Read all posts from October 2013

  • This Halloween week, the President visited a cutting edge STEM school in Brooklyn, swore in the new director of the FBI, honored former House Speaker Tom Foley, and spoke on the Affordable Care Act in Boston's historic Faneuil Hall. That's October 25th to to October 31st or, "Never Lose That Sense of Wonder

  • President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, D.C., Oct. 31, 2013.

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, D.C., Oct. 31, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from Tradeology, the official blog of the International Trade Administration. See the original post here.

    “There’s no substitute for those three proud words: ‘Made in America.’”

    President Obama has been emphatic that the United States remains the best place in the world to do business. Today at the SelectUSA Investment Summit, he reiterated that message to 1,000 business leaders from nearly 60 countries.

    “When you bet on America, that bet pays off,” the president said as he closed his keynote address.

    Your country is your product when you’re attracting foreign direct investment. At the Summit today, we showed the world that the United States is the absolute best product on the market.

    “America is open for business,” said Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. “Our market has provided long-term stability and unmatched returns for investors.”

    Attendees began making connections as soon as the doors opened.  Representatives from 47 states, three territories, and Washington, D.C., showed off investment opportunities around the country.

  • Yesterday, Vice President Biden visited the National Domestic Violence Hotline to commemorate Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

    Vice President Biden created the National Domestic Violence Hotline in the Violence Against Women Act in 1994 (VAWA) and has long championed the cause of ending domestic violence. The Vice President was accompanied by actress Mariska Hargitay, a key advocate working against abuse.  Together Vice President Biden and Mariska toured the Hotline, met with frontline advocates, and observed these life-saving services in action.

    Vice President Joe Biden and Mariska Hargitay watch as an advocate demonstrates the new web chat feature, at the National Domestic Violence Hotline

    Vice President Joe Biden and Mariska Hargitay watch as an advocate demonstrates the new web chat feature, at the National Domestic Violence Hotline, in Austin, Texas, Oct. 30, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    The Hotline -- which provides around the clock services in 170 languages -- answered its 3 millionth call this summer. Today, the Hotline receives an average of 22,000 calls a month, and serves as a critical lifeline for women and men experiencing violence. The Hotline can connect callers directly to domestic violence shelters, help victims find legal services, and provide the comfort and support needed in a time of crisis. The Vice President announced the Hotline’s expansion to new digital services that will allow victims and survivors to reach out for help through online chatting. This new service helps survivors reach out for help in the way they feel the most comfortable.  One chatter said: “I feel so much better now…I wish everyone knew about you.” We hope that because of the Vice President’s visit, more women will reach out for help online. Visit for more information.

    Vice President Biden also announced a grant of $500,000 from the Department of Justice for the National Dating Abuse Helpline, also operated by the Hotline. The Helpline is geared towards teens and young adults, and is available 24/7 by text, chat, and phone.  Two years ago, the Vice President kicked off the Helpline’s text messaging services, and last year, the Helpline was contacted by nearly 40,000 teens and young adults seeking information and support. During his visit, the Vice President met with the peer advocates working on the Helpline, and thanked them for their incredible work.

  • First Lady Michelle Obama, with Sesame Street Muppets Elmo and Rosita, makes a "Let's Move!" announcement

    First Lady Michelle Obama, with Sesame Street Muppets Elmo and Rosita, makes a "Let's Move!" announcement about marketing healthier foods to children, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Oct. 20, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    Ed. Note: This is cross-posted from the Let's Move! blog. You can see the original post here.

    First Lady Michelle Obama was joined by Sesame Street’s Elmo and Rosita to announce that Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) joined the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) in a two-year agreement to help promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption to kids, making those healthy choices a little easier for busy parents and families to make. The agreement allows PMA’s community of growers, suppliers and retailers to utilize the strength and influence of the Sesame Street brand without a licensing fee, using characters like Big Bird, Elmo, Rosita and Abby Cadabby to help deliver messages about fresh fruits and vegetables. Sesame Street characters may be on produce in stores as early as mid-2014.

    The announcement comes on the heels of the first ever White House Convening on Food Marketing to Children, during which Mrs. Obama called on stakeholders to leverage the power of marketing to promote healthy products and decrease the marketing of unhealthy products to kids.

  • It’s a big day for American travelers. If you’ve been on a plane this decade, you know the drill: Passengers must stow all electronic devices for taxi, takeoff, and landing. Today the FAA is making some exciting announcements to make that routine a thing of the past.

