The Amazing ObamaCARES News Buried Inside A 283-Page Medicare Report.


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The amazing news buried inside a 283-page Medicare report

 

From VOX.com  By 

 

This is arguably the most unexpected piece of news in the new Medicare Trustees report: the government’s hospital insurance program might be spending less money to cover more beneficiaries than it did a year ago.

 

Tele-consultation between the neurology department in Besancon hospital, France and A&E in Dole hospital, France. Dole hospital doesn't have a neurology department which makes detecting a CVA a difficult task. Telemedicine allows A&E doctors at Dole

 

Medicare’s hospital insurance program — known to wonks as Medicare Part A — spent $266.8 billion covering 50.3 million people in 2012. In 2013, the the same program spent $266.2 billion to cover 51.9 million people. These figures come from Table II B.1 in the 2012 and 2013 reports.

 

Medicare’s hospital insurance program is gigantic; it spends more money in a given year than the entire state of Wisconsin. In that context, $600 million is not much more than a rounding error. And some senior administration officials I spoke with cautioned against reading too much into these particular figures; receipts for services rendered in 2013, for example, might trickle after the year has ended.

 

But what’s definitely clear — and what’s driving this trend — is that Medicare is spending significantly less per person than they did two years ago. And this report expects that trend to continue for another two years going forward.

 

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By 2015, the Medicare Trustees’ Report projects that the program will spend less per person on hospital care than it did in 2008. This doesn’t happen much in health care: not just slower growth, but the actual dollar amount spent on a given type of care dropping.

 

These figures only represent the hospital insurance part of Medicare (this is Medicare Part A). The government insurance program has separate programs for doctor visits (Medicare Part B) and prescription drug coverage (Medicare Part D).

 

But even when you look at the overall picture, it generally looks pretty good: per-person Medicare spending has grown by an average of 0.8 percent since 2009. That’s a lot slower than the rest of the economy, which has grown at an average 3.1 percent rate. Between 2012 and 2013, it was even slower: Medicare’s per person costs stayed exactly the same.

 

As Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell put it at a press briefing today, “that is a growth rate of 0 percent.”

 

As to why this is happening, that’s the big question. There has been an overall slowdown in health care spending, some of which is likely due to the recession: when people have less money to spend, they don’t buy as many medical services.

 

But Medicare beneficiaries should be somewhat insulated from the economy. They don’t lose insurance coverage during economic downturns, for example, as many who lose their jobs do. Many live on a more fixed income, too.

 

Its certainly possible that the overall economic climate might have impacted seniors’ decisions about health care. And its possible the health care law, and its changes to the Medicare system (this report estimates there are 165 of them) have had an impact as well.

 

The Affordable Care Act, for example, penalizes preventable readmissions — times when seniors turn up at the hospital a second time after something goes wrong during their first visit. Readmissions have been falling pretty steadily for the last few years, and those reductions could be showing up in the lower per-person spending.

 

readmission_rates

 

 

Last, the downward shift in hospital spending could just reflect larger trends in how doctors deliver medicine. As new innovations happen, procedures that used to be more invasive — and require a hospital stay — improve, become easier and shift into an inpatient setting, or can be treated with prescription drugs. You see that change below, with hospital care, since the early 1980s, becoming a slightly smaller portion of the country’s overall medical bill.

 

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(California Healthcare Foundation)

 

Overall, this report suggests a pretty positive trend for Medicare spending — it just doesn’t totally explain the forces that are driving it.

 

CARD 6 OF 15 LAUNCH CARDS

How much of health-care spending is wasteful?

A lot: about one-third of all health-care spending — $785 billion — goes to things that aren’t making us any healthier, according to a massive Institute of Medicine study published in 2012.

 

Most of the waste comes from the way the United States delivers medical care, with a fragmented system that delivers a lot of care that isn’t needed. The IOM estimates that we spend about $210 billion on unnecessary care, with doctors delivering care that isn’t recommended by medical guidelines. Unnecessary care can be harmful to patients, too, especially when it involves surgical procedures that didn’t need to happen.

 

Administrative costs are another huge driver of wasteful spending in the United States. Every doctor typically takes in payments from numerous health insurers, and need to employ lots of billing staff to handle the deluge of paperwork. The average doctor in the United States spends $82,975 dealing with insurers each year.

 

Last but not least, the American health-care system tends to have much higher prices than other countries. Most developed countries have some form of government rate-setting in health care, where bureaucrats set a specific price for any given medical treatment. The United States doesn’t have that — and also has thousands of health insurance plans, each negotiating their own price with doctors and hospitals. This helps explain why an appendectomy costs $8,156, on average, here — and $4,498 in the Netherlands.

 

 

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An Interview With The President: Barack Obama Talks To The Economist.


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AS HE prepares to host a summit in Washington, DC, that will bring together leaders from across Africa, how does Barack Obama see the continent’s future (see article)? Does he feel let down by Vladimir Putin? Could he have designed a more elegant health-care law? And why don’t more business leaders admit that they have lunch with him?

 

In his cabin aboard Air Force One, returning to Washington from Kansas City, where he had been speaking about economic policy, the president talked with John Micklethwait, editor-in-chief of The Economist, and Edward Carr, our foreign editor. The prompt for the interview was the Africa summit, but the conversation ranged widely through the emerging world, China and Russia and the principles underlying his foreign policy. It ended with a lengthy riposte to those, including The Economist, who have criticised the White House for its treatment of business. Mr Obama was unusually relaxed and contemplative, buoyed by the recent economic numbers and looking towards his legacy as well as the mid-term elections and his wrangles with Congress.

 

Because the interview took place on board a plane with three people hunched round a microphone, the sound quality is less than perfect. You can listen to edited highlights of the president’s thoughts on Africa, Russia,China, multilateralism and American business, or listen to the full interview here. A full transcript, lightly edited for clarity, is available below.

 

Barack Obama talks to The Economist

 

Published on Aug 2, 2014

An interview with the president. The Economist’s editor-in-chief and foreign editor talked to Barack Obama aboard Air Force One on August 1st, 2014 as he returned to Washington from Kansas City. The conversation ranged widely through the emerging world, China and Russia and the principles underlying his foreign policy. It ended with a lengthy riposte to those, including The Economist, who have criticised the White House for its treatment of business. You can listen to the full interview here or view the transcript via our website: The Economist.

 

 

 

The Economist: Our starting point, on Africa, is we think Africa is the next big emerging opportunity. You don’t have to convince us at all that the narrative has changed, that this is a completely new thing. And we’ve been writing about that a lot. But it strikes me that in Africa you have an opportunity. You have Lagos, an amazing place, full of entrepreneurs, but you also have northern Nigeria, where you’ve got threats aplenty. I look back at American foreign policy in the past—at emerging Asia. Asia came out, but America really guided it—Kissinger went to China, he helped move it. Do you think America is up for Africa? Do you think America is able to guide it through the next period?

 

Barack Obama: I think America is not going to do it alone, but I think America can be central in moving Africa into the next stage of growth and integrating it into the world economy in a way in which it’s benefitting the people of Africa and it’s not just a source of natural resources.

 

And there are a couple of reasons why I think America can be central in this process. First of all, American companies continue to be an enormous force in the global economy, and in talking to US companies, there is a real recognition of opportunity there. Secondly, I do think that the American traditions of transparency, accountability, rule of law, property rights are ingredients that are critical to unlocking Africa’s future. Third, America was, and continues to be, an economy based on ideas, and as we move deeper into the 21st century, our emphasis on developing human capital is something that Africa very much wants and we’re good at it.

 

And finally, what’s fascinating about African development is the opportunities that they have to leapfrog certain technologies and skip certain phases of development, and we are very good at the technologies that allow countries to potentially leapfrog development. So a classic example being in the telecommunications sector. We invented smartphones and there are smartphones everywhere in Africa.

 

The Economist: They’re very good at doing mobile money, though, aren’t they? They’re much better at banking than—

 

Mr Obama: Well, when we were out the last time—I started in Senegal during my tour, and talking to small farmers about how they’re now getting weather reports, market reports, information on the latest seed technologies, all through their smartphone—those are the kinds of things that we excel at. And to meet a woman who started off with a small plot, who’s able to leverage that into a thriving—still small, but profitable operation, those are the kinds of things that I think we can do better than just about anybody else.

 

The Economist: Your second point about what the US has to bring in, in terms of governance—of course, one of the big factors in Africa and the economy’s emergence has been Chinese investment. And they bring a different model. They don’t have governence. Is that something that—on the other hand, is that a problem for you? Is that something that you need to confront, or is—actually, at this stage, just the capital and the foreign direct investment all that really matters?

