- Posted byon January 20, 2012 at 3:32 PM EST
Addressing military spouse employment is an important priority for Joining Forces in 2012. Military spouses are resilient, flexible, loyal and highly educated. Yet they also have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country – 26 percent of military spouses who want to work can’t find employment.
On the heels of a tremendous hiring fair last week in Washington, DC, Joining Forces is pleased to support the Military Spouse Symposium & Career Fair on Thursday January 26 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, CA.
Co-produced by the Military Officers Association and Blue Star Families, this is a can’t-miss event for military spouses looking for meaningful employment. Whether you’re looking for a job now or preparing for a future career, you can take advantage of workshops and talk to experts and employers who can help. Held in conjunction with West 2012 (the largest military expo on the West Coast covering communications, electronics, intelligence, and more), the Military Spouse Symposium & Career Fair is free and open to all military spouses - all ranks, active duty, retired, Reserve and National Guard. Service members and veterans are also welcome.
There will be more than 50 employers at the event and they are there for one reason: to hire military spouse and veterans. Importantly, half of the employers are Military Spouse Employment Partners, which means they’ve made a public commitment to hire military spouses.
Register for the 2012 Military Spouse Symposium & Career Fair today.
Brad Cooper is Executive Director of Joining Forces in the Office of the First Lady.
- Posted byon January 20, 2012 at 2:58 PM EST
Yesterday, President Obama traveled to Disney World to announce new initiatives to significantly increase travel and tourism in the United States. The fact is, each year, tens of millions of people from around the world visit the U.S. In 2010, the travel and tourism industry generated over $134 billion dollars for the American economy. It supported 7.5 million jobs in 2010. The President wants these numbers to grow.
He traveled down to the Magic Kingdom yesterday to deliver one message: America is open for business.
The President wants the United States to be the number one tourist destination in the world. It’s good for businesses and it’s good for the economy as a whole. More tourists means more money spent in our cities and towns across the nation. It means more people will be renting cars, dining out, checking into hotels and checking out the sights and sounds of America. That means more jobs.
The President will continue to do everything he can to rebuild an economy where hard work pays off, where responsibility is rewarded, and where anyone can make it if they try. He wants to restore the economic security for the middle class and those trying to reach it. Yesterday’s announcement was an important step to put folks back to work, and he’ll keep at it and continue to do everything he can to strengthen the economy.
The President’s announcement will have an impact on communities all over the United States. Let’s take a look at the coverage from local media outlets across the country:
Orlando Sentinel – Obama at Disney: 'America is open for business'
President Barack Obama promised Florida's tourism industry Thursday that he intends to open the door wider to international tourists and was greeted with cheers in a state where increased foreign visitors are seen as one of the best hopes for future jobs.
Even Obama critic U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, welcomed the presidential directives, if only with a "what took him so long?" spin.
Arizona Republic – Obama touting tourism for jobs
President Barack Obama said Thursday that he wants to create more jobs by drawing more international tourists to the United States, a plan White House officials said would especially benefit states like Arizona, home to the Grand Canyon and other national parks.
Creating jobs has become a central part of Obama's re-election campaign. On Wednesday, Obama will visit the Valley as part of a five-state tour to build upon themes -- likely jobs and economic development -- that he will emphasize Tuesday in his annual address to Congress.
- Posted byon January 19, 2012 at 5:00 PM EST
In the United States, tourism is big business. In fact, it's the number one service that we export. In 2010, we welcomed nearly 60 million international visitors to America, and they helped to boost our economy to the tune of $134 billion.
And President Obama thinks we should do even more to boost that trend, which is why he traveled to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Speaking from Main Street USA, he announced:
[Today,] I directed my administration to send me a new national tourism strategy focused on creating jobs. And some of America’s most successful business leaders –- some who are here today –- have signed up to help. We’re going to see how we can make it easier for foreign tourists to find basic information about visiting America. And we’re going to see how we can attract more tourists to our national parks. We want people visiting not just Epcot Center, but the Everglades, too. The more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work. It’s that simple.
