President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama invited a group of American heroes to the White House for a very special movie night. The guests were retired Tuskegee Airmen, the African American veterans who overcame segregation and prejudice to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of World War II, and whose achievements paved the way for full integration of the U.S. military.
The movie was “Red Tails“, a new film that tells the Tuskegee story. “Red Tails”was produced by George Lucas, directed by Anthony Hemingway and stars Cuba Gooding Jr., who all joined the President, the First Lady and the Airmen for the screening in the White House theater.
Posted by Alan Krueger on February 3, 2012 at 9:31 AM EST
Today’s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue the economic policies that are helping us to dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the recession that began at the end of 2007. Most importantly, we need to extend the payroll tax cut and continue to provide emergency unemployment benefits through the end of this year, and take the additional steps that President Obama proposed in his State of the Union address to create an economy built to last.
The unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage point to 8.3%, from a high of 10% in October 2009. The drop in unemployment over the month was entirely due to employment growth, as the labor force participation rate remained constant, once new population weights are taken into account. The unemployment rate has fallen by 0.8 percentage point in the last 12 months. Private sector payrolls increased by 257,000 jobs and overall payroll employment rose by 243,000 jobs in January. Despite adverse shocks that have created headwinds for economic growth, the economy has added private sector jobs for 23 straight months, for a total of 3.7 million payroll jobs over that period. In the last 12 months, 2.2 million private sector jobs were added on net. Nonetheless, we need faster growth to put more Americans back to work.
Sectors with net job increases in December included professional and business services (+70,000), manufacturing (+50,000), leisure and hospitality (+44,000), health care and social assistance (+29,700), and construction (+21,000). Government lost 14,000 jobs.
The monthly employment and unemployment numbers can be volatile, and employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report; nevertheless, the trend in job market indicators over recent months is an encouraging sign.
Posted by Matt Compton on February 3, 2012 at 12:00 AM EST
This week, the President made history by holding the first completely virtual interview at the White House on Google+. He also tackled the rising cost of tuition at the University of Michigan, welcomed the President of Georgia, convened a cabinet meeting, stopped by the Washington Auto Show, announced a major refinancing plan for responsible homeowners, and attended the National Prayer Breakfast.
Posted by Felicia Escobar and Doug Rand on February 2, 2012 at 7:43 PM ESTFelicia Escobar, Senior Policy Advisor in the White House Domestic Policy Council, and Luis Miranda, Director of Hispanic Media in the Communications Office, participate in a conference call with people who signed a petition on We the People.
Yesterday, we joined a conference call with individuals from across the country to discuss issues impacting foreign students studying in our colleges and universities. We were joined by our colleagues Julie Rodriguez from the Office of Public Engagement and Luis Miranda from the Office of Communications. The conference call was the next step in our response to a petition submitted through We the People on Whitehouse.gov. We the People is a new way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country. We created We the People last year to help make your voices heard in our government. We know that some of the best ideas come from individuals directly impacted by federal policies.
On our call, we discussed the impact that existing immigration laws have on foreign students who have earned advanced degrees in American schools. As President Obama said during his State of the Union address, it makes no sense to allow these talented students to come to the U.S. and “to study business and science and engineering, but as soon as they get their degree, we send them home to invent new products and create new jobs somewhere else.” That’s why the President supports legislative measures that would attract and retain immigrants who create jobs and boost competitiveness here in the U.S. – including “stapling” green cards to the diplomas of certain foreign-born graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields – as a part of his vision for building a 21st century immigration system.
We reiterated this message on our call, and also discussed what the Administration is doing—independent of Congress—to help improve existing immigration policies to attract and keep the best and the brightest in our country. During the Q&A session, callers raised many concerns regarding F-1 and other visas targeted for highly skilled immigrants. Among these was a question regarding the possibility of extending employment authorization to certain spouses of H-1B visa holders who are awaiting the adjudication of green card applications. We were especially pleased to inform the callers that the Department of Homeland Security had announced just the day before—as part of the One Year Anniversary of the White House Startup Initiative — that they will be addressing this very issue through regulatory reforms.
Every day, the Administration is working to make improvements in the areas where we can really make a difference. It is invaluable to hear from people directly affected by our current immigration policies in order to get closer to the President’s vision of a 21st century immigration system that grows our economy and meets our security needs.
Felicia Escobar is a Senior Policy Advisor in the White House Domestic Policy Council and Doug Rand is a Senior Policy Advisor in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Posted by Matt Compton on February 2, 2012 at 5:02 PM EST
This morning at the National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama gave a speech where he described how his faith as a Christian informs his thinking as a leader.
And he talked about the importance of our shared set of values as Americans:
We can’t leave our values at the door. If we leave our values at the door, we abandon much of the moral glue that has held our nation together for centuries, and allowed us to become somewhat more perfect a union. Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Jane Addams, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Abraham Heschel — the majority of great reformers in American history did their work not just because it was sound policy, or they had done good analysis, or understood how to exercise good politics, but because their faith and their values dictated it, and called for bold action — sometimes in the face of indifference, sometimes in the face of resistance.
