Yea, Plouffe is in the house

I’m pretty sure that this is a first for a White House:

David Plouffe: What I’m Hearing from You Through Advise the Advisor

….Last week, I kicked off the new Advise the Advisor series on WhiteHouse.gov and asked for your ideas, comments and questions about how American innovation is affecting your communities and what we can do to remove obstacles to innovation.

Since then, thousands of you submitted comments and ideas over the course of the week. A team of people here at the White House reviewed every single submission.

We’ll post a more comprehensive analysis of your feedback in the coming days, but in the meantime, I want to highlight and respond to a couple of the common themes that we found in reading your feedback. 

Education is the Key to Innovation

Many of you told me that one of the biggest obstacles to innovation is lack of high-quality education.

Tony from Wisconsin said:

Education is the key to innovation and manufacturing superiority.  We must prepare all age groups…for the challenges this year and this decade.

Tony, the President couldn’t agree with you more.  In fact, President Obama spoke about this earlier this week at Parkville Middle School outside of Baltimore. In his FY2012 Budget proposal, the President has called for critical investments in our children’s future – like training 100,000 new math and science teachers over the next ten years, expanding the Race to the Top education reform initiative, and making college more affordable for America’s students and families by helping 9 million students through the Pell grant program and permanently extending the American Opportunity Tax Credit that provides up to $10,000 of tuition tax credits over four years.

We Need High-Speed Internet

Many of you, particularly those living in rural areas, told me that the lack of affordable access to high-speed Internet was slowing the pace of innovation in your community.

James from Maryland said:

The single greatest thing we can do is connect rural America to the rest of the world via high speed Internet to allow the flow of information, and new business structures to grow 60 and 70 years ago it was roads and bridges that were the vital infrastructure, today it is that connection to information, a simple dial up makes it impossible or at least extremely difficult to find out basic information.

James is right, access to high-speed Internet is critical in the 21st century.  Last week, President Obama launched the National Wireless Initiative – a plan to expand wireless coverage to 98% of Americans so that small businesses can sell their products anywhere in the world and individuals can access the information and ideas they need to compete in the 21st century economy. As part of this initiative, the Administration will invest in research and development of emerging wireless technologies and applications so our nation stays at the cutting edge of internet technology. And we will establish a national wireless network for our public safety agencies.

All told, by more effectively utilizing spectrum, the President’s wireless initiative will make these investments while also reduce the budget deficit by nearly $10 billion. Check out the White House White Board video with Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors to learn more about it.

Government Can Be an Obstacle to Innovation

Another common theme was that government itself can be an obstacle to innovation.  Many respondents felt that too much government regulation stifled businesses and innovators and that the patent process and intellectual property laws are broken.

Gene from California said:

The largest obstacle to continued innovation is not a secret; it is government intrusion into every aspect of American business. Startup companies are limited to those who have lots of capital to pay for legal advice. The average person cannot start a business on his own today. There are just too many regulations to get a loan. Too many hoops to get a license to operate that business and too much paper work to continue to employ workers.

In his State of the Union Address, the President called for a government-wide review of regulations to find and fix those regulations that place unnecessary burdens on businesses.  Indeed, in his Budget, the President put forward a set of common sense reforms to our patent system that will make it easier for innovators to move ideas to market and foster growth.

But there are some commonsense measures that are necessary to protect the health, wellbeing and safety of the American people. So while we work to eliminate those regulations that unnecessarily stand in the way of America’s entrepreneurs and job creators, we have to enforce safeguards like the Clean Air Act that protects the air we breathe, quality standards that ensure that our food is safe to eat, and guidelines that guarantee our water is safe to drink.

Enthusiasm for Clean Energy Innovation

Many of you told me that clean energy innovation and energy efficiency was already shaping your communities.

Julie from Iowa said:

I live in Iowa.  Recently I had to drive from Sioux City to Cedar Rapids.  It’s been about 5 years since I’ve made the trip.  While cruising down the interstate I was amazed at how the landscape had changed.  Windmills – hundreds of windmills.  It was almost majestic.  I also noted all the semi’s cruising down the highway with windmill parts.

President Obama is committed to helping to jumpstart a new clean energy economy here in the United State because the nation that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century. The President’s FY2012 Budget proposal calls for America to produce 80% of our electricity from clean energy sources by 2035 and increases investments in renewable energy research and development.  Meeting that target will position the United States as a global leader in developing and manufacturing cutting-edge clean energy technologies. It will ensure continued growth in the renewable energy sector, building on the progress made in recent years. And it will spur innovation and investment in our nation’s energy infrastructure, catalyzing economic growth and creating American jobs.

You can learn more about the investments we’re making in clean energy and energy efficiency here.

Obstacles to Innovation

I also heard a lot about some of the obstacles to innovation that many people see in their own communities, and that’s great feedback as we think about our policies to promote innovation going forward.

Ron from Illinois said:

Innovation does not affect my community because it doesn’t exist here.  The reason it does not exist is strictly because of the obstacles.  While decisions made in Washington may sound good or look good on paper, it has no bearing on my community.

Ron – that’s fair concern.  I know that especially during these tough economic times, it can be difficult to see progress.

The President’s plan to win the future by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building the rest of the world will bring innovation to parts of the country that can sometimes be left behind – whether that’s bringing high speed wireless to 98% of the country and bringing high speed rail 80% of Americans, or helping industries of the future like clean energy get a foothold in rural America.

We’re working to lay the groundwork for economic growth and innovation by rebuilding America’s infrastructure to ensure that America is the best place to do business in the world, reforming our education system to ensure that today’s students are well equipped for the jobs of tomorrow, and streamlining regulations to remove burdens on job creation. But government can’t do it alone.  We need businesses to step up and invest in America as well. In his speech at the Chamber of Commerce last week, the President spoke to business leaders about our shared responsibility to rebuild the American economy, calling on the business community to make investments in America that will pay dividends for both the American economy and their bottom lines.

I’ve passed along a portion of the ideas we received to Gene Sperling and his colleagues at the National Economic Council for further review and in the days and weeks ahead I hope to review even more of your feedback and incorporate the best ideas into my own advice to President Obama.  We’re also planning for the next round of Advise the Advisor — stay tuned for more on that.

David Plouffe is a Senior Advisor to the President

New study: New credit card rules helped consumers without raising rates

Well, well, well, what do you know…

A year after tighter credit card regulations took effect, an advocacy group study concludes that they succeeded in making banks come clean about how much consumers actually pay to use cards.

The Center for Responsible Lending study examined the effect of the Credit Card Act of 2009, which the industry had predicted would result in higher card interest rates. It said that, after adjusting for the effect of the troubled economy on card issuers, “actual prices [for credit card use] have remained stable and available credit has not tightened beyond what would be expected.”

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The law stemmed from complaints that consumers had been misled for years into thinking they would pay less for credit card debt than was true. It imposed the greatest changes in three decades on the credit card industry, including tougher restrictions on interest rate hikes and late fees.

Wednesday morning mishmash

Hi guys,

1. Today’s schedule:

9:30 AM
PBO and VPB receive the presidential daily briefing.
10:00 AM
PBO meets with senior advisers.
11:00 AM  
12:00 PM  
12:30 PM
Carney briefs the press.
1:00 PM  
1:15 PM
VPB meets with Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of Macedonia.
1:45 PM
PBO meets with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
2:00 PM  
2:20 PM
PBO and VPB meet with the Senate Democratic Leadership.
3:00 PM  
4:00 PM  
4:45 PM
PBO delivers remarks on the America’s Great Outdoors initiative.
5:00 PM  
6:00 PM  
6:30 PM
Joe and Jill Biden host a dinner for new senators.

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2. More evidence that PBO has lost the base:

CBS Poll: President Obama’s approval among Democrats – 82/11.

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3. Recovery!

Jan. housing starts up 14.6% to 596,000

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – New construction of U.S. houses rose to its highest level in four months in January, the Commerce Department estimated Wednesday. Starts rose 14.6% in January to a seasonally adjusted 596,000 annualized units, stronger than the 520,000 pace expected by economists surveyed by MarketWatch. This is the highest level of starts since September.

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4. Thanks to all those who sent the link to this excellent piece (and a new addition to the blogroll). It’s really good, informative and the kind of truth-telling we need to maintain 24/7. If we won’t do it, I doubt anyone else will. So go read it, give the author some love and spread it like fire.

The Obama budget: truth or dare

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5. Speaking of truth-telling:

U.S. budget to benefit FDA, Gulf restoration

President Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal 2012, announced on Monday, includes requests for Gulf Coast restoration, a 33 percent budget increase for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and a USD 50 million budget decrease for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The FDA’s requested USD 4.3 billion budget will go toward enacting four critical initiatives, including USD 324 million for transforming food safety and nutrition. The FDA, which is responsible for protecting the U.S. food supply, will begin to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act and empower Americans to make healthier food choices through labeling. The administration will establish a prevention-focused food-safety system and leverage the valuable work of FDA’s state and local food-safety partners.

Obama is requesting a USD 5.5 billion budget for NOAA, which includes key investments to strengthen NOAA’s most critical programs and initiatives while addressing the administration’s goals of ensuring long-term economic growth, promoting innovation and American competitiveness and reducing government spending. NOAA is responsible for managing U.S. fisheries.

Praised by numerous conservation groups, Obama also maintained his commitment to Gulf Coast restoration be recommending the first-ever funding to construct wetlands projects to reverse wetlands losses in the Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) of the Mississippi River Delta. The budget proposes USD 27 million to revive vital coastal resources and benefit the nation’s economy, including USD 10.8 million for wetlands feasibility studies, USD 5.4 million for wetlands pre-construction engineering and design studies, USD 10.6 million for wetlands constructions projects and USD 100,000 for the LCA comprehensive plan.

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6. That sell-out:

Obama Threatens To Veto House GOP’s Spending Bill

President Barack Obama isn’t waiting for Senate Democrats to reject House Republicans’ proposed $61 billion in spending cuts for this year’s government operations.

Even before the bill passed the House, as expected later this week, Obama fired a shot across Congress’ bow and threatened to veto the spending bill that would keep the government running after March 4.

The Office of Management and Budget, in an official statement of administration policy, threatened to veto the Republican continuing resolution, which funds the government after March 4 and would cut $61 billion from the budget for rest of this fiscal year.

While the administration supports reducing spending to cut the deficit, the OMB said, it “does not support deep cuts that will undermine our ability to out-educate, out-build, and out-innovate the rest of the world.”

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 7. This got to be one of Chris Mathews’ finest moments lately.

8. And this is Rachel Maddow at her very best.

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9. Good catch by David Kurtz:

Can I Get An Amen?

I’m not under any illusion that this represents the death of American exceptionalism but let’s take note of Obama’s clear-eyed understanding of America’s role in the world and the real limits of American power as he just stated it in his press conference:

“What we didn’t do was pretend that we could dictate the outcome in Egypt — because we can’t. So we were very mindful that it was important for this to remain an Egyptian event, that the United States did not become the issue …”

That’s no small break with American foreign policy tendencies going back to, well, close to forever. It’s also an explicit rejection of what have been considered immutable domestic political realities that force Presidents to appeal to Americans’ distorted self-image. Huzzah!

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10. Finally, am I the only one who feels so much more confident knowing that this guy is around?