 

Mr Obama: My view is the more the merrier. When I was in Africa, the question of China often came up, and my attitude was every country that sees investment opportunities and is willing to partner with African countries should be welcomed. The caution is to make sure that African governments negotiate a good deal with whoever they’re partnering with. And that is true whether it’s the United States; that’s true whether it’s China.

 

And I do think that China has certain capacity, for example, to build infrastructure in Africa that’s critical. They’ve got a lot of capital and they may be less constrained than the United States is fiscally in helping roads get built and bridges and ports. On the other hand, China obviously has a need for natural resources that colours their investments in a way that’s less true for the United States.

 

And so my advice to African leaders is to make sure that if, in fact, China is putting in roads and bridges, number one, that they’re hiring African workers; number two, that the roads don’t just lead from the mine to the port to Shanghai, but that there’s an ability for the African governments to shape how this infrastructure is going to benefit them in the long term.

 

And one of the interesting things we talked about at what was then a G8 summit—the one in Northern Ireland—was how the G7 countries could assist African governments who do have natural resources to build in transparency mechanisms that ensured any infrastructure and any architecture for extraction, in fact, redounded to the benefit of the populations.

 

The Economist: The other advantage the Chinese have is they don’t have Congress. Well, they have a congress but it’s somehow more compliant, to use your word this morning. We could both agree that one of the great things would be to have more free trade in Africa if you could push people. But you face the danger that Congress may give up on the Export-Import Bank and may also get in the way of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). These could frustrate your policy.

 

Mr Obama: There’s no doubt that—

 

The Economist: You’d rather be a dictator. (Laughter.)

 

Mr Obama: Let’s just make sure that we note that that was not my quote. (Laughter.)

 

There is no doubt that a thread has emerged in the Republican Party of anti-globalisation that runs contrary to the party’s traditional support for free trade. How the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) became targets for Tea Party wrath is a little strange to me. But I do think there remains a consensus within the American business community that ultimately we benefit from trade. I am confident that we can get AGOA reauthorised and refined, given the lessons learned from the first round of AGOA. And the truth is that the amount of trade between the United States and Africa is so small relative to our overall economy that in no way should it be perceived as a threat.

 

I am more concerned about the prospect, for example, that Ex-Im was not reauthorised because I think it will hurt US companies. I’m less concerned about its impact on Africa because I guarantee you that there will be German companies and Chinese companies and Indian companies who rush to fill that void. So when you’re talking about a continent with six of the ten fastest-growing economies, we would be cutting off our nose to spite our face to not be engaged and not to encourage strong trade relations. And the business community understands that.

 

Now, one thing that I want to make sure we emphasise, that multilateral institutions emphasise, and that African governments emphasise is not just trade with the advanced economies but intra-African trade. It is easier now to send a shipment of goods from Nairobi to Amsterdam than it is to send those goods to many parts of Africa. And that is an impediment to trade.

 

You mentioned Asia as a model. Part of what Asia was able to do was not simply open up markets to the West for cheaper goods, it was also able to foster homegrown businesses in Asia with regional markets that gave an opportunity for businesses to get better, to develop better products, to in some ways avoid competition on the global scale right away. Essentially, you can operate off-Broadway before you open the show on Broadway.

 

And so the more we can do to also encourage intra-African trade, the better. And we’re experimenting with that with the East Africa Trade Initiative that we are helping Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and other countries move forward on—synchronising their regulatory schemes, reducing some of the bureaucracy and paperwork between borders, planning for joint infrastructure, planning for joint power generation.

 

We’re really excited about Power Africa as a potential transformative effort—the idea that we can double the amount of electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, which can transform everything from businesses to schools.

 

And there are a whole bunch of different models for generating power. In some cases, particularly in rural areas, if we’re building a small power plant, the key is going to be making sure that Kenya and Tanzania, for example, have some sort of cooperative agreement, so that like the Tennessee Valley Authority, it’s helping a region and you’ve got enough customers to justify the economics of the investment. That’s the kind of effort that, again, I think America can play a unique role in.

 

The Economist: The other bit where it could play a unique role is security. I mean, you are the main provider. I’ve seen a couple of European leaders recently who’ve said that they think that you see African security as their area, as their backyard, they should be dealing with it. Is that fair or is that the wrong way to depict it? That you would be prepared to expend blood and treasure to help create this new Africa in the same way as America did for Asia?

 

Mr Obama: It’s interesting. The US security presence is always a source of ambivalence everywhere in the world. If we’re not there, people think we’re neglecting them. If we’re there, then they think we’re militarising a region. Right now I think we got it about right. Our theory is that we very much need to partner with African countries, first and foremost, and regional African organisations.

 

And one of the main topics in the summit will be finding ways to strengthen peacekeeping and conflict-resolution efforts by Africans. There are certain countries that carry a very heavy load when it comes to peacekeeping and conflict resolution. And for us to engage in the African Union and ECOWAS to find ways to improve their capabilities so that they are able to police their own neighbourhood can make a huge difference.

 

We also think that we need to have a much more intentional, explicit plan for NATO to engage with African countries and regional organisations, not because the United States is not prepared to invest in security efforts in Africa, but rather to ensure that we are not perceived as trying to dominate the continent. Rather, we want to make sure that we’re seen as a reliable partner. And there are some advantages to some European countries with historical ties being engaged and taking advantage of relationships—

 

The Economist: So France might be able to—

 

Mr Obama: France—the Francophone countries—obviously is going to be able to do certain things better than we can. And one of the things we want to make sure of, though, is that when the average African thinks about US engagement in Africa, I don’t want them to think that our only interest is avoiding terrorists from spilling out into the world stage. Rather, we want them to see the partnership as comprehensive, and security being one part of our broader agenda.

 

The Economist: Can I push you a bit on that—using Africa as an example for a thing about general foreign policy? You worked really hard on this idea of getting responsible powers to work together. And I suppose as you look back, you might say the two problems you’ve had are, first, dealing with people who aren’t rational or are extremely difficult to deal with—like Mr Putin—or secondly, the problem is allies who aren’t prepared to put stuff in. And South Africa would seem to be emblematic of other new emerging powers. You’ve got South Africa, you’ve got Indonesia, you’ve got India. A lot of things you’ve tried to get them to back, they haven’t. And why do you think that is? Is that a phase they’re going through? What’s changing?

 

Mr Obama: Well, look, there’s no doubt that a robust, interventionist foreign policy on behalf of certain principles, ideals or international rules is not a tradition that most countries embrace. And in the 20th century and in the early stages of the 21st century, the United States continues to be the one indispensable power that is willing to spend blood and treasure on that. And part of my job has been to try to persuade countries that the United States will always shoulder a greater burden than others, but we still cannot do it alone given the complexity and
interconnectedness of today’s world.

 

So when it comes to South Africa, we recognise a suspicion they may have about meddling too much in the affairs of Zimbabwe, for example. But my argument to them would be, ultimately, as a key regional power, if they fail to invest in the kind of international order or regional order that helps ordinary Zimbabweans thrive, then they’re going to have an immigration problem—which they already do. That, in turn, is going to put more pressure on them and their economies. And ultimately, those chickens will come home to roost.

 

I think there’s a recognition that that may be the case, but I think there’s still a worry on the part of many regional powers that if they are too meddlesome then they’re also exposing themselves to criticism from the outside. And so there’s a little bit of a north-south, traditional, non-aligned culture that dates back 20, 30 years that may take some time and may require a new generation of leadership to discard so that they can move forward in a more effective way.

 

The Economist: It’s kind of depressing, because you don’t see those powers, not even regionally, but globally, standing up to clear abuses and unravelling of the norms. And, in fact, you see countries like China creating a BRICS bank, for instance—institutions that seem to be parallel with the system—and potentially putting pressure on the system rather than adding to it and strengthening it. Now, China you can understand. But India, Brazil, South Africa—those are countries that really belong in the system, that benefit from the system.

 

Mr Obama: Well, this is why I say there may be some generational shifts that need to take place. I mean, if you think about a Brazil, an India, a South Africa, much of the leadership in those governments came of age when those countries had very different attitudes towards the global economic system. To their credit, they have made incredible adjustments. If you think about somebody like former Prime Minister Singh of India really dragging this massive, incredibly complicated but incredibly innovative society kicking and screaming into the world marketplace, and below him, though, you’ve got an entire bureaucracy that was trained in thinking that—

 

The Economist: By the British? (Laughter.)

 

Mr Obama:—well, but also that may have been schooled by economists who were experts on dependency theory but not necessarily on how are we going to unleash innovation.

