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Read all posts from January 2013
Erin LindsayJanuary 31, 2013
05:39 PM EDT
This afternoon, Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, sat down with a group of immigration reform advocates and leaders from across the country to discuss President Obama's plan to fix our broken immigration system in a live Google+ Hangout. During the virtual roundtable discussion, participants asked questions about the President's vision on topics ranging from creating an earned path to citizenship, the DREAM Act, Startup visas for entrepreneurs, and the role of the faith community in the immigration reform debate. In case you missed the live event, check out the full video and learn more about the plan.
This "Fireside Hangout" was moderated by Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and founder of Define American, and guests included America Ferrera, co-chair of Voto Latino's I'm Ready for Immigration Reform campaign, Jim Wallis, President and CEO of Sojourners, Cristina Jimenez, Managing Director of United We Dream and Shervin Pishevar, Managing Director at Menlo Ventures and co-founder of Start Up Visa Movement.
The hangout is part of an ongoing series of conversations with administration officials on Google+. In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll continue to host hangouts with White House staff on a range of second term priorities. Follow us on Google+ for updates from the Administration and opportunities to participate in online engagement events.
January 31, 2013
05:33 PM EDT
During recent days we have had the honor as part of a U.S. Presidential Delegation to accompany more than 150 U.S. Special Olympians to the 2013 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. In addition to the Opening Ceremonies of the games on Tuesday, the Presidential Delegation had a unique chance to spend time with the athletes and view some of the events.
While we have made a special effort to cheer on the U.S. athletes on behalf of the President, the Special Olympics is about far more than winning – it’s about encouraging diversity, celebrating inclusion and recommitting to the human rights of persons with disabilities around the world.
People with disabilities come from all walks of life, genders, every social class, and all religious traditions. Most of us have a family member, friend or acquaintance with a disability. People with disabilities make tremendous contributions to our society, to our families, to our neighborhoods – adding to the diversity that makes America a unique and special place to call home.
January 31, 2013
12:13 PM EDT
Battle buddies aren’t just for the Army. For the past quarter century, The Posse Foundation has been identifying talented students from large urban public school systems and sending them in teams (Posses) to some of the top colleges and universities in the nation. Since 1989, close to 5,000 students have received $500,000,000 in scholarships from Posse’s 44 partner colleges and universities. These young people are graduating at a rate of 90 percent.
In an effort to increase the college-going and graduation rates of veterans at highly selective colleges and universities across the country, The Posse Foundation, in partnership with Vassar College joined forces to announce its Veterans Posse Program, a new college success initiative. Posse plans to expand this initiative to other colleges and other cities over the next several years.
By adapting the Posse model to serve U.S. Veterans, Posse believes that it can exponentially increase the college-going rates and success of veterans on elite college campuses. Vassar College has committed to adopting the program on its campus and will supplement GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon funding to guarantee full tuition for each admitted veteran. Posse, using its unique recruitment method, will each year identify, recruit and train the veterans. The Veterans Posse will attend college together and receive support from both Posse and Vassar through to graduation.
This year’s recipients have demonstrated exceptional leadership and remind us of the immense value that veterans can bring to selective institutions of higher education and to the workforce.
January 30, 2013
10:50 PM EDT
President Obama knows that promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls at home and abroad is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do, as Secretary Clinton has famously said. A growing body of evidence — and our own experience — shows us that families, communities and countries are more prosperous and secure when, as President Obama said this month, “you unleash the power of everyone, not just some”. That’s why we’ve taken steps to achieve that simple and profound goal, from establishing the White House Council on Women and Girls, to launching a multilateral initiative to expand women’s political and economic participation, to developing a new strategy to prevent and respond to violence against women, to implementing a national action plan to promote the inclusion of women in conflict resolution and peace processes, to focusing on women and girls for greater impact in our global health and food security initiatives.
And Secretary Clinton’s leadership in integrating the advancement of women and girls into U.S. foreign policy has been indispensable. With the tireless assistance of our first-ever Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues, Melanne Verveer, she has elevated these issues in our diplomacy and ensured progress for women and societies for generations to come.
Heather ZichalJanuary 30, 2013
05:08 PM EDT
Since taking office, President Obama has been focused on building an energy economy in the United States that is cleaner as well as more efficient and secure. As part of that effort, the Administration has taken historic action over the past few years to support the development and deployment of renewable energy that will create new jobs and jumpstart new industries in America. And we are making significant progress towards those goals.
Today, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has released its Fourth Quarter Market Report for 2012, which highlights a number of exciting milestones.
