Monthly Archives: January 2012

In the Showroom of the Washington Auto Show

President Barack Obama is shown the American Pride Chevrolet Camaro (January 31, 2012)

President Barack Obama is shown the American Pride Chevrolet Camaro, as Ed Welburn, Vice President of Global Design for General Motors, explains design and manufacturing details of the car during a visit to the Washington Auto Show at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., Jan. 31, 2012. Gerard Murphy, President of the Washington New Automobile Dealers Association, is at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This afternoon, President Obama made the trip across town to the Washington Auto Show to look at some of the incredible new vehicles being built by Detroit.

There, he told reporters:

Let me just say, when you look at all these cars, it is testimony to the outstanding work that's been done by workers — American workers, American designers.  The U.S. auto industry is back.  The fact that GM is back, number one, I think shows the kind of turnaround that's possible when it comes to American manufacturing.

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Presidential Proclamation — American Heart Month, 2012

Release Time: 
For Immediate Release


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     Every year, heart disease takes the lives of over half a million Americans, and it remains the leading cause of death in the United States.  This devastating epidemic leaves no one untouched; its victims are fathers and daughters, grandparents and siblings, cherished friends and community members across our country.  This month, we remember the steps each of us can take to reduce the risk of heart disease and recommit to better heart health for all Americans.

     While genetic or hereditary factors play a part in many instances of cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity, tobacco use, and alcohol abuse are major risk factors that can be prevented or controlled.  To take action against heart disease, I encourage all Americans to make balanced and nutritious meal choices, maintain a healthy weight, and get active.  Avoiding tobacco, moderating alcohol consumption, and working with a health care provider can also help prevent or treat conditions that can lead to heart disease.  Additional resources on how to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease are available at:

     To help win the fight against heart disease, my Administration is working to ensure individuals and communities have the tools they need to make real gains in this critical effort.  Last September, we launched the Million Hearts initiative, which is coordinating programs across Federal agencies and forging new public-private partnerships to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes over the next 5 years.  Resources on how to join the initiative are available at:  To secure our children's heart health and end childhood obesity within a generation, First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative is encouraging healthy eating habits and promoting physical activity among families and young people.  The National Institutes of Health is pursuing cutting-edge research to unlock new treatments for cardiovascular disease.  And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working in communities across our country to help reduce risk factors and prevent heart disease.

     During American Heart Month, we also highlight The Heart Truth, a national awareness campaign that urges women of all ages to know their risk for heart disease.  In recognition of this vital task, I encourage men and women across America to observe National Wear Red Day on Friday, February 3, and to show their support by wearing red or the campaign's Red Dress Pin. 2

     To learn more about The Heart Truth or National Wear Red Day, visit:

     In acknowledgement of the importance of the ongoing fight against cardiovascular disease, the Congress, by Joint Resolution approved December 30, 1963, as amended (77 Stat. 843; 36 U.S.C. 101), has requested that the President issue an annual proclamation designating February as "American Heart Month."

     NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim February 2012 as American Heart Month, and I invite all Americans to participate in National Wear Red Day on February 3, 2012.  I also invite the Governors of the States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, officials of other areas subject to the jurisdiction of the

     United States, and the American people to join me in recognizing and reaffirming our commitment to fighting cardiovascular disease.

     IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.


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A Cabinet Meeting Focused on Small Business

President Barack Obama holds a Cabinet meeting (January 31, 2012)

President Barack Obama holds a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Jan. 31, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Today, President Obama convened a meeting of his Cabinet to discuss the ideas he laid out in the State of the Union. Joining the meeting was a new member of that Cabinet — Karen Mills, the head of the Small Business Administration.

The President elevated Mills to ensure that entrepreneurs always have a direct line to the Oval Office. He said:

I mentioned at the State of the Union that there have been discussions, bipartisan discussions between Republicans and Democrats, about a whole set of measures that can accelerate financing to startup companies; can provide tax breaks to startups and small businesses that are interested in either hiring more workers or increasing their wages; that looks at innovative ways for them to raise capital. 

And my expectation and hope is, is that they will get a bill together quickly, that they will pass it and get it on my desk. I will sign it right away, and I would like to see that bill signed this year.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack speaks during the Cabinet meeting (January 31, 2012

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack speaks during the Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Jan. 31, 2012. At right is Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President also ran through what agencies like the Departments of Commerce, Energy, and Education are doing to help American businesses as well. He said:

[What] we want to do is to make sure that every single agency, even as they’re tending to their energy initiatives or providing homeland security or transportation or defense, that we’re also thinking about how are we advancing the cause of giving small businesses and entrepreneurs opportunities to start creating the next Google or the next Apple or the next innovative company that’s going to create jobs and improve our economy.

Read the full remarks.


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Startup America Policy Challenge: Universities Respond

Today, President Obama recognized the one-year anniversary of Startup America, the White House initiative to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation.

As part of the Administration’s commitment to unleash market opportunities for entrepreneurs, in December we launched the Startup America Policy Challenge to identify high-impact ideas to support entrepreneurship in areas of national interest: education, energy, and health care.

To kick off the challenge, Secretary Arne Duncan (Department of Education), Secretary Steven Chu (Department of Energy), and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (Department of Health and Human Services) each asked the American public for ideas about how the U.S. government can break down barriers to entrepreneurship and enable the use of clean energy, digital learning, and health information technologies.