The President said that his goal is to ensure that the United States is the top tourist destination in the world. He announced efforts to expand the Global Entry Program, which makes it easier for frequent visitors to the United States -- who've undergone a background check -- to travel in and out of our borders. He told the audience that he'd directed his administration to add additional nations to the list of those whose citizens are allowed to visit America without a tourist visa.
And in changing world where the middle class is booming in places like China, India, and Brazil, the President announced steps to make it easier for people from those countries to choose the United States as a place for their vacations:
[Today] I’m directing the State Department to accelerate our ability to process visas by 40 percent in China and in Brazil this year. We’re not talking about five years from now or 10 years from now -- this year.
These are all things the President is doing right now -- as part of the We Can't Wait campaign.
Do you think your community is a great place to visit? Tell us about it on Twitter using the hashtag #VisitUS.
- Posted byon January 17, 2012 at 8:34 AM EST
Last Friday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce kicked off a first-of-its-kind hiring fair focused exclusively on military spouses. The Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Career Forum, held in Washington, D.C., was the first of 10 planned hiring fairs for military spouses sponsored by the Chamber around the country in 2012.
This was a huge event and, walking around, I could not help but notice the incredible energy among employers and spouses alike. There was good reason for it -- more than 100 employers came to the forum with hundred of employment opportunities for the 1,000+ spouses in attendance.
With military spouse employment well above the national unemployment rate, this forum was a great start to a 2012 focus on military spouse employment by the Chamber of Commerce. Joining the effort is the Department of Defense's Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP). MSEP was rolled out by Dr Jill Biden at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in June 2011. To date, the 96 organizations and companies in the partnership have hired more than 13,000 military spouses around the world.
- Posted byon January 13, 2012 at 12:14 PM EST
Today, President Obama announced a new plan that will make it easier to do business in America.
There are currently six major federal departments or agencies that focus on business or trade: the U.S. Department of Commerce’s core business and trade functions, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.
The President is asking Congress for the authority to merge those six entities into a single department tasked with boosting American business and promoting competitiveness.
The way the system is currently organized, every entrepreneur who needs to do business with the government has to navigate a maze of overlapping regulations and competing bureaucracy.
We've put together a chart that shows exactly how impossible that process can be.
This move from President Obama would change that.
He's hoping to consolidate the redundancies that currently exist, to cut waste, and eliminate duplication.
By the way, this kind of authority isn't new or rare. Presidents had the ability to mandate this type of reorganization for almost the entire period from 1932 through 1984.
And the executive branch of the federal government shouldn't be stuck in 1984.
- Posted byon January 12, 2012 at 12:34 PM EST
Yesterday, the White House hosted the “Insourcing American Jobs” forum with business leaders from across the country to discuss one topic: bringing jobs back to the United States. For too long factories have closed their doors and companies have shipped jobs overseas, where workers were cheaper. It’s damaged the economy and hurt middle class families all across the nation. The President believes we can change that.
Right now, we have a great opportunity for those jobs to come back – and the business leaders that joined President Obama yesterday understand that. We’re seeing an increasing trend of insourcing, where companies are bringing jobs back and making additional investments in America. Over the past two years American manufacturers have now added 334,000 jobs. Manufacturing production has increased by 5.7 percent. That’s a good thing, but we need to do more. That’s why the President called on companies to follow this trend and invest in America.
The President is working to restore the economic security for the middle class and those trying to reach it. He’ll continue to build an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded. He knows this is a make or break moment for the middle class, and he’ll continue to do everything he can to give folks a fair shot and a chance to succeed.
He knows that America shouldn’t be a nation known for financial speculation and outsourcing. As he said yesterday, America should be known for making products and selling them all over the world stamped with three proud words: “Made in America.”