 

The Economist: What’s their incentive to learn?

 

Mr Obama: So there will be time I think for that to happen. Their incentive is that—is what you just identified—they benefit from the global system.

 

I mean, ironically, today, if India, Brazil, Indonesia—these emerging countries are to succeed and to absorb very young populations that are seeing what’s possible through the internet and have ambitions of the sort that their parents and grandparents never had, the only way to meet those expectations is to dive head first into a global system that is organised, that is fair, that is transparent. And that means that these emerging powers have to be partners in underwriting that order.

 

Another way of thinking about it is, is that the post-World War II order was necessarily a creation of the United States. There had been times where the United States took advantage of that post-World War II order to extend the reach of its companies and to extend the reach of its products, but now it really belongs to everybody. It’s an ecosystem that’s been built for everyone.

 

And when we look at something like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, for example, yes, we think it’s good for the United States, but we also think it’s good for a country like Vietnam who, in the absence of these kinds of rules, is going to have a very difficult time negotiating with its giant neighbour and getting decent terms of trade. We think it’s going to be good for a country like Malaysia that has an interest in maintaining navigation and freedom of movement in the South China Sea.

 

And I do think that what’s happening in the ASEAN countries and their concerns about the Chinese posture on maritime issues is instructive. You’ve seen many of those countries say, we want great relations with China, we don’t want to have to choose between China and the United States; on the other hand, we don’t want to be bullied just because we’re small.

 

The Economist: Because that is the key issue, whether China ends up inside that system or challenging it. That’s the really big issue of our times, I think.

 

Mr Obama: It is. And I think it’s important for the United States and Europe to continue to welcome China as a full partner in these international norms. It’s important for us to recognise that there are going to be times where there are tensions and conflicts. But I think those are manageable.

 

And it’s my belief that as China shifts its economy away from simply being the low-cost manufacturer of the world to wanting to move up the value chain, then suddenly issues like protecting intellectual property become more relevant to their companies, not just to US companies.

 

One thing I will say about China, though, is you also have to be pretty firm with them, because they will push as hard as they can until they meet resistance. They’re not sentimental, and they are not interested in abstractions. And so simple appeals to international norms are insufficient. There have to be mechanisms both to be tough with them when we think that they’re breaching international norms, but also to show them the potential benefits over the long term. And what is true for China then becomes an analogy for many of the other emerging markets.

 

The Economist: What about the people who are just outright difficult? Russia being the obvious example at the moment. You tried to “reset” with Russia. Angela Merkel spent the whole time telephoning Vladimir Putin. To what extent do you feel let down almost personally by what’s happened?

 

Mr Obama: I don’t feel let down. We had a very productive relationship with President Medvedev. We got a lot of things done that we needed to get done. Russia I think has always had a Janus-like quality, both looking east and west, and I think President Putin represents a deep strain in Russia that is probably harmful to Russia over the long term, but in the short term can be politically popular at home and very troublesome abroad.

 

But I do think it’s important to keep perspective. Russia doesn’t make anything. Immigrants aren’t rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity. The life expectancy of the Russian male is around 60 years old. The population is shrinking. And so we have to respond with resolve in what are effectively regional challenges that Russia presents. We have to make sure that they don’t escalate where suddenly nuclear weapons are back in the discussion of foreign policy. And as long as we do that, then I think history is on our side.

Anything on the US economy? I noticed the occasional cover story saying how unfriendly to business we are.

 

The Economist: Yes, tell us about that. We see a lot of business people and they do complain about regulation.

 

Mr Obama: They always complain about regulation. That’s their job. Let’s look at the track record. Let’s look at the facts. Since I have come into office, there’s almost no economic metric by which you couldn’t say that the US economy is better and that corporate bottom lines are better. None.

 

So if, in fact, our policies have produced a record stock market, record corporate profits, 52 months of consecutive job growth, 10m new jobs, the deficit being cut by more than half, an energy sector that’s booming, a clean-energy sector that’s booming, a reduction of carbon pollution greater than the Europeans or any other country, a housing market that has bounced back, and an unemployment rate that is now lower than it was pre-Lehman—I think you’d have to say that we’ve managed the economy pretty well and business has done okay.

 

There are always going to be areas where business does not want to be regulated because regulations are inconvenient.

 

The Economist: When you look at things like Dodd-Frank and health-care reform—both of which we supported in principle—that they could have been much simpler?

 

Mr Obama: Of course. This goes back to the old adage of Churchill—democracy is the worst form of government except for all the alternatives. (Laughter.) It’s messy.

 

And so could we have designed a far more elegant health-care law? Of course. Would I have greatly preferred a blank canvas in which to design financial regulations post-2008 and consolidated agencies and simplified oversight? Absolutely. But the truth of the matter is, is that we saved the financial system. It continues to be extraordinarily profitable. And essentially, what we did was to provide an additional cushion so that if and when people make bad decisions with large sums of money—which they inevitably do—the risks to the system are reduced.

 

And on health care, as messy as the whole process has been, here’s what I know—that we have millions of people [insured] who didn’t have insurance before, and health-care inflation is the lowest it’s been in 50 years, for four consecutive years, corresponding to when we passed the law.

 

So my belief is that if, in fact, we can see a reduction in some of the political temperature around Obamacare or around Dodd-Frank, then it’s an iterative process. We can go back at it and further refine it, learn lessons from things that aren’t working as well, make it simpler, make it better. That does require, though, an attitude on the part of Congress, as well as on the part of the business community, that says you don’t just get 100% of what you want.

 

The business community does have broader responsibilities to the system as a whole. And although the general view today is that the only responsibility that a corporate CEO has is to his shareholders, I think the American people generally sense—

 

The Economist: Do you really think that’s true? Because when I talk to corporate CEOs, that’s one of their complaints. If you ask for a complaint about the White House, they’ll say it is the attitude. Every CEO nowadays is involved in nine different social responsibility things—it’s ingrained in most public—

 

Mr Obama: Well, I think—here’s what’s interesting. There’s a huge gap between the professed values and visions of corporate CEOs and how their lobbyists operate in Washington. And I’ve said this to various CEOs. When they come and they have lunch with me—which they do more often than they probably care to admit (laughter)—and they’ll say, you know what, we really care about the environment, and we really care about education, and we really care about getting immigration reform done—then my challenge to them consistently is, is your lobbyist working as hard on those issues as he or she is on preserving that tax break that you’ve got? And if the answer is no, then you don’t care about it as much as you say.

 

Now, to their credit, I think on an issue like immigration reform, for example, companies did step up. And what they’re discovering is the problem is not the regulatory zealotry of the Obama administration; what they’re discovering is the dysfunction of a Republican Party that knows we need immigration reform, knows that it would actually be good for its long-term prospects, but is captive to the nativist elements in its party.

 

And the same I think goes for a whole range of other issues like climate change, for example. There aren’t any corporate CEOs that you talk to at least outside of maybe—no, I will include CEOs of the fossil-fuel industries—who are still denying that climate change is a factor. What they want is some certainty around the regulations so that they can start planning. Given the capital investments that they have to make, they’re looking at 20-, 30-year investments. They’ve got to know now are we pricing carbon? Are we serious about this? But none of them are engaging in some of the nonsense that you’re hearing out of the climate-change denialists. Denialists?

 

Eric Schultz (deputy press secretary): Deniers.

 

The Economist: Deniers.

 

Mr Obama: Deniers—thank you.

 

The Economist: Denialists sounds better. (laughter.)

 

Mr Obama: It does have more of a ring to it.

 

So the point, though, is that I would take the complaints of the corporate community with a grain of salt. If you look at what our policies have been, they have generally been friendly towards business, while at the same time recognising there are certain core interests—fiscal interests, environmental interests, interests in maintaining stability of the financial system—where, yes, we’re placing constraints on them. It probably cuts into certain profit centres in their businesses. I understand why they would be frustrated by it, but the flip side of it is that they’d be even more unhappy if the global financial system unravels. Nobody has more of a stake in it than them.

 

Last point I’ll make on this: If you look at what’s happened over the last four or five years, the folks who don’t have a right to complain are the folks at the top. Where we have made less progress than I would like, and is my obsession since I came into office and will continue to be my obsession until I leave office and afterwards, is the broader trend of an increasingly bifurcated economy where those at the top are getting a larger and larger share of GDP, increased productivity, corporate profits, and middle-class and working-class families are stuck. Their wages and incomes are stagnant. They’ve been stagnant for almost two decades now. This is not a phenomenon unique to the United States, but it is global.

