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Read all posts from July 2013
July 31, 2013
04:56 PM EDT
Today in the East Room, President Obama honored the 2013 NCAA Division I women's basketball champion UConn Huskies as a part of his commitment to celebrate sports teams that inspire their communities on and off the court.
The trip was a familiar one for the Huskies, who won the tournament and visits to the White House in 2009 and 2010. President Obama joked that eight-time NCAA champion UConn Coach Geno Auriemma "spent more time than some Presidents in the White House."
While the Huskies have a new trophy to tout, President Obama called attention to their positive impact on those around them.
Kori SchulmanJuly 31, 2013
01:28 PM EDT
Yesterday, President Obama visited the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee to discuss his plan to create jobs and grow the economy from the middle out, not the top down. Just before speaking to a crowd of Amazon employees, the President sat down for a "Kindle Singles Interview," a new long-form interview series for Amazon's e-reader.
During the conversation with Kindle Singles editor David Blum, the President explained how his past has informed his policies as President, and discussed his plans to spur growth for middle-class families and create more ladders of opportunity. You can download the interview now at www.amazon.com/kindlesingles.
The Kindle Singles Interview with President Obama is available on Kindle devices and free Kindle reading apps for iPhone, iPad, Android tablets and phones, Windows Phone, Blackberry, PC and Mac. Get the reading apps at www.amazon.com/kindleapps.
Alan KruegerJuly 31, 2013
09:30 AM EDT
This morning the Bureau of Economic Analysis released a comprehensive revision to the National Income and Product Accounts, covering the full history of data since 1929. The revision showed that the recovery from the Great Recession has been slightly faster than previously reported, with real gross domestic product (GDP) expanding by a cumulative 8.5% from 2009:Q2 to 2013:Q1, compared to the previous estimate of 8.1% growth over that period. Including the advance estimate for 2013:Q2, real GDP has risen by 9.0% since the business-cycle trough in 2009:Q2 (see chart). In addition, real GDP surpassed its pre-recession peak in 2011:Q2, two quarters sooner than was reported prior to the revision, and is 4.4% higher than it was at the business-cycle peak in 2007:Q4.
The revision also showed that while the contraction during the Great Recession was slightly less severe than previously reported, it remains the largest decline since quarterly data became available in 1947. Cumulatively, real GDP fell by 4.3% during the recession, less than the 4.7% drop previously reported. The steep drop in economic activity caused by the recession makes it imperative that more work is done to raise economic growth and speed job creation.
The comprehensive revision to the national accounts, which is the first since July 2009, includes additional source data received by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, as well as methodological changes designed to better reflect the evolving nature of the U.S. economy. For instance, the GDP data released today incorporates input-output tables derived from the once-every-five-years Economic Census, and adopts an expanded definition of business investment that includes spending on research and development (R&D) and the creation of original works of art like movies. All told, these and other changes raised the level of GDP in the first quarter of 2013 by $551 billion at an annual rate (or 3.4%), from $16.0 trillion to $16.5 trillion.
Megan SlackJuly 30, 2013
05:34 PM EDT
“We should be doing everything we can as a country to create more good jobs that pay good wages,” President Obama said. And plenty of independent economists, business owners, and people from both parties are already in agreement on some of the ingredients that we need for creating good jobs, he explained:
Putting people back to work rebuilding America’s infrastructure. Equipping our kids and our workers with the best skills. Leading the world in scientific research that helps to pave the way for new jobs in new industries. Accelerating our clean energy and natural gas revolutions. Fixing a broken immigration system so that American workers aren’t undercut, undermined because some businesses are unscrupulous and hiring folks and not paying them decent wages.
“We're not lacking for ideas, we're just lacking action, especially out of Washington,” he said.
"So I’m going to try offering something that serious people in both parties should be able to support: a deal that simplifies the tax code for our businesses and creates good jobs with good wages for middle-class folks who work at those businesses."
Secretary Kathleen SebeliusJuly 30, 2013
05:15 PM EDT
Ed Note: This is a cross post from The Huffington Post. You can find the original post here.