The next generation of manufacturing jobs shouldn’t take root in countries like China or Germany – they should take root in cities across America. Some companies are already leading the way. Let’s take a look at news coverage of yesterday’s event from across the country:
McClatchy/Charlotte Observer/Miami Herald - Rebuilding a business, bringing jobs back
WASHINGTON – North Carolina has lost tens of thousands of furniture-making jobs over the past decade.
But Bruce Cochrane, who worked as a consultant in China and Vietnam after his family sold their furniture business in 1996, says rising Chinese wages and an increase in shipping costs have created an opportunity for him back home.
Cochrane has invested $5 million and is hiring 130 workers to build middle- to higher-priced solid-wood furniture in the same sprawling Lincolnton, N.C., warehouse that his family once ran. He even moved into his dad’s old office.
Now, President Barack Obama wants to know what Cochrane saw and why he’s taking such a chance in a region and industry battered by outsourced jobs. Cochrane stood Wednesday in the East Room of the White House as Obama said the Lincolnton man was proof that you don’t have to be a big manufacturer to make a difference.
- Posted byon January 11, 2012 at 5:02 PM EST
At today's "Insourcing American Jobs" forum, President Obama talked about his hope for the future:
I don’t want America to be a nation that’s primarily known for financial speculation and racking up debt buying stuff from other nations. I want us to be known for making and selling products all over the world stamped with three proud words: “Made in America.” And we can make that happen.
I don’t want the next generation of manufacturing jobs taking root in countries like China or Germany. I want them taking root in places like Michigan and Ohio and Virginia and North Carolina. And that’s a race that America can win.
"[My] message to business leaders today is simple: ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to the country that made our success possible," the President said. "And I'm going to do everything in my power to help you do it. We're going to have to seize this moment."
- Posted byon January 11, 2012 at 3:21 PM EST
What is insourcing?
After decades of watching American companies take jobs to other countries, we're beginning to see entrepreneurs and manufactures make the decision to keep factories and production facilities here in the United States—or even bring jobs back to the U.S. from overseas.
How do we know this is happening?
For the past 22 months, the private sector has been hiring—to the tune of 3.2 million jobs. In 2011 alone, we saw private companies bring on almost 2 million new workers, more than in any year since 2005.
That's good news, even if we still have a lot of ground to make up. And if you dive into the numbers (like those compiled in this new White House report), you'll notice something interesting:
- Business investment is up, growing by 18 percent since the end of 2009;
- We're exporting more goods and services to the rest of the world. As of October, American exports totaled $2 trillion -- an increase of almost 32 percent above the level in 2009; and
- Perhaps most importantly, the manufacturing sector is recovering faster than the rest of the economy. Through the course of the past two years, the economy has added 334,000 manufacturing job, and that's the strongest two-year period of manufacturing growth since the 1990s.
Each of those facts is evidence of a growing trend of insourcing.
- Posted byon January 10, 2012 at 12:10 PM EST
As America’s heroes return from war zones and transition back into civilian life, many are facing challenges finding work. Last month, more than over 857,000 veterans were unemployed, and the jobless rate for post-9/11 veterans is 13.1 percent.
As President Obama said, “We ask these men and women to leave their careers, leave their families, risk their lives to fight for our country. The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they come home.”
Recognizing the unique skills and leadership abilities of America’s veterans, the Corporation for National and Community Service is joining forces to recruit more veterans to serve in AmeriCorps. Using the skills they honed overseas, veterans are continuing to serve on the home front through AmeriCorps - responding to disasters, building homes, mentoring at-risk youth, and supporting other veterans and their families.
As part of that commitment, we are excited to kick off our participation in 100 Hiring Our Heroes job fairs over the next five years. The first fair, focused on military and veteran spouses, will take place this Friday, January 13 in Washington D.C. We will have information about opportunities to serve in AmeriCorps and other CNCS programs. We are pleased to work with Joining Forces, the Chamber Foundation, DOL Vets, and other organizations in supporting these career fairs and look forward to sharing our message that AmeriCorps is recruiting our nation’s heroes now.
