Read all posts from July 2014
Ezra MechaberJuly 31, 2014
06:37 PM EDT
President Obama traveled to Kansas City, Missouri this week — where he grabbed some BBQ with Americans who had written him letters, and delivered a speech about how he's working to get things done for hardworking Americans even as Congress chooses not to act to move this country forward.
And before he left, the President took a walk down Main Street (literally), spending time with store owners, touring an antique watch shop, and chatting with customers at a local coffee shop.
Ezra MechaberJuly 30, 2014
07:02 PM EDT
Today, Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer sent the message below to the White House email list. Didn't get it? Sign up for updates.
The House of Representatives just took a vote -- and it wasn't to raise the minimum wage, put in place equal pay, create jobs, or reform our broken immigration system.
Instead, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives just voted to sue the President for using his executive authority. This lawsuit will waste valuable time and potentially millions of taxpayer dollars.
This is the least productive Congress in decades. And instead of doing their job, they are suing the President for doing his.
The President is committed to making a difference for the millions of hardworking Americans trying to do right by their families and communities. While Republicans in Congress continue to waste taxpayer money, this President is going to keep doing his job.
Cameron BrenchleyJuly 30, 2014
03:34 PM EDT
President Barack Obama talks with a youngster outside Arthur Bryant's Barbeque in Kansas City, Missouri, July 29, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Yesterday, President Obama traveled to Kansas City, Missouri for a short one-day trip to have dinner with several people who had written him letters, and to give a speech today on ensuring that the economy works for everyone.
Last night, the President had dinner at Arthur Bryant’s BBQ in Kansas City with four local residents who had written to him to share how they're working hard to get ahead in America.
This is just the latest stop the President has made while on the road to meet with hardworking Americans who have written him, and to let them know he’s listening.
July 30, 2014
11:37 AM EDT
On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed both Medicare and Medicaid into law. Over the past 49 years, Medicare has provided comprehensive coverage to millions of seniors and people with disabilities, while Medicaid has provided coverage for millions of the most vulnerable Americans: low-income parents, children, and those with disabilities.
Because of the Affordable Care Act, states are expanding their Medicaid programs to cover more Americans, and today, Medicaid covers over 66 million Americans.
Bill Sheshko, a 55-year-old self-employed man from Fair Lawn, New Jersey, experienced the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion first hand. He’d been without health insurance for years, but with the Affordable Care Act, and because his state decided to expand Medicaid, he finally became eligible for Medicaid.
A few months ago, Bill began having difficulty breathing and noticed his legs and feet starting to swell. Because of his new coverage, Bill was able to make an appointment with his doctor and was subsequently diagnosed with congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. After a few scary days in the hospital, he is now home and working with his doctors to control his conditions with medication and diet. In a letter to the President, Bill wrote about the true meaning of his health coverage: “At least now I have a chance, all because of you.”
Jason FurmanJuly 30, 2014
09:35 AM EDT
Economic growth in the second quarter was strong, consistent with the recent further improvement in the labor market and other indicators. The economy could do even better if Congress does its part to help — starting with taking the steps needed to ensure that work on our roads and bridges is not brought to a halt this fall. But to make further progress, the President is pressing ahead on his own authority, taking action to facilitate investments in American manufacturing, energy, and infrastructure.
FIVE KEY POINTS IN TODAY’S REPORT FROM THE BUREAU OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS
1. Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 4.0 percent at an annual rate in the second quarter of 2014, according to the advance estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The second-quarter increase in GDP follows a first-quarter decline that was slightly less steep than previously reported. In the second quarter, growth in consumer spending and business investment picked up from the previous quarter, and residential investment increased following two straight quarters of decline. Additionally, state and local government spending grew at the fastest quarterly rate in five years. However, net exports subtracted from overall GDP growth, as imports grew faster than exports. Over the last four quarters, real GDP has risen 2.4 percent.
David HudsonJuly 29, 2014
06:58 PM EDT
This afternoon, President Obama spoke on the South Lawn about the situation in Ukraine, in the wake of the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 nearly two weeks ago.
"In the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, and countries around the world," he said, "families are still in shock over the sudden and tragic loss of nearly 300 loved ones senselessly killed when their civilian airliner was shot down over territory controlled by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine."
