A Year of Action
A Year of Action
In his 2014 State of the Union, the President said that 2014 would be a "year of action" to ensure opportunity for all Americans. He's making good on that promise.
What does a "year of action" mean, exactly?
The President will continue to work with Congress wherever he can to keep our economy moving forward and creating jobs. But in the meantime, he's also going to do everything he can on his own to fight for middle-class families every single day.
And he's been busy. Using his pen and his phone, the President has helped create new manufacturing jobs, expand apprenticeships, and job training, make student loan payments more affordable, support equal pay and workplace flexibility, cut carbon pollution, and rally support across the country while raising the minimum wage for all workers on new federal contracts. And that's not all.
Read on below for a summary of the major actions the President has taken so far, complete with shareable graphics and tweets to help spread the word.
SAY YOU'RE WITH HIM
MIDDLE CLASS SECURITY AND OPPORTUNITY AT WORK
Early this year, the President announced the first five Promise Zones -- regions that have put forward plans on how they'll partner with local businesses and community leaders to make investments that reward hard work and expand opportunity for more Americans. In return, these regions will receive the resources and flexibility they need to achieve their goals.
The first five Promise Zones are San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma — part of the 20 that the will be announced over the next three years.
The President directed the Treasury Department to create “myRA,” a new starter savings account that will help millions of Americans begin saving for their retirement.
Every worker should be paid a fair wage equal to their efforts. That's why the President signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Labor to update overtime pay protections to help make sure millions of workers are paid a fair wage for a hard day's work — and that the rules are simplified for workers and employers alike.
Finding out whether or not you're earning fair pay at work starts with a conversation. That's why President Obama signed an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against employees who choose to discuss their compensation. Further, the President signed a Presidential Memorandum instructing the Secretary of Labor to establish new rules requiring federal contractors to submit summary data on their employees' compensation to the Department of Labor — including data by sex and race.
The President announced a set of concrete steps to create more opportunity for hardworking families. He issued a President Memorandum directing federal agencies to implement existing efforts to expand flexible workplace policies -- from affordable childcare to paid family leave -- to the maximum possible extent, making clear that Federal workers have a "right to request" a flexible work arrangement without fear of retaliation. And the Department of Labor is making funds available for technical skill training grants to give low-wage earners the opportunity to advance their careers in in-demand industries. $25 million of those funds will be focused on addressing barriers to training faced by those with childcare responsibilities.
President Obama will continue calling on Congress to:
1: Raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for all American workers.
2: Ensure women get equal pay for equal work by passing paycheck fairness
3: Extend emergency unemployment insurance for Americans who are looking for work.
4: Reward hard work by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit.
5: Remove retirement tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and improve them for the middle class.
6: Protect LGBT workers by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
JOBS AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY
In January and February, the President announced three more high-tech manufacturing institutes — next-generation power electronics in Raleigh, digital manufacturing and design in Chicago, and lightweight and modern metals in the Detroit area — and there are at least four more on the way. These institutes bring together companies, universities and community colleges, and government to co-invest in the development of world-leading manufacturing technologies and capabilities that U.S.-based manufacturers can apply in production.
On January 30, President Obama directed the Vice President to lead a full review of the federal job-training system to ensure job-training programs are demand-driven, high-quality, and lead to well-paying jobs. And on April 16, the President and Vice President announced two new grant programs to spread models of job-driven training — along with private-sector commitments to build on those efforts.
The President is partnering with CEOs and other business leaders to get long-term unemployed Americans back to work. More than 300 companies have already signed onto new best practices for recruiting and hiring the long-term unemployed.
On February 19, the President signed an executive order requiring the completion of the International Trade Data System by December 2016, which will help businesses more easily transmit the data required by the U.S. Government to import or export cargo. This will cut processing and approval times from days to minutes for businesses, especially small businesses, that export American-made goods and services.
On May 22, President Obama set a goal to bring 100 million visitors to the U.S. each year, up from the 70 million annual tourists the U.S. sees today. That's why he directed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Department of Commerce to develop a national goal for improving the entry process and reduce wait times for international travelers visiting the U.S., and action plans at the 15 largest airports for international arrivals.
At a visit to a TechShop event in Pittsburgh — and in conjunction with the first-ever White House Maker Faire — President Obama announced a new federal initiative to help makers launch new businesses and create jobs, as well as new commitments from the Department of Education and five other agencies to create more Makerspaces, enlist more educators in teaching Making, and expanding access to tools and mentors generally.
