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Blog Category: Barack Obama

The American Jobs Act: Tax Relief for Every American Worker and Family

President Obama urges passage of American Jobs Act (White House news conference photo)

President Barack Obama continues to urge Congress to approve the American Jobs Act, introduced in September, which contains a focus on tax relief for American workers and their families.

The president's plan envisions putting more money in the pockets of every American worker and family:

  • Cutting Payroll Taxes in Half for 160 Million Workers Next Year: The President’s plan will expand the payroll tax cut passed last December by cutting workers payroll taxes in half next year. This provision will provide a tax cut of $1,500 to the typical family earning $50,000 a year. As with the payroll tax cut passed in December 2010, the American Jobs Act will specify that Social Security will still receive every dollar it would have gotten otherwise, through a transfer from the General Fund into the Social Security Trust Fund.
  • Helping More Americans Refinance Mortgages at Today’s Historically Low Interest Rates: The President has instructed his economic team to work with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, their regulator the FHFA, major lenders and industry leaders to remove the barriers that exist in the current refinancing program (HARP) to help more borrowers benefit from today’s historically low interest rates. This has the potential to not only help these borrowers, but their communities and the American taxpayer, by keeping borrowers in their homes and reducing risk to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.   White House news conference video   |   American Jobs Act Fact Sheet

President Obama’s American Jobs Act Is a Win for Workers and Employers

Image of President Obama and AJA logo

Last night President Obama explained his proposal for putting creating jobs now and putting Americans back to work before Congress. In addition to giving the economy a shot in the arm with more money in the pockets of working Americans, his proposed American Jobs Act has several new ideas, backed by both Democrats AND Republicans, which are a win for businesses and employers. The President is focused on rebuilding the economy the American way, through the ingenuity and hard work of the American people.

Businesses and employers stand to win under the President’s American Jobs Act in various ways.

It offers tax relief:

  • A payroll tax cut for 98 percent of small businesses
  • A complete payroll tax holiday for added workers or increased wages
  • Extending 100 percent capital expensing into 2012
  • Reforms and regulatory reductions to help entrepreneurs and small businesses access capital

Financial rewards for hiring workers:

  • A tax credit from $5,600-$9,600 for hiring of unemployed veterans
  • New contracts for modernizing public schools, homes and businesses
  • A bipartisan-supported National Infrastructure Bank which provides capital and contracts to upgrade and build vital roads, rails and airports.
  • A $4,000 tax credit for hiring long-term unemployed workers
  • Allowing workers to earn unemployment insurance if they choose to work share over layoffs.

Learn more about the benefits of the American Jobs Act.

Space Coast Task Force Delivers Economic Strategies Report to President Barack Obama

Secretary Locke and NASA Administrator Bolden provide blueprint for job creation and innovation to propel regional economy

Obama at NASA giving remarks; NASA photoThe President's Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development, co-chaired by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr., today released its report to the president with recommendations to enhance economic development strategies along Florida’s Space Coast. The Task Force was charged with developing a plan for how best to invest $40 million in transition assistance from the federal government in the Space Coast region as the Space Shuttle program winds down.

Locke, Bolden, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and several other senior administration officials have visited the region multiple times since the creation of the Task Force to meet with area workers and experts.

“Over the past few months, we have worked diligently with local government officials, economic development agencies, and affected corporations and employees to develop a comprehensive plan that will create high-skill, high-wage jobs and a strong economic base in the Space Coast,” Locke said. “Space is a key driver of the 21st century American economy and that’s why the president believes so strongly in empowering NASA to pursue new avenues of discovery.”  Release  |  Report  |  NASA Space Coast Task Force

Secretary Locke to Host White House Asian American and Pacific Islander Web Chat

Secretary Locke, AAPI Executive Director Kiran Ahuja and White House aide with laptop computer. Click for larger image. (Courtesy of the White House)

Image: White House video

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke hosted a live Web chat today to discuss important issues affecting the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Locke is co-chair of The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and was joined by Executive Director Kiran Ahuja for the Web chat. President Barack Obama proclaimed May 2010, as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The video will be available on (Presidential proclamation)

Secretary Locke Attends President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB) Meeting, Livestream from White House Toda

White House meeting

Image: White House video

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke will join Vice President Joe Biden, Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg, White House officials and PERAB members at the exports-focused meeting hosted by President Barack Obama. The meeting will address a range of economic issues, including job creation, financial reform and the President’s proposal to double the number of exports over the next five years. (On-demand video)

Cities Across America Celebrate Census Day April 1 and Remind Residents to Mail Back Census Forms