The American wind industry had its best year ever in 2012, with more than 13,000 MW installed. In the fourth quarter alone, more than 8,000 MW were deployed – an all-time record for the industry and twice as much wind as the previous record set in the fourth quarter 2009.
Thanks to this growth, the wind industry was able to achieve another milestone in 2012: achieving 60 GW of cumulative wind capacity in the United States. To put it another way, the United States today has more than 45,000 wind turbines that provide enough electricity to power 14.7 million homes – roughly equivalent to the number of homes in Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, and Ohio combined.
Alan KruegerJanuary 30, 2013
09:30 AM EDT
According to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis today, real GDP edged down 0.1 percent at an annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2012, amid signs that Hurricane Sandy disrupted economic activity and Federal defense spending declined precipitously, likely due to uncertainty stemming from the sequester. This was the first quarterly drop in real GDP in three-and-a-half years (see first chart below). Over the last fourteen quarters, the economy has expanded by 7.5 percent overall, and the private components of GDP have grown by 10.9 percent. During the four quarters of 2012, real GDP grew by 1.5 percent, the third consecutive year of economic expansion. Over this period, real GDP growth has been led by an expansion in the private sector (see second chart below).
Several private sector components of GDP continued to make positive contributions to growth in the fourth quarter. Personal consumption expenditures, the single largest component of GDP, increased by 2.2 percent at an annual rate in 2012:Q4, as compared with 1.6 percent in the previous quarter. Residential investment grew by 15.3 percent last quarter and has increased for seven consecutive quarters, the longest streak since 2004-2005. Business investment in equipment and software grew at its fastest pace in more than a year, rising 12.4 percent.
Federal defense purchases declined at an annual rate of 22.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, the largest quarterly decline in 40 years. A likely explanation for the sharp decline in Federal defense spending is uncertainty concerning the automatic spending cuts that were scheduled to take effect in January, and are currently scheduled to take effect on March 1st. The decline in government spending across all levels reduced real GDP by 1.33 percentage points in the quarter.
Erin LindsayJanuary 29, 2013
06:18 PM EDT
On Thursday, learn more about President Obama’s vision for a 21st century immigration system as the White House hosts the next in an ongoing series of conversations with administration officials on Google+. Starting at 1:00 p.m. ET on January 31, Cecilia Muñoz, the Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, will join the latest "Fireside Hangout"– a 21st century take on FDR’s famous radio addresses – to talk about immigration reform.
The conversation will be moderated by Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and founder of Define American, and Ms. Muñoz will discuss the President’s proposal for comprehensive immigration reform with participants, which will include America Ferrera, Co-chair of Voto Latino's I'm Ready for Immigration Reform campaign, Jim Wallis, President and CEO of Sojourners, Cristina Jimenez, Managing Director of United We Dream and Shervin Pishevar, Managing Director at Menlo Ventures and Co-Founder of Start Up Visa Movement. You can watch the hangout live on WhiteHouse.gov, or tune in to the White House’s Google+ page on Thursday, January 31 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Earlier today, the President traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada to speak about the need for a fair and effective immigration system that lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. The President’s proposal for immigration reform has four parts. First, continue to strengthen our borders. Second, crack down on companies that hire undocumented workers. Third, hold undocumented immigrants accountable before they can earn their citizenship; this means requiring undocumented workers to pay their taxes and a penalty, move to the back of the line, learn English, and pass background checks. Fourth, streamline the legal immigration system for families, workers, and employers.
Don’t forget to tune-in on Thursday, January 31 at 1:00 p.m. ET on WhiteHouse.gov, or on the White House’s Google+ page. In the weeks and months ahead we’ll continue to host hangouts with key members of the President’s Cabinet on a range of second term priorities. Follow us on Google+ for updates from the Administration and opportunities to participate in upcoming online engagement events.
Megan SlackJanuary 29, 2013
02:30 PM EDT
Today, President Obama spoke from Las Vegas about creating a fair and effective immigration system that lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.
"I’m here because most Americans agree that it’s time to fix a system that’s been broken for way too long." President Obama said. "I’m here because business leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, law enforcement, and leaders from both parties are coming together to say now is the time to find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as the land of opportunity. Now is the time to do this so we can strengthen our economy and strengthen our country’s future."
The good news, President Obama said, is that for the first time in many years, there is bipartisan support for comprehensive immigration reform. But action must follow.
"We can't allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate. We've been debating this a very long time," he explained. "As a consequence, to help move this process along, today I’m laying out my ideas for immigration reform."
