Read all posts from July 2013

  • President Barack Obama tours the Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT), in Jacksonville

    President Barack Obama tours the Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT), in Jacksonville, Fla., July 25, 2013. President Obama is accompanied by, from left: Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx; Dennis Kelly, TraPac Regional VP & General Manager; Roy Schleicher, CEO, Jacksonville Port Authority; and Fred Wakefield, International Longshoreman's Association representative. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    In Jacksonville today, President Obama continued making the case for his vision for an economy that grows from the middle out, not the top down.

    “Yesterday, in Illinois, I talked about what we need to do as a country to build a better bargain for the middle class and everybody who’s trying to get into the middle class -- a strategy that we’ve got to pursue, together, to make sure that everybody who works hard has a chance to get ahead in this 21st century economy,” he said.

    "But I’m here today to specifically talk about the cornerstone, the essence of middle-class security, and that’s a good job in a growth industry” 

    We’ve got to help more manufacturers bring more jobs back to America.  We’ve got to keep creating good jobs in manufacturing.  We’ve got to create good jobs in wind and solar energy.  We’ve got to tap into this natural gas revolution that’s bringing energy costs down in this country, which means manufacturers now want to locate here because they’re thinking that we’ve got durable, reliable supplies of energy. We’ve got to create more jobs today doing what you’re doing right here at JAXPORT -- and that’s building this country’s future. 

    We need modern schools for our kids.  We need modern power grids and fuel networks that can withstand stronger storms. And we need modern ports so we can move more goods made in America out to the rest of the world.

  • Vice President Joe Biden meets with female students at the Indian Institute of Technology, in Mumba

    Vice President Joe Biden meets with female students at the Indian Institute of Technology, in Mumbai, India, July 25, 2013. Pictured are Aditi Kothiyal, Shikha Agarwal, Asfiya Contractor, Viha Jayraj, and Rimi Chakrabarti. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    Today at the Indian Institute of Technology, Vice President Biden met a group of women he called “India’s future”—the country’s next generation of scientists and engineers.

    “This is a great university, one of the leading universities in the world in technology, and these women are in the forefront,” he said.

    Before a roundtable discussion with students in the Seismology Lab, the Vice President talked with young women conducting nanotechnology research and geochemistry and geochronology experiments. He commended them on “the incredible work they’re doing in a whole range of areas, from devices that may very well fundamentally alter the nature of medicine, to dealing with practical but stark problems like access to transportation.”

  • President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President Truong Tan Sang of Vietnam

    President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President Truong Tan Sang of Vietnam in the Oval Office, July 25, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    President Obama met with President Truong Tan Sang of Vietnam today, the first bilateral meeting between the two leaders and an opportunity to further strengthen the relationship between our countries.

    Recognizing the “extraordinarily complex history between the United States and Vietnam,” President Obama said that the mutual respect and trust we’ve established will allow cooperation on a whole range of issues from trade and commerce to military cooperation to people-to-people relations.

    President Obama and President Sang also discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an effort to increase trade and commerce throughout the Asia Pacific region. “And we're committed to the ambitious goal of completing this agreement before the end of the year because we know that this can create jobs and increase investment across the region and in both our countries,” President Obama said.

    So I just want to say to President Sang how much I appreciate his visit. I think it signifies the maturing and the next stage of the development between the United States and Vietnam. As we increase consultation, increase cooperation, increase trade, and scientific and education exchanges, ultimately, that’s going to be good for the prosperity and opportunities of the people here in the United States, as well as good for the opportunities and prosperity of the people of Vietnam. 

  • Ed Note: This is a cross post from the blog of commerce.gov. You can find the original post 

    Since I was confirmed as Secretary of Commerce, I’ve been meeting with business leaders, entrepreneurs, and foreign leaders to let them know that America is “open for business.” The United States is one of the most desirable places to do business; our $16 trillion economy, with its productive workforce and diverse consumer base, could not do what it does without domestic as well as foreign investment. Yesterday, I participated in the White House Forum (Forum) on Global Investment to highlight the administration’s support for, and benefits of, foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States. 

    Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

    Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

    For the meeting, I was joined by Acting Deputy Secretary of Commerce Pat Gallagher, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Jose Fernandez, and 21 foreign ambassadors and representatives to highlight the United States’ whole-of-government approach to attracting foreign direct investment.