    This morning, after nine months of study and review, the Federal Aviation Administration outlined plans to relax some longstanding rules about when airline passengers can use portable electronic devices like tablets, eReaders, and smartphones during various phases of flight – as long as they stay in “airplane mode.”

    You can read the details on the FAA’s website, but here’s the bottom line: the FAA has given airlines the guidance they need to let passengers use certain devices during all phases of flight, and they are going to work closely with them to make these changes safely and speedily. Those changes don’t take effect today, but consumer demand is high, and we expect many airlines will complete this process by year’s end – just in time to use that new gadget you’re hoping to get for the holidays.

    Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean the person next to you will be chatting away on their phone from departure until arrival: the FAA didn’t take on the issue of voice calls in-flight, so those rules still apply. It also doesn’t apply to larger and heavier devices which, for everyone’s safety, still need to be stowed during takeoff and landing. Finally, there are some limited circumstances, mostly under low visibility, where the flight crew will need to ask passengers to power their devices off during landing and, as always, it’s essential to follow crew instructions at all times. More questions? The FAA has prepared a helpful FAQ.

  • President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the Affordable Care Act during a statement in the Rose Garden

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the Affordable Care Act during a statement in the Rose Garden of the White House, Oct. 21, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Editor’s note: Last Monday, President Obama explained that thousands of Americans are signing up for affordable, high quality health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Karmel Allison, who stood behind the President that day, had never before been able to shop for health insurance without fear of being rejected because of her medical history. Below, read about Karmel’s experience, in her own words.

    I do not have a pre-existing condition. But I have a pre-existing condition in-waiting that has caused me to live in fear for years.

    A pre-existing condition. What does that mean, anyways? I am a type 1 diabetic, but that diagnosis certainly does not pre-exist me. No-- pre-existing is not a medical condition; it is a legal one. Before the health insurance marketplace opened in my state, if I were to seek health insurance, my type 1 diabetes would be a pre-existing condition, and sufficient reason for most insurance companies to shut the door in my face.

    Through the delicate pairing of my parents' prudence and protocol at my health insurance company, I am lucky enough not to have a pre-existing condition. I was covered by a health insurance plan before I was diagnosed, and when I left my parents' plan at the age of nineteen, I was able to convert my existing coverage to an individual plan as if I had been continuously covered by the same plan.

  • Today in London, more than 1,000 delegates from across the globe are gathering for the Open Government Partnership Annual Summit to celebrate an unprecedented international collaboration between government and civil society to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, harness new technologies, and transform the way governments serve and engage with their citizens.

    Launched in September 2011 by President Obama and seven other country leaders, the Open Government Partnership was founded on the principle that the strength and vibrancy of nations depend on an active civil society and robust engagement between governments and their citizens to advance shared goals of peace, prosperity, and the well-being of all people. In just over two years the OGP has made incredible progress – expanding to more than 60 countries that have made more than 1000 commitments to make governments around the globe more open, accountable, and transparent to their citizens.

  • President Barack Obama delivers remarks regarding the Affordable Care Act, at Faneuil Hall

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks regarding the Affordable Care Act, at Faneuil Hall in Boston, Mass., Oct. 30, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    Ed. Note: Earlier today, Deputy Senior Advisor David Simas sent a message to the White House email list. Didn't get it? Sign up for updates here.

    Earlier today, President Obama spoke at Faneuil Hall in Boston. While Boston is home to Big Papi and my beloved Red Sox, it's also home to the birthplace of health reform in America.

    The state's progressive vision of universal coverage and the conservative idea of market competition are what formed the blueprint for Obamacare: that everyone should have access to quality, affordable health care, and no one should ever go broke just because they get sick.

    And we're seeing the benefits of reform extended nationally: According to a new report this week, nearly half of single, uninsured Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 can get coverage for $50 or less, often lower than the cost of their cable bill. That comes on top of the new benefits -- including free preventive services like mammograms, and a prohibition against denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.

    Now has experienced its share of bumps in the road, to all of our frustration, but every day people are signing up and getting insurance. President Obama has said many times that he's open to making the health care law work better. If folks could leave the politics aside for a bit -- if Republicans spent as much energy trying to make the law work as they do attacking it -- we could be much further than we are today.

    Last week we sat down and spoke with folks who have applied through the Marketplace, and their stories remind me why we fought so hard to pass this law in the first place.

    Will you take two minutes to watch this video -- and then forward it to a friend?

