Read all posts from April 2013
April 30, 2013
04:26 PM EDT
With more than a million veterans returning home to our nation’s shores over the next five years, we have an unprecedented opportunity – and a civic obligation – to strengthen their pathways to success. To prepare for their return home and their transition back to civilian life, the Obama Administration sought – early on– to bring diverse government partners to the table, calling for an interagency planning effort to support Service members’ career readiness.
In response to President Obama’s call to action for a career-ready military in August 2011, the Veterans Employment Initiative Task Force was launched, under the leadership of the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. This interagency effort has brought together a collaboration of federal agencies – including Education, the Small Business Administration, Labor, Homeland Security and the Office of Personnel Management, as well as our military services and National Guard and Reserves – as partners, working together on the first major redesign of the military’s Transition Assistance Program in over twenty years to develop a comprehensive, outcome-based re-entry program now called Transition Goals, Plans, Success (Transition GPS).
Each of the partner federal agencies is contributing leadership and resources to activate the implementation of Transition GPS, in accordance with the VOW to Hire Heroes Act signed into law November 21, 2011. Key to this work has been the development of a core 3-day curriculum, career readiness standards, three optional tracks for transition (Higher Education, Technical Training, and Entrepreneurship), as well as options for learning in brick-and-mortar classrooms and online. Throughout their participation, Service members will receive individualized counseling and support in the preparation of a transition plan. The program also provides Service members who are exiting active duty with an education transcript, resume, access to labor market information, employment and housing opportunities, benefits information, mentoring resources, and other support services.
Megan SlackApril 30, 2013
04:22 PM EDT
Today, President Obama held a press conference in the briefing room at the White House. He answered questions from reporters about Syria, the sequester, implementation of the Affordable Care Act and more.
President Obama said that the United States has been deeply engaged and involved in bringing about a solution to the “slowly unfolding disaster for the Syrian people.”
“What’s happening in Syria is a blemish on the international community generally, and we've got to make sure that we're doing everything we can to protect the Syrian people,” he said.
"And when I am making decisions about America’s national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapon use, I've got to make sure I've got the facts,” President Obama said. “That's what the American people would expect.”
But even if chemical weapons were not being used in Syria, we’d still be thinking about tens of thousands of people, innocent civilians -- women, children -- who’ve been killed by a regime that’s more concerned about staying in power than it is about the well-being of its people. And so we are already deeply invested in trying to find a solution here.
Valerie JarrettApril 30, 2013
01:44 PM EDT
A hundred years ago, a Chicago lawyer named Sigmund Livingston raised his voice and launched a movement. He declared his mission was “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Today, we congratulate the Anti-Defamation League on its 100th anniversary.
We all know the quote that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” But there’s a corollary: that arc bends faster when it is pushed, and the ADL has always pushed. The ADL was there at the height of World War II, defying hate groups and fighting against the brutal onslaught of anti-Semitism. The ADL was there in the 1950s, during Brown v. Board of Education, fighting for desegregation. And the ADL was there pushing for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Today, we are proud to work with the ADL on a wide range of issues, as we follow President Obama’s charge to work towards a country that is “more fair, more just, and more equal for every single child of God.”
With enormous support from ADL, the President signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. This act extends the coverage of the Federal hate crimes law to include attacks based on the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
President Obama upheld this country’s highest ideals by repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” As he put it, “we are not a nation that says, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ We are a nation that says, ‘Out of many, we are one.’”
Together with the ADL, we stand against bullying. In 2011, we held the first-ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention, attended by the President and First Lady. The ADL has been out front in equipping families and educators in the fight against bullying, both in person and online.
Together with the ADL, we stand with the Dreamers who were brought into this country as children, many of whom found out as adults they weren’t citizens when they tried to apply for a job and for college.
In his ADL address in 1963, President Kennedy described citizenship to the United States as “a proud privilege.” He spoke of the millions of people who left other countries, other familiar scenes, to come here to build a new life and make a new opportunity for themselves and their children. In fifty years, that American dream has remained unchanged.
Together with the ADL, we stand with women and girls. Just a couple of months ago, President Obama signed a bill that both strengthened and reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Thanks to this bipartisan agreement, thousands of women, men, girls and boys across the country who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking will be able to access the resources they need to help heal from their trauma.
Together with the ADL, we stand against hate. President Obama made clear during his recent trip to Israel that anti-Semitism has no place in this world. He heeded the words of Dr. King, that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” That’s why we must defend justice so vigorously. That’s why we cannot tolerate anti-Semitism or any hate, at home or abroad.
President Obama said, “Not in the classrooms of children. Not in the corridors of power. And let us never forget the link between the two. For our sons and daughters are not born to hate, they are taught to hate. So let us fill their young hearts with the same understanding, the same compassion we hope others have for them.”
And together, we congratulate the ADL on their anniversary, and look forward to working with the ADL toward the day when our world is free from hate.
Valerie B. Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama. She oversees the Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs and chairs the White House Council on Women and Girls.
Valerie JarrettApril 30, 2013
01:09 PM EDT
First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks during a Joining Forces initiative employment announcement for veterans and military spouses, in the East Room of the White House, April 30, 2013. Stage participants included, from left, Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
Two years ago, President Obama announced a challenge to the private sector to hire or train 100,000 unemployed veterans or their spouses by the end of 2013.
Today, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden all participated in a Joining Forces Employment event at the White House.
The First Lady announced that America’s businesses nearly tripled the goal set by President Obama and did so eight months early. The private sector has already hired or trained 290,000 veterans and military spouses.
The First Lady also announced that American companies have committed to hire or train another 435,000 veterans and military spouses over the next five years.
April 30, 2013
10:09 AM EDT
Two years ago, we launched Joining Forces, a nationwide campaign to rally all Americans to support our veterans and military families. We did this for two simple reasons: because we were both awed by the courage and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform who risk their lives every day to protect our values and keep us safe. We were also awed by their families, the spouses and children who serve right along with them, enduring deployment after deployment with grace and resolve.
As we traveled the country visiting bases and military communities, everywhere we went, we heard from veterans who had years of training and experience in the military -- leading dozens, even hundreds of their peers; operating some of the most advanced technology; and solving complex problems under the most extreme conditions imaginable. But when they returned home, they struggled to find decent jobs. We met military spouses who'd spent decades moving from base to base every couple of years and struggled to maintain their careers. As the months passed, we saw that the unemployment rate for our most recent veterans remained far too high above the national average.
These men and women are some of the highest-skilled, best-trained, hardest-working people in this country. They are medics and engineers, drivers and welders, computer technicians and machinists. They are eager to work and determined to keep on serving this country. All they need is a chance.
Colleen CurtisApril 29, 2013
05:06 PM EDT
First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks at the White House Forum on Military Credentialing and Licensing, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium, April 29, 2013. The First Lady announces the IT Training and Certification Partnership, a new public-private partnership that will enable thousands of service members to earn industry-recognized information technology (IT) certifications before they transition from military service. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
In the ongoing effort to help our servicemembers and veterans transition from active duty service to the civilian job market, the White House today invited leaders from the private sector, the military services, industry trade associations, unions, educational institutions, state legislatures, veteran service organizations, and state licensing boards for a forum on military credentialing and licensing.
At the event, First Lady Michelle Obama announced the launch of the IT Training and Certification Partnership, a new public-private program that addresses an issue that can prevent our troops from gaining employment in the private sector: Active military personnel typically do not have the industry-recognized certifications that reflect the IT skills and expertise they gained through their military service.
Today’s announcement is the second major partnership developed through the Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force, which was established last June by the Department of Defense at President Obama’s direction. The new Partnership will provide opportunities for up to 161,000 service members to gain industry-recognized, nationally portable certifications necessary for 12 high-demand technology professions, including computer programmers, quality assurance engineers, and IT security analysts. The targeted professions are expected to generate more than 1.8 million job opportunities by 2020, and have an average annual salary of more than $81,000. Their high-quality military training assures that our veterans have the skill sets that employers demand to fill these positions
Megan SlackApril 29, 2013
04:15 PM EDT
Today, President Obama announced Anthony Foxx as his nominee for the next Secretary of Transportation.
Foxx is currently the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, which he helped turn around since taking office in 2009. Both the city and country were going through a “bruising economic crisis,” President Obama said.
“The economy is growing. There are more jobs, more opportunity,” he said. “And if you ask Anthony how that happened, he’ll tell you that one of the reasons is that Charlotte made one of the largest investments in transportation in the city’s history.”
Since Anthony took office, they’ve broken ground on a new streetcar project that’s going to bring modern electric tram service to the downtown area. They’ve expanded the international airport. And they’re extending the city’s light rail system. All of that has not only helped create new jobs, it’s helped Charlotte become more attractive to business.
President Obama said that one of the best ways we can grow our economy and rebuild opportunity for the middle class is by putting more Americans back to work by investing in rebuilding our infrastructure.
Colleen CurtisApril 29, 2013
03:22 PM EDT
President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the National Academy of Sciences on its 150th anniversary, in Washington, D.C., April 29, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
In March of 1863, President Lincoln and Congress established the National Academy of Sciences as an independent and nonprofit institution charged with providing the government with the scientific advice that it needed. Today President Obama joined the current members of that body to celebrate the advances in science, engineering, infrastructure, innovation, education and environmental protection that can be attributed to the 150 years of work by the brilliant and committed scientists who have been elected and volunteered to serve their country.