This is no different today for millions of Americans, and it’s certainly not for me.
The whole speech is worth a watch. Check it out above.
Posted by Josh Earnest on February 2, 2012 at 12:21 PM EST
Last week in his State of the Union Address, the President laid out his blueprint for an economy built to last, where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. He believes this is a make or break moment for the middle class and those trying to reach it. He knows what’s at stake: the very survival of the basic American promise that if you work hard, you can do well enough to raise a family, own a home, and put enough away for retirement.
The fact is, economic security for the middle class has been eroding for decades. Millionaires and billionaires saw their wealth skyrocket while too many Americans were struggling to get by. And in 2008, the house of cards collapsed. Mortgages were sold to folks who couldn’t afford or understand them. In addition to the nearly eight million jobs lost, it left responsible homeowners holding the bag and badly hurt from this irresponsible behavior.
The President refuses to stand on the sidelines and let folks fend for themselves. That’s why he laid out a plan to help responsible borrowers and relieve some of the pain caused by the financial crisis. The President knows the government can’t fix the housing market on its own, and he believes that responsible homeowners should not have to sit and wait for the market to hit bottom to get relief when there are measures at hand that can make a meaningful difference. This includes allowing these homeowners the ability to save an average of $3,000 dollars a year by refinancing at today’s low interest rates. He also put forward a single set of standards, or a Homeowner Bill of Rights, to make sure borrowers and lenders play by the same rules.
Additionally, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, with Treasury and Housing and Urban Development, announced a pilot sale of foreclosed properties to be transitioned into rental housing. This will help stabilize neighborhoods and improve home prices. These are just a few of the steps that’ll strengthen the housing market and help folks who are underwater on their mortgage.
Posted by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on February 2, 2012 at 11:25 AM EST
Ed note: This has been cross-posted from healthcare.gov
Like thousands of Americans, Vero Beach, Florida resident William Morris is suffering from a rare, but treatable cancer. Compounding that difficult diagnosis is further bad news that, like many cancer drugs, the medicine he so desperately needs is very expensive.
But help with this cost came for William and his wife Suzanne from newly enhanced benefits under Medicare Part D – made possible by the health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act. Thanks to the law, William saved $2,000 on the cost of his chemotherapy drugs.
Suzanne and William Morris are not alone. For years, seniors have watched their health care bills go up. The Affordable Care Act helps folks like the Morris family, and other seniors, by closing the gap in prescription drug benefits known as the “donut hole.” To assist those in the coverage gap, the law adds increased help for seniors and people with disabilities over time until the donut hole closes in 2020. William and Suzanne benefited from that help when they received big discounts on the medicine they needed. People in the coverage gap also receive a 50% discount on expensive brand-name drugs covered by Part D and a 7% discount on generic medicines.
Today, we announced that in 2011 about 3.6 million people with Medicare benefited from donut hole discounts—saving a total of $2.1 billion, or an average of $604 per person.
And a new report released today finds that these discounts and other parts of the Affordable Care Act will lead to even bigger savings in the years ahead. According to the report, the average person with Medicare will save approximately $4,200 from 2011 to 2021, while those with high prescription drug costs will save much more – as much as $16,000 over the same period. This is especially good news for people with chronic conditions such a diabetes and high blood pressure who must take their medication every day for many years.
For older Americans and people on disabilities who live on fixed incomes the value of this help cannot be overstated. Evidence indicates that as many as 25 percent of people with Medicare Part D stop taking their medicine when they are in the coverage gap. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, they won’t have to.
For people like William who are fighting life-threatening or debilitating diseases, this benefit can help them heal, improve the quality of their lives and prevent the sometimes devastating results of leaving chronic conditions untreated.
Kathleen Sebelius is the Secretary of Health and Human Services
Posted by Colleen Curtis on February 2, 2012 at 10:00 AM ESTFirst Lady Michelle Obama drops by the Girls Mentoring November activity in room 430 of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Nov. 29, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)
February is Black History Month, and his year’s theme, “Black Women in American Culture and History,” honors African American women and the many roles they’ve played in the shaping of our nation.
And in an interview with More magazine, First Lady Michelle Obama talks candidly about one of the roles that matters most to her, one that has been a part of her life since she was in high school, one that can have a crucial influence in shaping the next generation of American women and one she urges others to embrace: Mentor.
Mrs. Obama discusses the impact mentors have had in her life, and also what being a mentor has meant to her (one of the first people she mentored as a lawyer in Chicago was a fellow graduate of Harvard Law School named Barack Obama: “I made sure that he met the partners that he was working with; I had to take him out to lunch a couple of times” she tells the magazine).
And for the first time, the First Lady discusses a program she launched shortly after moving into the White House, a mentoring program she designed “to open a secret door for others that hadn’t been opened for me,” by pairing disadvantaged girls with some of the powerful women in the land. She tells the magazine:
“I wanted [the students] to experience this notion that if you can walk [through] the doors of the White House once a month and sit down with the first lady and her chief of staff and some other senior officials, and they’re talking to you and you get used to hearing your voice in the space, then it becomes not a big deal.”
