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"America’s Resurgence Is Real": President Obama Reflects on 2014

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2014 at 12:51 pm

President Obama Speaks at Year-End Press Conference

President Barack Obama holds a press conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House.

December 19, 2014.

(Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

As 2014 winds down, President Obama stopped by the press briefing room in the White House to offer his thoughts on what the past year has meant for the country. “I said that 2014 would be a year of action and would be a breakthrough year for America,” he said. “And it has been.” 

Here’s a look at what happened this year, in the President’s own words: 

On the Economy:

The 2014 takeaways: 11 million new jobs created, wages on the rise, manufacturing growth, and a resurgent auto industry that’s on track for its strongest year since 2005.

The steps that we took early on to rescue our economy and rebuild it on a new foundation helped make 2014 the strongest year for job growth since the 1990s. All told, over a 57-month streak, our businesses have created nearly 11 million new jobs. Almost all the job growth that we’ve seen have been in full-time positions.  Much of the recent pickup in job growth has been in higher-paying industries. And in a hopeful sign for middle-class families, wages are on the rise again.

Our investments in American manufacturing have helped fuel its best stretch of job growth also since the 1990s. America is now the number-one producer of oil, the number-one producer of natural gas. We’re saving drivers about 70 cents a gallon at the pump over last Christmas. And effectively today, our rescue of the auto industry is officially over. We’ve now repaid taxpayers every dime and more of what my administration committed, and the American auto industry is on track for its strongest year since 2005.  And we’ve created about half a million new jobs in the auto industry alone.

On Health Care: 

The 2014 takeaways: The uninsured rate is at a near record low, and the cost of health care is rising at its slowest rate in 50 years. 

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, about 10 million Americans have gained health insurance just this past year. Enrollment is beginning to pick up again during the open enrollment period. The uninsured rate is at a near record low. Since the law passed, the price of health care has risen at its slowest rate in about 50 years. And we’ve cut our deficits by about two-thirds since I took office, bringing them to below their 40-year average.

President Obama Speaks to Press at Year-End Press Briefing

President Barack Obama holds a press conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House.

December 19, 2014.

(Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

On American Leadership on the World Stage: 

The 2014 takeaways: The U.S. is leading in our fight against ISIL, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and Russian aggression. The President also brought a responsible end to America’s longest war in Afghanistan. 

Around the world, America is leading. We’re leading the coalition to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL — a coalition that includes Arab partners. We’re leading the international community to check Russian aggression in Ukraine. We are leading the global fight to combat Ebola in West Africa, and we are preventing an outbreak from taking place here at home. We’re leading efforts to address climate change, including last month’s joint announcement with China that’s already jumpstarting new progress in other countries. We’re writing a new chapter in our leadership here in the Americas by turning a new page on our relationship with the Cuban people. 

And in less than two weeks, after more than 13 years, our combat mission in Afghanistan will be over. Today, more of our troops are home for the holidays than any time in over a decade. Still, many of our men and women in uniform will spend Christmas in harm’s way. And they should know that the country is united in support of you and grateful not only to you but also to your families.

“The six years since the crisis have demanded hard work and sacrifice on everybody’s part. But as a country, we have every right to be proud of what we’ve accomplished,” the President said. “More jobs; more people insured; a growing economy; shrinking deficits; bustling industry; booming energy.  Pick any metric that you want — America’s resurgence is real.”

The President then took questions from the White House press corps, which includes significant women reporters who work hard day-in and day-out covering the President of the United States. The President took the opportunity to highlight that fact, and for the first time in history, only answered questions from women reporters. 

Topics included Sony Corporation’s decision to cancel the release of the movie “The Interview,” an in-depth look at his decision to chart a new course on Cuba, and his take on race relations in America over the past year. 

Watch the President’s remarks:

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Financial Regulatory Reform

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2014 at 12:51 pm

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for America to set the rules for global trade in the 21st century. The agreement aims to expand access to the world’s fastest-growing markets, even as we enshrine higher standards of protection for workers and consumers. 

Recently, questions have arisen over how we will protect the progress toward a safer financial system that we have made since the crisis in the context of these trade negotiations. President Obama inherited a financial crisis that was the consequence of years of poor financial regulation, and he made Wall Street reform a top priority as he worked with Congress to craft a set of historic protections that ultimately became the Dodd-Frank Act. Since he signed that legislation in 2010, his Administration has made significant progress implementing its key provisions. Just as important, the President has pushed for stronger rules across the globe through the G-20 and other venues, and he has also fought against repeated attempts to undermine Wall Street reform here at home. He will do whatever it takes to make our financial system stronger and more stable.

As for TPP, there is nothing in the proposed agreement that would have inhibited our decisive response to the recent financial crisis or that would dilute the important financial reforms we have implemented over the past four years. There is also nothing that would prevent us from taking similar steps in the future. The President will not allow this agreement to undermine essential financial reforms.

On the contrary, this agreement will raise standards and level the playing field for American companies to compete abroad, including for services suppliers, the largest sector of our economy. TPP will also provide investor protections to benefit the 23 million Americans who work for U.S. firms doing business overseas. 

