Read all posts from December 2012

  • Year In Review Joining Forces

    In August of 2011, President Obama challenged the private sector to hire or train 100,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013. In August of this year, First Lady Michelle Obama visited Mayport Naval Station in Florida to announce that 2,000 American companies had stepped up to the challenge, and had already exceeded that goal, hiring 125,000 veterans and military spouses more than a year ahead of schedule.

    In addition, those companies doubled down on their commitment to our troops and military families and made a new promise, a pledge to hire or train an additional 250,000 of our nation's heroes, including 50,000 military spouses.

  • President Obama urges Congress to meet its deadlines and responsibilities, protect the middle class from an income tax hike, and lay the groundwork for future progress on more economic growth and deficit reduction. 

    Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

  • Earlier this month, we reached a milestone with the news that our videos have been viewed more than 100,000,000 (that's one hundred million!) times since we launched the official White House YouTube channel on Inauguration weekend in 2009. Two of our most watched videos of all time were posted in the first week of President Obama’s term.

    Since then, viewers have had a chance to follow the President, the First Family and the Obama Administration on YouTube via almost daily video updates, including the President’s weekly address, on demand versions of all of his speeches and remarks at public events, video of events that take place at the White House like our Champions of Change celebrations, plus behind the scenes looks at everything from preparing for the holiday season and planting the Kitchen Garden each year, to West Wing Week, an up-close review of the President’s schedule.

    Check out the 10 most viewed videos below.  If you want to see more, visit our YouTube channel  -- you can subscribe for regular updates.

    December 14, 2012: President Obama makes a statement in the Brady Press Briefing room on the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

    May 1, 2010: President Obama makes a statement from the East Room at the White House on the death of Osama bin Laden.

  • President Obama delivers a statement to the press, Dec. 28, 2012.

    President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the press in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Dec. 28, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    With just four days left before tax rates are scheduled to rise, President Obama met with Senate and House leaders at the White House to talk about how Congress can prevent every American from seeing a smaller paycheck next week.

    Speaking in the Brady Press Briefing room after that meeting, the President characterized the discussion as "good and constructive" and said that he is optimistic an agreement that can pass both houses will be reached in time. But he warned Congress that the American people are losing patience, and that they must act now

    if an agreement isn’t reached in time between Senator Reid and Senator McConnell, then I will urge Senator Reid to bring to the floor a basic package for an up-or-down vote –- one that protects the middle class from an income tax hike, extends the vital lifeline of unemployment insurance to two million Americans looking for a job, and lays the groundwork for future cooperation on more economic growth and deficit reduction. 

    I believe such a proposal could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities as long as those leaders allow it to actually come to a vote. If members of the House or the Senate want to vote no, they can –- but we should let everybody vote.  That’s the way this is supposed to work. If you can get a majority in the House and you can get a majority in the Senate, then we should be able to pass a bill. 

  • 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’s release also includes visitor records generated prior to September 16, 2009 that were requested by members of the public in November 2012 pursuant to the White House voluntary disclosure policy. This release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to nearly 2.9 million—all of which can be viewed in our Disclosures section.

    Ed. note: For more information, check out

  • President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visit with members of the military at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Dec. 25, 2012

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks as he and First Lady Michelle Obama visit with members of the military and their families at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, Dec. 25, 2012. (by Pete Souza)

    Continuing what has become an annual tradition that is a highlight of their holiday celebrations, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama spent some time on Christmas Day at the Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. 

    The First Couple was there to visit with military families, and to thank them for the extraordinary work they do each and every day:

    Obviously, the greatest honor I have as President is being Commander-in-Chief. And the reason it’s an honor is because not only do we have the finest military in the world but we also have the finest fighting men and women in the world. And so many of you make sacrifices day in, day out on behalf of our freedom, on behalf of our security.  

    And not only do those in uniform make sacrifices, but I think everybody here understands the sacrifices that families make each and every day as well.  And Michelle, working with Dr. Jill Biden, has done a lot of work to focus attention on our military families to make sure that you get the support that you have earned and that you deserve.

    So I’m not going to make a long speech. Obviously, we’re still in a wartime footing. There are still folks, as we speak, who are overseas, especially in Afghanistan, risking their lives each and every day. Some of you may have loved ones who are deployed there.  Some of you may be about to be deployed there. And so we know that it’s not easy. But what we also want you to know is that you have the entire country behind you, and that all of us understand that we would be nowhere without the extraordinary service that you guys provide.

    And so we want to say thank you, we love you. 

    Watch the President's full remarks


  • Twitter Picture of President Obama Answering Questions

    During the #My2k Twitter Q&A with President Obama, Official White House photographer Pete Souza tweets a photo of the President typing. December 4, 2012.

    To comemmorate the end of 2012, we're looking back at the best of videos, blog posts and White House tweets. We're also highlighting some of the best online engagement events of the past year.  

    From his first day in office, President Obama has been committed to creating the most open and participatory administration in history, whether by taking questions and comments from citizens, inviting Americans to join online events with White House officials, or providing a way to engage with the government on the issues that matter most through the online petitioning platform, We the People.   

    In 2011, senior staff at the White House began holding regular "Office Hours" to answer questions on a variety of issues and topics.  Administration officials respond in real-time to questions submitted on Twitter using the hashtag #WHChat.  

    And 2012 has seen an even greater variety of online conversations, from a session to celebrate the second anniversary of the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative to an exchange on college affordability with Education Secretary @ArneDuncan, and indepth chats about the Affordable Care Act. There was even a full day of back to back discussions with policy experts following the President's State of the Union Address in January.

    Cabinet Secretaries and Senior White House staff have found these sessions to be incredibly useful, and the enthusiasm for connecting this way with citizens now goes all the way to the top: Both @VP Biden and "-bo, President Obama" also took part in twitter Q&A's this year. Check out some of the most memorable moments from Office Hours in 2012 below or on Storify.  

    To engage with us in 2013, be sure to follow us on Twitter at @Whitehouse and visit

  • Welcome to the "Best of the West (Wing Week)!"  That's right, folks, West Wing Week took some time over the holidays to reflect on a busy year in video, and to bring you some highlights from the archive. But first, a quick wrap up of the President's week.

  • As 2012 comes to a close, we’re looking back at some of the year’s policy milestones, including legislation President Obama signed this summer that stopped student loan interest rates from doubling for more than 7 million students.

    The legislation saved young people $1,000 on average, but it was also important for another reason: it happened because of you. President Obama called on Congress to keep interest rates low on student loans, and thousands of you made your voice heard on the issue, telling Congress “don’t double my rate.”

    All across the country, people like you spoke out. You raised your voices on Twitter and Facebook. You sent emails and talked to your friends and neighbors.

  • It was a busy year for President Obama and his Administration, and a look at some of the most viewed blog posts from throughout the year provides a quick snapshot of 2012 at the White House.

    January: Early in the year, Congress was evaluating two legislative approaches to combat online piracy, and petitions submitted to the White House's petition platform, We the People, about Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), and the Online Protection and Digital ENforcement Act (OPEN) crossed the threshold for a response from the White House. A post explaining the Administration’s desire for legislation that protects intellectual property online but does not threaten an open and innovative internet was widely viewed and shared by our readers.

    February: On February 7, more than 100 students from over 45 states brought their robots, research and new inventions to Washington for the second-ever White House Science Fair. The honorees met with Senior Administration officials, educators, and leading advocates for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math training, and some got the chance to show their projects to the President. A post and video recapping the day was a highlight that month.

    March: Since taking office, the President and First Lady have made it their mission to open up the White House to as many people as possible and the annual Easter Egg Roll is the day that sees more Americans coming to visit than any other. This year more than 35,000 tickets were issued via the public lottery, and the blog post announcing how people could enter was the most viewed post in March.

  • Paying a visit to the young patients at the Children's National Medical Center is a holiday tradition that dates back to the 1950s, when Bess Truman was First Lady. When First Lady Michelle Obama stopped by earlier this month with Bo, she took some time to read the holiday classic, "A Visit from St. Nicholas", which is better known to many Americans as "Twas the Night Before Christmas". 

  • Santa sky

    The Energy Department's Los Alamos National Lab is tracking Santa Claus as he circles the globe the night before Christmas.

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from

    Every year since 1998, the Energy Department's Los Alamos National Lab has been using state-of-the-art technology to track Santa Claus as he circles the globe the night before Christmas. You'll be able to monitor St. Nick's journey here starting at 6 am ET on Christmas Eve.

    Since Santa doesn’t file his flight path with the Federal Aviation Administration, Los Alamos uses the latest technology to track his whereabouts on the globe, particularly the Cibola Flight Experiment (CFE) and Fast On-orbit Recording of TransientEvents (FORTE) satellites.

    These satellites were built respectively by Los Alamos National Lab and another partnership with Sandia National Labs, and mark a significant technological leap in the size of satellites and their abilities. They were originally put into their low-earth orbits (meaning an altitude of 1,200 miles) to help detect nuclear detonations and study lightning from space.

  • Last week, the White House hosted some of our newest followers on Pinterest for a Holiday Social. This was the latest in a series of White House social events that create opportunities for people who engage with us online to attend in-person events.

    Check out the 2012 Holiday Social in photos below, or on the White House pinboard. And be sure to follow the White House on Pinterest.

    White House Holiday Social

    We invited some of our newest followers on Pinterest to join us for a Holiday Social at the White House. Pinners toured the decorations, met with staff, and participated in a craft project. Have a look at their experience.

    Storified by The White House· Sun, Dec 23 2012 23:08:43

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    Learn more about holidays at the White House at and follow the White House on Pinterest at

    Pinners came from near and far to take in the 2012 holiday decorations and learn about how it all came together. After touring the White House and live-pinning their photos of the decorated pine, attendees met with Chief Floral Designer Laura Dowling and participated in a DIY craft. Later in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, pinners learned how Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses and his team created this year's White House gingerbread house, and took part in conversations with Ellie Schafer, Director of the White House Visitors Office, and Tina Tchen, Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama. Finally, the expert pinners talked to Macon Phillips, the Director of the Office of Digital Strategy, about what they’d like to see from the White House on Pinterest and shared tips on using the social network. 

    To find out about upcoming opportunities to join White House social events, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and now, Pinterest.

  • The 2012 holiday décor at the White House features a 300 pound representation of the President's' house made entirely from edible treats. Pastry Chef Bill Yosses and his talented team spent months planning, baking, building and decorating the structure, which is made from more than 175 pounds of gingerbread and modified gingerbread and over 50 pounds of chocolate. Instead of a white chocolate facade as in years past, Chef Yosses used a combination of wheat, rye, and white-flour to create the gingerbread, which perfectly matches the color of the house prior to 1798, when it was first painted white.

    The time lapse video lets you see how Chef Yosses and his team put the whole project together.

    Learn more:

    Check out complete coverage of the 2012 Holiday season at the White House
    Watch as Bo Obama makes a final inspection of the 2012 Holiday decorations
    Flashback: See how the White House staff created the 2009 Gingerbread House

  • In this week’s address, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and thank our brave troops and their families for their service. The President and First Lady ask the American people to visit to find ways to honor and support our veterans and military families, and say that we must all come together, as we always do, to care for each other during this holiday season.

    Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

  • President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the press in the Brady Press Briefing Room (December 21, 2012)

    President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the press in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Dec. 21, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    After a week of negotiation and debate around the fiscal cliff, President Obama took to the James S. Brady Briefing Room in the White House to talk about where we are in the fight to keep middle-class taxes from going up.

    "I just spoke to Speaker Boehner and I also met with Senator Reid," he said. "In the next few days, I've asked leaders of Congress to work towards a package that prevents a tax hike on middle-class Americans, protects unemployment insurance for 2 million Americans, and lays the groundwork for further work on both growth and deficit reduction. That's an achievable goal. That can get done in 10 days. Once this legislation is agreed to, I expect Democrats and Republicans to get back to Washington and have it pass both chambers. And I will immediately sign that legislation into law, before January 1st of next year. It’s that simple."

  • Here’s a quick glimpse at what happened this week on

    On Sunday, President Obama traveled to Newtown, CT, and spoke at an interfaith vigil for the victims of the shooting and their families. "We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change," he said. "We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law -- no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. But that can’t be an excuse for inaction."

    On Monday, we published a list of resources specifically designed for parents and guardians to provide guidance on talking to children after a traumatic event. Get more information here.

    On Wednesday, the President delivered a statement from the James S. Brady Briefing Room at the White House, where he discussed his commitment to reducing the epidemic of gun violence that plagues this country every single day. "We know this is a complex issue that stirs deeply held passions and political divides," he said. "There's no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. We're going to need to work on making access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun. We're going to need to look more closely at a culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence. And any actions we must take must begin inside the home and inside our hearts. But the fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing."

