Barack Obama

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“The President came to my rescue”

Barack Obama - Fri, 03/25/2011 - 01:49
"The President Came to My Rescue"

Ellie Phillips had a big problem that was really starting to wear on her—mentally and financially. Her problem was the cost of adequate health care. She had health insurance, so at least she was covered should something sudden and dire happen. But she was self-employed and had a pre-existing condition causing the cost of care to spiral upward.

“It was a constant source of pain and trouble for me, and I didn’t know what I was going to do. But the President came to my rescue,” she explains.

Originally from Arkansas, Ellie ended up in the Washington, D.C., area through a placement with AmeriCorps. She loved working in the nonprofit world, helping change people's lives for the better. After her time with AmeriCorps ended, Ellie eventually started her own nonprofit, helping people find jobs and running a GED program to help people get ready for college. When the recession hit, donations dried up, and as it became increasingly difficult to raise funds she had to close the doors on her business in 2009.

Ellie believes in the American Dream, and the idea that if you pay into the system, if you work hard grinding away in your corner of the country—whatever it is that you do to further along the Great Society—the system will take care of you when you need it to. This is what previous generations fought for—the ability to have a lifeline to reach out for should you need it.

For many Americans this dream has come true. But the reality of our previous health insurance system was that many Americans fell through the cracks into desperate situations. All of a sudden the job you were working disappears, and a month's rent payment becomes your month’s medical bills—or worse. This is particularly important when you have a pre-existing condition that puts affordable, quality health care out of your day-to-day reality.

“I was paying $430 for thirty pills because I had already exceeded my $1,500 prescription limit," Ellie explained. "The staff at the pharmacy would cringe when I would come in because they knew how bad it was.” Even with health insurance, she could barely afford to get by.

When she called the insurance company to find out if something could be done to help, she got the run-around—until, finally, saving grace came in the form of a nice woman on the other end of the phone at the insurance company. The woman told Ellie what she needed to do was cancel her program and then reapply for the same program: because of health care reform, the prescription from her preexisting condition would now be covered.

“I was absolutely shocked that the federal government came to my rescue in a crisis. I haven’t voted since 2000, but I’m definitely voting in 2012,” she says with a laugh. “President Obama could have gone the easy route instead of trying to fix heath care, but the fact is that he saved me.”

The Affordable Care Act has helped Ellie and others like her get back on their feet. She is going back to school now and looking for a job, without the crushing burden of health care costs.

“I don’t understand why anyone is scared of health care reform in this country. Put yourself in my shoes. There’s a prescription that is greatly helping you, but it cost $430 a month in addition to what you are already paying for insurance. What would you do? I’m not asking for a handout, I just want something for the money I’m paying, and the changes that have happened with the ACA are helping me greatly.”
Categories: Barack Obama, celebrities

One Year of the Affordable Care Act

Barack Obama - Thu, 03/24/2011 - 20:31

To mark the first anniversary of the Affordable Care Act being signed into law, Vice President Joe Biden looks back at the work that was done to achieve reform and the benefits it has brought, and will bring, for millions of Americans across the country.

To find out how health reform is helping you, your friends, and your family, take the Health Reform Checkup.

Categories: Barack Obama, celebrities

Next to You: The Ihle Family

Barack Obama - Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:49

On the one-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, Vice President Biden wrote a message to supporters in celebration of this historic milestone. In this email, the Vice President highlighted Kari and Justin Ihle, and their son William:

Justin and Kari live in Brooklyn Park, right outside of Minneapolis. They're parents to three children. Their three-year-old, William, was born with a genetic disorder called tuberous sclerosis complex.

For the rest of his life, William will wrestle with tumors in his brain, his heart, his kidneys, his skin, and possibly other major organs. He must take medication to control seizures and faces the threat of kidney disease.

What Justin and Kari want for William is a future. And because of health reform, that's what he'll have.

Learn more about how health reform helps people you know – take the Health Reform Checkup.

Categories: Barack Obama, celebrities

“We saw William’s future in health care reform”

Barack Obama - Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:22

One year ago today, health reform was signed into law. In the weeks leading up to the anniversary, we traveled across the nation to find out how the Affordable Care Act is affecting people’s lives. We found that progress is real – and this change can best be understood case by case, as seen in the homes and heard through the mouths of real people, one story at a time.

This is one of those stories.