    Part of our discussion focused on the growth of FDI in sectors such as manufacturing, machinery, and scientific and technical services. In fact, FDI in the United States totaled nearly $168 billion last year. And just recently, the consulting firm A.T. Kearney published its annual FDI Confidence Index, with the United States ranked #1 on this list for the first time since 2001.

    Two years ago, the president launched SelectUSA within the Department of Commerce to support foreign companies’ efforts to invest, remain, expand, or return to the U.S. As part of this effort, we’re working to educate firms about working in the U.S. In addition, our Foreign Commercial and State Service officers around the world are not only helping U.S. companies export, but now; they’re also helping foreign companies invest in the U.S. 

  • Dr. Biden meets with students in an English class

    Dr. Biden meets with students in an English class at the Anjuman-i-Islam Saif Tyabji Girl's school. (Photo Credit: Carrie Levay)

    As an educator, today was a special day for me in Mumbai. I visited the Anjuman-i-Islam Saif Tyabji Girl’s school. This all-girls Muslim school was founded in 1939 and serves 5,500 girls in grades K-12. The school has committed itself to being a dedicated public servant in the Mumbai area - many of the students are from local orphanages. I am happy to report that the US has recognized what an important role this school plays in the Mumbai community - we sponsor English classes and helped establish their computer lab. India and the US both understand the important opportunities education can provide - no matter the gender of the student. When the work force has access to education it creates more experienced workers as well as confident young women.

    When I arrived at the school I was greeted by a lively band and then stopped by an English class. In fact, I caught the beginnings of a lesson on "conjunctions!" One of the students, Miss Zafar, was a spirited emcee and gave me a wonderful introduction to all the students at a school assembly.

  • In response to the political crisis in South Sudan and the deeply troubling violence in Jonglei state, today the White House hosted NGOs and advocacy groups to discuss the situation and confer on how the United States – in concert with partners and allies around the world – can help end the violence and support South Sudan’s democratic development.

    Sudan meeting

    National Security Staff Senior Director for Development and Democracy Gayle Smith, Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights Steve Pomper, and Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs Grant T. Harris discuss the situation in South Sudan at the White House, July 24, 2013. (White House Photo)

    At the meeting, National Security Staff Senior Director for Development and Democracy Gayle Smith, Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights Steve Pomper, and I invited advocates and humanitarian workers to exchange information on the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jonglei, and explore ways we can work together to raise awareness and address it.

    A significant portion of the conversation focused on what the United States and its partners can do to address disturbing reports of human rights abuses, attacks on civilians, and ethnically motivated violence taking place in Jonglei, including reports that elements of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army have been complicit in the abuses.

  • Ed Note: This is a cross post from the blog of letsmove.gov. You can find the original post here.

    Speaking to over 1,800 attendees at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Annual Conference yesterday, First Lady Michelle Obama exclaimed, “Food is love… it’s how we pass on our culture and heritage as meals become family traditions and recipes are passed on from generation to generation.”

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks at the National Council of La Raza annual conference

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks at the National Council of La Raza annual conference at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, July 23, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    But, said Obama, pointing to health issues like the rise of diabetes, “while food might be love, the truth is that we are loving ourselves and our kids to death.”

    Significant racial and ethnic disparities in obesity prevalence among U.S. children and adolescents are a reality. Currently, nearly 40 percent of Hispanic children in this country are overweight or obese. Hispanic kids ages nine to 13 are only half as likely to participate in organized physical activity outside school. And, unhealthy products are being disproportionately targeted towards our nation’s Latino communities.

    As the largest national Hispanic and civil rights advocacy organization in the United States, NCLR recognizes that Latino families face higher rates of hunger, food insecurity, and obesity and has taken a leadership role in trying to address these issues. NCLR’s Comer Bien (Eat Well) Initiative encourages the work of the First Lady’s Let’s Move!Initiative, and provides access to nutritious food through federal food assistance programs, resources, and nutrition education to Latino parents and their families. Additionally, NCLR has been a tremendous advocate and partner on key initiatives like MiPlato (MyPlate) and La Mesa Completa (USDA’s SNAP program).

  • Watch this video on YouTube

    Today President Obama returned to Knox College in Illinois to kick off a series of speeches about his vision for rebuilding an economy that puts the middle class -- and those fighting to join it – front and center.

    In his remarks, President Obama laid out the progress we’ve made together in the five years since the start of the recession that cost millions of Americans their jobs, their homes, and their savings

    Thanks to the grit and resilience and determination of the American people -- of folks like you -- we’ve been able to clear away the rubble from the financial crisis. We started to lay a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth.

    As a country, we’ve recovered faster and gone further than most other advanced nations in the world. With new American revolutions in energy and technology and manufacturing and health care, we're actually poised to reverse the forces that battered the middle class for so long, and start building an economy where everyone who works hard can get ahead.

    President Barack Obama delivers a speech on the economy at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill

    President Barack Obama delivers a speech on the economy at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., July 24, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    But, he said, “I’m here to tell you today that we're not there yet.”

  • This morning, in advance of President Obama's major economic address, Vice President Biden delivered remarks in Mumbai, India where he discussed how America’s partnership with India could improve the economies of both nations.

    The speech, at the Bombay Stock Exchange, was part of the administration’s effort to focus attention on the progress our economy has made in the past several years, and the work we must do going forward to build on that progress.

    The Vice President began by speaking to the enduring strengths of the U.S. economy. "We are in the midst of the biggest increase in domestic manufacturing in nearly 20 years. The foundations of our economy are stronger than ever. The best research universities in the world and the most vibrant startups. The world’s most innovative companies. A hundred-year reserve of natural gas."

    He noted that America’s interests at home were similar to India’s.

    “Today…President Obama is going to be giving a major speech outlining the top priority for the Obama-Biden administration,” he explained. “And it’s straightforward and simple: how do we continue to shore up America’s future and the foundations of middle class life in America with good-paying jobs, affordable health care, housing, education, and the dignity of retirement?”

    Similarly, he pointed out, “India’s top priority is to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty to join the middle class.”

  • Today, low-wage workers and their advocates are gathering together as part of a national day of action for an increase in the minimum wage. Marking four years since the last increase, Americans across the country are making the case for why raising the minimum wage is good for workers and the economy.

    Raising the minimum wage was also part of the economic vision that President Obama laid out in Galesburg, Illinois today, as he described what we need to do to support the middle class and those who are trying to join it. In his own words, “because no one who works full-time in America should have to live in poverty, I will keep making the case that we need to raise a minimum wage that in real terms is lower than it was when Ronald Reagan took office. “

    Indeed, in his State of the Union earlier this year, President Obama called for bringing the minimum wage back up to the same value it had at the beginning of the Reagan Administration and for permanently indexing it to inflation, so it does not experience the same erosion in purchasing power that has happened over the past three decades. And he called for increasing the minimum wage received by workers who rely mostly on tips – which hasn’t been raised for over two decades.

  • Pete Souza, the Chief Official White House Photographer, is now on Instagramand it's an account worth following. Through his Instagram account, you'll get a unique look at the presidency with behind-the-scenes photos from the road and around the White House.

    Take a look at Pete's first day on Instagram (so far), as President Obama traveled to Knox College in Galesburg, IL to lay out his economic vision where everyone who works hard can get ahead. Then, head on over to Instagram to follow Pete Souza (and to check out our other official Instagram accounts for the White House and First Lady Michelle Obama).

    For more photos from Pete Souza and the White House photo office, follow @PeteSouza on Twitter, and visit Flickr.com/WhiteHouse and WH.gov/photos.

  • Dr. Biden meets with community leaders, US and India agency officials, and NGOS

    Dr. Biden meets with community leaders, US and India agency officials, and NGOS to discuss joint efforts to end childhood malnutrition. (Photo Credit: Carrie Levay)

    Last June, the United States, India, Ethiopia, and UNICEF hosted the Global Child Survival Call to Action event in Washington, DC. In India, 43% of children under the age of five are underweight and 48% are chronically undernourished. To address this and other causes of child deaths that can be prevented, India issued a national Call to Action for Child Survival and Development to end all preventable child deaths by 2035.

    Yesterday I wrote about my time in Kachhpura and how they are working to end malnutrition. Today I attended a roundtable discussion with Government of Maharashtra Officials, USAID, UNICEF, Indian civil society and private sector representatives to learn about their efforts to improve nutrition across the country and to make available other proven health interventions to prevent child deaths, such as immunizations, clean water, and treatment of pneumonia and diarrhea.