The Administration is taking bold action to ensure America has first-class transportation infrastructure. As a first step, the Administration is improving interagency coordination to increase decision-making speed. This includes requiring early coordination — the identification of a lead agency for each project, a single coordinated project plan across all agencies, and strengthened dispute resolution mechanisms to quickly solve disagreements and ensure projects move forward in a timely fashion.
ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
On February 18, the President directed the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation to develop and issue new fuel-efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles and propose new incentives for medium- and heavy-duty trucks that run on alternative fuels like natural gas — benefiting our planet, our economy, and our energy security.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama pledged to use his authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations. On March 11, he signed a proclamation to protect the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands, a 1,665-acre stretch of northern California's coastline. And on May 21, he established the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in south central New Mexico, which could generate $7.4 million in new economic activity each year. The President then issued a memorandum on June 20 directing federal agencies to take steps to protect and restore domestic populations of pollinators — critical contributors of more than $24 billion to our economy and essential to our food system and environmental health.
President Obama has announced a series of executive actions to reduce carbon pollution, prepare the U.S. for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to address global climate change. And on May 6, the Administration released the third U.S. National Climate Assessment — the most authoritative and comprehensive source of scientific information to date about climate-change impacts across the U.S. The report made clear that climate change isn't a distant threat — it's affecting us now.
President Obama directed his Administration to work with states, cities, and tribes to cut harmful carbon pollution by developing clean energy and energy efficiency policies.
On June 17, President Obama announced a commitment to use his authority to protect some of our most precious marine landscape. To meet his commitment, the Administration will consider how we might expand protections near the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in the south-central Pacific Ocean, and the President is directing federal agencies to develop a comprehensive program aimed at deterring illegal fishing, addressing seafood fraud, and preventing illegally caught fish from entering the marketplace by increasing traceability and transparency. The Administration is also taking steps to protect coastal communities from the impacts of climate change, improve domestic aquaculture, and provide research to better understand the challenges facing our oceans.
President Obama will continue calling on Congress to:
1: Reform business taxes and end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.
2: Fix America’s broken immigration system.
3: Invest in economic growth while continuing to strengthen America’s long-term fiscal position.
4: Open new markets for American-made products.
5: Support America’s job creators through a small business and entrepreneurship agenda.
6: Expand fuel choices for American drivers.
The President is asking colleges, universities, nonprofits, and businesses to develop ways to improve students’ access to and completion of higher education, because a college education is a prerequisite for 21st-century jobs. More than 100 colleges and universities and 40 organizations from across the country have stepped up to the President and the First Lady's call to action with new commitments to expand college opportunity for low-income students.
President Obama’s ConnectED initiative will connect 99% of U.S. students to next-generation broadband and wireless technology within five years. This connectivity will empower America’s students through individualized learning and rich, digital content. The ConnectED initiative has catalyzed $1 billion in private-sector commitments of tablets, laptops, software, teacher training, and wireless connectivity. These investments are set to create a market for the next generation of educational technology and content.
The President signed a Presidential Memorandum establishing the My Brother's Keeper Task Force to assess which public and private efforts are improving life outcomes for boys and young men of color, and how the federal government's policies and programs can better support those efforts.
At the same time, 11 leading foundations have launched a private-sector coalition that will invest at least $200 million over the next five years to find and spread solutions with the highest potential for impact. That's on top of the $150 million these foundations have already committed toward this work.
On March 7, the President announced a FAFSA Completion Initiative, led by the Department of Education, to increase the percentage of students who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form (FAFSA). Federal student aid provides more than $150 billion in federal grants, loans, and work-study funds each year to more than 15 million students paying for college or career school — and almost everyone is eligible for some type of financial aid.
On April 7, President Obama announced more than $100 million in grants — using existing Department of Labor funds — to support high school models that better prepare students for college and the careers of the future. This is part of the President's broader challenges to high schools to scale up innovative models that will redesign and personalize teaching and learning for students, in order to teach these students the skills they will need in college and beyond.
As part of the fourth-ever White House Science Fair, the President announced new steps to help more students excel in STEM subjects — including a new $35 million teacher training competition, in support of the President's goal to train 100,000 excellent STEM teachers. Other key steps include a major expansion of STEM AmeriCorps to provide STEM learning opportunities for 18,000 low-income students this summer, and a national US202-led STEM mentoring effort in seven cities.
To make sure student loans remain affordable for all federal direct loan borrowers, the President directed the Secretary of Education to allow all students to cap their payments at 10 percent of their monthly incomes. That new plan will be available to borrowers by December 2015. The Administration is also taking additional steps to help students repay their loans, including providing relief to service members, and renegotiating contracts with federal loan servicers to strengthen incentives that help borrowers repay their loans on time.
President Obama will continue calling on Congress to:
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