Read all posts from August 2014
David HudsonAugust 30, 2014
06:00 AM EDT
President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Aug. 29, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
In this week’s address, the President wished Americans a happy Labor Day weekend, highlighted the important economic progress we’ve made, and reaffirmed his commitment to accelerate our progress and ensure that our growing economy fuels a strong middle class.
To do this, the President reiterated that Congress should do right by hardworking Americans across the country and raise the minimum wage, and he praised the 13 states and Washington, D.C. as well as employers large and small who have heeded his call and taken action to provide their citizens and employees a fair wage.
The President underscored that America built the world’s greatest middle class by making sure that everyone who’s willing to work hard and play by the rules can get ahead – an economic patriotism worth remembering this Labor Day, and every day.
David HudsonAugust 29, 2014
07:11 PM EDT
This week, the White House celebrated Women's Equality Day, the National Park Service celebrated its 98th birthday, and President Obama addressed the American Legion, the nation's largest veteran service organization.
Check out what else you may have missed in this week's wrap up.
This past Tuesday, the White House celebrated Women's Equality Day -- commemorating the certification of the 19th Amendment on August 26, 1920, securing women's right to vote. Although we've made a lot of progress in the decades since, there is still much work to be done.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 26, 2014
Throughout the day, White House economist Betsey Stevenson also took over the popular "I Love Charts" Tumblr blog to tell the story of the progress we’ve made in closing the earnings gap between women and men, and the challenges women still face in the workforce. See her charts here.
Tanya SomanaderAugust 29, 2014
03:00 PM EDT
In September 2009, the President announced that -- for the first time in history -- White House visitor records would be made available to the public on an ongoing basis. Today, the White House releases visitor records that were generated in May 2014. This release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to more than 3.89 million -- all of which can be viewed in our Disclosures section.
August 29, 2014
12:01 PM EDT
As part of President Obama’s effort to achieve smarter and more effective approaches to international regulation, today I am pleased to announce the release of the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) Joint Forward Plan. The Forward Plan represents a significant pivot point for our regulatory cooperation relationships with Canada, and outlines new federal agency-level partnership arrangements to help institutionalize the way our regulators work together.
The Forward Plan will remove duplicative requirements, develop common standards, and identify potential areas where future regulation may unnecessarily differ. This kind of international cooperation on regulations between the United States and Canada will help eliminate barriers to doing business in the United States or with U.S. companies, grow the economy, and create jobs.
Regulatory cooperation has to mean more than just “aligning” specific rules across the border; such a rule-by-rule approach is neither practical nor scalable enough to meet our ever-changing regulatory environments. We need to think more broadly and creatively on how to build cooperative frameworks to achieve our economic and regulatory policy goals in a more dynamic manner.
That is why the Forward Plan identifies 24 areas of cooperation that the United States and Canada will work together to implement over the next three to five years in order to modernize our thinking around international regulatory cooperation and develop a toolbox of strategies to address international regulatory issues as they arise.
Adam GarberAugust 28, 2014
06:24 PM EDT
This week, the White House honored two important anniversaries for women's rights and civil rights, and the President announced new actions to improve access to quality health care for veterans.
Tanya SomanaderAugust 28, 2014
04:53 PM EDT
At the White House this afternoon, President Obama provided an update on important issues ahead of his attendance at the NATO Summit in the United Kingdom next week.
The President first addressed the "number one thing that most Americans care about" -- our economy. He noted that the economy is growing "at a stronger clip" than predicted and that we have more work to do to continue this momentum:
This morning, we found out that our economy actually grew at a stronger clip in the 2nd quarter than we originally thought. Companies are investing. Consumers are spending. Over the past four and a half years, our businesses have created now nearly 10 million new jobs. So there are reasons to feel good about the direction we’re headed. But as everybody knows, there’s a lot more we should be doing to make sure more Americans benefit from the progress that we've made and I am going to be pushing Congress hard on this when they return next week.
As the U.S. military continues to carry out targeted airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq and to address the humanitarian situation on the ground, the President reiterated his commitment as Commander-in-Chief to "always do what is necessary to protect the American people and defend against evolving threats to our homeland."
"Our military action in Iraq has to be part of a broader, comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners who are taking the fight to ISIL. And that starts with Iraq’s leaders building on the progress they’ve made so far and forming the inclusive government that will unite their country and strengthen their security forces to confront ISIL."
The President reported that our strikes have cost ISIL terrorists arms and equipment, and Iraqi and Kurdish forces are continuing to push them back. The U.S. will consider a range of options but he made clear that a successful strategy will require working with an inclusive Iraqi government and strong regional partners to meet this threat:
Now ISIL poses an immediate threat to the people of Iraq and the people throughout the region. And that’s why our military action in Iraq has to be part of a broader, comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners who are taking the fight to ISIL. And that starts with Iraq’s leaders building on the progress they’ve made so far and forming the inclusive government that will unite their country and strengthen their security forces to confront ISIL.
Any successful strategy, though, also needs strong regional partners. I’m encouraged so far that countries in the region -- countries that don’t always agree on many things -- increasingly recognize the primacy of the threat ISIL poses to all of them. And I’ve asked Secretary Kerry to travel to the region to continue to build the coalition that’s needed to meet this threat. As I’ve said, rooting out a cancer like ISIL will not be quick or easy but I’m confident that we can -- and we will -- working closely with our allies and partners.
For our part, I’ve directed Secretary Hagel and our Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare a range of options. I’ll be meeting with my National Security Council again this evening as we continue to develop that strategy. And I’ve been consulting with Congress and I’ll continue to do so in the days ahead.
Lindsay HolstAugust 28, 2014
02:30 PM EDT
President Obama today announced that he has asked U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Assistant to the President Todd Park to take on a new role for the Administration as a technology advisor based in Silicon Valley. Park will begin the new role in September after he and his family have returned home to California.
Park’s focus will be recruiting more top tech talent like Mikey Dickerson into government and identifying innovative ways to improve the quality of government digital services, two central goals of the President’s Smarter IT Delivery agenda. He will also help ensure that the Administration has an on-the-ground sense of how technology is evolving and can craft policy and initiatives accordingly.
Tanya SomanaderAugust 28, 2014
12:27 PM EDT
Ninety-four years ago this week, American women officially won the right to vote when the United States certified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. The fight to secure that intrinsic right took generations, and nearly 100 years later, women continue to face persistent inequality and discrimination.
In 2014, women are still fighting to make the principle of equal pay for equal work a reality. Though more and more women are becoming the primary breadwinners in their families, they continue to make less than their male counterparts at all income levels -- a gender pay gap that only widens as people get older.
In fact, women who enter the workforce after graduating college are paid less in almost every field of study:
Jason FurmanAugust 28, 2014
09:30 AM EDT
Today’s revision affirms that economic growth in the second quarter was strong, consistent with the recent string of solid job growth and improvements in other economic indicators. But there's more work that needs to be done to build on this momentum. That is why the President continues to act on his own to facilitate investment in American manufacturing, energy, and infrastructure, as well as take steps to improve the financial security of working families.
FIVE KEY POINTS IN TODAY'S REPORT FROM THE BUREAU OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS
1. Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 4.2 percent at an annual rate in the second quarter of 2014, according to the second estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The strong second-quarter growth represents a rebound from a first-quarter decline in GDP that largely reflected transitory factors like unusually severe winter weather and a sharp slowdown in inventory investment. Growth in consumer spending and business investment picked up in the second 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. Real gross domestic income (GDI), an alternative measure of the overall size of the economy, was up 4.7 percent in Q2.
Lindsay HolstAugust 27, 2014
09:35 AM EDT
Last night, White House economist Betsey Stevenson sent the email below to the White House email list, telling the story of the progress women have made since gaining the right to vote -- and what's still left to accomplish.
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Hi, everyone --
In 1776, Abigail Adams wrote to John Adams, then serving on the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, and reminded him to "not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands."
Seventy-two years later, in 1848, women across the country gathered together for the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York.
