President Barack Obama meets with agriculture and business leaders at the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. The President discussed the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership for American businesses and workers
First Lady Michelle Obama participates with local students in the annual fall harvest of the White House Kitchen Garden. The garden, which started in 2009, is part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Initiative
Scroll to 37:36 to view the event
First Lady Michelle Obama mixes salad with local students from Capital City Public Charter School after they participated in the annual fall harvest of the White House Kitchen Garden
First Lady Michelle Obama eats with local students from DC Bilingual Public Charter School
President Barack Obama signs an Executive Order, titled “Planning for Sustainability in the Next Decade,” which will cut the Federal Government’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 40 percent over the next decade from 2008 levels, in the Oval Office. Behind President Obama are senior advisor Brian Dreese and Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Energy Kate Brandt
White House: Leading by Example On Climate Change: Our New Federal Sustainability Plan
Late last year, in an historic joint announcement with China, President Obama set an ambitious goal for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change – a clear sign that the United States’ commitment to leadership on climate change at home and abroad is stronger than ever. In the latest effort to continue that push, this morning, President Obama signed an executive order that will help us stay on track to meet the new target pledged in China and ensure that the federal government leads by example as the United States moves boldly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while boosting clean energy. This new sustainability plan for the next decade directs federal agencies to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2025.
That means big cuts to the dangerous emissions driving climate change – and also big savings. In addition to 21 million metric tons of emission reductions – the same as taking 4.2 million cars of the road for a year — achieving this goal will save taxpayers up to $18 billion in avoided energy costs between 2008 and 2025. Today’s action builds off of the strong progress the federal government has made over the past six years. Already, federal agencies have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent since the President took office, and increased the share of electricity consumed from renewable sources from 3 percent to 9 percent in 2013. Agencies have also made progress on a number of other fronts, like reducing water use by 19 percent since 2007. But there is much more work to do – and that’s what today’s announcement is all about.
President Barack Obama is given a tour of solar panels on the roof of the Department of Energy (DOE). With President Obama (L-R) are DOE HQ Energy Manager Eric Haukdal, DOE Deputy Secretary Liz Sherwood and Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Energy Kate Brandt
President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting at the Energy Department
In his ongoing effort to combat climate change both at home and abroad, President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Thursday to reduce the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40%. Although the government contributes only a small percentage of total emissions, the cuts are expected to keep 26 million metric tons of greenhouse gases out of the air by 2025 – equal to taking about 5.5 million cars off the road for a year. The order also directs the government, which is the single largest U.S. consumer of energy, to increase its use of renewable energy to 30% of its consumption, giving a further boost to green industries. The executive order comes just days after an international team of scientists reported that the Totten Glacier of East Antarctica –
the largest and most rapidly thinning glacier in the region – is shrinking because of warm ocean water developing beneath it. The process could have “global consequences,” including rising sea level by at least 11 feet, the researchers wrote Monday in Nature Geoscience. On Thursday morning, Obama toured an installation of solar panels at the Energy Department’s headquarters and discussed the new emissions targets with federal suppliers, part of a larger effort to lead by example on the climate change issue. In November, Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping reached an agreement on a climate deal to reduce carbon emissions and tackle the growing crisis of global climate change. The pact includes a first-ever commitment by the Asian country to stop its emissions from increasing entirely after 2030.
President Barack Obama signs H.R. 240, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2015. The president signed a law funding the Homeland Security Department through the end of the budget year.
Keystone oil pipeline veto override fails in the Senate 62-37. 👏👏👏👏 #NoKXL
Josh Zumbrun: Job Openings At 14-Year High As Hiring Returns To Pre-Recession Levels
For the first time since January 2001, the U.S. had more than five million job openings at the end of December, a sign of a labor environment shifting in favor of workers. December was also the best month for hiring since before the recession struck more than seven years ago. More than 5.1 million people were hired in December, the most since November 2007, according to the Labor Department‘s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, known as JOLTS.
