President Obama speaks to the press on the eve of the Nuclear Security Summit. He speaks from Blair House in Washington, D.C. after meetings with Prime Minister Singh of India and President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, and just before meeting with President Zuma of South Africa. Continue Reading →
Good afternoon, everybody. I want to say a few words about the tragedy that took place this week in West Virginia, but before I do, I’d first like to comment on the news that Justice John Paul Stevens will retire from the Supreme Court at the end of its current term. When President Ford was faced with a Supreme Court vacancy shortly after the nation was still recovering from the Watergate scandal, he wanted a nominee who was brilliant, non-ideological, pragmatic, and committed above all to justice, integrity, and the rule of law. He found that nominee in John Paul Stevens. Justice Stevens has courageously served his country from the moment he enlisted the day before Pearl Harbor to his long and distinguished tenure on the Supreme Court. During that tenure, he has stood as an impartial guardian of the law. He has worn the judicial robe with honor and humility. He has applied the Constitution and the laws of the land with fidelity and restraint. He will soon turn 90 this month, but he leaves his position at the top of his game. His leadership will be sorely missed, and I just had an opportunity to speak with him and told him on behalf of a grateful nation, that I thanked him for his service. As Justice Stevens expressed to me in the letter announcing his retirement, it is in the best interests of the Supreme Court to have a successor appointed and confirmed before the next term begins. And so I will move quickly to name a nominee, as I did with Justice Sotomayor. Once again, I view the process of selecting a Supreme Court nominee as among my most serious responsibilities as President. And while we cannot replace Justice Stevens’ experience or wisdom, I will seek someone in the coming weeks with similar qualities — an independent mind, a record of excellence and integrity, a fierce dedication to the rule of law, and a keen understanding of how the law affects the daily lives of the American people. It will also be someone who, like Justice Stevens, knows that in a democracy, powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens. Much like they did with Justice Sotomayor, I hope the Senate will move quickly in the coming weeks to debate and then confirm my nominee so that the new Justice is seated in time for the fall term. Now, let me say a few words about what has happened in West Virginia. This has been an unimaginably difficult week for the people who live near Montcoal. Thirty-one workers were inside the Upper Big Branch mine when an explosion ripped through its walls on Monday afternoon. Two were saved. Twenty-five were lost. And for the four who remain missing, we are praying for a miracle. I want to offer my deepest condolences to the friends and the families of the fathers and the husbands and brothers, nephews and sons who were killed in this accident. I’m also in awe of the courage and selflessness shown by the rescue teams who’ve risked their lives over and over and over this week for the chance to save another. They’ve worked around the clock, with little sleep, for the past few days, and this nation owes them a debt of gratitude. Now, mining has a long and proud history in West Virginia. For many families and communities, it’s not just a way to make a living; it’s a way of life. And the jobs they do in these mines help bring heat and electricity to millions of Americans. It’s a profession that’s not without risks and danger, and the workers and their families know that. But their government and their employers know that they owe it to these families to do everything possible to ensure their safety when they go to work each day. When I was in the Senate, I supported the efforts of Senators Byrd and Rockefeller to try and improve mine safety, but it’s clear that more needs to be done. And that’s why I’ve asked my Secretary of Labor as well as the head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration to give me a preliminary report next week on what went wrong and why it went wrong so badly, so that we can take the steps necessary to prevent such accidents in the future. Because mining is a tradition that’s often passed down through generations, it’s not uncommon to see an entire family choose this line of work. And sadly, when a tragedy like this occurs, it’s also not uncommon to lose almost an entire family all at once. I spoke to some surviving members of one such family on Wednesday. This week, Tim Davis, and two of his nephews, Josh, age 25, and Cory, age 20, were killed in the explosion in the Upper Big Branch mine. Rescuers have reported that Tim and his two nephews were all found together. Two other members of their families that worked in the mine were able to escape unharmed. Before he left for the mine on Monday, Josh wrote a letter for his girlfriend and young daughter. And in it, he said, “If anything happens to me, I’ll be looking down from heaven at you all. I love you. Take care of my baby. Tell her that daddy loves her, she’s beautiful, she’s funny. Just take care of my baby girl.” Reflecting on that letter, and the losses she endured in just one week, Josh’s mother Pam simply said, “It is just West Virginia. When something bad happens, we come together.” When something bad happens, we come together. Through tragedy and heartache, that’s the spirit that has sustained this community, and this country, for over 200 years. And as we pray for the souls of those we’ve lost, and the safe return of those who are missing, we are also sustained by the words of the Psalm that are particularly poignant right now. Those words read: “You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.” Thank you very much. Continue Reading →
