Read all posts from May 2013

  • President Barack Obama greets President Peña Nieto of Mexico at the Palacio Nacional

    President Barack Obama greets President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico at the Palacio Nacional, Mexico City, Mexico, May 2, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    On the first day of his trip to Mexico and Costa Rica, President Obama was in Mexico City for meetings and a joint press conference with President Peña Nieto.

    The two leaders, who first met in Washington, DC last November, discussed the broad range of issues that bind our nations and affect the daily lives of citizens in both countries, and renewed their commitment to a strong relationship between the United States and Mexico.

    President Barack Obama participates in a press conference with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico

    President Barack Obama participates in a press conference with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico at the Palacio Nacional, Mexico City, Mexico, May 2, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    While working together to confront urgent challenges like security, “we can’t lose sight of the larger relationship between our peoples, including the promise of Mexico’s economic progress,” President Obama said. “I believe we’ve got a historic opportunity to foster even more cooperation, more trade, more jobs on both sides of the border, and that’s the focus of my visit.”  

  • In the latest installment of "Being Biden," the Vice President tells the story behind a photo taken with Senator John McCain, just before speaking at the McCain Institute for International Leadership in Sedona, Arizona. Listen:

    You can check out to the full series at, and also sign up to receive an email update when new stories are posted.

  • While more work remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we remain focused on pursuing policies to speed job creation and expand the middle class, as we continue to dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007.

    Today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that private sector businesses added 176,000 jobs last month. Total non-farm payroll employment rose by 165,000 jobs in April. The February and March employment estimates were revised up by a total of 114,000 jobs. The economy has now added private sector jobs every month for 38 straight months, and a total of 6.8 million jobs has been added over that period.  Over 800,000 private sector jobs have been added over the last four months.

    The household survey showed that the unemployment rate edged down from 7.6 percent in March to 7.5 percent in April, the lowest rate since December 2008. The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 63.3 percent in April.

  • This week, President Obama spoke at the Planned Parenthood conference and the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, met with the King of Jordan, made five personnel announcements, celebrated the sciences and the Joining Forces Initiative, and embarked on a trip to Mexico and Costa Rica.

  • Today, President Obama will make his fourth visit to Mexico and continue on to Costa Rica on what is also his sixth visit to Latin America. On this journey, the President hopes to highlight and reinforce the deep cultural, familial, and economic ties that so many Americans share with Mexico and Central America, and to promote economic growth across the region.

    Ahead of these visits, President Obama convened two important consultations at the White House to hear from U.S. businesses and U.S. Latino leaders. The purpose of these meetings was to hear from business working directly in the region, and organizations with a particular interest in Latin America and its diaspora in the United States, about ways to foster economic development and growth for our shared future as a hemisphere.
    Last Friday, a group of business leaders, representing a cross-section of companies doing business in Mexico and Latin America, held a lively discussion with the President. The meeting was a chance for the President to hear about emerging trends in the Western Hemisphere and what the United States government can do to foster economic growth in the Americas to help companies create jobs for middle class families on both sides of the border.

  • President Obama with Mike Froman and  Penny Pritzker in the Rose Garden, May 2, 2013.

    President Barack Obama announces the nominations of Penny Pritzker as Secretary of Commerce, and Mike Froman as U.S. Trade Representative, in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 2, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    President Obama today began a three day trip to Mexico and Costa Rica, where he will meet with leaders to discuss ways the U.S. can deepen our economic and trade relationships across Latin America –- relationships that create jobs and growth here at home, and offer our businesses growing markets where they can sell more American-made goods and services abroad.  

    Before he left the country, the President spoke in the Rose Garden and announced his intention to nominate two "outstanding individuals" to his Cabinet. 

    Penny Pritzker is President Obama's choice for Secretary of Commerce. The President praised the Chicago businesswoman, who was a member of his Jobs Council. "Penny is one of our country’s most distinguished business leaders," he said.

    She's got more than 25 years of management experience in industries including real estate, finance, and hospitality. She’s built companies from the ground up. She knows from experience that no government program alone can take the place of a great entrepreneur. She knows that what we can do is to give every business and every worker the best possible chance to succeed by making America a magnet for good jobs.

    And Penny understands that just as great companies strengthen the community around them, strong communities and skilled workers also help companies thrive.  

  • On Thursday, President Obama leaves on a three day trip to Mexico and Costa Rica, where he will meet with key leaders to discuss a range of issues. In Mexico the President will meet with his counterpart, President Peña Nieto, on ways we can deepen our economic and commercial partnership.

    In Costa Rica, President Chinchilla will host a meeting with President Obama and heads of state of the other Central American countries and the Dominican Republic, where the leaders can discuss our collective efforts to promote economic growth and development in Central America and our ongoing collaboration on citizen security.

    We asked Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, to preview the upcoming trip and some of the issues the President would be discussing in his meetings. Check it out below or watch the video on YouTube

  • President Barack Obama announces the nominations of Rep. Melvin Watt as Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency and Tom Wheeler as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission

    President Barack Obama announces the nominations of Rep. Melvin Watt, left, as Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and Tom Wheeler, right, as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in the State Dining Room of the White House, May 1, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    President Obama announced his intent to nominate a new director of the Federal Housing Finance Authority and new Federal Communications Chair, “two outstanding individuals who are going to help us grow our economy, but are also going to be looking out for the middle class.”

    Seven years after the housing bubble burst, we’re starting to see some bright spots in one of the most important parts of our economy, President Obama said. But we still have more work to do:

    We've got responsible homeowners who have never missed a payment, but aren’t allowed to refinance.  We've got working families who are doing everything right, but still owe more on their homes than they’re worth. We've got young people who are trying to start a family and get into the housing market, and have seen difficulties in terms of financing.

    President Obama’s pick for FHFA director, Rep. Melvin Watt, has served for 20 years as a member of the congressional committee that oversees housing policy.

    And in that capacity, Mel has led efforts to rein in unscrupulous mortgage lenders. He’s helped protect consumers from the kind of reckless risk-taking that led to the financial crisis in the first place. And he’s fought to give more Americans in low-income neighborhoods access to affordable housing.

  • We can't talk about We the People without getting into the numbers -- more than 8 million users, more than 200,000 petitions, more than 13 million signatures. The sheer volume of participation is, to us, a sign of success.

    And there's a lot we can learn from a set of data that rich and complex, but we shouldn't be the only people drawing from its lessons.

    So starting today, we're making it easier for anyone to do their own analysis or build their own apps on top of the We the People platform. We're introducing the first version of our API, and we're inviting you to use it.

    Get started here:

    This API provides read-only access to data on all petitions that passed the 150 signature threshold required to become publicly-available on the We the People site. For those who don't need real-time data, we plan to add the option of a bulk data download in the near future. Until that's ready, an incomplete sample data set is available for download here.

    A couple months ago, we invited a group of developers and tech experts to the White House for a hackathon to kick the tires on an early version of the API, and we've also published a gallery of some of those projects -- including links to live examples and GitHub repositories. You'll see maps that show the geographic support for a range of petitions, a time-lapse visualization of zip codes where petitions are being signed, an embeddable thermometer that shows progress toward crossing the signature threshold for any given petition, and a range of data analysis.

    Coming up on June 1, as part of the National Civic Day of Hacking, we'll host another hackathon here at the White House. Today we're also making the GitHub repo open to the public -- where participants will be collaborating with each other and the White House development team.

    This first version of the API is just the start, by the way. Now, we're turning our efforts to a Write API that will allow individuals to collect and submit signatures from their own platforms without directly sending users to We the People. After that, we'll work to decouple the presentation and data layers of the application and begin building a new, streamlined signature process. We hope you'll follow the process and continue offering your thoughts and feedback.

    At its most basic, We the People is a conversation. Individuals ask questions of the White House, and the Obama administration responds. What this API allows us to do is broaden the discussion -- make it as flexible, open, and transparent as possible. And if you take the time to build a tool that leverages the API, you'll be making it easier for others to take part in this national dialogue.

    So we hope you'll check it out.

    To learn more about open data and open source projects at the White House, visit Also, please feel free to contact us via the developers feedback form or to follow our tech team on Twitter @WHWeb.

    Update: Go here to download the full We the People bulk dataset. 

    Leigh Heyman is the Director of New Media Technologies for the Executive Office of the President. 

  • President Barack Obama Delivers Remarks at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., April 23, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    On April 23 of last year, President Obama visited the Holocaust Museum, and unveiled a comprehensive strategy to prevent mass atrocities.

    In his remarks at the Museum, the President reflected on places where the United States’ efforts had helped prevent or mitigate surges of violence – and had saved innocent lives. He spoke of our efforts surrounding the South Sudan independence referendum, the measures we had taken to counter the Lord’s Resistance army in Central Africa, and the coalition that we and our allies formed to protect the people of Benghazi.

    The President also noted that for every success we have in preventing and stemming violence, there will always be more work to be done. And he made clear that, for all the challenges we will face, we must continue to do what we can.  We must strive for a future where there is a “place for dignity for every human being,” and make this, “the work of our nation and all nations. “