Noting that those families and their nations are America's friends and allies, the President made clear that the U.S. "continues to do everything in our power to help bring home their loved ones, support the international investigation, and make sure justice is done."
President Obama then explained that Russia, along with its proxies in Ukraine, are neither cooperating with the investigation, nor pursuing a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Ukraine:
David HudsonJuly 29, 2014
05:52 PM EDT
This afternoon, in a 97-0 vote, the Senate confirmed Robert "Bob" McDonald to serve as the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
In a statement, President Obama applauded the Senate for the confirmation, noting that McDonald is "uniquely equipped" to lead the Department:
I applaud the overwhelming, bipartisan confirmation of Bob McDonald as our next Secretary of Veterans Affairs. As a veteran himself and a proud member of a military family, Bob is deeply committed to serving our veterans and their families. And as an executive with decades of private-sector experience, he is uniquely equipped to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, and to help change the way the VA does business. As a country, we have a solemn duty to serve our veterans as well as they have served us. I know Bob will help us honor that commitment and make sure every veteran gets the care they deserve, the benefits they’ve earned, and the chance to pursue the American Dream they’ve risked so much to protect.
David HudsonJuly 29, 2014
02:28 PM EDT
This summer, President Obama is traveling across the country to meet with everyday Americans who have written him about what's going on in their lives.
Ahead of the President's trip to Kansas City this evening, White House Press Secretary and Kansas City native Josh Earnest called a few people in the area and invited them out to dinner with the President.
Cecilia MuñozJuly 29, 2014
01:25 PM EDT
Today at the White House, I was delighted to host a roundtable discussion with leaders from across the aging community who came together to discuss the White House Conference on Aging, which will take place in 2015 – the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security.
Just yesterday, the Medicare Trustees released their annual report finding that, since their report last year, the life of the Medicare Trust Fund has been extended by four additional years to 2030. When this Administration first took office, the Trust Fund was projected to go bankrupt more than a dozen years sooner, in 2017. The Trustees also project that – for the second year in a row – Part B premiums will not increase, allowing seniors to keep more of their Social Security cost-of-living increase.
Thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act, we have improved the affordability of the program, while at the same time helping Medicare work better for seniors. For example, we are closing the prescription drug coverage gap or “donut hole” to make medications more affordable for Medicare beneficiaries. Just today, we learned that 8.2 million seniors and people with disabilities saved $11.5 billion since 2010 – over $1,000 on average for people hitting the donut hole. Additionally, Medicare now provides coverage without cost-sharing for many preventive benefits to help keep older Americans healthy. The Affordable Care Act also responds to older Americans’ desire to remain independent in their communities by creating incentives for states to provide the services and supports that help people remain at home as they age.
Lindsay HolstJuly 29, 2014
12:03 PM EDT
Labor Secretary Tom Perez is traveling with Education Secretary Arne Duncan to Toledo, Ohio, today to see first-hand model programs and partnerships that are equipping Americans with the knowledge, skills and industry-relevant education they need to get on the pathway to a successful career.
We want to make sure you see what they see, too. Follow along today to see live updates and highlights from their day.
First stop: The Toledo Technology Academy.
The path to good jobs begins in grade school. Students in grades 7 – 12 receive an intense integrated academic and technical education that prepares them for a rewarding, life-long career in engineering or manufacturing technologies. Along with more “typical” high school classes, they receive hands-on training in plastics technologies, automated systems, manufacturing operations, computer-automated design, electronics and other manufacturing technologies. The academy works closely with employers – including the local GM plant – to provide students with industry recognized credentials and certification. Students also can earn advanced credit at local 2- and 4-year colleges. In April, the Toledo Public School System was awarded a $3.8 million Youth CareerConnect grant that will expand the Toledo Technology Academy’s model to serve more students.
...Where students on the robotics team earn a varsity letter.
— US Labor Department (@USDOL) July 29, 2014
July 29, 2014
11:26 AM EDT
The signs of climate change are all around us. The average temperature in the United States during the past decade was 0.8° Celsius (1.5° Fahrenheit) warmer than the 1901-1960 average, and the last decade was the warmest on record both in the United States and globally. Global sea levels are currently rising at approximately 1.25 inches per decade, and the rate of increase appears to be accelerating.
The scientific consensus is that these changes, and many others, are largely consequences of anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases that have led to a warming of the atmosphere and oceans.
