President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the commencement ceremony at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga., May 19, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Today, President Obama delivered the commencement address to the 2013 graduates of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA.
“It is one of the great honors of my life to be able to address this gathering here today,” President Obama told the graduates. He spoke about Morehouse’s history, and “ the unique sense of purpose that this place has always infused -- the conviction that this is a training ground not only for individual success, but for leadership that can change the world.”
“Your generation is uniquely poised for success unlike any generation of African Americans that came before it,” President Obama said.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t have work -- because if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that too few of our brothers have the opportunities that you’ve had here at Morehouse. In troubled neighborhoods all across this country -- many of them heavily African American -- too few of our citizens have role models to guide them. Communities just a couple miles from my house in Chicago, communities just a couple miles from here -- they’re places where jobs are still too scarce and wages are still too low; where schools are underfunded and violence is pervasive; where too many of our men spend their youth not behind a desk in a classroom, but hanging out on the streets or brooding behind a jail cell.
My job, as President, is to advocate for policies that generate more opportunity for everybody -- policies that strengthen the middle class and give more people the chance to climb their way into the middle class. Policies that create more good jobs and reduce poverty, and educate more children, and give more families the security of health care, and protect more of our children from the horrors of gun violence. That's my job. Those are matters of public policy, and it is important for all of us -- black, white and brown -- to advocate for an America where everybody has got a fair shot in life. Not just some. Not just a few.
First Lady Delivers Commencement Addresses at Bowie State, Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School
First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks during the Bowie State University commencement at the Comcast Center in College Park, Md., May 17, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
On Friday, First Lady Michelle Obama delivered the commencement address to the Bowie State University Class of 2013. Bowie State, which opened just two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, "was founded not just to educate African Americans, but to teach them how to educate others,” the First Lady explained.
And since then, generations of students from all backgrounds have come to this school to be challenged, inspired and empowered. And they have gone on to become leaders here in Maryland and across this country, running businesses, educating young people, leading the high-tech industries that will power our economy for decades to come.
That is the story of Bowie State University, the commitment to educating our next generation and building ladders of opportunity for anyone willing to work for it. All of you are now part of that story. And with that tremendous privilege comes an important set of responsibilities -- responsibilities that you inherit the moment you leave this stadium with that diploma in your hand.
On Saturday, she traveled to Nashville to speak to the graduating class of Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School. The First Lady took the opportunity to talk to the students – all of whom are going on to higher education or the military – about some of the skills they’ll need as they make their way through college and through life: resilience, grit, and the ability to pick themselves up when they fall.
President Obama talks about his belief that a rising, thriving middle class is the true engine of economic growth, and that to reignite that engine and continue to build on the progress we’ve made over the last four years, we need to invest in three areas: jobs, skills and opportunity.
Obama Cares: On the Friday before Mother’s Day, President Obama explained how the Affordable Care Act is helping women. For example, the law prevents insurance companies from charging women more than men and requires insurance companies to cover preventive services like mammograms free of charge.
Thanks to the women in this room and people all across the country, we worked really hard -- and it’s now been more than three years since Congress passed the Affordable Care Act and I signed it into law. It’s been nearly a year since the Supreme Court upheld the law under the Constitution. And, by the way, six months ago, the American people went to the polls and decided to keep going in this direction. So the law is here to stay.
The President asked Americans to learn the facts about the Affordable Care Act and the wide array of benefits the law is already providing. You can visit WhiteHouse.gov/HealthReform and HealthCare.gov to see what the law does for your family.
Make sure you know what the actual facts are, because you stand to benefit if you’re not already benefiting from this thing. Don’t let people confuse you. Don’t let them run the okiedoke on you. Don’t be bamboozled.
The nearly 85% of Americans who have health insurance are already benefiting from the Affordable Care Act. Now the White House is asking Americans from across the country to speak now in support of health care reform. Lend your name, share your story, and be part of making the law a success here.
