Read all posts from August 2013

  • Today the Obamas welcomed the newest member of their family – a little girl (puppy) named Sunny!

    Sunny, the new Obama family dog, on the South Lawn of the White House, Aug. 19, 2013.

    Sunny, the new Obama family dog, on the South Lawn of the White House, Aug. 19, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


    Sunny was born in Michigan in June 2012, and arrived at the White House today. Just like Bo, she’s a Portuguese Water Dog, which works great for the Obamas because of allergies in their family.

    Sunny is the perfect little sister for Bo – full of energy and very affectionate – and the First Family picked her name because it fit her cheerful personality.

    In the past, Bo has been eager to help the First Family with their official duties, from visiting Walter Reed and the Children’s National Medical Center, to inspecting the Holiday decorations at the White House, to greeting guests at the White House on tours and during the Easter Egg Roll, but in October, the First Lady told reporters that she hosted a “doggie play date” because “Bo doesn't have enough dog interaction.” So now, in addition to helping with those official duties, Bo takes on the important role of big brother!

    Watch on YouTube

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted from See the original post here.

    From New Orleans to Cedar Rapids to Tuscaloosa to Minot – I have walked the streets and looked in the eyes of families whose lives have come crashing down around them under nature’s wrath.

    But nothing prepared me to come back home to New York City last October and look in the eyes of my friend who lost his daughter to Hurricane Sandy.  Nothing prepared me to see neighborhoods—many of which had served as the backdrop of my childhood—completely unrecognizable.

    This was all due to the devastating storm that hit our shores in the fall with a power and a fury unlike anything most of us had ever seen before. Entire neighborhoods were flooded. Families and small business owners lost everything in a single night. Infrastructure was torn apart.  In short, it was one of the most painful chapters in the region’s history and the Obama administration has been committed to helping communities turn the page.

    We have worked closely with State and Local governments up and down the East Coast to help prepare for and respond to the storm.  Within a week of Sandy making landfall we had 17,000 federal responders on the ground, helping displaced families find shelter and getting communities back on their feet.

  • Commonsense comprehensive immigration reform isn’t just something that makes sense to 68 members of the United States Senate or a majority of the American people – it also makes sense to American business.  In fact, there is a rich history of employers helping their employees achieve the American dream of citizenship.  And our legal immigration system provides avenues for employers to apply for green cards for their employees, which is a critical step toward the path to citizenship for immigrants.

    One of the first companies to do this was Bethlehem Steel, which supported their immigrant workforce more fully integrating into the United States by offering free English classes back in 1915.  Today, there are many more companies who are honoring that legacy by assisting their employees with the citizenship process.  That’s because businesses recognize that citizenship is an asset not only for their workers and their families, but for the economy as a whole.

    This week, the White House released a report highlighting the economic benefits of providing a path to earned citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the U.S. shadow economy.

  • President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the State Dining Room of the White House Aug. 9, 2013.

    President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the State Dining Room of the White House Aug. 9, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    President Obama says we are on the way to fully implementing the Affordable Care Act and helping millions of Americans.  

    Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

  • Welcome to the West Wing Week.  This week, we broke from tradition a bit and took to our social media networks to ask our followers about what they would like to know about everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

  • This week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman and senior members of the President’s economic team joined trade ministers, civil society, and business leaders from across sub-Saharan Africa to focus on “Sustainable Growth through Trade and Technology” at the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum. The Forum also kicked off the process leading to AGOA’s renewal in 2015.

    As the President highlighted on his trip to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania this summer, Africa is experiencing historic growth. Six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa. The continent has enormous economic potential, and it’s in our interest to help African countries expand trade and investment to fuel their development.

    AGOA has transformed the way the United States and Africa interact on trade and economic issues. Since 2001 – the first full year of AGOA trade -- U.S. total trade with sub-Saharan Africa has more than doubled, from $28.2 billion to $72.3 billion in 2012. AGOA enabled U.S. exports to the region to more than triple from $6.9 billion in 2001 to $22.6 billion in 2012. At the same time, AGOA imports (including GSP) to the United States have climbed to $34.9 billion in 2012, more than four times the amount in 2001. That increase in trade has created thousands of new jobs in Africa.