While the National Academy of Sciences was created during the Civil War to help the Union understand the challenges new iron-clad battleships would create for the Navy, President Obama praised President Lincoln's wisdom in looking forward and recognizing that finding a way to harness the highest caliber scientific advice for the government would serve a whole range of long-term goals for the nation. And he highlighted the Academy's legacy of answering big questions and solving tough problems for the benefit of the nation:
Colleen CurtisApril 28, 2013
03:13 PM EDT
President Obama last night joined Conan O'Brien onstage at the Washington Hilton for the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, and gave his fifth address to the organization of journalists who cover the White House. In his remarks, the President poked at himself, as well as some of the news organizations and politicians in the room. He also showed a spoof promo for Steven Spielberg's followup to "LIncoln," a biopic called "Obama."
But while everyone had a good laugh during the speech, President Obama closed his speech on a more serious note, reminding the audience of the important role the media plays in American society, especially during times of crisis like the Boston Marathon bombings and the explosion that killed so many first responders in West, Texas.
You can watch the entire speech below or on YouTube:
Matt ComptonApril 27, 2013
05:45 AM EDT
President Obama says that because Republicans in Congress allowed a series of harmful, automatic budget cuts—called the sequester—to take effect, important programs like Head Start are now forced to reduce their services. After travelers were stuck for hours in airports and on planes this past week, members of Congress passed a temporary band-aid measure to stop the cuts that impact airlines — but they must do more to stop cuts to vital services for the American people. That’s why it’s time for a balanced approach to deficit reduction that makes smarter cuts and reforms in the tax code while creating jobs and strengthening the middle class.
April 26, 2013
05:50 PM EDT
White House Science Fair: On Tuesday, President Obama welcomed our country’s youngest scientists and innovators for the 3rd Annual White House Science Fair. More than 100 students from more than 40 states joined the President for the all-day celebration. The President toured the fair and even hopped on a bicycle-powered, emergency water-sanitation station developed by high-school students Payton Karr and Kiona Elliott of Oakland Park, Florida.
The President launched the White House Science Fair in 2009 as way to help encourage science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. In December of 2012 the Administration announced a goal of one million new STEM graduates in the next decade, and the President’s plan works for educational opportunities and support for women and underrepresented minorities.
- Watch Bill Nye the Science Guy and LeVar Burton interview some of the young inventors
- See all the videos from the 2013 White House Science Fair
- Check out the full list of students who participated and find out more about their inventions
- Girls in STEM: A New Generation in Science
- Watch President Obama fire a marshmallow cannon at the 2012 White House Science Fair
Colleen CurtisApril 26, 2013
05:30 PM EDT
President Barack Obama and King Abdullah II of Jordan make statements to the press prior to a bilateral meeting, in the Oval Office, April 26, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama today welcomed His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan to the White House, where the two leaders once again discussed the very urgent issues impacting that country, and the rest of the world.
President Obama met with the Jordanian leader last month on his trip to the Middle East, and this afternoon he thanked the King for his "extraordinary" hospitality, and praised his efforts to foster democratization, entrepreneurship and economic development inside Jordan. In remarks to the press before their bilateral meeting, the President said that he believes Jordan can be an "extraordinary model for effective governance in the region."
Matt ComptonApril 26, 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 January 2013. This release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to nearly 3.2 million—all of which can be viewed in our Disclosures section.
Ed. note: For more information, check out Ethics.gov.
Megan SlackApril 26, 2013
02:37 PM EDT
Today, President Obama spoke at the Planned Parenthood Conference in Washington, DC, reaffirming the core principle that has guided the organization for nearly a century: that women should be allowed to make their own decisions about their own health.
President Obama thanked the doctors, nurses, advocates and staff who work tirelessly to keep the doors open for the millions of women who depend on the health services Planned Parenthood offers.
Somewhere there’s a woman who just received a new lease on life because of a screening that you provided that helped catch her cancer in time. Somewhere there’s a woman who’s breathing easier today because of the support and counseling she got at her local Planned Parenthood health clinic. Somewhere there’s a young woman starting a career who, because of you, is able to decide for herself when she wants to start a family.
“One in five women in this country has turned to Planned Parenthood for health care,” he said. “And for many, Planned Parenthood is their primary source of health care -- not just for contraceptive care, but for lifesaving preventive care, like cancer screenings and health counseling.”
Ezra MechaberApril 26, 2013
01:40 PM EDT
We see a lot of exciting things here at the White House every day, and sharing them with you is one of the best parts of our jobs. That's why we're so excited about launching a presence on Tumblr — a microblogging platform designed especially for curating and sharing content.
Here are some of the things you can expect to see on the White House Tumblr:
- Behind-the-scenes photos of life at the White House
- Quotes from President Obama
- Infographics about important issues
We're also looking forward to seeing what you have to share with us. President Obama is committed to making this the most open and accessible administration in history, and our Tumblr is no exception.
