The White House Blog: The President

  • The Work Before Us: A Message from Michael Botticelli

    Today, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Michael Botticelli as Director of National Drug Control Policy. The following message is cross-posted from the Office of National Drug Control Policy's blog.

    If you have a story to share about recovery from substance abuse or addiction, you can share it here.


    Many great movements to change public perception and policy around a public health issue have been fueled by people with a disease speaking out publicly.


    What is seen as someone else's problem -- someone else’s disease – takes on a new dimension when people speak up about it.  

    Such was the case when Betty Ford revealed her breast cancer diagnosis and her substance use disorder. Such was the case when Magic Johnson revealed that he was HIV positive, spurring action to stem the AIDS epidemic.

    Yet, despite the fact that nearly every family and community in America is affected by a substance use disorder, those fighting to overcome this disease are too often hidden in the shadows of shame and denial.  It is whispered about. It is met with derision and scorn. 


  • Using Behavioral Science Insights to Make Government More Effective, Simpler, and More People-Friendly

    It makes sense for us to be able to redesign government so that it can deliver on the functions that the American people are looking for. We should all want a government that’s smarter, quicker, and more responsive to the needs of the American people.

    -President Obama, July 8, 2013

    This month marks one full year since the launch of the first-ever Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST), which was created in response to the President’s call to make government programs more effective and efficient. SBST comprises leading experts who have been recruited into government to harness behavioral science insights to help Federal government programs better serve the nation while saving taxpayer dollars.

    SBST had a successful first year, launching a wide variety of evidence-based pilots with objectives ranging from connecting veterans with employment and educational counseling benefits to helping struggling student borrowers understand their loan repayment options.

    In one recent pilot, SBST collaborated with the Department of Defense (DOD) to help members of the Armed Forces continue contributions to their Roth Thrift Savings Plans. Due to a change in the military pay system in January 2015, nearly 140,000 members needed to re-enroll in their plans online, or else their contributions would be suspended indefinitely. SBST worked with DOD to redesign their planned communications to better serve our service members, by making the language clear and concise, charting out clear action steps for service members to take, and personalizing the emails.

    Results from the first week of the pilot indicated that the redesigned email led 22% more service members – 3,770 individuals – to re-enroll compared to the original message. Since the redesigned email was more effective at prompting re-enrollment after just one week, DOD sent a version of the redesigned email to the entire population in follow-up messages, demonstrating the rapid scalability of insights from these types of low-cost pilots.

    The President’s FY 2016 Budget, which was announced earlier this week, supports funds for an expansion of SBST. To mark the one-year anniversary of SBST, the team met with President Obama last Friday.

    We would love to hear your ideas for other issues SBST could address to help the government better serve the American people. Also, let us know if you’re interested in joining the effort. Send us your thoughts at sbst@gsa.gov.

    Maya Shankar is Senior Advisor for Social and Behavioral Sciences at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.


  • An Important Message at the 2015 GRAMMY Awards: "It's On Us"

    Watch on YouTube

    "Artists have a unique power to change minds and attitudes -- and get us thinking and talking about what matters." 

    Last night, some of the world's most talented and influential artists came together in Los Angeles to celebrate last year's most notable achievements in music at the 2015 GRAMMY awards. Along with the awards and performances, the night included an important appeal message from President Obama to all present: It's on us to stop domestic violence and sexual assault. 


  • Behind-the-Scenes Video: "Humans of New York" Goes to the White House

    Take a look behind the scenes as President Obama meets Vidal, a 13-year-old from Brownsville, Brooklyn, whose photo on the "Humans of New York" blog inspired a national campaign to support the students at his middle school, Mott Hall Bridges Academy.

    Watch the video and learn more about their story.

    Watch on YouTube


  • Weekly Address: Everyone Who Works Hard Should Get Ahead

    President Obama Tapes the Weekly Address on January 30

    President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. January 30, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    In this week’s address, President Obama highlighted the progress our economy has made, with more than 3.1 million jobs created in 2014 – the best year for job growth since the late 1990s. America has come a long way, and with the right policies, we can continue to grow our economy into one where those who work hard can get ahead.