President Obama's proposal for immigration reform has four parts. First, continue to strengthen our borders. Second, crack down on companies that hire undocumented workers. Third, hold undocumented immigrants accountable before they can earn their citizenship; this means requiring undocumented workers to pay their taxes and a penalty, move to the back of the line, learn English, and pass background checks. Fourth, streamline the legal immigration system for families, workers, and employers.
Gayle SmithJanuary 29, 2013
09:09 AM EDT
Americans and people all over the world have been moved by the images of courageous Syrians standing up to a brutal regime, even as they suffer the consequences of the violence waged against them by the Assad government. Right now, humanitarian conditions in Syria are deteriorating in the face of a massive, man-made humanitarian emergency. People have been forced from their homes; schools, clinics and bakeries continue to be targeted; and food prices are on the rise as winter takes hold.
The numbers are staggering. According to the United Nations, an estimated 2.5 million people are displaced inside of Syria, and over 678,000 people have fled to neighboring countries. Their stories touch us all, and the American people will continue to stand with them. That is why President Obama announced today that he has approved a new round of humanitarian assistance, an additional $155 million to provide for the urgent and pressing needs of civilians in Syria and refugees forced to flee the violence of the Assad regime. This brings America’s contribution to date to $365 million, making the United States the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people.
Our assistance is being delivered all across Syria and is providing food, clean water, medicines and medical treatment for hundreds of thousands of people. It will expand the delivery of vaccines for children and clothing and winter supplies for millions of people facing both the regime’s brutality and the hardships of winter. It will supply flour to bakeries in Aleppo to provide daily bread, and allow families to feed their children; it will finance field hospitals to care for those who are wounded; and it will provide care and services for the growing number of victims of sexual violence. Our assistance also supports a growing number of refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.
Colleen CurtisJanuary 28, 2013
05:51 PM EDT
As NBA world champions, the Miami Heat are used to receiving honors and acclaim, but during a reception today with President Obama, the team's standout forward -- and reigning league MVP -- LeBron James made it clear that this celebration was unlike any other. "We're in the White House right now," he said. "This is like, hey, mama, I made it."
The team was invited to commemorate their award-winning 2012 season, but in his remarks, President Obama thanked the group for spending time with some wounded warriors at Walter Reed, and paid tribute to the important role team leaders including James, Chris Bosh and captain Dwayne Wade, also play off the court:
One of the things I’m proudest of is that they take their roles as fathers seriously. And for all the young men out there who are looking up to them all the time, for them to see somebody who cares about their kids and is there for them day in and day out, that's a good message to send. It’s a positive message to send, and we’re very proud of them for that.
Megan SlackJanuary 28, 2013
03:02 PM EDT
Today, President Obama and Vice President Biden continued the conversation about reducing gun violence in a meeting with law enforcement officials.
No group is more important in helping make our communities safer, President Obama said, because they recognize that it’s not only the high-profile mass shootings that need to be addressed, but also the everyday gun violence that happens in cities and towns across the country.
That’s why part of the conversation that we're going to be having today relates not only to the issue of new laws or better enforcement of our gun laws, it also means what are we doing to make sure that we've got the strongest possible law enforcement teams on the ground? What are we doing to hire more cops? What are we doing to make sure that they're getting the training that they need? What are we doing to make sure our sheriff's offices in rural counties have access to some of the resources that some of the big cities do in order to deal with some of these emergencies?
Two weeks ago, President Obama issued 23 executive actions to help reduce gun violence, and called on Congress to pass laws that will help keep guns out of the wrong hands, ban assault and high-capacity magazines, make our schools safer, and increase access to mental health services. Read more about the plan here.
January 28, 2013
12:53 PM EDT
The Affordable Care Act will help small businesses by lowering premium cost growth and increasing access to quality, affordable health insurance. Depending on whether you’re a small employer or a larger employer, different provisions of the Affordable Care Act may apply to you as described below.
1. Businesses with Fewer than 25 Employees- Small Business Tax Credits
The Affordable Care Act does not require that businesses provide health insurance, but it offers tax credits for eligible small businesses that choose to provide insurance to their employees. To qualify for a small business tax credit of up to 35 percent (up to 25 percent for non-profits), you must have:
- Fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees
- Pay average annual wages below $50,000
- Contribute 50 percent or more toward employee health insurance premiums
Matt ComptonJanuary 26, 2013
05:30 AM EDT
January 25, 2013
05:12 PM EDT
Here’s a quick glimpse at what happened this week on WhiteHouse.gov:
Inauguration Weekend: On Saturday, Americans across the country took part in the National Day of Service, a project started four years ago to honor the life and legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The First Family kicked off the weekend at Burrville Elementary School in Washington, D.C. where they worked on school improvements. Watch the President and First Lady speak at the service event here.