 

And this to me is the big challenge: How do we preserve the incredible dynamism of the capitalist system while making sure that the distribution of wealth and incomes and goods and services in that system is broadly based, is widely spread?

 

And the reason I’m concerned about this is not in any way a punitive notion. Oftentimes, you’ll hear some hedge-fund manager say, ‘Oh, he’s just trying to stir class resentment’. No. Feel free to keep your house in the Hamptons and your corporate jet, etc. I’m not concerned about how you’re living. I am concerned about making sure that we have a system in which the ordinary person who is working hard and is being responsible can get ahead and are seeing modest improvements in their life prospects, if not for themselves, then certainly for the next generation.

 

And I believe that that’s the big challenge, not just for the United States, but that’s the big challenge for everybody.

 

And we got to go because we’re all parked. Alright?

 

The Economist: Thank you.

 

Mr Obama: That was a good conversation. I enjoyed it.

 

 

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From Denver to Austin: “The Bear Is Loose” Again

 

 

President Barack Obama has lunch with Rebekah Erler at Matt's Bar in Minneapolis, Minn., June 26, 2014. Erler is a 36-year-old working wife and mother of two pre-school aged boys who had written the President a letter about economic difficulties. President Barack Obama has lunch with Rebekah Erler at Matt’s Bar in Minneapolis, Minn., June 26, 2014.Erler is a 36-year-old working wife and mother of two pre-school aged boys who had written the President a letter about economic difficulties. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) 

Going all the way back to the early days of the campaign, whenever President Obama shook off his schedule and busted out of the bubble, we would say “the Bear is loose.”

 

Lately, the Bear has been loose a lot, and this week will be no different. The President is hitting the road on a three-day swing to Colorado and Texas, where he will meet with Americans who’ve written him letters and whose stories – their challenges and successes – resonate with folks from across the country.

 

While congressional Republicans continue to block votes on important issues like equal pay and the minimum wage and undertake taxpayer-funded political stunts like Speaker Boehner’s plan to sue the President for doing his job, the President will continue to do everything in his power – with and without Congress – to create economic opportunity for all Americans.

 

The day after the State of the Union, a woman named Alex received a raise, allowing her to pay rent and afford groceries without worry. Alex’s boss was inspired by the President’s call and increased her wage right away. Earlier this year, Alex wrote the President to say “thank you.”

 

Tonight, the President will deliver his reply in person when he meets Alex for dinner in Denver. And tomorrow, she’ll introduce the President before his remarks in Denver.

 

On Thursday in Austin, TX, the President will highlight the actions his Administration has taken – more than 40 since January – to benefit hardworking Americans. From helping to create new manufacturing jobs, to expanding apprenticeships and job training, and from making student loan payments more affordable, to cutting carbon pollution, the President’s used his pen and phone on behalf of folks all across the country.

 

We’ve come a long way since President Obama took office. Thanks to the grit and resilience of the American people, we’ve made progress and there’s reason to be optimistic. Last week, our latest jobs report showed that we’ve undergone the fastest job growth in the United States in the first half of the year since 1999, with five consecutive months of job growth over 200,000. Yet we know there’s still much more to do.

 

The President will continue to do his part – focusing on growing our economy from the middle out, not the top down. And he’ll continue to urge Republicans in Congress to join him in working for the folks he hears from every day – Americans like Alex, whom the leaders in Washington were sent to serve.

 

 

White House Schedule – July 8, 2014

 

In the morning, the President will meet with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the White House.  Ahead of the NATO summit in Wales this September, the President looks forward to discussing with the Secretary General the crisis in Ukraine and related reassurance measures for our NATO allies; improving allied defense investment; further work on bolstering NATO’s network of partners; and NATO’s post-2014 non-combat mission in Afghanistan.  The Secretary General’s visit underscores the vital importance the United States places on NATO as the cornerstone of our alliance with Europe.  The Vice President will also attend.  There will be a photojournalist spray at the top of this meeting in the Oval Office.

 

In the afternoon, the President and First Lady will host the Diplomatic Corps Reception in the East Room.  This event is closed press.

 

Later in the afternoon, the President will travel to Denver, Colorado.  The departure from the South Lawn and arrival at Denver International Airport are open press.

 

The President will remain overnight in Denver.

 

All times are Eastern Time (ET)

 

11:00 AM: The President meets with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen; the Vice President also attends

 

12:45 PM: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Josh Earnest

 

2:00 PM: The President and the First Lady host the Diplomatic Corps Reception

 

4:20 PM: The President departs the White House

 

4:35 PM: The President departs Joint Base Andrews

 

7:55 PM: The President arrives Denver, Colorado

 

The President will remain overnight in Denver.

 

 

President Obama Shoots Pool With Gov. Hickenlooper

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A game of pool deserves a pint.

A game of pool deserves a pint.

 

 

 

 

 

The nerve of some asshole, like Rick Perry, to imagine The POTUSA needs to cow-tow to them.

The nerve of some assholes, like Rick Perry, to imagine The POTUSA needs to cow-tow to them.

 

 

RICK PERRY TO BARACK OBAMA: NO SHAKE, BUT YES TO MEETING

 

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and President Barack Obama will meet in Texas on Wednesday to discuss the crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border, a governor’s spokeswoman said Tuesday.

 

“Gov. Perry is pleased that President Obama has accepted his invitation to discuss the humanitarian and national security crises along our southern border, and he looks forward to meeting with the president tomorrow,” spokeswoman Lucy Nashed wrote in an email to POLITICO. Nashed said that the meeting will be in Dallas.

 

White House press secretary Josh Earnest confirmed the meeting at Tuesday’s press briefing, saying that the administration is “pleased” that the two will have a chance to discuss the border situation on Wednesday.

 

The announcement comes after a back and forth this week between the governor and Obama, who will be in the state for two days this week.

 

Perry declined an official White House offer to greet President Barack Obama when he lands at Austin’s airport Wednesday.

 

“I appreciate the offer to greet you at Austin-Bergstrom Airport, but a quick handshake on the tarmac will not allow for a thoughtful discussion regarding the humanitarian and national security crises enveloping the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas,” Perry wrote in a letter on Monday to the president, according to the Austin American-Statesman. “I would instead offer to meet with you at any time during your visit to Texas for a substantive meeting to discuss this critical issue. With the appropriate notice, I am willing to change my schedule to facilitate this request.”

 

FUCK you Rick Perry. The only way you will ever occupy the Oval Office is on a White House Tour.

 

 

‘N*GGER’ OP-ED AUTHOR ON CNN: PEOPLE STILL ‘THINK OF OBAMA AS THE N*GGER’

 

Published on Jul 8, 2014

James Lincoln Collier, author of a controversial op-ed called “The N*gger in the White House,” appeared on CNN Monday to explain why he felt it necessary to title his pro-Obama piece in such an offensive manner. (CNN.7.7.2014)

 

 

 

7/8/14: White House Press Briefing

 

Published on Jul 8, 2014

White House Press Briefings are conducted most weekdays from the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in the West Wing.

 

 

 

Worse President Ever….What A Day

 

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Discussed the Summit with President Obama (NATO Secretary General’s Blog)

 

 

 

On the Road in the DRC – Dr. Mukwege & Panzi Hospital

 

Published on Jul 8, 2014

Bukavu is home to Panzi Hospital, which has cared for more than 19,000 victims of sexual and gender-based violence, a widespread problem in the DRC affecting millions of Congolese women and children.

 

Dr. Biden met with survivors, heard their stories, and saw firsthand the response services provided to them. She also met with U.S. government partners who are working to prevent and respond to this dire situation.

 

 

 

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Speeches and Remarks – July 8th, 2014

 

Remarks as Prepared by White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf Region Philip Gordon at the Ha’aretz Israel Conference for Peace

 

 

Statements and Releases – July8th, 2014

 

FACT SHEET: Emergency Supplemental Request to Address the Increase in Child and Adult Migration from Central America in the Rio Grande Valley Areas of the Southwest Border

 

Letter from the President — Regarding Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Request to Address the Increase in Child and Adult Migration from Central America in the Rio Grande Valley Areas of the Southwest Border; and Wildfire Suppression

 

Message to the Congress — Regarding the Democratic Republic of the Congo

 

President Obama Signs New York Disaster Declaration

 

Factsheet on the Democratic Republic of the Congo Executive Order

 

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

 

 

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The Last 24™: The White House Summit On Working Families Edition.