More than 16,000 veterans have served in AmeriCorps since its inception AmeriCorps helps put veterans on a pathway to economic opportunity as they assist others in the military community—and, in doing so, find strength in making an impact on problems here at home.
- Posted byon January 10, 2012 at 11:00 AM EST
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood was in Detroit on Monday, kicking off the opening of the North American International Auto Show and highlighting the resurgence of the American auto industry. Since Chrysler and GM emerged from bankruptcy in June of 2009, the auto industry has added 170,000 jobs—the best period of job growth for the industry in more than a decade.
When President Obama took office, the American auto industry was shedding jobs by the hundreds of thousands and GM and Chrysler faced the possibility of liquidation – which would have caused at least 1 million more jobs to be lost. The President made the tough choice to help provide the auto industry the temporary support it needed to grow and prosper.
Today, GM and Chrysler have repaid their government loans, and the “Big Three” automakers-- GM, Ford, and Chrysler-- are all adding jobs, generating profit, and investing in their U.S. facilities. Auto sales climbed in December for the seventh consecutive month and GM, Chrysler, and Ford saw their market share increase to over 47 percent in 2011, the second straight year that Detroit gained market share against their foreign competitors, something that had not previously happened since 1995.
This industry and our economy have a long way yet to go to repair the damage from this recession and return to full health. But the distance these companies and the auto industry have traveled over the past two years is a bright spot on the road to recovery.
- Posted byon January 10, 2012 at 6:00 AM EST
Yesterday, the North American International Auto Show kicked off in Detroit, with companies unveiling their new vehicles and folks eager to get their first peek. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was on hand for the opening events, and Commerce Secretary John Bryson, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and the Labor Department’s Director Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers Jay Williams are all taking part in auto show activities this week.
The auto industry had a strong year in 2011. It’s easy to forget, but just a few years ago many people doubted whether there would even be an American auto industry in 2011.
When President Obama took office, we faced the worst recession since the Great Depression, and the American auto industry was hit hard. Hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost in the auto industry, and entire communities that depended on a dealership or a parts manufacturer were affected.
Both GM and Chrysler faced the stark choice of seeking government support or facing almost certain uncontrolled liquidations, which would have had a ripple effect across the industry, causing at least one million more jobs to be lost. The President refused to let that happen.
In the face of stiff opposition, the President made a tough choice to help provide the auto industry the temporary support it needed to rebuild their companies and get moving again. This was a difficult decision, and came with significant risk. But the President was not willing to walk away from these workers and this great American industry.
Today, the American auto industry is coming back, creating jobs and moving cars off the line. Last month, the automotive industry added nearly 11,000 positions, bringing the total number of jobs added in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 36,000. The industry added 100,000 jobs over the course of 2011.
Since Chrysler and GM emerged from bankruptcy in June of 2009, the auto industry has added back more than 170,000 jobs, the best period of job growth in more than a decade. While there’s more work to be done, it’s clear the auto industry is moving in the right direction.
In December, we saw auto sales climb for the seventh consecutive month. The Big Three -- Ford, GM and Chrysler -- all saw sale increases for December, and the year as a whole.
In addition, because of the President’s leadership, we have put in place historic higher fuel economy standards, which will save Americans $1.7 trillion in fuel costs and reduce oil consumption by 12 billion barrels. That means families will begin saving money at the pump this year.
But there’s a lot more work to do to get the American people back to work. The President will continue to fight to restore the economic security for the communities that were hit just a few years back, to strengthen the middle class and rebuild an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded.
Folks in Detroit and in auto communities across the country know what it takes to get the job done. They know a little something about hard work. They know what it takes to fight to rebuild their community and we’ll continue to stand right by their side every step of the way.
- Posted byon January 6, 2012 at 10:36 AM EST
Today’s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue the economic policies that are helping us to dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the recession that began at the end of 2007. Most importantly, we need to extend the payroll tax cut and continue to provide emergency unemployment benefits through the end of this year, and take other steps the President has proposed in the American Jobs Act.
