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  • Today I’m excited to be in Seattle kicking off a nationwide road show that will shine a spotlight on the issue of paid family leave, and I hope you’ll follow along. As I’ve written on the blog before, the United States lags behind the rest of the world on paid leave. But places like Washington State are making progress, and we want to highlight that progress and encourage other states and cities to follow suit. We’re calling the tour, “Lead on Leave: Empowering Working Families Across America.”

    With a little help from my team, I’ll be live blogging throughout the day to share updates from my meetings with local businesses, workers and community leaders.


  • "Starting today, we’re giving notice to those who pose significant threats to our security or economy by damaging our critical infrastructure, disrupting or hijacking our computer networks, or stealing the trade secrets of American companies or the personal information of American citizens for profit." -- President Obama


    For the first time, President Obama is giving our country a new tool to combat the most significant cyber threats to our national security, foreign policy, or economy. It's an important step, and many people may be wondering how it will work. Take a look at a few answers to some questions you may have on how the President's latest Executive Order will bolster our cybersecurity: 

    1. Why is President Obama issuing an Executive Order? 

    We live in an information age – almost every aspect of our daily lives is entwined in some way with the Internet. Here’s the problem: The very networks that we rely on to enable many aspects of our increasingly digital lives are vulnerable to cyberattack. Every day, malicious actors are targeting our businesses, trade secrets and critical infrastructure, and sensitive information – and many of these attacks originate from outside our borders.  

    When it comes to the worst actors, one of the biggest challenges we currently face is developing tools that will allow us to respond appropriately, proportionately, and effectively to malicious cyber-enabled activities, and to deter others from engaging in similar activities. With this Order, President Obama is taking action to give America a new way to confront the growing threat posed by significant malicious cyber actors that may be beyond the reach of our existing capabilities.

  • As the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, I advise President Obama on the range of security challenges facing the United States every day, from terror threats at home and abroad and pandemic disease, to natural disasters and cybersecurity. Cyber threats are at the top of the President’s list of security concerns. In just the past year, we have seen a significant increase in the frequency, scale, and sophistication of cyber incidents targeting the American people, including everything from large data breaches and significant intrusions to destructive and coercive cyber attacks intended to influence the way ordinary Americans exercise their constitutional rights. In many cases, these threats stem from actors overseas using malicious cyber activities to inflict harm on Americans without ever leaving their desks.

    No one connected to the Internet is immune from these harms — not businesses, not private citizens, and not the government. Moreover, the implications of these harms are as real as they are complex — everyone can feel the effects of malicious cyber activity, from the consumer who is forced to deal with the consequences of a data breach affecting a business with whom he or she deals, to the company whose trade secret is stolen by faraway competitors.  

    We are at a transformational moment in how we approach cybersecurity. The actions we take today will help ensure that the Internet remains an enabler of global commerce and innovation.

  • Building on his commitment to address instances of unfairness in sentencing, President Obama granted 22 commutations today to individuals serving time in federal prison. Had they been sentenced under current laws and policies, many of these individuals would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. Because many were convicted under an outdated sentencing regime, they served years — in some cases more than a decade — longer than individuals convicted today of the same crime.

    In total, the 22 commutations granted today underscore the President’s commitment to using all the tools at his disposal to bring greater fairness and equity to our justice system. Further, they demonstrate how exercising this important authority can remedy imbalances and rectify errors in sentencing. Added to his prior 21 commutations, the President has now granted 43 commutations total. To put President Obama’s actions in context, President George W. Bush commuted 11 sentences in his eight years in office.

    To further this progress, the President has established a clemency initiative to encourage individuals who were sentenced under outdated laws and policies to petition for commutation. At his direction, significant reforms have followed, such as the promulgation of new criteria for potential commutation candidates to meet, including those who pose no threat to public safety, have a clean record in prison, and have been sentenced under out-of-date laws. In addition, the Department of Justice has raised awareness about how to petition for commutation to ensure that every federal inmate who believes they are deserving of this invaluable second chance has the opportunity to ask for it.

    Underscoring the responsibility that a commutation brings, the President penned a letter to each of the 22 individuals receiving clemency today, recognizing their potential to overcome the mistakes they made and encouraging them to make good choices moving forward.

  • The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) offers a substantial opportunity to advance American interests and values, including a once-in-a-generation chance to protect our oceans, wildlife, and the environment.

    The Asia-Pacific Region and TPP parties encompass some of the world’s most ecologically significant regions, are home to major markets for wildlife and wildlife products, and include eight of the top 20 fishing nations, together accounting for a quarter of global marine catch and seafood exports. Taking action in the region is of critical importance given that five of the TPP parties are among the world’s 17 “mega-diverse” countries, a group covering less than 10 percent of the earth’s area, but supporting more than 70 percent of the earth’s species plant and animal species.

    Through TPP, the Obama administration is doubling down on its commitment to use every tool possible to address the most pressing environmental challenges. We aren’t just talking about holding trading partners accountable for protecting wildlife, forests, and oceans; we plan to make those environmental commitments fully enforceable in the core of the TPP agreement, on equal footing with the economic obligations our trading partners take on.

  • "For a century, rangers, and interpreters, and volunteers and visitors have kept alive what the writer Wallace Stegner once called 'the best idea we ever had' — our belief that the country’s most special places should belong not just to the rich, not just to the powerful, but belong to everybody — not just now, but for all time."

    — President Obama

    Next year, the National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday. That marks 100 years of preserving, restoring, and sharing some of America's most special places — from gorgeous, iconic landscapes like Yellowstone and Yosemite to the sites across the country that tell the stories of people and events that have shaped our history. Our parks are an essential part of our heritage and a source of great pride. And, most importantly, our parks belong to all of us.

    That’s a lot to celebrate, so we’re starting now. Last month, President Obama kicked things off when he launched Every Kid in a Park — an initiative that will give every fourth-grade student and their families a free pass to National Parks and all other federal lands and waters for a full year.

    And today, the National Park Service and National Park Foundation are continuing the celebration with the launch of #FindYourPark, a new campaign to encourage Americans to connect to our astounding network of parks and public lands — whether it’s for the first time or the hundredth.

  • President Obama Speaks at the New Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the dedication of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston, Mass., March 30, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    President Obama, Vice President Biden, and the First Lady traveled to Boston today to celebrate the opening of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. The building — complete with a full-scale replica of the United States Senate chamber — honors the life and legacy of Edward "Ted" Kennedy, who served as a U.S. Senator from 1962 to 2009.

    Located adjacent to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, the Institute offers interactive exhibits, a replica of Sen. Kennedy’s D.C. office, and historic documents and memorabilia from the Senator’s life.

    “The John F. Kennedy Library next door is a symbol of our American idealism. The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is a living example of the hard, frustrating, never-ending, but critical work required to make that idealism real,” President Obama said today.

    Watch the President's full remarks here:

    Watch on YouTube

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the Corporation for National and Community Service's blog. See the original post here.

    One of my priorities as CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service is using evidence and data to show results and drive greater impact on pressing national challenges. That’s why I’m so excited about new research that demonstrates AmeriCorps tutors are increasing literacy and kindergarten readiness – key benchmarks for success in school and in life.

    The research, conducted by an independent evaluator, focused on the Pre-K program of the Minnesota Reading Corps, the largest AmeriCorps tutoring program.  This program, started in Minnesota in 2003, has been replicated in seven other states and Washington, DC.

    Among other findings, the evaluation found that students tutored by AmeriCorps members were significantly more prepared for kindergarten than students without such tutors. AmeriCorps members helped students meet or exceed targets for kindergarten readiness in all five critical literacy skills assessed. The effect sizes were not only significant, but substantial in magnitude.  The program was effective across a range of settings – both in public schools and Head Start Centers – and for all students regardless of gender, race/ethnicity, or dual language learner status.

  • Every President has had his own vision of how to move our country forward. So it is certainly a rare occasion when leaders from every single Administration over more than 40 years share the same view. But when it comes to ensuring Americans can compete in the 21st century global economy, officials from the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama administrations know that trade has an important role to play. 

    President Obama has been working with Congress to secure a new trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It’s the most progressive trade agreement the world has ever seen, instituting fully enforceable standards that will protect our workers, our environment, and a free and open Internet. 

