Hi, all. Today’s report features:
• West Wing Week: White House video retrospective.
• Tax cut agreement: White House White Board: Comparing the President’s priorities and the GOP’s; the President urges Congressional approval. More endorsements of agreement.
• First Question & press briefing: Q & A on tax cut agreement, South Korea trade agreement, START, DOT funding, Liu Xiabao, DADT.
• Job creation through increased exports: President Obama addresses President's Export Council. Commerce Secretary Locke launches the New Market Exporter Initiative.
• OMB and IT Management reform: OMB unveils a 25-step implementation plan for IT management reform.
• DREAM Act: President’s statements on actions by the House and Senate.
• White House Hanukkah Ceremony Menorah: Saving the menorah after Katrina.
• Lighting the National Christmas Tree: The President is joined by the First Family and Vice President and Dr. Biden in a ceremony on the Ellipse.
And that’s the Report -- see you on Monday, Dec. 13.
White House, Dec. 9, 2010:
• WEST WING WEEK •
West Wing Week: 12/10/10 or "It's Alive!"
Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Walk step by step with the President as he visits Afghanistan to celebrate the holidays with our men and women in uniform, announces a free trade agreement with South Korea, attends a series of meetings at the White House and holds a press conference to answer questions about the tax cut compromise, signs the Claims Resolution Act of 2010, and more...
• MIDDLE-CLASS TAX CUT AGREEMENT •
White House, Dec. 9, 2010:
White House White Board: Tax Cuts, Unemployment Insurance & Jobs
In this edition of White House White Board, Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, discusses the President's compromise framework on tax cuts, unemployment insurance & job creation. See previous White Board videos.
White House Blog, Dec. 9, 2010:
Posted by Jesse Lee
This morning the President met with his Export Council to continue work on his goal of doubling our exports for goods and services over five years and creating millions of jobs in the process. But as he continues to pursue this medium-term goal, he took a moment in his opening remarks to make clear there is a much more urgent and time-sensitive matter at hand:
"Now, everyone in this room is committed to promoting a strong and growing economy -- one that’s creating jobs, fostering a thriving middle class, and extending opportunity for all who are willing to work for it.
And as we meet here, there is an important debate I think most of you are aware of on Capitol Hill that will determine, in part, whether our economy moves forward or backward. The bipartisan framework that we’ve forged on taxes will not only protect working Americans from seeing a major tax increase on January 1st; it will provide businesses incentives to invest, grow and hire. And every economist that I’ve talked to or that I’ve read over the last couple of days acknowledges that this agreement would boost economic growth in the coming years and has the potential to create millions of jobs. The average American family will start 2011 knowing that there will be more money to pay the bills each month, more money to pay for tuition, more money to raise their children.
But if this framework fails, the reverse is true. Americans would see it in smaller paychecks that would have the effect of fewer jobs.
So as we meet here today to talk about one important facet of our economic strategy for the future, I urge members of Congress to move forward on this essential priority."
(Chart summary: 86.5% includes middle class and AMT, 53.1%, expensing provision 3.3%, Tax credits for working families, 4.2%, unemployment insurance, 6.2%, regular tax extenders such as the R & D credit, 6.6%, payroll tax holiday, 13.2%. High-income tax cuts and Lincoln-Kyl estate tax make up 13.5%.)
StartLoving4, Dec. 9, 2010:
The President on improved economic forecasts based on tax cuts.
The President’s comments about projected job growth resulting from the tax cut agreement, during his press meeting Dec. 8 with President Komorowski of Poland.
Before I mention the substance of our meeting, let me just say something very quickly to the American news crews about something that's on everybody’s minds -- and that is the current debate about the tax agreement that we've come up with.
We announced this agreement, and over the last couple of days economists throughout the country have looked at what would be the results of getting this agreement through Congress. And I think it’s worth noting that the majority of economists have upwardly revised their forecasts for economic growth and noted that as a consequence of this agreement we could expect to see more job growth in 2011 and 2012 than they originally anticipated.
And I just think it’s very important for Congress to examine the agreement, look at the facts, have a thorough debate, but get this done. The American people are watching and they’re expecting action on our parts.