My 92-year-old father first ran for public office after he finished his military service in World War II. He served on the city council, and later was elected to Congress. In 1965, he helped write and voted for Medicare and Medicaid, which celebrate their 48th anniversary today.
Since then, Medicare has been a guaranteed benefit earned after a lifetime of hard work for millions of America's seniors. Medicaid has provided affordable health coverage for millions of low-income working Americans and families. Both programs have helped keep people from falling into poverty. Both have been lifelines to better health and sources of peace of mind and security.
That's why President Obama has made it a top priority to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid so that our seniors and future generations can get the health care they need and peace of mind they deserve.
Because of the health law, seniors are seeing more dollars saved in their wallets and better benefits to their health.
More than 6.6 million people on Medicare have saved an average of more than $1,000 on prescription drugs since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. That's money that has been used for groceries, utilities, and visits with grandchildren instead of being sent to drug companies -- and that's how the Affordable Care Act is closing the "donut hole" that too many seniors fall into.
Josh EarnestJuly 30, 2013
04:18 PM EDT
Yesterday, the White House released a report that provides further evidence that commonsense, bipartisan immigration reform would provide economic benefits for our nation’s agriculture sector, our workforce, and rural communities. The report highlights the strong growth states’ agriculture sectors have seen in recent years and underscores how that growth can support other parts of our economy – especially in rural communities focused on agricultural development. In fact, in many of these communities, a temporary worker program and an earned path to citizenship will boost farm output and produce other positive spillover effects. Coupled with a decline in native-born rural populations, the strength and continuity of rural America is contingent on commonsense immigration reform that improves job opportunity, provides local governments with the tools they need to succeed, and increases economic growth.
In June, the Senate passed historic legislation that is largely consistent with the President’s principles for commonsense immigration reform with a strong bipartisan vote. This bill would strengthen border security, while providing an earned path to citizenship for undocumented farmworkers who are vital to our nation’s agriculture industry, and a new temporary worker program negotiated by major grower associations and farmworker groups. If enacted, the Senate bill would result in undocumented workers paying a fine, their full share of taxes and is estimated to allow an estimated 1.5 million agricultural workers and their dependents to earn legal status. A diverse group of stakeholders know this: it’s a major reason why they are calling on the House to join the Senate in acting to fix our broken immigration system in a way that requires responsibility from everyone — both from workers here illegally and from those who hire them—and guarantees that everyone is playing by the same rules.
Valerie JarrettJuly 30, 2013
02:00 PM EDT
Yesterday, President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez met with civil rights leaders, and state and local elected officials at the White House to discuss how to safeguard every eligible American’s right to vote in light of the recent Supreme Court decision on Shelby County vs. Holder.
The Supreme Court’s decision invalidating one of the Voting Rights Act’s core provisions, upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent.
President Obama acknowledged that for nearly 50 years, the Voting Rights Act has helped secure the right to vote for millions of Americans, and expressed deep disappointment about the recent decision. He asked the leaders in the room for their ideas on how to strengthen voting rights, and also encouraged them to continue educating their communities on the Voting Rights Act, and how to exercise voting rights.
Dr. Jill BidenJuly 30, 2013
01:03 PM EDT
Before leaving Singapore this past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a BBQ with U.S. service members and their families stationed in Singapore, as well as crewmen from the USS Fitzgerald, docked in Singapore at the time. Joe and I also visited with service members, their families, and DOD employees in Hawaii, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. When Joe and I travel, we love nothing more than to meet with our men and women in uniform and their families to thank them for their service and sacrifice.
Military families face so many challenges, as spouses get deployed and families move around. When I was in Singapore, I met a woman who was in the Navy and she told me that this was her 14th move. As a military mom, I understand a bit of what these families are going through. Our son Beau was deployed for a year to Iraq as a member of the Delaware Army National Guard and our son Hunter is an Ensign in the Navy Reserves. This experience, as well as the joys and concerns we heard from military families as we traveled around the world led First Lady Michele Obama and I to start Joining Forces. It is our hope that we can rally all Americans to support our veterans and military families. Joining Forces brings together public and private resources to help with the employment, education, and wellness of our veterans, servicemen and women, and their families.
David VandivierJuly 29, 2013
05:31 PM EDT
Today, the White House released a new analysis of the relationship between the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and job growth on Tumblr in the form of an animated GIF.
Recent news stories have cited anecdotes that restaurants are cutting employees’ hours and refraining from hiring workers due to the ACA. In reality, however, restaurants have had the fastest job growth of any industry in the retail and food services sector since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. The GIF also shows that restaurants have had even faster job growth than what would have been predicted from their growth in sales. Furthermore, workers in the restaurant industry have seen their average weekly hours increase since the ACA was signed, contrary to the notion that there has been a widespread shift to part-time hours.
Alan KruegerJuly 29, 2013
04:45 PM EDT
Prices for personal consumption expenditures (PCE) on health care goods and services rose just 1.1 percent over the twelve months ending in May 2013, the slowest rate of increase in nearly 50 years. The slowdown in PCE health care inflation has been widespread, with important contributions from two large components: hospital and nursing home services (which comprise 42 percent of total health care expenditures) and outpatient services (which comprise 34 percent of total health care expenditures). As the chart below shows, since March 2010, these two components of health spending have made notably smaller contributions to overall consumer health care inflation than in previous years.
The slowdown in consumer health care price inflation is consistent with a broad array of other evidence suggesting that the growth rate of health care costs is slowing:
- Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employer Costs for Employee Compensation survey indicate that for private sector employers offering health insurance, the annualized growth rate of real (inflation-adjusted) costs for workers’ health insurance has slowed from 2.2 percent a year from 2006:Q4 to 2009:Q4 to 1.8 percent a year from 2009:Q4 to 2012:Q4, with a particularly marked slowdown occurring at smaller establishments. For establishments with fewer than 50 employees, employers’ real costs for workers’ health insurance grew just 1.0 percent a year from 2009:Q4 to 2012:Q4, half the rate observed over the preceding three years.
- During the past several years, the Congressional Budget Office reports that it “has made a series of downward adjustments to its projections of spending for Medicaid and Medicare.” For example, “mostly reflecting the slower growth in the programs’ spending in recent years,” CBO now expects combined spending on the two programs to be about $200 billion lower in 2020 than what it forecast three years ago.
- From 2009 to 2011, nationwide real per capita health expenditures grew at the slowest pace since reporting began in 1960.
- In 2012, premium growth for employer-sponsored insurance was at its lowest rate (3 percent) since the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey started in 1996.
- In 13 states that have publicly reported premiums for 2014, the average of the lowest-cost plan is nearly 20 percent below projections based on CBO premiums. This includes New York State, which recently announced that health insurance rates in 2014 will be at least 50 percent lower, on average, than the plans currently available in the state. These substantially more affordable plans will soon be available through the new Health Insurance Marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act.
July 29, 2013
04:35 PM EDT
The San Francisco Giants visited the White House today to celebrate winning the 2012 World Series championship, their second in three years.
President Obama welcomed the team back to Washington and congratulated them – celebrating their resilience throughout the season. “This team faced elimination a total of six times in the playoffs,” the President said. “It’s no wonder that your own fans still refer to Giants baseball as torture.”
The President also highlighted a Giants’ initiative close to First Lady Michelle Obama’s heart – encouraging healthy eating.
I’m proud to announce that next season they’re planning to turn the centerfield bleachers at AT&T Park into what’s believed to be the first ever edible garden in a major American sports facility. With rows of kale and strawberries and eggplant, the Giants are going to help encourage local youth to eat healthy -- even at the ballpark.
Matt ComptonJuly 29, 2013
02:11 PM EDT
Today, the White House released a new report detailing the important benefits provided by the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill for the domestic agriculture sector, its workforce, and rural American communities. As the report states, in recent years, the agriculture sector has seen strong growth, with farm income and agriculture exports both reaching historic highs. But there’s more work to do, and currently the agriculture industry is hampered by a broken immigration system that fails to support a predictable and stable workforce. Among all economic sectors, the U.S. agriculture sector is particularly reliant on foreign-born workers. Agricultural producers cite difficulty in locating qualified available authorized workers—both foreign and domestic—as one reason for the high rate of undocumented labor. Moreover, there continues to be insufficient U.S. workers to fill labor needs: of those crop workers surveyed between 2007 and 2009, 71 percent were foreign born.
As President Obama said in his State of the Union address, "If we’re truly committed to strengthening our middle class and providing more ladders of opportunity to those who are willing to work hard to make it into the middle class, we’ve got to fix the system. We have to bring this shadow economy into the light so that everybody is held accountable — businesses for who they hire, and immigrants for getting on the right side of the law. That’s common sense. And that’s why we need comprehensive immigration reform."
In June, the Senate passed historic legislation that is largely consistent with the President’s principles for commonsense immigration reform with a strong bipartisan vote. This bill would strengthen border security while providing an earned path to citizenship for undocumented farmworkers who are vital to our nation’s agriculture industry, and a new temporary worker program negotiated by major grower associations and farmworker groups. If enacted, the Senate bill would result in undocumented workers paying a fine, their full share of taxes and is estimated to allow an estimated 1.5 million agricultural workers and their dependents to earn legal status.
To learn more about how the Senate-passed bill and bipartisan commonsense immigration reform would benefit the agriculture sector and rural communities, check out this fact sheet or read the full report released today by the White House.
Kori SchulmanJuly 27, 2013
03:41 PM EDT
President Obama today paid tribute to the veterans of the Korean War, marking the 60th anniversary of the war’s end. "Perhaps the highest tribute we can offer our veterans of Korea is to do what should have been done the day you came home,” the President said during remarks at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the National Mall. “In our hurried lives, let us pause. Let us listen. Let these veterans carry us back to the days of their youth, and let us be awed by their shining deeds."
You, our veterans of Korea, deserved better. And down the decades, our nation has worked to right that wrong, including here, with this eternal memorial, where the measure of your sacrifice is enshrined for all time. Because here in America, no war should ever be forgotten, and no veteran should ever be overlooked. And after the armistice, a reporter wrote, “When men talk in some distant time with faint remembrance of the Korean War, the shining deeds will live." The shining deeds will live.
Matt ComptonJuly 27, 2013
05:45 AM EDT
President Obama tells the American people about his speech at Knox College on Wednesday, where he discussed the cornerstones of what it means to be middle class, including having a good job, a home that is your own, quality education, a secure retirement, and affordable health care.
July 26, 2013
04:45 PM EDT
NCAA Champions: On Tuesday, President Obama welcomed the NCAA Champion Louisville Cardinals to the White House. President Obama, an avid basketball fan, celebrated the team’s accomplishments both on and off the court – praising their cumulative 3.3 grade-point-average, the thousands of dollars they helped raise for charity, and their determination, despite physical obstacles, to win the men’s NCAA title.
Vice President and Dr. Biden in India: The Vice President and Dr. Biden traveled to India and Singapore, as part of their six-day trip – meeting with leaders and visiting schools and aid workers to discuss the important opportunity to strengthen our partnerships within the region. The Vice President also reaffirmed our commitment to rebalancing U.S. foreign policy toward the Asia-Pacific. When they arrived in New Delhi on Monday, they visited Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter and toured the Gandhi Smriti museum.
On Tuesday, the Vice President met with Indian Prime Minist Dr. Manmohan Singh, President Pranab Mukherjee, and Vice President Hamid Ansair where they discussed the relationship between the United States and India. Later, Vice President Biden spoke at a dinner hosted by Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari, where provided remarks about the importance partnership between the two countries. During the day, Dr. Biden visited the settlement of Kachhpura, where USAID Health and the Urban Poor Program has been stationed since 2011.
Speaking from the Bombay Stock Exchange on Wednesday, the Vice President spoke about moving both the U.S. and Indian economies forward – noting that American interests were very similar to Indian interests. Dr. Biden hosted a roundtable discussion to hear more about how groups are working to improve nutrition in India and visited The Dilaasa Crisis Intervention Department for Women, a center for female survivors of domestic violence.
Women at the Indian Institute of Technology met with Vice President Biden on Thursday for a roundtable discussion. The Vice President spoke about the importance of engaging women in science, technology, and engineering and explained what the U.S. is doing to promote STEM in the United States. Dr. Biden visited an all-girls school, where she taught a grammar lesson.
Matt ComptonJuly 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, the White House releases visitor records that were generated in April 2013. Today’s release also includes visitor records generated prior to September 16, 2009 that were requested by members of the public in June 2013 pursuant to the White House voluntary disclosure policy. This release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to more than 3.3 million—all of which can be viewed in our Disclosures section.
Ed. note: For more information, check out Ethics.gov.
Valerie JarrettJuly 26, 2013
02:21 PM EDT
Today marks the 23rd anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA represents the culmination of a struggle for the most basic promise of equal opportunity and protection. For millions of Americans, the ADA recognizes the unique challenges that individuals with disabilities face, and provides the legal basis for fairer treatment.
To celebrate the anniversary of this historic civil rights legislation, yesterday, we held an ADA Anniversary Champions of Change event, in which we honored ordinary Americans who are doing extraordinary things for their communities. From advocating for youth with disabilities, to working on policy affecting the deaf and hard of hearing, from wheelchair racing, to helping people discover their potential, to empowering students of color with disabilities, these everyday heroes are incredibly inspiring, and help spread the word of just how important the ADA is for millions of Americans.
President Obama is committed to continuing the legacy set in place by President George H.W. Bush when the ADA was signed 23 years ago. President Obama has expanded educational, and employment opportunities for people living with disabilities, increased access to health care, and protected civil rights, and access to community living.
Adam GarberJuly 26, 2013
01:20 PM EDT
This week, the President hosted the NCAA Champion Louisville Cardinals, the President of Vietnam, pressed for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform, and laid out his vision of growing the economy from the middle class out, while traveling to Illinois, Missouri, and Florida.
July 26, 2013
11:14 AM EDT
Last Night, continuing a White House tradition, President Obama hosted his fifth Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan. The Iftar is the meal that breaks the day of fasting during Ramadan, when Muslim families eat together after sunset. During his remarks, the President thanked the Muslim community for the sacrifices they’ve made for the United States.
Throughout our history, Islam has contributed to the character of our country, and Muslim Americans, and their good works, have helped to build our nation -- and we’ve seen the results. We’ve seen those results in generations of Muslim immigrants -- farmers and factory workers, helping to lay the railroads and build our cities. Muslim innovators who helped build some of our highest skyscrapers and who helped to unlock the secrets of our universe.
Every day, Muslim Americans are helping to shape the way that we think and the way that we work and the way that we do business. And that’s the spirit that we celebrate tonight -- the dreamers, the creators whose ideas are pioneering new industries, creating new jobs and unleashing new opportunities for all of us.
President Obama also wished Muslim Americans and Muslims all around the world a blessed Ramadan.
Dr. Jill BidenJuly 26, 2013
10:20 AM EDT
Today was our first full day in Singapore and there could not have been a more beautiful introduction than our tour of the Botanic Gardens. Singapore Botanic Gardens are known for their orchids and in 1957 the country began to name selected orchid hybrids after State Visitors to foster closer ties between nations. As an avid gardener, I am honored that they chose to name a deep purple Dendrobium orchid the “Joe and Jill Biden” during our visit today. We’ll bring some “Joe and Jill Biden” orchids back to DC to display at the Vice President’s Residence.
After leaving the Gardens, we drove to Singapore’s new Green Children’s Library, which is made entirely out of recycled materials. Singapore boasts some of the most sophisticated libraries in the world and our partnership with the National Library Board (NLB) has proved to be a wonderful relationship for the U.S. Embassy. Earlier this year the Embassy partnered with the NLB on an e-reader program, allowing library visitors to check out electronic tablets that have access to thousands of book titles. The Embassy has donated over 400 e-readers, emphasizing the importance of education to both of our countries.