Obama signing his form

White House photo

Communities nationwide are urging their residents to take 10 minutes today, April 1—Census Day—to fill out and mail back their 2010 Census forms if they haven’t already done so. As the official reference date for the once-a-decade civic ceremony, Census Day will serve as the point-in-time benchmark for the nation’s population count for the next 10 years. President Barack Obama recently signed and mailed in his Census form and today signed a presidential proclamation of Census Day. (More) (Census Day events—PDF) (Presidential proclamation)

President Obama Records Message Urging Participation in 2010 Census

2010 Census logo. Click to go to Web site.

Continuing a White House tradition of strong support for the census dating back to 1790, President Barack Obama recorded a public service announcement (PSA) encouraging national participation in the 2010 Census. The 30-second PSA released today by the U.S. Census Bureau asks every household to take 10 minutes to answer the 10 questions on the 2010 Census form and to mail it back. (More) (President’s PSA) (2010 Census Web site)

Administration's Budget Proposal Seeks Investments in Innovation, Clean Energy, Infrastructure and Job Creation

U.S. flag over entrance of Department of Commerce.

President Barack Obama today submitted to Congress an $8.9 billion FY 2011 budget request for the U.S. Commerce Department. The budget reflects priorities that will spur the growth of U.S. exports and the jobs that come with them, improve our scientific and technological capabilities and upgrade our capabilities for weather and climate observations and forecasting. (Press release)

Five U.S. Organizations Announced as Recipients of 2009 Baldrige National Quality Award

Image of Baldrige Award medal. Click to go to Web site.

President Barack Obama and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced that five organizations are the recipients of the 2009 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest Presidential honor for innovation and performance excellence. “The road to greatness in America has been, and always will be, traveled by those who embrace change and work hard every day to be the best; the organizations we honor today with the Baldrige National Quality Award exemplify that spirit,” President Obama said. Named after Malcolm Baldrige, the 26th Secretary of Commerce, the Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987 to enhance the competitiveness and performance of U.S. businesses. (More) (Program Web site)

Secretary Locke Statement on President Obama's Intent to Nominate Lamb-Hale as Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services

ITA logo.

President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Nicole Y. Lamb-Hale to serve as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing and Services within the International Trade Administration. “Our manufacturers and service providers have an excellent advocate in Ms. Lamb-Hale,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. “Nicole has firsthand knowledge of the challenges that our industries face and will be able to serve the interests of industry at every level.” (More)

Commerce Supports President Obama's Smart Grid Announcement through Accelerated Standards Effort

Image of solar panels. Click for larger image.

© Tobias Machhaus/Shutterstock

The U.S. Department of Commerce is engaged in expedited efforts to support President Barack Obama’s announcement today of federal grants to 49 states for investments in a nationwide Smart Grid. A draft set of accelerated Smart Grid standards—recently unveiled by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and currently open for public comment—will help ensure that smart meters, sensors and other devices funded through the grants program work together seamlessly for a robust and reliable nationwide electricity system that saves energy and allows greater use of clean-energy technologies. (White House release)

President Obama, Secretary Locke Honor 2008 National Medal of Technology and Innovation Laureates at the White House

Obama applauds recipients. White House photo by Chuck Kennedy. Click for larger image.

White House photo

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke joined President Barack Obama in honoring the 2008 National Medal of Technology and Innovation recipients in a ceremony at the White House. Announcing the recipients Sept. 17, Secretary Locke said, “Innovation is the key to our economic recovery, and the medical and telecommunication advances of the 2008 medalists are truly awe-inspiring.” The award recognizes individuals or companies for their outstanding contributions to the promotion of technology for the improvement of the economic, environmental, or social well-being of the United States. The award was created by Congress in 1980 and has been presented by the President of the United States since 1985. (More) (President’s remarks)

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

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke today joined President Barack Obama in announcing and congratulating the 2008 winners of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The medal is the nation’s highest honor for technological and scientific achievement. 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. President Obama will present the medals at a White House ceremony on October 7. (More) (White House Press Release)

Secretary Locke Joins President Obama for Health Insurance Reform Rally in Maryland

Screen capture image of White House video showing Obama with students and faculty behind him.

Image courtesy White House Web site video

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke joined President Barack Obama at the University of Maryland for a rally on health insurance reform. Locke described how health insurance reform will impact American businesses, the economy, and ultimately the job market students will enter after graduation. President Obama discussed what’s at stake for the American people in this debate, why we need health insurance reform and why we need to act now. The president’s plan has two goals: to bring stability and security to Americans who have insurance today, and affordable coverage to those who don’t. (More event coverage) (Presidential remarks)

Secretary Locke Statement on President Obama's Intent to Nominate Hirschhorn as Under Secretary for Industry and Security

Bueau of Industry and Security logo.

