The Daily 411 From Barack’s Blog


By Jueseppi B.

 

Barack'sblog

 

 

 

The White House LIVE….

 

January 31, 2013 1:00 PM EST

White House Fireside Hangout with Cecilia Muñoz on Immigration Reform

The White House

 

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Watch Live: A Fireside Hangout on Immigration Reform

 

Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, will join the latest “Fireside Hangout” – a 21st Century take on FDR’s famous radio addresses – to talk about immigration reform.

 

Watch the hangout live on WhiteHouse.gov/Immigration, or tune in to the White House’s Google+ page today, January 31 at 1:00 p.m. ET.

 

 

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Today’s Schedule

All times are Eastern Standard Time (EST).

 

10:00 AM: The President and the Vice President receive the Presidential Daily Briefing.

 

 

1:00 PM: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney.

 

 

1:00 PM: The Vice President will attend the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Lunch.

 

 

 

President Obama Signs New Directive to Strengthen our Work to Advance Gender Equality Worldwide

 

By Valerie Jarrett and Samantha Power  January 30, 2013  The White House Blog

 

 

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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton watches as President Barack Obama signs a Presidential memorandum, “Coordination of Policies and Programs to Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women and Girls Globally,” in the Oval Office, Jan. 20, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

 

President Obama knows that promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls at home and abroad is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do, as Secretary Clinton has famously said.  A growing body of evidence- and our own experience- shows us that families, communities and countries are more prosperous and secure when, as President Obama said this month, “you unleash the power of everyone, not just some”.

 

That’s why we’ve taken steps to achieve that simple and profound goal, from establishing the White House Council on Women and Girls, to launching a multilateral initiative to expand women’s political and economic participation, to developing a new strategy to prevent and respond to violence against women, to implementing a national action plan to promote the inclusion of women in conflict resolution and peace processes, to focusing on women and girls for greater impact in our global health and food security initiatives.

 

And Secretary Clinton’s leadership in integrating the advancement of women and girls into U.S. foreign policy has been indispensable.  With the tireless assistance of our first-ever Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues, Melanne Verveer, she has elevated these issues in our diplomacy and ensured progress for women and societies for generations to come.

 

Today, President Obama took a critical step to institutionalize all these efforts by signing a Presidential Memorandum to strengthen and expand U.S. government capacity and coordination across all agencies to better promote gender equality and empower women and girls. In the Memorandum, President Obama reaffirmed that “promoting gender equality and advancing the status of all women and girls around the world remains one of the greatest unmet challenges of our time, and one that is vital to achieving our overall foreign policy objectives.”

 

President Obama recognizes that in order to translate our commitment into impact we need dedicated professionals with the expertise and stature to lead our efforts and hold us accountable, which is why the Memorandum directs the Secretary of State to designate an Ambassador at Large reporting directly to the Secretary to head the office of Global Women’s Issues.

 

Secretary-designate Kerry is equally committed to ensuring the continued elevation of these issues at State. He welcomed today’s news, saying, “In the Senate I’ve made promoting the rights of women and girls a priority, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because societies that empower the talents of their entire populations are more stable and more prosperous. It’s why we created a sub-committee in the Foreign Relations Committee to specialize on these issues and give it the attention it deserves. Last week at my confirmation hearing, I spoke with Sen. Boxer about the importance of maintaining the momentum Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Melanne Verveer have built through their innovative office and laser-like focus. I applaud the President for institutionalizing these efforts and ensuring these issues continue to receive the high-level attention they deserve at the State Department, at USAID, and across the U.S. government.”

 

President Obama’s Memorandum also affirms the critical linkages between gender equality and our broader development goals, and ensures that the Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will continue to play a prominent role in advising the USAID Administrator on key priorities for U.S. development assistance.  Finally, the Memorandum establishes an inter-agency working group on international gender issues, chaired by the National Security Advisor, which will provide strategic guidance, promote government-wide coordination, and spur new action across agencies from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to Peace Corps to the Department of Health and Human Services.

 

As we move forward, we are grateful for the continued leadership and unwavering commitment of champions in Congress and so many advocates inside and outside governments the world over who are advancing a future in which the dreams of our daughters and sons are equally within reach. Together, building on decades-long movements for equality, we have made tremendous strides over the last four years. And as long as women and girls continue to suffer violence daily, are barred from owning land or running for office, are kept from schools and vital health services, and are unable to access credit and skills to run businesses and earn a living, our work will continue with increasing urgency.

 

Valerie Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls.

 

Samantha Power is the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at the National Security Council.

 

 

 

A Record Year for the American Wind Industry

 

Heather Zichal
By  Heather Zichal  January 30, 2013  The White House Blog

 

Since taking office, President Obama has been focused on building an energy economy in the United States that is cleaner as well as more efficient and secure. As part of that effort, the Administration has taken historic action over the past few years to support the development and deployment of renewable energy that will create new jobs and jumpstart new industries in America. And we are making significant progress towards those goals.

 

Today, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has released its Fourth Quarter Market Report for 2012, which highlights a number of exciting milestones.

 

The American wind industry had its best year ever in 2012, with more than 13,000 MW installed. In the fourth quarter alone, more than 8,000 MW were deployed – an all-time record for the industry and twice as much wind as the previous record set in the fourth quarter 2009.

 

Thanks to this growth, the wind industry was able to achieve another milestone in 2012: achieving 60 GW of cumulative wind capacity in the United States. To put it another way, the United States today has more than 45,000 wind turbines that provide enough electricity to power 14.7 million homes – roughly equivalent to the number of homes in Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, and Ohio combined.

 

To underscore how quickly wind power is taking root in America, consider this: it took 25 years to reach 10 GW, which occurred in 2006. But it only took four years to grow from 20 GW (2008) to 60GW (2012). And last year – for the first time ever – wind power provided the largest share of new electric capacity (42%) in the United States. Of course, more wind also means less carbon pollution that contributes to climate change. With 60 GW installed, it’s like taking 17.5 million cars off the road.

 

All of this progress builds on the encouraging trends in renewable energy over the past few years. Since 2008, the U.S. has doubled renewable generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources, and America is now home to some of the largest wind and solar farms in the world. Wind power currently contributes more than 10% of total electricity generation in six states, with two of these states above 20%. And nearly seventy percent of the equipment installed at U.S. wind farms last year – including wind turbines and components like towers, blades, gears, and generators – was made here in the United States, up from just 35 percent in 2005.

 

This is what we can achieve when we commit ourselves to smart and effective policies that promote clean energy technologies, create jobs, and grow our economy. That’s why, in addition to making the largest investments in clean energy in American history, President Obama fought for – and secured – an extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC). If the PTC had expired at the end of last year, it would have landed a punishing blow to the domestic wind industry resulting in layoffs for tens of thousands of American workers.

 

But the President refused to let that happen. So instead of layoffs, we are hearing stories from wind companies all across the country – from Iowa and Colorado, to Ohio and Illinois – that are retaining and re-hiring workers. Instead of moving business overseas, these companies are investing in the next generation of American-made wind technology and are poised for additional growth in the years ahead.

 

 

 

Advance Estimate of GDP for the Fourth Quarter of 2012

 

Alan Krueger
By  Alan Krueger  January 30, 2013  The White House Blog

Alan B. Krueger is the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

 

According to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis today, real GDP edged down 0.1 percent at an annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2012, amid signs that Hurricane Sandy disrupted economic activity and Federal defense spending declined precipitously, likely due to uncertainty stemming from the sequester.  This was the first quarterly drop in real GDP in three-and-a-half years (see first chart below). Over the last fourteen quarters, the economy has expanded by 7.5 percent overall, and the private components of GDP have grown by 10.9 percent. During the four quarters of 2012, real GDP grew by 1.5 percent, the third consecutive year of economic expansion.  Over this period, real GDP growth has been led by an expansion in the private sector (see second chart below).

 

Several private sector components of GDP continued to make positive contributions to growth in the fourth quarter.  Personal consumption expenditures, the single largest component of GDP, increased by 2.2 percent at an annual rate in 2012:Q4, as compared with 1.6 percent in the previous quarter. Residential investment grew by 15.3 percent last quarter and has increased for seven consecutive quarters, the longest streak since 2004-2005. Business investment in equipment and software grew at its fastest pace in more than a year, rising 12.4 percent.

 

Federal defense purchases declined at an annual rate of 22.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, the largest quarterly decline in 40 years.  A likely explanation for the sharp decline in Federal defense spending is uncertainty concerning the automatic spending cuts that were scheduled to take effect in January, and are currently scheduled to take effect on March 1st. The decline in government spending across all levels reduced real GDP by 1.33 percentage points in the quarter.

 

In addition, a decline in exports of goods and services and slower inventory investment both subtracted from real GDP growth in the fourth quarter.  Both international trade flows and inventory accumulation could have been affected by disruptions caused by Hurricane Sandy, although a precise estimate of the effect of the hurricane on GDP is not available.  Nonetheless, the BEA reported that Hurricane Sandy destroyed $44 billion worth of fixed capital, which indicates one of the storm’s significant economic effects.

 

Although GDP is the broadest measure of economic activity, other indicators of economic performance suggest that the economy continued to recover in the fourth quarter, despite the impact of Hurricane Sandy and uncertainty surrounding fiscal issues.  For instance, at an annual rate, aggregate production-worker hours increased by 2.2 percent and industrial production rose by 1.0 percent.  Moreover, as the Administration stresses with each economic report, indicators of economic performance can be volatile and are subject to substantial revision.  The average absolute revision from the “advance” estimate of real GDP growth to the most current data is 1.3 percentage points.

 

Some of the fiscal issues that may have weighed on the economy in the fourth quarter of 2012 were resolved with the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act in early January, which provided more than 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses with the certainty that their income taxes will not rise. Today’s report is a reminder of the importance of the need for Congress to act to avoid self-inflicted wounds to the economy.  The Administration continues to urge Congress to move toward a sustainable federal budget in a responsible way that balances revenue and spending, and replaces the sequester, while making critical investments in the economy that promote growth and job creation and protect our most vulnerable citizens.

 

 

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