And so her program pairs teenage girls with “this wonderful array of women who come from different backgrounds,” she says. “They’re senior leaders in President Obama’s administration, and they all have a story, right? They all have a set of challenges and struggles.” Those stories, Obama believes, are best told in person, over time, creating the kind of enduring bond the social media generation sorely lacks. “Even though our children are connecting in ways we never imagined,” she told a national summit on mentoring not long ago, “you’ve got an entire generation of young people truly in desperate need of a friend. Someone they can trust, an example they can follow.”
Posted by Alan Krueger and Gene Sperling on February 2, 2012 at 9:00 AM EST
In his State of the Union message last week, President Obama laid out a blueprint for an America that’s built to last—where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded. Today, the Departments of Treasury and Labor are taking steps to strengthen economic security for our nation’s seniors by giving Americans greater investment information and access to more choices to plan for a secure retirement. These steps will be of particular importance to women, who tend to live longer and have fewer retirement assets and lower retirement income than men.
The Department of Labor is taking action to require 401(k) plan providers to better disclose the cost and nature of the services they provide, while Treasury and the IRS are announcing steps that will ease regulatory barriers in the market for annuities and other forms of lifetime income. The Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) has prepared a detailed report describing the significance of today’s actions, which can be accessed here.
Today’s announcements complement previous Administration initiatives to make retirement more secure for American families. In September 2009, President Obama announced expanded opportunities for automatic enrollment in retirement savings plans. The President has also championed an automatic IRA legislative proposal through which tens of millions of workers without access to a workplace retirement plan would be automatically enrolled in IRAs through payroll deposit contributions, while remaining free to opt out. And the Administration has proposed easing requirements on the timing and amount of distributions from retirement accounts for many retirees, reducing the compliance burden and providing elderly Americans with greater control over their retirement assets.
Posted by Matt Compton on February 1, 2012 at 7:05 PM ESTHousing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan listens as President Barack Obama delivers remarks on housing and the Homeowners Bill of Rights at the James Lee Community Center in Falls Church, Va., Feb. 1, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Today, in Falls Church, Virginia, President Obama expanded on the ideas he first presented in the State of the Union on ways to help responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages.
Here are more details about that plan.
But the President also said that we can’t wait on Congress to take action to help working families in this country:
Already, we’ve set up a special task force I asked my Attorney General to establish to investigate the kind of activity banks took when they packaged and sold risky mortgages. And that task force is ramping up its work as we speak. We’re going to keep at it and hold people who broke the law accountable and help restore confidence in the market. We’re going to speed assistance to homeowners. And we’re going to turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many hardworking Americans.
Read the full remarks here. Or watch the video to learn more.
Posted by Cecilia Muñoz on February 1, 2012 at 6:35 PM EST
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most health insurance plans will cover women’s preventive services, including contraception, without charging a co-pay or deductible beginning in August, 2012. This new law will save money for millions of Americans. But more importantly, it will ensure Americans nationwide get the high-quality care they need to stay healthy. Under this policy, women who want contraception will have access to it through their insurance without paying a co-pay or deductible. But no one will be forced to buy or use contraception.
On January 20th, Secretary Sebelius announced that certain religious organizations including churches would be exempt from paying their insurers to cover contraception. Other religious organizations, including those that employ people of different faiths, can qualify for a one-year transition period as they prepare to comply with the new law. In recent days, there has been some confusion about how this policy affects religious institutions. We want to make sure you have the facts:
- Churches are exempt from the new rules: Churches and other houses of worship will be exempt from the requirement to offer insurance that covers contraception.
- No individual health care provider will be forced to prescribe contraception: The President and this Administration have previously and continue to express strong support for existing conscience protections. For example, no Catholic doctor is forced to write a prescription for contraception.
- No individual will be forced to buy or use contraception: This rule only applies to what insurance companies cover. Under this policy, women who want contraception will have access to it through their insurance without paying a co-pay or deductible. But no one will be forced to buy or use contraception.
- Drugs that cause abortion are not covered by this policy: Drugs like RU486 are not covered by this policy, and nothing about this policy changes the President’s firm commitment to maintaining strict limitations on Federal funding for abortions. No Federal tax dollars are used for elective abortions.
- Over half of Americans already live in the 28 States that require insurance companies cover contraception: Several of these States like North Carolina, New York, and California have identical religious employer exemptions. Some States like Colorado, Georgia and Wisconsin have no exemption at all.
- Contraception is used by most women: According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, most women, including 98 percent of Catholic women, have used contraception.
- Contraception coverage reduces costs: While the monthly cost of contraception for women ranges from $30 to $50, insurers and experts agree that savings more than offset the cost. The National Business Group on Health estimated that it would cost employers 15 to 17 percent more not to provide contraceptive coverage than to provide such coverage, after accounting for both the direct medical costs of potentially unintended and unhealthy pregnancy and indirect costs such as employee absence and reduced productivity.
The Obama Administration is committed to both respecting religious beliefs and increasing access to important preventive services. And as we move forward, our strong partnerships with religious organizations will continue. The Administration has provided substantial resources to Catholic organizations over the past three years, in addition to numerous non-financial partnerships to promote healthy communities and serve the common good. This work includes partnerships with Catholic social service agencies on local responsible fatherhood programs and international anti-hunger/food assistance programs. We look forward to continuing this important work.
Posted by Cecilia Muñoz on February 1, 2012 at 1:05 PM EST
Eight months ago, one of the deadliest tornados in U.S. history touched down in Joplin, Missouri, and took the lives of more than 160 residents and destroyed thousands of homes. The federal response began immediately. Within hours, Federal Emergency Management Agency teams were on the ground to work hand in hand with state and local officials to assist in response and recovery. AmeriCorps members also raced to the scene as well. Members from AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team and the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) arrived in Joplin, and immediately began working with local authorities to assist in search and rescue.
Yesterday, the Missouri House of Representative passed a bipartisan resolution honoring the more than 300 AmeriCorps members from across the country who have played an indispensable role in helping the cities of Joplin and Duquesne recover. They provided homeowner assistance and casework, helped clear debris, and provided support to the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Joplin Police Department with missing person inquiries.
But these AmeriCorps members were certainly not alone. More than 60,000 volunteers ranging from average citizens who wanted to help to active duty military to faith-based groups from across the country have been an indispensable source of support for the people of Joplin. Managed and supported by AmeriCorps members, these volunteers have provided more than 579,000 hours of service and contributed to $17.7 million of donated resources to more than 2,000 households.
Posted by Kori Schulman on February 1, 2012 at 12:41 PM EST
On Thursday, February 2nd at 5:30 p.m. EST, Gene Sperling, Steve Case and Aneesh Chopra are joining a conversation with Americans across the country in a special White House Hangout focused on Startup America. Will you join them?
Startup America is a White House initiative that was launched to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation. In honor of its one-year anniversary, we’re hosting a special White House Hangout, a live multi-person video chat, through Google+ to talk with Americans across the country about the initiative and answer questions about President Obama’s new proposals to accelerate startup and small business growth.
Joining the Startup America Hangout will let you engage with one of America’s most successful entrepreneurs and Senior Administration officials:
- Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council (read more)
- Steve Case, Chairman of the Startup America Partnership (read more)
- Aneesh Chopra, US Chief Technology Officer (read more)
We hope you’ll Hangout with us on Thursday, February 2nd at 5:30 p.m. EST. Here’s how you can get involved:
- What’s your question about Startup America? Starting now, you can ask questions for Gene, Steve and Aneesh on the White House Google+ page, and you just might be invited to join the live Hangout.
- Watch the Hangout live at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 2nd on WhiteHouse.gov/live, YouTube.com/whitehouse or the White House Google+ page.
And in case you missed it, President Obama participated in the first White House Hangout from the West Wing earlier this week. In the first completely virtual interview from the White House, the President sat down with people from across the country to discuss his State of the Union Address.
For upcoming White House Hangouts and more chances to engage, follow the White House on Google+
Posted by Colleen Curtis on February 1, 2012 at 12:31 PM EST
In response to press inquiries received on today’s housing announcement by the Obama administration, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director (CFPB) Richard Cordray issued the following statement:
“The principles articulated by the Obama administration today are good guideposts for much-needed reforms in the mortgage market. The problems that plague consumers are well-documented. Too many consumers were steered into complicated mortgages that they did not understand and couldn’t afford. Too many families were forced into foreclosure because paperwork was lost, phone calls went unanswered, errors were not resolved, or documents were falsified.
“To protect consumers, there must be clear rules of the road and real consequences for breaking them. The Consumer Bureau is already hard at work making the costs and risks of mortgages clear upfront through our Know Before You Owe project. The financial reform law also requires us to create new mortgage servicing rules that hold servicers accountable for disclosing fees and fixing problems. We are also working with other federal agencies to develop common-sense national servicing standards. But having rules in place isn’t enough. We are closely monitoring mortgage servicers to make sure that no one gains an unfair advantage by breaking the law. Taking these steps to fix the mortgage market is good for consumers, honest businesses, and our entire economy.”
The CFPB’s draft simplified mortgage disclosure is available online at: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Jan2012_Estimate_Honeylocust.pdf
Posted by Nancy-Ann DeParle on February 1, 2012 at 9:32 AM EST
At the time the Affordable Care Act was passed, Republicans in Congress said the bill would virtually end the Medicare Advantage program. “Every one of them (in Medicare Advantage) will see their benefits go down,” “provisions in there are going to allow them to kill Medicare Advantage,” “if this passes, it is the end of Medicare Advantage as we know it,” are just a few of the incendiary charges Republicans made about the Affordable Care Act. Premiums would go up, they claimed, and choice and enrollment would go down.
Those predictions turned out to be wrong. Medicare Advantage is stronger than ever – offering more seniors better benefits, higher quality care and lower costs. As reported last year, 99.7 percent of people with Medicare still have access to Medicare Advantage plans.