As the single largest consumer of energy in the United States, the Department of Defense (DOD) knows that improving efficiency and harnessing new energy technologies is imperative – not only to achieve significant cost savings, but to give our troops better energy options on the battlefield, at sea, in the air, and at home.
At DOD’s fixed installations alone – including, barracks, offices, and hospitals – energy bills come in around $4 billion each year. Given this large footprint as well as the importance of safe, secure, and affordable energy sources to mission readiness, the Department has made one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history, by developing a goal to deploy three gigawatts of renewable energy – including solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal – on Army, Navy, and Air Force installations by 2025 – enough to power 750,000 homes.
When it comes specifically to solar power, a new report today from the Solar Energy Industries Association underscores the progress that DOD is making towards its goals.
“Enlisting the Sun: Powering the U.S. Military with Solar Energy” highlights solar energy’s growing role in powering military installations and military homes across America. According to the report, as of early 2013, there are more than 130 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems powering Navy, Army, and Air Force bases in at least 31 states and the District of Columbia. Combined, these installations provide enough clean energy to power more than 20,000 American homes.
Today at the White House, we convened the 10th annual meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Secretary of State Kerry led the meeting, which was attended by Cabinet secretaries and representatives from agencies including State, Justice, Defense, Labor, Human and Health Services, Homeland Security, Interior, Agriculture, Transportation, Education, as well as USAID, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Office of Management and Budget, and White House policy offices.
Each department, agency, and office shared their strategies to prevent trafficking, protect victims, prosecute offenders, and partner with civil society— both at home and around the world.
We reflected on the significant progress we have made over the last year, as well as the work left to do.
Cabinet secretaries, senior agency officials, and senior White House staff met at the White House as part of the President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons on May 17, 2013. (Photo by Avra Siegel)
Last September, during his speech on human trafficking at the Clinton Global Initiative, President Obama announced several initiatives that build off the strong record of this task force.
These initiatives cover a wide range of areas, from government contracting regulation, to more coordinated responses to trafficking, to better victim services, to innovative public-private partnerships that will create technology tools for survivors and law enforcement.
The meeting today follows the first-ever White House Forum on Human Trafficking last month, as well as the convening of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships that focus its entire report on human trafficking the next day. Furthermore, we celebrated the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in March.
Today, we each committed to specific goals to combat trafficking.
Yesterday, President Obama demonstrated his continued commitment to increasing the diversity of our federal judiciary, so that it better reflects the nation it serves. He nominated four distinguished women to serve on four different courts—women who not only have the necessary intellect, integrity and fair-mindedness to serve as federal judges, but whose nominations also represent important “firsts” in their state or district:
- If confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Judge Carolyn McHugh would be the first woman from Utah to serve on that court. Currently, the Tenth Circuit only has one woman judge serving among its nine active members.
- Pamela Reeves and Elizabeth Wolford would be the first women to serve as district court judges in the Eastern District of Tennessee and Western District of New York, respectively, if confirmed.
- Debra Brown would be the first African-American district court judge to serve in the Northern District of Mississippi and the first African-American woman to serve as an Article III judge in the entire state of Mississippi, if confirmed.
President Obama’s judicial nominees already have broken the gender barrier in circuit courts in six states, as well as nine district courts, and have shattered dozens of glass ceilings for minorities. And on Monday, the Senate will consider the nomination of Michael McShane to be a district court judge in Oregon; if confirmed, he would be the fifth openly gay judge appointed by President Obama, compared to only one in history before.
President Barack Obama participates in a literacy lesson with children while visiting a pre-kindergarten classroom at Moravia Elementary School in Baltimore, Md., May 17, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Today, President Obama is headed to Baltimore, Maryland to talk early childhood education, infrastructure and ensuring that hard work leads to a decent living.