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White House Working Families Summit

 

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President Obama Stops for Lunch On his Way To The White House Working Families Summit

 

 

 

 

Working Families Summit: “Family Matters

 

 

 

The Vice President Speaks at the Working Families Summit

 

 

 

6/23/14: White House Press Briefing

 

 

 

President Obama Speaks at the Working Families Summit

 

 

 

The First Lady Speaks at the Working Families Summit

 

 

 

A Letter to the President: Rebekah

 

 

 

Live from the White House Summit on Working Families

 

 

 

The White House Summit on Working Families is happening today — and businesses, economists, labor leaders, policymakers, advocates, and citizens are joining together for a national conversation about how we can update our workplaces to better help families in the 21st century succeed at work and at home.

 

Americans both at the Summit and around the country are adding their voices to that conversation. Take a look at what they’re saying — and add your own voice using #FamiliesSucceed

 

#FamiliesSucceed: White House Summit on Working Families

On June 23, the White House Summit on Working Families brought together businesses, economists, labor leaders, policymakers, advocates, and citizens for a national conversation about how we can create workplace policies that give modern American families the best chance to succeed.

 

 

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Presidential Perks

 

 

 

Watch from Anywhere: The White House Summit on Working Families

 

 

Today is the White House Summit on Working Families — bringing together businesses, economists, labor leaders, policymakers, advocates, and citizens for a national conversation about how we can create workplace policies that give modern American families the best chance to succeed at work and at home.

 

Americans across the country are tuning in and adding their voices from their desks, living rooms, and dining room tables.

 

Don’t miss a thing — here are all the ways you can participate in the Summit, no matter where you are:

 

  • Follow along online at www.workingfamiliessummit.org. There, you’ll find a full schedule of speakers, and panels — as well as a livestream of all of the main remarks and plenary sessions. In between, HuffPost Live will host and moderate digital breakout sessions featuring Summit particpants and Americans from around the country, via Google+ Hangout.

 

  • Add your voice to the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #FamiliesSucceed. We’ll be tweeting remarks and helpful facts and graphics from White House accounts all day. Follow the conversation, and add your voice.

 

 

  • Share how 21st-century workplace policies would help your working family succeed. Visit WhiteHouse.gov/working-families to share what your working family looks like, and how you’ll be uniquely helped by 21st-century workplace policies. There will also be a story-sharing wall at the Summit, where attendees can fill out cards with this information and post their own story in a central location.

 

 

 

Family-Friendly Workplace Policies Are Not Frills — They’re Basic Needs

 

 

This morning, the Huffington Post published the following op-ed from the President, discussing the need for family-friendly policies in our workplaces. The op-ed is part of a series of essays about the issues facing working families, leading up to today’s White House Summit on Working Families.

 

Watch the Summit live at www.workingfamiliessummit.org.

 


As President, my top priority is rebuilding an economy where everybody who works hard has the chance to get ahead.

 

That’s the subject of the first White House Summit on Working Families, which is taking place today. We’re bringing together business leaders and workers to talk about the challenges that working parents face every day and how we can address them.

 

Take flexibility – the ability to take a few hours off for a school play or to work from home when your kid is sick. Most workers want it, but not enough of them have it – even though studies show that flexibility makes workers happier, and helps companies lower turnover and raise productivity.

 

Take paid family leave. Many jobs don’t offer adequate leave to care for a new baby or an ailing parent, so workers can’t afford to be there when their family needs them the most. And the United States is the only developed country in the world without paid maternity leave.

 

Take childcare. Most working families I know can’t afford thousands a year for childcare, but often, that’s what it costs. I recently got a letter from a woman in Minnesota whose kids’ preschool is so expensive, it costs more every month than her mortgage.

 

And take the minimum wage. Nearly 28 million Americans would benefit if we raised the minimum wage to $10.10. And we’re not just talking about young people on their first job – the average worker who would benefit from an increase is 35 years old. Many have kids. And a majority are women. Right now, many full-time minimum wage workers aren’t even making enough to keep their kids out of poverty.

 

Family leave, childcare, flexibility, and a decent wage aren’t frills. They’re basic needs. They shouldn’t be bonuses – they should be the bottom line.

 

Parents who work full-time should earn enough to pay the bills and go to work every day knowing that their kids are in good hands. Workers who give their all should know that if they need some flexibility, they can have it – because their employers understand that it’s hard to be productive when you’ve got a sick kid at home or a childcare crisis. And talented, hard-working people should be able to say yes to a great new opportunity without worrying that their family will pay the price. Nearly half of all working parents surveyed say they’ve chosen to turn down a job, not because they didn’t want it, because it would be too hard on their families. When that many members of our workforce are forced to choose between a job and their family, something’s wrong.

 

Some businesses are realizing that family-friendly policies are a good business practice, because they help build loyalty and inspire workers to go the extra mile. JetBlue offers a flexible work-from-home plan for its customer service representatives. Google increased their paid parental leave to five months – and the rate of women leaving the company decreased by half. Cisco lets their employees telecommute as needed, which they estimate saves them over $275 million every year.

 

And there’s a bigger economic case here, too. The strength of our economy rests on whether we’re getting the most out of all of our nation’s talent – whether we’re making it possible for all our citizens to contribute to our growth and prosperity. That’s the key to staying competitive in the global economy. Right now, we’re leaving too many people on the sidelines who have the desire and the capacity to work, but are held back by one obstacle or another. It’s our job to remove those obstacles. That’s what supporting working families is all about.

 

States are getting on board, too. California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey give workers paid family leave. Connecticut offers paid sick days. So does New York City. Since I asked Congress to raise the minimum wage last year, 13 states have taken steps to raise it on their own.

 

But all Americans should get to benefit from these policies. That’s why we need to see some action here in Washington.

 

I’ll work with anyone – Democrats or Republicans – to increase opportunity for American workers. But in this year of action, whenever I can act on my own, I will.

 

Today, I’ll sign a Presidential Memorandum directing every agency in the federal government to expand access to flexible work schedules, and giving employees the right to request them.

 

I’m calling on Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, because too many pregnant workers are forced to choose between their health and their job. They can get fired for taking too many bathroom breaks, or forced on unpaid leave just for being pregnant. It’s inhumane, and it needs to stop.

 

And to help parents trying to get ahead, I’m directing my Secretary of Labor to invest $25 million in helping people who want to enroll in job training programs, but don’t currently have access to the childcare they need to do it.

 

I take this personally – as the son and grandson of some strong women who worked hard to support my sister and me; as the husband of a brilliant woman who struggled to balance work and raising our young ladies when my job often kept me away; and as the father of two beautiful girls, whom I want to be there for as much as I possibly can – and whom I hope will be able to have families and careers of their own one day.

 

We know from our history that our country does better when everybody participates; when everyone’s talents are put to use; when we all have a fair shot. That’s the America I believe in. That’s the America I’ll keep fighting for every day.

 

 

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President Obama at Chipotle

 

President Barack Obama orders his lunch at a Chipotle Mexican Grill after walking there with several participants attending the White House Summit on Working Families at the nearby Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., June 23, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

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Barack meets a fan at Chipotle Mexican Grill

Barack meets a fan at Chipotle Mexican Grill

The Bear is Loose

 

 

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Year Up gives young adults skills for the job search

 

 

 

Michelle Obama Makes It Personal at WH Summit

 

 

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FACT SHEET: The White House Summit On Working Families

 

Remarks by President Obama at the White House Summit on Working Families | June 23, 2014

Omni Shoreham Hotel
Washington, D.C.

1:51 P.M. EDT

 

THE PRESIDENT:  This crowd looks fired up.  (Applause.)  Already, everybody have a seat.  Have a seat.  You look like you’ve been busy.

 

AUDIENCE MEMBERS:  Yes!

 

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We’re just waiting on you.

 

THE PRESIDENT:  I know that’s right.  (Applause.)  I know that’s right.  (Laughter.)  Good afternoon, everybody.  Have a seat, have a seat.

 

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I love you, Mr. President.

 

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  (Applause.)  I do.  Well, welcome to the White House Summit on Working Families.  (Applause.)  And thanks to all of you for joining us.  I know that for most of you, you are taking time off of work or family, or both, to be here.  And I know that’s a sacrifice.  And I know just juggling schedules can be tough.  And in fact, that’s one of the reasons that we are here today.

 

I want to thank our co-hosts, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez — give him a big round of applause — as well as Neera Tanden and everyone at the Center for American Progress for the great work that they did.  (Applause.)  Thanks as well to all the members of Congress who are participating, especially Nancy Pelosi and the members of the Democratic Women’s Working Group.  (Applause.)  And a long-time friend and champion of families and women and veterans, Connie Milstein — we could not have pulled this off without Connie’s great assistance, so we want to thank Connie.  (Applause.)

 

So I just walked over to Chipotle for lunch.  (Laughter.)  I caused a lot of havoc, as you might expect.  (Laughter.)  It had been a while since I had the burrito bowl, and it was good.  (Laughter.)  And I went there with four new buddies of mine.  One of them is a father of a four year old and a two month old who has worked with his wife to come up with a flexible plan where he works three or four days a week.  She works three or four days a week.  And the reason is because, as Roger put it, he thinks it’s important that he is able to bond with this kids just as much as his wife is.

 

Read The Entire Transcript Here.

 

 

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Op-Ed by President Obama on the White House Summit on Working Families

In an op-ed published on the Huffington Post, President Obama writes about the importance of today’s White House Summit on Working Families and his commitment to creating a 21st century workplace that works for all Americans.

 

The following op-ed by President Obama appeared on the Huffington Post.

 

Family-Friendly Workplace Policies Are Not Frills — They’re Basic Needs

 

Family-Friendly Workplace Policies Are Not Frills — They’re Basic Needs

 

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As President, my top priority is rebuilding an economy where everybody who works hard has the chance to get ahead.

 

That’s the subject of the first White House Summit on Working Families, which is taking place today. We’re bringing together business leaders and workers to talk about the challenges that working parents face every day and how we can address them.

 

Take flexibility — the ability to take a few hours off for a school play or to work from home when your kid is sick. Most workers want it, but not enough of them have it — even though studies show that flexibility makes workers happier and helps companies lower turnover and raise productivity.

 

Take paid family leave. Many jobs don’t offer adequate leave to care for a new baby or an ailing parent, so workers can’t afford to be there when their families need them the most. And the United States is the only developed country in the world without paid maternity leave.

 

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Take childcare. Most working families I know can’t afford thousands a year for childcare, but often, that’s what it costs. I recently got a letter from a woman in Minnesota whose kids’ preschool is so expensive it costs more every month than her mortgage.

 

And take the minimum wage. Nearly 28 million Americans would benefit if we raised the minimum wage to $10.10. And we’re not just talking about young people on their first job — the average worker who would benefit from an increase is 35 years old. Many have kids. And a majority are women. Right now, many full-time minimum-wage workers aren’t even making enough to keep their kids out of poverty.

 

Family leave, childcare, flexibility and a decent wage aren’t frills. They’re basic needs. They shouldn’t be bonuses — they should be the bottom line.

 

Parents who work full-time should earn enough to pay the bills and go to work every day knowing that their kids are in good hands. Workers who give their all should know that if they need some flexibility, they can have it — because their employers understand that it’s hard to be productive when you’ve got a sick kid at home or a childcare crisis. And talented, hard-working people should be able to say yes to a great new opportunity without worrying that their families will pay the price. Nearly half of all working parents surveyed say they’ve chosen to turn down a job not because they didn’t want it, but because it would be too hard on their families. When that many members of our workforce are forced to choose between a job and their family, something’s wrong.

 

Some businesses are realizing that family-friendly policies are a good business practice, because they help build loyalty and inspire workers to go the extra mile. JetBlue offers a flexible work-from-home plan for its customer-service representatives. Google increased its paid parental leave to five months — and the rate of women leaving the company decreased by half. Cisco lets their employees telecommute as needed, which they estimate saves them over $275 million every year.

 

And there’s a bigger economic case here, too. The strength of our economy rests on whether we’re getting the most out of all of our nation’s talent — whether we’re making it possible for all our citizens to contribute to our growth and prosperity. That’s the key to staying competitive in the global economy. Right now, we’re leaving too many people on the sidelines who have the desire and the capacity to work, but are held back by one obstacle or another. It’s our job to remove those obstacles. That’s what supporting working families is all about.

 

States are getting on board, too. California, Rhode Island and New Jersey give workers paid family leave. Connecticut offers paid sick days. So does New York City. Since I asked Congress to raise the minimum wage last year, 13 states have taken steps to raise it on their own.

 

But all Americans should get to benefit from these policies. That’s why we need to see some action here in Washington.

 

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I’ll work with anyone — Democrats or Republicans — to increase opportunity for American workers. But in this year of action, whenever I can act on my own, I will.

 

Today, I’ll sign a Presidential Memorandum directing every agency in the federal government to expand access to flexible work schedules, and giving employees the right to request them.

 

I’m calling on Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, because too many pregnant workers are forced to choose between their health and their job. They can get fired for taking too many bathroom breaks, or forced on unpaid leave just for being pregnant. It’s inhumane, and it needs to stop.

 

And to help parents trying to get ahead, I’m directing my Secretary of Labor to invest $25 million in helping people who want to enroll in job-training programs, but don’t currently have access to the childcare they need to do it.

 

I take this personally — as the son and grandson of some strong women who worked hard to support my sister and me; as the husband of a brilliant woman who struggled to balance work and raising our young ladies when my job often kept me away; and as the father of two beautiful girls, whom I want to be there for as much as I possibly can — and whom I hope will be able to have families and careers of their own one day.

 

We know from our history that our country does better when everybody participates; when everyone’s talents are put to use; when we all have a fair shot. That’s the America I believe in. That’s the America I’ll keep fighting for every day.

 

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Statements and Releases – June 23rd, 2014

 

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Conviction of Journalists in Egypt

 

Message to Congress — Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to the Western Balkans

 

Notice to Congress — Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to the Western Balkans

 

Presidential Nomination Sent to the Senate

 

 

President Obama to Award the Medal of Honor

On July 21, 2014, President Barack Obama will award Ryan M. Pitts, a former active duty Army Staff Sergeant, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry.  Staff Sergeant Pitts will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as a Forward Observer with 2nd Platoon, Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, during combat operations at Vehicle Patrol Base Kahler, in the vicinity of Wanat Village in Kunar Province, Afghanistan on July 13, 2008.

 

Staff Sergeant Pitts will be the ninth living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.  He and his family will join the President at the White House to commemorate his example of selfless service.

 

PERSONAL BACKGROUND:

Staff Sergeant Pitts separated from the service on October 27, 2009 from Walter Reed Army Medical Center.  He currently lives in Nashua, New Hampshire, where he works in business development for the computer software industry.

 

Staff Sergeant Pitts enlisted in the Army in August 2003 as a Fire Support Specialist (13F), primarily responsible for the intelligence activities of the Army’s field artillery team.   After completion of training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and follow-on parachutist training at the U.S. Army Airborne School, Fort Benning, Georgia, he was assigned to Camp Ederle, Vicenza, Italy, as a radio operator with the 4th Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment and 173rd Airborne Brigade where he deployed to Afghanistan.  His final assignment was with the 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment “The Rock”, 173rd Airborne Brigade as a Forward Observer which included a second combat tour to Afghanistan.

 

At the time of the July 13, 2008 combat engagement, then-Sergeant Pitts was a Forward Observer in 2nd Platoon, Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment 173rd Airborne Brigade as part of Task Force Rock. His heroic actions were performed at Vehicle Patrol Base Kahler, in the vicinity of Wanat Village in Kunar Province, Afghanistan.

 

His personal awards include the Bronze Star Medal w/ “V” Device, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal w/ three Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal with Bronze Clasp and two Loops, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Two Campaign Stars, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon with Numeral “4”,  NATO Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Valorous Unit Award, Combat Action Badge, Pathfinder Badge and Parachutist Badge.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

 

THE MEDAL OF HONOR:

The Medal of Honor is awarded to members of the Armed Forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty while:

 

  • engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;
  • engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
  • serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

 

The meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life. There must be incontestable proof of the performance of the meritorious conduct, and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.

 

 

Readout of the President’s Call with President Putin of Russia

 

President Obama spoke with Russian President Putin today about the situation in Ukraine.  President Obama welcomed President Poroshenko’s peace plan and urged that Russia and separatist leaders work closely with the Ukrainian government to take concrete steps to implement it.  The President called upon President Putin to press the separatists to recognize and abide by the ceasefire and to halt the flow of weapons and materiel across its border into Ukraine.  The President emphasized that words must be accompanied by actions and that the United States remains prepared to impose additional sanctions should circumstances warrant, in coordination with our allies and partners.  The President and President Putin also discussed the removal of chemical weapons in Syria and ongoing efforts to reach a comprehensive solution to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful.

 

Obama Grabs a Bite at Chipotle Before Summit

 

 

 

Obama: Paid Leave Basic Need, Not Bonus

 

 

 

President Obama Grabs a Bite at Chipotle Before Summit!!

