a bilateral meeting with President Peña Nieto. Before their meeting, President Obama gave some initial remarks on the summit:
[T]he North American Leaders’ Summit gives us an opportunity to build on the enormous progress that we’ve already made in making sure that North America is the most competitive region in the world and that we are able not only to continue to integrate our economies effectively to create jobs both in the United States, Mexico and Canada, but that we’re able to project American and Mexican and Canadian goods and services around the world toward the benefit of our people.
And the cooperation ranges from how do we make our borders more efficient to moving forward on the Trans-Pacific Partnership that offers the opportunity to open up new markets in the fastest, most populous region of the world, the Asia Pacific region.
We'll also have the opportunity to discuss how we can work together more closely on scientific and educational exchanges. We're particularly interested in making sure that young people in Mexico and the United States and Canada are able to study and travel in each country, and we're trying to expand those kinds of exchanges.
So this is a wonderful opportunity for us to build on the work that we’ve already done over the last year.
Lindsay HolstFebruary 19, 2014
07:07 PM EDT
Last week, we asked what raising the minimum wage meant to you.
The stories you shared are a strong argument for exactly how important it is we get this done. Raising the minimum wage helps Americans young and old. It helps provide relief for those who are just scraping by, and it helps those saving for a rainy day. And it's also the right thing to do -- but don't take our word for it.
Kori SchulmanFebruary 19, 2014
02:43 PM EDT
On February 26, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will participate in Discovery Education and the White House’s "Of the People" webinar series. This special event is part of the second annual Future@Now forum to discuss the transition from traditional classrooms to digital classrooms.
You can register now to watch the event live on Wednesday, February 26 at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Joining from a classroom in Washington, D.C., Secretary Duncan will explore the digital transition firsthand and answer questions from a student about how the Department of Education supports classrooms around the country and why education is the foundation of our country's future success.
The "Of the People" series offers middle and high school students unique access to White House staff and Obama Administration officials in a series of 30-minute virtual events broadcast live from the White House and open to all classrooms nationwide.
February 18, 2014
07:22 PM EDT
So far this year, the Administration has taken three key steps as part of our ongoing effort to increase access to mental health services.
First, the President signed an omnibus appropriations bill, securing $115 million for new mental health initiatives that the President and Vice President proposed in January 2013 as part of their comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence. This funding will have a real impact in communities across the country, where it will be used to train more mental health professionals and help educators and other adults who work with youth recognize the early signs of mental health problems and refer young people to appropriate help when needed. The funds will also be used for a new initiative which will support innovative state-based approaches to making sure young people ages 16 to 25 who are at high risk for mental illness don’t fall through the cracks of our mental health system when they leave school or home.
Second, on January 31, with funding from the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services made $50 million available to help Community Health Centers across the country establish or expand mental and behavioral health services for people living with mental illness or addiction. Using these funds, Health Centers can hire new mental health professionals and add mental health and substance use disorder services. This new funding was first announced by Vice President Biden last December. At that time, the Vice President also announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has set a new goal of financing $50 million for the construction, expansion, or improvement of mental health facilities in rural areas over the next three years.
February 18, 2014
06:20 PM EDT
Last month in the State of the Union, President Obama laid out specific executive actions he will take to put more Americans back to work and expand opportunity so that every American can get ahead. Speaking about the importance of securing a dignified retirement, the President announced that he would direct Treasury to create a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings. According to independent estimates, about half of all workers and 75 percent of part-time workers lack access to employer-sponsored retirement plans. That is why the Obama administration designed myRA (my Retirement Account) - a simple, safe, and affordable retirement savings account that will be offered through employers to help low- and moderate- income Americans begin to save for retirement.
Dan UtechFebruary 18, 2014
03:45 PM EDT
When the President took office, the fuel efficiency standards for our cars had been stuck at 27.5 miles per gallon for twenty years – two decades of lost time when it comes to developing new technologies that can get more miles per gallon out of every tankful of gas. That’s why one of the very first actions the President took in office was to direct the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation to work with the auto industry to develop new fuel economy standards for cars and trucks. It was guided by a belief that if this industry was truly going to come back stronger than before – and thrive over the long term – then we had to build the cars of the future right here in America. After all, improving fuel efficiency represents one of the best opportunities we have to reduce our dependence on oil.
With the President’s leadership, we were able to move forward. Taken together, the standards the Administration has put in place for cars and light trucks span model years 2011 to 2025 and they represent the toughest fuel economy standards in history. Under this first-ever national program, average fuel efficiency for cars and trucks will nearly double, reaching an average performance equivalent of about 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
February 18, 2014
03:24 PM EDT
The new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report finds that 16.5 million workers would get a raise from increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and this would help millions of hard-working families, reduce poverty, and increase the overall wages going to lower-income households.
