The White House Blog: The President

  • Celebrating 50 Years of Medicare and Medicaid

    President Harry Truman fought for years to pass a bill to provide low-cost health care for elderly Americans. Yet, it took almost two decades for his ideas to come to fruition: On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Amendments into law, establishing Medicare and Medicaid. He honored President Truman at the ceremony by enrolling Harry Truman, at age 81, and his wife Bess Truman as the first Medicare beneficiaries.


    “No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings that they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years. No longer will young families see their own incomes, and their own hopes, eaten away simply because they are carrying out their deep moral obligations to their parents, and to their uncles, and their aunts.”

    —President Lyndon B. Johnson, July 30, 1965


    In the first six months, more than 2.5 million Americans benefitted from Medicare-covered hospital care. Fifty years later, 55.2 million Americans are enrolled in Medicare.

    • Medicare card number 488-40-6969A given to Harry S. Truman

      This is the Medicare card believed to have been given to Harry Truman by President Lyndon Johnson.

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    • Medicare card number 488-40-6969B given to Bess W. Truman

      This is the Medicare card believed to have been given to Bess Truman by President Lyndon Johnson.

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    • President Lyndon Johnson hands President Harry S. Truman a pen at the signing of the Medicare Bill at the Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, Missouri

      President Lyndon Johnson hands President Harry S. Truman a pen as Lady Bird Johnson, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and Bess Truman look on.

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    • President Lyndon Johnson signs the Medicare Bill at the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Missouri

      President Lyndon Johnson signs the Medicare Bill. President Harry S. Truman is seated next to him.

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    • Page 1 of remarks by the President at the Signing of the Medicare Bill, Independence, Missouri

      The first page of the press release issuing the remarks President Lyndon Johnson made upon signing the Social Security Amendments of 1965.

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    • Page 2 of remarks by the President at the Signing of the Medicare Bill, Independence, Missouri

      The second page of the press release issuing the remarks President Lyndon Johnson made upon signing the Social Security Amendments of 1965.

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    • Page 3 of remarks by the President at the Signing of the Medicare Bill, Independence, Missouri

      The third page of the press release issuing the remarks President Lyndon Johnson made upon signing the Social Security Amendment of 1965.

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    • President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Daily Diary for July 30, 1965, Page 6

      The entry from President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Daily Diary from when he signed the Social Security Amendments of 1965.

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    • Social Security Act Amendments, “Medicare”, Page 1

      Page 1 of the Social Security Act.

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    • Social Security Act Amendments, “Medicare”, Page 2

      Page 2 of the Social Security Act.

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    President Johnson took the Social Security Amendments one step further than Medicare, also creating Medicaid, a state and federally funded program that offers health coverage to low-income Americans. President Obama has continued to expanded high-quality, affordable health insurance coverage to millions of Americans through the Affordable Care Act. Medicare has gotten stronger and is protected for years to come. Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have helped 8.6 million people get covered through Medicaid expansion, which is saving lives like Timothy’s and Joanne's. So, after 50 years of Medicare and Medicaid, these programs are stronger than ever, working together to build a healthier America.


    “In this anniversary of those incredible achievements, we need to recommit ourselves to finishing the work that earlier generations began -- make sure this is a country that remains one where no matter who you are or where you started off, you’re treated with dignity, your hard work is rewarded, your contributions are valued, you have a shot to achieve your dreams whatever your age.”

    —President Obama at the White House Conference on Aging, July 13, 2015



  • A Look Back at We the People Petitions: 2011 to Today

    “My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in government.”

    —   President Barack Obama


    Since we launched We the People in 2011, millions of Americans have engaged with their government on the issues that matter to them. This groundbreaking online platform has made petitioning the government, a First Amendment right, more accessible than ever. Over the past few years, the Obama administration has taken a stance on a number of causes that citizens really care about and used the We the People petition platform to voice their concerns. Check out We the People -- where you can create or sign petitions -- here

    Today, the White House released responses to 20 outstanding We the People petitions. We're recommitting to the platform in a big way, integrating with Change.org to reach even more Americans and guaranteeing that you'll hear from us within 60 days after the petition you signed has gathered the required signatures.

    As we gear up for this new phase, take a look back at responses from the last four years.