In fact, premiums have been consistently lower – and enrollment has been higher. Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that average premiums for Medicare Advantage enrollees in 2012 are 7 percent lower compared to last year, exceeding the 4 percent decrease that was projected in September. Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, premiums have gone down by nearly 16 percent. In addition, enrollment increased by nearly 10 percent from 2011. That means that Medicare Advantage enrollment is up by 17 percent since enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. In August of 2010, CBO projected that Medicare Advantage enrollment would be 10.2 million in 2012, down from 10.4 million in 2009. Actual enrollment is over 2 million people higher than that projection, at 12.8 million in February of this year.
And further, the Affordable Care Act strengthened consumer protections and improved plan choices for people with Medicare Advantage. The law is paring back overpayments to plans. It requires health plans to pay at least 85 percent of what they collect in payments on health care, not on overhead and profits. Plans can no longer charge higher cost sharing than a senior in traditional Medicare pays. And proven preventive services are covered for free.
And when seniors choose a Medicare Advantage plan, a new five-star rating system shows them which plans in their area are doing a better job of caring for patients. Plus, a new, value-based purchasing system is encouraging all plans to improve their quality by paying plans with excellent overall quality more, and lower-quality plans less. It’s the kind of smart reform we’ve implemented throughout Medicare since enactment of the Affordable Care Act.
This is another myth from opponents of health reform debunked by results. Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare is stronger than ever.
Posted by Dan Pfeiffer on February 1, 2012 at 6:00 AM EST
In last week’s State of the Union Address, the President laid out a blueprint for an economy built to last, where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules, especially those elected officials who have been sent here to Washington.
During the speech, the President called on Congress to pass a bill that makes clear that current insider trading laws apply to Members of Congress. No one should be able to trade stocks based on nonpublic information they learned on Capitol Hill. This is a no-brainer.
I’d like to point out that Executive Branch employees are already covered by the insider trading prohibitions. That’s right — there are laws on the books to prevent Executive Branch employees from trading stock based on information that is not public. In fact, the SEC and the Department of Justice have brought insider trading actions against employees of the Executive Branch based on this clear authority under the law. So, the Executive Branch is covered. It’s time to make it clear that Congress is subject to the same rules.
Now, there are some folks out there who suggest the Administration is trying to impose a higher standard on Congress. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only do the insider trading laws already apply to the Executive Branch, but there are other laws on the books that prohibit Executive Branch employees from using their positions to benefit their own personal financial interest. These laws don’t apply to Congress.
Posted by Matt Compton on January 31, 2012 at 6:30 PM ESTPresident Barack Obama is shown the American Pride Chevrolet Camaro, as Ed Welburn, Vice President of Global Design for General Motors, explains design and manufacturing details of the car during a visit to the Washington Auto Show at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., Jan. 31, 2012. Gerard Murphy, President of the Washington New Automobile Dealers Association, is at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
This afternoon, President Obama made the trip across town to the Washington Auto Show to look at some of the incredible new vehicles being built by Detroit.
There, he told reporters:
Let me just say, when you look at all these cars, it is testimony to the outstanding work that’s been done by workers — American workers, American designers. The U.S. auto industry is back. The fact that GM is back, number one, I think shows the kind of turnaround that’s possible when it comes to American manufacturing.
Posted by Matt Compton on January 31, 2012 at 5:36 PM EST
Today, Startup America celebrates its first birthday, and President Obama is sending Congress a set of proposals to help boost the startups and small businesses that create so many jobs in this country.
President Obama has already cut taxes for businesses 17 times. Now, he’s asking lawmakers to create four new tax cuts. He’s proposing a new 10 percent income tax credit on new payroll for small businesses; a permanent extension of a tax cut he signed in 2010 that eliminates taxes on capital gains in key investments for small businesses; a doubling of the amount that entrepreneurs can deduct from their taxes for start-up expenses, and a 100 percent extension of first-year depreciation of qualified property for one year.
To help businesses find more investors, the President is calling for a national framework that allows entrepreneurs to raise money through “crowdfunding.” Currently, the most a small business can raise through a round of “Regulation A” mini-funding is $5 million — but President Obama wants to boost that limit to $50 million, coupled with strong protections for investors. He’s calling for changes in how securities laws and regulations are phased in for small companies in their first year after going public. And the President wants to increase the Small Business Investment Company program to to allow for up to $4 billion in annual support.
President Obama is also calling on Congress to relieve the backlog of immigrant visas. To do that, he wants lawmakers to eliminate the country-specific caps for certain immigrant visas to attract more high skilled foreign workers, particularly entrepreneurs.
To learn more about all these proposals, go here.
As you might have guessed, Boston Mayor Tom Menino and I have a friendly disagreement about who’s going to win the Super Bowl this Sunday. But there’s one thing we agree on: America must do more to keep illegal guns off our streets.
That’s why we’ve filmed a short ad that will air during the game on Sunday – and we wanted supporters like you to be the first to see it.
We had some fun making the ad, but our message is a serious one: we can and must support the Second Amendment while keeping guns away from criminals and other dangerous people. That’s something our 600 mayors agree on – and we know you do too. We’re so grateful for your support.
Enjoy the game!
It’s no secret that we at Media Mattershave spent the majority of our efforts over the past two years focusing on Fox News. It was impossible — and would have been imprudent — to ignore its attacks, smears, lies, and misinformation.Now, Media Matters Chairman David Brock and Vice President Ari Rabin-Havt, utilizing the extensive research of Media Matters, have authored our ultimate indictment of the network.
Their new book, The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine, tells the story of how Fox News became the communications arm of the Republican Party, and its consequences for our democracy.
From tracing the career of Fox News founder Roger Ailes as he learned to manipulate racial politics while working on the presidential campaigns of Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush, to visiting a cruise ship in the middle of the Mediterranean where a senior Fox News executive admitted to telling Fox News viewers that Barack Obama was a socialist even though he did not believe the charge to be true, The Fox Effect dismantles once and for all the notion that there’s any genuine meaning behind the network’s “fair& balanced” slogan.
Using leaked internal emails and Roger Ailes’ own writings, including a never-before-seen private letter, there has never been a more compelling summation of Fox’s dangerous and destructive role in our democracy. I guarantee that this is not your standard media criticism book — it’s the definitive answer to every cousin, brother-in-law or neighbor who ever told you that Fox was their go-to place for news.
You can pre-order your copy of The Fox Effectat:
The Fox Effect offers new insights into Fox News and powerfully describes the harmful consequences of this political operation masquerading as a news network. You won’t be able to put it down.
Surita Hernandez lives on the Moapa Indian Reservation in Nevada with her husband and five children. The Reid Gardner coal plant is only 500 yards from her backyard and creates a dark cloud that rains dirty coal pollution, destroying her family‘s health.
Please join this important effort. Sign the petition today asking the Nevada Public Utilities Commission to deny Reid Gardner’s request to operate until 2023. »
By ThinkProgress War Room on Feb 2, 2012 at 5:12 pm
Who Will They Fire Next?
Today, the Republican presidential campaign became an even bigger circus as the nation’s premiere birther, Donald Trump, stepped into the ring to endorse another person with a self-professed love of firing people: Mitt Romney. Before he decided to endorse him, however, Donald Trump said a few things about Romney that were pretty spot on.
ThinkProgress’ Alex Seitz-Wald has the rundown:
– Trump told Daily Beast columnist Meghan McCain that Romney is “going to lose” because he can’t connect with voters. “No, he’s going to lose. He doesn’t resonate, you know? Or he would have won last time, in all fairness to your father! He was scheduled to win last time, and he didn’t because your father outdid him. You understand. I watched [Romney] make a speech, and it was all these little trivial statements.”
– Trump told CNN that Romney killed jobs at Bain Capital. “Mitt Romney is basically a small business guy.” “He walked away with some money from a very good company that he didn’t create. He worked there, he didn’t create. He would buy companies, he’d close companies, he’d get rid of jobs.”
– Trump slammed Romney’s record as governor on ABC. “If you look at his record as governor, it wasn’t totally stellar. His job production was not great at all. In fact, it was the third worst in the nation. There are some pretty negative things with respect to Mitt Romney, which frankly he’s going to have to overcome.”
– Trump chided Romney’s $10,000 bet. “I don’t talk about how rich I am. Other people do. I don’t want to talk about how rich I am.”
– When Romney turned down Trump’s debate, Trump was not happy. “I was particularly surprised with Mitt Romney because he wants my endorsement very badly.”
And when the two met at the Trump Tower in September, Romney snuck out to avoid a photo-op and both were conspicuously tepid in their praise for each other afterward. “It was a nice meeting,” Trump told the New York Daily News.
Evening Brief: Important Stories That You May Have Missed
Comedian Chris Rock: “I’ll pay higher taxes.”
Republicans want to cut jobs and freeze workers’ pay to huge environmental costs.
Romney’s economic plan isn’t concerned about the poor — or the middle class
The U.S. “no-fly” list of suspected terrorists doubles in 12 months.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) compares President Obama’s recess appointments to the attack on Pearl Harbor: “A day that will live on in infamy.”
In 2008, Mitt Romney told an anti-gay religious group: “I’m not an enormously religious person.”
For a man who loves “America the Beautiful,” Romney’s energy policies may fail too keep America beautiful.
Other recent Progress Reports
Feb 1, 2012: New Attacks in the Right-Wing War on Women
Right-Wing Bullies Attack Access to Basic Women’s Health Care Right-wing attacks on abortion and access to basic women’s health care aren’t anything thing new, but in the year since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives and state legislatures across the country, we’ve seen these attacks turn into a full-fledged war on women. In just the [...]
Jan 31, 2012: Will the Buffett Rule Become the Buffett Law?
Which Senators Will Choose Millionaires Over the Middle Class? In his State of the Union speech, President Obama renewed his call for action on the Buffett Rule — the simple idea that no millionaire should pay a lower tax rate than middle class Americans. He also added some detail to the proposal — that millionaires [...]