    That’s why earlier this week the President released a budget proposal focused on middle-class economics – the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, does their fair share, and plays by the same set of rules. The President said he looks forward to working with anyone, Republican or Democrat, who is willing to fight for commonsense policies that will help the middle class succeed.

    Transcript | mp4 | mp3


  • Week in Review: The FY2016 Budget, Health Care Stories, and More Job Growth

    This week, the President released his fiscal year 2016 budget, talked with people who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act, welcomed DREAMers to the White House, and carried on a Presidential tradition of attending the National Prayer Breakfast.

    Find out more about the past week at the White House in our latest weekly wrap-up.


    The President Released His Budget

    On Monday, the President released his budget for fiscal year 2016. Following up on his State of the Union address, the President's budget includes funding for Precision Medicine, combating climate change, and keeping America safe by properly supporting the Department of Homeland Security.

    Also, as we’re able to communicate with more Americans than ever before, our budget presentation looks a little different than it did decades ago. See what’s new, and dig into the budget that makes the investments necessary to keep America growing.


  • President Obama's National Security Strategy in 2015: Strong and Sustainable American Leadership

    President Obama and Susan Rice at G20 in Summit

    President Barack Obama confers with National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice at Konstantinovsky Palace during the G20 Summit in Saint Petersburg, Russia. September 6, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    The President's National Security Strategy (NSS) is the blueprint for America's leadership in the world -- how we address global challenges while advancing our nation's interest, values, and vision for the future. 

    The Administration released its first NSS in 2010, a time when we were in the process of bringing two wars to a responsible end, emerging from the Great Recession, and re-asserting our leadership on the world stage. 

    Now, America's resurgence is real -- we are stronger than we've been in many years. Today, the President's National Security Advisor Susan Rice outlined our new NSS in 2015 at the Brookings Institution -- one that lays out what we need to get done in the near-term to secure America for the long-term. 


  • The Employment Situation in January

    With today’s strong employment report, we have now seen eleven straight months of job gains above 200,000—the first time that has happened in nearly two decades. We are also seeing nominal wage growth exceed the latest inflation readings, but additional steps are still needed to overcome the long-standing challenges affecting wages and family incomes. America is poised for another strong year, and so it is critical to avoid brinksmanship and unnecessary austerity, and instead to make investments in our future growth. That’s why earlier this week the President released a budget proposal that will help hardworking families make ends meet, while boosting America’s productivity and giving workers the tools they need to secure well-paying jobs in the 21st-century global economy.

    FIVE KEY POINTS IN TODAY’S REPORT FROM THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS

    1. The private sector has added 11.8 million jobs over 59 straight months of job growth, extending the longest streak on record. Today we learned that total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 257,000 in January due to a 267,000 increase in private-sector employment. Private-sector job growth was revised up for November and December by a combined 149,000 jobs, so that over the past twelve months, private employment has risen by 3.1 million, the largest twelve-month gain since 1998.


  • West Wing Week: 02/06/15 or, “To All the DREAMers”

    This week, the President spent time with scientists, letter writers, immigration, health care and education advocates, spiritual leaders, athletes, and DREAMers. That's January 30 to February 5 or, "To All the DREAMers."


  • From the Streets of Brownsville, Brooklyn to the Oval Office

    President Obama meets Vidal Chastanet and Nadia Lopez for the "Humans of New York" blog

    President Barack Obama meets Vidal Chastanet and Nadia Lopez and is photographed by Brandon Stanton for the "Humans of New York" blog in the Oval Office. February 5, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    A couple of weeks ago, a photo of 13-year-old Vidal appeared on Humans of New York, a popular blog. He talked about his principal Ms. Lopez, saying: "She told each one of us that we matter." After garnering more than 1 million likes and shares on social media, the photo gave rise to a national campaign that has raised more than $1 million for Mott Hall Bridges Academy, a middle school in Brownsville, Brooklyn -- the neighborhood with the highest crime rate in New York City. The funds will send students to visit Harvard, support summer programs and provide scholarships.

    Their story inspired people all around the country, including the President.

    What began on the streets of Brownsville, Brooklyn made its way to the Oval Office. Today, Vidal Chastanet, Nadia Lopez and Brandon Stanton, the Humans of New York creator and photographer, sat down with President Obama to share their incredible story.