Office of the Press Secretary, Dec. 8-9, 2010:
Mayor T.M. Franklin Cownie's Statement on President Obama's Tax Cuts for America's Middle Class
".... While we know that the President did not want to extend these benefits to the nation's wealthiest and therefore worsen the federal deficit, we also know that the perfect cannot be the enemy of the good. The nation and its middle class working families need relief now. President Obama has demonstrated his leadership by pulling together an economic package that the country desperately needs."
.... the middle class is far better off today than it was two years ago, precisely because of President Obama. Barack Obama has gotten more done to improve the lives of working and middle-class families after just two years in office than any president since Franklin D. Roosevelt. There’s no denying it.
.... Barack Obama is also a rational problem-solver who has thrown a lifeline to people who are suffering right now — and delivering for people who are in need right now is his job. A Republican president might not view that as his or her job, but President Obama does....
A final note: I know it would be gratifying for President Obama to stand up, veins popping out of his neck, and yell. We’ve all wanted to do that. But in the climate we’re in, we have instead a president who is focused on getting results, and who refuses to stoop to the level of vitriol of people who clearly don’t want to get anything done and are willing to let the middle class suffer. Barack Obama is delivering for the middle class despite obstinate Republicans, and that’s what’s important.
.... It is a sad day for the once proud Party of Lincoln when the Republican Leaders in Congress would put the short-term financial interests of millionaires ahead of the immediate needs of unemployed American families, and the long-term fiscal health of our nation.
.... As a fiscal conservative, I left the Republican Party because my former colleagues took a record surplus and turned it into record deficits. I firmly believe that these deficits have brought about our nation’s present economic malaise....
Last week, Congressional Republicans tried to repeat one of the most damaging mistakes in recent history as they sought to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. President Obama determined to use the situation as an opportunity to work for a greater, and far more immediate, good, in the extension of unemployment benefits.... I urge Congress to act promptly and in a bipartisan fashion to pass this agreement.
• FIRST QUESTION & WHITE HOUSE PRESS BRIEFING •
White House, Dec. 9, 2010:
First Question with Robert Gibbs -- December 9th, 2010]
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs takes first questions before his press briefing from the online audience on why extending unemployment insurance is important and "bickering" in Washington.
White House, Dec. 9, 2010:
12/9/10: White House Press Briefing
White House Press Briefings are conducted most weekdays from the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in the West Wing.
Office of the Press Secretary, Dec. 9, 2010:
(On the middle-class tax cut agreement.)
Q: A question about House Democrats saying they will not vote on the tax cut agreement.
.... MR. GIBBS: .... If there are ways to strengthen the framework that are agreeable to everybody and strengthen the coalition, that’s good. I think that’s something that we’d have to hear -- I think that’s something that House Democrats are going to have to talk about in terms of what they want to do and what they want to see.
I mean, obviously, as I said yesterday in response to several questions, if everybody took out what they didn’t like, we wouldn’t -- we would have nothing. And we know the consequences of doing nothing, and that’s why I strongly believe and the White House strongly believes that at the end of the day, Congress will give the American people a vote on a plan that prevents their taxes from going up by several thousand dollars at the beginning of the year; that will prevent millions from losing their unemployment insurance; and as this agreement does, the framework of this agreement, give strong incentives for job creation and economic growth.... and I think the bottom line, though, is that we will have a vote that will not result in people’s taxes going up by the end of the year....
.... I think that this is a long and winding process. But I think at the end of the day, members are not going to want to be in their districts, senators are not going to want to be in their districts when their constituents find out on the 1st of January that their taxes have gone up by several thousand dollars....
.... The President is focused on an agreement that he thinks provides some genuine economic growth and job creation potential and to ensure that taxes don’t go up -- even as we understand rightly the frustration of those that this agreement includes stuff that the President has campaigned against, the President has fought against, the President has said over and over again that he opposes. It is that part that makes it compromise.
And, again, I think in the end of the day the President is -- believes that this agreement, the framework we have, will be the basis for what prevents middle-class tax rates from going up on the 1st of January....