 

 

 

 

The White House Summit on Working Families {Full Summit}

 

 

 

 

 

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TheObamaCrat™ Wake-Up Call For Thursday The 29th Of May: President Obama Host Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit.


 

By Jueseppi B.

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I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Read By Dr. Maya Angelou (PhD) 1928-2014.

 

Tall and regal, with a deep, majestic voice, Maya Angelou defied all probability and category, enjoying mainstream success as an author and thriving in virtually every artistic medium.

 

Angelou, a modern Renaissance woman, survived the harshest of childhoods to become a force on stage, screen, the printed page and the inaugural dais.

 

She died Wednesday at age 86. The Struggle Here On Earth Is Over Queen Maya. Rest And Worry No More.

 

 

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President Obama to Host Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit

WASHINGTON, DC – On Thursday, May 29, President Obama will host a Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit at the White House, where he will be joined by young athletes, parents, coaches, academics and experts, athletes, military service members, and other stakeholders.

 

We know that many parents are focused on how best to protect their child from concussions, identify when their child has a concussion, and how best to respond when their child has a concussion.  Last fall, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council published a report that found that there are gaps in our research knowledge and that there is a startling lack of data on concussions, especially in youth sports.  The report also found that there is still a “culture of resistance” among athletes related to the self-reporting of concussions and the adherence to treatment plans once they experience a concussion.

 

The President believes we can and must do better and the Administration is committed to helping ensure that children continue to be active and play sports safely. During this summit, the Administration will announce new commitments from both the public and private sectors to raise awareness among young athletes, parents, school administrators, clinicians, coaches, and youth sports programs about how to identify, treat, and prevent concussions, as well as to conduct additional research in the field of sports-related concussions that will help better address concussions among students.

 

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WASHINGTON–President Barack Obama, on this overcast Thursday, hosts the White House Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit and a variety of public-private partnerships to deal with the problem.

 

 

From the White House: the “summit is bringing together key stakeholders to highlight new commitments, including new public-private partnerships, to increase research that will expand our knowledge of concussions and to provide parents, coaches, clinicians, and young athletes tools to better prevent, identify and respond to concussions.”

 

 

Actions Obama will announce, according to the White House:

·         The NCAA and the Department of Defense are jointly launching a $30 million effort to fund the most comprehensive clinical study of concussion and head impact exposure ever conducted and to issue an Educational Grand Challenge aimed at improving concussion safety behaviors in college sports and the military. This initiative aims to produce research on concussion risks, treatment and management through a multi-site longitudinal clinical study and advanced research projects.  Through an Educational Grand Challenge, the initiative aims to create novel and impactful evidence-based concussion education materials and solicit research proposals to identify key factors for affecting change in the culture and behavior of college student-athlete and other young adult populations with regard to concussions.

 

 

·         The NFL is committing $25 million over the next three years to support projects and partnerships aimed at promoting youth sports safety, including support for new pilot programs to expand access to athletic trainers in schools, in conjunction with the National Athletic Trainers Association, and to support a Back to Sports program — a collaboration with the National PTA and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association — to hold information sessions across the country to educate parents about sports safety and the value of sports participation and an active lifestyle.

 

 

·         The National Institutes of Health is announcing the launch of a new longitudinal research effort to detect, characterize, and measure the chronic effects of repetitive concussions to inform clinical trials aimed at preventing or slowing disease progression in the future.  NIH is being supported by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, starting with an initial investment of $16 million from its first Sports Health Program partner, the National Football League. This funding, together with grants announced at the end of last year, fulfill the $30 million commitment the NFL made to the NIH in 2012.   This fall, the NIH will convene public and private funders of concussion and TBI research, including NIH, the NFL, DoD, and NCAA, with the goal of supporting enhanced coordination among research efforts and better leveraging of public and private investments to accelerate research outcomes.

 

 

·         The UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program, with a $10 million investment from Steve Tisch, UCLA’s Departments of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics will launch the UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program to target sports concussion prevention, outreach, research and treatment for athletes of all ages, especially youth.  The program will focus on strategies such as community education events, including a planned Southern California youth concussion day for players, coaches, parents and trainers; a new fellowship program training the next generation of pediatric sports neurologists; longitudinal research studies to advance understanding of and treatment of concussion; and expanded treatment capacity through new multidisciplinary concussion clinics.  In addition, this commitment will support a planning initiative to inform the development of a national system to accurately determine the incidence of youth sports-related concussions.

 

 

·          The National Institute of Standards and Technology will invest $5 million over five years as part of the Materials Genome Initiative, to work on tools to accelerate the development of advanced materials that can provide better protection against concussions for the athlete, the warfighter and others.  These efforts aim to advance the development of new materials including light-weight, structural composite, and active or smart materials for protective gear.

 

 

·         Pop Warner Little Scholars will participate this season in a research project modeled on the High School RIO reporting system, which tracks concussions and concussion trends in high school sports, to improve tracking of concussions among young athletes.  100 Pop Warner teams will participate in the RIO pilot.  Pop Warner provides youth football and cheer and dance programs to approximately 425,000 young people ranging in age from 5 to 16 years old.  The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will launch a comprehensive pediatric and adolescent concussion registry to enable CHOP researchers to assess data for thousands of children with concussions to improve understanding of concussions and their impact on child health.

 

 

·         Safe Kids Worldwide, in partnership with Johnson & Johnson, will host more than 200 sports safety clinics for parents, coaches and young athletes across the country, including education on concussions, and will release a research report this summer providing updated insights into the culture of youth sports today.  The Brain Injury Association of America in collaboration with SAP will build an online application to help students, parents and educators better understand when to return to class after a concussion through a software platform that allows students, parents, educators, coaches and medical treatment providers to communicate.

 

 

·         USA Cheer will roll-out a new Head Injury Protocol to over 300,000 cheerleaders and their coaches this summer at clinics around the country to teach coaches and cheerleaders how to prevent, identify and seek treatment for any suspected head injuries.  USA Cheer and its partners, the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators, the U.S. All-Star Federation and the National Federation of State High School Associations will release new, updated cheerleading safety guidelines to reduce head injuries in cheerleading.

 

 

·         U.S. Soccer is establishing a Chief Medical Officer position to interface with the medical community and experts in the field of concussion management and prevention.   U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer will jointly organize a first-of-its-kind Medical Summit to, among other topics, lead a coordinated effort on concussion management and prevention initiatives. They also will use their platforms to communicate PSAs and other concussion-related messages including through U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Team games, MLS games and special events, and other venues.

 

 

·         The National Federation of State High School Associations will host a concussion summit this year focused on promoting best practices to minimize injury risks in high school athletes.  NFHS writes playing rules for high school level sports, reaching more than 19,000 high schools and more than 7.7. million participants in high school sports.  The National High School Athletic Coaches Association will use its summer  convention to provide education sessions on concussion for high school coaches and expand the concussion information on its Web site. 

 

 

·         The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will promote the use of its new Heads Up to Parents app to help parents learn how to spot concussion symptoms and what to do if they think their child or teen has a concussion.  In response to the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation to evaluate education efforts, CDC will evaluate its Heads Up concussion education program to help ensure that its messages are best reaching parents, coaches and young athletes.  It also will support the evaluation of ‘return to play’ laws.

 

 

·         The American Academy of Neurology will host its first multidisciplinary Sports Concussion Conference this summer and continue to support a national public education campaign to increase awareness of its clinical guidelines on sports concussions.   The American Psychological Association will produce a Web-based Concussions Toolkit as a resource for psychologists on concussions research and clinical information.  The American Academy of Pediatrics anticipates releasing an updated policy statement on sports-related concussion in children and adolescents in the  fall of 2015.   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will, by spring 2015, release the clinical guidelines it is developing for the appropriate diagnosis and management of children and teens with mild traumatic brain injury, including concussions, for use in doctor’s offices and emergency departments.  CDC has convened a Pediatric Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Guideline Workgroup composed of leading clinical experts to support the development of these guidelines. 

 

 

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White House Schedule – May 29th, 2014

 

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 29th, 2014

 

WEEKEND GUIDANCE AND SCHEDULE FOR
THURSDAY, MAY 29th, 2014

 

 

Thursday May 29th, 2014. All Times EDST

 

In the morning, the President will receive the Presidential Daily Briefing in the Oval Office. This meeting is closed press.

 

 

Later in the morning, the President will deliver remarks as part of the White House Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit.  He will be joined by young athletes, parents, coaches, academics, experts, athletes, military service members, and other stakeholders for these remarks in the East Room.  The President’s remarks will be open press.

 

 

In the afternoon, the President will join students participating in the White House Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit for a sports clinic on the South Lawn.  This event will be pooled press.

 

 

10:00 AM: THE PRESIDENT receives the Presidential Daily Briefing, Oval Office.

 

 

11:10 AM: THE PRESIDENT delivers remarks at the White House Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit, East Room.

 

 

12:30 PM: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, The Brady Press Briefing Room.

 

 

 

2:55: PM: THE PRESIDENT participates in a clinic as part of the White House Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit, South Lawn.

 

 

3:00 PM: The Vice President attends a reception for the Democratic National Committee, Local Event Time: 12:00 PM. Private Residence – Seattle

 

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President Obama’s Schedule for the Week of May 29th to May 30th 2014

 

On Thursday, the President will host a summit at the White House on youth sports safety and concussions, where he will be joined by stakeholders, including young athletes, parents, coaches, experts, professional athletes, and military servicemembers. At the White House Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit, the President will announce new commitments by both the public and private sectors to raise awareness about how to identify, treat and prevent concussions, and conduct additional research in the field of sports-related concussions that will help us better address these problems.

 

On Friday, the President will attend a hurricane preparedness meeting at FEMA Headquarters.

 

 

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Gutierrez in Richmond, Va. to prod Cantor on immigration reform

 

By LYNN SWEET

 

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) join a group of military 'DREAMers,' undocumented youth who aspire to serve the United States military but are prohibited from doing due to their immigration status, during a rally in front of the U.S. Capitol on May 20, 2014. | Getty Images

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) join a group of military ‘DREAMers,’ undocumented youth who aspire to serve the United States military but are prohibited from doing due to their immigration status, during a rally in front of the U.S. Capitol on May 20, 2014. | Getty Images

 

WASHINGTON — Rep. Luis Gutiettez D-Ill. on Wednesday hits Richmond Va. to discuss immigration reform at the State Capitol. Richmond is in the congressional district of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor R-Va. congressional district (VA-7) and the event is designed to try to prod Cantor into getting House leadership to take up immigration reform — almost a year after the Senate passed a comprehensive reform bill.

 

There is not a lot of time left. In a speech on the House floor last week (May 20) Gutierrez noted only 18 legislative days before Congress takes a July 4 break.

 

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Hillary Clinton: Rahm Emanuel interviews her in Chicago June 11

 

By LYNN SWEET

 

WASHINGTON—Hillary Rodham Clinton hits Chicago for a speech on June 10—the day her new book “Hard Choices” is released—and at the Chicago Ideas Festival the next day, she will be interviewed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is helping raise money for a group encouraging her to run for president in 2016.

 

Clinton returns to her hometown for the paid address to the United Fresh Produce Association and the Food Marketing Institute, meeting at McCormick Place coming on the release date of the anticipated blockbuster—and I say that based on news reports that a million copies of the book have been printed.

The Ideas Festival is calling the Clinton/Emanuel event a “conversation,” with the former Secretary of State delivering remarks for about 20 minutes, followed by Emanuel hosting a question and answer session which will include taking questions from the audience.

 

Ticket info:  chicagoideas.com Tickets to Clinton’s event will include a signed copy of Hard Choices.

 

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Westboro Baptist Church’s Plan to Protest D.C. High School Sparks Counterprotest

 

 

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A local high school’s effort to support its gay students has drawn the ire of the Westboro Baptist Church, provoking the divisive, Kansas-based group to plan a protest next month in the District.

 

On Wednesday, mayoral candidate David Catania, an openly gay member of the D.C. Council, called on residents of the city to stand with students at Woodrow Wilson High School “in support of tolerance and respect.”

 

The Northwest D.C. school will host a Pride Day on June 4, welcoming more than 20 organizations with support and services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning students into its atrium for a midday event.

 

Five days later, the WBC is planning an anti-gay protest on the sidewalk outside the school, attempting to catch the attention of students as they arrive for morning classes.

 

“This generation cannot find wisdom at any of their institutions of elementary, secondary or post-secondary education,” organizers declared in a release posted to Westboro’s website on Sunday. The group is targeting Wilson for providing resources to gay students.

 

Last year, Wilson made history as the first public school in D.C. to have a pride celebration.

 

Catania spoke with the principal, faculty and students behind the second annual event and thanked them for their work. Some have announced plans to organize a peaceful counterprotest.

 

“As I told the students, they are reaffirming the District’s legacy of inclusiveness and respect,” he said in a release.

 

“This is the city where Mildred and Richard Loving sought refuge and the freedom to love the person of their choice when the state of Virginia barred them from marrying because of the difference in the color of their skin,” he continued, referring to the landmark civil rights decision that invalidated laws barring interracial marriage. “More recently, it is the same city that was at the forefront of the fight for Marriage Equality.”

 

Catania, a Republican-turned-independent who spent much of his childhood in Kansas, is urging D.C. residents to back the students against the protesters.

 

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From Associated Press:

 

Conservative Senator: Gay Marriage Will Become Law Of The Land

 

Orrin Hatch

 

Hatch said people who can’t see what’s happening aren’t living in the real world. He made the remarks during an appearance on KSL-Radio’s Doug Wright Show (http://bit.ly/1koFdlh).

 

“Let’s face it: anybody who does not believe that gay marriage is going to be the law of the land just hasn’t been observing what’s going on,” said Hatch, a seven-term Republican senator who has been a proponent of keeping marriage exclusively between a man and a woman.

 

He said he doesn’t agree with the string of pro-gay marriage rulings, but defended two Utah judges who issued such decisions. Hatch said Robert Shelby and Dale Kimball are both excellent federal judges. Hatchrecommended both for the bench — Shelby in 2011 and Kimball in 1997.

 

“How do you blame the judge for deciding a case in accordance with what the Supreme Court has already articulated?” Hatch said.

 

His only criticism of Shelby was that he didn’t immediately put his ruling on hold when he struck down Utah’s same-sex marriage ban in December. More than 1,000 gay and lesbian couples until the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay more than two weeks later. The case is before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

 

Gay rights activists have won 14 lower court cases since a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling last summer. Gay and lesbian couples currently can marry in 19 states and the District of Columbia, with Oregon and Pennsylvania being the latest states to join the list.

 

Hatch also questioned whether judges should be able to tell states how to handle an important matter like marriage.

 

He said he believes nobody should suffer discrimination, and said religious people should try to understand other people’s beliefs.

 

The former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee predicted the Supreme Court would take a gay marriage case in 2015.

 

“Sooner or later gay marriage is probably going to be approved by the Supreme Court of the United States, and certainly as the people in this country move toward it, especially young people,” Hatch said. “I don’t think that’s the right way to go, on the other hand, I do accept whatever the courts have to say.”

 

Thank you Associated Press.

 

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From TPM LIVEWIRE:

 

Newspaper Writes Blistering Editorial On McConnell’s Shift On Obamacare

 

By DANIEL STRAUSS

 

That doesn’t quite add up to the editorial board of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

 

“Repeal the federal law, which McConnell calls ‘Obamacare,’ and the state exchange would collapse,” the editorial said on Wednesday. “Kynect could not survive without the ACA’s insurance reforms, including no longer allowing insurance companies to cancel policies when people get sick or deny them coverage because of pre-existing conditions, as well as the provision ending lifetime limits on benefit payments. (Kentucky tried to enact such reforms in the 1990s and found out we were too small a market to do it alone.)”

 

The editorial goes on to say that Kynect wouldn’t be able to survive without the federal funding from Obamacare.

 

“Kynect is the Affordable Care Act is Obamacare — even if Kentuckians are confused about which is which,” the editorial continued.

 

The editorial went on to say that the talking points it received from the McConnell campaign in response to questions about McConnell on Kynect and Obamacare are “unconnected to reality.”

 

“Kentuckians are waiting to learn if their five-term senator understands —or cares— how much is at stake,” the editorial concluded.

 

 

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House Photo Of The Day, May 28th, 2014

 

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White House LIVE!! Streaming.

 

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Next Up…

 
May 29, 2014 11:00 AM EDTShare
President Obama Speaks at the Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit
The White House, White House LIVE!! Streaming.

 

 

May 29, 2014 12:30 PM EDTShare
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney
The White House, White House LIVE!! Streaming.

 

 

May 29, 2014 2:55 PM EDTShare
President Obama Participates in a Clinic as Part of the Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit
The White House, White House LIVE!! Streaming.

 

 

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Let’s Cook! with Richard Sherman and the Seattle Seahawks

 

Published on May 29, 2014

Richard Sherman of the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks goes into the White House Kitchen to cook up something special. http://www.letsmove.gov

 

 

 

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