The murmur was faint, very slight, but she was sure it was there. The doctor making her regular rounds listened to William’s heart. He was only one day old, and she hoped she was wrong. She had enough doubt to ask for a second opinion, for another set of trained ears to listen in, to pinpoint the abnormal sound. The second doctor couldn’t hear it, neither could a third.

Still, she knew she had heard something. The doctor told Justin and Kari Ihle it was best to get their newborn son’s heartbeat checked out, but that it was probably nothing, many newborns have heart murmurs.

For the proud parents, joy had become worry, and suddenly all those midnight thoughts you keep in the dark recesses of your mind start to lap over the carefully constructed levee of positivity. “What if?” immediately becomes the dominant theme. But health scares are common, and the “It could be…” typically ends up being “It’s fine.”

 At least, that is what you keep telling yourself.

Six weeks later, they sat in the doctor’s office, saying nothing because they did not have the breath for it. They were speechless as the diagnosis came out of the pediatric cardiologist’s mouth.

“Your son has four tumors in his heart,” said the doctor, as he explained William could have Tuberous Sclerosis Complex. They had never heard of TSC before, not many people have. TSC is a rare genetic disease that causes tumors to grow in many vital organs of the body, including the brain, heart and kidneys. Tests later confirmed the condition.

Driving home from the diagnosis, Kari told Justin, “You can never quit your job.” Justin had great health insurance though his work, covering the family, and this health insurance would become William’s lifeboat through constant tests, checkups, and medications.

But what if something happened? This thought would continue to echo through the young family’s minds, and even though he was doing well at work Justin was constantly haunted by the idea he wasn’t doing well enough. He manages internal communications for a company in the medical device industry, and even when he would get 20 positive comments on a project, if there was some slight slant to a conversation he perceived as negative, his thoughts would start running away from him. The economic downturn hit the family hard, as Kari, an interior designer, struggled to find projects.

But that all changed one year ago. After the passage of the Affordable Care Act, children like William who are fighting through chronic lifelong conditions can no longer be denied health insurance – and when he grows up, he won't have to worry about being denied either.

“It was such a giant relief knowing that even if the worst happened and I lost my job or had to change jobs, William will still be able to get coverage,” Justin explained.

Justin and Kari tell their story as William and their other two kids, Peyton, six, and Grace, one, circle around us, an energetic kid tornado. The Ihle house sits in a suburban neighborhood north of Minneapolis called Brooklyn Park, tucked into the deep end of a cozy cul-de-sac. In the center of their street lies a small park and a playground, and though it’s 25 degrees outside, half a dozen neighborhood kids swing and play, with giant jackets making them look like plump colorful moving marshmallows covered up against the cold. It’s late winter and snow still covers the ground in every direction, a gray sky mutes the day, and a slight wind bends the trees and chills you through your clothes when you step outside.

William seems perfect, cute in his blue sweater, not shy in the least. He is now almost four, and a rambunctious ball of constant movement. He has seizures every other day, and is on his 4th anti-seizure medication, which his parents have to give him every morning. The magic age for the Ihle’s was two years. At the age of two months William had an MRI, and they found tumors in his brain. If he started having seizures before the age of two, his brain wouldn’t have had time to develop and he might have had significant developmental issues. Every seizure-free day before the two-year mark was a gift. He made it to two and a half without seizing, which was a mixed blessing: it had started, but there was enough of a window to have the best chance possible for normal brain development.

Their house is warm and spotless, except for the basement, where toys of all shapes and sizes blanket the room. Kari and Justin are direct, calm, and honest when discussing their son’s condition. Kari and Justin are direct, calm, and honest when discussing their son’s condition. They banter back and forth, finishing each other’s sentences, each letting their partner speak but jumping in to correct—their conversation a partnership.

They both exude an unrelenting positive attitude, a sense of strength, and are very open and honest about their hopes and concerns. The tumors in William’s heart will decrease in size over time, but as he ages other problems associated with TSC could creep up. He already has a tumor in one of his kidneys, which needs to be watched closely as he progresses. And there could also be skin and sight issues as well.

Still, they are upbeat when discussing the future. The fact they are even together is a testament to the power of fate. Initially friends in college, they ended up in love after a chance meeting, in a place they both rarely went. They hadn’t seen each other in a year. Justin had saved a slip of paper with Kari’s home address on it, and when Justin brought it up, Kari refused to believe he still had it. He produced it from his wallet to her astonishment. They were engaged less than a year later.