The President’s first stop today was at Moravia Park Elementary School, where he took part in a literacy lesson with pre-k students. The students are part of the school’s Judy Center, which provides comprehensive early childhood services including Head Start, child care, intervention services and family engagement. (Learn more about President Obama’s plan to expand access to high-quality preschool to every child in America)
A class of third graders from North Philadelphia recently wrote to Vice President Biden about reducing gun violence. This week, the Vice President sat down to share some of these children's words with you — and an expression that belonged to his mom: "out of the mouths of babes come gems of wisdom." Take a listen.
President Obama today signed a Presidential Memorandum that will shave months, and even years, off the time it takes to review and approve major infrastructure projects. This means that states, local governments, and private developers will be able to start construction sooner, create jobs earlier, and fix our nation’s infrastructure faster.
On March 22, 2012, the President issued an Executive Order launching a government-wide initiative to improve the efficiency of federal review and permitting of infrastructure projects. Since then, agencies have expedited the review and permitting of 50 major projects, including bridges, transit , railways, waterways, roads, and renewable energy projects.
Federal agencies have also identified a set of best practices for efficient review and permitting. Those range from expanding information technology (IT) tools to strategies - like simultaneous review - for improving collaboration. Today’s Presidential Memorandum directs all relevant agencies to put these best practices into effect.
Cutting red tape and streamlining the process for making permitting decisions will help us meet the President’s goal of cutting in half the timelines for major infrastructure projects, while creating better outcomes for our communities and for the environment.
The President’s initiative is already showing real results. For example, this afternoon, President Obama and Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari will visit Baltimore, where we sped up the approval process for the city’s Red Line rail transit corridor by six months.
We also recently expedited Federal approval for the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project in New York. By speeding up the approval process, Federal agencies trimmed up to three years off the timeline for this multi-billion dollar project that will help put Americans back to work.
This week, the President honored fallen officers and top cops, spoke on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, invited both the Prime Minister of England and of Turkey to the White House, and kicked off a new Google hangout series on science and technology.
This afternoon, David Simas sent the message below to the White House email list, asking people to speak out in favor of the health care law. If you didn't get the email, be sure to sign up.
Hi all --
Today, Republicans in the House of Representatives are going to come together, cast a vote, and try to repeal the Affordable Care Act just as they've done nearly 40 times before.
Don't expect much to come of it.
The health care law was passed by Congress, signed by the President, and upheld by the Supreme Court. It's been the law of the land for more than three years. It's not going anywhere. We know that, and so do the lawmakers on Capitol Hill. But instead of creating jobs and growing the economy, some of them want to make yet another gesture of protest -- even if it's meaningless.
So we're responding with a little gesture of our own, and we need your help.
We're asking people like you to speak out, to let us know if you're one of the 85 percent of Americans who've already benefitted from the health care law, and make a public stand in support of Obamacare.
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey hold a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 16, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
Following their bilateral meeting this morning, President Obama and Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey held a press conference in the Rose Garden this afternoon.
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey hold a bilateral meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, May 16, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
The President highlighted three areas of focus the two leaders discussed: expanding trade and investment between the U.S. and Turkey, mutual security, and the issue of Syria.
President Barack Obama hugs students during a visit to a pre-kindergarten classroom at the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center in Decatur, Ga., Feb. 14, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
As a working mom, I know how hard it is to find good child care so that I can have some peace of mind when I come to work. At ACF, we’ve been working hard to strengthen the nation’s child care system so that moms and dads, especially moms and dads with the fewest resources, can have better child care choices while they work to support their families.
In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama made a historic commitment to young children, making it a priority to ensure that “none of our children start the race of life already behind.” Improving child care is an important part of this effort and a key component of the President’s Plan for Early Education for All Americans.
Today, HHS announces a big new step in this direction - new proposed regulations for the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), which is administered here at the Office of Child Care. CCDF supports 1.6 million children in child care each month and invests over $1 billion each year in quality improvements like teacher training and grants to child care programs. All over the country, child care providers are dedicated to preparing children for school success. Despite the terrific efforts of public and private organizations around the country, there are some critical gaps in our child care programs. Some children are in child care settings that don’t meet basic health and safety standards. Often, there is a lack of useful comparative information for parents choosing child care. The new regulations are intended to close some of those gaps.