And it wasn't until 72 years after that, in 1920, that women in the United States officially gained the right to vote.
Let's be honest: Change hasn't ever exactly come quickly for women in this country. And 94 years later -- while it's undeniable that women have made leaps and bounds in every facet of American life, from the classroom to the boardroom -- it's not enough.
Today, on the anniversary of the 19th Amendment, we celebrate Women's Equality Day. And today, the day-to-day operations of too many businesses and institutions still don't reflect true gender equality. We've got the data to prove it.
Throughout the day, I've posted charts that tell the story of the progress we've made -- and the challenges women still face in the workforce.
August 26, 2014
06:44 PM EDT
President Obama traveled to Charlotte, NC today to address the American Legion, the nation’s largest veteran service organization, and pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of our veterans from every corner of the country and every generation:
In the story of your service we see the spirit of America. When your country needed you most, you stepped forward. You raised your right hand, you swore a solemn oath. You put on that uniform and earned the title you carry to this day -- whether Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, Coast Guardsman.
Among you are proud veterans of World War II; of Korea; of Vietnam; of Desert Storm and the Balkans; and our newest veterans -- from Iraq and Afghanistan. Across the generations, you served with honor. You made us proud. And you carry the memory of friends who never came home -- our fallen, our prisoners of war, those missing in action -- heroes that our nation can never forget.
Lindsay HolstAugust 26, 2014
02:49 PM EDT
Today, White House Economist Betsey Stevenson is taking over the popular "I Love Charts" Tumblr blog in honor of Women's Equality Day. Follow along here, or on the White House Tumblr.
Hey everyone! Betsey Stevenson here from President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. In honor of Women’s Equality Day, I’ll be taking over I Love Charts to tell the story of the progress we’ve made in closing the earnings gap between women and men, and the challenges women still face in the workforce.
Let’s get started. Our first chart shows how women are increasingly contributing to family income and now make up about half the workforce. Since 2000, women’s labor force participation has dropped slightly, but most of that is because of cyclical factors and an aging population. While older women participate in the workforce at lower rates than younger women, the percent of older women who are working has increased since the mid-1990s, partially offsetting the overall decline.
At the other end of the spectrum, young women are more likely to be enrolled in school than they were a generation ago, and that’s good news. Since students (even ones who work part-time) are not considered to be in the labor force, increased school enrollment will depress the participation rate.
Wanna wonk out some more on this stuff? Check out our report on “Women’s Participation in Education and the Workforce.”
Jeffrey ZientsAugust 26, 2014
02:35 PM EDT
Every day, the men and women of our military perform incredible service on behalf of our country. And as the President has made clear, just as our service members have made a commitment to America, we have a commitment to them – to have their backs at home while they serve around the world.
A new partnership announced today by President Obama with leading banks and financial services institutions is part of meeting that commitment by making it easier for service members to access important financial protections that will save them money and help protect their financial wellbeing.
In a speech at the American Legion's 96th National Convention today, the President outlined how his Administration and five of the country’s largest mortgage servicers are working together to help more members of our active-duty military lower their monthly mortgage payments. Our preliminary analysis suggests that this new partnership will help tens of thousands of military families save money by reducing their mortgage interest rates. On a $200,000 mortgage, even an interest rate reduction of only 1 percent will result in over $1,500 a year in savings for our military families – money they can put toward daily expenses, retirement savings, or sending their children to college.
David HudsonAugust 26, 2014
01:11 PM EDT
At 108 years old, Lucy Coffey, a veteran of the Women's Army Corps in World War II, is the nation's oldest living female veteran.
Last month, a dream of hers came true when she finally had the opportunity to visit the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. But while she was in the area, she also stopped by the White House — where she was greeted by none other than President Obama and Vice President Biden.
Valerie JarrettAugust 26, 2014
10:44 AM EDT
Etched into the history of our Nation are the stories of women who fought for the America they knew was possible — a country where all are truly treated equally and have access to the ballot box, regardless of gender. It took generations of fearless women who organized and advocated to secure women’s right to vote, and on Women’s Equality Day, we honor these courageous heroes, celebrate how far we have come in the decades since, and acknowledge the work still left to be done.