    If you want an example of the difference this law will make in someone's life, you don't have to look any further than Janice -- a new registrant from Selbyville, Delaware. She was the first woman to enroll in the Delaware exchange, and she says her new policy will save her $150 a month for more coverage benefits than ever before.

  • The Office of Management and Budget and the Department of the Treasury today released the fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget results, which show that we are continuing to make significant progress in reducing the deficit.  The final 2013 deficit was $680 billion, $409 billion less than the 2012 deficit and $293 billion less than forecast in President Obama’s April Budget.  As a percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the deficit fell to 4.1 percent, representing a reduction of more than half from the deficit that the Administration inherited when the President took office in 2009.  The deficit reduction since that point represents the fastest decline in the deficit over a sustained period since the end of World War II.

    The President believes that growing our economy and creating more good jobs with higher wages must be our top economic priority.  That is why he has consistently advocated a strategy to strengthen the middle class while improving our nation’s long-term fiscal position by cutting the deficit in a balanced way.  Under the President's leadership, we have already locked in more than $2.5 trillion of deficit reduction over the next decade, through a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases from asking the wealthiest to pay their share.

    In his 2014 Budget, the President presented a plan that would make critical investments to strengthen the middle class, create jobs, and grow the economy, while continuing to cut the deficit in a balanced way. It is a plan that demonstrates that we do not need to choose between growing the economy and taking further action to reduce the deficit – we can do both.  Building on the $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction already locked in, the President’s plan would replace the economically damaging sequester while achieving additional deficit reduction to put Federal debt on a downward path as a share of the economy. And unlike sequestration, which includes no long-term deficit reduction, the President’s plan includes structural reforms that would generate growing savings in the second decade and beyond. 

  • The USO provides many opportunities to share our gratitude and thanks with a military family. Find out ways to get involved and share your message of thanks with a military family that will get delivered by the USO. 

    Dr. Jill Biden joins Senate Spouses, military spouses and White House volunteers to Support Recovering Troops

    Dr. Jill Biden joins Senate Spouses, military spouses and White House volunteers to Support Recovering Troops with USO Warrior Care Pack Assembly on the grounds of the Naval Observatory Residence in Washington, DC, Oct. 29, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    Yesterday, Dr. Jill Biden welcomed Senate and military spouses to the Vice President’s Residence to assemble more than 1,500 USO Warrior Care Packs for wounded, ill and injured troops. These special kits were filled with toiletry items most requested – and needed – by our healing heroes. The lip balm, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, lotion, towels and razors will be combined with t-shirts, pants and blankets to provide troops with items to comfort and remind them of home during the recovery process. The USO is well known for their care packages, having shipped millions to troops around the globe in the past decade. 

    Dr. Biden and the spouses moved through the assembly line often packing two to three kits at a time. In true Joining Forces spirit, the Senate spouses in attendance represented both sides of the aisle and the military spouses represented all branches of the military.

  • Update: Also read President Obama's remarks on this issue below.

    There has been a lot of media attention, and some misleading attacks from critics, about some recent notices from insurance companies about changes in some people’s insurance plans.

    Press Secretary Jay Carney took this question head-on yesterday. He made some key points:

    1. More than three out of every four Americans gets insurance from their employer, Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Administration. These notices have been sent only to some of the 5% of Americans who get insurance on the individual insurance market.
    2. Americans who are currently on the individual market stand to benefit the most from the Affordable Care Act. Even those receiving notices of “cancellation” will be able to enroll in a new plan that does not discriminate based on pre-existing conditions, does not deny them key benefits like maternity, mental health, or prescription drug coverage, and cannot drop you when you’re sick.
    3. Americans in the individual market who have a plan that hasn’t been changed by their insurance company (an all-too-familiar occurrence for many) can keep their plan if they choose, even though a plan with better benefits is likely available. 

  • Two weeks ago, the United States government teamed up with the Government of Malaysia, which hosted the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kuala Lumpur. President Obama hosted the first Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Washington, DC in 2010, after he announced the initiative in a speech he delivered in Cairo in 2009. In those remarks, he spoke to the importance of supporting and promoting entrepreneurs at home and overseas. Innovation and entrepreneurship are cornerstones of the U.S. economy and can serve as a way of unlocking economic potential and lifting people out of poverty all over the world. Promoting entrepreneurship globally can help build more stable societies, grow markets for American goods, and advance a fundamental American value.