“Things could be so much worse,” Kari says, when pressed further about their lives. “You hear all these horrible stories from other families with the same condition, I’m just glad for every day we get with William because he is a wonderful child.”

On the anniversary of health reform, stories like the Ihle’s should be kept in the front of our minds as we discuss this issue. Because it is children like William, and parents like Justin and Kari, who are affected most by this progress. William has other battles to fight, much more important ones, and he shouldn’t have to grow up fighting the insurance companies too.

“Before health care reform, William would have been basically uninsurable once he came off our insurance. We saw William’s future in health-care reform -- [it] has had an incredibly positive impact on our lives,” Justin starts, but Kari finishes.

“Before health care reform, William’s future was bleak. It’s so comforting to us that he’s going to be able to do what he wants to do, to really live in the future.“

Categories: Barack Obama, celebrities

Next To You

Barack Obama - Wed, 03/23/2011 - 21:42

Someone you know has been helped by health reform. In the year since the President signed the Affordable Care Act into law, millions of Americans have benefited from the reforms it introduced.

Today, Vice President Joe Biden wrote to supporters to share the story of one Minnesota family whose two-year-old son now has a brighter future thanks to health reform. Read the Vice President’s message below and then take the Health Reform Checkup to find out how the Affordable Care Act has helped those around you.

I want to tell you about a family in Minnesota.

Justin and Kari live in Brooklyn Park, right outside of Minneapolis. They're parents to three children. Their three-year-old, William, was born with a genetic disorder called tuberous sclerosis complex.

For the rest of his life, William will wrestle with tumors in his brain, his heart, his kidneys, his skin, and possibly other major organs. He must take medication to control seizures and faces the threat of kidney disease.

What Justin and Kari want for William is a future. And because of health reform, that's what he'll have.

Today, insurance companies are no longer able to discriminate against William because of the condition he's dealt with since birth. Now, Justin and Kari know they'll be able to get the kind of care that William needs—today and into the future.

Their story isn't unique, but it's one of many that need to be told. We all know people whose lives have been changed because of the Affordable Care Act, even if we don't realize it. So we've found a way to show exactly how reform is working for all of us—for our parents, our siblings, our kids, us.

Will you take a minute to take our Health Reform Checkup and let the people you love know how reform is working for them?

Before the Affordable Care Act, Justin and Kari weren't sure about the future. They worried that they'd never be able to find coverage for William again if Justin lost his job. They worried about the life that William would lead—whether he'd ever be able to work or support a family.

Not anymore. William's condition isn't going away, but he'll always be able to get care. The Affordable Care Act is one year old today, and it has already changed William's life—and this country—for good.

Today, there are families who feel better about the future than they did a year ago. They've found some security, some relief. And these are people we know. They're our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends, our families—the people next to us everyday.

On the one-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, I think we have a duty to discuss how reform is already working.

Watch Justin and Kari tell their story, and take a moment to learn how health reform is changing the lives of those you know.

A year ago, I stood next to the President as he signed health reform into law—and we have you to thank for making that possible

Yours,

Joe

Take the Health Reform Checkup here.

Categories: Barack Obama, celebrities

Health Reform: A Surprise Call From The President

Barack Obama - Wed, 03/23/2011 - 04:19

While telling his health care story to the White House, Erick Moberg received a phone call from an unlikely source: President Obama.

Watch the video below as Erick takes this surprise phone call:

Erick Moberg is graduating college in the spring, and because of health reform, he will be able to keep his health coverage even after he graduates. Erick will benefit from the Affordable Care Act, like so many in his age group, who now will be able to stay on a parent’s health insurance until they turn 26.

Here’s Erick’s story:

Erick is currently a senior at Michigan State University and his dream is to attend medical school at his grandfather’s alma mater in Missouri. Erick was always interested in medicine, but he was inspired after speaking to the doctors who treated his mother when she had quadruple bypass surgery.

After he graduates this spring, Erick will be taking a year to enhance his skills and prepare his application. Under the old insurance rules, he would have been forced off his parent’s health insurance plan. But now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Erick will be able to stay on his mother’s plan.

