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Ezra MechaberDecember 25, 2014
06:00 AM EDT
In this week's address, the President and First Lady wished Americans a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and thanked our brave troops for their service. Especially as our combat mission in Afghanistan comes to a responsible end in the coming days, we are reminded of all that military men, women, and families sacrifice to keep us safe.
The President and First Lady asked everyone to take some time this holiday season to visit JoiningForces.gov and find out how to give back to the men and women in uniform who have given so much for all of us.
David HudsonDecember 24, 2014
01:42 PM EDT
"I cannot begin to express the relief and decreased stress this has brought me. Know that you are doing good work and making a positive change in the world."
Shannon K. from Great Falls, Montana recently wrote the President to express her gratitude for the Affordable Care Act.
After losing her father this past December, she started taking care of her ailing mother while continuing to work more than 40 hours a week -- all while being a single mother herself, with her own health concerns.
“Prior to the Affordable Care Act, I would be forced to stay in my full-time position,” she writes. “Now I’ve been able to transition to part-time, take [care] of my family, and still get the health care I need at an affordable price.”
Need to get covered? Find a health plan that best fits your needs at HealthCare.gov.
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And if you want to share your own story, contact us here.
Adam GarberDecember 24, 2014
11:10 AM EDT
Welcome to this special holiday edition of West Wing Week. While we certainly hope you all are taking some time off to reflect on the meaning of the holidays and spend time with your loved ones, we also want to offer up some of our favorite White House holiday moments from this festive time of year.
December 23, 2014
04:56 PM EDT
2014 may go down in history as the geekiest year ever here at the White House.
Over the past 12 months, we’ve welcomed makers, coders, gamers, Nobel Prize winners, student scientists, and broadcast meteorologists to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., and we've adorned our halls with robots, 3D printers, and science projects. We've continued to gather top expert-geeks online to discuss a range of topics such as asteroids, superhero science, the science of cooking, and extreme weather (including one dialed in from the bottom of the ocean).
This year, the President and his Administration continued momentum on a range of science, technology, and innovation priorities that promise to benefit American citizens — from steps to unleash troves of government data as fuel for innovation, to releasing the most comprehensive scientific assessment ever of the domestic impacts of climate change, to telling the untold story of women in science and technology.
Here are some science and technology highlights from 2014:
December 23, 2014
02:54 PM EDT
Ed. note: The following is an excerpt from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' blog post on the latest Affordable Care Act enrollment numbers. Read the full post here.
From November 15 to December 19, nearly 6.4 million consumers selected a plan in the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) or were automatically re-enrolled, with approximately 30 percent of this total comprised of people newly signing up for Marketplace coverage.
High consumer demand as we neared the December 15 deadline and the automatic enrollment process that began on December 16 contributed to the overall total.
“We still have a lot of work to do before the February 15 enrollment deadline, but this is an encouraging start. People shopped for coverage and signed up – finding more choices and greater competition,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said.
“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, so far nearly 6.4 million consumers, including about 1.9 million new consumers, have access to quality, affordable health coverage for 2015 through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. This law is working, and families are better off as a result.”
Secretary Tom VilsackDecember 23, 2014
11:48 AM EDT
Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's blog. See the original post here.
This has been a tremendous year for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the rural families and communities we serve.
Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden recently shared a reflection on her most inspirational moments this year. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished at USDA over the course of this year, and I thought I’d take a moment to share just a few of our top accomplishments.
December 23, 2014
11:47 AM EDT
We’ve had an amazing year at Joining Forces. Here are some of our favorite moments!
In 2011, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Jill Biden came together to launch Joining Forces, a nationwide initiative calling all Americans to rally around service members, veterans, and their families and support them through wellness, education, and employment opportunities. Joining Forces works hand in hand with the public and private sector to ensure that service members, veterans, and their families have the tools they need to succeed throughout their lives.
December 23, 2014
11:08 AM EDT
This year, you can interact with the White House holiday decorations!
This year, technology is playing a big role in creating the holiday experience at the White House. One of the newest additions to the annual White House Holiday tour is an interactive digital snowscape that allows visitors to become a part of the festive display of Holiday decorations.
The interactive installation captures visitors’ movements, showing them projected on the wall as a flurry of snowflakes in a serene winter wonderland full of holiday trees, a snow-covered ground, and snowflakes. As visitors enter the East Wing of the White House and walk through Book Sellers, they can quickly recognize their own outline in the scene projected on the wall. The shapes that the display captures then drive several types of immersive interactive displays, where participants manipulate the images just by moving their hands and bodies. The more a visitor moves, the more sparkly effects in the snow will appear, encouraging visitors to continue to interact.
David HudsonDecember 23, 2014
10:30 AM EDT
"Having insurance now won’t cure me, but maybe it will give me a chance to take control of my life again someday."
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Ryan from Austin, TX was able to find quality, affordable health insurance after enrolling in the exchange in Texas.
Jason FurmanDecember 23, 2014
09:30 AM EDT
Today’s upward revision indicates that the economy grew in the third quarter at the fastest pace in over a decade. The strong GDP growth is consistent with a broad range of other indicators showing improvement in the labor market, increasing domestic energy security, and continued low health cost growth. The steps that we took early on to rescue our economy and rebuild it on a new foundation helped make 2014 already the strongest year for job growth since the 1990s. Indeed, 2014 was a breakthrough year for the United States across a wide range of metrics important to middle-class families. Nevertheless, there is more work to be done to ensure that all Americans can share in the accelerating recovery.