    As a mom, this is a personal issue for me as no parent wants to see her child go hungry or be sick. I am inspired by how the communities that I have visited have launched into action to tackle this problem. I am heartened to learn of the joint efforts of the Indian government, civil society and private sector in close collaboration with the U.S. and UN Agencies to target children between 0 and 35 months old, one of the most vulnerable groups. I look forward to seeing their continued progress in the future.

  • Youth Jobs Logo

    President Obama is focused on accelerating economic recovery and boosting job creation for all Americans, particularly key segments that need better access to long-term employment. Last year, the White House Council for Community Solutions called attention to Opportunity Youth, the 6.7 million Americans between 16-24 years old and disconnected from school and work. The Council spent more than 18 months conducting research, hosting roundtables, and developing a robust set of recommendations on how to harness their extraordinary potential. 

    The cross-sector ideas shared by the Council catalyzed numerous new initiatives in the public and private sector. Within government, the President issued the Youth Jobs+ challenge back in April to engage local elected officials along with business and community leaders to work together to connect young people with summer and year-round job opportunities.

    There are many ways to support Youth Jobs+. To support efforts to boost job creation this summer, the President directed senior Administration officials to participate in local “Youth Jobs+ Roundtables” in urban centers and rural communities, meeting with local elected officials and community partners to generate commitments for addressing employment and jobs training for underserved local youth. To date, 15 roundtables have taken place all over the country, and 15 more will take place through August in cities and jurisdictions across the country.

  • Vice President Joe Biden meets with Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh

    Vice President Joe Biden meets with Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, at Panchavati, in New Delhi, India, July 23, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    On his second day in New Delhi, Vice President Biden met with Indian leaders to discuss the increasingly important bilateral relationship between our two countries.

    In meetings with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and others, Vice President Biden emphasized a range of opportunities for our countries to work more closely together on issues such as economic growth, trade, energy and climate change, security and investments in innovation and education.

    In the evening, the Vice President discussed the importance of the U.S.-India relationship at a dinner hosted by Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari.

  • Coach Rick Pitino presents President Barack Obama with a team jersey as the President welcomes the NCAA Champion University of Louisville Cardinals to the East Room

    Coach Rick Pitino presents President Barack Obama with a team jersey as the President welcomes the NCAA Champion University of Louisville Cardinals to the East Room of the White House to honor the team and their 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, July 23, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    When the University of Louisville's men's basketball team won the 2013 NCAA tournament, they also scored an exciting trip to the White House. President Obama, an ardent basketball fan, welcomed the Louisville Cardinals in the East Room today to applaud their accomplishments.

    As the President said in his remarks, the Cardinals demonstrated throughout the year what it means to be student-athletes on and off the court. The team collectively earned just shy of a commendable 3.3 GPA, raised thousands of dollars for charity, and overcame physical obstacles to win the tournament.

    In addition to celebrating the Cardinals' hard work and outstanding play, President Obama joked that the team also "stayed focused on one singular goal, and that is to bust my bracket" during their 35-5 season.

  • As commonsense immigration reform moves from the Senate to the House, a growing coalition of elected officials from across the country is urging Congress to fix our broken system. Last month, we heard from bipartisan state and local officials from the South, SouthwestNortheast, West, and Midwest on why they support immigration reform and how it will help their communities. In the past few weeks, state and local elected officials have further intensified their efforts to urge Congressional action.

    State and local elected officials understand that commonsense immigration reform is the right policy for our country and makes good economic sense for middle class families. Earlier this month, the White House released a report highlighting the numerous and varied economic benefits of fixing our broken immigration system, including helping to grow our economy by creating new business and jobs.

    Yesterday, White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz spoke about the local economic costs of inaction on the federal level:

    "Because the crux of the matter is that, while Congress and the federal government have the authority to set immigration law and enforce it, local governments live with the results of what Congress does and fails to do."

    Below are some of the elected officials who recently added their voices in support for commonsense immigration reform:

    On July 17th, Governors from 15 states sent a letter to Congress urging them to pass commonsense immigration reform and highlighting the economic benefits to their states.

    "We all recognize that immigrants contribute a great deal to our economy and our culture. We should make sure they are fully integrated into the social, civic and economic fabric of American life and have access to the same opportunities to succeed as everyone else. As Governors, we encourage you to adopt bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform legislation that reflects the values of our nation and contributes to the growth of our economies.”

    After the U.S. Senate approved a comprehensive immigration bill on June 27th, the U.S. Conference of Mayors issued the following statement:

    “The nation’s mayors applaud the Senate’s decisive passage of bipartisan legislation that will repair our broken immigration system…We urge the House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s strong lead and adopt comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform legislation this year. This is the right thing to do for our families, our cities, our economy, and our country.”

  • We've got some good news to share-- Senators from both parties have come up with a plan to reduce the interest rates on student loans. Once it becomes law, rates on every single new college loan will come down before the start of the school year.  

    Because of this agreement, 11 million borrowers will save money, and we need help to make sure that everyone gets the details. The graphic below breaks down all the facts, and gives parents, undergrads, and grad students the information they need to know what they can expect in the years ahead. Check it out, then share it to help spread the message. Learn more about the deal here.

  •  

    One of my first stops in India was a visit to the settlement of Kachhpura in Agra. Located on the banks of the Yamuna River it offers beautiful views of the Taj Mahal. The settlement has a total population of around 3,205 people and 90% of the households are connected to water lines that are supplied for 6-8 hours daily and around 50% of houses have individual toilets connected to private septic tanks.

    Since 2011 the USAID Health and Urban Poor (HUP) Program has been working in this settlement. Their work has been focused on mapping the health infrastructure as well as bridging the gap between the community and the service providers. There is no public health facility within the settlement and most referrals are to a hospital that is around seven miles away. One focus of both HUP and the Indian government has been to collect information to track every mother and child by name-an ongoing initiative throughout the country. This helps track the health of the mother and her newborn and link them to public sector health facilities. 

    USAID’s activity in Kachhpura has helped mobilize the Mahila Arogya Samit, a women's community group. The members are not only model leaders in their communities, but they also contribute to improved health outcomes for the whole community. 

  • Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden arrived in New Delhi today, the first stop on a six-day trip to India and Singapore.

    This trip is an important opportunity to strengthen our partnerships within the region and reaffirm our commitment to rebalancing U.S. foreign policy toward the Asia-Pacific. Over the next several days, the Vice President will meet with leaders in both countries to discuss a range of issues, from economic growth to energy and climate change to security. 

    Ahead of series of meetings in New Delhi, the Vice President and Dr. Biden had the opportunity to meet with Mahatma Gandhi's granddaughter and tour the building where Gandhi spent the last years of his life, which is now the Gandhi Smriti museum. To learn more about their visit, check out the video below or watch here.

    For more updates from the trip, check back on whitehouse.gov and follow the Vice President on Twitter at @VP.

  • The White House Photo Office just released their latest photo gallery and it gives you a behind-the-scenes look into June 2013. The President had a busy month – from traveling to Europe and Africa to meet with world leaders to hosting the 2012 WNBA champion Indiana Fever at the White House, you’ll be able to see some pretty special moments.

    We’ve shared some of our favorite photos below – then check out the full set on our Flickr gallery.

    • Bo, the Obama family dog, waits to greet President Barack Obama in the Outer Oval Office

      Bo, the Obama family dog, waits to greet President Barack Obama in the Outer Oval Office, June 11, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron visit with students while touring Enniskillen Primary School

      President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron tourEnniskillen Primary School in Northern Ireland. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • President Barack Obama talks with G8 leaders before a working dinner during the G8 Summit

      President Obama talks with G8 leaders before a working dinner during the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • Photojournalists Evan Vucci and Jewel Samad work in the foreground as President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

      Photojournalists work as President Obama delivers remarks at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • President Barack Obama greets Father's Day luncheon guests in the State Dining Room

      President Barack Obama greets Father's Day luncheon guests in the State Dining Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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    • President Barack Obama holds six-month-old Talia Neufeld

      President Barack Obama holds six-month-old Talia Neufeld, daughter of departing staff member Adam Neufeld. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet residents as they walk towards the dock on Gorée Island

      President Obama and the First Lady greet residents as they walk towards the dock on Gorée Island, Senegal. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, along with daughters Sasha and Malia, stand in former South African President Nelson Mandela's cell

      President Obama, the First Lady, and daughters Sasha and Malia in former South African President Nelson Mandela's cell. (WH Photo by Pete Souza)

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