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  • President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi participate in a press conference

    President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy participate in a press conference in the East Room of the White House, April 17, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Earlier today, President Obama hosted Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at the White House for a bilateral meeting and a working lunch.

    At the press conference between the two events, President Obama praised Prime Minister Renzi's energy and vision as well as his "willingness to challenge the status quo and to look to the future," noting that these qualities have made the Prime Minister a leading voice in Europe.

  •  
    This spring, the President and First Lady will once again open up the White House grounds to visitors from across the country for the 2015 Spring Garden tour! The White House Garden Tours have been a tradition since 1972, when First Lady Pat Nixon decided to open up the White House gardens twice a year. 
     
    And, in keeping with President Obama’s vision to make the White House as transparent and accessible as possible, we are turning the annual Garden Tour into the next in our series of White House Socials.
     
    Which means that this year, like the last few, we are inviting some of our social media followers to join us!
     
    We want you to apply to come to the White House: we’re inviting visitors from near and far to apply to attend today.
     
    On the Spring Garden Tour, you will take a guided tour of the White House lawn and see the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, the Rose Garden, the South Lawn of the White House, Children’s Garden, the White House beehive, and the White House Kitchen Garden – which is the First Lady’s personal vegetable garden- and was the first veggie patch planted at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt tended to the Victory Garden in the 1940s. 
     
    To be eligible for the Spring Garden Tour Social, you must follow an official White House Twitter, Instagram, Vine, or Facebook account. If you haven’t had a chance to connect with the White House online yet, do it now! You can follow our official White House accounts, below:

    While you’re here, make sure to use the hashtag #WHGarden to share photos of your experience and let your friends and family know what you’re up to.

    And be sure to check out more information on the Spring Garden Tour here.

  • From the size of your paychecks to the duration of your paid leave to the amount you pay in taxes, this was a week of conversation about key issues facing American families. President Obama traveled to Charlotte to hold a town hall with working women, honored leading advocates as Champions of Change at the White House, spoke about the importance of making sure a woman receives the same pay as a man for working the same job, and highlighted how his tax plan supports 44 million middle-class families.

    In case you missed it, here are a couple highlights from the week.


    The President Holds a Town Hall with Working Women:

    President Obama traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina on Wednesday for a special conversation with working women, co-hosted with leading women's sites BlogHer and SheKnows. He took questions both from those in the audience -- as well as from people asking questions online using the hashtag #ObamaTownHall.

  • This week, the President wrapped up a trip to Panama, held a historic meeting with President Raul Castro of Cuba, grooved with Gospel artists, held a town hall about working families, and kicked off a Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride. That's April 10th to April 16th or, "The Quintessential Sounds."

  • Yesterday, I was honored to join President Obama and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez in celebrating 12 "Champions of Change" — ordinary people doing extraordinary things! Each helping more working parents and families succeed.

    These Champions have helped advance policies that are good for both families and businesses — such as a higher minimum wage, equal pay, paid leave, workplace flexibility, and affordable quality child care. Our "champs" are proving that these policies are not just about doing what is right for our families — they are about doing what is smart for our businesses and our economy.  

  • Vice President Biden on UPSkilling

    Vice President Joe Biden and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf talk to workers at Pacific Gas and Electric, in Oakland, California. April 10, 2015. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    Last year, the President laid out a vision for our job training system that – as he explained – “trains our workers first based on what employers are telling us they’re hiring for and helps business design the training programs so that we’re creating a pipeline into jobs that are actually out there.” This month, the Administration is taking two key steps to realize that vision – both by partnering with industry and by reforming our own job training system. 

  • Last week, folks from a broad range of diverse backgrounds came together at the White House to discuss a common goal: improving the lives of Native youth. Over a hundred nonprofit and philanthropic leaders, tribal leaders, Native youth, and members of the President’s Cabinet joined the dialogue. We heard devastating stories and statistics from young people and research experts about the high rates of unemployment, domestic violence, and homelessness in many Native communities.

    But, we also heard stories of hope. Nonprofit, philanthropic, federal agency, and tribal leaders discussed the work they are doing to create opportunities for Native young people to use their intellect and perseverance to achieve great things. Native youth shared stories about strengthening their communities through public service and community engagement. Members of the President’s Cabinet described the importance of new Federal investments in education, health, and economic development in Indian Country.

    The First Lady provided remarks and talked about her visit to the Standing Rock Sioux Nation last June. She described her visit with the President to Cannon Ball, North Dakota -- part of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation -- and the pride, courage, determination, and maturity she witnessed there. And, with those ideals in mind, she noted both the urgency and value of investing in Native youth.