The report adds to signs that the labor market is strengthening considerably. The Labor Department’s main jobs report, released on February 6, showed that November, December and January comprised the best three-month stretch of hiring since 1997, raising hope that the U.S economy will start delivering stronger wage growth for a wider swath of Americans after more than five years of sluggish recovery from a deep recession.
The US budget deficit fell to about $483 billion in fiscal year 2014, almost a $200 billion drop from the previous year and the lowest level of President Barack Obama’s six years in office. The US Treasury Department released the official figures on Wednesday, generally confirming figures released by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office last week. It’s the smallest deficit recorded since 2008.
FY2014 was the fifth consecutive year the deficit declined as a percentage of GDP. It is now an estimated 2.8% of GDP, a percentage that puts it below the average of the past 40 years. The Treasury’s figures chalked up the shrinking deficit to increased revenues from taxes and slowed growth in government spending. “It’s really a rise in revenues because of economic growth, because of the policies the president pursued, that we’ve made progress on the deficit,” said Shaun Donovan, the director of the Office of Management and Budget.
President Obama and staff watch the U.S. soccer team vs Belgium in World Cup action in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium, July 1 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama speaks to the media during a meeting with his cabinet members in the Cabinet Room of the White House. From left are, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
Attorney General Eric Holder
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson
With the Key Bridge, linking Washington and Northern Virginia in the background, President Barack Obama speaks about the economy and transportation, at Georgetown Waterfront Park in Washington. The President said 700,000 jobs could be at risk next year if Congress doesn’t quickly agree on how to pay for highway and transit programs.
"If this Congress does not act by the end of the summer, the Highway Trust Fund will run out. " —President Obama #RebuildAmerica
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama shake hands with the crowd gathered for their arrival at the State House in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 1, 2013
Today (All Times Eastern)
10:55: The President holds a Cabinet meeting
1:0: Josh Earnest briefs the press
2:20: The President delivers remarks on the economy
Aaron Carroll: It’s Getting Hard To Ignore Insurance Numbers (UPDATED)
Five percent of Americans report being newly insured in 2014. More than half of that group, or 2.8% of the total U.S. population, say they got their new insurance through the health exchanges that were open through mid-April. Given the population of the United States, this means that more than 15 million about 10-11 million American adults are newly insured this year. Almost 9 million of them received private insurance through the exchanges. There’s more (emphasis mine): The newly insured using exchanges are mostly under age 65, as would be expected, given that most Americans 65 and older are covered by Medicare.
Thus, the representation of newly insured Americans is higher across all three age groups younger than 65 than is true for the general population. More specifically, newly insured Americans using the exchanges in the 18 to 29 age category are eight percentage points more prevalent than their percentage in the overall adult population, while representation of those 30 to 49 and 50 to 64 are five and four points higher, respectively.This means that the fears that the young would refrain from buying insurance, thereby fracturing the risk pools, don’t seem to be coming to pass either.
Spandan Chakrabarti: Re-Igniting War On Women, Supreme Court Makes Case For Democratic Congress (#HobbyLobby)
5 conservative men on the Supreme Court decided that a core part of women’s health cannot be part of required employer-provided insurance coverage – even if the additional coverage costs nothing – at least as applied to private, family-owned corporations. All of the court’s female justices were joined by Justice Breyer in a strong and scathing dissent. it does, however, leave Democrats a major political opening when it comes to contraception. First, the majority explicitly held that HHS could in fact levy a contraception mandate – on insurance companies. In its language, the opinion refers to the method of contraception coverage HHS uses for employers already exempt from the contraception mandate (churches and other religious nonprofits) – requiring insurance companies to provide the coverage, outside of the employers’ policies but with no additional cost to the insured.