Video from behind the scenes at the White House never released to the media… until now! Continue Reading →
President Obama and the First Lady attempt what the President calls “the best reading of ‘Green Eggs And Ham’ ever. Continue Reading →
President Barack Obama warms up and then delivers the opening day pitch for the Washington Nationals. This is a tradition dating back exactly 100 years to when President William Howard Taft tossed out the first in 1910. Continue Reading →
President Obama hosts a showing of the film “The Nuclear Tipping Point” in the The White House screening room. The movie is about the dangers of nuclear proliferation. Several notable foreign policy experts from both parties who helped produce the film were there including Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn, George Schultz and William Perry. Continue Reading →
Prague, Czech Republic
President Obama: Finally, this day demonstrates the determination of the United States and Russia — the two nations that hold over 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons — to pursue responsible global leadership. Together, we are keeping our commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which must be the foundation for global non-proliferation. While the New START treaty is an important first step forward, it is just one step on a longer journey. Continue Reading →
A playful exchange just before the White House Easter Egg Roll. Continue Reading →
Vice President Biden key quote:“After more than a year implementing the Recovery Act, I can proudly say that we’re not only creating jobs across the country, but doing so responsibly and with a level of transparency never before seen in this town,” Vice President Biden said. “This Presidential Memorandum will continue to make sure that every dollar is accounted for and every official is held accountable.” Continue Reading →
At an Easter Prayer breakfast this morning, President Obama offers condolences to the families of miners killed in an explosion in West Virginia this weekend. He says he has offered Federal resources to the state’s governor to help with rescuing those still trapped in the mine. Continue Reading →
Author JK Rowling reads from the first Harry Potter book at the White House Easter Egg Roll. Continue Reading →
The White House lawn is jammed with children and parents as President Obama starts things out for the 2010 White House Easter Egg Roll. Continue Reading →
President Obama introduces First Lady Michelle Obama who touts healthy living and exercise as part of today’s White House Easter Egg Roll. Continue Reading →
Actress Reese Witherspoon reading “The Best Pet Of All” at the White House Easter Egg roll. Continue Reading →
White House video that wasn’t released to the media…until now! President Obama’s surprise visit to the White House briefing. His surprise visit to Afghanistan. Discover White House Press Secretary’s age issue, and more!
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This is a week of faithful celebration. On Monday and Tuesday nights, Jewish families and friends in the United States and around the world gathered for a Seder to commemorate the Exodus from Egypt and the triumph of hope and perseverance over injustice and oppression. On Sunday, my family will join other Christians all over the world in marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And while we worship in different ways, we also remember the shared spirit of humanity that inhabits us all – Jews and Christians, Muslims and Hindus, believers and nonbelievers alike. Amid the storm of public debate, with our 24/7 media cycle, in a town like Washington that’s consumed with the day-to-day, it can sometimes be easy to lose sight of the eternal. Continue Reading →
Why do presidents use so many pens to sign legislation? White House Staff Secretary Lisa Brown explains. Video from the White House
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President Obama signs the historic health care reform bill into law. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody. Please, have a seat.Thank you, Joe. (Laughter.)THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good to be with you, Mr. President. (Laughter.)THE PRESIDENT: Today, after almost a century of trying; today, after over a year of debate; today, after all the votes have been tallied — health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America. (Applause.) Today.It is fitting that Congress passed this historic legislation this week. For as we mark the turning of spring, we also mark a new season in America. In a few moments, when I sign this bill, all of the overheated rhetoric over reform will finally confront the reality of reform. (Applause.)And while the Senate still has a last round of improvements to make on this historic legislation — and these are improvements I’m confident they will make swiftly — (applause) — the bill I’m signing will set in motion reforms that generations of Americans have fought for, and marched for, and hungered to see.It will take four years to implement fully many of these reforms, because we need to implement them responsibly. We need to get this right. But a host of desperately needed reforms will take effect right away. (Applause.)This year, we’ll start offering tax credits to about 4 million small businessmen and women to help them cover the cost of insurance for their employees. (Applause.) That happens this year.This year, tens of thousands of uninsured Americans with preexisting conditions, the parents of children who have a preexisting condition, will finally be able to purchase the coverage they need. That happens this year. (Applause.)This year, insurance companies will no longer be able to drop people’s coverage when they get sick. (Applause.) They won’t be able to place lifetime limits or restrictive annual limits on the amount of care they can receive. (Applause.)This year, all