Read all posts from July 2012
Kori SchulmanJuly 31, 2012
08:48 PM EDT
On the Q&A platform Quora today, Chief Technology Officer Todd Park answered a question about President Obama’s efforts to fuel innovation and entrepreneurship. Read Todd's response below, or join the conversation on Quora.
Quora question: What efforts has President Obama made while in office to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation? I'm looking for specific examples of things the Administration has done to foster innovation in the US.
President Obama’s efforts to fuel innovation and entrepreneurship are wide-ranging and unprecedented. As Chief Technology Officer of the United States (a position created for the first time by President Obama), I see these efforts first-hand throughout the Administration—and as an entrepreneur who cofounded a company at age 24 and took it public ten years later, I have a special appreciation for how startups and innovation create jobs and prosperity across the country.
Let’s focus on three areas where the President’s leadership is making a huge impact: promoting high-growth entrepreneurship, helping accelerate technology breakthroughs, and investing in the “building blocks” of innovation. This is by no means a comprehensive list of every Administration effort to foster innovation across the United States, but every example below is specific, impactful, and well underway.
Dan PfeifferJuly 31, 2012
05:30 PM EDT
Yesterday following his column, I sent the following email to Charles Krauthammer. Charles asked that I make the email public and I have agreed.
I take your criticism seriously and you are correct that you are owed an apology. There was clearly an internal confusion about the two busts and there was no intention to deceive. I clearly overshot the runway in my post. The point I was trying to make – under the belief that the Bust in the residence was the one previously in the Oval Office-- was that this oft repeated talking point about the bust being a symbol of President Obama’s failure to appreciate the special relationship is false. The bust that was returned was returned as a matter of course with all the other artwork that had been loaned to President Bush for display in his Oval Office and not something that President Obama or his Administration chose to do. I still think this is an important point and one I wish I had communicated better.
A better understanding of the facts on my part and a couple of deep breaths at the outset would have prevented this situation. Having said all that, barring a miracle comeback from the Phillies I would like to see the Nats win a world series even if it comes after my apology
July 31, 2012
05:22 PM EDT
President Barack Obama addresses 2011 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) recipients in the East Room of the White House, July 31, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Today, the President met with a group of leading American scientists and engineers in the East Room of the White House to thank them for their research and encourage them to keep up the good work. Before meeting with the President, in an award ceremony today at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Science and Technology Advisor John Holdren conferred the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) to the 96 outstanding researchers.
Last week, President Obama announced this year’s winners of PECASE, an honor bestowed upon independent researchers in the early stages of their careers. PECASE recognizes and supports scientists and engineers who show exceptional promise for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge and reflects the Obama Administration’s commitment to developing outstanding scientists and engineers that contribute to the growth and prosperity of our Nation.
“Discoveries in science and technology not only strengthen our economy, they inspire us as a people.” President Obama said. “The impressive accomplishments of today’s awardees so early in their careers promise even greater advances in the years ahead.”
Joe BidenJuly 31, 2012
03:01 PM EDT
Ed. Note: This op-ed was first published by the McClatchy Newspapers.
I've spent a lot of years in Washington, and in the past, I had always found that even when partisanship was at its worst, there were still certain issues that rose above the normal course of politics. These days, unfortunately, even that precept is being challenged.
Protecting victims of domestic violence, an issue that has always enjoyed bipartisan support and should be well beyond debate, has become the center of one in Congress. And women across the nation are now at risk.
Let me explain what's happening:
In 1994, I wrote the Violence Against Women Act, which established several critical new protections: first, it provides law enforcement with new tools to prosecute domestic violence crimes and put offenders behind bars. Second, it helps victims find safe places to stay so they don't have to choose between living on the streets or living with someone who is hurting them. And third, it gives women a crisis hotline they can call when they need immediate help.
We've made a lot of progress as a nation since the act first became law. Annual rates of domestic violence have dropped by more than 60 percent. The national hotline has answered more than 2 million crisis calls, directing victims to life-saving assistance.
But make no mistake, this violence still happens every day.
We need to continue these programs and we need to add improvements. For example, we now know that new screening tools can help law enforcement and the courts reduce domestic violence homicide rates, helping them to step in before abuse becomes murder. Such tools might have saved Sarah Rosio, a 24-year-old Wisconsin woman who was strangled to death by her boyfriend after having been abused many times before her death. Two weeks before her death, Sarah was denied a protective order against her abuser. Sarah is gone now, tragically, but we can help others avoid her terrible fate.
To do so, Congress must make the protections in the Violence Against Women Act available to every person in this country who may ever need them. This simply cannot be up for debate in a civilized society like ours.
Every few years, the Violence Against Women Act needs to be reauthorized. And in the past, Congress has worked cooperatively to reauthorize, improve, and expand the reach of the law. Up until now.
Earlier this year, the Senate passed the bill, and they did it with both Democratic and Republican support. Unfortunately, the House did not follow this broadly bipartisan path; Republicans there passed a much weaker version of the bill. While the House bill contains some of the important provisions of the Senate bill, it lacks key improvements - like protecting more victims and requiring dating violence and sexual assault prevention programs on campus - and, in some cases, it actually rolls back current protections for victims of domestic violence.
Support for the Violence Against Women Act runs broad and deep. It includes law enforcement, prosecutors, victims' advocates, faith groups, and Democrats and Republicans alike. So this should be easy - and beyond politics. Instead, the clock is now running out for the more than 23,000 women who call our national domestic abuse hotline every month and for all women who may one day be the victims of violence.
Congress should pass the bipartisan version approved by the U.S. Senate.
I know there are fundamental differences between Democrats and Republicans, and I don't expect those to disappear. But on this issue of basic decency, where there remains so much agreement between us, Republicans and Democrats ought to leave politics at the water's edge. Because women everywhere are counting on us, and they can't wait any longer.
Secretary Kathleen SebeliusJuly 31, 2012
02:42 PM EDT
Ed. Note: This article is a cross post from Healthcare.gov. On Wednesday, August 1st at 1:30 PM ET, Secretary Sebelius will participate in a live online discussion with WebMD. You can watch the conversation live at www.healthcare.gov/live.
Women deserve to have control over their health care. Aug. 1, 2012, ushers in a new day for women’s health when, for the first time ever, women will have access to eight new services at no out-of-pocket cost to keep them healthier and to catch potentially serious conditions at an earlier, more treatable stage. This benefit will take effect for millions of adult and adolescent women over the course of the next year—and it’s just one of many benefits of the health care law that let women and their doctors, not insurance companies, make decisions about a woman’s care.
When it comes to health, women are often the primary decision-maker for their families and the trusted source in circles of friends. Women often take care of their families first and put off their own health care needs. Too often, they have gone without preventive services, worrying about what even a $20 insurance copay would mean to their families’ budgets and choosing to pay for groceries or rent instead.
But now, thanks to the health care law, many women won’t have to make that choice.
July 31, 2012
02:16 PM EDT
As Americans, we draw strength from the fact that freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly are among first rights protected in our Constitution’s Bill of Rights. And we are not alone in cherishing these rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes that every person, in every corner of the globe, has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This includes the freedom of every person to change his or her religion or beliefs, and -- either alone or in community with others, publicly or privately -- to manifest his or her religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Yet far too many people, in far too many places around the world, still live without the protection of these fundamental freedoms. Yesterday, the Department of State released its annual report on the state of international religious freedom around the world, which documents that in nearly half of the world’s countries, governments either abuse religious minorities or fail to intervene in societal abuse. The report describes how, in many countries, individuals live under oppressive laws restricting their religious practice or attire, or in fear that they will be targeted by blasphemy, apostasy, and dissent laws. Repressive governments use these laws to curb their citizens’ religious freedom, and imprison them for their beliefs. This abuse concerns us not just because of what it means on a personal level for millions of individuals around the world, but also because religious freedom is a key feature of stable, secure and peaceful societies.
Colleen CurtisJuly 30, 2012
06:26 PM EDT
First Lady Michelle Obama was in the stands on Saturday as Team USA scored its first gold medal in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. In her unofficial capacity as First Fan, Mrs. Obama had the chance to cheer on swimmer Ryan Lochte as he won the men's 400 meter individual medley.