Jan 30, 2012: VIDEOS: DREAMers Confront Mitt Romney
Romney Confronted Over Extreme Anti-Immigrant Position Undocumented immigrant students who would benefit from the DREAM Act, which Mitt Romney has repeatedly promised to veto, have repeatedly confronted Romney in recent weeks. Check out a few videos of the action: New York City Miami, Florida Evening Brief: Important Stories That You May Have Missed Mitt Romney [...]
Jan 27, 2012: The GOP’s Racial Politics
Our guest blogger is former Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA), president of Center for American Progress Action Fund. From the subtle to the sickening, this Republican primary season has seen a normalizing of racist and racially-coded language. It was not so long ago that the chairman of the Republican National Committee apologized for his party’s history [...]
The Hannity Challenge: How To Make The Case That The Economy Is Improving Sean Hannity pushed the myth that President Obama has made the economy worse, arguing that you could not “make the case” that it has improved during Obama’s watch. In fact, when Obama took office, he inherited an economy that was shrinking faster than it had in 50 years and that had lost 2 million jobs in 3 months; by contrast, the economy is now growing and added 1.9 million private sector jobs last year. Read More
Obama’s Mortgage Relief Plan Is Immediately Attacked By The Right-Wing Media President Obama recently outlined his proposal that would give millions of homeowners a chance to save thousands of dollars annually by refinancing their mortgages at a lower interest rate even if their homes are currently underwater. The right-wing media immediately went on the attack, claiming that Obama’s mortgage relief plan is a political stunt being used to “pander” to voters during an election year. Read More
Thank you for your email and for sharing our concern about the sustainability of the tuna species. As a leading American tuna brand, we are actively working to ensure there is plenty of tuna today, and for generations to come. The long-term sustainability of the world’s fisheries is clearly in everyone’s best interest, especially Chicken of the Sea‘s.
Long before the Greenpeace campaign, in March 2009, three of America’s most popular tuna companies, founded the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). The ISSF is the first organization of its kind – a partnership between the tuna processing industry, the world’s leading fishery scientists and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the world’s leading conservation organization. The ISSF now represents nearly 75 percent of the world’s shelf-stable tuna production. Its mission is to undertake science-based initiatives to support the long-term sustainability of tuna stocks, reduction of by-catch and promotion of ecosystem health. The ISSF does this by supporting the conservation recommendations of tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMO) scientific committees. Since its inception, the ISSF and its members have committed to a number of meaningful resolutions and actions supporting this mission.
Most recently, the ISSF and its participants released the “Make the Commitment” global improvement plan which calls for best practices and commitments across purse seine, longline and pole and line fisheries. The commitments were developed in conjunction with the ISSF Stakeholder Committee, a group that includes representatives from various global conservation and scientific bodies. Groups involved include the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Conservation International, New England Aquarium, FishWise and Birdlife International, among others. Involvement in the ISSF Stakeholder Committee does not imply endorsement, but invites stakeholder organizations to participate in the collective review and analysis of research and ISSF program initiatives.
Greenpeace has been invited to join the ISSF Stakeholder Committee and has repeatedly declined. While Greenpeace is talking, the ISSF and its partners are doing the work necessary to preserve the world’s tuna for today and tomorrow.
Additionally, as a leading tuna brand, Chicken of the Sea is committed to protecting dolphins and we are proud to share with you our worldwide policy to save dolphin lives. This policy states that:
- Chicken of the Sea will not purchase any tuna caught in association with dolphins.
- We remain committed to this policy and require certification that all tuna we purchase is dolphin-safe. Our dolphin-safe policy includes Chicken of the Sea tuna, as well as all of our branded and private label products. Chicken of the Sea tuna is labeled with a special “Dolphin-Safe” logo.
Thank you again for reaching out to Chicken of the Sea. As a leader in the seafood industry, we appreciate and share your commitment to sustainability, and we look forward to continued work with all stakeholders on this matter. If you have additional questions, we encourage you to visit http://iss-foundation.org/ for a thorough, fact-based look at tuna sustainability.
Consumer Affairs, Chicken of the Sea Intl
S. 1408, Data
Breach Notification Act of 2011
Cost estimate for the bill as ordered reported by the Senate
Committee on the Judiciary on September 22, 2011
H.R. 2940, Access
to Capital for Job Creators Act
Cost estimate for the bill as ordered reported by the House
Committee on Financial Services on October 26, 2011
H.R. 1965, a bill
to amend the securities laws to establish certain thresholds for shareholder
registratio, and for other purposes
Cost estimate for the bill as ordered reported by the House
Committee on Financial Services on October 26, 2011
- Following any Leader remarks, the Senate will be in morning business until 3:00pm with Senators permitted to speak therein for up to 10 minutes each.
- Following morning business, the Senate will begin consideration of the conference report to accompany H.R.658, the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act. There will be 2 hours and 30 minutes of debate on the conference report equally divided and controlled between the two Leaders or their designees.
- Upon the use or yielding back of time (at approximately 5:30pm), the Senate will conduct a roll call vote on adoption of the conference report to accompany H.R.658 with a 60 affirmative vote threshold.
. -SPECIAL ORDER SPEECHES – The House has concluded all anticipated legislative business and has proceeded to Special Order speeches.12:29:42 P.M. -The Speaker laid before the House a message from the President transmitting a notice stating that the national emergency declared with respect to the situation in or in relation to Cote d’Ivoire is to continue in effect beyond February 7, 2012. – referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and ordered to be printed (H. Doc. 112-84).12:25:11 P.M. -ONE MINUTE SPEECHES – The House proceeded with further one minute speeches.12:24:27 P.M. -Mr. Cantor asked unanimous consent That when the House adjourns on Friday, February 3, 2012, it adjourn to meet at 12:00 p.m. on Monday, February 6, 2012, for Morning-Hour Debate. Agreed to without objection.11:49:11 A.M. -COLLOQUY ON HOUSE SCHEDULE – The Chair recognized Mr. Hoyer for the purpose of engaging in a colloquy with Mr. Cantor on the expectations regarding the legislative schedule for the House during the upcoming week.11:42:22 A.M. -Mr. Webster filed a report from the Committee on Rules on H. Res. 537.11:41:35 A.M. -H.R. 658Motions to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.11:41:35 A.M. -H.R. 658On agreeing to the conference report Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: 248 – 169 (Roll no. 33).11:35:01 A.M. -H.R. 658The House proceeded to consider the conference report H. Rept. 112-381 as unfinished business.11:34:50 A.M. -UNFINISHED BUSINESS – The Chair announced that the unfinished business was the question on adoption of the conference report to accompany H.R. 658, which had been debated earlier and on which further proceedings had been postponed.11:34:35 A.M. -H.R. 3578Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.11:34:32 A.M. -H.R. 3578On passage Passed by the Yeas and Nays: 235 – 177 (Roll no. 32).11:28:25 A.M. -H.R. 3578On motion to recommit with instructions Failed by the Yeas and Nays: 177 – 238 (Roll no. 31).11:04:49 A.M. -H.R. 3578The previous question on the motion to recommit with instructions was ordered without objection.10:56:21 A.M. -H.R. 3578DEBATE – The House proceeded with 10 minutes of debate on the Tierney motion to recommit with instructions. The instructions contained in the motion seek to require the bill to be reported back to the House with an amendment to add a new provision entitled “Maintaining Current Funding Levels in Real (Inflation-Adjusted) Terms for: Pell Grants and Education Programs for Students; Health and All Discretionary Spending that Provide Benefits for Seniors; Job, Health, and all Discretionary Spending that Provide Benefits for Veterans; and Health Research, Including NIH and Research to Cure Cancer.”10:54:18 A.M. -H.R. 3578Mr. Tierney moved to recommit with instructions to The Budget.10:53:41 A.M. -H.R. 3578Considered as unfinished business. H.R. 3578 — “To amend the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 to reform the budget baseline.”10:53:29 A.M. -H.R. 658POSTPONED PROCEEDINGS – At the conclusion of debate on the conference report to H.R. 658, the Chair put the question on agreeing to the conference report and by voice vote, announced that the ayes had prevailed. Mr. Petri demanded the yeas and nays and the Chair postponed further proceedings on the question of agreeing to the conference report until later in the legislative day.10:53:07 A.M. -H.R. 658The previous question was ordered pursuant to the rule.9:45:02 A.M. -H.R. 658DEBATE – The House proceeded with one hour of debate on the conference report to accompany H.R. 658.9:44:15 A.M. -H.R. 658Mr. Mica brought up conference report H. Rept. 112-381 for consideration under the provisions of H. Res. 533.9:39:55 A.M. -H. Res. 533Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.9:39:49 A.M. -H. Res. 533On agreeing to the resolution Agreed to by voice vote.9:39:41 A.M. -H. Res. 533The previous question was ordered without objection.9:19:45 A.M. -H. Res. 533DEBATE – The House proceeded with one hour of debate on H. Res. 533.9:18:47 A.M. -H. Res. 533Considered as privileged matter. H. Res. 533 — “Providing for consideration of the conference report to accompany the bill (H.R. 658) to amend title 49, United States Code, to authorize appropriations for the Federal Aviation Administration for fiscal years 2011 through 2014, to streamline programs, create efficiencies, reduce waste, and improve aviation safety and capacity, to provide stable funding for the national aviation system, and for other purposes.”9:05:07 A.M. -ONE MINUTE SPEECHES – The House proceeded with one minute speeches, which by direction of the Chair would be limited to 5 per side of the aisle.9:04:43 A.M. -PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE – The Chair designated Mr. Lankford to lead the Members in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.9:04:40 A.M. -The Speaker announced approval of the Journal. Pursuant to clause 1, rule I, the Journal stands approved.9:01:00 A.M. -Today’s prayer was offered by Reverend Dr. Cal LeMon, First and Calvary Presbyterian Church, Springfield, Missouri.9:00:00 A.M. -The House convened, starting a new legislative day.