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EU Summit, Payroll Tax Cut, and White House Holiday Decorations: Deputies' Download

As holiday decorations go up around the White House, President Obama hosts an EU Summit, speaks at a World AIDS Day event, and travels to Scranton, Pennsylvania to discuss payroll tax cuts.

President Obama began last week by hosting an EU Summit at the White House on Monday that focused on the global economy and touched on the political transformation in the Middle East, Iran's nuclear program, and steps necessary to ensure success in Afghanistan. On Tuesday, President Obama met with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who reaffirmed his own government's commitment to keeping the euro intact. 

On Wednesday, President Obama spoke at Scranton High School about the American Jobs Act and why passing the payroll tax cut for the middle class is so important. If Congress doesn’t act, taxes will go up on approximately 160 million Americans at the beginning of next year. A typical family earning $50,000 a year will see their taxes go up by $1,000. At a time when families are struggling to make ends meet, the failure to act is unacceptable.

The American Jobs Act would expand the payroll tax cut and would put even more money in the pockets of families. The President’s plan would provide new incentives for small businesses to grow and hire, creating jobs and strengthening the economy now. The President proposed extending the current payroll tax cut, which provides about $1,000 for a typical family earning $50,000 per year, and increasing the tax cut by an additional $500 for a total tax cut of $1,500. But last night Congressional Republicans voted against this bill, which means that taxes will go up if they continue to block action. The President has said strongly that this unacceptable - it makes absolutely no sense to raise taxes on the middle class at a time when so many are still trying to get back on their feet.

20111122 Tax Calculator Blog Graphic

President Obama continued to take executive actions this week because We Can’t Wait for Congress: On Monday the President issued a Presidential Memorandum to modernize government records management; and on Wednesday Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, announced a plan to accelerate the adoption of health information technology. Friday, President Obama announced nearly $4 billion of investment in energy upgrades to public and private buildings through the Better Buildings Challenge. These investments will accelerate progress toward the President's goal of making America's buildings 20 percent more efficient by 2020 and will also create tens of thousands of construction jobs.

20111130 POTUS in Scranton

President Barack Obama delivers remarks about the American Jobs Act at Scranton High School in Scranton, Pa., Nov. 30, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

20111201 POTUS World AIDS Day

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on World Aid's Day event at George Washington University in Washington, Dec. 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

On Thursday, President Obama marked World AIDS Day by speaking at an event called "The Beginning of the End of AIDS.” The President announced that he is directing $50 million in increased funding to domestic HIV/AIDS treatment and care -- an additional $15 million for the Ryan White program for HIV medical clinics across the country, and $35 million for state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs.

On Friday, the President spoke to Native American tribal leaders from across the country at the Tribal Nations Conference which took place last week. Leaders from 565 federally recognized tribes had the opportunity to interact directly with the President and representatives from the highest levels of his Administration. This was the third White House Tribal Nations Conference for the Obama Administration, and continues to build upon the President’s commitment to strengthen the nation to nation relationship with Indian Country. In conjunction with the Conference, the Office of Public Engagement hosted a special Champions of Change this week, honoring Native American youth leaders.

The 2011 holiday season was kicked off by volunteers from 37 states who transformed the White House. This year’s theme, “Shine, Share, Give,” celebrates the countless ways we can lift up those around us, spend time with friends and family, and celebrate the joy of giving to others and sharing our blessings with all. Included in the décor of nearly every room this year is a very special four-legged member of the Obama family: Bo! This year’s theme was reflected in the program and the President’s remarks at the Lighting of the National Christmas Tree on December 1st.

Blog Highlights

Champions of Change

The Champions of Change program encourages people to look into their communities and nominate everyday heroes who are demonstrating commitment to improving their own communities, their country, or their fellow citizens. And we want to hear from you – you can nominate someone who is doing extraordinary things to make a difference in your community as a “Champion of Change.”

Get Involved

Get involved in the Holiday Mail for Heroes program, run by the American Red Cross. This program, now in its fifth year, encourages all of us to send a holiday card to a service member this season. Making a card is a simple act of kindness that means the world to our soldiers and their families. Learn how to get involved. All cards being sent in for 2011 Holiday Mail For Heroes program should be postmarked no later than Friday, December 9, 2011.

For more information about ways to get involved now, check out the Office of Public Engagement’s blog, which is updated daily with upcoming engagement opportunities. Take some time to browse our Engage webpage, or email for more information. Also check out for opportunities to personalize your long-term service.

For the latest updates, follow Jon Carson, the Director of the Office of Public Engagement on Twitter: @JonCarson44.

Get Updates

For more information, visit the White House Office of Public Engagement website and blog and sign up for additional opportunities.

We welcome your thoughts and feedback at

Anne Filipic and Stephanie Valencia are Deputy Directors in the Office of Public Engagement.