FIVE KEY POINTS IN TODAY’S REPORT FROM THE BUREAU OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS
1. Real gross domestic product (GDP) grew 5.0 percent at an annual rate in the third quarter of 2014—the strongest single quarter since 2003—according to the third estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. While quarterly growth reports are volatile, and some of the growth in Q3 reflected transitory factors, the recent robust growth data indicate a solid underlying trend of recovery. Indeed, the strong growth recorded in each of the last two quarters suggests that the economy has bounced back strongly from the first-quarter decline in GDP, which largely reflected transitory factors like unusually severe winter weather and a sharp slowdown in inventory investment. Consumer spending, business investment, and net exports all remained positive contributors this quarter. Real gross domestic income (GDI), an alternative measure of the overall size of the economy, was up 4.7 percent in Q3.
Eric WaldoDecember 22, 2014
07:07 PM EDT
2014 has been an exciting year for First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative, and given that the initiative launched in May, we had a difficult time limiting our favorite moments to just five.
The initiative is the First Lady's effort to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university.
1. First Lady Michelle Obama launches Reach Higher
To kick off the Reach Higher initiative in May, the First Lady challenged everyone across the country to wear their college gear to inspire students to take charge of their future by completing some form of education beyond high school. She also participated in San Antonio’s fourth-annual College Signing Day, celebrating students' commitments to higher education.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 2, 2014
December 22, 2014
02:15 PM EDT
President Barack Obama talks on the phone at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. December 18, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
In his State of the Union address this year, the President vowed that 2014 would be a year of action -- and he delivered on that promise.
As the year comes to a close, the results are crystal clear. The President and his Administration have taken more than 80 new executive actions this year to help grow the economy, create jobs, address the threat of climate change, and strengthen the middle class. And today, we’re releasing a year-end report detailing those actions.
David HudsonDecember 20, 2014
06:00 AM EDT
President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Dec. 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
In this week’s address, the President reflected on the significant progress made by this country in 2014, and in the nearly six years since he took office.
This past year has been the strongest for job growth since the 1990s, contributing to the nearly 11 million jobs added by our businesses over a 57-month streak. America is leading the rest of the world, in containing the spread of Ebola, degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL, and addressing the threat posed by climate change. And earlier this week, the President announced the most significant changes to our policy towards Cuba in over 50 years.
America’s resurgence is real, and the President expressed his commitment to working with Congress in the coming year to make sure Americans feel the benefits.
Jeffrey ZientsDecember 19, 2014
07:23 PM EDT
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for America to set the rules for global trade in the 21st century. The agreement aims to expand access to the world’s fastest-growing markets, even as we enshrine higher standards of protection for workers and consumers.
Recently, questions have arisen over how we will protect the progress toward a safer financial system that we have made since the crisis in the context of these trade negotiations. President Obama inherited a financial crisis that was the consequence of years of poor financial regulation, and he made Wall Street reform a top priority as he worked with Congress to craft a set of historic protections that ultimately became the Dodd-Frank Act. Since he signed that legislation in 2010, his Administration has made significant progress implementing its key provisions. Just as important, the President has pushed for stronger rules across the globe through the G-20 and other venues, and he has also fought against repeated attempts to undermine Wall Street reform here at home. He will do whatever it takes to make our financial system stronger and more stable.
Tanya SomanaderDecember 19, 2014
06:19 PM EDT
As 2014 winds down, President Obama stopped by the press briefing room in the White House to offer his thoughts on what the past year has meant for the country. "I said that 2014 would be a year of action and would be a breakthrough year for America," he said. "And it has been."
Here's a look at what happened this year, in the President's own words:
Adam GarberDecember 19, 2014
03:44 PM EDT
This week, the President traveled to Fort Dix to thank our troops, took action to protect Alaska's Bristol Bay, and announced historic changes to America's relationship with Cuba. That's December 12th to December 18th or, "Todos Somos Americanos."
Lindsay HolstDecember 19, 2014
11:34 AM EDT
Today, Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer joined the new publishing platform Medium -- authoring a post that reflects on the incredible amount of progress made in 2014 despite some claims that the President had "the worst year in Washington." Moving forward, he will continue to post important highlights, insights, and reflections on the President's agenda.
In today's post, he reflects on 2014 as a year of real and meaningful progress for President Obama and the progressive agenda -- no matter what the critics have said. He goes on to note a few meaningful progress points from the year:
2014 has been the strongest year of job growth since the 1990s.
America's uninsured rate dropped to near-historic lows in 2014 -- In spite of the fact that this time a year ago, politicians and the press were predicting the demise of the Affordable Care Act.
The President made historic progress across the board on the central global challenge of the next century: Climate change and environmental protection.
President Obama's Executive Action to fix our immigration system is the most meaningful effort in decades to make the system fairer, more transparent, and more predictable.
In his six years in office, the President has reshaped the federal judiciary to include more women, minorities, gays, and lesbians, so it might resemble more closely the nation it serves.
Lindsay HolstDecember 19, 2014
10:35 AM EDT
"...I've felt strong enough to liberate some of my extra savings that I'd been holding onto for healthcare emergencies, so I'm now able to help more with my son's college expenses ... My guess is that there are many more Americans whose new health insurance is already allowing them to contribute more fully to the economy and their communities."
David HudsonDecember 18, 2014
05:28 PM EDT
Trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve is essential to the stability of our communities, the integrity of our criminal justice system, and the safe and effective delivery of policing services.
In light of the recent events in Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland, and around the country, the Administration announced new steps to strengthen the relationships between local police and the communities they are supposed to protect and serve. One of the primary actions was the creation of a task force to improve community policing.
This afternoon, President Obama signed an Executive Order to create the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, and announced the members of the new task force.