President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate attorney Eric Hirschhorn to be the Under Secretary of the U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). Hirschhorn is currently a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Winston & Strawn LLP. "Eric Hirschhorn has a wealth of experience working with export controls and I look forward to having him onboard as we implement President Obama's vision to reform the export control system and increase competitiveness of U.S. companies by facilitating the sale of our goods while protecting national security," Locke said. (More) (White House press release)

Secretary Locke Statement on President Obama's Intent to Nominate Gallagher as Director of NIST

Portrait of Patrick Gallagher.

President Barack Obama today announced his intent to nominate physicist Patrick Gallagher to be the 14th director of the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Gallagher, 46, is currently the NIST deputy director. “NIST is a unique agency with a strong culture of world-class scientific achievement,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “Pat Gallagher has come up through the ranks and his continued leadership will be critical to an agency that is central to the nation’s ability to innovate and compete in global markets.” (More) (White House Press Release) (Bio)


Locke Statement on President Obama's Intent to Nominate Hightower as Commerce Deputy Secretary

Department of Commerce seal.

President Barack Obama today announced his intent to nominate Dennis Hightower, an experienced management professional with more than 30 years of experience, as the new Deputy Secretary at the Department of Commerce. “Dennis is a proven leader with management skills honed through years of real world experience,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “I have tasked him to make this department a leader among cabinet agencies in efficiency and reform.” Secretary Locke recommended Hightower to the President after an intensive search process. (More) (White House press release)

Locke Statement on President Obama's Intent to Nominate David Kappos as Patent and Trademark Director

Photo of Kappos.

President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate David Kappos, an experienced patent professional with more than 20 years of experience, as the new Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). “The United States Patent and Trademark Office faces significant challenges, and it needs an experienced leader like David at the helm,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “He will be a strong voice for patent reform and I have tasked him to reduce dramatically the unacceptably long time the office takes to review patent applications.” (More)

President Obama Proclaims World Trade Week

Official White House logo.

In a proclamation from the White House, President Barack Obama declared “World Trade Week is an opportunity to reaffirm the benefits of trade and to emphasize America's commitment to a global marketplace that creates good jobs and lifts up American families. The United States and our trading partners stand to gain when trade is open, transparent, rules-based, and fair, showing respect for labor and environmental standards. The United States is well-positioned to reap the benefits of trade. America is a leader in the global marketplace and ranks at the top of almost every measure of global competitiveness.” World Trade Week is May 17-23. (Presidential Proclamation) (Secretary Locke Remarks)

Secretary Locke Sworn in at White House Ceremony by Vice President Biden

Image of Scretary Locke.

File Photo

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius were sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden in ceremonies at the White House. President Barack Obama also attended the ceremonial swearing-in event in the East Room. “My Cabinet is now full of energetic innovators like Kathleen and Gary. . . I am thrilled to have them by my side as we continue the work of turning our economy around and laying a new foundation for growth that delivers on the change the American people asked for, and the promise of a new and better day ahead,” President Obama said. Locke, a key member of the President’s economic team, is the department’s 36th Secretary, leading its 12 agencies and bureaus and more than 52,000 employees. (President’s Remarks)

Locke Statement on President Obama's Intent to Nominate Groves as Census Director

Bureau of the Census seal.

President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Robert Groves as the new Director of the U.S. Census Bureau. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke released the following statement: “The decennial Census faces significant challenges, but I am confident that Robert’s leadership will help us meet those challenges. He is a respected social scientist who will run the Census Bureau with integrity and independence.” As Census Director, Groves will report to Secretary Locke. (Statement) (White House Release)

Commerce Department Receives $7.9 Billion in Recovery Act Funding Essential to U.S. Job Creation and Economic Growth

Department of Commerce seal.

The U.S. Department of Commerce will receive $7.9 billion to create and save jobs for American workers as part of the historic economic stimulus bill recently signed by President Barack Obama.“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is the most sweeping economic recovery package in our history,” said President Obama, noting it will create or save 3.5 million jobs over the next two years. “We have begun the essential work of keeping the American Dream alive in our time.” (More) (Commerce ARRA 2009 Webpage)

President Obama Announces Commerce Secretary

Commerce seal.

President Barack Obama today nominated Senator Judd Gregg as the next Commerce Secretary. “Commerce defies every wind, overrides every tempest, and invades every zone,” said President Obama. “These are the words carved into the walls of the department that I'm so pleased Judd Gregg has agreed to lead. And as we act boldly to defy the winds of this crisis and outride the tempest of this painful moment, I can think of no finer steward for our nation's commerce.” (More)