  • "Every once and a while someone comes along in a community that literally transforms a communityand that's exactly what Father Roberto Balducelli did," said the Vice President in the latest edition of Being Biden. 'Father Roberto' passed away last week, on the eve of his 100th birthday. The Vice President was among the hundreds who gathered at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington to remember Balducelli's life.

    The Vice President wanted to share his story with you — take a listen.

    Sign up to receive email updates when new stories posted.

  • One year ago today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began implementing a policy that makes our immigration system more representative of our values as a nation. On this day, DHS began accepting requests for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – a policy that provides young people who were brought to the United States as children with temporary protection from deportation if they can demonstrate that they meet several criteria. 

    By removing the threat of deportation for young people brought to this country as children – known as “DREAMers” – DHS has been able to focus its enforcement efforts on those who endanger our communities rather than students pursuing an education and seeking to better themselves and their communities. As the President stated when the policy was announced, “[t]hey are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.”

  • President Obama this morning issued a statement on the unfolding situation in Egypt and called for an end to violence.

    "The United States strongly condemns the steps that have been taken by Egypt’s interim government and security forces," he said. "We deplore violence against civilians. We support universal rights essential to human dignity, including the right to peaceful protest. We oppose the pursuit of martial law, which denies those rights to citizens under the principle that security trumps individual freedom, or that might makes right. And today the United States extends its condolences to the families of those who were killed and those who were wounded."

    The President announced that he is canceling the biannual joint military training exercise that U.S. forces hold with Egyptian counterparts and weighing the implications of the Egyptian interim government's actions as the United States considers further steps that we may take. 

    "The Egyptian people deserve better than what we’ve seen," he said. 

    Watch video of President Obama's statement here

    Listen to the audio of the President's statement here:

  • Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and for the 28 million small employers across the country, healthcare is a major concern. The Affordable Care Act provides benefits and opportunities to small businesses that will help increase access to affordable coverage options.

    Here are five key ways the Affordable Care Act can benefit small employers and their workers:

  • In the following months, additional provisions of the Affordable Care Act will be available, including critical new consumer protections for Americans and their families that end the worst insurance company abuses by banning discrimination based on pre-existing health conditions, ending annual limits on what an insurance company will cover, and giving all Americans access to health care plans that cap out-of-pocket medical costs for the first time.

    We wanted to debunk some of the other myths about Obamacare – here are 214 words to describe the law.

  • Seventy-eight years ago today, when President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law, he sent across a simple but significant message: Americans, no matter their age or physical ability, should be able to live their lives with dignity. Though the times and technologies have changed, that message remains at the core of this Administration.

    Currently, Social Security helps provide almost 58 million Americans, including 37 million retired workers and 8 million disabled workers, with economic security. It is the major source of income for most of the elderly, who paid into the system throughout their lives.

    Even as we celebrate Social Security’s birthday, we have to work to ensure that future generations have access to that same type of security. That’s why President Obama is committed to protect and strengthen Social Security, finding new ways to improve service delivery while cutting waste and fraud.

  • Landmark consumer protections, including limits on out-of pocket costs in health insurance plans, are taking effect next year, on time. Here are the facts:

    Under the Affordable Care Act, for the first time, new historic consumer protections will stop the worst insurance company abuses, by making it illegal for companies to discriminate based on pre-existing health conditions, ending lifetime and annual dollar limits on what an insurance company will cover, and capping out-of pocket spending to protect Americans and their families.

  • Today, the White House released a report detailing the economic benefits of providing a path to earned citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the U.S. shadow economy. As highlighted in the report, a range of economic research has shown that immigrants living and working in the United States without authorization are earning far less than their potential, paying much less in taxes, and contributing significantly less to the U.S. economy than they would if they were given the opportunity to gain legal status and earn U.S. citizenship. According to outside estimates, providing earned citizenship for these workers would increase their wages and, over 10 years, boost U.S. GDP by $1.4 trillion, increase total income for all Americans by $791 billion, generate $184 billion in additional state and federal tax revenue from currently undocumented immigrants, and add about 2 million jobs to the U.S. economy.

  • Watch the video.

    Today, Jason Berry the owner of Berry Farms in Vivaldia, Georgia joined a call with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to highlight the important economic benefits of immigration reform to the agricultural industry.  Jason’s company produces 200 acres of organic blueberries, in addition to 50 acres of vegetables. In the spring and summer of 2011 a drastic shortage of farm workers, invoked by the passage of a local law, almost caused him to lose his farm.  Desperate for workers, Jason began offering $50 signing bonuses to locals who were willing to work harvesting his crops; however, based on his estimates, 90% of those new hires quit within three days.  Jason says the losses at his blueberry and vegetable farm were almost enough to put his small operation under, which would have drastically impacted him and his 15 year round employees.  Jason’s story is one echoed by many farmers in Georgia.  Jason shared his story with President Obama in late June and continues to use his story to demonstrate why immigration reform is so important to America’s farmers and the entire agricultural industry.  Check out Jason’s video here.

  • This week marks the tenth anniversary of one of the worst power outages in the United States, during which tens of millions of Americans were affected across parts of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Severe weather is the number one cause of power outages on the nation’s electric grid, which serves as the backbone of the nation’s infrastructure that delivers electric power to millions of Americans in homes, schools, offices, and factories across the United States.

    new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the Energy Department evaluates the economic cost of power outages and calls for increased cross-sector investment to make the electric grid more resilient in the face of increasingly severe weather events due to climate change.

  • As members of Congress go home to their districts for the August recess, they are hearing directly from Americans of all political stripes who are calling for a vote on commonsense immigration reform. In hundreds of town hall meetings, business roundtables, vigils, pilgrimages and rallies across the country, supporters of immigration reform including evangelicals, business owners, labor and law enforcement leaders, are asking their representatives to pass legislation to fix our broken immigration system as soon as they return to Washington in September.

    Pro-reform supporters are making waves across the country as they continue to build momentum for immigration reform. The broad coalition of constituents who support reform is stronger and more bipartisan than ever. They have a clear message: Congress must work to fix our immigration system as soon as members return to the Capitol this fall.

    In a meeting last week with the Modesto Chamber of Commerce, Representative Jeff Denham, a Republican lawmaker from California, expressed his support for moving commonsense immigration reform legislation in the House: “I thought we'd get this done before the August work period. I think the Senate made tremendous progress. It was done bipartisan [sic] and I thought that would be enough to get the House moving forward."

  • On Saturday, the President and First Lady spoke at the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) National Convention in Orlando, FL. Founded in September of 1920, the DAV celebrates 92 years of service to disabled veterans and their families with this three-day event.

    The forerunner to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the DAV has empowered disabled veterans and their families serving in every conflict from World War I to Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Watch the video.

  • In this week’s address, President Obama says that the housing market is starting to heal, and now it’s time to build on that progress by creating a better bargain for responsible, middle class homeowners. The President announced steps he will take to strengthen the housing market, and now Congress must act to help make homeownership a source of pride and middle class security for generations to come.

    Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

  • Watch the West Wing Week here.

    A Birthday Celebration: President Obama celebrated his 52nd birthday on Sunday – and we posted 52 of our favorite pictures from the year!

    Live from Phoenix: The President left Washington on Tuesday and headed to Phoenix, Arizona, one of the cities hit the hardest when the housing bubble burst in 2009. Speaking from Desert Vista High School, President Obama discussed the progress we’ve made as a country and his commitment to continue helping responsible homeowners and promote the American Dream of homeownership

    We’ll make owning a home a symbol of responsibility, not speculation -- a source of security for generations to come, just like it was for my grandparents. I want it to be just like that for all the young people who are here today and their children and their grandchildren.

    The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: While on the West Coast, President Obama stopped by The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and discussed housing and the economy. The President spoke about the progress we’ve made in the last five years and urged leaders in Washington to work hard to help the Americans who are still being affected by the recession. 

    What Washington should be thinking about every single day is how do we make sure we’ve got an economy where if folks work hard, they can find a good job that pays a decent wage; they can send their kids to college; they've got health care they can count on; they can retire even if they don't get rich -- or even if they're not rich; and that we’re creating these ladders of opportunities for people to get into the middle class.

    #AskObamaHousing: On Wednesday, President Obama partnered with Zillow, the online real estate market place, and Yahoo!, to answer questions submitted through Twitter, Facebook, Vine and Instagram about the housing market.

    We’ve got to give more hardworking Americans the chance to buy their first home. We have to help more responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages,” President Obama said. “And we’ve got to turn the page on this kind of bubble-and-bust mentality that helped to create this mess in the first place.