Just after 6:00 PM ET, President Obama spoke from the East Room of the White House about the Treasury Department's review of the Internal Revenue Service.
"I’ve reviewed the Treasury Department watchdog’s report, and the misconduct that it uncovered is inexcusable," he said. "It’s inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it. I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives. And as I said earlier, it should not matter what political stripe you’re from -- the fact of the matter is, is that the IRS has to operate with absolute integrity. The government generally has to conduct itself in a way that is true to the public trust. That’s especially true for the IRS."
Today, the President and Vice President released their 2012 financial disclosure reports.
The Ethics in Government Act of 1978 requires high-level federal officials to publicly disclose their personal financial interests. The public filing system serves to prevent financial conflicts of interest by providing for a systematic review of the finances of government officials. Those finances are set forth in annual disclosures which are reviewed and certified by ethics officials. Neither the President nor the Vice President have any conflicts of interest, and their reports have been reviewed and certified by the independent Office of Government Ethics. We are continuing this Administration's practice of posting these forms online here in the interests of transparency:
White House staff are also completing their forms and we anticipate they will be available here next month, also in electronic form.
For more information
President Barack Obama bows his head after placing a flower in a wreath during the National Peace Officers Memorial Service, an annual ceremony honoring law enforcement who were killed in the line of duty in the previous year, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. May 15, 2013. Chuck Canterbury, National President, Fraternal Order of Police and Linda Hennie, President, FOP Auxiliary stand with the President. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Today, President Obama spoke at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service, an annual ceremony honoring law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in the previous year.
The President said that the 143 officers honored today “exemplified the very idea of citizenship -- that with our God-given rights come responsibilities and obligations to ourselves and to others.”
They embodied that idea. That’s the way they died. That’s how we must remember them. And that’s how we must live.
We can never repay our debt to these officers and their families, but we must do what we can, with all that we have, to live our lives in a way that pays tribute to their memory.
On May 16th, the White House is kicking off “We the Geeks,” a new series of Google+ Hangouts to highlight the future of science, technology, and innovation here in the United States. Topics such as commercial space exploration, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, turning science fiction to science fact, and others will be discussed with Administration officials and key private sector contributors.
The first "We the Geeks" Hangout will focus on Grand Challenges, ambitious goals on a national or global scale that capture the imagination and demand advances in innovation and breakthroughs in science and technology. Grand Challenges are an important element of President Obama’s Strategy for American Innovation. On April 2nd, the President called on companies, research universities, foundations, and philanthropists to join with him in identifying and pursuing the Grand Challenges of the 21st century.
On Friday, May 17th at 10:00am MT (12:00pm ET), Dr. Biden will give the commencement address to the 33rd graduating class of Navajo Technical College (NTC) -- one of two tribal colleges serving the Navajo Nation.
Many of the programs at NTC are designed to help create new jobs and economic opportunities on or near the Navajo Nation, while equipping their students with the skills they need to succeed in those jobs.
You can watch live using the video player below.
(Jeff Martin, National Women’s Law Center)
During his State of the Union address in February, President Obama called on Congress to expand access to high-quality preschool to every four-year old in America. As the President put it that day:
In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, like Georgia or Oklahoma, studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own. We know this works. So let’s do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let’s give our kids that chance.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure to meet with mothers, leaders, and tireless advocates that understand that the best investment we can make as a country is in our children’s future.
The coalition came to the White House to deliver 30,000 letters and art work thanking the President for his proposal to make high-quality preschool available for all children – and I used the opportunity to thank them for all their hard work, and to hear from them about the work they continue to do advocating for children.
They understand that for every dollar spent on high-quality early education, we save more than seven dollars in the long run by boosting kindergarten readiness, graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, and even reducing violent crime. They also understand that providing our children with the best start possible in life is not only a moral imperative, but an economic imperative that will benefit our communities and our nation far into the future.