On Sunday, in accordance with the Constitution which states the President must take the oath of office on January 20 in the year of an inauguration, President Obama and Vice President Biden were officially sworn in. Check out video of the President taking the oath at the White House and the Vice President taking the oath at the Naval Observatory.
Inauguration Day: On Monday, President Obama delivered his Inaugural Address to the country and was publicly sworn in for a second term. Fittingly on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President Obama shared his vision for a second term. President Obama said, “My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together.”
Matt ComptonJanuary 25, 2013
03:01 PM EDT
President Obama today tapped Denis McDonough to serve as his Chief of Staff and lead the team at the White House.
McDonough, 43, was previously the Deputy National Security Advisor. He began his career as a staffer on Capitol Hill -- where he served in both in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. In the White House, he previously served as the head of strategic communications for the National Security Council and as the NSS chief of staff.
"Denis has played a key role in every major national security decision of my presidency," the President said, "from ending the war in Iraq to winding down the war in Afghanistan; from our response to natural disasters around the world like Haiti and the tsunami in Japan to the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' to countless crises in between, day and night -- and that includes many nights. I’ve actually begun to think that Denis likes pulling all-nighters. The truth is nobody out-works Denis McDonough."
Matt ComptonJanuary 25, 2013
03:00 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’s release includes visitor records generated during the month of October 2012. This release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to more than 2.9 million—all of which can be viewed in our Disclosures section.
Ed. note: For more information, check out Ethics.gov.
Colleen CurtisJanuary 25, 2013
12:20 PM EDT
Most of America was introduced to Richard Blanco on Monday when he stepped to the podium at the U.S. Capitol to read "One Today," the poem he had written to celebrate the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. Blanco, the gay son of Cuban exiles, is the fifth person to be chosen to write an inaugural poem, and the youngest person to be given that honor. (Previous inaugural poets include Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.) In the video below, Blanco talks about his desire to create a poem of unity and love, as he believes the occasion demanded.
Adam GarberJanuary 24, 2013
09:10 PM EDT
This week, Washington D.C. was transformed into an historic stage, with an estimated one million people on hand to witness the President and Vice President take the Oath of Office at the United States Capitol. Through it all, West Wing Week was there, from the terrace of the Capitol to backstage at the balls. America, take a moment to look back at where we've been this week for this special edition of West Wing Week, January 18th to the 24th, or "Behind the Scenes: Inauguration 2013."
Kori SchulmanJanuary 24, 2013
05:20 PM EDT
This afternoon, Vice President Biden sat down with Americans from around the country to talk about proposals to reduce gun violence in a live Google+ Hangout. During the virtual roundtable, participants from all different backgrounds asked the Vice President about topics ranging from an assault weapons ban to the Second Amendment and from mental health checks to making our schools safer. In case you missed the event live, check out the full video below, and learn more about the plan.
This "Fireside Hangout" was hosted by Google and moderated by Hari Sreenivasan of PBS NewsHour with guests including: Guy Kawasaki, an author and technology expert; Phil DeFranco, a media entrepreneur and host of the Phil Defranco show on YouTube; Theresa Ttillett, a mother and grandmother living in Hartford, CT; and Kimberley Blaine, a blogger and therapist who leads several parenting communities on Google+. This was the Vice President's first hangout, and the first White House hangout of the second term.
Megan SlackJanuary 24, 2013
04:45 PM EDT
Today, President Obama announced he would nominate Richard Cordray to continue as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, established by the Wall Street Reform Act President Obama signed into law in 2010, is charged with overseeing the federal financial laws that specifically protect consumers—people who keep their money in banks and credit unions, pay for goods and services with their credit cards, and rely on loans to buy homes or pay for college, among other services.
“Over the last year, Richard has proved to be a champion of American consumers,” President Obama said.
Thanks to his leadership, we’ve made it tougher for families to be tricked into mortgages they can’t afford. We’ve set clearer rules so that responsible lenders know how to operate fairly. We’ve launched a “Know Before You Owe” campaign to help parents and students make smart decisions about paying for college. We’ve cracked down on credit card companies that charge hidden fees, and forced those companies to make things right. And through it all, Richard has earned a reputation as a straight shooter and somebody who’s willing to bring every voice to the table in order to do what’s right for consumers and our economy.
Have questions about how the Wall Street Reform Act is helping protect consumers? Watch the video below, or check out this handy explainer, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 101: Why We Need a Consumer Watchdog.