The White House Blog: The President
- Posted byon April 13, 2015 at 11:01 AM EDT
This past week, President Obama participated in the seventh Summit of the Americas, in Panama City, Panama. The Summit of the Americas is a tradition that brings together the leaders of North and South America to discuss issues that impact the Americas. President Obama's participation in the Summit highlights the continuing commitment of the U.S. to upholding the role that independent civil society and the private sector play in a shared democratic agenda.
- Posted byon April 10, 2015 at 7:53 PM EDT
This week, the President supported efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors, participated in a roundtable focused on how climate change is harming our health, traveled to Jamaica to hold a town hall with students and meet with CARICOM, and joined the First Lady in hosting the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.
Find out more about the past week in our latest weekly wrap-up.
More than 120,000 people signed a petition calling for a ban on the dangerous and unacceptable practice of conversion therapy -- and on Wednesday, we responded. The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy is neither medically or ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm. That’s why the Obama administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) April 9, 2015
- Posted byon April 10, 2015 at 3:00 PM EDT
Today, the President released his 2014 federal income tax returns. He and the First Lady filed their income tax returns jointly and reported adjusted gross income of $477,383. The Obamas paid $93,362 in total tax.
The President and First Lady also reported donating $70,712 – or about 14.8 percent of their adjusted gross income – to 33 different charities. The largest reported gift to charity was $22,012 to the Fisher House Foundation. The President’s effective federal income tax rate is 19.6 percent.
In January 2013, the President signed into law legislation that extended tax cuts to middle-class and working families and helped improve the country’s fiscal health by asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share. In 2014, as a result of his policies, the President was subject to limitations in tax preferences for high-income earners, as well as additional Medicare and investment income taxes.
While we’ve made progress in ensuring that the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share by raising their tax rate to the level it was under President Clinton, there is more work to do. We need to close special tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires, and invest in the middle class. The tax policies proposed in the President’s Budget would make paychecks go further in covering the cost of child care, college, and a secure retirement, and would create and expand tax credits that support and reward work.
The President and First Lady also released their Illinois income tax return and reported paying $22,640 in state income tax.
The Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden also released their 2014 federal income tax returns, as well as state income tax returns for both Delaware and Virginia. The Bidens filed joint federal and combined Delaware income tax returns. Dr. Biden filed a separate non-resident Virginia tax return. Together, they reported adjusted gross income of $388,844. The Bidens paid $90,506 in total federal tax for 2014, amounting to an effective tax rate of 23.3%. They also paid $13,661 in Delaware income tax and Dr. Biden paid $3,777 in Virginia income tax. The Bidens contributed $7,380 to charity in 2014, including contributing the royalties received from Dr. Biden’s children’s book, net of taxes, to the United Service Organizations, Inc. (USO).
- Posted byon April 10, 2015 at 2:02 PM EDT
"Wah Gwan, Jamaica?"
President Obama headed to Kingston, Jamaica yesterday, meeting with Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, as well as other Caribbean leaders on the importance of improving energy security and fighting climate change. He later held a town hall with the Young Leaders of the Americas.
“It is your generation who will shape the future of our countries and our region and this planet that we share long after those of us who are currently in public service are gone from the stage.” – President Obama, April 9
Keeping Up with the Cabinet: Engaging the Next Generation to Play, Learn, Serve, and Work in the Great OutdoorsPosted byon April 10, 2015 at 1:11 PM EDT
The creative energy of youth, the serenity of nature, and the lessons of history are a winning combination for me. All three were present in this video from the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, where I enjoyed an opportunity to roll up my sleeves alongside volunteers, young and old, to help plant rose bushes named for Coretta Scott King in the peace garden.
This visit helped launch our 50 Cities Initiative — an ambitious effort by the Department of the Interior's bureaus to work alongside cities, public land managers, and non-profit organizations like the YMCA, the National League of Cities, and local youth conservation corps, to engage young people in nature from city parks to national parks and all points in between.
- Posted byon April 10, 2015 at 11:48 AM EDT
This week, the President made an important announcement about preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, traveled west to champion high tech jobs in Louisville -- and clean energy jobs in Salt Lake City, had some fun at the 137th annual White House Easter Egg Roll, and flew to Jamaica for a meeting with leaders of Caribbean nations. That's April 2nd to April 9th or "A Good Deal."
- Posted byon April 9, 2015 at 3:17 PM EDT
In December, President Obama announced the creation of a Task Force on 21st Century Policing to develop specific recommendations to improve law enforcement and community relations while ensuring public safety. The Task Force, representing a diverse array of law enforcement and civil rights experts along with community leaders, engaged numerous stakeholders and constituency groups across the country to identify meaningful opportunities to improve policing in America.
Last month, the Task Force submitted an interim report with more than 60 recommendations to the President. Among other items, these recommendations cover policy, oversight, technology, social media, community policing, crime reduction, training, education, and officer wellness and safety. The report and recommendations place significant emphasis on the potential of data and technology to improve policing outcomes and foster community trust.
Yesterday at the White House, as part of an ongoing effort to respond to these data/technology recommendations, over a dozen police chiefs, municipal Chief Technology Officers, and other leaders from 16 cities and counties across the nation collaborated with technologists, data scientists, law enforcement thought leaders, foundations, issue experts, Presidential Innovation Fellows, nonprofits, and Administration officials.
- Posted byon April 9, 2015 at 2:40 PM EDT
During Women’s History Month, the White House Office of Public Engagement and the Council on Women and Girls have honored the achievements of women across the country and throughout history, while continuing the conversations about the challenges women across the nation still face. On March 31 -- National Transgender Day of Visibility -- I had the honor of speaking with leaders of the transgender women of color community during the White House’s first-ever discussion solely focused on the challenges this community faces.
Community organizers, non-profit leaders, and policy advocates from all over the country shared their stories and spoke about the issues that uniquely affect transgender women of color. We heard from panelists on issues ranging from employment and economic opportunity, to family and intimate partner violence, to access to health care. These frank conversations helped to shine a light on the work left to be done, and possible community and government solutions.
- Posted byon April 8, 2015 at 8:42 PM EDT
Ed. note: Tonight, Valerie Jarrett issued the following response to a We the People petition in support of banning the practice of conversion therapy. You can read it below, or see the response here.
"Tonight, somewhere in America, a young person, let's say a young man, will struggle to fall to sleep, wrestling alone with a secret he's held as long as he can remember. Soon, perhaps, he will decide it's time to let that secret out. What happens next depends on him, his family, as well as his friends and his teachers and his community. But it also depends on us -- on the kind of society we engender, the kind of future we build."
-- President Barack Obama
Thank you for taking the time to sign on to this petition in support of banning the practice known as conversion therapy.
Conversion therapy generally refers to any practices by mental health providers that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.1 Often, this practice is used on minors, who lack the legal authority to make their own medical and mental health decisions. We share your concern about its potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer youth.
When assessing the validity of conversion therapy, or other practices that seek to change an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation, it is as imperative to seek guidance from certified medical experts. The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm.
As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.
The President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa is Writing a New Chapter in U.S.-Africa RelationsPosted byon April 8, 2015 at 7:34 PM EDT
Today, I led the first meeting of the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa. This Council is part of the Administration’s effort to write the next paragraphs in what President Obama called a “new chapter in U.S.-Africa relations.”
Today’s gathering was intended to build on what was started at the historic U.S.-Africa Business Forum last August, when U.S. firms announced more than 14 billion worth of investments in African markets.
We want to see that kind of economic engagement continue, which is why I was honored that the President asked me to establish this Council – to ensure that the private sector’s perspective is factored into our policy making.
The Council’s job is to advise the Department of Commerce and the Obama administration on how to expand trade and investment opportunities for U.S. firms in Africa and create opportunities for African companies that want to do business in America.
To meet this charge, the Council has focused on three key areas.
First is mobilizing capital, because robust capital markets are essential for any nation to attract long-term investment. The Commerce Department will soon launch an investor road show to provide U.S. financial firms and exporters with the opportunity to hear directly from African governments about their investment climates and specific infrastructure projects and to assess and address real market risks.
Second is improving supply chain efficiency. Ensuring quick and easy movement of imports and exports can help reduce cost, increase efficiency of trade, and boost government revenues.
Third is infrastructure. American companies have experience and expertise in developing infrastructure, but at the Commerce Department, we have heard repeatedly from U.S. companies about the challenge of competing on a level playing field with foreign firms to win major infrastructure projects. The Council has recommended the creation of a U.S.-Africa Infrastructure Center to identify, vet, and prioritize African infrastructure projects – which is a great start and will help change the dynamic.
The Department of Commerce has solutions. We have data. We have market expertise. And we have great people. Our Foreign Commercial Service has a full range of tools and services at your disposal, including staff on the ground to help U.S. companies succeed in Africa. We would like your ideas on how to get the word out.
We had robust discussions about all of these issues during today’s meeting, and I am confident that we can make great progress in the coming months and years. I look forward to continuing to work with the Council to make doing business in Africa easier for U.S. companies – and to keep America and Africa open for business together.