Finally, it is important to note that TPP protects the right of governments to regulate in the public interest. The United States wouldn’t negotiate away its right to regulate in the public interest – with regard to public health and safety, the financial sector, the environment, or any other area.

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Weekly Address: America’s Resurgence Is Real

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2014 at 12:51 pm

In this week’s address, the President reflected on the significant progress made by this country in 2014, and in the nearly six years since he took office.

This past year has been the strongest for job growth since the 1990s, contributing to the nearly 11 million jobs added by our businesses over a 57-month streak. America is leading the rest of the world, in containing the spread of Ebola, degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL, and addressing the threat posed by climate change. And earlier this week, the President announced the most significant changes to our policy towards Cuba in over 50 years.

America’s resurgence is real, and the President expressed his commitment to working with Congress in the coming year to make sure Americans feel the benefits.

Transcript  | mp4 | mp3

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How has middle class Christmas changed?

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2014 at 12:51 pm
christmas spending then now

The middle class are feeling more and more squeezed these days … is that partly because they have to put more gifts — and pricier ones — under the Christmas tree?

CNNMoney wants to know what was under your Christmas tree 30 years ago (Think: Trivial Pursuit, Cabbage Patch dolls, Transformers) and what are you wrapping this year (Think: iPhones, Fitbits and PlayStation)?

Do you, your kids or grandkids expect more expensive presents nowadays? Is it more than you gave or received 30 years ago?

Tell us about it.

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Last-minute Christmas shopping guide

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Will UPS' weathermen save Christmas? 

Still haven’t ordered those stocking stuffers? You’ve got to hurry, or your gift won’t arrive by Christmas.

You’ve already missed the deadline for free shipping from Amazon (AMZN, Tech30), for example. (It was Friday.)

But the online store says gifts ordered as late as Tuesday can still be under the tree on Thursday if you pay for one-day delivery. Some customers in major cities can even place orders by 10 a.m. on Christmas Eve and receive same-day delivery.

Hitting the stores: If you want to do your last-minute shopping the old fashioned way, expect stores to be crowded and lines to be long this weekend.

Many stores like Target (TGT) and J.C. Penney (JCP) will be open for extended hours.

Toys ‘R’ Us and Kohl’s (KSS) will be remain open all hours until Christmas eve.

Shopping online: And you can also shop online at these same stores.

Walmart’s (WMT) free shipping deadline passed (last Wednesday), but “rush shipping” is available through Monday for a fee. And if the item is in stock at a nearby store, orders for in-store pickup can be placed even on Christmas Eve.

There’s still time for free shipping through Best Buy (BBY). It says orders over $35 placed by 11:30 a.m. ET on Monday qualify for free delivery by Christmas. It also offers free in-store pickup.

The deadline at Kohl’s and Target is Saturday. Sears’ and Macy’s is Monday.

Last call at the Post Office: If you already have a gift you have to mail, that clock is ticking, too. The U.S. Postal Service will accept packages through Tuesday for Priority Mail Express. You can save a few bucks — and time in line — by dropping off the package by Saturday and using First Class Mail (for Christmas cards) or Priority Mail (for packages).

The deadline for Thursday delivery from UPS (UPS) and FedEx (FDX) is Tuesday.

Related: Toys ‘R’ Us extends hours for last-minute shoppers

Related: Mall Santa 101

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The Faces of Health Care: Peter M.

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2014 at 12:37 am

“…I’ve felt strong enough to liberate some of my extra savings that I’d been holding onto for healthcare emergencies, so I’m now able to help more with my son’s college expenses … My guess is that there are many more Americans whose new health insurance is already allowing them to contribute more fully to the economy and their communities.”

Peter M. is a single dad from Austin, Texas who was uninsured for 10 years after his previous self-proclaimed “junk” insurance grew increasingly expensive. And he’s experienced his fair share of health problems: At the time he wrote the President this past June, he was doing part-time work to help make ends meet while managing his illness.

Here’s the good news: After enrolling in a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace that kicked in last January, Peter wrote the President to let him know that he was “starting to have dreams of working full time again.” He began freeing up his extra savings — tucked away in case of health care emergencies — to help pay for his son’s college expenses, to refinance his home, and even to buy a new car.

For Americans like Peter, affordable coverage thanks to health reform hasn’t just meant being able to better provide for their own families — but being able to contribute to both the economy and their local communities, as well. That’s a big deal.

Every one of us can play a part in sharing stories like Peter’s. If you’ve got one of your own, you can share it here

Need to get covered? Find a health plan that best fits your needs at Already covered? Commit to help someone you know get covered here.

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Dan Pfeiffer Joins Medium: "Breaking Down the ‘Worst’ Year in Washington"

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2014 at 12:37 am

Today, Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer joined the new publishing platform Medium — authoring a post that reflects on the incredible amount of progress made in 2014 despite some claims that the President had “the worst year in Washington.” Moving forward, he will continue to post important highlights, insights, and reflections on the President’s agenda.

