Saturday, December 5, 2015

Oval Office Chat: President Francois Hollande of France

President Obama spoke today by phone with President Francois Hollande of France about the horrific shootings in San Bernardino, California.  On behalf of the American people, the President accepted President Hollande’s condolences for the loss of life in the attack.  The President briefed President Hollande on what we know about the attack and steps our intelligence and law enforcement agencies are taking to investigate.  The two leaders pledged continued cooperation between our two governments and with those of our allies and friends to fight terrorism, both abroad and at home.  President Obama and President Hollande also discussed progress being made at the COP21 climate conference in Paris and agreed to continue to stay in close touch as the conference continues. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

President Obama to Address the Nation on December 6

The following statement was submitted today by Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

On Sunday, December 6th at 8:00PM EST, President Obama will address the nation from the Oval Office about the steps our government is taking to fulfill his highest priority: keeping the American people safe. The President will provide an update on the ongoing investigation into the tragic attack in San Bernardino. The President will also discuss the broader threat of terrorism, including the nature of the threat, how it has evolved, and how we will defeat it. He will reiterate his firm conviction that ISIL will be destroyed and that the United States must draw upon our values – our unwavering commitment to justice, equality and freedom – to prevail over terrorist groups that use violence to advance a destructive ideology. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

President Obama's Weekly Address: We Will Not Be Terrorized

In this week's address, the President offered his condolences to the families and community of the victims of the San Bernardino shooting.

President Briefed on the Investigation into the San Bernardino Shootings

  Click photos to increase their size. (Photos by Pete Souza)

The President this morning received an update from FBI Director Comey, Attorney General Lynch, Secretary of Homeland Security Johnson, and his intelligence community leadership on the ongoing investigation into the horrific shootings in San Bernardino, California. The President was briefed on the latest details of the investigation. The President's team highlighted several pieces of information that point to the perpetrators being radicalized to violence to commit these heinous attacks. 

The President's team also affirmed that they had as of yet uncovered no indication the killers were part of an organized group or formed part of a broader terrorist cell. The FBI added that, in coordination with local authorities, they are utilizing all necessary resources to pursue any and all leads in their terrorism investigation. The President directed his team to take all measures necessary to continue to protect the American people, which remains his highest priority. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Power of the Pen: New Bills Signed into Law

On Friday, December 04, 2015, the President signed into law:

H.R. 22, the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act),” which authorizes budgetary resources for surface transportation programs for FYs 2016-2020; reauthorizes taxes that support the Highway Trust Fund through September 30, 2022, and expenditures from that Fund through October 1, 2020; reauthorizes the Export-Import Bank through September 30, 2019; and improves the Federal permit review process for major infrastructure projects. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Remarks by President Obama at Lighting of National Christmas Tree

Statement by the President on the Economy

This morning we learned that our businesses have added 13.7 million jobs over 69 months, extending the longest streak on record.  Last night, Democrats and Republicans came together to pass a transportation bill that will help us build on America's progress by growing our economy and creating more good jobs for our middle class. This bill is not perfect, but it is a commonsense compromise, and an important first step in the right direction.  I look forward to signing this bill right away, so that we can put Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, and transit systems, reauthorize the Export-Import Bank that helps our companies compete around the world, and give local and state governments and employers the certainty they need to invest and hire for the long term.    

As we applaud the kind of bipartisan compromise that was reached last night, we should also recognize that we still have work to do.  Congress should pass a bill like the GROW AMERICA Act I’ve proposed in the past, one that supports even more jobs and invests even more in our roads and highways than the bill passed last night so we can meet our country’s infrastructure needs.  Congress should pass a complete budget and avoid a government shutdown.  And Congress should approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership to open up new markets and support new jobs. If we take these kinds of commonsense steps, we can continue building an economy where every middle-class family has the chance to get ahead. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Oval Office Chat: Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom

President Obama spoke today by phone with Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom to discuss Wednesday's vote in the British Parliament authorizing airstrikes against ISIL targets in Syria.  President Obama welcomed the outcome of the vote and expressed his appreciation that British air forces have joined with ours and those of other Coalition members in striking ISIL in Syria as well as in Iraq.  The leaders discussed further steps that can be taken to degrade and destroy ISIL, and reiterated that all countries are welcome to join the existing Coalition, if their political and military objectives in Syria are consistent with those of the Coalition. They also discussed ways to further bolster our already robust counterterrorism cooperation, and the President, on behalf of the American people, accepted the Prime Minister's condolences for the loss of life in the San Bernardino shootings this week.