That afternoon, the First Lady took in the tennis competition from Wimbledon, watching Serena Williams knock off Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-1 from a seat beside Oracene Price, Serena’s mom.On Sunday, the First Lady gave each member of Team USA – up to and including the coaches – a hug after they moved past France in the first round of the basketball competition.Mrs. Obama and the U.S. delegation, which included Olympians Dominique Dawes, Brandi Chastain, Grant Hill and Summer Sanders, and Paralympian Gabriel Diaz de Leon, also attended the Opening Ceremonies on Friday night.Before the Olympic Games began, the First Lady hosted Let’s Move! London at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in London, where 2,000 American and British children showed off their skills at at sports stations and got a chance to meet athletes, including David Beckham.
July 30, 2012
01:54 PM EDT
President Obama understands that by allowing greater tribal control over tribal assets, we encourage economic growth, promote community development in Indian Country, and support tribal self-determination. That’s why this Administration is committed to strengthening tribal communities by improving tribal governments’ capacity for controlling their own futures.
Earlier today, President Obama demonstrated the latest step in this commitment by signing into law the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership (HEARTH) Act. This legislation allows tribes to lease restricted lands for residential, business, public, religious, educational, or recreational purposes without the approval of the Secretary of the Interior.
The HEARTH Act promotes greater tribal self-determination and will help create jobs in Indian Country. Under the Act, federally recognized tribes can develop and implement their own regulations governing certain leasing on Indian lands. Upon Secretarial approval of these tribal regulations, tribes will have the authority to process land leases without Bureau of Indian Affairs approval. This new authority has the potential to significantly reduce the time it takes to approve leases for homes and small businesses in Indian Country. By allowing tribes to more quickly and easily lease their lands, the bill promotes investment in tribal communities and more broadly facilitates economic development.
July 30, 2012
12:28 PM EDT
On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Social Security Act Amendments, popularly known as the Medicare bill. It established Medicare, a health insurance program for the elderly, and Medicaid, a health insurance program for the poor.
Former President Truman participated in the signing ceremony with President Johnson. Harry S. Truman and Bess Truman received Medicare registration cards numbers one and two. At the time, Mr. Truman was 81 years old, and he described it as a “profound personal experience for me.”
The National Archives have put together a gallery featuring images and artifacts from the event in Independence, Missouri 47 years ago today. Check it out:
Learn more about the Medicare bill: http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=99
Matt ComptonJuly 28, 2012
05:30 AM EDT
Karen RichardsonJuly 27, 2012
05:56 PM EDT
Note: Planning to watch live and engage in the discussion on Monday, July 30th at 11:30 a.m. EDT? Watch at WhiteHouse.gov/Live and ask questions now through a webform, or on Twitter live using the hashtag #WHChat.
On Monday, the White House Office of Public Engagement is hosting an event to discuss President Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive on Sub-Saharan Africa, which he signed on June 14th 2012. This new U.S. strategy toward sub-Saharan Africa is another step in deepening our partnerships with the nations and peoples of the region. Administration officials will be discussing the core components and strategic priorities outlined in the Presidential Policy Directive: (1) strengthen democratic institutions; (2) spur economic growth, trade, and investment; (3) advance peace and security; and (4) promote opportunity and development.
Here's how you can particpate:
July 27, 2012
05:20 PM EDT
Today, First Lady Michelle Obama joined 2,000 American military children and American and British students at Let’s Move! London, an event held to spread the spirit of the Olympic Games in London. The First Lady is leading the U.S. Delegation to the Summer Games and Let’s Move! London was designed to turn the inspiration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games into action by encouraging kids to get moving.
“That’s what Let's Move is all about. It’s about helping kids like you live happier, healthier lives,” Mrs. Obama told the crowd gathered at the U.S. Ambassador's Residence in London. “And that’s really why we brought you all here today… because we want you to see that there all kinds of ways that you can stay active and have fun doing it. You don't have to be an Olympian. You don't have to join a team. But there are so many ways that you can have fun and keep yourselves moving.”
Taking her own advice, the First Lady participated in a whirl of activities -- starting with a soccer game alongside David Beckham, Brandi Chastain, players from Manchester United, and Spongebob Squarepants as the goalie. Next up was the NBA Fit station, where Mrs. Obama practiced ladder hurdles with Grant Hill and Dikembe Mutumbo and passed the basketball with young players. Other activities included running a shuttle relay with Carl Lewis, watching a field hockey game with Gabriel Diaz De Leon, competing in a game of tug-o-war with Apolo Ohno, Jeff Sutphen, and Nastia Luikin and then assorted games with Summer Sanders, Bart Conner, and Ian Baranski, before finally joining a doubles match on the tennis courts with Shawn Johnson.
Matt ComptonJuly 27, 2012
04:10 PM EDT
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 April 2012, and additional records from March 2012 not included in last month’s posting due to a technical constraint. Today’s release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to more than 2.4 million—all of which can be viewed in our Disclosures section.
Ed. note: For more information, check out Ethics.gov.
Matt ComptonJuly 27, 2012
03:38 PM EDT
This morning, President Obama signed the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act with an eye toward helping to strengthen the military edge Israel currently enjoys.
"I have made it a top priority for my administration to deepen cooperation with Israel across the whole spectrum of security issues -- intelligence, military, technology," the President said. "And, in many ways, what this legislation does is bring together all the outstanding cooperation that we have seen, really, at an unprecedented level between our two countries that underscore our unshakeable commitment to Israel security."
The cooperation between the United States and Israel includes joint training exercises, offering access to U.S. military hardware, and direct foreign military financing.
To learn more, check out the fact sheet.
July 27, 2012
02:32 PM EDT
Secretary Salazar’s Interior Department has made dramatic progress in siting utility-scale renewable energy projects on our public lands over the past three years. When President Obama came into office in January 2009, there were no solar projects permitted on our public lands -- despite the availability of world class solar resources in the tens of millions of acres of public lands in the sunny desert southwest.
What a difference three years can make. As of July 2012, our Department has permitted 31 major renewable energy projects with the capacity to generate nearly 7,000 megawatts and meet the power needs of about two million homes. A majority of that new renewable energy involves utility-scale solar projects. Indeed, workers are constructing – right now -- some of the world’s largest solar facilities in the deserts of California and Nevada.
Dan PfeifferJuly 27, 2012
01:21 PM EDT
Lately, there’s been a rumor swirling around about the current location of the bust of Winston Churchill. Some have claimed that President Obama removed the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and sent it back to the British Embassy.
Now, normally we wouldn’t address a rumor that’s so patently false, but just this morning the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer repeated this ridiculous claim in his column. He said President Obama “started his Presidency by returning to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office.”
This is 100% false. The bust still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room.
News outlets have debunked this claim time and again. First, back in 2010 the National Journal reported that “the Churchill bust was relocated to a prominent spot in the residence to make room for Abraham Lincoln, a figure from whom the first African-American occupant of the Oval Office might well draw inspiration in difficult times.” And just in case anyone forgot, just last year the AP reported that President Obama “replaced the Oval Office fixture with a bust of one of his American heroes, President Abraham Lincoln, and moved the Churchill bust to the White House residence.”
In case these news reports are not enough for Mr. Krauthammer and others, here’s a picture of the President showing off the Churchill bust to Prime Minister Cameron when he visited the White House residence in 2010.
President Barack Obama shows Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom a bust of Sir Winston Churchill in the private residence of the White House, July 20, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Hopefully this clears things up a bit and prevents folks from making this ridiculous claim again.
Since my post on the fact that the bust of Winston Churchill has remained on display in the White House, despite assertions to the contrary, I have received a bunch of questions -- so let me provide some additional info. The White House has had a bust of Winston Churchill since the 1960’s. At the start of the Bush administration Prime Minister Blair lent President Bush a bust that matched the one in the White House, which was being worked on at the time and was later returned to the residence. The version lent by Prime Minister Blair was displayed by President Bush until the end of his Presidency. On January 20, 2009 -- Inauguration Day -- all of the art lent specifically for President Bush’s Oval Office was removed by the curator’s office, as is common practice at the end of every presidency. The original Churchill bust remained on display in the residence. The idea put forward by Charles Krauthammer and others that President Obama returned the Churchill bust or refused to display the bust because of antipathy towards the British is completely false and an urban legend that continues to circulate to this day.
Matt ComptonJuly 27, 2012
11:57 AM EDT
Yesterday, David Plouffe, Senior Advisor to President Obama, sent the message below to the White House email list, asking people to speak out in favor of extending tax cuts for the middle class. If you didn't get the email, be sure to sign up.