Q: The tax cuts that -- Republicans wanted the ‘09 stimulus package to be mostly tax cuts, not federal spending.
MR. GIBBS: The truth is, I think in terms of -- well, we can always quibble. I think a decent number of -- a decent number -- several hundred billion dollars, probably more than a third of the bill, was tax cuts.
Q: And they wanted more.
MR. GIBBS: Well, they didn’t want more enough to vote for it, because they all support an AMT tax relief and –
Q: They wanted more tax cuts than spending, that was their position. The school of thought then was that the economy was in such bad shape that the tax cuts themselves wouldn’t do the job. I don’t want to be answering your question for you.
MR. GIBBS: I think fairly well -- fairly well borne out by history, yes....
In designing an agreement, obviously we wanted something that -- we wanted something that made sense economically. I think -- and I think maybe compromise is a good word to describe, for instance, taking $60 billion in -- roughly $60 billion in Make Work Pay for 2011 and 2012, putting it together in 2011 and doing it through a payroll tax cut which shares a number of the characteristics to Make Work Pay, doing it with a greater bang for your buck means the benefit to the middle class is greater for virtually every family under $106,000 or roughly $107,000.
I think it is an understanding that the only way we were going to get something done after the votes on Saturday was to work together, and in doing so, we wanted something that provided economic certainty and grew the economy....
(On votes for the South Korea trade agreement and START renewal.)
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I’ll say this. We have -- if you look at what -- the President took, as he talked to you all about -- we took a pretty bad press day in Seoul, Korea, to walk away from an agreement that we believed wasn’t as good as we could get. And we got something that ended up being better for our country and for our country’s workers, and because of that, put together a coalition that I think stands a better chance of getting through Congress, because Dave Camp and Sandy Levin and Ford and the United Auto Workers are supportive of that newer deal. I think that’s a coalition that can get a trade agreement through Congress.
I think START is going to pass by the end of this year with a pretty big bipartisan vote. And I think in the end this will pass with a bipartisan vote as well. And I think that is what the American people asked for in this election, and I hope it is a sign of things to come.
(On the DOT redirecting funds from Wisconsin and Ohio because their governors-elect refused to obey the law regarding the money’s use.)
Q: Today the Transportation Department is pulling money from Wisconsin and Ohio for light rail and redirecting this money, stimulus money, to other states. Both Wisconsin and Ohio just elected Republican governors who ran in part on pledging not to -- they didn’t want to go through that project. Why not let them use that money for other transportation projects?
MR. GIBBS: Because the money is written into the law to be for high-speed rail. Both gubernatorial candidates, now both gubernatorial -- or governors-elect, told us they weren’t going to spend that money as the law is written. And as you know -- and I think your network and many others have done stories on ensuring that we spend this money the right way. And if grants that are obligated to places that aren’t going to use them as the law intends, then we will give that money to places that will use it as the law intends.
Q: Considering the pain that Wisconsin and Ohio have in their own economy, and the point of this money was to pump money into some of these states, particularly those two states, would you be open to changing the law so that money could be used for other transportation projects?
MR. GIBBS: Let’s be clear, Chuck, that building high-speed rail would alleviate the very problems that you just described. Now, you can ask governors-elect whether they decided not to put people in their own state to work just because Barack Obama decided that -- or just because Barack Obama proposed it as a project. My hunch is that there are people sitting around their kitchen tables in Ohio and Wisconsin who are wondering why they’re not at work because a partisan political food fight by a governor-elect. Those people could be at work if they spent the money as it was legally intended to be spent....
(On Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiabao.)
Q: .... Is (the president) going to -- can we expect him to speak about or maybe even to Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu tomorrow?
MR. GIBBS: As it relates to Liu Xiaobo, when he was awarded the Nobel Prize, the President was among the very few who put out a statement both congratulating him and calling on China to release him. And the President -- we will release a statement reiterating that tomorrow.
Q: That will be a written statement?
MR. GIBBS: Yes.
Q: What’s the official U.S. representation at the ceremony?....
MR. GIBBS: I believe our ambassador will be there.
Q: What message does that send? Some countries are boycotting it.
MR. GIBBS: Well, no, I think we’re there in showing support for the committee’s decision. And we were the previous recipient of that prestigious award and the President and our ambassador strongly believe that they should be in attendance of a ceremony attended by the winner, because he’s (not) been released by China...
(On DADT repeal.)
MR. GIBBS: .... I think the President strongly believes that one of two things is going to happen. Either Congress is going to solve this legislatively or the courts are going to decide this. And the policy is going to come to an end. Congress has to ask themselves how they want to end it and how -- what role they want to play in ensuring that it’s done in an orderly way....
Q: If (DADT repeal) doesn’t happen in the Congress before the Republicans take control of the House, is the President prepared to live with a legal resolution?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I will say Presidents are not often afforded a decision about whether they’ll live with a legal resolution.
It is not -- look, I think the first thing that the Pentagon would tell you is it’s not their preferred route. Look, you saw a decent amount of confusion when the Ninth Circuit effectively ended -- well, not effectively -- legally ended "don’t ask, don’t tell." There was some confusion about recruiting and how do you handle somebody who walks into a recruiter’s office for a couple of days.
The belief of the President and I think importantly the belief of the Secretary of Defense and the Chair of the Joint Chiefs, not simply is the policy wrong and should be done away with, but doing this in a legislative way provides some transition period to implement the change. The courts may not be as understanding as somebody in the legislature would be.
And you could easily face a situation where because of a court ruling, the law of the land changes in an instant. And the best way to prevent that -- and it’s coming -- is to do this through legislation. We’ve had hearings. We’ve had an exhaustive attitudinal study of the military. And it’s shown that ending this policy will not provide a significant disruption to our forces.
And for some frontline battlefield forces that might have a greater percentage of those who think it might be harder to do, you can have a transition period. But the policy can and should end legislatively on Capitol Hill....
• JOB CREATION THROUGH INCREASED EXPORTS•
White House, Dec. 9, 2010:
President Obama Meets with Export Council
President Obama addresses a meeting of the President's Export Council as they discuss strategies to meet the President's goal of boosting the economy and creating jobs by increasing American exports.
Office of the Press Secretary, Dec. 9, 2010:
.... One strategy that will help us do both -– to create good jobs that pay well today and create new markets for jobs tomorrow –- is to increase our exports to the rest of the world. That’s why, in my State of the Union address, I set a goal for America: We will double our exports for goods and services over five years. And I re-launched this council because, as business leaders and labor leaders, as members of Congress and as members of my administration, I value your advice in terms of how we best achieve that goal.
What we all agree on is that we’ve got to rebuild our economy on a new and stronger foundation for growth. And part of that means getting back to doing what America has always been known for doing -– what our workers and our businesses have always done best –- and that’s making great products and selling them around the world.
The world wants products made in America. We’ve got workers ready to make them. And the fact is, exporting is good for our economy. The more our companies export, the more they produce. The more they produce, the more workers they hire. Every $1 billion that we increase in exports supports more than 5,000 jobs, and companies that export often pay better wages.
So at a time when jobs are in short supply, growing our export markets is an imperative. And growing our exports today will create the jobs of tomorrow. Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers and the fastest-growing markets are beyond our borders. If we want to find new growth streams for our economy, we’ve got to compete aggressively for those customers -– because other nations are competing aggressively. And as long as I’m President of the United States, we are going to fight for every job, every industry, every market, everywhere –- and we intend to win.
That’s why I set this goal. We’re on track to meet it. Exports are up nearly 18 percent so far over last year. Today, I’d like to offer an update on some of the steps we’ve taken to get there and steps we’re taking based on this council’s recommendations, to keep making progress.
Earlier this year, I launched the National Export Initiative –- an effort to marshal the full resources of the federal government behind America’s businesses, large and small, in order to best help them sell their goods, services and ideas to the rest of the world.
One of the things I pledged to do as part of this initiative was to move forward on new trade agreements with some of our key partners. And I promised to do it in a way that secures a level playing field for our companies and a fair shake for our workers, without compromising our most cherished values.