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

White House Briefing

Spokesman Josh Earnest responds to reporters' questions on a range of topics, including the latest developments in the investigation into the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, which the FBI now considers to be an act of terrorism.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

State Department Briefing

Elizabeth Trudeau, director of the State Department’s Office of Press Relations, briefs reporters and responds to their questions on a variety of international topics. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Discussion on Islamic State and Al-Qaeda

New America hosts a panel discussion with Middle East experts on the strategies of al-Qaeda and ISIS, the future of the jihadist movement, and how the U.S. should respond in the current national and international security environment. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Statement on the Employment Situation in November (with Charts)

 Jason Furman

WASHINGTON, DC – Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, issued the following statement today on the employment situation in November. 

Summary: The economy added 211,000 jobs in November, marking the strongest three years of job creation since 2000.

The strong pace of job growth continued in November as the unemployment rate held at its lowest level since April 2008 and labor force participation ticked up. We have added more jobs over the past three years than in any three-year period since 2000, and wages are continuing to rise. Nevertheless, we have more work to do to drive further job creation and faster wage growth. That’s why Congress should take steps including passing a complete budget that builds on October’s bipartisan budget agreement, approving the Trans-Pacific Partnership to open our exports to new markets, and raising the minimum wage. 


1. Our businesses have now added 13.7 million jobs over 69 straight months, extending the longest streak on record. Today we learned that private-sector employment rose by 197,000 jobs in November. Private employment growth in September and October was revised up by a combined 52,000 jobs, bringing October’s growth to 304,000—the best month of the year so far. The unemployment rate held at 5.0 percent in November, even as labor force participation edged up to 62.5 percent. Wages continued to rise; nominal average hourly earnings for all private employees have now risen 2.3 percent over the past year. Overall, our economy has created 8.1 million jobs over the past thirty-six months, the fastest pace since 2000.

Click on graph to enlarge it.

2. The unemployment rate has consistently fallen much faster than economists expected throughout this recovery, reaching 5.0 percent considerably earlier than projected. The chart below shows the median paths of the unemployment rate forecasted in each of the past four years by a large panel of private-sector economists. Each year the unemployment rate declined markedly faster than economists expected, a testament to the remarkable pace of employment growth observed throughout this recovery. As of March 2014, economists expected the unemployment rate to remain above 5.0 percent at least until 2020. Even as recently as March 2015, they expected unemployment to average 5.0 percent throughout 2016—but it reached that level just last month. Of course, the recovery in the unemployment rate does not tell the entire story of the labor market recovery, and important challenges (such as wage growth, discussed in point 3, and non-demographic components of labor force participation) remain. But the strong progress so far is encouraging evidence of the health of our labor market.

3. Average hourly earnings for all private-sector workers rose 2.3 percent over the past twelve months, a somewhat faster pace than the average over this recovery. Although earnings growth has not yet reached desirable levels, it increased amid the strong pace of employment growth over the past year. At the same time, declining energy prices have driven inflation to especially low levels, benefiting wage-earners by further boosting real (inflation-adjusted) earnings growth. Even over the past three years, real hourly earnings for production and non-supervisory workers have risen 1.6 percent per year, well above the average annual pace of 0.5 percent during the previous economic expansion. The recent uptrend in nominal earnings growth is an encouraging sign for the labor market, but because nominal earnings often grow between 3 and 4 percent during expansions, there is more work to do to boost wages as the recovery continues.

4. The demographic factors that boosted employment growth in previous decades have been less supportive during this expansion, but the recovery in our unemployment rate has been especially strong. Employment growth depends on three factors: population growth, the extent to which the population participates in the labor force, and the extent to which the labor force is employed. The chart below decomposes employment growth into contributions from each of these factors. It further decomposes labor force participation into shifts attributable to demographics (such as the changing age distribution) and shifts attributable to other factors (such as the increased participation of women). Demographic factors boosted employment growth in previous decades, as population grew faster than current rates and baby boomers reached working age. But in this recovery, demographic factors have been less supportive as overall population growth has slowed and the baby boomers have begun to retire. However, the sharp decline in our unemployment rate—reflecting the depth of the recession and the strength of our job market recovery—has contributed more to employment growth than in any of the past five expansions.

5. Global headwinds weighed on manufacturing and mining job growth in November, while industries less sensitive to such factors continued to see robust gains. Above-average gains relative to the past year were seen in industries such as construction (+46,000), financial activities (+14,000), wholesale trade (+9,000), private educational services (+8,000), and utilities (+2,000). At the same time, manufacturing employment—which is especially sensitive to global growth—fell slightly (-1,000). Mining and logging employment, which includes oil extraction, continued to decline (-11,000) as low oil prices have slowed investment. Across the 17 industries shown below, the correlation between the most recent one-month percent change and the average percent change over the last twelve months was 0.85, somewhat above the average correlation over the previous two years.

As the Administration stresses every month, the monthly employment and unemployment figures can be volatile, and payroll employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data as they become available.

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary