First Lady Michelle Obama Delivers Toys and Holiday Cheer


 

 
 

First Lady Michelle Obama stopped by a Toys for Tots service project at a military base yesterday with “boxes and boxes” of gifts that were donated by White House staffers, American CEOs, and even First Daughters Malia and Sasha.

As she thanked the volunteers and donors working to make this holiday season special for those who are less fortunate, Mrs. Obama noted that it was especially meaningful to attend the event on a military base, since Toys for Tots was started by a military family.

Check out more about the First Lady’s visit to this Toys for Tots service project.

First Lady Michelle Obama is escorted by SSgt Joel Vazquez as she arrives with a sack full of toys at the Toys for Tots Distribution Center at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., Dec. 11, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

First Lady Michelle Obama is escorted by SSgt Joel Vazquez as she arrives with a sack full of toys at the Toys for Tots Distribution Center at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., Dec. 11, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

In Case You Missed It
Here are some of the top stories from the White House blog:President Obama’s Record and Proposals for Cutting Spending
The President has signed $1 trillion in discretionary spending cuts into law through the Budget Control Act, and his budget calls for more than $340 billion in entitlement savings from Medicare and Medicaid, and $250 billion from other mandatory programs.

Meet Pretty Willie
On Monday, President Obama introduced the world to “Pretty Willie” Carter — a man who has clocked in at Detroit Diesel for 60 years. The only other job he ever worked was fighting for his country in the Korean War.

Vice President Biden Takes in “America’s Game”
On Saturday, the attention of the college football world was focused on the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia, and Vice President Joe Biden was on hand to witness an instant classic.

Today’s Schedule

All times are Eastern Standard Time (EST).

9:45 AM: The President and the Vice President receive the Presidential Daily Briefing

12:00 PM: The President holds a conference call with a bipartisan group of mayors and community leaders

12:30 PM: Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney WhiteHouse.gov/live

WhiteHouse.gov/live Indicates that the event will be live-streamed on WhiteHouse.gov/Live

a Message from Lilly Ledbetter


 

National Women's Law Center
 
 
     
  Join Me in Supporting the Center  
     
 
Lilly Ledbetter with NWLC Co-Presidents Marcia Greenberger and Nancy Duff Campbell
 
     
  Make a generous donation today — your gift will be doubled.  
     
     
     

You know my story: in almost twenty years of managing employees for a major company, I was paid far less than my male counterparts despite doing the same job. When I turned to the legal system for help, my case made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court… where the Court (by a 5-4 vote) dismissed it on a technicality.

But that wasn’t the end. Far from it! Joined by the National Women’s Law Center, I fought to change the law and make it easier for those of us who were the victims of pay discrimination to have our cases heard. And, I was deeply honored that the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first major piece of legislation President Barack Obama signed in 2009.

The Center was with me through those tough times. Its lawyers filed an important amicus brief in the courts, testified before Congress, advocated for the legislation, and were leaders of the coalition effort that finally got the bill passed in Congress and signed by President Obama. They were by my side when I needed them, from the Supreme Court to the White House!

Will you stand by the Center’s side when it needs you now? Please donate $10 or more to support the Center’s work on fair pay and so many other issues vital to women and their families — thanks to a dollar-for-dollar match from the Center’s Board and Leadership 35 Committee, your gift will be doubled (to a total of $150,000).

The Ledbetter Act was a step in the right direction, but we still have so far to go: even in 2012, a woman in the United States of America makes only 77 cents for every dollar paid to her male counterparts doing the same job. This situation simply isn’t right, and passing a comprehensive Paycheck Fairness Act is something we MUST do.

I’m not stopping the fight, and neither is the National Women’s Law Center. Will you help? Please donate $10 or more to support the Center’s work on fair pay and so many other issues vital to women and their families.

I am deeply grateful to the Center staff for all that they’ve done so far, and I know that they’re committed to seeing the struggle through to the end — when we’ll win. I hope you’ll continue to support the Center’s work to expand opportunities for women and their families.

Please make a generous donation today — thanks to the dollar-for-dollar match, your gift will go twice as far.

Thank you!

Sincerely,

 
Lilly Ledbetter  

Evicting autistic kids …


 

Change.org
I need your help to stop the bank from evicting me and save the horseback riding center I built for children with special needs.

 

 

I started a therapy center for children with special needs because of my son, Julian. Julian has autism. When he was a baby, Julian was so withdrawn that he wouldn’t even eat.

Horseback riding therapy changed Julian’s life, and mine too – so much so that I decided to sell my house and build a therapy center to help children who were struggling like Julian. More than 40 children with special needs come to Parkwood Farms Therapy Center to learn and grow by working with and riding horses — but I could be forced to shut down my home and the therapy center because the bank is threatening me with eviction.

I was making all my mortgage payments until my bank sold my loan and my bills skyrocketed. Every three months, the rates increased until my monthly payments were double what they used to be.

I need to stop this now — not just for me, but for the kids who need this therapy center. I started a petition on Change.org asking HSBC Bank to stop my eviction and work with me to modify my loan. Will you sign?

I’m so glad I opened the horseback riding therapy center: every day I see kids opening up, connecting with the horses, learning to communicate, and so much more. I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to help parents like me, who wanted to help their children but didn’t know how. For some kids, working with animals is the key to helping them open up and relate to the world.

I’ve been trying to negotiate to get my payments back down, but after following the bank’s instructions for two years, my credit has been damaged and I’m facing eviction.