Secondly, and more importantly, the decision relies on a law passed by Congress – the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (1993 thanks, Bill Clinton) – and not the First Amendment. it can be overridden by an act of Congress. Therein lies the major opening for Democrats in 2014 and in 2016. This decision not only puts the Right wing’s war on women back on the forefront just in time for the midterms, it points to a specific cure: have Congress change the law to override the Court’s decision. If Democrats wanted to run on a single issue from now to November, it should be a promise to write into the law protections for contraceptive coverage should we win back the House and keep the Senate. It is time that we, as Americans, found out what everyone asking for our votes stands on women’s health. Leave behind all of your trepidation about why the Democratic party isn’t perfect and how President Obama has “disappointed” you. You have no right to be outraged by today’s decision if you do not show up to the polls in November and ensure the election of a Congress that will override the law that the Supreme Court says allows for employers to control the reproductive lives of their employees.
Energy.Gov: Energy Department Project Captures And Stores More Than One Million Metric Tons Of CO2
Following the one year mark since the release of the President’s Climate Action Plan, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) – in partnership with Air Products and Chemicals Inc. – today announced a major milestone, successfully capturing more than one million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) at the hydrogen-production facility in Port Arthur, Texas. Using an innovative technology called vacuum swing adsorption, the project captures more than 90 percent of the CO2 from the product stream of two commercial-scale steam methane reformers that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere.
In addition to the secure storage, captured carbon from the project will be used to help produce additional, hard-to-access resources from existing nearby oil fields. In total, Department of Energy projects have captured and securely stored nearly 7.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to date, equivalent to taking more than 1.5 million cars off the road for a year. In just the last year since the release of the President’s Climate Action Plan, these Department-supported projects have stored approximately 2.8 metric tons.
Steve Benen: Boehner Gives Up On Immigration, Obama Moving Forward
Almost exactly a year ago, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in no uncertain terms that he would ignore the popular, bipartisan immigration reform bill passed by the Senate. The plan may have been endorsed by business leaders, labor unions, law enforcement, immigration advocates, leaders from the faith community, economists, and deficit hawks, but the Republican leader said it didn’t matter: the Senate bill was dead on arrival. Even if it had the votes to pass, it would never reach the House floor. But, Boehner said at the time, immigration reform was very much alive. “The House is going to do its own job in developing an immigration bill,” the Speaker vowed. “It is time for Congress to act. But I believe the House has its job to do, and we will do our job.” That was 51 weeks ago.
And while Boehner probably meant what he said, the House Speaker made a commitment he could not keep. House members “will do our job”? Well, no actually, as is too often the case, the Republican-led chamber will do nothing. No longer willing to watch the GOP-led House do nothing, President Obama intends to move forward without legislative action. For his part, Boehner’s spokesperson, Michael Steel, told reporters this afternoon, “Speaker Boehner told the President exactly what he has been telling him: the American people and their elected officials don’t trust him to enforce the law as written. Until that changes, it is going to be difficult to make progress on this issue.” As talking points go, I find it hard to imagine any adult seriously believing an argument so transparently foolish. For one thing, Boehner himself already discredited the argument from Boehner’s office, admitting publicly that immigration reform hasn’t happened because his own Republican allies are afraid of hard work.
Alan Gomez: Obama Rips GOP On Immigration, Says He Will Act Alone
After more than a year of urging Congress to pass an immigration law, President Obama gave a fiery White House speech Monday, saying the time had come for him to act alone on the issue. “The failure of House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security, it’s bad for our economy and it’s bad for our future,” he said. “If Congress won’t do their job, at least we can do ours.” The president laid out in a letter to congressional leaders Monday several steps his administration has taken in recent weeks to respond to an unprecedented surge in children caught crossing the border. The president ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate the federal agencies that have been catching, processing and housing the children. The Department of Justice is in the process of reassigning immigration judges and U.S. attorneys to the border to speed up hearings in immigration court, and
A fact everyone will politely forget: GOP leaders themselves have repeatedly said immig status quo unacceptable & legalization necessary
the Department of Health and Human Services has scoured the country to find places to put those children. In March, Obama ordered Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to conduct a systemwide review of deportation practices to see how they could be done “more humanely.” Obama later asked that the results of that review be postponed until the end of the summer to give Congress time to work through an immigration bill. Monday, with 28 days left in the legislative calendar, Obama said the review would be completed soon and would include changes to the country’s immigration enforcement structure. Obama said the only response from Republicans has been to use the crisis as their “newest excuse to do nothing.”
