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Blog Category: President Barack Obama

Deputy Secretary Blank Joins President Obama in Honoring National Medal of Technology and Innovation Winners

President Barack Obama presents Dr. Frances H. Arnold (left), California Institute of Technology, the Medal of Technology and Innovation for her pioneering biofuels-related research that could eventually lead to the replacement of pollutant-causing material.

Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank joined President Barack Obama Friday, February 1 at a White House ceremony honoring the recipients of the 2011 National Medals of Science and National Medals of Technology and Innovation. These medals are presented each year by the President of the United States.

The Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) administers the National Medal of Technology and Innovation honoring those that deliver technologies that are changing society and improving the quality of life. The National Medal of Technology and Innovation is this country’s highest award for technological achievement.

The medal is awarded annually to individuals, teams, companies or divisions of companies for their outstanding contributions to America’s economic, environmental and social well-being. By highlighting the national importance of technological innovation, the medal also seeks to inspire future generations of Americans to prepare for, and pursue technical careers to keep America at the forefront of global technology and economic leadership.

President Obama Meets with the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness

Cross post to the White House Blog

Today, President Obama convened a meeting of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, a group of 27 leaders from business, labor and academia tasked with providing the President advice on strengthening our nation’s economy.

Since its first meeting about a year ago, the Council has put forward a host of recommendations that foster growth, competitiveness, innovation, and job creation, both now and for the future. Of the 35 specific recommendations the Council has made that don’t require legislative action, President Obama has taken action on 33 of them and his administration has already implemented 16.

Some of the implemented recommendations include proposing new tax rules that encourage businesses to invest and create jobs in the United States instead of overseas, expediting job-creating infrastructure projects across the country, eliminating inefficient and burdensome federal regulations, and streamlining government.

At today’s meeting, President Obama praised the Jobs Council for the work they are doing to help our country move forward.

"I recognize a lot of these issues are difficult. They’ve proven challenging for decades. The good news is on each of these fronts we’ve made progress this year. I feel confident in being able to say that every one of the agencies in this government has been focused on how do they improve, get smarter, get better, get faster, become more focused on delivering good value to the end user. And I believe that we’ve made genuine progress on all these fronts. We would not have made this progress without this Jobs Council."

The Jobs Council released a new report in advance of today's meeting that details recommendations to improve our nation's long-term competitiveness by investing in our education system, building on our strengths in manufacturing and energy, and reforming our regulatory and corporate tax systems. Read the full report here.

Commerce Employees To Cut Waste and Save Taxpayer Money

President Obama stands besie stack of the Federal Register

This morning, President Obama signed an Executive Order to cut waste and to promote more efficient spending as part of the administration-wide Campaign to Cut Waste. Commerce Department employee Roger Rhoads joined President Obama as he signed the Executive Order in the Oval Office.

Rhoads led the effort to identify and shutdown unused cell phones at Commerce. The department saved $1.8M annually by disconnecting or suspending 81 percent of the 3,200 wireless lines showing zero usage for the previous three months as well as by optimizing rate plans.

The Executive Order sets bold goals for agencies to reduce spending on travel; limit the number of information technology devices (e.g. cell phones, smartphones, tablets, laptops) that can be issued to individual employees; stop unnecessarily printing documents that can be posted online; shrink the executive fleet of the federal government; and stop using taxpayer dollars to buy swagthe unnecessary plaques, clothing and other promotional items that agencies purchase. Overall spending in the areas covered by the Executive Order will be reduced by 20 percent, saving billions.

The Department of Commerce is also reducing the number of its fleetdrivers.  Reductions in drivers and vehicles are expected to generate $100,000 in annual savings.

The American Jobs Act: Full of Bipartisan Ideas

View of Joint Session from birds-eye view (White House photo)

The American people understand that the economic crisis and the deep recession weren’t created overnight and won’t be solved overnight. The economic security of the middle class has been under attack for decades. That’s why President Obama believes we need to do more than just recover from this economic crisis—we need to rebuild the economy the American way, together, based on balance, fairness, and the same set of rules for everyone from Wall Street to Main Street. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle should lend their bipartisan support for the American Jobs Act—because it is full of bipartisan ideas.   White House fact sheet and overview

The American Jobs Act: Pathways Back to Work for Americans Looking for Jobs

American Jobs Act logo

President Obama continues to call upon Congress to pass the American Jobs Act. He has explained how his proposals will benefit the unemployed and put money back in Americans' pockets. One proposal includes Pathways Back to Work for Americans Looking for Jobs. This section of the president’s plan would help out-of-work Americans and their families by extending unemployment insurance to prevent six million Americans looking for work from losing their benefits, while at the same time reforming the system to help support programs that build real skills, connect to real jobs, and help the long-term unemployed. The president’s plan is targeted to address long-term unemployment in an aggressive, multi-pronged way, drawing from ideas about what is working from around the country and from both parties. 

