Read all posts from May 2012

  • Last night, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew spoke at the American Jewish Committee Global Forum. There, he praised the Committee’s decades of work to build a better world at home and abroad. He also stressed the steps the President has taken to prevent a second Great Depression and create an economy built to last. And he reiterated our commitment to the unbreakable bonds between the United States and Israel.

    Below are his full remarks as prepared for delivery.


    Today’s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but much more remains to be done to repair the damage caused by the financial crisis and the deep recession.  It is critical that we continue the economic policies that are helping us dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began at the end of 2007.  President Obama has said that prosperity in America has always come from a strong and growing middle class.  He has made clear that getting back to where we were is not enough. We need to do more, which is why the President has laid out his blueprint for an American economy that is built to last and will continue to urge Congress to act to do more to grow the economy and create jobs.

    Private employer payrolls increased by 130,000 jobs in April, and overall non-farm payroll employment rose by 115,000.  The unemployment rate dipped from 8.2% in March to 8.1% in April, according to the household survey.  Though labor force participation fell over the month according to the household survey, since August the unemployment rate has fallen by 1.0 percentage point, from 9.1% to 8.1%, and nearly three-quarters of that drop is attributable to increased employment.

    Despite adverse shocks that have created headwinds for economic growth the economy has added private sector jobs for 26 straight months, for a total of 4.25 million payroll jobs over that period.  With upward revisions of 65,000 jobs to the past two months’ employment reports, in the first quarter of 2012 private employment expanded by 697,000 jobs, the largest quarterly increase since the first quarter of 2006.  So far this year, 827,000 private sector jobs have been added, on net.

  • This week, the President traveled to Afghanistan to sign an historic Strategic Partnership Agreement, visit with our troops, and address the American people about responsibly ending the war. The President also traveled to Fort Stewart to sign an Executive Order to protect service members and their families from deceptive marketing practices, spoke at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, welcomed the Prime Minister of Japan, and spoke at the Building and Construction Trades conference.

  • Editor’s Note: As part of the We Can’t Wait initiative, President Obama signed an Executive Order directing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take action to help further prevent and reduce prescription drug shortages. An update from FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg is below.

    This week marks the six-month anniversary of President Obama signing an Executive Order to help FDA in our ongoing efforts to prevent and resolve prescription drug shortages. At FDA, we saw the Executive Order as an important step in bringing awareness to this critical public health issue and signaling the necessary tools and resources, such as early notification and additional staff, FDA must have to help address this problem. Following the Executive Order, we sent out letters to drug manufacturers asking them to voluntarily report to FDA if they saw the emerging potential for a drug shortage.

  • Though Cinco de Mayo isn't officially celebrated until Saturday, today President Obama hosted a reception marking the holiday at the White House.

    One hundred fifty years ago, an outnumbered band of Mexican troops faced an invading French army twice its size. But on May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Puebla, the smaller army crushed the larger force.

    President Obama told the crowd:

    When the news of the Mexican victory at Puebla reached this house, this country was in the midst of its own struggles. But soon after, the U.S. lent assistance to help Mexico definitively expel the French from their land. And ever since, the United States and Mexico have lived intersecting and overlapping histories. Our two countries share the ties of history and familia and values and commerce and culture. And today, we are more united than ever -- in friendship and in common purpose.

    Right now, there are more than 50 million Americans of Latino descent -- one sixth of our population. You’re our neighbors, our coworkers, our family, our friends. You’re starting businesses. You’re teaching in classrooms. You’re defending this country.  You’re driving America forward. 
    And for our part, we know that securing our future depends on making sure that all Americans have the opportunity to reach their potential. 

    Read the full remarks here.

    Dancers watch as President Barack Obama delivers remarks at a Cinco de Mayo event (May 4, 2012)

    Dancers watch as President Barack Obama delivers remarks at a Cinco de Mayo event in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 3, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

  • How do you get kids all around the country to get moving,  jumping, and doing the dougie in unison? Beyonce, natch.

    On May 3 last year—at 1: 42 p.m. to be exact—nearly 600 schools from coast to coast participated in a flash workout, dancing together to Beyonce’s “Move Your Body.” First Lady Michelle Obama even got in on the fun, joining students at Alice Deal Middle School in Washington, D.C. for their rendition of the “Move Your Body” dance. Check it out.

  • Summer Jobs+ is a call to action for businesses, non-profits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for young people in the summer of 2012. It's about helping people find their first jobs.

    Jimmy Fallon is the host of NBC's Late Night and an alum of Saturday Night Live. For all his success as an entertainer, his first job was anything but glamorous -- he worked at a grocery store where it was his responsibility to keep the floor mats clean.

    But that experience taught him a valuable lesson. Watch:

    So far, employers have listed more than 300,000 jobs, mentorships, and other employment opportunities this summer through Summer Jobs+.

    You heard about Jimmy Fallon's first job. Now go find yours.

    Learn more

  • On Tuesday, President Obama made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan to sign the Strategic Partnership Agreement with President Hamid Karzai, which provides a framework for the relationship between our two nations moving forward as U.S. forces leave the country and Afghans continue the transition to take control of their own security.

    In his address to the American people after signing the agreement, President Obama announced that 23,000 U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of the summer, and by the end of 2014, Afghan forces will be fully responsible for the security of their country.

    As the war there comes to an end, the agreement the two leaders signed lays out how the United States and Afghanistan will work together to strengthen Afghan sovereignty, stability and prosperity, and advance our shared goal of defeating al Qaeda and contributing to the security of the region.

  • Note: This live session of Office Hours has concluded. Check out the full question and answer session below or at

    This is National Nurses Week, when we recognize the significant contributions that nurses make to keeping America healthy.  It’s also a time to celebrate the ways the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, is helping invest in nurses.  Many of the new health initiatives in the law would not be possible without them. 

    To talk about National Nurses Week and what the health law means for nurses, we’ll be hosting a session of Office Hours on Monday, May 7th at 3:30 pm EDT with Mary Wakefield, a Registered Nurse and Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, which runs many of the programs that help train and support nurses. Have questions about the new law and nurses? 

    Here’s how White House Office Hours work:

    • Ask your questions now and during the live event on Twitter with the hashtag #WHChat
    • Follow the Q&A live through the @WHLive Twitter account
    • If you miss the live session, the full session will be posted on and

    So, stop by for Office Hours at 3:30 p.m. EDT on Monday, May 7th with Mary Wakefield and be sure to follow @WhiteHouse on twitter for the latest news and more opportunities to engage.

    Obama and nurses

    President Barack Obama greets doctors and nurses following his remarks about health care reform in the East Room of the White House. March 3, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

  • Two administration-led, industry-driven efforts marked milestones today. The first will put Americans to work on more than $2 billion in energy upgrades for federal buildings. The second will offer 30 million households and businesses more control over their energy bills. And together, these efforts will support an economy that’s built to last, one that makes use of every source of American energy – more efficiently.

    Better Buildings

    In December, as part of his We Can’t Wait initiative, the President challenged federal agencies to make at least $2 billion worth of energy-efficiency upgrades over the next two years. Meeting the first of several milestones of the challenge, federal agencies have identified $2.1 billion of projects that will pay for themselves using performance-based contracts.

    Of the $2.1 billion in energy upgrade projects identified by agencies, more than $100 million in Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs) and Utility Energy Savings Contracts (UESCs) have been awarded already, and an additional $1.2 billion in projects are in development – demonstrating strong momentum towards meeting the President’s goal.

  • Today, on the train up to Philadelphia for the announcement of the Summer Jobs+ bank, I had the chance to think about my first summer job and what it meant to me and my family.

    I grew up in a modest neighborhood just outside of Los Angeles. It was an industrial community of blue-collar, working people… some of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met.

    My parents raised me and my six siblings with little money … but lots of love. And the same could be said for the other kids in the neighborhood. We didn’t have much. But we had each other. So to get ahead, we had to work twice as hard, and to find a summer job, we sometimes had to look twice as hard.

    In my teens, I worked as an aide in my community supervising and mentoring youth in various programs and delivering lunches to needy students.  I also spent a summer working in a library—stacking and cataloging books and helping my classmates select books to read.

    I remember feeling very important.

    I also remember the dignity that came with that first paycheck.

    I met role models during those jobs that helped me become the first member of my family to go to college. And they helped put me on a lifelong career path. I began working with children.  Then I helped high school graduates apply to college and get financial aid. From there, I was elected to the Rio Hondo Community College Board in Whittier, the California Assembly and eventually Congress.

    And I wouldn’t be the nation’s first Latina Secretary of Labor—if it wasn’t for the summer work experiences I had growing up.

    That’s what summer jobs can do for young people—especially in underserved communities. So keeping summer jobs programs alive and well isn’t just part of my job now, it’s personal.

  • Four weeks ago we launched the first-ever White House Code Sprint, challenging app developers to build job search apps using the opportunities found in the Summer Jobs+ bank. The Summer Jobs+ initiative is a new call-to-action for businesses, non-profits, and government to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth in the summer of 2012. Today we are excited to highlight six apps that were created on platforms including Facebook, Android, the iPhone, Windows Phone, and Web browsers. These apps support the goal of connecting America’s youth with summer job opportunities via digital platforms they are already familiar with and use in their daily lives.    Thanks to everyone for participating in the code sprint, and we encourage you to share your favorite app below with youth who are looking for opportunities this summer.