    On Friday, President Obama recorded a message for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who called for action to deter mass shootings and reduce gun violence using We the People. "I just wanted to take a minute today to respond and let you know: we hear you," he said. The President reiterated his support for legislation to ban the sale of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips, as well as measure to ensure that criminals can't take advantage of legal loopholes to get their hands on a gun. He also discussed an effort he's asked Vice President Biden to lead -- to come up with a comprehensive set of proposals to help keep our children safe.

  • President Barack Obama announces the nomination of Sen. John Kerry to serve as Secretary of State (December 21, 2012)

    President Barack Obama announces the nomination of Sen. John Kerry, right, to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Dec. 21, 2012. Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, watch at left. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    This afternoon, speaking from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, President Obama nominated Senator John Kerry to serve as Secretary of State.

    "Over these many years, John has earned the respect and confidence of leaders around the world," the President said. "He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job training. He has earned the respect and trust of his Senate colleagues, Democrats and Republicans. I think it’s fair to say that few individuals know as many presidents and prime ministers, or grasp our foreign policies as firmly as John Kerry. And this makes him a perfect choice to guide American diplomacy in the years ahead."

  • President Barack Obama speaks at the funeral service for Hawaiian Senator Daniel Inouye

    President Barack Obama speaks at the funeral service for Hawaiian Senator Daniel Inouye at Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Dec. 21, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    This afternoon, President Obama spoke at the funeral service for Daniel Inouye, the late senator from Hawaii.

    President Obama explained that he first took notice of Senator Inouye as an 11-year-old boy, watching the Watergate hearings on TV. 

    Now, here I was, a young boy with a white mom, a black father, raised in Indonesia and Hawaii.  And I was beginning to sense how fitting into the world might not be as simple as it might seem.  And so to see this man, this senator, this powerful, accomplished person who wasn't out of central casting when it came to what you'd think a senator might look like at the time, and the way he commanded the respect of an entire nation I think it hinted to me what might be possible in my own life.

    This was a man who as a teenager stepped up to serve his country even after his fellow Japanese Americans were declared enemy aliens. A man who believed in America even when its government didn't necessarily believe in him. That meant something to me. It gave me a powerful sense -- one that I couldn’t put into words -- a powerful sense of hope.

  • In an open letter to parents, First Lady Michelle Obama offers some ideas for discussing the tragedy in Newtown with children and young people. Read the First Lady’s letter below:

    Dear parents,

    Like every American, Barack and I are absolutely heartbroken about the unspeakable tragedy that occurred last week in Newtown, Connecticut.  And like so many of you, our first reactions were not as a President and First Lady, but as a Mom and Dad.  We were asking ourselves, what if this had been our town, or our school, or our girls? 

    And we know that all across the country, it’s not just adults who are asking questions right now – our children are looking for answers as well.  Like us, they want to know, why did this happen? 

    Could it happen again?  And as parents, all of us can take the time to hold our kids close and talk with them about the things that truly matter: our love for them, the importance of extending that love to those affected by this tragedy, and how that love truly defines our great American community.

    We can tell our kids that we’re doing everything we can to keep them safe and make sure they feel loved – and so are their teachers, coaches, faith leaders, Scout leaders and everyone else who plays a role in their lives. 

    We can remind them to be grateful for the educators who work every day to help them achieve their dreams – and for the first responders who risk their lives at a moment’s notice to protect ours.

    We can tell them about the extraordinary people of Newtown and how they have responded to unspeakable tragedy: the educators who sprang into action; the children who carefully followed instructions and comforted each other amidst the chaos; the neighbors and faith leaders who have come together to support one another.

    And finally, we can tell them that it’s our job now to stand with the people of Newtown – to pray for them and to find ways, large and small, to show them that they are not alone in their grief.  It is now up to us to carry the memory of those who were lost in our hearts and to follow their example every day, living our lives as they lived theirs – with courage, determination, hope and love.  Those are the values that give us our strength as Americans and that we return to in times of crisis – not just because they help us heal, but because they define who we are, as a people and as a nation.

    May the memories of those we lost be a blessing to their families, their community and our country, and may God be with the people of Newtown as they begin the slow and painful work of healing and moving forward. 


    Michelle Obama