You can follow us on whitehouse.tumblr.com.
Not on Tumblr? Here are a few more ways you can engage with the White House online:
Alan KruegerApril 26, 2013
09:30 AM EDT
Today’s report indicates that the economy posted its fifteenth straight quarter of positive growth, as real GDP (the total amount of goods and services produced in the country) grew at a 2.5 percent annual rate in the first quarter of this year, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Over the last fifteen quarters, the economy has expanded by 8.3 percent overall, and the private components of GDP have grown by 12.2 percent. Real GDP is now 3.2 percent larger than it was at the previous business cycle peak in 2007:Q4. While there is more work to be done, this report, together with other economic indicators, provides further evidence that the economy is moving forward in the right direction.
It is important to recognize that GDP is made up of various components. Personal consumption expenditures, for example, rose by 3.2 percent at an annual rate in 2013:Q1, the fastest rate in over two years. Residential investment grew by 12.6 percent last quarter and has increased for eight quarters in a row, its longest streak since 2004-2005. Federal defense spending fell 11.5 percent at an annual rate in 2013:Q1, while federal nondefense spending declined at a 2.0 percent rate and state and local government purchases fell at a 1.2 percent rate.
The “advance" estimate of first quarter GDP growth encompasses the first month after sequestration began on March 1. It is likely that the contraction in Federal defense and non-defense spending, at least in part, reflects the onset of sequestration. These arbitrary and unnecessary cuts to government services will be a headwind in the months to come, and will cut key investments in the nation’s future competitiveness. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the sequester will reduce GDP growth by 0.6 percentage point for the year.
Megan SlackApril 25, 2013
06:15 PM EDT
Today, President Obama traveled to Waco, Texas to speak at a memorial service for those lost and injured in last week’s deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant in nearby West, Texas.
The President honored the first responders and volunteers from the tight-knit community who rushed to the scene as soon as the fire alarm sounded, “farmers and car salesmen; and welders and funeral home directors; the city secretary and the mayor… folks who are tough enough and selfless enough to put in a full day’s work and then be ready for more.”
And together, you answered the call. You dropped your schoolwork, left your families, jumped in fire trucks, and rushed to the flames. And when you got to the scene, you forgot fear and you fought that blaze as hard as you could, knowing the danger, buying time so others could escape. And then, about 20 minutes after the first alarm, the earth shook, and the sky went dark -- and West changed forever.
“Today our prayers are with the families of all who we’ve lost -- the proud sons and daughters of West whose memories will live on in our hearts,” President Obama said. “Our thoughts are with those who face a long road -- the wounded, the heartbroken, the families who lost their homes and possessions in an instant.”
Adam GarberApril 25, 2013
05:44 PM EDT
This week, the Vice President traveled to Boston for a memorial for Officer Collier, and the President memorialized the victims of the West Texas explosion. The President also hosted the Amir of Qatar, the Teacher of the Year, the 3rd White House Science Fair, and visited Dallas with the First Lady for the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
Colleen CurtisApril 25, 2013
01:45 PM EDT
President Barack Obama stands with former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter, at the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, Tex., April 25, 2013. Former First Ladies Laura Bush, left, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, are also pictured. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President and Mrs. Obama were in Dallas today for the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library. It was an historic occasion that brought all the living former Presidents -- Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush -- together for the first time since right before President Obama took office in 2009. They were joined by former First Ladies Roslyn Carter, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton (also a former Secretary of State, as President Obama noted) and Laura Bush.
In his remarks, President Obama highlighted the special bond that connects our past presidents, and said that despite disagreement on matters of foreign policy, all of the men on the stage with him shared "a profound respect and reverence for the men and women of our military and their families. And we are united in our determination to comfort the families of the fallen and to care for those who wear the uniform of the United States."
April 25, 2013
01:00 PM EDT
One year ago, the President established the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) that established an innovative new model of federal-local collaboration dedicated to assisting communities get back on their feet and create jobs by helping them better leverage federal resources and form key partnerships to implement economic visions. Teams of federal employees are embedded with seven Mayors across the country to provide tailored technical assistance to cut through red tape, increase government efficiency, and build partnerships to help local leaders implement sustainable economic plans.
A year later, we have learned a lot about collaboration, team work, and how the federal government can support local communities working as a team to get things done.
These lessons are outlined in the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Annual Report, which describes the impact of the SC2 Initiative and identifies emerging innovations that have the potential to be applied to many other communities working to strengthen their economies and job creation at the local level.
At a time when communities must accomplish more with every dollar of investment, SC2’s work in its first few years has already enabled communities to maximize the impact of more than $345 million in existing federal funds.