(For more posts from across the Administration, be sure to also follow President Obama and the White House on Medium, as well.)

In today’s post, he reflects on 2014 as a year of real and meaningful progress for President Obama and the progressive agenda — no matter what the critics have said. He goes on to note a few meaningful progress points from the year:

  1. 2014 has been the strongest year of job growth since the 1990s.

  2. America’s uninsured rate dropped to near-historic lows in 2014 — In spite of the fact that this time a year ago, politicians and the press were predicting the demise of the Affordable Care Act.

  3. The President made historic progress across the board on the central global challenge of the next century: Climate change and environmental protection.

  4. President Obama’s Executive Action to fix our immigration system is the most meaningful effort in decades to make the system fairer, more transparent, and more predictable.

  5. In his six years in office, the President has reshaped the federal judiciary to include more women, minorities, gays, and lesbians, so it might resemble more closely the nation it serves.

Read the full post on Medium — and then share it with anyone you know who might need a reminder of exactly how much got done in 2014.

Related Topics: Higher Education, Jobs, College Affordability, Manufacturing, Reach Higher, Skills, Small Business, Economy, Housing, Education, Energy and Environment, Equal Pay, Foreign Policy, Health Care, Homeland Security, Immigration, Inside the White House, Middle Class Security, Taxes, Technology, Veterans, Women, Working Families

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West Wing Week 12/19/14 or, "Todos Somos Americanos"

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2014 at 12:36 am

This week, the President traveled to Fort Dix to thank our troops, took action to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay, and announced historic changes to America’s relationship with Cuba. That’s December 12th to December 18th or, “Todos Somos Americanos.”

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Justin Bieber just lost 3.5 million Instagram followers

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2014 at 12:36 am

Instagram wipes out fake followers 

Justin Bieber has been left behind by the Instagram Rapture.

The “Baby” crooner lost a whopping 3.5 million followers after Instagram purged all the spam and deadweight from its site this week. Fake accounts comprised nearly 15% of Bieber’s Instagram following.

Instagram went after spam in a major way this week, deleting millions of fake accounts in what has become dubbed the “Instagram Rapture.”

It turns out that the celebrities on the Internet are not as famous as we thought. Some of the biggest names in show business shed the largest numbers of fake followers on Instagram, with the Bieb leading the way, according to data compiled by Zach Allia, a software developer.

Ariana Grande — you’ve heard of her — lost 1.5 million followers, or 7% of her total. Kim Kardashian barely qualifies as being famous anymore, after Instagram shed all her fake bits, losing 1.3 million followers, or 5.5% of her total.

Related: ‘The Interview’ was supposed to bring in $100 million

Rihanna, perhaps better known as badgirlriri, also lost a ton of fake weight, shedding more than 1.1 million followers, or 8% of her total following on Instagram. Taylor Swift fared better than a lot of her fellow celebs, losing a mere 725,000, or 4.4%. And Selena Gomez, the Bieb’s on-again, off-again girlfriend, lost 1.1 million Instagram followers, shedding 5.7% of her weight.

bieber instagram
Justin Bieber lost his shirt – and about 3.5 million fake followers – in the Instagram Rapture.

While the Bieb was hard hit, Instagram itself was the biggest loser, shedding more than 18.8 million followers, or nearly 30% of its total, in the culling.

The social media site, owned by Facebook (FB, Tech30), announced last week that it has 300 million users — not including all the spam it eliminated.

Celebrities use to promote their brands and advertise sponsors that endorse them. Accounts with large numbers of followers can score big bucks from advertisers.

Related: Antique guns up for auction

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The heart of the Internet has been hacked

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2014 at 12:36 am

Visualize the whole Internet with an app 

The all-powerful but little-known organization that administers all global website domain names has been hacked.

Um, embarrassing much?

The nonprofit group — called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) — revealed the hack in a website post earlier this week, saying the intrusion began in November.

However, the damage in this case seems to be limited.

The organization confirmed that a key department, which is in charge of ensuring the global Internet network runs smoothly, was not affected.

According to ICANN, the hackers got into the system using “spear phishing,” which involved sending targeted emails to ICANN staff that appeared to be internal messages. This allowed the attackers to access the email system and other public and internal networks.

It seems the key area that was compromised was an online site where people could request information about domain names. ICANN says hackers were able to see all user names, addresses, emails, phone numbers and passwords, though the passwords were encrypted.

“ICANN is providing notices to the … users whose personal information may have been compromised,” the organization said, though it didn’t say how many people were affected.

ICANN says the attack could have been worse if it weren’t for some new security upgrades that had been put in place this year.

“We believe these [security] enhancements helped limit the unauthorized access obtained in the attack,” it said. “Since discovering the attack, we have implemented additional security measures.”

This is the latest in a string of powerful people and organizations that have been hit by hackers this year, including Sony (SNE) and Home Depot (HD).

Related: Everything you need to know about the Sony mega-hack

Related: ‘The Interview’ was expected to bring in $100 million for Sony

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