President Obama Sings “Sweet Home Chicago”

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host, “In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues” in celebration of blues music in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Last night, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted an incredible group of performers for a night of blues music as part of the PBS “In Performance at the White House” series. After a little encouragement from the legendary blues artists B.B. King and Buddy Guy, the President took the mic from Mick Jagger, and sang a few lines from Robert Johnson’s blues classic, “Sweet Home Chicago.” Watch the video:

In welcoming the crowd to the White House, President Obama talked about the origin of the blues:

“This is music with humble beginnings — roots in slavery and segregation, a society that rarely treated black Americans with the dignity and respect that they deserved. The blues bore witness to these hard times. And like so many of the men and women who sang them, the blues refused to be limited by the circumstances of their birth.

“The music migrated north — from Mississippi Delta to Memphis to my hometown in Chicago.  It helped lay the foundation for rock and roll, and R&B and hip-hop. It inspired artists and audiences around the world. And as tonight’s performers will demonstrate, the blues continue to draw a crowd. Because this music speaks to something universal.  No one goes through life without both joy and pain, triumph and sorrow. The blues gets all of that, sometimes with just one lyric or one note” President Obama said.

King, Guy, and Jagger were joined by Jeff Beck, Trombone Shorty, Keb’ Mo’, and a host of others.

New Report Highlights Wireless Broadband Benefits for Public Safety and Job Creation

Vice President Joe Biden holds a conference call in the West Wing to thank first responders and to discuss the economic value of increasing spectrum. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Yesterday, Vice President Biden met with law enforcement officials, firefighters and public safety groups in the Roosevelt Room of the White House and spoke to a couple hundred more first responders by telephone to thank them for their service and to discuss the new nationwide public-safety broadband network included in the Payroll Tax Extension legislation.

Members of the audience included police chiefs and sergeants from the New York City Police Department, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and the National Association of Police Organization, among others. The Vice President discussed the need to ensure the safety of first responders and the public,and announced a new report from the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) that discusses the positive benefits of wireless broadband for public safety as well as jobs, growth, and investment.

The report illustrates the economic impact of President Obama’s goal of doubling the amount of spectrum available for wireless broadcast over ten years, while adopting a nationwide inter operable wireless network.

Vice President Biden said the expanded access “will enable new spectrum to be used for innovation, to speed wireless communication, and to fulfill a promise made to first responders after 9/11 that they would have the technology they need to stay safe and do their jobs.”

“I’ve been working on changing the way we allocate spectrum for a long time,” Vice President Biden said, “because a smarter system is good for our economy, good for innovation, and vital to keeping our communities as well as our cops, firefighters and EMTs safe.”

Memo: The Romney and Santorum Budgets

James Kvaal, the Obama campaign’s policy director, just released a memo about what a Romney or Santorum administration would do to our nation’s budget. As proposed, their plans would increase the deficit by trillions of dollars:

“The Romney and Santorum plans are not the first time Republican presidential candidates have abandoned the laws of arithmetic and argued that we can pay for large tax cuts through unspecified and implausible future spending cuts. During the 1980s this approach resulted in large deficits and nearly doubled our nation’s debt from 26 percent of the economy to 49 percent. During the 2000s, the approach took the country from large budget surpluses back to large deficits. We cannot afford to repeat these mistakes.

“Romney and Santorum’s plans would drive up the deficit—but that is not their only similarity with the failed economic policies of the past. Similar policies not only contributed to the largest economic crisis since the Great Depression, but also to years of middle-class income stagnation and soaring income inequality” Kvaal said.

Read the rest of the memo to dig into the details of the GOP candidates’ plans for our economy—and how they stand in sharp contrast to the responsible budget President Obama laid out last week.