  • The First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden launched Joining Forces in April 2011 to call on Americans across the country to rally around service members, veterans, and their families.

    This month, Joining Forces is celebrating its fourth anniversary! We're talking about how we can inspire, educate, and spark action from all sectors of society to ensure service members, veterans, and their families have the tools they need to succeed throughout their lives.

    Want to join the conversation? We'll be focusing on specific themes throughout the month. Around each theme, the Joining Forces team will be hosting a Twitter chat to answer your questions on mental health, homelessness, employment, and education -- and hear from you.

    Ask your questions and join the conversation now using the hashtags below, and we'll answer from @JoiningForces on the day of the chat!

  • The Senate and House are taking up the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 — an overhaul of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) that would bring how we trade into the 21st century. TPA — and the quality jobs, wages, and critical environmental and labor protections that would come from it — is an important step forward for the President’s trade agenda and for leveling the playing field for American workers. 

    Trade authority has a long bipartisan history, dating back to President Franklin Roosevelt. In the decades since the New Deal Congress passed the first trade negotiating legislation, Congress has renewed and modernized that authority 18 different times, under both Democratic and Republican Presidents alike. 

    Through Trade Promotion Authority, Congress does three important things:

    • It defines Congress’s specific objectives for U.S. trade negotiators to follow when crafting an agreement.
    • It lays out how trade negotiators should work with Congress before and during the negotiations.
    • It puts in place the congressional procedures for legislation on trade agreements.

    Congress last passed TPA legislation in 2002, and an update is more than overdue.

    Passing a modernized TPA is important for two reasons.

  • Today, President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald welcomed members of all five U.S. military branches to the White House for the eighth-annual Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride. The President, Vice President, and Secretary McDonald led the cheers as participants rode around the South Lawn- the first stop in their three-day, 60-mile long cycling tour.

    Wounded Warrior 8th Ride

    President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, delivers remarks welcoming the Wounded Warrior Project's Soldier Ride to the South Lawn of the White House in celebration of the eighth annual Soldier Ride, April 16, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • This morning, Randy George — founder of the Red Hen Baking Company in Middlesex, Vermont — sent the following message to the White House email list. He's here today with the President, the Secretary of Labor, and others to talk about the importance of workplace policies that support working families and encourage workplace flexibility.

    Tune in live at 12:15 p.m. ET, and join the conversation online using the hashtag #WorkingFamilyChamps. And if you didn't get this email, make sure to sign up for updates here.


    Hi,

    I'm Randy, the founder of the Red Hen Baking Company in Middlesex, Vermont.

    Our 42 employees are the core of everything we do  the heart of Red Hen. That is why my wife Liza and I insist on providing paid sick days, an equal and livable wage, health coverage, and other benefits that help everyone balance the work they love with the life they lead. Through these workplace policies, we know we're making our employees more secure, our bakery more productive, and our business more profitable.

    It's common sense  plain and simple. That's why I'm so excited and honored to be at the White House today as a "Champion of Change" for working families. I'll be joining President Obama, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, and other champions of workplace policies to talk about how crucial they are to building a stronger business. This is too important of an issue for anyone to sit on the sidelines. So you should join us, too.

    Watch live at the White House today starting at 12:15 p.m. ET to hear what ordinary people are doing to make an extraordinary difference for America's hardworking men and women.

  • Watch on YouTube

    This afternoon, President Obama traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina for a special town hall event, co-hosted with leading women's sites BlogHer and She Knows. During the conversation, the President talked with working women about some of the issues they care the most about -- such as paying for child care or sending their children to college.

  • The President and First Lady hosted music legends and top gospel artists at the White House yesterday for the latest installment of “In Performance at the White House.” The evening of musical performances paid tribute to the fundamental role that gospel music has played in shaping American history and culture.

    “Gospel music has evolved over time, but its heart stays true," the President said. “It still has an unmatched power to strike the deepest chord in all of us.”

    Watch the President’s full remarks here:

    Watch on YouTube

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the National Endowment for the Arts' blog. See the original post here.

    Jane Chu with parents

    Jane Chu and her parents.

    As Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), I work with a dedicated and passionate group of people and organizations to support and fund the arts in communities across America. I believe what we do is so important, not just to celebrate and affirm the arts as a national priority critical to America's well-being and future; the power of the arts can be transformative and I've experienced firsthand how this works. My story is especially relevant today as the White House Task Force on New Americans has released its report to the President on recommended actions the federal government can take to build integrated and welcoming communities across the nation.

    I was born into multiple cultures, often with seemingly opposing perspectives. Had I not been engaged with the arts, I don’t know if I would have been able to make sense of my own life.

  • Ed. note: The following piece was originally posted on BlogHer.comTune in today at 2:35 p.m. ET to watch the President answer questions about working women and family issues. Want to join the conversation? Post your questions and comments in the comments section of related posts on BlogHer and SheKnows -- or on social media using the hashtag #ObamaTownHall. 


    As it turns out, you don't have to be a political wonk to have a policy discussion. And that's the way it should be.

    Because here's the reality: When you ask your coworker whether your company offers paid sick leave, you're having a policy discussion. When you ask your boss why you don’t earn the same salary for the same work as the men in the office, you’re having a policy discussion. When you try and put money away for retirement, pay off your student loans each month, deposit your paycheck, or drop your kids off at daycare—those everyday actions are shaped by the policies on the books at your workplace.

  • Immigrants and refugees have come to our shores in search of opportunity and freedom since before the founding of our nation. The process of integrating into a new land – to achieve self-sufficiency, political and civic involvement, and social inclusion – can be difficult but the rewards can be immense. We are both children of immigrants and can attest to the success that stems from successful integration into the fabric of our nation.

    Yesterday, we had the honor of submitting to President Obama a report from the Task Force on New Americans entitled Strengthening Communities by Welcoming All Residents: A Federal Strategic Action Plan on Immigrant and Refugee Integration. This plan outlines a robust federal immigrant and refugee integration strategy that will advance our global competitiveness and identifies ways to ensure our nation's diverse people are fully contributing to their communities, and welcomed into them.

  • Yesterday was Equal Pay Day -- the date that marks how many days into 2015 the average woman would have to work to make what the average man did in the previous year.

    The average American woman will have lost $420,000 over her lifetime because of the earnings gap. Share this video if you agree it's time to fix that.

     

  • Want to know how your federal taxes are spent?

    President Obama is keeping his promise to make sure you can easily see where your taxes are going.

    Here’s how it works: Enter a few key pieces of information, and the Taxpayer Receipt gives you a breakdown of how your taxes are spent on America’s priorities, like education, veteran benefits, and health care. This year, the tool is designed to work across devices, so you can use the tool on your phone or tablet as well as your laptop or desktop computer.

    The 2014 Taxpayer Receipt

  • In the 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama laid out his plan for Middle Class Economics, which he dedicated to “the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, everyone plays by the same set of rules.

    As a centerpiece of that Middle Class Economics strategy, President Obama has proposed and fought for the most significant trade agenda in American history, and for good reason – because Made-in-America exports unlock economic opportunity for the American people.

    Made-in-America exports have been a key driver of our economic recovery, hitting record-breaking heights for the past 5 straight years.  And those American exports support 11.7 million jobs across the United States.

    Now, to build on those benefits and strengthen the American Middle Class, President Obama is championing groundbreaking trade agreements with the Asia-Pacific region and with Europe that will ensure we have premium access to vital markets across the world while raising labor and environmental standards in a way that level the playing field for our workers and our businesses and make us more competitive in the global economy.

    When it comes to the promise of the President’s trade agenda, no one sees the positive impacts of increased exports U.S. communities more clearly than its local leaders. That’s why American mayors from all over the United States are actively voicing their support for this element of Middle Class Economics.

    Whether it’s the dock worker in Maryland, the apple farmer in Oregon, or the tech entrepreneur in Dallas, mayors have a unique insight into the diverse benefits that exporting delivers to the American economy and how trade helps American families on the local level. Because of that, mayors from a host of cities have been highly engaged with the Obama Administration on this issue.

    Mayors from across our country are expressing support for the President’s trade agenda and the benefits they will bring to their communities all over the country. 

  • This Day
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    In History

     

    Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Signing

    President Barack Obama signs into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in the East Room of the White House. January 29, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Joyce Boghosian)

    Lilly's Story

    On April 14, 1938, Lilly Ledbetter was born in rural Alabama. After marrying Sergeant Major Charles Ledbetter, she had two children whom she needed to support.

    So in 1979, she took a job working from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. as a shift manager and area manager at the local Goodyear plant. After being hired, Lilly was asked to sign the company contract policy that barred her from discussing pay rates with her co-workers.

    In 1996, Lilly received a "Top Performance Award" but was still completely in the dark about the fact that she was paid far less for the same work as her male peers.

    Two years later, in 1998, Lilly went about her normal routine and came into work an hour early to check her mail, when an anonymous note fell out. On the note, she saw her name next to her written salary of $3,727 a month. Below it were the names of three male co-workers with the same title, with salaries ranging from $4,286 to $5,236 a month.

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