We hope this message finds you well.
What Does $2,000 Dollars Mean to You?
“If Congress does nothing, every family in America will see their taxes automatically go up at the beginning of next year,” the President said. “A typical middle-class family of four would see its income taxes go up by $2,200. That’s $2,200 out of people’s pockets. That means less money for buying groceries, less money for filling prescriptions, less money for buying diapers. It means a tougher choice between paying the rent and paying tuition. And middle-class families just can’t afford that right now.”
Watch the President’s remarks below:
Now the President wants you to share your story! Get involved in the fight for middle-class tax cuts by visiting WH.gov/My2K. You can also join the conversation online on Facebook and Twitter using the hastag #My2K to share what $2,000 means for you and your family. Read what Americans have already shared here.
If Congress does not extend the middle-class tax cuts families will see their income taxes go up by $2,200. Jason Furman, the Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, wrote earlier this week on how increased taxes on the middle-class will also negatively impact businesses and retailers across the county. The National Economic Council and the Council of Economic Advisors released a report detailing these impacts. If taxes on the middle-class go up, in 2013 consumers could spend nearly $200 billion less than they otherwise would have.
To read full report by the National Economic Council and the Council of Economic Advisors, click here.
Combatting Human Trafficking and Supporting Human Rights in Southeast Asia
Last week President Obama undertook a historic trip to Southeast Asia, making stops in Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia. Becoming the first U.S. President ever to visit Burma, President Obama pledged continued U.S. support for the Burmese people as they undertake significant reforms aimed at building democracy and ensuring human rights, including women’s rights. Following his landmark speech this September on U.S. government efforts to combat trafficking in persons, the President also secured new commitments from the Government of Burma and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on their anti-trafficking efforts. More about what the U.S. government is doing to end trafficking in Southeast Asia can be found here.
While traveling with the President in Cambodia, Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, and Samantha Power, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at the National Security Council, met with several organizations in Phnom Penh to discuss a number of human rights issues. They also had the opportunity to meet with human trafficking survivors and several U.S. partners who are working in Cambodia to combat this terrible crime.
Samantha Power (left), Valerie Jarrett (center), and Ambassador William E. Todd meet with Cambodian human rights organizations in Phnom Penh on November 20, 2012. (Photo from U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh, Cambodia)
Valerie and Samantha’s blog about their meeting with human rights defenders can be read here, and their meetings with trafficking survivors and advocates can be found here. You can also find pictures from these meetings by clicking here.
Finally, following the President’s trip, the Department of Labor announced a $10 million cooperative agreement to combat child labor in Cambodia’s agriculture, fishing, and domestic service sectors. Read about in here.
Judges Announced for Equal Futures App Challenge
The White House is pleased to announce the judges of our Equal Futures App Challenge – a challenge to create apps that promote civic education and inspire girls to serve as leaders in our democracy. The full list of judges can be found in the post below and includes leaders such as Jack Dorsey, Creator and Co-Founder of Twitter and Founder and CEO of Square; Geena Davis, Academy-Award Winning Actor and Founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media; Jocelyn Goldfein, Director of Engineering at Facebook; Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and others.
And you don’t need to have coding skills yourself to participate – if you have an idea, you can find someone who does have those skills and work as a team to create an app. The deadline to submit apps for this challenge is January 12, 2013 – and you can learn more about the challenge and submit your apps on equalfutures.challenge.gov. Lastly, we’d love to hear from you! If you have any questions about the challenge, feel free to email Brian Forde, Senior Advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer on Mobile and Data Innovation, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Honoring International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
This past Sunday, November 25th, marked the anniversary of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Vice President Biden reaffirmed a commitment to women and girls who experience violence in a statement on Sunday, which can be read in full below:
“Millions of women and girls around the globe face violence in their homes and neighborhoods, their schools and workplaces, refugee camps and conflict zones. We have made progress in addressing this violence, and our Administration has taken unprecedented steps to advance the status of women and girls worldwide. But for far too many women the daily threat of violence persists. Ending this problem requires the concerted effort of the international community, civil society, and the many unsung heroes who work tirelessly to stop violence against women in their own communities. On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we reaffirm our commitment to women and girls who suffer from violence. We believe that no country can move forward unless women and girls have the opportunity to achieve their full potential, and we pledge to stand together in building a world where everyone can pursue their dreams without living in fear.”
Check out Vice President Biden’s 1 is 2 Many campaign to learn more about what the Administration is doing to fight violence against women.
In Case You Missed It!
As part of a culture change campaign, the Department of Veteran Affairs released a new public service announcement (PSA) to let women Veterans know that VA health care is “the right place” to meet their health care needs. The key messages in the PSA include: assuring women Veterans that VA is ready to serve them; encouraging viewers to rethink assumptions that all Veterans are male; and reminding Americans that women Veterans are coming home, separating from service, or returning to Guard or Reserve status. To read more about the PSA click here, and you can also watch the PSA here.
Ed. Note: Thanks for staying tuned during our hiatus last month. We’re back and eager to cover all of the latest developments on the fiscal showdown and other important issues.***
Last week, the president put out his plan to avoid the fiscal cliff, including $1.6 TRILLION in new tax revenues, $1.5 TRILLION in spending cuts that have already been enacted, $400 BILLION in additional targeted spending cuts, and additional measures to stimulate growth, including an extension of emergency unemployment benefits and new investments in infrastructure.
While Republicans have laughed at the president’s plan, said it is not “serious,” and have already fabricated new myths in order to attack it, there’s one thing they haven’t done until today: offer any real alternative.
A prime example of the GOP’s refusal to offer their own credible alternative plan was on display yesterday when Speaker Boehner (R-OH) was pressed on the details of the GOP plan by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. Boehner avoided any details and refused to say which tax deductions Republicans could cap or eliminate.
Just a couple hours ago, House Republicans finally offered an alternative: some of the worst of the GOP’s recent budget ideas along with $800 BILLION in new revenues from a tax plan that lowers rates and closes loopholes. And, unlike the new revenue proposed by the president, even this revenue is not locked in. It’s to come as a part of a yet to be determined tax reform plan to be put together by Congress.
If this all sounds familiar, that’s because it is. It is similar to the plan that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan ran on — and lost. And now Republicans are trying to put it forward as a credible alternative to the policies the president ran on — and won.
Let’s review in brief why this GOP plan does not pass muster:
The Republican proposal states that it is based on a plan put forward last year by Erskine Bowles (not to be confused with a different plan put forward by both Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson). Bowles, however, denied that that was the case today and also noted that “circumstances have changed” since then.
BOTTOM LINE:Any plan that fails to ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share and forces seniors and the middle class to shoulder the burden of dealing with our debt is neither balanced nor credible.
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