The Council of Economic Advisers released a report today that examines the economic consequences of delaying implementing policies to reduce the pace and ultimate magnitude of these changes; the findings emphasize the need for policy action today. The report was written under the leadership of Jim Stock, who recently resigned as a Member of the Council of Economic Advisers to return to his teaching position at Harvard University.
KEY POINTS IN TODAY’S REPORT FROM THE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS
1. Immediate action substantially reduces the cost of achieving climate targets. Taking meaningful steps now sends a signal to the market that reduces long-run costs of meeting the target. Such action will reduce investments in high-carbon infrastructure that is expensive to replace and will spur development of new low- and zero-emissions technologies. For both reasons, the least-cost mitigation path to achieve a given climate target typically starts with a relatively low price of carbon to send these signals to the market, and subsequently increases as new low-carbon technologies are developed and deployed. An analysis of research on the cost of delay for hitting a specified climate target suggests that net mitigation costs increase, on average, by approximately 40 percent for each decade of delay.
Alex WallJuly 29, 2014
10:38 AM EDT
Climate change is not a distant threat – we're already experiencing its harmful impacts. That's why President Obama has taken action to cut carbon pollution by moving to cleaner sources of energy and improving the energy efficiency of our cars, trucks, and buildings. But further steps are urgently needed to ensure that we leave our kids a planet that’s not polluted or damaged.
Today, the White House released a new report from the Council of Economic Advisers that breaks down the economic consequences of delaying action to combat climate change. The report finds that delaying policy actions by a decade increases total climate change mitigation costs by about 40%, and failing to take any action would risk substantial economic damage.
So how will this affect you and your community? Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, is taking to Twitter to answer your questions. Today, July 29 at 2:30 p.m. ET, join him for a Twitter Q&A on the economic impacts of climate change on his Twitter handle, @CEAChair.
Here's what you need to know:
- Ask your questions now and during the live event on Twitter with the hashtag #WHClimateChat
- Follow the Q&A live through the @CEAChair Twitter handle
- If you miss the live Q&A, the full session will be posted on WhiteHouse.gov and Storify.com/whitehouse
July 29, 2014
08:16 AM EDT
Today, in a major step to advance the President’s Climate Data Initiative, the Obama administration is inviting leaders of the technology and agricultural sectors to the White House to discuss new collaborative steps to unleash data that will help ensure our food system is resilient to the effects of climate change.
More intense heat waves, heavier downpours, and severe droughts and wildfires out west are already affecting the nation’s ability to produce and transport safe food. The recently released National Climate Assessment makes clear that these kinds of impacts are projected to become more severe over this century.
Food distributors, agricultural businesses, farmers, and retailers need accessible, useable data, tools, and information to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of their operations – from water availability, to timing of planting and harvest, to storage practices, and more.
Today’s convening at the White House will include formal commitments by a host of private-sector companies and nongovernmental organizations to support the President’s Climate Data Initiative by harnessing climate data in ways that will increase the resilience of America’s food system and help reduce the contribution of the nation’s agricultural sector to climate change.
July 28, 2014
06:41 PM EDT
This afternoon, the President and the First Lady honored the 2013 National Medals of the Arts and Humanities recipients at the White House. The President told the recipients that their "accomplishments enrich our lives and reveal something about ourselves and our country."
This year's recipients consisted of a diverse array of indidivuals and groups who have done groundbreaking work in the arts and humanities, including architecture, choreography, East Asian Studies, and documentary filmmaking – all of whom have made significant contributions to the human experience.
Secretary Anthony FoxxJuly 28, 2014
06:23 PM EDT
Like many Americans, when Jesus "Jay" Valentin – a UPS driver – goes to sleep at night in his New Jersey home, he's got a lot on his mind.
He thinks about tomorrow's deliveries and worries about what the traffic will be like and what the weather will mean for road conditions. He calculates how much next month's mortgage payment will leave his family – his wife Jenny and four kids – for savings. He wonders how he will pay for his daughter Tiffany’s college education – she’s 16 now and thinking toward the future.
Last Friday, I had the chance to meet Jay and some of his coworkers at the UPS hub in Secaucus, New Jersey. It was an eye-opener in many ways.