That’s why I am so pleased that the United States and South Korea reached agreement on a landmark trade deal last week. We expect this deal’s tariff reductions alone to boost annual exports of American goods by up to $11 billion. And all told, this agreement -– including the opening of the Korean services market -– will support more than 70,000 American jobs.
I hoped to finalize this agreement -- I had hoped to finalize this agreement when I traveled to Korea last month, but I didn’t agree to it at that time for one simple reason: It wasn’t yet good enough for our workers or our economy. As much as I believe that looking out for American workers requires competing in the global marketplace, I also believe that as we compete in the global marketplace, we’ve got to look out for American workers. So I said let’s take the time to get this right. And we did.
It is now a deal that is good for our workers, good for our businesses, good for our farmers, good for our ranchers, good for aerospace, good for electronics manufacturers. In particular, American car and truck manufacturers will have more access to Korea’s markets. And here at home, we’ll encourage the development of electric cars and green technologies and continue to ensure a level playing field for our automakers.
It’s also good for our friend and ally South Korea. They will grow their economy, gain greater access to our markets, and will also get American products that will be more affordable for Korean households and businesses. And that means more choices for them and more jobs for us.
And it’s good for American leadership. As I’ve insisted all along, it -- the deal that we’ve struck includes strong protections for workers’ rights and environmental standards -– and as a consequence, I believe it’s a model for future trade agreements that I will pursue.
It’s an agreement supported by members of Congress on both side of the aisle, and Americans on all sides of the political spectrum –- from the UAW to the Chamber of Commerce. And I look forward to working with Congress and leaders in both parties to approve it -- because if there’s one thing we should all agree on, it’s creating jobs and opportunity for the American people.
Another thing that we said we’d do is to go to bat as a stronger advocate for our businesses abroad. This is an effort that I pledged to lead personally. And that’s why, on the same trip where we were working to get the Korea deal done, I visited India to highlight the role American business played there and took the opportunity to sell our exports to one of the fastest-growing markets in the world. While I was there, we reached several landmark deals -– from Boeing jets and GE engines to medical and mining equipment -– deals that are worth nearly $10 billion in exports and will support more than 50,000 American jobs.
I also believe that strong economic partnerships can create prosperity at home and advance it around the world. And that’s why we focused on deepening our economic cooperation with Russia on a range of fronts -- from aerospace to agriculture, including restarting American poultry exports earlier this year, which was an important victory for many American farmers. I believe that Russia belongs in the WTO and that we should support all efforts to make that happen. I think President Medvedev is doing important work trying to reform and move Russia forward on a whole host of issues, and I told him that the United States would be a partner with him in that effort. Welcoming Russia to the WTO would be good for them; it would also be good for us and good for the global economy.
Finally, we’ve also been working to reform our export control system with high-tech companies like some of yours in mind, so that American firms that make products with national security implications can stay competitive even as we better protect our national security interests.
When this council met in September, some of you asked that we make it easier for businesses to participate in these reform efforts. So today, I’m pleased to announce that we’re publishing a first set of guidelines for what products should be controlled going forward, and the licensing policies that will apply to them. As an example, we’ve applied those policies to one category of products. In that one category, about three-quarters of products previously subjected to stricter controls will be shifted to a more flexible list, and many are expected to fall off the list altogether. And we want input from businesses, from Congress and from our allies as we complete this reform.
Today, we’re also unveiling a new export control reform web page as part of the revamped Export.gov. This is something that Secretary Locke mentioned in our last meeting. Typically, all businesses that export have to go through a maze of different lists, different formats, from different departments, to make sure they’re not selling their products somewhere or to someone that they shouldn’t be. As important as that is, the process is repetitive, it’s redundant, and particularly onerous for small businesses without the means to navigate it all.
So we’re changing that. Effective today, businesses can, for the very first time, go to Export.gov and download one consolidated list of entities that have special export requirements.
So that’s a lot of work that we’ve been doing to double our exports, to open up new markets and level the playing field for American workers and businesses -- all with the overarching purpose of growing and strengthening the American economy....
Department of Commerce, Dec. 9, 2010:
Secretary Gary Locke Speaks at the Launch of the New Market Exporter Initiative
Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke speaks at the launch of the New Market Exporter Initiative with the National Association of Manufacturers on December 6, 2010.
Department of Commerce, Dec. 6, 2010:
.... Everyone in this room knows that this has been a tough stretch for the American economy. And no one has been hit harder than our manufacturing sector.
But thanks to decisive action taken by this administration, we’ve started to see signs of recovery. We’ve seen 10 months of private-sector job increases. And five quarters of positive GDP growth.
Still, too many people who want work can’t find it, and too many people who are working can’t find enough of it.
We can't tell exactly how this recovery is to play out. But this much we know:
Manufacturing must be a big part of the solution.
It begins with the fact that manufacturing is a vital source of good family wage middle-class jobs. Consider the fact that manufacturing employees make 13 percent more than the average for all other workers.
It’s no coincidence that the struggles of the American middle class have coincided with the decades long decline of America's manufacturing base. I think it’s clear: the fortunes of American manufacturing and our middle-class rise and fall together.
Manufacturing is also perhaps the most significant source of American innovation -- comprising two-thirds of our nation’s research and development spending.
In the last few years I think a troubling line of thinking emerged that as long as American companies owned intellectual property of a product, it didn't really matter where it was made.
But I think we're all starting to recognize the folly of that thinking.
When products are designed and manufactured side-by-side in America, businesses can discover new efficiencies and develop second-, third- and fourth-generation upgrades that would never occur in a cloistered research lab.
When they are not, we let other countries develop new businesses and jobs that only come when a company is engaged in the entire chain of innovation: from the inception of an idea to its production and sale.
For all these reasons, manufacturing must be a critical part of America's economic strategy.
President Obama has already made a significant down payment to jumpstart manufacturing, with over $100 billion dollars worth of grants, tax cuts and incentives in the Recovery Act devoted to manufacturing investments.
At Commerce, we’re working every day:
• To improve manufacturers’ efficiency and sustainability;
• To help unlock the potential of promising new markets like clean energy; and
• To expand exports by increasing manufacturers’ access to foreign markets.
And today I am proud to announce another step to strengthen American manufacturing.
This morning we’re announcing that the National Association of Manufacturers and FedEx have pledged to work with the Commerce Department to support President Obama’s National Export Initiative.
As many of you know, the Commerce Department is playing a lead role in implementing the Initiative, which aims to double American exports over the next five years, supporting two million new jobs here at home.
The reasoning behind the President’s plan is simple. The more products and services we sell abroad, the more jobs we create and support right here in America.
But right now, a lot of American companies aren't exporting nearly as much as they could or should.
Consider the fact that only one percent of American companies export. And of those that do export, 58 percent only sell to one country.
The manufacturers association and FedEx are going to help change that.
The association will reach out to its members, who represent the U.S.’ leading manufacturers, to encourage them to expand their exports to new markets through the Commerce Department’s New Market Exporter Initiative.
Our heaviest focus in this Initiative will be on existing exporters -- because it’s easier to help a company grow its share in an existing market or expand into other markets than it is to assist a company that has never exported before.
And the Commerce Department, with our network of trade specialists posted in 109 U.S. cities and 77 countries worldwide, will be a significant resource for these companies.
In fact, the Department is so committed to this program that it has stationed one of its senior commercial officers, Janice Corbett, at the manufacturers association to personally help manufacturers develop strategies to expand their export sales to new markets.
We know American businesses are unmatched in their ability to produce world-class goods and services.
Where we must improve is connecting those businesses to the 95 percent of the world's consumers who live outside our borders.
Governor Engler (president of the National Association of Manufacturers), you and your team, along with our partners at FedEx are going to help us take our New Market Exporter Initiative to the next level
Thank you for your leadership and now I'd like to welcome you up to talk a bit more about NAM’s role in all this.
Thank you all for coming today. In this unforgiving global economy, manufacturers need to do everything they can to be more competitive and more efficient and productive in everything they do.
The Obama administration and the Commerce Department stand ready to help in any way we can....