In the 94 years since the 19th Amendment was certified, women have made strides in every facet of American life, and we have learned that our country succeeds when women succeed. More and more the world is looking to our daughters to lead us, to heal us, to employ us, to thrill us on fields of play, and to protect us on fields of battle. Even still, inequality and discrimination persist. Women, on average, continue to earn less than their male counterparts, and for women of color, the disparity is even wider. Outdated workplace policies force too many working parents to choose between fulfilling their family responsibilities, and the careers of their dreams. And far too many women know what it is to suffer from abuse or sexual assault.
Tanya SomanaderAugust 25, 2014
12:29 PM EDT
From our spacious skies and fruited plains to our purple mountain majesties, the United States boasts some of the world's most breathtaking natural lands. On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson created the National Park Service to formally protect and preserve these lands so people all over the world could experience America's historic beauty and heritage for years to come.
Today, the National Park Service manages 401 national parks and memorials, which supported 238,000 jobs and pumped more than $26 billion into local economies last year. In fact, for every $1 we invest in our national parks, our economy sees $10 in return.
Take a glimpse at what the National Park Service has been working to preserve for 98 years, and follow the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of Interior on Twitter to see more of what makes America so beautiful.
Lindsay HolstAugust 23, 2014
06:00 AM EDT
President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Blue Room of the White House, Aug. 18, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)
In this week’s address, the President highlighted the progress made towards rebuilding our economy, including the creation of nearly 10 million new private sector jobs in the past 53 months and the rise in the number of American exports to an all-time high. That growth is in part thanks to the actions of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, an organization that creates American jobs by helping to take American businesses global. The charter of the Export-Import Bank is slated to expire next month, unless Members of Congress renew it, as has happened 16 times in the past with support from Democrats and Republicans. The President asked business owners and employees to reach out to their representatives, who are home this month, and let them know how important it is that the Export-Import Bank continue its work so that American businesses can continue to grow.
David HudsonAugust 21, 2014
06:01 PM EDT
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder traveled to Ferguson, Missouri yesterday to review the Justice Department's independent investigation into the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. While there, the Attorney General met with community leaders, FBI investigators, and federal prosecutors to get detailed briefings on the status of the case.
"I've been kept up to date," he said, "but there's nothing that can replace actually coming to the office that's handling the matter, and being able to look in the face the people who are, I think at this point, very ably handling this investigation."
Following the shooting of Michael Brown on August 9, the city of Ferguson has captured countless headlines. Across the country -- and around the world -- people are watching as the Ferguson community continues to grapple with this tragedy.
"The eyes of the nation and the world are watching Ferguson right now," the Attorney General said yesterday at the Florissant Valley Campus of St. Louis Community College. "The world is watching because the issues raised by the shooting of Michael Brown predate this incident. This is something that has a history to it, and the history simmers beneath the surface in more communities than just Ferguson."
Adam GarberAugust 21, 2014
05:16 PM EDT
Welcome to a special edition of West Wing Week, featuring a Summer Social Media Mailbag Q&A session with White House staffers. But before we get to your questions, here are a couple scenes from the President's week.
Tanya SomanaderAugust 21, 2014
11:42 AM EDT
The American auto industry remains a cornerstone of our economy -- a key source of our ability to export, innovate, and create jobs. During the economic turmoil of the Great Recession, the auto sector shed hundreds of thousands of jobs, and production dropped to the lowest level recorded in data going back to the 1960s. In 2009, President Obama took decisive action to rescue the industry from imminent collapse, saving more than 1 million jobs across the country.
Now, our auto industry is once again a source of economic strength, with more and more of the world’s top-of-the-line, fuel-efficient vehicles being made by American workers in American factories. In fact, the number of cars coming off our assembly lines just reached its highest level in 12 years.
Check out how fast the American auto industry has bounced back under President Obama -- then share this chart with everyone who needs to see this progress: