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  • Economic growth in the fourth quarter was consistent with a broad range of other indicators showing solid improvement in the labor market, rising consumer sentiment, increasing domestic energy security, and continued low health cost growth. The combination of consumer spending and fixed investment grew at about the same strong pace as in the third quarter, while more volatile factors that elevated the overall growth rate in the third quarter subtracted from it in the fourth quarter. The President’s approach to middle-class economics, including the proposals he will release in his Budget on Monday, would build on this growth while helping to ensure that our recovery is widely shared with all American families.

    FIVE KEY POINTS IN TODAY’S REPORT FROM THE BUREAU OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS

    1. Real gross domestic product (GDP) grew 2.6 percent at an annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the advance estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The report reflects very strong consumption growth, continued increases in residential investment, weaker business investment after two quarters of strong growth, an unusually large decline in federal spending that reversed last quarter’s above-trend increase, and stronger imports, which while subtracting from GDP, partly reflect improved consumer sentiment. Overall, real GDP rose 2.5 percent versus the fourth quarter of 2013. Indeed, today’s report affirms the underlying pattern of resurgence in the economy. 

  • Watch Jo Handelsman, Associate Director for Science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, explain the Precision Medicine Initiative and its significance.

    Watch on YouTube

    The President's 2016 budget includes investments in an emerging field of medicine that takes into account individual differences in people's genes, microbiomes, environments, and lifestyles -- making possible more effective, targeted treatments for diseases like cancer and diabetes. That's incredibly significant, and this is why:

    Right now, most medical treatments are designed for the average patient.

    But one size doesn't fit all, and treatments that are very successful for some patients don't work for others. Think about it:

    • If you need glasses, you aren't assigned a generic pair. You get a prescription customized for you.
    • If you have an allergy, you get tested to determine exactly what you're allergic to.
    • If you need a blood transfusion, it has to match your precise blood type.

    Enter Precision Medicine: health care tailored to you.

  • President Obama, Vice President Biden and Gen. Martin Dempsey participate in an Armed Forces farewell in honor of Secretary Hagel

    President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff participate in an Armed Forces farewell in honor of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, left, at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Fort Myer, Va., Jan. 28, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    The President traveled to Fort Myer, Virginia yesterday for the Armed Forces farewell ceremony in honor of our 24th Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel.

    In his remarks, the President acknowledged Secretary Hagel's courageous work during his lifelong service as a decorated veteran and Secretary:

    [T]oday is a celebration of a quintessentially American life -- a man from the heartland who devoted his life to America. Just imagine, in your mind’s eye, the defining moments of his life. The kid from Nebraska who, as Marty said, volunteered to go to Vietnam. The soldier outside Saigon, rushing to pull his own brother from a burning APC. The deputy at the VA who stood up for his fellow Vietnam vets who were exposed to Agent Orange. The senator who helped lead the fight for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, to give this generation of heroes the same opportunities that he had.

    I asked Chuck to lead this department at a moment of profound transition. And today we express our gratitude for the progress under his watch.

  • "Behind the Budget" is a series of posts featuring audio stories from staffers from across the Office of Management and Budget, discussing aspects of the budget process that most Americans don't get to see.


    In some ways, it's always budget season for the OMB health policy team: At any point in the year, they're likely to be either developing, negotiating, or implementing two or three fiscal year budgets at a time. This year's budget in particular includes a range of proposals, from those that make efficient improvements to health care acess and quality, to those with broader public health implications. That means, for instance, programs that invest in preparedness and disease prevention, efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance, and the NIH-lead effort to accelerate advances in the field of precision medicine.

    Meet Dr. Julian Harris, OMB Associate Director for Health.

  • Young adults historically faced unique challenges in obtaining health insurance coverage. In 2009, nearly one-third of young adults ages 19-25 lacked health insurance, more than twice the rate for Americans overall. But the nation has since made dramatic progress in expanding coverage among young adults, thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s provision allowing young adults to remain on a parent’s plan through age 26 and its broader expansion of coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplaces and Medicaid.

    From the time the first of these provisions took effect in 2010 through the second quarter of 2014, the uninsured rate among young adults dropped by more than 40 percent, corresponding to 4.5 million additional insured young adults. These large gains among young adults are a major reason that the nation’s overall uninsured rate was at or near the lowest level ever recorded as of the second quarter of last year. Moreover, there is evidence young adults’ expanded access to coverage is increasing their access to health care, improving their health and financial security, and potentially generating long-term benefits for our economy.

    Even with this progress, almost one in five young adults remains uninsured. But many of these young adults are eligible for financial assistance to obtain coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplaces or eligible for coverage through Medicaid. This year’s Open Enrollment period ends on February 15th, so those still without insurance should visit HealthCare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 to get covered now.

  • "Behind the Budget" is a series of posts featuring audio stories from staffers from across the Office of Management and Budget, discussing aspects of the budget process that most Americans don't get to see.


    Tucked away in a series of offices in the New Executive Office Building are a group of program examiners who have been helping to develop the budget for months. That means wrangling and sorting through the many ideas brought to the table -- from agencies, from other White House offices, and from the Office of Management and Budget itself. A key part of this year's budget is the investments in both higher and early education. Listen to two examiners in this area describe their role in the budget process.

    Meet Erin O'Brien, Program Examiner for Student Aid Programs.

     

  • Ed. Note: This post is cross-posted at the U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) blog. You can read the original post here

    During his State of the Union address, President Obama noted that “21st-century businesses, including small businesses, need to sell more American products overseas. … 95 percent of the world’s customers live outside our borders, and we can’t close ourselves off from those opportunities.”


    Today, 98 percent of American companies that export are small businesses, but more than half of our exporters are only selling to one foreign market, usually Canada or Mexico.


    It’s time to take action to help more entrepreneurs reach new markets for their goods and services.

  • President Obama Offers Namaste Greeting in India

    President Barack Obama clasped his hands in the traditional "namaste" greeting after delivering remarks on India and America relations at the Siri Fort Auditorium in New Delhi, India. January 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)


    "The peace we seek in the world begins in human hearts. And it finds its glorious expression when we look beyond any differences in religion or tribe, and rejoice in the beauty of every soul."


    On his last day in India, President Obama delivered a message from America to the people of India on the importance of our relationship as true global partners. "I’m here because I’m absolutely convinced that both our peoples will have more jobs and opportunity, and our nations will be more secure, and the world will be a safer and a more just place when our two democracies -- the world’s largest democracy and the world’s oldest democracy -- stand together," he said. 

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's blog. See the original post here.

    2014 was the hottest year on record, and each of the last three decades has been hotter than the last.

    In mountain towns that depend on winter tourism, the realities of climate change really hit home. Shorter, warmer winters mean a shorter season to enjoy the winter sports we love—and a financial hit for local economies that depend on winter sports.

    Even if you hate winter, climate change affects you – because climate risks are economic risks. Skiing, snowboarding and other types of winter recreation add $67 billion to the economy every year, and they support 900,000 jobs.

    Last week I went to the X-Games in Colorado to meet with some of our country’s top pro snowboarders and the businesses that support them to hear how they are taking action on climate.

  • President Obama at India's Republic Day Celebration

    President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama view the Republic Day Parade with President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the Rajpath saluting base in New Delhi, India January 26, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Sixty-five years ago this week, India's post-independence democratic constitution went into effect, paving the way for the country to become not only a democracy but the world's largest democracy. Today, as a country of well over a billion people encompassing great diversity of ethnicity and economic status and spanning crowded cities and remote villages, India is a paradigm of both the challenges and the successes of building a government that seeks to empower all its people.

    This week, as I travel to India with President Obama on the occasion of Republic Day, I am heartened to see an extensive portfolio of projects that OPIC has supported with financing and political risk insurance to advance development in India in sectors from power generation to technology to small business finance. As the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, OPIC has invested nearly $2.7 billion across 148 development projects in India since 1974. Over the past five years, our portfolio in India has increased more than five-fold to $734.3 million.

  • Earlier today, Video Director Adam Garber sent the following message to the White House email list earlier today, noting that the deadline for White House Student Film Festival submissions is February 2. If you're a student filmmaker and you want to submit a video -- or you know someone else who fits that description -- visit our Student Film Festival page here!

    Didn't get the email? Sign up for updates here.


    Are you a student filmmaker with big ideas about the importance of service and giving back? Do you know a young person who is?

    Then we're glad you're reading this, because we're only accepting submissions for the White House Student Film Festival for one more week.

  • 2014 saw dramatic reductions in the amount of Americans without health insurance, corresponding with the estimated 10 million people who have already gained health insurance since the beginning of the Affordable Care Act open enrollment period. As more Americans gain coverage and we approach the February 15th HealthCare.gov enrollment deadline, one artist highlights what these diverse Americans have in common in a series of shareable graphics.

    Do any of these remind you of someone you know?
    Share it with them using the buttons below each image.


     


  • Today, the President is taking another step to protect our most valuable natural resources. Relying on an authority used by presidents of both parties since Eisenhower, President Obama is designating 9.8 million acres in the waters of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas off Alaska’s coast as off-limits to consideration for future oil and gas leasing. This action builds on recent steps by the President to protect Bristol Bay and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

    Teeming with biological diversity, these areas in the Beaufort and Chukchi are part of one of the last great marine wildernesses left untouched by development. Endangered whales swim through the icy seas, walruses and bearded seals feed on the Hanna Shoal, and more than 40 species of fish like cod and herring grant fishermen their livelihoods. Each year, the bowhead whale hunt draws Native communities throughout northern Alaska, as essential for their sustenance as it is to their way of life and cultural history.

  • President Obama and Prime Minister Modi Chat in a Garden

    President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Naredra Modi have tea in the garden gazebo at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India. January 25, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    "Chalein saath saath; forward together we go."

    --India-U.S. Delhi Declaration of Friendship

    President Obama and the First Lady traveled to India this week -- their first time visting the South Asian nation since Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn in on May 26, 2014. America and India are true global partners in the work of strengthening economies and strong democracies. That is why the President is the first to have visited India twice while in office. 

  • "Passions still fly on immigration, but surely we can all see something of ourselves in the striving young student, and agree that no one benefits when a hardworking mom is snatched from her child, and that it’s possible to shape a law that upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants."

    -- President Obama, State of the Union Address, January 20, 2015

    On November 20, 2014, President Obama took executive action to start fixing our broken immigration system so it works better for our people and our economy. The three main pillars of his action include:

    • Making it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as many business leaders have proposed. 
    • Dealing responsibly with certain undocumented immigrants who are DREAMers or parents of citizens or lawful permanent residents, by requiring that they pass background checks and pay their fair share of taxes.
    • Building on our progress at the border and enforcing our immigration laws in smarter, more effective ways.

    These actions not only live up to our heritage as a nation but are essential to building on our hopes for a brighter future. In fact, the President's steps will allow people to contribute more fully to their communities and spark an economic boost for every single state.

    Check out the map below to see exactly how the new steps we're taking to fix our broken immigration system will improve the economy in your state: 

  • In his State of the Union address and again at Boise State days later, the President called on more employers to adopt or expand measures to help workers gain the skills and credentials to advance into better paying jobs – including by expanding registered apprenticeships, increasing uptake of tuition benefit programs that pay for a worker to complete their college education, offering on-the-job training for career progression, and increasing access to technology-enabled learning tools.

    Tonight, I'm also asking more businesses to follow the lead of companies like CVS and UPS, and offer more educational benefits and paid apprenticeships -- opportunities that give workers the chance to earn higher-paying jobs even if they don't have a higher education.

    – President Obama, State of the Union Address, January 20, 2015

    This initiative to Upskill America includes important steps by employeers, educators, and others in the private sector. That's why more than 30 employers are already answering the President's call to grow apprenticeships, support thousands of workers to earn a college degree for free while they are working, and providing a clear path upward for employeers who develope and demonstrate critical skills in the field. It's also why President Obama is calling on Congress to invest over $2 billion to expand registered apprenticeships and spread high-quality training programs. 

    Spreading best practices like these can ensure employers get the skilled workforce that they need, while workers get an opportunity to realize their full potential and earn more. It's no wonder councils and business groups are allready talking about this new initiative. Here's what they're saying: 


    Pacific Gas and Electric Company 

    PG&E is setting a new goal of filling 75 percent of management vacancies from within PG&E by 2019, providing opportunities for upward mobility and growth for team members. These programs are targeted to individuals considering supervision, crew leaders, newly hired or promoted leaders, supervisors, and others, up to PG&E’s officer level.

  • “21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure -- modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains, and the fastest internet.”

    “I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world.”

    – President Obama, State of the Union, January 20, 2015

    In addition to reaffirming his commitment to strong net neutrality, the President had a lot to say last week about the need for broadband that works, and how it can help drive our economy and deliver high-paying jobs. It was a renewal of his commitment earlier this month in Cedar Falls, Iowa, to use every tool the federal government has to support communities trying to deliver high-speed broadband — which, in his words, “is not a luxury; it’s a necessity.” 

    From municipal groups like the National League of Cities, to industry associations like CompTel, to leaders in Congress and public interest groups, the response was overwhelmingly positive. And as we look to what’s next, we are pleased to see Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) joining the President’s call to level the playing field for new competitors.


  • "I want to THANK YOU for legitimately improving the quality of life for me, and I'm sure thousands of others across America."


    This past October, Loren C. wrote the President simply to thank him for making health care affordable.

    Prior to the Affordable Care Act, Loren, a self-employed woman from Kihei, Hawaii, had a difficult time getting quality, affordable health coverage. Now, she has the highest level of coverage for less than $250 a month.

  • Each year, as the darkness of the Arctic winter brightens into spring, as the snow melts and the hills and valleys slowly turn green, the tens of thousands of members of the Porcupine caribou herd begin their great migration — traveling some 1,500 miles through Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to their calving grounds on the Coastal Plain.

    This far northern region is known as “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins” to Alaska Native communities. The Refuge sustains the most diverse array of wildlife in the entire Arctic — home not only to the Porcupine caribou, but to polar bears, gray wolves, and muskoxen. Bird species from the Coastal Plain migrate to all 50 states of the country — meaning that no matter where you live, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is part of your landscape.  

    But the majority of the Refuge is not protected as wilderness, including the Coastal Plain. For more than three decades, some voices have clamored to drill for oil in the Coastal Plain — a move that could irreparably damage this ecological treasure and harm the Alaska Native communities who still depend on the caribou for subsistence.

    Today, the Department of the Interior released a revised Comprehensive Conservation Plan to better sustain and manage the entire Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — and President Obama took it a step further and announced his plans to ask Congress to designate the Coastal Plain and other core areas of the refuge as wilderness:

    Watch on YouTube

  • President Obama tapes the Weekly Address at the University of Kansas, Jan. 22, 2015

    President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address at the Anschutz Sports Pavilion at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan., Jan. 22, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    In this week’s address, the President shared his plan, outlined in his State of the Union address earlier this week, to give hardworking families the support they need to make ends meet by focusing on policies that benefit the middle class and those working to reach the middle class.

    Through common-sense proposals like closing loopholes that benefit the wealthy and providing tax relief to the middle class, making two years of community college free for responsible students, strengthening paid leave policies and access to quality child care for working families, and raising the minimum wage, we can ensure that everyone benefits from, and contributes to, America’s success.

    Middle-class economics is working, and we have laid a new foundation, but there is still progress to be made, and the President said he is eager to get to work.

    Transcript | mp4 | mp3

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