Key elements of his proposal are:

  • The most innovative reform to the unemployment insurance program in 40 years: As part of an extension of unemployment insurance to prevent five million Americans looking for work from losing their benefits, the president’s plan includes innovative work-based reforms to prevent layoffs and give states greater flexibility to use Unemployment Insurance (UI) funds to best support job-seekers and connect them to work.
  • A $4,000 tax credit to employers for hiring long-term unemployed workers.
  • Prohibiting employers from discriminating against unemployed workers when hiring.
  • Expanding job opportunities for low-income youth and adults by investing in promising and proven strategies and programs like summer jobs and sector-based training programs.

White House fact sheet

President Obama Nominates Secretary Locke to be the New U.S. Ambassador to China

President Obama Nominates Secretary Locke to be the New U.S. Ambassador to China

At the White House this morning, President Obama announced Commerce Secretary Gary Locke as his choice to be the next Ambassador to China. As Commerce Secretary, Locke has earned the trust of business leaders across America, advocating on behalf of America’s businesses and U.S. exports all around the world. In 2010, Commerce led an unprecedented number of trade missions worldwide, promoting American businesses and products, and Locke has been a point person for the President’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double U.S. exports in five years, creating several million new jobs. Additionally, as Commerce Secretary, Locke has helped make progress on the critical partnership between the U.S and China, expanding opportunities for American companies and American workers, and negotiating the opening of the Chinese market to U.S. goods and services. Read Secretary Locke's remarks and watch the video of the announcement below. | Public reaction to announcement |  White House blog

Secretary Locke Joins President Obama in Announcing the 2009 National Medal of Technology and Innovation Laureates

Image of the National Medal of Technology and InnovationSecretary Locke today joined President Barack Obama in announcing and congratulating the 2009 winners of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The medal is the nation’s highest honor for technological and scientific achievement and was awarded to three individuals and one team, who will receive their awards later this year at the White House.

“Innovation is a key driver of economic growth, and the technological advances of the 2009 medalists are truly awe-inspiring,” Locke said. “These innovations have revolutionized communications, medicine and numerous other industries, and exemplify American ingenuity and leadership at its best. The American people greatly appreciate the contributions of these men and women. I look forward to joining President Obama in honoring our winners at the White House.”

The National Medal of Technology and Innovation was created by Congress in 1980 and has been presented by the President of the United States since 1985. A distinguished, independent committee appointed by the Secretary of Commerce evaluates the merits of all candidates nominated through an open, competitive process. Committee recommendations are forwarded to the Secretary, who makes recommendations to the President for a final decision.

The Medal program is administered by the Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office. For additional information, visit www.uspto.gov/nmti. See the related White House announcement here. Commerce press release

White House Releases Report on National Export Initiative

President with members of PECToday the White House released a report to the president on the National Export Initiative (NEI). It detailed the way the Export Promotion Cabinet plans to meet the president’s goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years to support millions of new jobs.

Since the president announced the NEI, the Department of Commerce’s Advocacy Center has assisted American companies competing for export opportunities, supporting $11.8 billion in U.S. exports and an estimated 70,000 jobs. To date, the Commerce Department has coordinated 20 trade missions with over 250 U.S. companies to 25 countries.

Expanding into new markets is key for America’s growth as Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said today, “As American consumers spend a little less and save a little more, it has never been more important to connect U.S. businesses to the 95 percent of the world's consumers who live outside our borders. Helping American companies sell more abroad will create jobs and boost our economy. This report is a blueprint for doing just that.” 

For more information, read the complete NEI report, the executive summary and the press release.  See  the International Trade Administration's NEI website.  |  NEI meeting video

Secretary Locke Discusses Export Control Reform at 23rd Annual Bureau of Industry and Security Update Conference

Locke on podiumSecretary Gary Locke addressed the annual conference to discuss reforms to the U.S. export control system that will strengthen national security and improve the competitiveness of key U.S. manufacturing and technology sectors. In addition, President Barack Obama delivered a recorded statement about the administration’s efforts to reform the export control system.  Remarks  |  BIS 2010 Update website

Vice President Biden, Secretary Locke and Senior Administration Officials Announce $1.8 Billion in Recovery Act Broadband Projects

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today joined Reps. Jay Inslee and Brian Baird at the Seattle Central Library in announcing a $54.5 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) investment to help bridge the technological divide, boost economic growth, create jobs, and improve education and healthcare in difficult terrain both east and west of the Cascade mountain range in Washington state.

“This critical investment will lay the groundwork for sustainable economic growth by connecting difficult terrain both east and west of the Cascades that have been without the full economic, educational and social benefits of high-speed Internet,” Locke said.

Following the announcement in Seattle, Secretary Locke joined Reps. Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa in a news conference call to announce six grants totalling more $200 million to expand high-speed Internet access and adoption in California. In addition, U.S. Department of Commerce Senior Adviser and Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Wade joined U.S. Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, and U.S. Reps. Mike Ross and Vic Snyder in Little Rock in announcing a $102 million Recovery Act investment that will help improve economic opportunity and support job creation in Arkansas.

Earlier today, Vice President Joe Biden announced approximately $1.8 billion in new projects that will create jobs and expand economic opportunities within 37 states across America.  Remarks  |  Read more  |  White House release