Political squabbling over student loans continues
College students stand behind Pres. Obama and Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan in the East Room of the White House as the president calls on Congress to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling.
June 21st, 2012
04:46 PM ET

Political squabbling over student loans continues

WASHINGTON (CNN) - With time running out for Congress to prevent a doubling of interest rates on federal student loans, the White House and Republican leaders exchanged accusations Thursday on who was to blame for the lack of an agreement.

President Barack Obama chided Republicans for holding up a deal with unreasonable demands, and he urged college students to continue raising their voices on the issue.

However, spokesmen for Republican leaders in the House and Senate denied an assertion by press secretary Jay Carney that the White House has been working with them to try to reach a deal.

Asked about GOP complaints that the White House has not reached out to Republicans on the issue in recent days, Carney said that "we are actively working with members of Congress to get this done," adding, "in both parties."

Spokesmen for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, disputed Carney's account.

On the Senate floor, McConnell accused Obama and Democrats of playing political games on the issue.

"It is the Democrat-led Senate that has failed to act and the president who has failed to contribute to a solution, and the reason is obvious," McConnell said. "It was reported yesterday that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching a website with a student loan countdown clock aimed at raising money off this issue. The implication is that Republicans are the ones dragging their feet. "


Obama welcomes Medal of Freedom recipients to White House
Photo credit: Khalil Abdallah/CNN
May 29th, 2012
06:36 PM ET

Obama welcomes Medal of Freedom recipients to White House

WHITE HOUSE (CNN) - President Obama honored a dozen heroes from all different aspects of life to the White House and presented them with the highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom. The group of honorees included signer and songwriter Bob Dylan, former astronaut and senator John Glenn, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and legendary women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt. Three recipients were honored posthumously, including the founder of the Girl Scouts Juliette Gordon Low.

Obama commented that all 13 individuals were personal heroes in his life. He mentioned reading novelist Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon as a teenager and listening to Dylan’s music when he was in college. He praised John Doar for his work as a Justice Department official who enforced civil rights in the 1960s. “I think it's fair to say that I might not be here had it not been for his work,” the president said.

He also mentioned how the winners had impacted his family, particularly his daughters’ lives.

“Everybody on this stage has marked my life in profound ways.  And I was telling - somebody like Pat Summitt - when I think about my two daughters, who are tall and gifted, and knowing that because of folks like Coach Summitt they’re standing up straight and diving after loose balls and feeling confident and strong, then I understand that the impact that these people have had extends beyond me,” Obama said. “It will continue for generations to come.”

For more of the story, check out what our friends at CNN wires wrote here.

February 22nd, 2012
06:58 AM ET

Obama adds his voice to White House blues jam

After a night of blues music in the East Room, President Obama joined some rock and blues legends in a rendition of "Sweet Home Chicago." CNN Wires has the story:

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama complained Tuesday that he doesn't get out much. Then he noted he doesn't have to when B.B. King and Mick Jagger come to play a concert at his house.

The blues and rock legends were at the White House for a PBS performance series in the East Room honoring the history of blues music. A lineup of top blues performers past and present offered a selection of standards that displayed all the raw elements of a distinctly American musical genre originating from the days of slavery.

Obama even got in the act. When goaded by blues giant Buddy Guy, he sang a verse of the rollicking finale "Sweet Home Chicago."

Earlier, Obama described the genre as a form of oral history that bore witness to the struggles of African-Americans.

"The blues reminds us that we've been through tougher times before," Obama said. "That's why I'm proud to have these artists here not just as a fan but also as the president because their music teaches us that when we find ourselves at a crossroads, we don't shy away from our problems. We own them. We face up to them. We deal with them. We sing about them. We turn them into art. And even as we face the challenges of today we imagine a brighter tomorrow."

Click here for the full story.

Topics: East Room • President Obama
Stanley Cup comes to the White House
January 23rd, 2012
04:47 PM ET

Stanley Cup comes to the White House

President Obama continued the tradition of hosting championship sports teams to the White House and today it was the NHL's Boston Bruins' turn.

The Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks in a seven game series to win their Stanley Cup since 1972. President Obama congratulated the team for their long-fought victory.

"These Bruins understand that winning the Stanley Cup is more than just men on ice.  It’s about the people that stand behind them," the president said. "And that’s why, since the last buzzer sounded in June, the Bruins have been taking their Cup all over the world to share it with their fans."

The president told the crowd assembled in the East Room that the Cup had been to a sauna in Finland, used in a christening, made its way to Pebble Beach and even was used by head coach Claude Julien's daughter as a cereal bowl.

The Boston Bruins were also congratulated for their work off the ice. The Boston Bruins Foundation donated more that $7 million to charities in New England last year. They also hosted a hockey clinic with local DC children on Monday.

One key member of the Boston Bruins was absent from today's event, goaltender Tim Thomas. According to ESPNnews.com, Thomas made the choice not to come and wouldn't discuss his reasoning with the media. He was expected to make a statement on his Facebook page later in the day.

In the last two weeks, the president hosted the St. Louis Cardinals and the Dallas Mavericks to celebrate their championship seasons as well. The Boston Bruins were in town to play the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.

Topics: East Room • President Obama • The Vault