    1. The President Records a Special Message for a Petition on Reducing Gun Violence


  • President Obama Travels to Kenya and Ethiopia

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Safaricom Indoor Arena in Nairobi, Kenya

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Safaricom Indoor Arena in Nairobi, Kenya, July 26, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    This week President Obama is traveling in Kenya and Ethiopia to attend the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit and to meet with leaders from government, business, and civil society. The trip is reinforcing the U.S. commitment to expanding economic growth and trade, strengthening democracy on a global scale, and investing in the next generation of African leaders.

    Follow along for highlights from the President's trip.


  • Weekly Address: Wall Street Reform is Working

    President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, July 23, 2015.

    President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, July 23, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon).

    In this week's address, the President spoke to the progress we have made in making our financial system stronger, safer, and more fair in the years since financial crisis. Five years ago this week our country enacted the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, rules that have substantially reduced recklessness and abuse in our financial system that predated the crisis.  As a result of Wall Street reform, our banks are less reliant on unstable funding and less likely to engage in risky behavior, the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau works to protect American consumers, and our financial system is significantly better-regulated.  Dodd-Frank is working, and the President emphasized that he will continue to fight any challenges to the law and veto any effort to unravel the new rules governing Wall Street.

    Transcript | mp4 | mp3


  • Behind the Lens: Photographing the President in 50 Countries

    Today, President Obama visits Kenya — the 50th country he has visited during his Administration. It’s also my 50th country traveling with the President.

    To mark the occasion, as I did when the President visited his 50th state, I chose one photograph from each country that we’ve visited.

    Traveling abroad with the President is very different.

    Often times, I am at the mercy of the host country for access. Some countries are more accommodating to me than others. I am lucky to have counterpart official photographers in many countries who are extremely helpful to me in this regard. I of course try to return the help to them when they visit the White House with their head of state.

    We’re also rarely in any one country for more than a couple of days, which gives us only a partial glimpse of each place. And because of security, the sites we are able to visit are often limited too.

    All that said, we’ve had the incredible opportunity to visit the Pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge in the United Kingdom, the Great Wall in China, Petra in Jordan, and the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar (Burma). (So I really shouldn’t complain too much.)

    I hope you enjoy this gallery. And stay tuned — we’ll be adding a photograph from Kenya and additionally, Ethiopia, following his visit next week.


    Afghanistan, 2012

    Boarding Air Force One at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)



  • West Wing Week: 07/24/15 or, "A New Direction"

    This week, the President visited Steel City and The Big Apple, celebrated the anniversary of the ADA and the signing of AGOA, and hosted a newly minted head of state -- all while a U.S. delegation led by Dr. Biden traveled through Asia.


  • President Obama Speaks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention

    Yesterday, President Obama traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to speak at the 116th Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) convention.


  • Progress Made Since President Obama’s Bold Executive Action to Reform our Broken Immigration System

    After waiting over 500 days for Congress to take action and pass comprehensive, commonsense immigration reform, the President took action within his authority to reform our broken immigration system last November. These actions will strengthen our safety and security while enhancing the integrity of our immigration system and respecting our values as a nation. If fully implemented, the Council of Economic Advisors expects these actions to boost our economic output by $100 billion to $250 billion and raise average annual Wages for U.S.-born workers by 0.4 percent, or $220 in today’s dollars, over the next ten years.

    Since November 20th, many of these executive actions have moved forward, greatly impacting our nation. Steps have been taken to enhance national security, public safety, and border security; create more certainty and security for high-skilled workers and employers; protect immigrant workers, including victims of crime and trafficking; and create a strategic plan to help integrate immigrants and refugees.

    Read our progress update on the November executive actions here.


  • Follow Along: Logan Visits the West Wing

    It started with a video.

    Logan, an 11-year-old from Hartford, Michigan, asked his dad to film him confronting his bullies -- reading a series of mean-spirited comments from his YouTube page. His message was simple:


    "I hope that people don't bully other people online anymore, and that this helps."


  • President Obama Celebrates 25 Years of the ADA

    Yesterday, President Obama celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at the White House.

    In the East Room, President Obama honored those who made the ADA the law of the land – the activists, congressional representatives, and stakeholders who worked tirelessly to ensure that millions of Americans with disabilities had the chance to make their contributions to the world.