When the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve, taxes are scheduled to go up for 114 million middle-class families, leaving a typical family of four paying an extra $2,200 in 2013. Preventing this from happening is critical -- not just for individual people but for our overall economic recovery -- and nearly everyone in Washington agrees we need to do something about it.
We saw that yesterday when Republicans and Democrats in the Senate -- who almost never see eye to eye -- agreed to allow a vote on extending the tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans.
And it passed.
Now the only thing standing in the way is the House of Representatives. Turns out that the Republican leadership plans to hold middle-class tax cuts hostage unless they can also extend a trillion dollars worth of cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans.
President Obama isn't willing to let that happen, and today he called on the members of his Cabinet to join him in taking this message directly to the American people. The President is speaking out, and he needs you to do the same.
If the House of Representatives can follow the Senate, we can get this done without delay. That means families can budget for next year without having to figure out where they're going to find an extra $2,200.
And while there are plenty of arguments for being pessimistic, I think we can find a solution because of one important reason.
This past year, the mood in Washington has been as divided as I've ever seen it, but there's a common thread that connects each moment of success we've been able to find.
When we've been able to cut through the noise -- to keep payroll taxes low for working families, to keep the interest rates on student loans from going up -- it's because Americans from all over the country, from all walks of life, joined together in one voice and demanded a solution.
And that's what we need, starting now and continuing until middle-class families get the security they deserve.
If you speak out, we'll make sure your voice is heard in Washington. We'll make sure your story is part of the debate. We just need to hear from you to make that happen:
Senior Advisor to the President
Kori SchulmanJuly 27, 2012
10:12 AM EDT
First Lady Michelle Obama will lead the Presidential Delegation to the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London and you can follow her visit through the @LetsMove Twitter account.
— Let's Move! (@letsmove) July 27, 2012
While in London, the First Lady and the delegation -- including Olympic and Paralympic greats Brandi Chastain, Dominique Dawes, Gabriel Diaz de Leon, Grant Hill, and Summer Sanders -- will attend the Opening Ceremony, meet with U.S. athletes competing in the games, and encourage American children to be active in their daily lives.
Alan KruegerJuly 27, 2012
09:38 AM EDT
Today’s report shows that the economy posted its twelfth straight quarter of positive growth, as real GDP (the total amount of goods and services produced in the country) grew at a 1.5 percent annual rate in the second quarter of this year, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Over the last three years, the economy has expanded by 6.7 percent overall, and the private components of GDP have grown by 9.9 percent. While the economy continues to move in the right direction, additional growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the deep recession that began at the end of 2007
With today’s report, the BEA also released its annual revisions back to 2009. While the revisions did not meaningfully change the pace of growth over that entire period, it is noteworthy that State and local government purchases were revised up in 2009, which is consistent with the Recovery Act cushioning the effect of the recession and helping to launch the recovery. Since the Recovery Act funds have been phasing out, however, declining State and local government activity has subtracted from GDP. Indeed, today’s report indicates that State and local government purchases have declined for 11 straight quarters, the longest streak ever recorded since the official record of quarterly data began in 1947.
To strengthen economic growth and increase job creation, President Obama has proposed to Congress a plan that would help State and local governments retain and hire teachers and first responders, assist the construction sector and economy of tomorrow by rebuilding and modernizing our Nation’s infrastructure, and would give small businesses tax cuts to encourage them to increase payroll. President Obama also proposed extending tax cuts to protect middle class families and virtually every small business owner from getting a tax increase at the beginning of next year. The Senate passed the President’s plan this week and President Obama has said that as soon as the House will act he will sign it right away in order to give certainty and security to middle class families. Extending these tax cuts would provide more certainty for the economy for 98 percent of American families and 97 percent of small business owners.
Adam GarberJuly 27, 2012
12:00 AM EDT
This week, the President addressed the nation on the tragedy in Colorado and made Aurora his first stop on a four day trip out West, then continued to Reno to address the VFW, and to New Orleans to speak at the National Urban League. Back in Washington DC, Dr. Biden announced a major Joining Forces initiative for social workers, the President signed an Executive Order on Education, and hosted a reception at the White House to honor the International AIDS Conference taking place in Washington DC.