The dialogue on Quora continues to be inspiring, with impassioned discussion about how to best enable use of these technologies, including discussion about how to tear down barriers to customer adoption. In the spirit of today’s focus on innovators, I also want to pose the question directly to entrepreneurs:

Entrepreneurs and innovators are busy, though, building their businesses. Other than a response on Quora, they may not have the time or interest in thinking about the idea translates to policy solutions. That’s why I’m pleased to announce today that a network of universities have responded to the Startup America Policy Challenge, launching a contest for students and other solvers to compete to develop the best “policy business plans.”

The independent contest is open to students, problem solvers and the American public at large – anyone who wants to take the ideas from the Policy Challenge and turn them into compelling policy proposals. Finalists will get a chance to attend a conference in Washington D.C. and present their full proposals to a panel of high-profile expert judges with backgrounds in government, industry, and academia—and winning proposals will be shared with the Cabinet Secretary from the relevant federal agency.

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Celebrating Startups in the State of the Union

Ed note: In honor of the one year anniversary of Startup America, we invited Mike Krieger, the co-founder of Instagram, to contribute a post to Instagram is the fastest growing social mobile startup in the U.S. today, and exemplifies President Obama's belief that "entrepreneurs embody the promise of America: the idea that if you have a good idea and are willing to work hard and see it through, you can succeed in this country. And in fulfilling this promise, entrepreneurs also play a critical role in expanding our economy and creating jobs." Mr. Krieger moved from Brazil to California to attend Stanford University, where he studied computer science and cognitive science. In 2010, he and a partner founded Instagram, which now employs a talented, growing team of designers and engineers. After graduation, Mr. Krieger worked for a year on his student F-1 visa, later applying for and receiving an H-1B visa as a high-skill worker. Mr. Krieger wants to permanently stay in the U.S. and has applied for a green card.

I was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and from an early age was interested in technology and engineering. When I came to the United States in 2004 to attend university at Stanford, I was instantly inspired by the stories and advice from startup leaders in Silicon Valley and beyond, who had endeavoured to create new opportunities and improve lives around the world. I was drawn to the idea of one day helping to create a startup, and last year, I was fortunate to be given the chance. In May of 2010, I joined Kevin Systrom, my co-founder, and we created Instagram, a mobile social network that today has over 15 million users. What began as a small, two-person startup working out of a pier in San Francisco has grown to a dozen employees, and our plan is to at least double that this year. There are few better sights than walking into an office full of talented, hard-working folks, working together to build a great company from the ground up.

Mike Krieger, co-founder of InstagramLast Tuesday, I was given a special opportunity–I was invited to attend President Obama's State of the Union speech, sitting with the First Lady to watch the address. Throughout the day, I met with people working on encouraging entrepreneurship in the United States, led by Aneesh Chopra, the Chief Technology Officer of the United States. In the evening, not only did I get to meet the First Lady and the President, but I also was given the chance to meet the First Lady's other guests. Their backgrounds ranged from immigrant entrepreneurs like myself, to citizens who had overcome great obstacles to get to where they are today. The common thread was simple, but powerful: a desire to roll up our sleeves and get to work on tackling some of the toughest issues facing us today. 

Since I was born and raised in Brazil, the steps to becoming an entrepreneur in the United States have not always been easy. In the last few years, I've been encouraged by some positive moves: the Obama Administration has added more degrees (including Symbolic Systems, the engineering degree I majored in at Stanford) to the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) category that qualifies more foreign-born engineering and math graduates toreceive work training in the United States during and after their studies. Also, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency is taking a page from Silicon Valley and is recruiting a set of Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIRs), who will work on-site with USCIS to clarify the options available to immigrant entrepreneurs who want to start companies and create jobs in the United States. And in the State of the Union address itself, President Obama called on Congress to help grant permament status to immigrantswho want to "staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country." 

Every year, thousands of startups are founded — not only in technology, but increasingly also in health care, education, and energy. Innovation happens best when people of different backgrounds come together to solve the world's toughest challenges, and in the process can create new jobs and opportunities. I'm hopeful that updated immigration policies will encourage entrepreneurs from around the world to help tackle these opportunities in the US.

Watch as Mike Krieger meets First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House:

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President Obama Hangs Out With America

President Obama on Google+

President Barack Obama participates in an interview with YouTube and Google+ to discuss his State of the Union Address, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Jan. 30, 2012. The interview is held through a Google+ Hangout, making it the first completely virtual interview from the White House. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Just after 5:30 PM ET today, President Obama sat down for a discussion with a group of Americans from across the country in a Google+ Hangout. It was the first online conversation to happen at the White House in real time — ever.

Even before the event, more than 227,000 people had taken time to participate — submitting questions for the President to answer or voting for their favorite.

If you missed any of the action, check over the full video here:

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Regulatory Reform Progress

To promote economic growth and job creation, we need cost-justified, evidence-based regulation. Which is why, almost exactly a year ago, President Obama issued an Executive Order calling for a government-wide review of regulations to reduce costs, to eliminate unnecessary burdens, and to get rid of what the President has called “absurd and unnecessary paperwork requirements that waste time and money.”  Twenty-six executive agencies produced final plans, spanning over 800 pages and offering more than 500 proposals. Sixteen independent agencies followed suit, responding to a historic request from the President to eliminate unjustified costs on their own.

And today, agency updates on regulatory reform progress can be found here.

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