Read all posts from October 2014

  • Today, the President headed to Rhode Island College in Providence to continue his focus on our economy’s progress and how we can build on it by expanding opportunity for women and working families. While there, he sat down with a few working parents, small business owners, students, and faculty for a roundtable discussion about policies that could help working families right now and continue to grow our economy -- and then he delivered remarks on campus.

    Here are six quotes you need to read from what he had to say. Take a look, share your favorites, and read his full remarks here.

    "Moms and dads deserve a great place to drop their kids off every day that doesn’t cost them an arm and a leg. In many states, sending your child to daycare costs more than sending them to a public university."

  • This week at the White House, we explained what "78 cents for every dollar" means, spoke about America’s response to Ebola, and cooked with students in the White House Kitchen. To find out more about other events this week, be sure to check out the rest of the White House blog.

    Photo of the Week:


    Another picturesque early evening on the South Lawn of the White House.

    Een foto die is geplaatst door Pete Souza (@petesouza) op

  • In September 2009, the President announced that -- for the first time in history -- White House visitor records would be made available to the public on an ongoing basis. Today, the White House released visitor records that were generated in July 2014. This release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to more than 4.05 million -- all of which can be viewed in our Disclosures section.

  • Throughout our history, members of our military have put their lives on the line to defend our country and preserve our security. While this requires a tremendous personal sacrifice, it is also important to recognize the unyielding love and support that their families provide every step of the way to make this sacrifice possible. As a proud military mom myself, I know that when you have a family member who is in the military, the whole family serves too.

    Last week, I visited the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, where I had the opportunity to see firsthand how state-of-the art rehabilitation equipment like the FlowRider and zero-gravity treadmills are being incorporated into an innovative rehabilitation process for our wounded soldiers — it is truly remarkable. I also met with service members and military spouses stationed in San Antonio to discuss the challenges that are an inherent part of military life, such as constant relocation and missing family milestones due to deployments.

    We have asked a lot of service members and their families over the past decade. They have sacrificed so much on behalf of our country. I am proud to be part of an Administration that has supported our troops, veterans, and their families in historic ways. In April, First Lady Michelle Obama and I announced the unveiling of the Veterans Employment Center, an innovative tool to help veterans and spouses find career opportunities. As of this summer, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Military Children’s Interstate Compact, which eases some of the burdens of transitions for military connected kids. And today, in honor of their service, President Obama signed a proclamation to establish November 2014 as Military Family Month.

  • We live in a world where women play a foundational role in the strength and growth of our economy.  

    Today, women are the primary breadwinners in more households than ever before. They're graduating from college and graduate school at higher rates than men, and account for almost half of all students in law, businesses and medical school. From doctors and dentists to managers and scientists, women in today’s world are increasingly entering what were once male-dominated occupations.

    And yet, despite decades of progress for women in the workplace, one unfortunate fact remains: Women still earn less than men for the same work. As the President said in Providence, Rhode Island today, "At a time when women are the primary breadwinners in more households than ever, that hurts the whole family if they’re not getting paid fairly."

    On average, women who work full-time all year make 78 cents for every dollar a man earns. That gap is even larger for women of color. For African American women, it’s 64 cents, and for Hispanic women, it’s 56 cents. 

    Take a look at this week’s chart to see how unequal pay persists for hardworking American women: 


  • Five years ago this month, President Obama signed his Executive Order on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, setting new energy, climate, and environmental targets for federal agencies. The targets are aggressive, but under the President’s leadership, agencies have made significant progress in cutting carbon pollution, improving energy efficiency, and preparing for the impacts of climate change.

    Through this initiative, federal agencies have already reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent – that’s the equivalent of taking 1.8 million cars off the road. And today, more than 9 percent of our energy comes from renewable sources, on our way to meeting a goal of 20 percent by 2020. We’ve also cut our potable water use by 19 percent, enough water to fill nearly 49,000 Olympic swimming pools.