    This year’s summit was the largest ever and brought together over 3000 entrepreneurs, investors, academics, startup organizers, business people, and government officials from more than 100 countries. They went head-to-head in pitch competitions, participated in roundtable discussions, and learned from some of the best-known entrepreneurs in the world. President Obama delivered remarks through a video message to the Summit, and Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker represented the United States and met with several young, inspired entrepreneurs themselves. In his remarks, Secretary Kerry explained why promoting entrepreneurship is so important to the Obama Administration:

    Supporting your creativity and persistence is a key component of our foreign policy agenda – which today, more than ever before, is about economic policy, too. When entrepreneurs here in Malaysia succeed, I’ll tell you something; they create economic opportunity for Malaysians, of course, but also for people all over the world, including in the United States.

    Americans benefit from the success of small businesses around the world through trading and collaborating with them, and by using their goods and services. So President Obama is going to continue doing everything he can to support young people who want to turn their ideas into businesses or non-profit organizations.

  • America must also face the rapidly growing threat from cyber-attacks. We know hackers steal people’s identities and infiltrate private e-mail. We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets. Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, and our air traffic control systems. We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy.

    That’s why, earlier today, I signed a new executive order that will strengthen our cyber defenses by increasing information sharing, and developing standards to protect our national security, our jobs, and our privacy. Now, Congress must act as well, by passing legislation to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks. 

    - President Obama, February 12, 2013

    U.S. national and economic security depends on the reliable functioning of critical infrastructure. In recognition of that dependence, President Obama issued an executive order in February 2013 to increase our critical infrastructure’s capabilities to manage cyber risk; the order focuses on information sharing, privacy, and the adoption of cybersecurity practices. In support of this goal, the order directed the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to convene industry and other stakeholders to develop a voluntary framework for reducing cyber risks.

    Today we are pleased to announce the start of the 45-day public comment period for the Preliminary Cybersecurity Framework. This announcement represents an important milestone in this collaborative effort to develop the framework, and the feedback received during this period will inform the final version.

  • As David Simas, Assistant to the President, explains below, the Affordable Care Act has a lot to offer for young people. As a Health & Human Services report out last night shows, half of single young adults eligible for the Health Insurance Marketplace could get coverage for $50 a month or less.

    Watch on YouTube

    Leading advocacy groups for young Americans have been the biggest supporters of the Affordable Care Act, and have reacted enthusiastically to this new report.  Anne Johnson of Generation Progress said, “Not only do Millennials have access to quality health care and added protections under the Affordable Care Act, but evidence increasingly shows that coverage will be more affordable." Matt Segal at Our Time noted that the insurance plans are high quality, saying "This is indisputably a good deal." 

    And follow @whitehouse today on Twitter, where we’ll be tweeting out local stories from across the country, where young people are signing up and looking at their options. Spoiler alert: you'll hear phrases like "peace of mind," "less than a cell phone bill," and "I'm thrilled."

  • President Barack Obama and FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce, center, applaud FBI Director James Comey, left, during his installation ceremony at the J. Edgar Hoover Building

    President Barack Obama and FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce, center, applaud FBI Director James Comey, left, during his installation ceremony at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C., Oct. 28, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Today, President Obama welcomed James Comey to his new post as the seventh Director of the FBI. Comey previously worked as an attorney and later served as deputy attorney general at the Department of Justice. At the FBI Headquarters, the President praised Comey’s dedication, judgment, and commitment to the ideals of the FBI.

    “Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity: That’s your motto,” the President told the men and women of the FBI.  “And today, we’re here to welcome a remarkable new leader for this remarkable institution, one who lives those principles out every single day: Mr. Jim Comey.”

    President Obama reiterated Comey’s qualifications for the job. “It’s just about impossible to find a matter of justice he has not tackled, and it’s hard to imagine somebody who is not more uniquely qualified to lead a bureau that covers all of it -- traditional threats like violent and organized crime to the constantly changing threats like terrorism and cyber-security,” he said.

  • “There's nothing more important than us getting this right. And we're going to spend as much time, effort and energy as necessary to make sure that all the people in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut know that the entire country is behind them in this difficult recovery effort. We are going to put not just 100 percent, but 120 percent behind making sure that they get the resources they need to rebuild and recover.”  -- President Obama, November 3, 2012

    Nearly one year ago, communities across a dozen states in the Northeast experienced the devastating and tragic effects of Hurricane Sandy. Communities were shattered, families were torn apart, homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed, and lives were upended. But brick by brick, block by block, we are rebuilding. The impacted communities will come back stronger and the federal government will continue to stand right by their side as we continue to recover and rebuild.