Private sector payrolls increased by 212,000 jobs and overall payroll employment rose by 200,000 jobs in December. The unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage point to 8.5 percent, the lowest level since February 2009. The drop in unemployment over the month was mostly due to employment growth, not lower labor force participation. The unemployment rate has fallen by 0.9 percentage point in the last 12 months. Despite adverse shocks that have created headwinds for economic growth, the economy has added private sector jobs for 22 straight months, for a total of 3.2 million payroll jobs over that period. In the last 12 months, 1.9 million private sector jobs were added on net, more than in any year since 2005. Nonetheless, we need faster growth to put even more Americans back to work.
Sectors with net job increases in December included transportation and warehousing (+50,200), health care and social assistance (+28,700), retail trade (+27,900), manufacturing (+23,000), leisure and hospitality (+21,000), and construction (+17,000). Local governments lost 14,000 jobs and state government employment was unchanged.
The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.
- Posted byon January 6, 2012 at 10:00 AM EST
[Ed. Note: Watch Secretary of Commerce John Bryson unveil the report details live today from 10 am - noon]
Today, the Commerce Department and the White House sent to Congress the Administration’s plan on The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States, fulfilling an important requirement under the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 which President Obama signed into law one year ago this month.
As the report emphasizes, innovation has been a key driver of U.S. prosperity and competitiveness throughout our history. Government investments in the building blocks of innovation – basic research, education, and infrastructure – have helped fuel and sustain the ingenuity of the inventors and innovators. Innovation-based economic growth has brought us higher paying, higher quality jobs as well as improved health and quality of life. Federally-supported research has led to world-changing advancements in a variety of fields, including laying the groundwork for the integrated circuit and computer industry; the Internet; advances in chemicals, agriculture, and medical science; and GPS. Millions of workers can trace their industries and companies back to technological breakthroughs funded by the Federal government.
In the 20th century, our schools turned out high school and college graduates at a higher rate than anywhere else in the world, creating a highly-skilled workforce and boosting innovation. And Federal infrastructure investments helped electrify the country, make clean water widely available, make air travel more affordable, and construct an interstate highway system. These developments helped businesses compete by opening up new markets to sell their products and services, while keeping costs low.
- Posted byon January 6, 2012 at 9:56 AM EST
In December, the Obama Administration announced the Startup America Policy Challenge to identify high-impact ideas to support entrepreneurship in areas of national interest: education, energy, and health care.
To kick off the challenge, Secretary Arne Duncan (Department of Education), Secretary Steven Chu (Department of Energy), and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (Department of Health and Human Services) each asked the American public for ideas about how the U.S. government can break down barriers to entrepreneurship and enable the use of clean energy, digital learning, and health information technologies.
On Quora, a public question and answer website, I asked the America people to respond to these specific questions:
- In the U.S. education system, what can the government do to best enable the use of new learning technologies?
- In the U.S. energy system, what can the government do to best enable the use of new clean energy technologies?
- In the U.S. healthcare system, what can the government do to best enable the use of new health information technologies?
The response has been thoughtful, wide ranging, and inspiring.
- On the subject of learning technologies, respondents had ideas to increase the flexibility of existing funds, spread best practices of what works, and improve basic infrastructure. And a number of respondents provided feedback about reducing bureaucracy and empowering teachers.
- On the subject of clean energy technologies, respondents had ideas on how the US Government could support consumer awareness of clean energy, be an anchor customer, and invest in research and development. Respondents also suggested including negative externality costs into the price of fossil fuels, and were adamant that government not pick a “winning technology.”
- On the subject of health care IT, respondents proposed ideas to promote interoperability standards, ensure a greater focus on the end user experience, share industry best practices, and measure the impact of specific technologies.
This is just a sampling of the great dialogue and answers – please feel free to vote on which ideas resonate with you and/or provide your own feedback. In the White House and in the Agencies, we are reading your responses.