Valerie JarrettJuly 28, 2014
04:44 PM EDT
President Obama’s town hall today with 500 of Africa’s most promising young leaders provided an inspiring window into what the future holds for Africa, and the world.
The 500 participants in the Washington Fellowship program were selected from nearly 50,000 applicants from across Africa, as part of the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). YALI was launched by President Obama in 2010, as part of a long-term investment in the next generation of African leaders. It aims to sharpen their skills, to improve their networks, and to strengthen partnerships between the United States and Africa for years to come.
The President announced during the town hall that the Washington Fellowship was being renamed as the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, in honor of the former South African President, Nelson Mandela. Mandela Washington Fellows represent the best and brightest from communities across Africa, and fields ranging from education, medicine, law, business, and beyond. These are the young leaders whose skills, passion, and visions for the future, will help shape the fate of their countries and the world. It is in everyone’s best interest to help them prepare with the tools they need to build a healthier, more secure, more prosperous, and more peaceful Africa, which is why President Obama launched YALI in the first place.
Jeffrey ZientsJuly 28, 2014
02:35 PM EDT
When it comes to investing in our infrastructure, the President’s message has been loud and clear: We must upgrade our roads and rails and bridges to grow our economy and create good American jobs. Over the last five decades, U.S. investments in transportation have fallen by nearly 50 percent as a percentage of GDP. So it is not surprising that in the most recent World Economic Forum rankings, the U.S. has fallen from 7th to 18th overall in the quality of our roads in less than a decade.
Earlier this month, we released a report that shows our transportation infrastructure system is in dire need of investment. The data tells an important story: 65 percent of America’s major roads are rated in less than good condition; one in four bridges require significant repair or cannot handle today’s traffic; and 45 percent of Americans lack access to transit.
We know what we need to do – and there are two compelling reasons for doing it right now. First, our global competiveness is directly linked to the strength of our infrastructure – investing in it can serve as a clear source of competitive advantage. Second, these investments will create jobs, help American businesses, and grow our economy. The President has put forth a long-term proposal that would make these investments and pay for them by closing unfair tax loopholes and making commonsense reforms to our business tax system. The President’s GROW AMERICA Act would support millions of jobs and position our economy for lasting growth.
July 28, 2014
01:35 PM EDT
Today’s annual report from the Medicare program’s Boards of Trustees brings good news about the program’s financial future: Its Trust Fund will last four more years, to 2030, and projected Part B premiums for 2015 will not increase for the second year in a row.
As we celebrate Medicare’s 49th birthday this week, we will recommit to ensuring that the program continues providing health and economic security for the nation’s elderly and people with disabilities through the 21st century and beyond. Today’s news shows that we are on the right track, and we are optimistic that the promising results we’ve seen in recent years can continue into the future.
In 2009, the Trustees projected the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund would not be able to pay its bills in 2017 – just three years from now. Today’s new date is 2030, 13 years later than that projection – an improvement that is thanks in part to reforms in the Affordable Care Act (Chart 1). The law implemented changes to promote value-based payments, reduce waste and fraud, and strengthen the program’s benefits. These changes, for example, have reduced hospital spending on preventable readmissions, helping to lower hospital costs, which constitute a significant portion of trust fund spending.
July 28, 2014
11:50 AM EDT
It’s no secret that the American economy is changing, and some of the most in-demand skills today barely existed a generation ago. The average worker graduated high school around twenty years ago, when the personal computer was in its infancy, and only the most technical professions demanded a fluency in information technology (IT).
But times have changed, and some of the best ladders to well-paying, middle-class jobs are in IT fields across our economy. That’s because the average salary in a job that requires IT skills -- whether in manufacturing, advertising, hospitality, or banking -- is more than one and a half times higher than the average private-sector American job.
This week, the President and Vice President are announcing important reforms in the way Federal programs train and retrain workers. To meet the demand for IT and cybersecurity skills, we will also be kicking off a significant new effort focused on bridging the gap between workers, technology skills, and employers.
Kori SchulmanJuly 28, 2014
10:38 AM EDT
Today, President Obama kicks off a three-day Summit of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, the flagship program of the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). The Washington Fellowship gives 500 of sub-Saharan Africa’s most prominent young leaders the opportunity to engage with U.S. government officials, entrepreneurs and civil society representatives, as well as leaders in international development.