Citizen’s Briefing Book: Heather Higginbottom reacts

As incoming Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council in the White House, Heather Higginbottom’s daily work will involve an array of diverse topics and issue areas.

By monitoring the Citizen’s Briefing Book, she’s been able to follow some of your dicussions and track your ideas about the same issues she handles daily. She recently sat down with us to talk more about what she’s found.  Watch Heather’s video below and go to to submit you own ideas.

We’ll have more reactions from Transition team members to the Citizen’s Briefing Book project soon.

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President-elect and Vice President-elect visit the Supreme Court

President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden visited the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. today. They met with Chief Justice John G. Roberts and seven of the other eight justices.

See pictures from the event below.

Download high resolution versions here, here, and here.

Citizen’s Briefing Book: Nancy Sutley reacts

Right now, the community on this site is writing and producing a Citizen's Briefing Book that will land on President Obama's desk in the White House soon after he takes office.

The project has solicited thousands of submissions and comments. Transition team members have been attentively watching the Book's creation, and several of them have taken the time to sit with our video crew and talk about what they're seeing unfold online.

We're putting together a series of videos with their reactions to some of the most popular ideas in the Citizen's Briefing Book. It's a chance for some of the leading experts (and soon-to-be administration officials) in fields like energy, the environment, and education to give real-time responses to your comments.

Chair-designee for the White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley kicks off the series. Watch the video below, and stay tuned for more installments.

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Inside the Transition: Office of Public Liaison

Today we're launching a series of videos to give you a feel for the some of conversations we've been having over the course of the Transition. Check out our videos from recent meetings with advocates for women small business owners, LGBT and youth issues, and let us know what you think.

Inside the Transition: Youth Groups

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Inside the Transition: LGBT Advocates

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Inside the Transition: Women Small Business Owners

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New official portrait released

Today we are releasing the new official portrait for President Barack Obama.

It was taken by Pete Souza, the newly-announced official White House photographer.

It is the first time that an official presidential portrait was taken with a digital camera.

You can see the portrait below, or click here to download a copy.

New official portrait

Pictures from the Senate Democratic caucus

President-elect Obama met with the Senate Democratic caucus today on Capitol Hill.

See pictures from the event below.

Video: HHS Secretary-designate Daschle travels to community health care discussion

Over the past few weeks, thousands of people in all fifty states have volunteered to participate in health care discussions in their communities. They invited their friends, neighbors and co-workers and met in cafes, living rooms and schools. You can see some of the photos they sent us here:

We asked these grassroots groups to report back to us, and our health care team is currently reviewing their ideas and proposed solutions.

Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Tom Daschle -- who has also been asked to become the Director of the White House Office of Health Reform -- was able to travel to two of the discussions over the holidays.

His first stop was hosted by the local fire department in Dublin, Indiana, a town of approximately 700 people. The next day he dropped in on a meeting at a wellness center in Southeast Washington, DC.

Watch Sen. Daschle's journey in the video below, and let us know if you've had similar discussions in your own communities.

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Immigration, security top issues in meeting with Mexican President Calderón

Continuing a long-standing tradition between the leaders of the two nations, President-elect Obama met today with Mexican President Felipe Calderón to discuss some of the major issues that will be the cornerstone of U.S.-Mexico relations during the coming Administration.

According to incoming Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, President-elect Obama "expressed his commitment to advance cooperation on a range of issues, including security, the economy and immigration."

The two leaders met at the Mexican Cultural Institute for lunch, and later visited the José Clemente Orozco Gallery in Washington D.C.

See pictures of the meeting below.

Addressing your concerns on oversight of last year’s rescue package

In both rounds of “Open for Questions” that we’ve hosted here, there’s been a dominant theme in questions about the economy. In the first round Diane from New Jersey had one of the most popular questions overall, asking, “What will you do to establish transparency and safeguards against waste with the rest of the Wall Street bailout money?” One of the top questions in second round came from Dorothy in Tucson, Arizona, who asked, “I’m concerned about the banks who received tax payers money and have had no accountability. Will this be corrected after President-elect Obama is in office?”

Today Lawrence Summers, Director-designate of the National Economic Council, addressed these widespread concerns from both the public and Congress in a letter (pdf) to bipartisan Congressional Leaders. As President-elect Obama requests that the second half of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds be released, Summers gave assurances that there would be sweeping changes in the use and accountability of those funds going forward:

“[T]he President-elect also shares the frustration of the American people that we have seen too little effect from this rescue plan on jobs, incomes, and the ability of responsible homeowners to stay in their homes. He believes the American people are right to be angry with the way this plan has been implemented. President-elect Obama believes there has been too little transparency and accountability; too much upside for financial institutions and executives who acted irresponsibly without providing enough help for small business owners, families who are struggling to keep their jobs and make ends meet, and innocent homeowners.

“That will change when President-elect Obama takes office.”

The letter goes on list five specific pledges from President-elect Obama.

1) To use “Our Full Arsenal of Tools” to make sure credit gets flowing not just financial institutions but to “small businesses, auto purchasers, and municipalities.”

2) To reform oversight both of the TARP and our financial system at large, including “a full and accurate accounting of how the Treasury Department has allocated the funds spent to date and going forward.”

3) To “Launch a Sweeping Effort to Address the Foreclosure Crisis,” reducing the number of preventable foreclosures “by helping to reduce mortgage payments for economically stressed but responsible homeowners while also reforming our bankruptcy laws and strengthening existing housing initiatives like Hope for Homeowners.”

4) To impose new “tough and transparent conditions” on firms getting taxpayer money to ensure that the money is being used to get credit flowing and bolster the economy, not for personal profit.

5) To increase the role of private capital, and “invest taxpayer money only when sufficient private capital cannot be attracted.”

Summers closes the letter emphasizing the need to work together to get through this “economic storm,” and reiterates the call for urgency: “President-elect Obama believes it is not too late to change course, but it will be if we don't take dramatic action as soon as possible.”

Your ideas and submissions in the Citizen’s Briefing Book

One of the goals of this Transition has been to engage Americans in the political process while promoting citizenship online.

Our Open Government initiatives have showcased the powerful role that everyday Americans will play in the coming Administration. They've been part of a powerful dialogue that will be sustained over the months and years to come.

This is an ongoing process. Now, with the transition into the White House days away, we're calling on the community to be part of our final project.

Your ideas and your words will be compiled into a Citizen's Briefing Book and delivered to President Obama after he takes office.

The Citizen's Briefing Book feature includes robust tools that let you explore a wide variety of submissions intuitively. By rating and commenting on the ideas on the page, your feedback will shape the final content of the Briefing Book. It's a democratic way to highlight the issues that are the most important to this community and relay their importance directly to the White House.

We hope you'll take the opportunity to leave your mark on the Citizen's Briefing Book here.

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