    This progress means we’re on track to meet the President’s goals. But with more than 360,000 buildings, 650,000 fleet vehicles, and $460 billion in annual purchasing power, the federal government is the largest energy consumer in the U.S. economy, so we can’t rest here.

    That’s why, today, to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the Executive Order, federal agencies released new plans for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for climate change impacts such as flooding, sea level rise, severe weather, and temperature extremes.

  • Yesterday, the Administration announced new regulations to protect students at career colleges from ending up with student loan debt that they cannot pay. The new rules will ensure that career colleges improve outcomes for students -- or risk losing access to federal student aid.

    To qualify for federal student aid, the law requires that most for-profit programs and certificate programs at private non-profit and public institutions prepare students for "gainful employment in a recognized occupation." The new rules are part of President Obama’s commitment to help reduce the burden faced by student loan borrowers and make postsecondary education more affordable and accessible to American families.

    How are certain programs leaving borrowers with the burden of student loan debt?

    Too often, students at career colleges -- including thousands of veterans -- are charged excessive costs, but don't get the education they paid for. Instead, students in many of these programs are provided with poor quality training, often for low-wage jobs or in occupations where there are simply no job opportunities. They frequently find themselves with large amounts of debt and, too often, end up in default. In many cases, students are drawn into these programs with confusing or misleading information. The situation for students at for-profit institutions is particularly troubling:

    • Students who attend a two-year for-profit institution costs a student four times as much as attending a community college.
    • Eighty-eight percent of associate degree graduates from for-profit institutions had student debt, while only 40 percent of associate degree recipients from community colleges had any student debt.
    • Students at for-profit institutions represent only about 11 percent of the total higher education population but receive 19 percent of all federal loans and make up 44 percent of all loan defaulters.

    How will the new rule help improve outcomes for students?

  • This week, the President continued to address the ongoing federal response to Ebola, worked to spur the growth of manufacturing and boost preparedness for natural disasters, and invited some of our youngest scientists and oldest veterans to the White House.

  • The very first thing you do when you arrive in Liberia is wash your hands in chlorine.

    As I learned on my recent visit to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, the simple acts of hand-washing and bumping elbows -- instead of shaking hands -- quickly begin to feel normal. As the Ebola epidemic overwhelms communities and threatens livelihoods in West Africa, this change in behavior is saving lives.

    Today, the U.S. is helping lead a global coalition to fight Ebola with a clear strategy and data-driven approach. During my visit, I met courageous humanitarians, health workers, and community leaders who are helping turn the tide against Ebola. In fact, there are currently over 950 U.S. Government personnel on the ground in the region, and I could not be more proud of them. 

    USAID Raj Shah Talking To DART

    USAID Administrator Raj Shah meets with DART, CDC, and DoD about the Ebola response in Liberia. October 14, 2014. (by Morgana Wingard)


  • Yesterday, Executive Director of Let’s Move! and White House Senior Advisor for Nutrition Policy Sam Kass joined DC Public Schools’ student Maurice Morris, and thousands of classrooms via livestream from around the country for a special inside look into the White House kitchen.

  • Here at the White House, planning for the 2014 holiday season is already in full swing! The house is buzzing with activity as preparations for the most festive time of the year are underway.

    Once again, President Obama and the First Lady will welcome tens of thousands of visitors from around the country to tour the holiday decorations – and those that can’t make it in person will have the chance to explore the décor online. From Christmas trees and garlands to lights and ornaments, the holidays will be filled with wonder, delight, and excitement.

    And this year, for the first time ever, we’re inviting makers and innovators around the country to participate in the White House 3D-Printed Ornament Challenge!

    The Challenge, in partnership with the Smithsonian, invites makers, artists, designers, engineers, and anyone interested in 3D modeling and 3D printing to design a winter holiday-inspired ornament. Starting today and running until November 10, 2014, people can head over to Instructables to submit their design and for more details about the Challenge.