• OMB AND IT MANAGEMENT REFORM •
White House, Dec. 9, 2010:
White House Forum on IT Management Reform
The Office of Management and Budget hosts a Forum on Information Technology Management Reform at the White House. December 9, 2010.
Federal Computer Week, Dec. 9, 2010:
OMB officials unveil 25-step plan
By Alyah Khan
Industry members are praising the Obama administration’s 25-step implementation plan for IT management reform, saying that many of its action items align with popular commercial practices.
Officials released the reform plan Thursday morning and detailed the federal government’s goal to engage more with industry, shift to a "cloud first" policy, and its intent to terminate inefficient IT systems within 18 months. Despite the scope of the plan's ambition, management advocates in the industry community said it seems feasible.
"None of it seems undoable," Andy Robinson, chair of the Industry Advisory Council, said. "I didn’t see anything that struck me as impossible to accomplish. Industry is ready for it to happen."
Federal CIO Vivek Kundra provided an overview of the report at a White House event, which was attended by federal agency leaders and industry members. Kundra highlighted elements of the report, such as redefining the role of agency CIOs and removing barriers to entry for small innovative technology firms. He also stressed the government’s bottom-line goal of execution.
To ensure the measures outlined in the report are actually being achieved, Kundra said the government will issue six-month progress reports on individual action items. Action items are also assigned to "owners" or specific federal agencies to increase accountability....
John Palguta, vice president for policy at the Partnership for Public Service, also gave kudos to Kundra and the administration for stressing the importance of a specialized IT workforce and the creation of a technology fellows program.
Kundra said at the Thursday event that the plan was drafted with input from the federal IT, acquisition, and program management communities, as well as industry experts and academics. Hodgkins noted that the government’s plan closely mirrors proposals made in a report released earlier this year by TechAmerica Foundation’s Commission on Government Technology Opportunity in the 21st Century.
• DREAM ACT •
Office of the Press Secretary, Dec. 8, 2010:
I congratulate the House of Representatives, Speaker Pelosi, Congressman Berman, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other congressional leaders for taking the historic step of passing the DREAM Act today with a bipartisan vote. This vote is not only the right thing to do for a group of talented young people who seek to serve a country they know as their own by continuing their education or serving in the military, but it is the right thing for the United States of America. We are enriched by their talents and the success of their efforts will contribute to our nation’s success and security. And as the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found, the DREAM Act would cut the deficit by $2.2 billion over the next 10 years. I strongly urge the U.S. Senate to also pass the DREAM Act so that I can sign it into law as soon as possible.
This vote is a vitally important step to doing what the American people expect their policymakers to do: work together to address the nation’s most pressing problems. The DREAM Act corrects one of the most egregious flaws of a badly broken immigration system. A flaw that forces children who have grown up in America, who speak English, who have excelled in our communities as academics, athletes, or volunteers to put their lives and talent on hold at a great cost to themselves and our nation.
I also congratulate the House for moving past the tired sound bites and false debates that have pushed immigration rhetoric into the extremes for far too long. The DREAM Act is not amnesty; it’s about accountability, and about tapping into a pool of talent we’ve already invested in. The DREAM Act is a piece of a larger debate that is needed to restore responsibility and accountability to our broken immigration system broadly. My administration will continue to do everything we can to move forward on immigration reform; today’s House vote is an important step in this vital effort.
Office of the Press Secretary, Dec. 9, 2010:
Last night’s approval of the DREAM Act in the House of Representatives was a historic and important step. We agree with the Senate leadership’s decision to table the version under consideration in that chamber in favor of taking up the version approved in the House. Eight Republicans voted together with Democrats to approve this important bill in the House last night. It should get bipartisan support in the Senate as well, and in light of the vote in the House, this is the right way to move forward to get that. The DREAM Act is the right thing to do for our nation, our economy, and our security – and even reduces the deficit by $2.2 billion over the next decade. The President looks forward to seeing the Senate approve it so that he can sign it into law.
• THE WHITE HOUSE HANUKKAH CEREMONY MENORAH •
White House, Dec. 9, 2010:
The White House Hanukkah Ceremony Menorah: A Reminder of Tragedy and a Source of Inspiration
Posted by Kori Schulman
The menorah used at the White House Hanukkah ceremony was generously loaned from the Congregation Beth Israel in New Orleans -- one of very few items from the congregation that survived the devastation of Katrina. Just before the candle lighting, Rabbi Uri Topolosky of Congregation Beth Israel in New Orleans shared the story of the menorah.
Office of the Press Secretary, Dec. 2, 2010:
.... And as we prepare to light another candle on the menorah, let us remember the sacrifices that others have made so that we may all be free. Let us pray for the members of our military who guard that freedom every day, and who may be spending this holiday far away from home.
Let us also think of those for whom these candles represent not just a triumph of the past, but also hope for the future -- the men, women and children of all faiths who still suffer under tyranny and oppression.
That’s why families everywhere are taught to place the menorah in public view, so the entire world can see its light. Because, as the Talmud teaches us, "So long as a person still has life, they should never abandon faith."
Now, the menorah we’re using tonight, and the family who -- who is going to help us light it, both stand as powerful symbols of that faith.
This beautiful menorah has been generously loaned to us by Congregation Beth Israel in New Orleans. (Applause.) Five years ago, when Hurricane Katrina hit, the synagogue was covered in eight feet of water. Later, as the cleanup crew dug through the rubble, they discovered this menorah, caked in dirt and mold. And today it stands as a reminder of the tragedy and a source of inspiration for the future....
• LIGHTING THE NATIONAL CHRISTMAS TREE •
White House, Dec. 9, 2010:
President Obama Lights the National Christmas Tree
The President is joined by the First Family and Vice President and Dr. Biden as he lights the National Christmas Tree in a ceremony on the Ellipse.
Office of the Press Secretary, Dec. 9, 2010:
THE PRESIDENT: Merry Christmas, everybody!
AUDIENCE: Merry Christmas!
THE PRESIDENT: Happy holidays. We are just thrilled to have all of you here.
Thank you, Secretary Salazar, for the kind introduction and for all that you’re doing to protect our national parks and our public lands for the future generations. I also want to recognize Neil Mulholland and everyone at the National Park Foundation and at the National Park Service who helped put this event together.
I want to thank Pastor Darrell Morton for that wonderful invocation, and of course, thanks to Common and all of tonight’s performers for joining us here as we light the National Christmas Tree for the 88th time. (Applause.)
This is a very proud holiday tradition. Snow or shine, in good times and in periods of hardship, folks like you have gathered with Presidents to light our national tree. Now, it hasn’t always gone off without a hitch. On one occasion, two sheep left the safety of the Nativity scene and wandered into rush-hour traffic. (Laughter.) That caused some commotion. (Laughter.)
Often, the ceremony itself has reflected the pain and sacrifice of the times. There were years during the Second World War when no lights were hung, in order to save electricity. In the days following Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill joined President Roosevelt to wish our nation a Happy Christmas even in such perilous days.
But without fail, each year, we have gathered here. Each year we’ve come together to celebrate a story that has endured for two millennia. It’s a story that’s dear to Michelle and me as Christians, but it’s a message that's universal: A child was born far from home to spread a simple message of love and redemption to every human being around the world.
It’s a message that says no matter who we are or where we are from, no matter the pain we endure or the wrongs we face, we are called to love one another as brothers and as sisters.
And so during a time in which we try our hardest to live with a spirit of charity and goodwill, we remember our brothers and sisters who have lost a job or are struggling to make ends meet. We pray for the men and women in uniform serving in Afghanistan and Iraq and in faraway places who can’t be home this holiday season. And we thank their families, who will mark this Christmas with an empty seat at the dinner table.
On behalf of Malia, Sasha, Michelle, Marian -- who’s our grandmother-in-chief -- (laughter) -– and Bo -- don’t forget Bo -- (applause) -- I wish all of you a merry Christmas and a blessed holiday season.
And now I’m going to invite the entire Obama crew up here to help me light this Christmas tree. (Applause.)
All right, everybody, we’re going to count from five -- five, four, three, two, one.
(The tree is lit.) (Applause.)
Merry Christmas, everybody!