I don’t want to shut this center down. People in my community need it. That’s why the mayor and the entire city council came out to the center this month and gave speeches in support of Parkwood Farms. But I need your help too to put more pressure on the bank to negotiate with me. I know that Change.org petitions have helped push banks to meet with other homeowners facing foreclosure, and if enough people sign my petition, I’m confident that HSBC will follow suit.

Please help me save Parkwood Farms Therapy Center: Sign my petition to HSBC Bank now.

Thank you so much for your help.

Dr. Marilyn Peterson

life saving … Igor Volsky


More than a year ago, the Violence Against Women Act expired. The bill still hasn’t been reauthorized because House Republicans are insisting on an exclusive VAWA—one that offers no protections for LGBT, Native American, and undocumented victims of domestic violence.

Sign our petition asking House Republicans to stop delaying the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

With days ticking down before the legislative session ends, there’s been no movement on making sure that important protections for all victims of domestic violence are reauthorized. Republican leadership has not put the inclusive version of the bill, which passed the Senate with resounding support, up for a vote.

VAWA has been reauthorized three times with no trouble. And every year of reauthorization, Congress has made a stronger, more inclusive bill. This year should be no different. Don’t let the conservative Republican agenda stop the progress of a bill that can make the difference between life and death.

Please, tell House Republicans to pass VAWA—right now.

Thanks,

Igor Volsky
Deputy Editor, ThinkProgress

Immigration Reform V Self Deportation


By ThinkProgress War Room

Why We Need Comprehensive Immigration Reform

After Mitt Romney lost the Latino vote by more than 40 points, some Republicans suddenly seem willing — even eager — to take up immigration reform legislation. And it’s widely expected that President Obama will “begin an all-out drive for comprehensive immigration reform, including seeking a path to citizenship” as soon as the fiscal showdown is over — hopefully as soon as next month.

ThinkProgress’ Amanda Beadle rounds up the top 10 reasons why the U.S. needs comprehensive immigration reform:

1. Legalizing the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States would boost the nation’s economy. It would add a cumulative $1.5 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product—the largest measure of economic growth—over 10 years. That’s because immigration reform that puts all workers on a level playing field would create a virtuous cycle in which legal status and labor rights exert upward pressure on the wages of both American and immigrant workers. Higher wages and even better jobs would translate into increased consumer purchasing power, which would benefit the U.S. economy as a whole.

2. Tax revenues would increase. The federal government would accrue $4.5 billion to $5.4 billion in additional net tax revenue over just three years if the 11 million undocumented immigrants were legalized. And states would benefit. Texas, for example, would see a $4.1 billion gain in tax revenue and the creation of 193,000 new jobs if its approximately 1.6 million undocumented immigrants were legalized.

3. Harmful state immigration laws are damaging state economies. States that have passed stringent immigration measures in an effort to curb the number of undocumented immigrants living in the state have hurt some of their key industries, which are held back due to inadequate access to qualified workers. A farmer in Alabama, where the state legislature passed the anti-immigration law HB 56 in 2011, for example, estimated that he lost up to $300,000 in produce in 2011 because the undocumented farmworkers who had skillfully picked tomatoes from his vines in years prior had been forced to flee the state.

4. A path to citizenship would help families access health care. About a quarter of families where at least one parent is an undocumented immigrant are uninsured, but undocumented immigrants do not qualify for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, leaving them dependent on so-called safety net hospitals that will see their funding reduced as health care reforms are implemented. Without being able to apply for legal status and gain health care coverage, the health care options for undocumented immigrants and their families will shrink.

5. U.S. employers need a legalized workforce. Nearly half of agricultural workers, 17 percent of construction workers, and 12 percent of food preparation workers nationwide lacking legal immigration status. But business owners—from farmers to hotel chain owners—benefit from reliable and skilled laborers, and a legalization program would ensure that they have them.

6. In 2011, immigrant entrepreneurs were responsible for more than one in four new U.S. businesses. Additionally, immigrant businesses employ one in every 10 people working for private companies. Immigrants and their children founded 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies, which collectively generated $4.2 trillion in revenue in 2010—more than the GDP of every country in the world except the United States, China, and Japan. Reforms that enhance legal immigration channels for high-skilled immigrants and entrepreneurs while protecting American workers and placing all high-skilled workers on a level playing field will promote economic growth, innovation, and workforce stability in the United States.

7. Letting undocumented immigrants gain legal status would keep families together. More than 5,100 children whose parents are undocumented immigrants are in the U.S. foster care system, according to a 2011 report, because their parents have either been detained by immigration officials or deported and unable to reunite with their children. If undocumented immigrants continue to be deported without a path to citizenship enabling them to remain in the U.S. with their families, up to 15,000 children could be in the foster care system by 2016 because their parents were deported, and most child welfare departments do not have the resources to handle this increase.

8. Young undocumented immigrants would add billions to the economy if they gained legal status. Passing the DREAM Act—legislation that proposes to create a roadmap to citizenship for immigrants who came to the United States as children—would put 2.1 million young people on a pathway to legal status, adding $329 billion to the American economy over the next two decades.

9. And DREAMers would boost employment and wages. Legal status and the pursuit of higher education would create an aggregate 19 percent increase in earnings for young undocumented immigrants who would benefit from the DREAM Act by 2030. The ripple effects of these increased wages would create$181 billion in induced economic impact, 1.4 million new jobs, and $10 billionin increased federal revenue.

10. Significant reform of the high-skilled immigration system would benefit certain industries that require high-skilled workers. Immigrants make up 23 percent of the labor force in high-tech manufacturing and information technology industries, and immigrants more highly educated, on average, than the native-born Americans working in these industries. For every immigrant who earns an advanced degree in one of these fields at a U.S. university, 2.62 American jobs are created.