    That is why former officials from different corners of every Administration over the last four decades offered their support for the President’s trade agenda. See what they had to say:

    Ten Secretaries of Commerce whose tenures span back to 1973 on why TPP is crucial to American businesses:

    American companies grow and succeed in the global market place through high-quality high-standard trade agreements that help our firms gain access to new overseas markets. With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside the United States, we must not allow opportunities to pass us by.

    Read the letter here

  • Last summer, the United States paved new pathways for our relationship with Africa by hosting the historic U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Fifty-one African leaders joined President Obama in Washington for a discussion on "Investing in the Next Generation", the theme of the Summit. This gathering resulted in $33 billion dollars in new commitments to support economic growth across Africa, as well as tangible U.S. and African efforts to improve security, promote human rights and good governance, and provide opportunities for Africa’s sizeable youth population.

    As the White House announced earlier today, the United States is partnering with the Government of Kenya to host the sixth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES). The President will travel to Kenya this summer – his fourth trip to sub-Saharan Africa and the most of any sitting U.S. president – where he will participate in bilateral meetings and attend this important event.

  • President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Map Room of the White House, March 27, 2015

    President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Map Room of the White House, March 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    In this week’s address, the President highlighted the progress made protecting American consumers since he signed Wall Street reform into law five years ago, including an important new step taken by the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau earlier this week toward preventing abuses in payday lending.

    The President emphasized his commitment to fighting to advance middle-class economics and ensure everybody who works hard can get ahead, while opposing attempts by Republicans both to weaken the CFPB and give large tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the middle class.

    Transcript | mp4 | mp3

  • This week, the President celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act becoming law, hosted students at the fifth-annual White House Science Fair, sat down with the creator of “The Wire” to discuss criminal justice policy, and traveled to Birmingham, Alabama to highlight new actions to crack down on abusive payday lending practices.

    Find out more about the past week in our latest weekly wrap-up.


    5 Years Later

    On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed a historic law that has transformed the lives of millions of Americans. Thanks to Obamacare, people across the country have more affordable coverage, higher-quality care, and better health.

    Today, more than 16 million Americans have gained health coverage that suits their needs. 76 million people are now benefiting from preventive care coverage. Up to 129 million people with pre-existing conditions are no longer at risk of being denied coverage.

    The facts are in: The Affordable Care Act is working. Look back at the passage of the Affordable Care Act and see all it's done for America since.

  • 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, the White House releases visitor records that were generated in December 2014. This release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to more than 4.41 million — all of which can be viewed in our Disclosures section.

  • This week, the President welcomed to the White House both student filmmakers and student scientists, hosted the Afghan president, and honored the five year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, while the First Lady championed the Let Girls Learn initiative in Japan and Cambodia. That's March 20th to March 26th or, "The Magic Page."

    Don't forget to tune in next week for a special, 5th-anniversary edition of West Wing Week:

  • Watch on YouTube

    Each fourth Thursday of April, millions of children across the country participate in Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. At the White House, we usually celebrate this day by inviting children of employees to join their parents at work for a series of educational activities. The long hours that often accompany being a White House employee can be very demanding on a family, so we like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to the children of our staff for sharing their parents with us. 

    This year, the Office of Management and Administration is working with the White House Council on Women and Girls and My Brother’s Keeper Initiative to expand our event to provide work-based learning opportunities for youth from the local Washington, D.C., area. In collaboration with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington and the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency, we’re inviting youth who are typically unable to participate in this day – including foster youth and youth who may be at higher risk of dropping out of school, or may not have a parent with a job that allows them to bring their children to work. 

    We’re also encouraging other employers to expand their Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day programs. Since 1993 when the Ms. Foundation for Women established Take Our Daughters to Work Day, and later expanded the event to include boys in 2003, the goal of this effort has always been to help all of our nation’s daughters and sons to achieve brighter futures. 

  • Overall, today’s GDP report is consistent with a wide range of indicators showing continued labor market strengthening and improvement in household and corporate balance sheets. This estimate of fourth-quarter GDP affirms the robust underlying growth of the largest and most stable components of economic output, while the same volatile factors that increased growth in the third quarter subtracted from it in the fourth. Indeed, the sum of private consumption and fixed investment rose at the fastest pace in four years, despite the lower rate of overall growth. Personal consumption expenditures, which account for more than two thirds of output, grew 4.4 percent at an annual rate in the fourth quarter—the fastest single quarter since 2006. Despite the solid trend, the economy faces headwinds from weak growth abroad—as well as the lingering effects of winter weather—that economists generally expect to reduce GDP growth temporarily in the first quarter of 2015. There is more work to do to ensure that the recovery’s strong underlying trend is sustained and shared across a broad range of households. The President’s FY2016 Budget lays out a strategy to strengthen our middle class and help America's hard-working families get ahead.

    FIVE KEY POINTS IN TODAY’S REPORT FROM THE BUREAU OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS

    1. Real gross domestic product (GDP) grew 2.2 percent at an annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the third estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The report reflects especially fast growth in personal consumption expenditures (revised further upward in the final release) and continued strong increases in residential and business fixed investment. At the same time, the large third-quarter increases in Federal defense spending and net exports retreated somewhat in the fourth quarter. Despite the recent volatility of such transitory componentsand though headwinds from abroad and winter weather may slow growth in the first quarter of 2015the solid underlying trend of strong consumption and investment growth persists (see point 5).

  • Antibiotics save millions of lives every year. Today, however, the emergence of drug resistance in bacteria is undermining the effectiveness of current antibiotics and our ability to treat and prevent disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that drug-resistant bacteria cause two million illnesses and approximately 23,000 deaths each year in the United States alone. Antibiotic resistance also limits our ability to perform a range of modern medical procedures, such as chemotherapy, surgery, and organ transplants. That’s why fighting antibiotic resistance is a national priority.

    Over the past year, the Administration has taken important steps to address the threat of antibiotic resistance. In September 2014, the President issued Executive Order (EO) 13676: Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, which outlines steps for implementing the National Strategy on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and addressing the policy recommendations of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)’s report on Combating Antibiotic Resistance. Furthermore, the President’s FY 2016 Budget released earlier this year proposed nearly doubling the amount of Federal funding for combating and preventing antibiotic resistance to more than $1.2 billion.

    Combating and preventing antibiotic resistance, however, will be a long-term effort. That’s why, today, the Administration is releasing the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (NAP). The NAP outlines a whole-of-government approach over the next five years targeted at addressing this threat:

  •  

    This afternoon, President Obama traveled to Birmingham, Alabama to highlight new actions the Administration is taking to protect you, the American consumer.

    While in Birmingham, the President hosted a roundtable on the economy and delivered remarks at Lawson State Community College. He advocated for stricter payday lending rules and taked about the progress we’ve made building a safer and stronger financial system.

    President Obama praised the  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an independent watchdog that is taking new steps towards cracking down on abusive practices involving payday loans. Now, lenders will be required to verify that borrowers can pay them back, and limit short-term credits to 45 days.

    President Obama participates in a roundtable at Lawson State

    President Barack Obama participates in a roundtable on consumer protection issues, at Lawson State Community College in Birmingham, Alabama, March 26, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

     

  • Eigen Onishi thanks the First Lady for her visit to Kiyomizu-dera Buddhist temple

    Eigen Onishi thanks the First Lady for her visit to Kiyomizu-dera Buddhist temple. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    As part of the “Let Girls Learn” initiative to open the doors of education for girls around the world, First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Tokyo, Japan; Kyoto, Japan; and Siem Reap, Cambodia from March 18 to March 22, 2015. Take a look at her trip in pictures:

    “Educating girls is the best investment we can make, not just in their future, but in the future of their families, their communities, and their countries.” — The First Lady in Tokyo, Japan

  • We lose too many of our fellow Americans to drug overdoses. Especially alarming is the high rate of prescription drug overdose and the rising rate of overdoses due to heroin use. In 2012 alone, 259 million opioid prescriptions were written -- enough for every American adult to have a bottle.

    Rural America, including my home state of West Virginia, knows this issue all too well. Opioid injuries and overdoses are very real and affect many families. The situation is urgent – but there is reason for optimism: There are targeted actions we can take to save lives and turn these trends around. But we need all stakeholders at the table.

    Therefore, I am asking federal, state and local government officials, doctors, treatment providers, drug companies, individuals and family members to work together to address this nationwide crisis.

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