new insurance plans will be required to offer free preventive care. And this year, young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ policies until they’re 26 years old. That happens this year. (Applause.)And this year, seniors who fall in the coverage gap known as the doughnut hole will start getting some help. They’ll receive $250 to help pay for prescriptions, and that will, over time, fill in the doughnut hole. And I want seniors to know, despite what some have said, these reforms will not cut your guaranteed benefits. (Applause.) In fact, under this law, Americans on Medicare will receive free preventive care without co-payments or deductibles. That begins this year. (Applause.)Once this reform is implemented, health insurance exchanges will be created, a competitive marketplace where uninsured people and small businesses will finally be able to purchase affordable, quality insurance. They will be able to be part of a big pool and get the same good deal that members of Congress get. That’s what’s going to happen under this reform. (Applause.) And when this exchange is up and running, millions of people will get tax breaks to help them afford coverage, which represents the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in history. That’s what this reform is about. (Applause.) This legislation will also lower costs for families and for businesses and for the federal government, reducing our deficit by over $1 trillion in the next two decades. It is paid for. It is fiscally responsible. And it will help lift a decades-long drag on our economy. That’s part of what all of you together worked on and made happen. (Applause.) That our generation is able to succeed in passing this reform is a testament to the persistence — and the character — of the American people, who championed this cause; who mobilized; who organized; who believed that people who love this country can change it.It’s also a testament to the historic leadership — and uncommon courage — of the men and women of the United States Congress, who’ve taken their lumps during this difficult debate. (Laughter.) AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes, we did. (Laughter.)THE PRESIDENT: You know, there are few tougher jobs in politics or government than leading one of our legislative chambers. In each chamber, there are men and women who come from different places and face different pressures, who reach different conclusions about the same things and feel deeply concerned about different things.By necessity, leaders have to speak to those different concerns. It isn’t always tidy; it is almost never easy. But perhaps the greatest — and most difficult — challenge is to cobble together out of those differences the sense of common interest and common purpose that’s required to advance the dreams of all people — especially in a country as large and diverse as ours.And we are blessed by leaders in each chamber who not only do their jobs very well but who never lost sight of that larger mission. They didn’t play for the short term; they didn’t play to the polls or to politics: One of the best speakers the House of Representatives has ever had, Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (Applause.)AUDIENCE: Nancy! Nancy! Nancy! Nancy!THE PRESIDENT: One of the best majority leaders the Senate has ever had, Mr. Harry Reid. (Applause.) To all of the terrific committee chairs, all the members of Congress who did what was difficult, but did what was right, and passed health care reform — not just this generation of Americans will thank you, but the next generation of Americans will thank you. And of course, this victory was also made possible by the painstaking work of members of this administration, including our outstanding Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius — (applause) — and one of the unsung heroes of this effort, an extraordinary woman who led the reform effort from the White House, Nancy-Ann DeParle. Where’s Nancy? (Applause.)Today, I’m signing this reform bill into law on behalf of my mother, who argued with insurance companies even as she battled cancer in her final days.I’m signing it for Ryan Smith, who’s here today. He runs a small business with five employees. He’s trying to do the right thing, paying half the cost of coverage for his workers. This bill will help him afford that coverage.I’m signing it for 11-year-old Marcelas Owens, who’s also here. (Applause.) Marcelas lost his mom to an illness. And she didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford the care that she needed. So in her memory he has told her story across America so that no other children have to go through what his family has experienced. (Applause.)I’m signing it for Natoma Canfield. Natoma had to give up her health coverage after her rates were jacked up by more than 40 percent. She was terrified that an illness would mean she’d lose the house that her parents built, so she gave up her insurance. Now she’s lying in a hospital bed, as we speak, faced with just such an illness, praying that she can somehow afford to get well without insurance. Natoma’s family is here today because Natoma can’t be. And her sister Connie is here. Connie, stand up. (Applause.)I’m signing this bill for all the leaders who took up this cause through the generations — from Teddy Roosevelt to Franklin Roosevelt, from Harry Truman, to Lyndon Johnson, from Bill and Hillary Clinton, to one of the deans who’s been fighting this so long, John Dingell. (Applause.) To Senator Ted Kennedy. (Applause.) And it’s fitting that Ted’s widow, Vicki, is here — it’s fitting that Teddy’s widow, Vicki, is here; and his niece Caroline; his son Patrick, whose vote helped make this reform a reality. (Applause.)I remember seeing Ted walk through that door in a summit in this room a year ago — one of his last public appearances. And it was hard for him to make it. But he was confident that we would do the