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  • President Obama tapes the Weekly Address on Loretta Lynch

    President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Map Room of the White House, March 20, 2015. March 20, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    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:

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    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.


  • "What is it that you saw, you learned, you heard, that made you think about the drug trade and its impact on the inner cities that compelled you to then want to tell these stories?" 


    A beat reporter in Baltimore and a state senator from Chicago: two men who saw the disproportionate impact of America’s war on drugs firsthand early in their careers.

    That experience would shape the way they viewed criminal justice in America and the reforms they hope to make a reality for communities that the drug trade – and the way we currently enforce our drug laws – can tear apart.

    This week, that former reporter – David Simon, the creator of HBO’s The Wire – and that former young senator -- President Barack Obama -- sat down to talk honestly about the challenges law enforcement face and the consequences communities bear from the war on drugs. Listen to what they had to say:  

  • People tend to tune out when they hear the phrase "consumer protection," and that's probably because we don't really think about ourselves as "consumers." But we do think about ourselves as a "mom," or "dad," or "student borrower," or "employee."

    So with that in mind, if you're someone who wants to buy a house, pay for school, get solid retirement advice that actually leaves you with more money in your pocket, avoid hidden credit card fees, and generally avoid getting unfairly trapped in a cycle of debt, we've got good news: The Wall Street reforms the President has put in place are working for you.

    One of the core beliefs of this Administration has always been that good government ought to look out for American consumers and protect them from abusive and unfair practices, and that's why in 2010, we created a new independent agency responsible for doing exactly that: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

    As a now fully operational, independent watchdog, the CFPB is responsible for cracking down on bad actors like unscrupulous lenders, or fraudulent debt collectors, and giving you the information you need to take charge of your financial future. And today, they took another huge step toward protecting working families against abuses in payday and similar types of lending.

    Read on to learn more about what the CFPB announced today, and how it builds on the reforms you might not have realized the President put in place to protect you (and your money).

  • Watch on YouTube

    For the sake of our economy and our security, legal immigration should be simple and efficient. After the long wait for a legislative solution to fix our broken system, the President took action within his authority to help streamline the legal immigration system until Congress passes commonsense, comprehensive reform.

    Earlier this week, speaking at the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit, President Obama announced the next steps the Administration is taking to attract the world’s top talented professionals by making it easier for global companies to launch and invest in the United States: 

    My administration is going to reform the L-1B visa category, which allows corporations to temporarily move workers from a foreign office to a U.S. office in a faster, simpler way. And this could benefit hundreds of thousands of nonimmigrant workers and their employers; that, in turn, will benefit our entire economy and spur additional investment.

    Specifically, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued proposed guidance this week clarifying the standards and creating consistency for decisions of L-1B nonimmigrant visa applications. This is a popular visa category that allows global companies to temporarily transfer specialized workers to the U.S. for the purpose of launching or expanding a U.S. operation.

  • American medicine is the best in the world. But waste and inefficiencies in the system have traditionally put your health and your pocketbook at risk. Patients who stay in the hospital longer than they need to could be exposed to infection. Vital information can get lost in the transition from primary care doctors to specialists. And when patients are given different prescriptions from multiple doctors, dangerous drug interactions can occur.

    That’s why the Affordable Care Act has been so crucial to tackling these and other challenges and increasing the quality of health care for Americans. Here’s how this landmark law is improving health care for you:

  • At yesterday's White House Science Fair, President Obama announced that we've reached our major broadband connectivity goal -- 98 percent of Americans nationwide are now connected to high-speed wireless Internet, surpassing any point in history.

    "Four years ago, I set a national goal to provide 98 percent of Americans with high-speed wireless Internet so that any young scientist or entrepreneur could access the world’s information," the President said. "Today, I can announce that we have achieved that goal, and we did it ahead of schedule." 

    98% of Americans Have Access to High-Speed Wireless Internet

  • Ed. note: This was first posted on the U.S. Department of Commerce's blog yesterday. See the original post here.

    With more than 2,600 people from more than 70 markets, and economic development organizations from all corners of the United States, the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit has record attendance. In fact, it is more than twice as large as the inaugural 2013 event and reflects growing global interest in the United States as a place to launch and expand operations, invest in research and development, and create jobs.

    Day one of the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit just concluded, and what an exciting day it was. We were honored to have President Obama speak and announce some new initiatives to make investing and expanding within the United States even easier.

    Watch on YouTube

  • This week, Congress will vote on the House and Senate Republican Budget Resolutions for Fiscal Year 2016.

    The Republican budgets rely on the same failed trickle-down economics as in previous years, standing in stark contrast to the President’s FY 2016 budget, which strengthens our economy and the middle class. The Republican budgets would put economic growth at risk and would have real impacts on the middle class. And at the same time as they are voting on this harmful budget resolution, House Republicans are doubling down on their failed approach and moving to also repeal the estate tax, at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars.

    Bottom line, their priorities are clear: cutting taxes for the wealthiest 0.1 percent, while slashing funding for critical investments and services that benefit millions of Americans.  

    Americans across the country deserve to know the consequences of this approach.  So today, we have released a report that takes a closer look at what their proposed cuts would mean. The report illustrates that the consequences of enacting the Republican budget plan could not be more stark. Congressional Republicans have a choice to make: lift sequestration and strengthen the standing of working and middle-class families, or go back to the same failed top-down economics.

    Check out the map below to see the consequences of the House Republican budget in your state

  • Five years after the Affordable Care Act became law, its vision of affordable, quality health insurance for America is a reality. The state of our nation's health care is better off than it was when the President took office.  This is thanks to the variety of critical provisions within the Affordable Care Act. 

    Read on for five core ways that the Affordable Care Act is working to help Americans.


    1. After five years of the Affordable Care Act, more than 16 million people have health coverage.

    That's more people than the populations of New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago combined. This number includes parents who can finally afford to take their kids to the doctor, families who no longer risk losing their homes or savings because someone becomes ill, and young people who are now free to pursue their dreams without worrying about losing access to health care. 

    With millions of people getting covered, the uninsured rate for non-elderly adults has dropped by 35% since October 2013. “The Affordable Care Act is working,” President Obama said after hearing the news that millions of Americans had signed up and gotten covered. “And I'll tell you, everywhere I go around the country, I'm meeting individuals who come up and thank me. How passionate they are about the difference it's made in their lives, it really reminds me why we do all of this." 

  • President Obama looks at two Arizona students' robot at the fifth annual White House Science Fair

    President Barack Obama talks with Sergio Corral and Isela Martinez while viewing science exhibits during the 2015 White House Science Fair celebrating student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions, in the State Dining Room, March 23, 2015. The two 17-year-old students are current leaders of the robotics program from Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, Ariz., which was chronicled in the recent documentary "Underwater Dreams" where their under-served high school beat out MIT and other colleges in an underwater robotics competition. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    Today, the halls of the White House were packed with science projects -- robots, 3D-printed objects, computer programs, apps, and extraordinary scientific discoveries -- all built, invented, designed, and brought to fruition by students.

    At the fifth-annual White House Science Fair, President Obama welcomed more than 100 students from more than 30 states for a celebration and showcase of their truly remarkable achievmenets in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

    As part of the Science Fair, approximately 35 student teams exhibited innovative projects -- including discoveries and insights in key areas such as disease diagnostics, clean energy, and information security -- as well as inventions ranging from the “why didn’t I think of that?” (automatic page-turner for people with arthritis) to the “who’d have ever thought that possible?” (a hiccup-curing lollipop!).

    The President personally viewed some of these projects, marveling at the incredible ingenuity on display from student innovators across the country including some as young as six years old.

  • The Vice President sent the following message to the White House email list today, sharing his personal audio reflections on the five-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. Didn't get the email? Make sure you're on the list to receive them in the future.


    Today marks five years since 11-year-old Marcelas Owens and I watched the President sign the Affordable Care Act into law.

    Marcelas lost his mom to an illness when he was a younger boy. She didn't have insurance, so she couldn't afford the care that she needed. No family -- no child -- in America should have to go through what his family has experienced.

    That's why we fought so hard for this reform bill. That's why the President -- whose own mother argued with insurance companies in her final days as she battled cancer -- signed this bill into law.

    And that's worth remembering today.

    I sat down to reflect on that day, and what's happened since then. Have a listen, and then pass this on to anyone you think who needs to hear it.

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