By Jueseppi B.
05:33 PM EST
President Obama has always been dedicated to the idea that the White House is truly “The People’s House” and has worked to make 1600 Pennsylvania and his administration open and accessible.
Big Block of Cheese Day: Virtual Edition
Published on Jan 24, 2014
On Wednesday, January 29th, with a nod to history (and maybe the TV show the West Wing), the Obama Administration is hosting the first-ever virtual “Big Block of Cheese Day,” during which dozens of White House officials will take to social media for a day long ‘open house’ to answers questions from everyday Americans in real-time on Twitter,Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and via Google+ Hangout
This isn’t a new idea, the same can be said of President Andrew Jackson. On February 22, 1837, President Jackson hosted an open house featuring a 1,400-pound block of cheese that sat in the main foyer of the White House. This original “Big Block of Cheese Day” opened the doors of the White House to thousands of citizens to interact with cabinet members and White House staff – and carve off a slice of the four foot by two foot thick slab of cheddar.
On Wednesday, January 29th, with a nod to history (and maybe the TV show the West Wing), the Obama Administration is hosting the first-ever virtual “Big Block of Cheese Day,” during which dozens of White House officials will take to social media for a day long ‘open house’ to answers questions from everyday Americans in real-time on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and via Google+ Hangout.
So be sure to visit WH.gov/SOTU to watch the State of the Union Address live on January 28, 2014 at 9 p.m. ET and stay tuned for a complete schedule of engagement events for virtual “Big Block of Cheese Day.” You can start asking questions now using the hashtag #AsktheWH.
January 24, 2014 | 59:06 |Public Domain
White House Press Briefings are conducted most weekdays from the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in the West Wing.
07:42 PM EST
In just five days, President Obama will deliver his fifth State of the Union address to the nation. Ahead of the speech, Pete Souza, President Obama’s Chief Official Photographer, takes you behind the scenes on Instagram.
Want to get involved in this year’s State of the Union?
- Get ready for the speech by visiting the official page.
- Watch White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough discuss why the State of the Union is so important.
- Find out how you can participate.
- Check out the Instagram takeover from Chief Speechwriter Cody Keenan & Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett
A Day in the Life: Inside the State of the Union
Secretary Thomas E. Perez
06:01 PM EST
Ed. Note: This blog is cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Labor
When I became labor secretary a little over six months ago, I made increasing the minimum wage one of my top priorities. During the time since, I’ve met with hard-working Americans who’ve shared with me their heart wrenching stories about what it’s like to live on the minimum wage, making constant choices between things like paying the rent or putting food on the table.
In the wealthiest nation on earth, no one who works a full time job should have to live in poverty. That’s a fundamental value proposition, an article of faith in our country that I know an overwhelming majority of Americans agree on.
Today I had the chance to hear from twenty men and women who run businesses, including many who own small businesses. They’ll be directly affected by any increase in the minimum wage. I learned it’s not just workers who support a federal increase; What I heard from these business owners is that raising the wage would help their businesses, too, by putting more money in the pockets of those in their communities. Here’s what a few of them had to say:
Charmington’s Cafe in Baltimore, Md.
Amanda Rothschild runs a small café in Baltimore in which she pays her employees just above the current federal minimum wage, and she does so because it’s good for her bottom line. She told me that when you put more money in workers’ pockets, they stay on the job longer which reduces turnover and training costs: “Our training costs would be significantly higher if we paid lower wages and we had the kind of turnover that you typically see in a restaurant.” She also said that she wants to see an increase in the minimum wage so that more people in her community could spend money in her café.
Emory Knoll Farms in Street, Md.
John Shepley runs Emory Knoll Farms, a small wholesale nursery in Maryland. He makes a strong economic argument for paying those at the bottom of the income ladder a little bit more: “They’re spending 100-percent of their take-home pay in the local economy. It’s recirculating. They’re spending it on rent, groceries, cars, new tires – all the things you need to live.”
Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis, Mo.
Lew Prince runs Vintage Vinyl, a record store in St. Louis and is a survivor in an industry that’s seen a significant downsizing in recent years. He echoed Amanda’s words that increasing the minimum wage would lead to worker retention and a stronger local economy:: “I’m in an industry where 60% of the businesses are closed in the 21st century. If you think about having a relationship with your community and a relationship with your customers, it starts with your relationship to your employees.”
These business owners are not alone. A broader coalition and consensus is emerging. Yesterday I was in Silicon Valley where I met with business leaders and employers who aren’t directly paying any of their workers the minimum wage. But even they understand the issues that affect their bottom line. They want to make sure that people have money in their pockets to buy the products they’re making.
The take-away from these conversations is simple: When we lift the wage floor, it not only betters the lives of those whose wages are directly affected, it also lifts the economy as a whole.
The business leaders I’ve talked to in the last few days shatter the myth that a higher minimum wage hurts the bottom line. They know that our economy is powered by consumer demand, and it will benefit from more money in the pockets of working families who will spend it on goods and services. Better than anyone, business leaders know that leads to business growth and job creation. It’s time Congress acted to #raisethewage.
January 24, 2014
07:05 PM EST
State of the Union Next Week: Next Tuesday, January 28 is President Obama’s 5th State of the Union address. This year, while the President is speaking at the Capitol, you can view an enhanced version of the speech on WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU, share exclusive graphics and tune in to hear White House official’s reactions immediately following the address.
In honor of the upcoming State of the Union address, President Obama’s speechwriter Cody Kennan, Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, and Director of the Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz took over the White House Instagram account this week in order to give followers a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into the making of the speech.
Later next week, the President will take part in the first-ever Google+ virtual road trip to discuss the issues and policies he laid out in his speech. Want to be a part of this event? Click hereto find out how you can submit a question to the President.
Call to Action to End Rape and Sexual Assault: On Wednesday, the President and Vice President spoke on the urgent need for new measures to protect students from sexual assault. Studies show that about one in five women is a survivor of attempted or completed sexual violence while in college. “This is a priority for me not only as President and Commander-in-Chief, but as a husband and a father of two extraordinary girls,” the President said. In order to address these alarming statistics, the President signed a Presidential Memorandum establishing the “White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.”
I’ve often said in my travels around the world: You can judge a nation, and how successful it will be, based on how it treats its women and its girls. Those nations that are successful, they’re successful in part because women and girls are valued. And I’m determined that, by that measure, the United States of America will be the global leader.
Read the President’s full remarks here.
The First Lady and Athletes Pile on the Veggies: The First Lady was joined by athletes and local children at a D.C. Subway restaurant on Thursday to announce Subways’ commitment to market healthier choices to kids. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin, and New York Giants player Justin Tuck were on hand to show kids that piling on the veggies doesn’t have to be a tough choice. “I don’t know how many kids are athletes here, or who are dancers, who are movers, who want to do something important with their bodies — what you eat, what you put into it makes a huge difference,” the First Lady said.
On Tuesday, Let’s Move! released a PSA of the First Lady and members of the Miami Heat that highlights the importance of eating healthy and drinking water. Make sure to check out how LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Ray Allen eat healthy. If you haven’t already, check out this awesome gif and watch the video.
Big Block of Cheese Day: Fan of The West Wing? Next Wednesday, January 29th the White House will be hosting “Big Block of Cheese Day” – just like they did in President Jackson’s day. In homage to President Jackson keeping the White House “The People’s House,” we are hosting the first-ever virtual “Big Block of Cheese Day,” as a way to let citizens interact with White House officials in real-time on social media. Be sure to stay tuned for a complete schedule of events.
Mayors Conference: On Thursday, the President was joined by more 250 mayors from around the country who participated in the 82nd winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The President spoke on the importance of working together to impact people’s lives. “Hard work can transform communities block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood,” he said. “And to see the resilience and the strength of people, and the incredible vibrancy that cities bring to not just those who live within the boundaries of cities but entire regions, that’s what you understand. And I want to make sure that I’ve got your back in everything that you do.
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