right thing.Our presence here today is remarkable and improbable. With all the punditry, all of the lobbying, all of the game-playing that passes for governing in Washington, it’s been easy at times to doubt our ability to do such a big thing, such a complicated thing; to wonder if there are limits to what we, as a people, can still achieve. It’s easy to succumb to the sense of cynicism about what’s possible in this country.But today, we are affirming that essential truth — a truth every generation is called to rediscover for itself — that we are not a nation that scales back its aspirations. (Applause.) We are not a nation that falls prey to doubt or mistrust. We don’t fall prey to fear. We are not a nation that does what’s easy. That’s not who we are. That’s not how we got here.We are a nation that faces its challenges and accepts its responsibilities. We are a nation that does what is hard. What is necessary. What is right. Here, in this country, we shape our own destiny. That is what we do. That is who we are. That is what makes us the United States of America. And we have now just enshrined, as soon as I sign this bill, the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care. (Applause.) And it is an extraordinary achievement that has happened because of all of you and all the advocates all across the country.So, thank you. Thank you. God bless you, and may God bless the United States. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.All right, I would now like to call up to stage some of the members of Congress who helped make this day possible, and some of the Americans who will benefit from these reforms. And we’re going to sign this bill.This is going to take a little while. I’ve got to use every pen, so it’s going to take a really long time. (Laughter.) I didn’t practice. (Laughter.)(The bill is signed.) We are done. (Applause.) Continue Reading →
President Obama comments on the House passing the historic health care reform bill.
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening, everybody. Tonight, after nearly 100 years of talk and frustration, after decades of trying, and a year of sustained effort and debate, the United States Congress finally declared that America’s workers and America’s families and America’s small businesses deserve the security of knowing that here, in this country, neither illness nor accident should endanger the dreams they’ve worked a lifetime to achieve. Tonight, at a time when the pundits said it was no longer possible, we rose above the weight of our politics. We pushed back on the undue influence of special interests. We didn’t give in to mistrust or to cynicism or to fear. Instead, we proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things and tackling our biggest challenges. We proved that this government — a government of the people and by the people — still works for the people. I want to thank every member of Congress who stood up tonight with courage and conviction to make health care reform a reality. And I know this wasn’t an easy vote for a lot of people. But it was the right vote. I want to thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her extraordinary leadership, and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn for their commitment to getting the job done. I want to thank my outstanding Vice President, Joe Biden, and my wonderful Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, for their fantastic work on this issue. I want to thank the many staffers in Congress, and my own incredible staff in the White House, who have worked tirelessly over the past year with Americans of all walks of life to forge a reform package finally worthy of the people we were sent here to serve. Today’s vote answers the dreams of so many who have fought for this reform. To every unsung American who took the time to sit down and write a letter or type out an e-mail hoping your voice would be heard — it has been heard tonight. To the untold numbers who knocked on doors and made phone calls, who organized and mobilized out of a firm conviction that change in this country comes not from the top down, but from the bottom up — let me reaffirm that conviction: This moment is possible because of you. Continue Reading →
President Obama addresses the House Democratic Caucus and says that the time is now to vote for health care reform for America. Transcription:
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Everybody, please have a seat.
To Leader Reid, to Steny Hoyer, John Larson, Xavier Becerra, Jim Clyburn, Chris Van Hollen, to an extraordinary leader and extraordinary Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and to all the members here today, thank you very much for having me. (Applause.) Thanks for having me and thanks for your tireless efforts waged on behalf of health insurance reform in this country.
I have the great pleasure of having a really nice library at the White House. And I was tooling through some of the writings of some previous Presidents and I came upon this quote by Abraham Lincoln: “I am not bound to win, but I’m bound to be true. I’m not bound to succeed, but I’m bound to live up to what light I have.”
This debate has been a difficult debate. This process has been a difficult process. And this year has been a difficult year for the American people. When I was sworn in, we were in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Eight hundred thousand people per month were losing their jobs. Millions of people were losing their health insurance. And the financial system was on the verge of collapse.
And this body has taken on some of the toughest votes and some of the toughest decisions in the history of Congress. Not because you were bound to win, but because you were bound to be true. Because each and every one of you made a decision that at a moment of such urgency, it was less important to measure what the polls said than to measure what was right.