To sharpen the dialogue a bit further and solicit additional input, I posted follow-up questions on Quora about specific barriers that customers face:
- Learning Technologies: Parents and teachers – what’s your biggest barrier to educating your kids that technology could solve? How important is the ability to access your child’s assessment data in electronic form?
- Clean Energy: Building and business owners – what’s your biggest barrier to using clean energy in your building or business? How important is the ability to access your building energy usage data in electronic form?
- Health IT: Doctors and patients – what’s your biggest barrier to using information technology to improve health outcomes? How important is the ability to share or receive your health records data in electronic form?
We look forward to hearing your feedback – so please keep it coming!
Aneesh Chopra is U.S. Chief Technology Officer
- Posted byon January 5, 2012 at 2:21 PM EST
Ed. note: This is cross-posted from Open for Business, the blog of the U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration yesterday launched a new online tool that helps Native American entrepreneurs prepare for business ownership. The Native American Small Business Primer: Strategies for Success is a free online business course developed for Native American entrepreneurs that gives an overview of basic business principles and of the SBA’s programs and services that help business owners get started.
The new primer is an important tool for American Indians, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian business owners that can lend in our nation’s overall economic health through business ownership and creating new jobs. Our ultimate goal is to help spur job creation and to stimulate economic and business development in our Native American communities.
The new course is the ideal business development tool for the entrepreneur’s toolbox that emphasizes business planning and market research as essential steps to take before going into business. The course gives useful first steps to take, and includes a section on how to estimate business start-up costs that help assess the financial needs of starting a business.
SBA’s Office of Native American Affairs works to ensure that American Indian, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiian communities have full access to all SBA programs and services. Each year, more than 200,000 American Indian and Alaska Native and 29,000 Native Hawaiian-owned businesses add billions to the American economy. We stand at the ready to help even more Native American entrepreneurs with business ownership.
- Posted byon January 5, 2012 at 10:41 AM EST
Your first job brings you more than just a steady paycheck – the experience teaches young people life and work skills that serve them long after the job is done. But as our nation continues to recover the deepest recession since the Great Depression, American youth are struggling to get the work experience they need for jobs of the future.
Today President Obama announced a new initiative, Summer Jobs+, that will make a difference.
“America’s young people face record unemployment, and we need to do everything we can to make sure they’ve got the opportunity to earn the skills and a work ethic that come with a job. It’s important for their future, and for America’s. That’s why I proposed a summer jobs program for youth in the American Jobs Act – a plan that Congress failed to pass. America’s youth can’t wait for Congress to act. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment. That’s why today, we’re launching Summer Jobs+, a joint initiative that challenges business leaders and communities to join my Administration in providing hundreds of thousands of summer jobs for America’s youth,” said President Obama.
Summer Jobs+ is a call to action for businesses, non-profits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth in the summer of 2012. The President proposed $1.5 billion for high-impact summer jobs and year-round employment for low-income youth ages 16-24 in the American Jobs Act as part of the Pathways Back to Work fund. When Congress failed to act, the Federal government and private sector came together to commit to creating nearly 180,000 employment opportunities for low-income youth in the summer of 2012, with a goal of reaching 250,000 employment opportunities by the start of summer, at least 100,000 of which will be placements in paid jobs and internships.
A centerpiece of the program will be the Summer Jobs+ Bank , a one-stop search tool for youth to access postings from participating employers that is targeted to launch in 60 days, which will use the same technology that powers the Veterans Jobs Bank that was launched late last year. Employers who want to offer opportunities to America’s young people can find out more here.
- Posted byon December 29, 2011 at 12:47 PM EST
More than 1.2 million people “Like” WhiteHouse.gov on Facebook, and one thing we noticed throughout 2011 is that many of you also like sharing your thoughts on the stories and videos we post on our page. Here are the top 10 stories people commented on in 2011:
December 20, 2011: What Does $40 Mean to You? What would you have to give up or go without? Share your story here and add your voice to the debate.
December 10, 2011: "Do Republicans in Congress think our financial crisis was caused by too much oversight of mortgage lenders or debt collectors? Of course not. And every day America has to wait for a new consumer protection watchdog is another day that dishonest businesses can target and take advantage of students, seniors, and service members." - President Obama
October 1, 2011: “These are the people who need a win, and I will be fighting for this jobs bill every day on their behalf. If anyone watching feels the same way, don’t be shy about letting your Congressman know. It is time for the politics to end. Let’s pass this jobs bill." - President Obama
- Posted byon December 23, 2011 at 2:25 PM EST
Watch President Obama's full remarks here.
President Obama today signed into law a two month extension of the payroll tax cut, which means that 160 million American workers will not see their paychecks shrink starting Jan 1, 2012. The President thanked Congress for ending the stalemate and urged them to keep working to reach an agreement that extends this tax cut as well as unemployment insurance through all of 2012, saying it is the right thing to do for American families and for the economy, and called it "a boost that we very much need right now."
The extension came after tens of thousands of working Americans turned to the internet to let politicians in Washington know just how much they were relying on that tax break, which amounts to about $40 per paycheck for a family making $50,000 a year, and the President acknowledged just how valuable their contributions had been to the conversation happening in the Capital:
Finally, I want to take a moment to thank my fellow Americans for bringing their voices to this debate. I met with several here at the White House yesterday. I really think it takes courage to believe that your voice can make a difference. And I promise you, the American people, your voices made a difference on this debate. Whether you tweeted or called or wrote, you reminded people in this town what this debate and what all of our debates should be about -- it’s about you. It’s about your lives. It’s about your families. You didn’t send us to this town to play partisan games, and to see who’s up and who’s down. You sent us here to serve and make your lives a little bit better; to do what’s right. And fortunately, that’s how this week ended.
The President called on Congress to redouble their efforts to make sure the economy is growing and that jobs are being created, and called this period a make-or-break moment for the middle class in this country..
- Posted byon December 17, 2011 at 6:06 PM EST
This afternoon, President Obama took a moment to address reporters on the plan from Congress to extend the payroll tax cut. He said:
Today, Congress has finally agreed to extend this middle-class tax cut into next year. And they’ve also agreed to another part of my jobs plan, extending unemployment insurance for millions of Americans who are out there trying as hard as they can to find a job. This is spending money that also benefits families and businesses and the entire economy. And it’s a lifeline that would have been lost for more than two and a half million people in the first two months of next year if Congress had not acted.
So I'm very pleased to see the work that the Senate has done. While this agreement is for two months, it is my expectation -- in fact it would be inexcusable for Congress not to further extend this middle-class tax cut for the rest of the year. It should be a formality. And hopefully it’s done with as little drama as possible when they get back in January.
- Posted byon December 16, 2011 at 3:02 PM EST
This week, the Department of Transportation continued its TIGER grant program, sending $511 million to 46 transportation projects in 33 states. Already the response has been tremendous.
At City Halls in Philadelphia and Cincinnati, and on the phone with major and local media outlets across the country, folks seem excited about the benefits these projects will provide and the jobs they'll create. I expect even more enthusiasm in Chicago shortly.
In the historic Philadelphia City Hall's Reception Room, I was happy to share with Mayor Michael Nutter and others the news of a $10 million grant for the city's IMPaCT project. This award will help pay for upgrades to 100 traffic lights and connect these controllers to the city’s traffic management system through fiber optic cable. The project includes technology to extend green lights for buses and trolleys when they need more time to get through an intersection. The money will also support upgrades to handicapped ramps and pedestrian countdown signals at crosswalks.
When completed, this $32 million program will improve traffic flow for transit vehicles, synchronize signals to keep motorists moving, and increase safety for pedestrians and people with disabilities. That sounds like a big win for all Philadelphians.
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