Washington Post: Illinois To Allow Same-Day Registration, Expand Early Voting Hours
Illinois will dramatically expand access to the ballot box this year by allowing voters to register on Election Day, and by significantly extending the hours early-vote locations will be open. Gov. Pat Quinn (D) has said he will sign the measure, passed by the legislature late last month. The bill expands both the number of days during which early voting locations are open and the number of hours each day they remain open. Voters who cast a ballot early will not have to show a photo identification.
“Democracy works best when everyone has the opportunity to participate,” Quinn said in a statement. “By removing barriers to vote, we can ensure a government of the people and for the people.” Meanwhile, students at public universities will have an easier time casting a ballot under the new measure. The bill allows students attending public schools to change their residences from their hometowns to college campuses, giving them easier access to polling places on campus.
Harold Meyerson: Supreme Court Rules Disadvantaged Workers Should Be Disadvantaged Some More
The conservative majority on the Supreme Court today took up the case of some of America’s most disadvantaged workers, and ruled that they should be disadvantaged some more. The five-to-four ruling in Harris v. Quinn goes a long way to crippling the efforts that unions have made to help these workers get out of poverty. The case concerned some 28,000 home care aides in Illinois whose paychecks come from Medicaid. Before the state agreed in 2003 that they could form a union, they made the minimum wage. (It’s the state that sets their wage rate, since their pay comes entirely from Medicaid.) Currently, as a result of their union contract, they make $11.85 an hour rather than the minimum of $7.25. Tomorrow, by the terms of their contract, their hourly rate is raised to $12.25, and on December 1st to $13. The right to hire and fire these workers remains solely, of course, that of their home-bound patients and their families.
The workers, then, are joint employees of both their patients and the state. And since the state allowed them to vote on whether to join a union, and since they voted to join the Service Employees International Union, these 28,000 workers have seen their pay doubled and have received, for the first time, health care coverage. Like all unionized public employees, they don’t have to pay that portion of their union dues that goes to their union’s political activities, but they do have to pay that portion of dues that goes to the union’s bargaining with the state that has produced their contract. Pamela Harris, who works at home caring for her disabled son, didn’t like those dues obligations, however, and sued to get them overturned. So, Ms. Harris had to pay $650 for her raise? Actually, no. She belongs to a different category of home-care workers, and unlike the workers who voted to join SEIU, her group voted against joining a union. She pays no dues to anybody.
Katie McDonough: SCOTUS Gets Hobby Lobby Horribly Wrong: Why This Isn’t A “Limited” Ruling
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that Hobby Lobby can ignore federal law and deny its employees comprehensive health insurance because of its “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Analysis of the case has so far called this a limited ruling because it only applies to closely held corporations and “only” impacts contraceptive coverage. But this framing completely ignores the fact that more than 90 percent of corporations in the United States are closely held, and that the court just effectively ruled that it’s fine for employers to discriminate against half of the labor force. There’s nothing limited about it. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted in her powerful dissent, far from being narrow in its ruling, the high court just “ventured into a minefield.” The ruling sends a strong message that women’s health and women’s rights — as individuals and employees — do not matter as much as so-called religious liberty.
It also shows once again that medically inaccurate ideas about healthcare can dictate the terms of a debate and ultimately win the day. To sum it up, five male justices ruled that thousands of female employees should rightfully be subjected to the whims of their employers. That women can be denied a benefit that they already pay for and is guaranteed by federal law. That contraception is not essential healthcare. That corporations can pray. That the corporate veil can be manipulated to suit the needs of the corporation. That bosses can cynically choose à la carte what laws they want to comply with and which laws they do not. Each specific finding opens a door to a new form of discrimination and unprecedented corporate power. If you think this ruling won’t affect you, you haven’t been paying attention. If you think these corporations are going to stop at birth control, you’re kidding yourself.