Categories: Barack Obama, celebrities

“Let me introduce you to someone who it really helped”

Barack Obama - Tue, 03/22/2011 - 21:17

A year ago this week, health reform was signed into law. In the weeks leading up to the anniversary, we traveled across the nation to find out how the Affordable Care Act is affecting people’s lives. We found that progress is real – and this change can best be understood case by case, as seen in the homes and heard through the mouths of real people, one story at a time.

This is one of those stories.

Janet Acker was waiting for her check to cash. After all the years of paying into the system, after years working as a teacher, and raising two children of her own, it had come down to this -- wracking her nerves while watching her bank account, unsure of whether or not she had a medical safety net.

Janet is a cancer survivor, had no health insurance, with another 15 months to go before she turned 65 and could apply for Medicare. But because of the Affordable Care Act, she now had a chance.

“I knew if [the insurance company] cashed my check, I would be covered. My husband and I knew that, thanks to health reform, they had to cover me. But it took them a long time to cash that check” Janet says with a laugh. She laughs big and often, and exudes a positive tone even when talking about the worst of subjects. “They tell me I put the CAN in cancer.”

When she tells her story, she talks about health reform in a patient, measured tone, one you can tell was cultivated by decades of explaining concepts to young kids. She taught 1st grade for 38 years, the bulk of that time in Washington State, eventually moving to Palm Springs when her husband’s mother took a turn for the worse. Though Janet’s cancer diagnosis was world shattering, she was able to beat the disease through radiation therapy and a positive attitude. She was covered by a group policy though work throughout her health struggle, but once she retired and COBRA ran out, she ran into problems. And this was when she came up against the wall of the former system.

“I was with the same insurance company for 41 years. I tried to get an individual policy, and they refused to cover me, they told me I was uninsurable. It was absolutely devastating. I didn’t want to bankrupt my family if I got cancer again. It was a very hard time.”

She started looking into alternative ways to get her medication; Canada and Mexico were starting to look like her only affordable options. She contemplated just going without insurance. She talked to her doctors and asked if she could wait 15 months before her next check-up; they told her “absolutely not,” she had to come in.

She was angry, frustrated that she had paid into the system during her healthy years, only to be turned down when she needed help the most. Her doctors were also angry; they had many other patients who were in similar situations and were disgusted at the insurance companies for dropping them.  

But with the passage of health reform, Janet and other Americans like her are now no longer discriminated against because of their past medical history or pre-existing conditions.

“This helps out so many people. I was giving a talk to a group not too long ago, and I asked how many people were looking forward to turning 65, so they could get Medicare, and they all raised their hands! People are actually looking forward to getting older.”    

Her house is a perfect retirement statement: The endless desert sun, the pictures of the grandkids, citrus trees dotting the green back lawn, monstrous lemons the size of small melons, a garden with plump tomatoes and fresh lettuce. She makes lemonade as the harsh winter desert light spills through the kitchen windows, gutting the fruit with a juicer, filling a big bowl with the tart liquid, as she talks about health reform and how opponents just need to hear the stories of people whom reform has helped -- how that is the only way to actually see the progress we’ve achieved, the change that has been realized.

She swims a couple of times a week, doing water aerobics with ladies a little older than she is. After their hour-long class they get in the hot tub and visit. One day, as they were soaking up the warming power of the bubbles and jet streams, they started talking about health care. A lot of these women had never been without health insurance and most of them are now on Medicare. During the debate one of the ladies said she had never heard of anyone whom health reform had actually helped. 

Janet lets her big smile go wider as she highlights this part of the conversation. “I raised my hand, and said ‘Let me introduce you to someone who it really helped.’ And I told them my story, about getting cancer, how at first I couldn’t get coverage. And they were horrified. When I told them how this has effected me, how it’s changed my life, they agreed that maybe this is a good thing. And I said ‘No, it’s a great thing.’” 

Categories: Barack Obama, celebrities

Take the Health Reform Checkup

Barack Obama - Tue, 03/22/2011 - 03:31

Did you know that health reform is helping millions of Americans like you and your loved ones to lead healthier lives? Take the Health Reform Checkup to find out how.

A year ago this week President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. In just 12 months, the benefits this historic legislation introduced are already at work, improving care for millions of Americans--your friends and your neighbors, your parents and your children.

Thanks to health reform, children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage, seniors can receive preventative treatments for free, and insurance companies must now spend at least 80 percent of premiums on proving care rather than doling out shareholder profits and executive bonuses.

And that's just the beginning. Health reform is improving the lives of those around you. Find out how the Affordable Care Act is helping by taking the Health Reform Checkup, and then let your loved ones know how reform works for them--now and in the future.

Take the Health Reform Checkup here.

Categories: Barack Obama, celebrities

“It’s because of health care reform that I’ll be able to make this happen”

Barack Obama - Tue, 03/22/2011 - 01:21

A year ago this week, health reform was signed into law. In the weeks leading up to the anniversary, we traveled across the nation to find out how the Affordable Care Act is affecting people’s lives. We found that progress is real – and this change can best be understood case by case, as seen in the homes and heard through the mouths of real people, one story at a time.

This is one of those stories.

At Dr. Suparna Damany’s Physical Therapy clinic in Allentown, PA, the handprints on the walls are a constant reminder, both to the people who feel pain and the people who seek to cure it, that hope truly can lead to health. They’re everywhere around the practice, dozens and dozens of them, in every exam room: multi-colored murals with mini-stories scratched in marker surrounding the imprints, each about a personal quest to a pain-free life.

According to Dr. Damany:

When they’re done with therapy, we give patients a glove and whatever color of paint they want. And since they’re all over the office, the handprints serve to let people see that healing is possible. We get a lot of patients here who have not had success with their conditions before, and when they see all the success stories, it gives them a sense of hope, and something to look forward to – they want to see their print on the wall.

She talks about this artistic wall decor and her medical mission of one-on-one patient care with an undercurrent of subtle pride. But when she talks about the business side of the medical industry, and her current situation, she is much more direct. She has to be – the fiscal realities of running a small business can be daunting, especially in the medical field.

Costs are going up and reimbursements from the insurance companies are going down. Also, I feel morally obligated to provide all my employees with health insurance, and our cost there has been going up as well. So it becomes harder and harder to run the practice.

But one year after the Affordable Care act was signed into law, Dr. Damany is excited about how health reform is affecting her practice and her bottom-line. Thanks to tax credits, she has been able to hire on an additional physical therapist. The positive impact of a substantial tax credit can’t be overstated in a small-business climate where costs are going up but revenue is often going down.

As things progress, I’m looking forward to bringing on more staff, and investing in new equipment. And it’s because of health care reform that I’ll be able to make this happen.

Originally from India, Dr. Damany moved to Pennsylvania to attend Temple, and settled in Allentown because she fell in love with its small-town charm. After first working in the hospital system, she eventually started her own clinic, feeling a more intimate approach would yield better results when dealing with patients who have chronic pain conditions.

The model worked, and after starting off with one employee, she now has five full-time and three part-time physical therapists seeing about 120 patients a week, who come from all over the country to try her clinic’s creative approach. The more she opens up about her practice the more you understand why her business is successful. Everything seems to be about community, every one of her employees is a valuable member contributing to the goal of helping patients.

In small businesses across the country, the benefits of health reform are being felt – whether that means giving owners the ability to hire new workers, or provide better benefits for the workers they have. And these small businesses are the backbone of their local communities.

Dr. Damany explains:

I’m in a service profession, my job is to change the community into a healthy community. People need to understand health care reform, though it helps us on the business side, is really about increasing the health of the people.

Categories: Barack Obama, celebrities

Weekly Address: American Jobs Through Exports to Latin America

Barack Obama - Mon, 03/21/2011 - 05:02

As President Obama closely monitors the crises in Japan and Libya, he discusses his trip to Latin America and his administration’s efforts to strengthen America’s relationships abroad and broaden international markets for U.S. products.

Categories: Barack Obama, celebrities

Become a Summer Organizer

Barack Obama - Sat, 03/19/2011 - 04:06

Organizing for America is looking for its next class of summer organizers. This program trains individuals committed to change to become effective organizers in their communities and across the country. They’ll learn the strategies that have powered successful grassroots movements, like the one that helped elect President Obama.

Summer organizers will work in communities throughout the country to organize supporters street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood. They will recruit volunteers, run events, knock on doors, and work hard to support the President and Democrats across the country.

Read OFA’s FAQ about the Summer Organizer Program and then apply online today.
Categories: Barack Obama, celebrities

President Obama: Jobs at top of Latin America agenda

Barack Obama - Sat, 03/19/2011 - 02:21

President Obama penned an op-ed in this morning’s USA Today, outlining the objectives of his upcoming five-day visit to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador. Amid growing turmoil around the world, America plays an important role in promoting safety and stability—from democracy in the Middle East to recovery efforts in Japan. But a top priority of the President’s is spurring economic productivity and creating jobs right here at home.

Last month, the U.S. economy added 222,000 private-sector jobs and the unemployment rate dropped to a two-year low, 8.9 percent. President Obama is focused on continuing our economic progress and helping America become more competitive across the globe. His trip to Latin America is part of that effort.

This diplomatic visit aims to strengthen the United States’ relationship with a major consumer of our national exports.  The President wrote:

Every $1 billion we export supports more than 5,000 jobs here at home. That's why last year, I set a goal for this country: to double our exports of goods and services by 2014. And we are on track to meet this goal: exports were up 17% in 2010.

The impressive growth that we've seen in Latin America in recent years is good for the people of the hemisphere, and it's good for us. Thanks in part to our trade agreements across the region, we now export three times as much to Latin America as we do to China, and our exports to the region — which are growing faster than our exports to the rest of the world — will soon support more than 2 million jobs here in the United States.

The President closed by stating that the United States and Latin America are partners with shared goals:

Our neighbors in the Americas are bound to us by shared history, values and interests. What I will convey this week is that we are partners in progress. Strengthening these partnerships will advance the common prosperity and common security of all our people, creating new jobs and new growth across the hemisphere, and helping our economy remain an engine of strength and opportunity for all our people.

You can read the President’s full article here.

Categories: Barack Obama, celebrities

“A Turning Point in My Life”: OFA Summer Organizer Program

Barack Obama - Thu, 03/17/2011 - 23:05

What are you doing this summer? Organizing for America is recruiting talented folks who want to make a difference in their community to take part in our Summer Organizer Program.

Folks like Lauren Coffee, who is now a regional field director (RFD) in Dallas, Texas.

Q. Why did you apply to be a summer organizer?
A. Like many other people, upon graduation from college I was unable to find a job in my chosen career field, so I took what I could find with the intention of continuing to look for something that would be fulfilling.  Opportunity came to me through a link on Facebook, of all things. I saw that Organizing for America was looking for summer organizers, and remembering how inspired I felt during the President’s 2008 campaign, I took a chance and applied.

Q. What did you do as a summer organizer?
A. Over the next few months I learned to recruit volunteers, held trainings and informational sessions, and helped lead the efforts to reform health care.

The experience I gained as a summer organizer--learning messaging techniques, being trained on all the different ways we recruit volunteers, and most of all being able to observe my former RFD and ask questions--was invaluable to the work I do now.

Q. What do you do now?
A. I now work for Organizing for America in Dallas, Texas, as an RFD. It’s my responsibility to recruit new volunteer leadership in the community, make sure our volunteers are trained and informed on the President’s initiatives, and hold events in the community that educate and reactivate the President’s supporters.

Q. Would you recommend the program to others?
A. I can honestly look back at the decision to fill out the summer organizer application as a turning point in my life.  The experience didn’t just teach me the skills I needed to become an RFD—it taught me skills that will benefit me in all times of life, and I gained friendships and mentors that I treasure.  I would strongly recommend that anyone who has the chance take this opportunity and run with it.

Join folks like Lauren this summer and apply to join the Summer Organizer Program – it may just change your life.

Categories: Barack Obama, celebrities

EPA Administrator Takes Your Questions – Watch Live at 10:55 a.m. ET

Barack Obama - Thu, 03/17/2011 - 20:00

Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator (EPA) Lisa Jackson will convene a live online discussion about the Clean Air Act and the EPA’s latest efforts to reduce dangerous air pollution. Administrator Jackson will be joined by young people who care deeply about this issue, as well as moderator Kalpen Modi of the Office of Public Engagement.

You can submit your questions ahead of time on Facebook and watch live at whitehouse.gov/live at 10:55 a.m. ET today.

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President Obama Meets with Standout Science and Math Students

Barack Obama - Thu, 03/17/2011 - 00:15

Yesterday, President Obama met with 40 high school students who are finalists for the Intel Science Talent Search. This event was an opportunity to recognize some of the brightest science and math students across the country—students who will become the next generation’s scientists, engineers, and technological leaders. These talented young men and women are examples of how investments in education today will help America win the future.

President Obama’s budget plan includes crucial investments in America’s education system that will prepare the next generation for the challenges ahead—it aims to train 100,000 new science, technology, engineering, and math teachers.

Phil Larson writes on the White House blog:

The Intel Science Talent Search is one of the most highly-regarded science research competitions in the country.  Many past Science Talent Search participants have gone on to distinguished careers, including seven Nobel laureates, four National Medal of Science winners, 11 MacArthur Foundation Fellows, and two Fields Medalists (as well as one Academy Award winner—Natalie Portman!).

This year’s finalists include 16 girls and 24 boys who represent 39 schools in 15 states and were selected from over 1,700 applications tied to cuttingedge research.  President Obama applauds the work of these young innovators and of pioneering minds throughout the Nation.

Learn about President Obama’s recent efforts to reform the education policy No Child Left Behind.

Categories: Barack Obama, celebrities

“An Amazing Opportunity”: OFA Summer Organizer Program

Barack Obama - Wed, 03/16/2011 - 20:55

Organizing for America is recruiting hard-working, talented folks to take part in this year’s Summer Organizer Program.

Michael Campbell took part in the Summer Organizer Program in California last summer--he is currently in college and hopes to work in politics after he graduates.

Q. What did you do as a summer organizer?,
A. My role was in field operations--organizing volunteers out in the San Diego community and preparing for phone-banking events across the county. I spent a lot of time on the phone recruiting volunteers, as well as time at the computer and supporting the OFA California staff with projects that came up along the way.

Q. What did you learn as a summer organizer?
A. I have a much better perspective on what it takes to be involved in a campaign as well as the dedication necessary to make an impact in your community.  The time I spent as a summer organizer will undoubtedly be useful as I pursue work on a political campaign or on Capitol Hill.

Q. Would you recommend the program to others?
A. It is an amazing opportunity, for people dedicated to President Obama’s agenda and the positive difference his administration is making for Americans to learn the necessary principles behind successful political organizing. You gain an unprecedented level of experience in event organizing and political campaigning and have the opportunity to take ownership of your part of larger national campaigns.

If you want to make a difference in your community, and have what it takes to be a summer organizer like Michael, apply online here to join the program in 2011.

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The Consequences Of Republican Cuts In Your State

Barack Obama - Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:35

In an attempt to appease the extreme wing of their base, Republicans have proposed a spending bill that makes substantial cuts to America’s most cherished and effective programs.  From early-childhood education to local law enforcement, Republicans’ plan puts ideology above sound policy and risks the livelihood and well-being of millions of Americans.

President Obama has proposed a budget plan that helps government live within its means, cuts $1 trillion from the deficit, and invests in industries that generate economic growth: education, innovation, and infrastructure. It’s a responsible plan to help our country win the future.

The Republican plan would eliminate nearly 1 million jobs and impede government’s ability to function.

Learn about the damage the Republican plan will do in your state by checking out barackobama.com/consequences.

Categories: Barack Obama, celebrities

President Obama: We must seek agreement on gun reforms

Barack Obama - Tue, 03/15/2011 - 02:50

Yesterday, President Obama penned an op-ed in the Arizona Daily Star calling for a civil national debate on reforming our nation’s guns laws. America came together to mourn those killed and injured in January’s tragedy in Tucson, and we must come together again to reform our gun laws. Most gun owners act responsibly and follow proper safety guidelines, but we need to do more as a country to keep guns away from those we know to be dangerous.

The President notes that, in the case of the Tucson shooting, there were plenty of signs prior to the rampage that should have raised a red flag:

A man our Army rejected as unfit for service; a man one of our colleges deemed too unstable for studies; a man apparently bent on violence, was able to walk into a store and buy a gun.

He used it to murder six people and wound 13 others. And if not for the heroism of bystanders and a brilliant surgical team, it would have been far worse.

And the violence hasn’t stopped since:

But since that day, we have lost perhaps another 2,000 members of our American family to gun violence. Thousands more have been wounded. We lose the same number of young people to guns every day and a half as we did at Columbine, and every four days as we did at Virginia Tech.

Every single day, America is robbed of more futures. It has awful consequences for our society. And as a society, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to put a stop to it.

President Obama continues by reaffirming the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment, an individual liberty and tradition upheld responsibly by millions of people:

The fact is, almost all gun owners in America are highly responsible. They're our friends and neighbors. They buy their guns legally and use them safely, whether for hunting or target shooting, collection or protection. And that's something that gun-safety advocates need to accept. Likewise, advocates for gun owners should accept the awful reality that gun violence affects Americans everywhere, whether on the streets of Chicago or at a supermarket in Tucson.

Despite the polarizing history of America’s debate on gun control, the President is confident that commonsense and reasonable minds can come together to make our country safer. Responsible, law-abiding gun owners are not well served by those “irresponsible, law-breaking few.”

 The focus of the gun control should be finding effective steps to prevent those unsound individuals from getting a gun in the first place:

• First, we should begin by enforcing laws that are already on the books. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is the filter that's supposed to stop the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun. Bipartisan legislation four years ago was supposed to strengthen this system, but it hasn't been properly implemented. It relies on data supplied by states - but that data is often incomplete and inadequate. We must do better.

• Second, we should in fact reward the states that provide the best data - and therefore do the most to protect our citizens. 

• Third, we should make the system faster and nimbler. We should provide an instant, accurate, comprehensive and consistent system for background checks to sellers who want to do the right thing, and make sure that criminals can't escape it.

President Obama concludes with a plea to gun-control advocates and those averse to engage in the debate: 

We owe the victims of the tragedy in Tucson and the countless unheralded tragedies each year nothing less than our best efforts - to seek consensus, to prevent future bloodshed, to forge a nation worthy of our children's futures.

Categories: Barack Obama, celebrities

Reforming No Child Left Behind

Barack Obama - Tue, 03/15/2011 - 00:42

President Obama called on Congress today to send him a bill to reform education before the start of the next school year.

Speaking at a middle school in Arlington, Virginia, the President set out his ambitions for reforming No Child Left Behind—the Bush-era education policy—and for ensuring that every child graduates high school with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed at college and in the 21st century workplace.

It’s the right thing to do for our economy, because the best jobs program out there is a good education. The best economic policy is one that produces more college graduates. And that’s why, for the sake of our children and our economy and America’s future, we’re going to have to do a better job educating every single one of our sons and daughters—all of them.

No Child Left Behind was introduced in 2001, with bipartisan support, to improve educational quality across the country. But the results were mixed. In reality 15 states actually lowered their educational standards to meet the policy's goals. Today, the President laid out his plan to reform the educational law:

The goals of No Child Left Behind were the right goals: Making a promise to educate every child with an excellent teacher—that’s the right thing to do, that’s the right goal. Higher standards are right. Accountability is right. Shining a light on the achievement gap between students of different races and backgrounds, and those with and without disabilities, that’s the right thing to do.

But what hasn’t worked is denying teachers, schools, and states what they need to meet these goals. That’s why we need to fix No Child Left Behind.

[W]e need a better way of figuring out which schools are deeply in trouble, which schools aren’t, and how we get not only the schools that are in really bad shape back on track, how do we help provide the tools to schools that want to get even better to get better.

We need to make sure some of our best teachers are teaching in some of our worst schools. We need to reward schools that are doing the difficult work of turning themselves around. We’re going to have to take a series of steps across a broad range of measures to not only target our most troubled schools, but also raise expectations for all our schools.

Key to achieving this success will be ensuring that there is a great teacher in every classroom and a great principal in every school:

What we need to do is a better job preparing and supporting our teachers, measuring their success in the classroom, holding them accountable. We’re going to have to stop making excuses for the occasional bad teacher. We’re going to have to start paying good ones like the professionals that they are. If we truly believe that teaching is one of the most valued professions in society—and I can’t think of a more important profession—then we’ve got to start valuing our great teachers.

The President is committed to working with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to achieve these reforms:

In the 21st century, it’s not enough to leave no child behind. We need to help every child get ahead. We need to get every child on a path to academic excellence.

You can read the rest of President Obama’s speech in full here.

Categories: Barack Obama, celebrities

Watch: President Obama on Education—Today at 10:40 a.m. ET

Barack Obama - Mon, 03/14/2011 - 19:20

President Obama will deliver a speech on education reform during a visit to a middle school in Arlington, Virginia, this morning. You can watch live online here.

The President will use the speech to outline his priorities for reforming No Child Left Behind—the Bush era education policy—before the start of the next school year.

Earlier this month, the President set out his plans for supporting the lowest performing schools, for using technology and promoting innovation in the classroom and for tackling bullying in our schools.

This morning’s speech will be shown live online beginning at 10:40 a.m.

Categories: Barack Obama, celebrities

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