This article is the eleventh in a continuing series chronicling the unfolding history of the Obama Administration. The writer's opinions are not offered, leaving the readers to arrive at their own conclusions.
"It is an indisputable fact that one of the most significant contributors to our economic downturn was a unraveling of major financial institutions and the lack of adequate regulatory structures to prevent abuse and excess. A culture of irresponsibility took root from Wall Street to Washington to Main Street."-Barack Obama, President of the United States, July 17, 2009
Day147/June17th/Wednesday: The President met with financial regulators in the Roosevelt Room of the White House before being joined by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, representatives from the regulatory community, consumer groups, the financial industry and members of Congress for an announcment in the East Room of the White House the President's proposal of a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency under supervision of the United States Federal Reserve. The "Financial Regulatory Reform: A New Foundation" plan would:
(1) increase United States Federal Reserve oversight of the largest financial firms by a newly created Federal Services Oversight Council, headed by U.S. Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, that would advise the Federal Reserve of any potential system-wide risk
(2) Modernize to compete globally the U.S. insurance system under a federal Office of National Insurance (ONI) within the Department of the Treasury
(3) seek congressional action to authorize government to dismantle large firms that fall into trouble, avoiding future chaotic collapses that could severely undermine the economy.
(4) impose new Federal oversight rules on trading in complex derivatives and securities built from mortgage loans
(5) create a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency to protect consumers of mortgages, credit cards and other financial products
(6) increase United States coordination with other nations to prevent businesses from migrating to less regulated venues
(7) dismantle the Office of Thrift Supervision and close loopholes that have allowed important institutions to cherry-pick among banking rules
(8) hedge fund advisors will be required to register with the SEC.
(9) require the originator of a loan to retain an economic interest in that loan, so that the lender-and not just the holder of a security, for example-has an interest in ensuring that a loan is actually paid back Transcript Video attendees
The President met with United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan in the Oval Office of the White House.
The President's half sister Maya Soetoro-Ng and the husband, Chicago physician Bryan Traubert, of Barack Obama's campaign finance chair Penny Pritzker were among those appointed to the President's Commission on White House Fellowships. whitehouse.gov link
The President signed a memorandum seeking to expand federal benefits for the same-sex partners of Foreign Service and executive branch government employees such as long-term care insurance and sick leave to care for their none-adopted non-biological children. Partners of United States Foreign Service employees stationed abroad may use, and have visitation rights at, medical facilities. The memorandum:
(1) requests the Secretary of State and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management to, in consultation with the Department of Justice, extend the benefits they have respectively identified to qualified same-sex domestic partners of Federal employees where doing so can be achieved and is consistent with Federal law.
(2) requests the heads of all other executive departments and agencies, in consultation with the Office of Personnel Management, to conduct a review of the benefits provided by their respective departments and agencies and determine what authority they have to extend such benefits to same-sex domestic partners of Federal employees
(3) requests the results of this review to be reported within 90 days to the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, who, in consultation with the Department of Justice, shall recommend any additional measures that can be taken, consistent with existing law, to provide benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of Federal Government employees
(4) requests the Office of Personnel Management to issue guidance within 90 days to all executive departments and agencies regarding compliance with, and implementation of, the civil service laws, rules, and regulations, including 5 U.S.C.2302(b)(10), which make it unlawful to discriminate against Federal employees or applicants for Federal employment on the basis of factors not related to job performance Video
United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slipped and fell in a U.S. State Department garage and fractured her right elbow.
Day148/June18th/Thursday: the President met with Vice President Joe Biden in the Oval Office.
The President and the Vice President met with Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell in the Oval Office.
The President met with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in the Oval Office.
The United States Justice Department lawyers argued before U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in Washington D.C. that former Vice-President Richard Cheney's volunteer testimony to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald on the leaking of Valerie Plame's employment with the CIA must not be made public in order to avoid providing fodder to Cheney's political enemies and prevent his being ridiculed by late-night comics such as Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's Daily Show. source
The President toured the Year Up Washington D.C, site. Students demonstrated their skills in business communications and computer hardware assembly. The President sat and talked with students about the challenges and opportunities facing young adults and the country. Year Up is a one-year training program for urban young adults in Arlington, VA. source C-Span Video
The President held an event to discuss fatherhood and mentoring in the East Room of the White House, then attended an event with young men from local schools on the South Lawn. Transcript Video 1 & Video 2
The President declared a major disaster exists in the State of Missouri and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding during the period of May 8-16, 2009.
The President declared a major disaster exists in the State of Oklahoma and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the area struck by wildfires during the period of April 9-12, 2009.
President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals for key administration posts:
(1) Matthew Barzun, Ambassador to Sweden
(2) John R. Bass, Ambassador to Georgia
(3) Ertharin Cousin, Nominee for U.S. Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture with the rank of Ambassador during her tenure of service
(4) James B. Foley, Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia
(5) Kenneth E. Gross, Jr. Ambassador to the Republic of Tajikistan
(6) Samuel L. Kaplan, Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco
(7) Jerry P. Lanier, Ambassador to the Republic of Uganda
(8) Teddy B. Taylor, Ambassador to the Solomon Islands, the Republic of Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea
The President sent the United States Senate his nomination of:
(1) Joseph A _Greenaway, Jr, of New Jersey, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit, vice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., elevated.
(2) Beverly B. Martin, of Georgia, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit, vice R. Lanier Anderson, III, retired.
(3) Mark Henry Gitenstein, of the District of Columbia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Romania.
(4) Craig E. Hooks, of Kansas, to be an Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, vice Luis Luna, resigned.
Gil Kerlikowske was sworn in by Vice-President Biden as the United States Director of National Drug Control Policy.
Legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk skateboarded through the White House. source
the President released a statement on the turmoil in Iran over the Iranian elections. Among his remarks: "The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights."
Day151/June21st/Sunday: the chronicler assumes the President spent Father's Day in private with his family.
Day152/June22nd/Monday: the President signed the Family Smoking and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 in the Rose Garden. The act:
(1) grants the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) power to regulate tobacco products
(2) requires tobacco product manufacturers to disclose all ingredients in its products
(3) bans companies from promoting products as lower-risk alternatives to traditional tobacco, such as "low tar" or "light"
(4) bans cigarette manufacturers from sponsoring sporting and other entertainment events
(5) mandates larger, more varied, and more prominent warning labels on tobacco products
(6) bans tobacco advertising within a thousand feet of schools and playgrounds
The President spoke on an agreement with the pharmaceutical industry to lower drug costs by $80 billion for seniors in the Diplomatic Reception Room. "...I'm pleased to report that over the weekend we reached an understanding that will help close the notorious "doughnut hole" in Medicare Part D." According to the President, "The 'doughnut hole' refers to a gap in prescription drug coverage that makes it harder for millions of Medicare beneficiaries to pay for the medication they need. The way the program is structured, Medicare covers up to $2,700 in yearly prescription costs and then stops, and the coverage starts back up when the costs exceed $6,100. Which means between $2,700 and $6,100 folks are out of luck. And this gap in coverage has been placing a crushing burden on many older Americans who live on fixed incomes and can't afford thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses." Transcript Video
The President directed Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to work together to identify ways to improve access to housing, community supports, and independent living arrangements for those Americans with disabilities. As part of this effort Secretaries Sebelius and Donovan announced several new initiatives for the disabled:
(1) increased numbers of Section 8 vouchers
(2) enhanced interagency coordination to address this critical civil rights issue
(3) listening sessions will be conducted by HHS across the country to hear the voices and stories of Americans
The Obama Administration launched "United We Serve", a call to action for all Americans to volunteer this summer and be part of building a new foundation for America, one community at a time. First Lady Michelle Obama, Cabinet Secretaries, and Senior Administration officials have fanned out across the country to participate in service projects. Examples:
(1) Defense Secretary Robert Gates spent time with veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center
(2) Commerce Secretary Gary Locke read to children at La Mesita Homeless Shelter in Mesa, Arizona.
(3) Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan went to New Orleans to serve with the St.Bernard Project, particularly to help two families who have been unable to return to their homes since Hurricane Katrina finally return.
The White house website serve.gov offers a simple search engine that can aid anyone to input his or her type of service interests and locates where to serve in those interests after designating a prefered location.
The President declared a national emergency with respect to the Western Balkans, pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706).
United States Secretary of state Hillary Clinton returned to work, but, due to the fracture of her right elbow in a June 17th fall, she will not be able to travel until her elbow mends.
United States Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced a $15 million grant to Orlando International Airport for security upgrades that include an explosive detection system for the baggage area.
Day152/June23rd/Tuesday: the President conducted a press conference in the press briefing room of the White House in which he pushed for an overhaul of the nation's health care system and for the creation of a clean energy economy. He, also, spoke on the post-election violence in Iran. Transcript C-Span video
The President held a one-on-one meeting with President Michelle Bachelet of Chile in the Oval Office.
The President spoke by telephone with Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus and discussed a range of issues of common concern, including NATO issues and their shared commitment to collective defense, and updated President Adamkus on plans for the upcoming July 2009 Summit in Moscow between President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
The President spoke by telephone with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. They discussed the North Korea nuclear issue, including ways in which the United States and Australia can work together to ensure full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874.
The President met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in the Oval Office.
The President declared an emergency exists in the State of Oklahoma and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local response efforts in the area struck by record snow and near record snow during the period of March 27-28, 2009.
Vice-President Joe Biden traveled to Ohio to talk about the middle class and the decline of manufacturing in the state, all part of The Vice-President's Middle Class Taskforce inititive. The Vice President announced an Executive Order creating the White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers. This inter-agency council will work to address the issues facing the automotive industry and protect the hardest-hit communities and workers.
The White House held a roundtable on the 37th Anniversary of Title IX featuring Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and an all-star line-up of women athletes and scientists. In addition to the roundtable participants, which included Billie Jean King and Dominique Dawes, 30 local high school aged girls were in the audience along with several professional athletes and well-known Title IX advocates.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced she will end a former United states President George W. Bush program that had expanded the use of spy satellites by domestic law enforcement and other agencies. source
United States Energy Department Secretary Steven Chu traveled to Michigan to announce Ford Motor Company will receive a $5.9 billion government loan to develop more fuel-efficient cars.
United States Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar traveled to Stoneycreek Township in Somerset County Pennsylvania to negotiate with 7 landowners who had not yet reached an agreement to transfer ownership of their land to the federal government for a Flight 93 Memorial Park that would measure 2200 acres and a buffer zone.
Day153/June24th/Wednesday: the President met with five governors: Jennifer Granholm (D-MI), Jim Douglas (R-VT), Jim Doyle (D-WI), Mike Rounds (R-SD), and Christine Gregoire (D-WA) in the Roosevelt Room of the White House to provide the governors with the opportunity to share with the President the lessons they took away from the Regional Forums on healthcare reform they had participated in and to discuss the need to enact health reform that finally gets America's spiraling health care costs under control.
The President announced his intent to nominate the following individuals for key administration posts:
(1) Rafael Borras, Under Secretary for Management , Department of Homeland Security
(2) James L. Hudson, Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
(3) Brenda Dann-Messier, Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education, Department of Education
(4) Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones, Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Department of State
(5) Bryan H. Samuels, Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Health and Human Services
(6) Christopher A. Hart, Member, National Transportation Safety Board.
The President sent these nominations to the United States Senate:
(1) James Legarde Hudson, of the District of Columbia, to be United States Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
(2) John Victor Roos, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Japan
(3) James B. Smith, of New Hampshire, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
United States Attorney General Eric Holder, Director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation Robert Mueller and U.S. Director of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announced Miami officials have exposed a fraud ring that spanned five states and attempted to steal $50 million dollars from Medicare. Charges have been filed against 53 people in Detroit, Michigan, Fresno, California, Miami, Florida and Denver, Colorado. Indictments were for billing Medicare for:
(1) injection and infusion therapies which were never given or not medically necessary
(2) paying cash kickbacks of approximately $25 per visit to encourages patients to cooperate in the fraud
(3) inventing phony companies to launder the money (source: CBS Evening News, June 24, 2009)
United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered the creation of a military cyber command to protect the nation's cyber network. Gates wants the new cyber command ready to operate by the end of 2009.
Day154/June25th/Thursday: The President spoke in the Rose Garden of the White house about the importance of Congressional passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. Among his remarks:
"For more than three decades, we've talked about our dependence on foreign oil. And for more than three decades, we've seen that dependence grow. We've seen our reliance on fossil fuels jeopardize our national security. We've seen it pollute the air we breathe and endanger our planet."
"And most importantly, it will make possible the creation of millions of new jobs. Now, make no mistake-this is a jobs bill. We're already seeing why this is true in the clean energy investments we're making through the Recovery Act. In California, 3,000 people will be employed to build a new solar plant that will create 1,000 jobs. In Michigan, investments in wind turbines and wind technology is expected to create over, 2,600 jobs. In Florida, three new solar projects are expected to employ 1,400 people." Transcript Video
the President and First Lady joined family members of the United States Congress and five national nonprofit organizations at Fort McNair to pack 15,000 backpacks with books, Frisbees, healthy snacks and other items for the children of servicemen and women. The event was part of United We Serve, the President's request to all Americans to volunteer in service projects in their communities.
The President and Vice President Joe Biden met with a group of Democratic and Republican Senate and House members in the State Dining Room of the White House to discuss immigration. Transcript
The President met with United States Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner in the Oval Office of the White House.
The President met with United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office.
The President met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
President Obama nominated for Federal District Court judgeships:
(1) Judge Charlene Honeywell, Middle District of Florida
(2) Jeffrey Viken, Federal Public Defender for North and South Dakota, to the District Court for South Dakota
The President announced his intent to nominate the following individuals for key administration posts
(1) William Eacho, Ambassador, Republic of Austria
(2) Judith G. Garber, Ambassador, Republic of Latvia
(3) David Killion, rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
(4) James Knight, Ambassador, Republic of Benin
(5) Karen Kornbluh, Permanent Representative of the U.S. to OECD
(6) Bruce Oreck, Ambassador, Republic of Finland
(7) Charles A. Ray, Ambassador, Republic of Zimbabwe
(8) David Thorne, Ambassador, Italian Republic and the Republic of San Marino Source
The President announced his intent to nominate Meredith Attwell Baker as Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Baker has more than twelve years of experience working in the field of telecommunications and technology policy in both the public and private sector. She most recently served as Acting Assistant Secretary of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration from 2007 to January 2009. Source
The President declared a major disaster exists in the State of Kansas and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, flooding, straight-line winds, and tornadoes during the period of April 25 to May 16, 2009.
The White House announced today the appointment of 15 outstanding men and women to serve as White House Fellows. Source
The Office of Personnel Management, in partnership with the Chief Human Capitol Officers Council, launched FedsFeedFamilies.gov, a government-wide effort to gather food for people in need. Their goal is to gather one million pounds of food.
The Department of Education announced a simpler, more user-friendly college aid application, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The new application is expected to make it easier for students to apply for college financial aid.
United States Housing and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released a report entitled "Hidden Costs of Health Care," which documents how rising costs are making it increasingly difficult for families with insurance to get the health care that they need. The reports can be read here.
United StatesTransportation Secretary Ray LaHood joined Vice President Joe Biden to announce transportation projects funded through the Recovery Act are ahead of schedule and under budget. States had a June 29, 2009 deadline to obligate 50 percent of their highway funds, and all 55 states and territories successfully beat this deadline.
Day155/June26th/Friday: The President met with Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel for a one-on-one meeting Oval Office of the White House.
The President Obama and Chancellor Merkel held a joint press conference. (Transcript) (Video 1 & Video 2), then attended a working lunch in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House.
The President spoke by telephone with Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Tun Razak. They discussed the ongoing global economic crisis, and stressed the importance of growth and sound regulatory systems in both their economies. They also discussed ways to contribute to reconstruction and stability in Afghanistan.
The President and Prime Minister of Britain Gordon Brown spoke by telephone about climate change, the global economic recovery, food security, Iran, and progress on Middle East peace.
The President met with Vice President Joe Biden in the Oval Office
The President met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
The President signed the $106 billion war-spending bill into law, but wrote a five-paragraph signing statement to the bill. A final paragraph declared his objections to at least four areas of the bill. "Provisions of this bill...would interfere with my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations by directing the Executive to take certain positions in negotiations or discussions with international organizations and foreign governments, or by requiring consultation with the Congress prior to such negotiations or discussions," Obama wrote, adding, "I will not treat these provisions as limiting my ability to engage in foreign diplomacy or negotiations." Source
The President released a statement to acknowledge the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. "My administration is committed to taking concrete actions against torture and to address the needs of its victims," the President said. Transcript
The President and the First Lady hosted a picnic on the South Lawn for White House staff in the evening. Video
The President on this 14th commemoration of National HIV Testing Day, urged Americans to take control of their own health-and protect those they love-by getting tested for HIV and working to reduce HIV transmission. Transcript Video
Day157/June28th/Sunday: the chronicler assumes the President rested.
Day158/June29th/Monday: the President held a one-on-one meeting with President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia in the Oval Office of the White House. Among issues, they discussed the future of the stalled United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. Source
The President and the First Lady hosted a reception in the East Room of the White House in honor of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. Among the President's remarks:
"...the Stonewall protests, which took place 40 years ago this week, when a group of citizens-with few options, and fewer supporters-decided they'd had enough and refused to accept a policy of wanton discrimination."
"We seek an America in which no one feels the pain of discrimination based on who you are or who you love."
"I suspect that by the time this administration is over, I think you guys will have pretty good feelings about the Obama administration."
The President announced his intent to nominate the following individuals for key administration posts:
(1) Peggy E. Gustafson, Inspector General, Small Business Administration
(2) George H. Cohen, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, Director.
United States forces in Iraq withdrew from Iraq's major cities to bases outside of the cities where the majority of the 130,000 troops will remain. Iraq's security was transferred to the Iraqi military.
Day159/June30th/Tuesday: the President spoke in the East Room of the White House before philanthropists and members of non-profit organizations gathered to highlight innovative programs making a difference in communities across the United States. The President opened with the subject of Iraqi's now being in charge of their own country's security:
"Iraq's future is in the hands of its own people. And Iraq's leaders must now make some hard choices necessary to resolve key political questions, to advance opportunity, and to provide security for their towns and their cities. In this effort, America will be a strong partner to the Iraqi people on behalf of their security and prosperity."
To those gathered in the East Room, the President said:
"I want to thank all of you here today for everything you're doing to find new solutions to some of our oldest, toughest problems. I know what you do is not easy. I know that for many of you, the hours are long, the pay could be better.... But I also know the difference that each of you make. I know the lives that you change every single day. You teach us that there's no such thing as a lost cause if you're willing to be creative, and challenge the conventional wisdom, and take some risks-if you're willing to try, and fail, and then try again until you find something that works. And today, I want to recognize that pioneering spirit and thank you all for the contributions that you're making to our communities." Transcript C-Span Video
The President met with United States Secretary of Energy Steven Chu in the Oval Office of the White House.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced the President asked Vice-President Joe Biden to shoulder a new responsibility: oversee the United States departure from Iraq and the administration's efforts to promote internal political reconciliation in Iraq. Biden will work closely with General Ray Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq and US ambassador to Baghdad Christopher R. Hill while US forces prepare to leave by the end of 2011.
The President telephoned Al Franken to congratulate him on prevailing, after nearly eight months of legal challenges to vote counts after the general election in November 2009, to become the second United States Senator from Minnesota. Franken's victory came with the Minnesota Supreme Court's decision that he be certified the winner of the senate race between himself and former Republican U.S. Senator from Minnesota Norm Coleman. Franken is a Democrat, and his election provides 60 Democratic votes in the U.S. Senate.
The United States Justice Department did not meet the deadline to appeal a nearly $500,000 judgment for a litigant whose employment offer from the Library of Congress was rescinded while undergoing a gender change from a man to a woman. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit on Diane Schroer's behalf in 2005. A federal judge awarded her $491,190 in back pay and damages because of sex discrimination. Source
[Author's note: all days in these chronicles are full days. The Obama Inaugeration on January 20, 2009 was a half-day, so not counted.]