A year later, we’re in different circumstances. Because of the actions that you’ve taken, the financial system has stabilized. The stock market has stabilized. Businesses are starting to invest again. The economy, instead of contracting, is now growing again. There are signs that people are going to start hiring again. There’s still tremendous hardship all across the country, but there is a sense that we are making progress — because of you. Continue Reading →
President Obama speaks to a crowd at George Mason Univeristy in Fairfax, Virginia… just a few minutes away from Washington DC. Time stamped twitter notes:
10:29:10;00 Crowd chanting “Yes we can” at Obama’s Virginia health care reform rally.
10:34:25;00 Obama notes that Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, was first President to advocate for health care for everyone in US.
10:35:01;00 Obama: We need health care system that lets everyone have a chance to succeed. Continue Reading →
Remarks by the President on Clean Energy Jobs
OPOWER, Arlington, Virginia
11:43 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. It is great to be here at OPOWER. And just looking around, this looks like a fun place to work. (Laughter.) The work you do here, as we just heard, is making homes more energy efficient, it’s saving people money, it’s generating jobs and it’s putting America on the path to a clean energy future. And I understand last year that you doubled your workforce thanks to Bonnie — (applause) — you’re hoping to hire another hundred workers this year. And so this is a model of what we want to be seeing all across the country. Our goal for the economy is to show similar job growth in the months ahead.
This morning we learned that in February our economy lost an additional 36,000 jobs. Now, this is actually better than expected, considering the severe storms all along the East Coast are estimated to have had a depressing effect on the numbers. And it shows that the measures that we’re taking to turn our economy around are having some impact. But even though it’s better than expected, it’s more than we should tolerate.
Far too many Americans remain out of work. Far too many families are still struggling in these difficult economic times. And that’s why I’m not going to rest, and my administration is not going to rest, in our efforts to help people who are looking to find a job; to help business owners who want to expand feel comfortable hiring again. And we’re not going to rest until our economy is working again for the middle class, and for all Americans.
And that’s why my immediate priority is not only providing relief to people who are out of work, but also to help the private sector create jobs and put America back to work. Earlier this week, after breaking through a political logjam that some of you probably saw if you were watching TV, Congress passed and I signed into law a bill that extends unemployment insurance to help people who’ve been laid off get through these hard times. It also extended COBRA so that folks who’ve lost their jobs don’t lose their health insurance, and it extended financing for small businesses, and makes it possible for 2,000 furloughed transportation workers to go back to work.
So signing this bill and getting relief out the door swiftly is absolutely essential. But it’s only a temporary step. The relief I signed into law will last about a month. And that’s why I’m calling [on] Congress to extend this relief through the end of the year. And because the best form of economic relief is a quality job, I’m also calling on Congress to pass jobs measures that cut taxes, increase lending, incentivize expansion for businesses both large and small. Continue Reading →
President Obama describes how American families will have more control over their health care this year, after health reform passes. Here are a few more points about how health insurance reform measures will benefit Americans this year:
Hold Insurance Companies Accountable:
Eliminate lifetime limits and restrictive annual limits on benefits in all new plans;
Prohibit rescissions of health insurance policies in all individual plans;
Prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions for children in all new plans;
Require premium rebates to enrollees from insurers with high administrative expenditures and require public disclosure of the percent of premiums applied to overhead costs;
Establish a process for the annual review of unreasonable increases in premiums, requiring State insurance commissioners to work with the HHS Secretary and States.
Provide grants to States to support health insurance consumer assistance and ombudsman programs to help consumers;
Ensure consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal new insurance plan decisions;
Require all insurance plans to use uniform coverage documents so consumers can make easy comparisons when shopping for health insurance;
Establish an internet portal to assist Americans in identifying coverage options;
Prohibit insurers from discriminating in favor of highly compensated employees by charging them lower premiums.
Ensure Affordable Choices and Quality Care:
Provide immediate access to insurance for uninsured Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition through a temporary high-risk pool;
Create a temporary re-insurance program for early retirees;
Require new plans to cover an enrollee’s dependent children until age 26;
Require new plans to cover preventive services and immunizations without cost-sharing;
Offer tax credits to small businesses to purchase coverage;
Facilitate administrative simplification to lower health system costs. Continue Reading →
President Obama takes a moment to congratulate our Olympic athletes. Discussing the unity and pride Americans feel in cheering them on, the President relates that sentiment to his own desire for bipartisanship in Washington. He praises the bipartisan meeting days before and talks about moving forward on health reform. Continue Reading →
President Obama talks with US Senators and Representatives of both parties about health care reform. Continue Reading →