On employment, CBO’s central estimate is that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would lead to a 0.3 percent decrease in employment and CBO acknowledges that the employment impact could be essentially zero. But even these estimates do not reflect the overall consensus view of economists which is that raising the minimum wage has little or no negative effect on employment. For example, seven Nobel Prize winners and more than 600 other economists recently stated that: “In recent years there have been important developments in the academic literature on the effect of increases in the minimum wage on employment, with the weight of evidence now showing that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market.”
The following are six key points from the latest CBO report. For more information, last week the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) released a summary of the economic case for raising the minimum wage.
1. CBO finds that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would directly benefit 16.5 million workers. According to today’s CBO report, 16.5 million people making less than $10.10 per hour would get a raise if the minimum wage is increased. This figure does not include CBO’s estimate of as many as 8.0 million workers who currently earn just above $10.10 an hour but could also potentially see a raise due to the “ripple effect” of a shifting wage structure.
2. CBO finds that raising the minimum wage would increase income for millions of middle-class families, on net, even after accounting for its estimates of job losses. Middle class families earning less than six times the poverty line (i.e., $150,000 for a family of four in 2016) would see an aggregate increase of $19 billion in additional wages, with more than 90 percent of that increase going to families earning less than three times the Federal poverty line (i.e., $75,000 for a family of four in 2016). On net CBO estimates that national income would rise.
This finding is consistent with the fact that 62 percent of expert economists polled by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business agreed that the benefits of raising the minimum wage outweigh any potential costs, as compared to only 16 percent who disagreed.
February 18, 2014
02:06 PM EDT
Ed. note: Earlier today, the White House issued its response to a We the People petition on net neutrality. You can read it below, or see the response here.
Thank you to everyone who has signed on to this petition in support of a free and open Internet. Since his days as a United States Senator, President Obama has embraced the principle of net neutrality. As the President recently noted, his campaign for the White House was empowered by an open Internet; it allowed millions of supporters to interact with the President and each other in unprecedented fashion. That experience helped give rise to the creation of this very platform -- the We The People website -- where Americans can express their opinions on any topic and receive a response from the White House. Rights of free speech, and the free flow of information, are central to our society and economy -- and the principle of net neutrality gives every American an equal and meaningful opportunity to participate in both. Indeed, an open Internet is an engine for freedom around the world.
Preserving an open Internet is vital not to just to the free flow of information, but also to promoting innovation and economic productivity. Because of its openness, the Internet has allowed entrepreneurs -- with just a small amount of seed money or a modest grant -- to take their innovative ideas from the garage or the dorm room to every corner of the Earth, building companies, creating jobs, improving vital services, and fostering even more innovation along the way.
Absent net neutrality, the Internet could turn into a high-priced private toll road that would be inaccessible to the next generation of visionaries. The resulting decline in the development of advanced online apps and services would dampen demand for broadband and ultimately discourage investment in broadband infrastructure. An open Internet removes barriers to investment worldwide.
A wide spectrum of stakeholders and policymakers recognize the importance of these principles. In the wake of last month's court decision, it was encouraging to hear major broadband providers assert their commitment to an open Internet.
It was also encouraging to see Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, whom the President appointed to that post last year, reaffirm his commitment to a free and open Internet and pledge to use the authority granted by Congress to maintain a free and open Internet. The White House strongly supports the FCC and Chairman Wheeler in this effort.
The petition asked that the President direct the FCC to reclassify Internet service providers as "common carriers" which, if upheld, would give the FCC a distinct set of regulatory tools to promote net neutrality. The FCC is an independent agency. Chairman Wheeler has publicly pledged to use the full authority granted by Congress to maintain a robust, free and open Internet -- a principle that this White House vigorously supports.
Jason FurmanFebruary 17, 2014
01:00 PM EDT
Five years ago, on February 17, 2009, less than a month into his first term, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. At the time, the country was experiencing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Private employers had already cut almost 4 million jobs, trillions in dollars in household wealth had been wiped out, and the economy’s total output was in the midst of its sharpest downturn of the postwar era.
As part of the accountability and transparency provisions included in the Recovery Act, the Council of Economic Advisers was charged with providing to Congress quarterly reports on the Act’s effects. The final report in this series—and available HERE—affirms that the Recovery Act had a substantial positive impact on the economy, helped to avert a second Great Depression, and made targeted investments that will pay dividends long after the Act has fully phased out.
In the four years following the Recovery Act, the President built on this initial step, signing into law over a dozen fiscal measures that extended key features of the Act and provided new sources of support. These measures included a temporary payroll tax cut for 160 million working Americans, additional extensions to the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, expanded business tax incentives, small business tax cuts, and funding to protect teacher jobs.
Megan SlackFebruary 17, 2014
09:30 AM EDT
This President's Day, tap into your patriotic spirit by learning more about the presidency. Travel through time by reading about former Presidents, looking at George Washington in a whole new way, and flipping through photos from the past.
Look into the past by browsing The White House's collection of Presidential biographies. Learn about our former President's lives inside and outside of the office.