    Over the past year:

    The Obama Administration has provided direct assistance to more than 230,000 people and small businesses in the form of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) individual assistance, Small Business Administration (SBA) grants and loans and Department of Labor (DOL) employment and training services.

    Further, the administration has announced over $39.7 billion in funding for recipients, and more than $13.5 billion of this has already been paid out. This includes:

    • More than $1.4 billion that FEMA has provided directly to more than 182,000 individuals impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
    • More than $2.4 billion in low-interest loans through the SBA to individuals and businesses.
    • More than $3.2 billion in FEMA assistance to state, local and tribal governments for emergency protective measures, debris removal, and repair and replacement of infrastructure in the hardest hit areas.
    • $10.4 billion in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), including $5.4 billion of CDBG-DR funds allocated within 8 days of the signing of the Sandy-supplemental into law. This represented the fastest ever allocation following the signing of an appropriations bill.
      • More than 26,000 households have already been assisted through CDBG housing programs across the region, with more than $157 million paid out to these beneficiaries.
      • Already more than $2 billion in infrastructure funds are at work in dozens of projects across the region.
    • More than $5.7 billion made available from the Federal Transit Administration, and the Federal Highway Administration has announced more than $500 million for recovery efforts.

  • For more than 40 years, the White House has opened its doors and welcomed visitors from across the country to tour the grounds and gardens. This year, we invited photo enthusiasts who follow the White House on Instagram to join us for the first ever White House InstaMeet.

    During the visit, the Instagramers toured the South Lawn and Kitchen Garden, met White House Grounds Superintendent Dale Haney, Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, Deputy Director of Let’s Move! Elyse Cohen, and were surprised by the two, four-legged members of the Obama Family, Bo and Sunny.

    Later, the group stopped by Eisenhower Executive Office Building where they had the chance to sit down with Chief Official White House Photographer Pete Souza. Pete spent time talking through some of his photos and answered questions about what it takes to capture a great photo.

  • In this week’s address, President Obama discusses the launch of the Health Insurance Marketplace for the Affordable Care Act, which gives millions of Americans the opportunity to have access to affordable and reliable healthcare—many for the first time. 

    Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

  • President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan talk with students while visiting a classroom at the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH)

    President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan talk with students while visiting a classroom at the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) in Brooklyn, NY, Oct. 25, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Marine One landed in Brooklyn on Friday, when President Obama paid a visit to P-TECH -- a cutting-edge early-college high school formed by a partnership between IBM and the City University of New York. 

    The President spoke about the need for a balanced, reasonable budget that frees up resources for the things that we know promote long-term economic growth: things like rebuilding our manufacturing base, upgrading our transportation and information networks, supporting basic research and development,  including educating our kids and workers so that they can be competitive in a global economy. That includes making room for more schools like P-TECH. 

    The President praised the school, which offers college-level courses in math and science and offers students a high school diploma and an Associate's Degree in computer systems or electromechanical engineering:

    ... At a moment when the cost of higher education keeps going up -- and Arne and I are working hard to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to reduce the burden of student loans on young people -- here’s how much two years of college will cost P-TECH students and their families:  Zero. Nothing. 

  • Improving On Monday, President Obama spoke about what’s being done to improve The President said that the best IT experts from both inside and outside the government are working to fix issues with the site, and reminded Americans that there are other ways to apply and enroll for affordable, high-quality health insurance:

    Even as we redouble our efforts to get the site working as well as it’s supposed to, we’re also redoubling our efforts to make sure you can still buy the same quality, affordable insurance plans available on the marketplace the old-fashioned way -- offline, either over the phone or in person. 

    The Administration is taking steps to improve the enrollment process while work is underway on call centers now have more staffers to process applications or answer questions, and you can preview plans and prices without filling out an application.

    Despite the problems, demand for affordable health insurance is high, President Obama said. thousands of people are signing up and saving money.

    People can save money, significant money, by getting insurance that’s being provided through these marketplaces. And we know that the demand is there. People are rushing to see what’s available. And those who have already had a chance to enroll are thrilled with the result.

    Check out a video of three Americans who have already signed for affordable health insurance and see what they have to say about their experiences.

    Immigration Reform: The President spoke about the need to fix our broken immigration system on Thursday. Earlier this year, the Senate passed a bill with bipartisan support, and President Obama said that it's up to House Republicans to decide whether reform becomes a reality or not. "This isn't just the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do," he said.