  • On Tuesday, President Obama landed in Kabul to sign a strategic partnership agreement with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan that provides a framework for our relationship with the country over the coming decade. President Obama also stopped by Bagram Air Base to meet with troops -- and addressed the American people about the end of the war there, as well as the transition to Afghan control that will begin taking place as U.S. troops leave the country.

    White House Photographer Pete Souza traveled with the President to document the historic trip. Check out a gallery of his images below.

    • President Barack Obama Participates In A National Security Briefing Aboard Air Force One

      President Barack Obama participates in a national security briefing aboard Air Force One. (All Official White Photos by Pete Souza)

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    • President Barack Obama Arrives At Bagram Air Field

      President Barack Obama arrives at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012.

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    • President Barack Obama Talks With Ambassador Ryan Crocker

      President Barack Obama talks with Ambassador Ryan Crocker aboard Marine One en route to the Afghan Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan.

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    • President Barack Obama Greets Members Of The Afghan Delegation

      President Barack Obama greets members of the Afghan delegation as President Hamid Karzai watches at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan.

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    • President Barack Obama Participates In A Bilateral Meeting With Afghan President Hamid Karzai

      President Barack Obama participates in a bilateral meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan.

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    • Afghan President Hamid Karzai Listens

      Afghan President Hamid Karzai listens as President Barack Obama speaks during the strategic partnership agreement signing ceremony.

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    • President Barack Obama And Afghan President Hamid Karzai Exchange Documents

      President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai exchange documents after signing the strategic partnership agreement.

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    • Senators Jack Reed And Carl Levin Listen

      Senators Jack Reed, D-R.I., right, and Carl Levin, D-Mich., listen during the strategic partnership agreement signing at the Presidential Palace.

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    • President Barack Obama Delivers Remarks To Troops

      President Barack Obama delivers remarks to troops at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012.

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    • President Barack Obama Greets U.S. Troops

      President Barack Obama greets U.S. troops following his remarks at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012.

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    • The President Greets Troops

      President Barack Obama greets U.S. troops at Bagram Air Field. The President made three trips around the ropeline to try and shake every hand.

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    • President Obama Greets Troops 1

      President Barack Obama greets U.S. troops following his remarks at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012.

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    • President Barack Obama Greets Hospital Personnel

      President Barack Obama greets hospital personnel in the ICU at Bagram Air Field. The President presented ten Purple Hearts, three in the ICU.

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    • The President Addresses The Nation

      President Barack Obama addresses the nation from Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012.

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    • The President Boards Air Force One

      President Barack Obama boards Air Force One at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, as he departs for Washington, D.C., May 1, 2012.

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  • President Barack Obama addresses the nation from Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan (May 1, 2012)

    President Barack Obama addresses the nation from Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


    Today, President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan -- to meet with President Hamid Karzai and sign a strategic partnership agreement that will help to guide our future relationship with the country.

    For more than a decade, U.S. troops have served in the region as part of the NATO mission. In a televised address, tonight, the President talked about the progress they've made and the new relationship between the United States and Afghanistan:

    [We've] begun a transition to Afghan responsibility for security. Already, nearly half of the Afghan people live in places where Afghan security forces are moving into the lead. This month, at a NATO Summit in Chicago, our coalition will set a goal for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations across the country next year. International troops will continue to train, advise and assist the Afghans, and fight alongside them when needed.  But we will shift into a support role as Afghans step forward.

    As we do, our troops will be coming home. Last year, we removed 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Another 23,000 will leave by the end of the summer. After that, reductions will continue at a steady pace, with more and more of our troops coming home. And as our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country.

    The President also discussed how the end of two wars will allow us to focus on a new set of national priorities:

    As we emerge from a decade of conflict abroad and economic crisis at home, it’s time to renew America -- an America where our children live free from fear and have the skills to claim their dreams. A united America of grit and resilience, where sunlight glistens off soaring new towers in downtown Manhattan, and we build our future as one people, as one nation.

    Read the full remarks here.

  • President Barack Obama greets U.S. troops at Bagram Air Field after a surprise visit to Afghanistan, May 1, 2012.

    President Barack Obama greets U.S. troops at Bagram Air Field after a surprise visit to Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan, where he signed an historic agreement between the United States and Afghanistan that defines how the partnership between the United States and Afghanistan will be normalized as we look beyond a responsible end to the war. 

    After his meeting with President Karzai at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, President Obama headed to Bagram Air Base, where he met with U.S. troops serving in that country. He thanked them for the sacrifices that they have made -- and that their families have made -- over the past decade of war, and paid tribute to their successes:

    When we see our homeland violated, when we see our fellow citizens killed, then we understand what we have to do. And because of the sacrifices now of a decade, and a new Greatest Generation, not only were we able to blunt the Taliban momentum, not only were we able to drive al Qaeda out of Afghanistan, but slowly and systematically we have been able to decimate the ranks of al Qaeda, and a year ago we were able to finally bring Osama bin Laden to justice.

    That could have only happened because each and every one of you, in your own way, were doing your jobs. Each and every one of you -- without a lot of fanfare, without a lot of fuss -- you did your jobs. No matter how small or how big, you were faithful to the oath that you took to protect this nation. And your families did their job -- supporting you and loving you and remembering you and being there for you. 

     And so, together, you guys represent what is best in America. And you're part of a long line of those who have worn this uniform to make sure that we are free and secure, to make sure that those of us at home have the capacity to live our lives. And when you're missing a birthday or you're missing a soccer game or when you're missing an anniversary, and those of us back home are able to enjoy it, it's because of you.  

    And I'm here to tell you, everybody in America knows that.  And everybody in America appreciates it. And everybody in America honors it. And when the final chapter of this war is written, historians will look back and say, not only was this the greatest fighting force in the history of the world, but all of you also represented the values of America in an exemplary way.

  • President Obama is currently in Afghanistan, and tonight, at 7:30 PM ET, he'll address the nation on the future of the NATO mission in the region after a decade of war.

    You can watch live at

  • For forty years, the White House has opened its doors and welcomed visitors from across the country to tour the White House grounds and gardens. This year, we invited our photo enthusiast followers on Google+ to join us for the first ever White House Google+ Photowalk.

    Bo Photowalk

    Bo makes a surprise appearance at the first White House Photowalk during Spring Garden Tours on the South Lawn of the White House. View this photo and more by Natalia on Google+: April 21, 2012. (by Natalia Stone)

    Thirty people, some from nearby and others from as far as Florida and California, spent the day at the White House and captured it all in pictures. During the visit, our photowalkers toured the South Lawn and Kitchen Garden, met White House photographer Sonya Herbert and were surprised by a very popular member of the Obama Family, First Dog Bo.

    Later, the group stopped by Eisenhower Executive Office Building where they had the chance to sit down with Chief Official White House Photographer Pete Souza. Pete spent time talking through some of his photos and answered questions about everything from gear to what it takes to capture a great photo.

    View the full gallery on the White House Google+ page, or browse even more photos with the hashtag #WHPhotowalk.

    Experience the first White House Photowalk in pictures and be sure to follow the White House on Google+ for upcoming chances to engage.

  • Yesterday, First Lady Michelle Obama and Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Warrior Games. More than 200 veterans and service members are participating in the third annual Warrior Games, hosted by the United States Olympic Committee with the support of the Department of Defense. The event enables men and women who suffered injuries during a tour of duty to compete in a variety of athletic events - from archery to cycling - and takes place through May 5th, 2012. The First Lady welcomed the group, saying, " we have folks from the Army, the Navy, the Coast Guard, the Air Force and the Marine Corps. Just breathtaking is all I have to say. And I am humbled and inspired."

    2012 Warrior Games First Lady Michelle Obama

    First Lady Michelle Obama and Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, participate in the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 Warrior Games at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., April 30, 2012. Floating cottonwood seeds can be seen in the photo. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

  • Over the past year, the Federal Government has been working to implement President Obama’s directions for a 21st-century regulatory system, which he described in Executive Order 13563, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review.”  Executive Order 13563 requires U.S. regulators, to the extent permitted by law, to select approaches that maximize net benefits; choose the least burdensome alternative; increase public participation in the rulemaking process; design rules that are simpler and more flexible, and that provide freedom of choice; and base regulations on sound science. Executive Order 13563 also calls for an ambitious, government-wide “lookback” at existing rules, with the central goal of eliminating outdated requirements and unjustified costs.

    Today, President Obama has built on Executive Order 13563 by signing a historic Executive Order on Promoting International Regulatory Cooperation.  The new Executive Order will promote American exports, economic growth, and job creation by helping to eliminate unnecessary regulatory differences between the United States and other countries and by making sure that we do not create new ones.  

    As I discuss in an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal, the order makes clear that in eliminating such differences, we will respect domestic law and will not compromise U.S. priorities and prerogatives. Even while insisting on those priorities and prerogatives, we can eliminate pointless red tape. Today’s global economy relies on supply chains that cross national borders (sometimes more than once), and different regulatory requirements in different countries can significantly increase costs for companies doing business abroad. As the President’s Jobs Council recently noted, international regulatory cooperation canreduce these costs and help American businesses access foreign markets.  Such cooperation can also help U.S. regulators more effectively protect the environment and the health and safety of the American people. 

  • On this day last year, President Barack Obama made a historic announcement to the American people: Osama bin Laden is dead.