    A selection of the winning ornament designs will be 3D printed and displayed in the White House during the holiday season; featured on the Smithsonian’s state-of-the-art 3D data platform,; and will join a small collection of White House ornaments in the political history division of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

  • Economic growth in the third quarter was strong, consistent with a broad range of other indicators showing improvement in the labor market, rising consumer sentiment, increasing domestic energy security, and continued low health cost growth. Since the financial crisis, the U.S. economy has bounced back more strongly than most others around the world, and the recent data highlight that the United States is continuing to lead the global recovery. Nevertheless, more must still be done to boost growth both in the United States and around the world by investing in infrastructure, manufacturing, and innovation; and to ensure that workers are feeling the benefits of that growth, by pushing to raise the minimum wage and supporting equal pay.


    1. Real gross domestic product (GDP) grew 3.5 percent at an annual rate in the third quarter of 2014, according to the advance estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The strong growth recorded in each of the last two quarters suggests that the economy has bounced back strongly from the first-quarter decline in GDP, which largely reflected transitory factors like unusually severe winter weather and a sharp slowdown in inventory investment. In the third quarter, net exports made a large positive contribution to growth, while consumer spending and business investment grew at a somewhat slower pace than the previous quarter.


    Dr. Kent Brantly Introduces President Obama

    Dr. Kent Brantly delivers remarks during an event with American health care workers fighting Ebola, in the East Room of the White House. October 29, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    America has never been defined by fear. We are defined by courage and passion and hope and selflessness and sacrifice and a willingness to take on challenges when others can’t and others will not, and ordinary Americans who risk their own safety to help those in need, and who inspire, thereby, the example of others -- all in the constant pursuit of building a better world not just for ourselves but for people in every corner of the Earth.

    -- President Obama, October 29, 2014


  • On Monday, we had the privilege of participating alongside the President in a meeting with his American Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) Steering Committee.

    AMP -- led by its co-chairs, Dow’s Andrew Liveris and MIT’s Rafael Reif -- presented its final report with a set of new recommendations, and we discussed additional policy steps we’re taking to respond to them.

    The President created AMP -- a working group of 19 leaders in industry, academia, and labor -- in June 2011 as part of his continuing effort to maintain the competitive edge on emerging technologies and invest in the future of our manufacturing sector. We’ve come a long way since then, and the policies fueled by AMP’s recommendations have been a big contributor to that progress.

    When the President first launched AMP, unemployment was at 9.1 percent. We were just starting to see some fragile signs of life in the manufacturing sector after more than a decade of erosion. But not many shared our view that together we could build a foundation to revitalize American manufacturing or that manufacturing could continue to play a central role in our economy and our ability to innovate.

    Contrast that picture to today. Growth has steadily strengthened and recently accelerated, with GDP rising 2.6 percent over the past year, faster than the 2.0 percent annualized pace of the preceding two years. Job growth is accelerating too. Unemployment is now down to 5.9 percent, falling 1.3 percentage points in the last year.

  • President Obama Provides an Update on Our Response to Ebola in West Africa

    President Barack Obama delivers a statement regarding U.S. health care workers responding to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, prior to his departure aboard Marine One from the White House South Lawn. October 28, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Watch on YouTube

    Speaking on the South Lawn of the White House today, President Obama provided an update on America's comprehensive response to end the Ebola outbreak. So far, of the seven Americans treated for Ebola, all have survived. Only two people have contracted Ebola on American soil -- the two Dallas nurses who treated a patient who had contracted the virus in West Africa. And the only American still undergoing treatment is Dr. Craig Spencer, who contracted the disease abroad while working to protect others.

  • USAID Administrator Raj Shah meets with Ebola Responders in Liberia

    USAID Administrator Raj Shah and U.S. Ambassador Deborah R. Malac meet with Doland Willis and Gabriel Frank of the U.S. Army JFC Operation United Assistance Liberia at the Ebola Emergency Operations Center in Monrovia. October 14, 2014. (by Morgana Wingard)

    Ed. note: Below are excepts of an op-ed by USAID Administrator Raj Shah for USA Today. Read his op-ed in its entirety here

    In the heart of the Ebola epidemic, there is a clear sense of hope. I've just returned from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, where I met dozens of health workers, humanitarians and community leaders who are making a difference in this fight.

    There is no question that the pace, ingenuity, and scale of our global response must continue to grow quickly. But at a time when fear and misinformation spread panic faster than a virus, let's not miss the opportunity to scale up what's working, fix what isn't and bring the best of science, technology and innovation to bear on this devastating disease.

    I spoke with Ebola survivors who now care for sick patients in the very same Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) that saved their lives. I met local workers on burial teams who enter communities threatened by Ebola and endure the stigma of the virus to bury loved ones. At a training session for health care workers, I met a young doctor from Germany who gave up her holiday to put on a personal protective suit in the stifling heat and train others to work in the hot zone. We need hundreds more just like her. And we must ensure that when these brave individuals do volunteer to serve, we not prevent or unduly discourage them from undertaking this indispensable and selfless work.

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted on EPA Connect, the official blog of EPA's leadership. See the original post here.

    Watch on YouTube

    Let’s start with a few numbers:

    $300 billion in savings. That’s how much consumers and businesses have saved on utility bills in the last 22 years because of the ENERGY STAR program.

    Two billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions avoided, or the equivalent to the annual emissions of more than 420 million cars, over the last 22 years. Thanks to our little blue ENERGY STAR label, folks are doing their part to reduce their greenhouse emissions and combat climate change.

    Since President Obama took office, ENERGY STAR has helped American consumers and businesses save over one billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and approximately $110 billion on their utility bills.

    That’s one powerful little label.

  • Ed. Note: This factsheet is cross-posted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Read the original factsheet in its entirety here

    Yesterday, based on the best medical science, the CDC updated its guidance to provide new information for public health officials on monitoring people who may have been exposed to Ebola; overseeing their care; and -- when warranted to protect the public health or our communities -- limiting their movement or activities. 

    These guidelines are crafted to keep the American public safe while not unnecessarily discouraging these workers from serving on the frontlines against this disease. They are heroes whose courage is worthy of our praise. Through these changes, we will help ensure that their symptoms are monitored and a system is in place to quickly recognize when they need to be routed to care. These actions will better protect potentially exposed individuals and the American public as a whole. 

  • We’re excited to announce that on Monday, November 3, First Lady Michelle Obama will take to Tumblr for the first time to answer your questions on education as part of her Reach Higher initiative, which aims to inspire every student to take charge of their future and complete their education past high school.

    Getting a higher education has never been more important, because in today’s economy, a high school diploma just isn’t enough. That’s why the First Lady is working to rally the country around President Obama’s “North Star” goal -- that by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

    If you’ve got questions about preparing for college or how to pay for it, here’s how you can join the conversation:

    Learn more about the First Lady's initiative and how you can reach higher at, and then ask the First Lady a question on Tumblr before her first-ever Tumblr Q&A on Monday, November 3.


  • President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Oct. 24, 2014.

    President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Oct. 24, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    In this week’s address, the President discussed the measures we are taking to respond to Ebola cases at home, while containing the epidemic at its source in West Africa. This week, we continued to focus on domestic preparedness, with the creation of new CDC guidelines and the announcement of new travel measures ensuring all travelers from the three affected countries are directed to and screened at one of five airports.

    The President emphasized that it’s important to follow the facts, rather than fear, as New Yorkers did yesterday when they stuck to their daily routine. Ebola is not an easily transmitted disease, and America is leading the world in the fight to stamp it out in West Africa.

    Transcript | mp4 | mp3

    Learn more: