Bloomberg editorial: How exactly, according to Republicans, is President Barack Obama supposed to have caused the current economic malaise and high unemployment?
…. With remarkable unanimity, Republican leaders in Congress and the party’s presidential candidates have parroted a one-word explanation: “uncertainty”. While many political tropes are abused on a bipartisan basis the “uncertainty” lament is a largely Republican creation.
… there is no evidence that uncertainty has increased during the Obama presidency, or that, if it has, the president’s policies are responsible for it….
The charge of “creating uncertainty” is a way to blame Obama for the U.S.’s economic trials without having to explain the connection. In fact, if anyone in the political world is responsible for creating uncertainty, it is the Republicans. Look at last month’s debt-ceiling imbroglio, which left the world wondering whether the United States would even honor its debts – something that was never uncertain before. The decision to turn a routine vote to raise the debt ceiling into a high-stakes game of chicken was made by the Republican House leadership.
… In the campaign to be the party’s presidential nominee, candidates like Perry and Bachmann claim that Social Security is unconstitutional or that vaccines cause mental retardation. Would they really follow through on some of their wilder positions? If any of the top-tier Republican candidates is elected president – even Romney, who promises to repeal health-care reform on day one – we might all look back with longing on the calm, restful environment of the Obama administration.
Marine One, carrying President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, approaches for a landing on lower Manhattan September 19, in New York City. The President was heading to New York to attend the annual United Nations General Assembly
….. greeting Port Authority Police Officers at JFK International Airport
President Barack Obama will headline two fundraisers while he is in Manhattan for the U.N. General Assembly this week.
He will attend a $71,600-per-couple “small dinner” tonight at the Park Avenue home of prominent Democratic bundlers Jane Hartley and Ralph Schlosstein.
President Obama and the First Lady will host a gala event, complete with a performance by Alicia Keys, Tuesday night at Gotham Hall.
The first lady will also attend an event hosted by the Women for Obama finance committee. Co-hosted by DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the event will feature some of the biggest names in women’s rights, including feminist author Gloria Steinem, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, Emily’s List President Stephanie Schirock, and leading pro-choice activist Nancy Keenan.
President Barack Obama signs the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 at the U.S. Department of Interior in Washington, D.C., Dec. 22, 2010
Greg Sargent: It’s over: The United States Army has become the first branch of the armed services to formally end its “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. An announcement is expected for tomorrow, but my Post colleague Ed O’Keefe obtained the actual document sent to soldiers around the globe today announcing the change:
Today marks the end of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” The law is repealed. From this day forward, gay and lesbian Soldiers may serve in our Army with the dignity and respect they deserve. Our rules, regulations and politics reflect the repeal guidance issued by the Department of Defense and will apply uniformly without regard to sexual orientation, which is a personal and private matter.
…. we expect all personnel to follow our Values by implementing the repeal fully, fairly and in accordance with policy guidance. It is the duty of all personnel to treat each other with dignity and respect, while maintaining good order and discipline throughout our ranks…..
Separately, the military has begun accepting applications from openly gay recruits…
….. even when repeal seemed within reach, success was anything but assured. It only came after a nearly pitch-perfect effort by Obama and the military leadership to create the political conditions necessary to bring about repeal, as well as well as some very shrewd public and private gamesmanship by Senate leaders that left GOP moderates with little choice but to do the right thing….
CNN: Texas Governor Rick Perry likes to brag that his state is an economic powerhouse. But don’t tell that to the nearly one in five Texans who are living below the poverty line.
…. Texas ranks 6th in terms of people living in poverty. Some 18.4% of Texans were impoverished in 2010, up from 17.3% a year earlier, according to Census Bureau data released this week. The national average is 15.1%.
And being poor in Texas isn’t easy. The state has one of the lowest rates of spending on its citizens per capita and the highest share of those lacking health insurance….
…. Some 550,000 Texan workers last year were paid at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25, more than double the number making those wages in 2008 … for someone working full-time, that’s just over $15,000 a year before taxes, which is under the poverty line for a single parent with two children.
Some 9.5% of Texas’ hourly workforce are minimum-wage workers, the highest percentage in the nation – a dubious title it shares with Mississippi.
For residents living in poverty, the state doesn’t offer many services or even make federally-funded benefits easily accessible ..…. Experts chalk up the minimal services and take-up rates to Texas’ anti-welfare attitude. In the Lone Star State, you are expected to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. “The Texas mentality is you don’t ask for help,” Ferguson said…..
ThinkProgress: Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) appeared on MSNBC with Chris Jansing this morning to attack President Obama’s new deficit reduction plan, which includes some tax increases on the wealthy…..
Fleming is himself a businesses owner, so Jansing asked, “If you have to pay more in taxes, you would get rid of some of those employees?” Fleming responded by saying that while his businesses made $6.3 million last year, after you “pay 500 employees, you pay rent, you pay equipment, and food,” his profits “a mere fraction of that” – “by the time I feed my family, I have maybe $400,000 left over…..”
ThinkProgress: Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni, during a Knesset debate ahead of the Palestinian statehood bid at the UN, characterized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition as engaging in “diplomatic stupidity” and warned that government’s position is putting “the United States into a corner.” She placed blame for the current predicament at Netanyahu’s feet, observing:
“The United States is making sure it won’t be singled out but how are we helping ourselves? We now need to initiate the political process. (Prime Minster Benjamin) Netanyahu tried to prevent this and now the Palestinians are at the United Nations.”
Livni emphasized the importance of Israel’s friendship with the U.S., especially in light of the growing regional isolation faced by the Jewish state. She warned:
“Next to all these enemies Israel has friends, and at the top of that list is United States, who is willing to guarantee Israel’s security. They don’t understand Israel’s policy, they don’t understand why the stubbornness over settlements, they don’t believe the prime minister of Israel when he says ‘two states’ but doesn’t do anything about it. And this saddens me because I am a citizen of the state.”
While blasting Netanyahu’s policies and his intransigence in the peace process, she urged him to reverse course and save an increasingly untenable Israeli position…..
John Heilemann (NY Mag): Barack Obama is the best thing Israel has going for it right now. Why is that so difficult for Netanyahu and his American Jewish allies to understand?
The last time Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu shared each other’s company, you could say that the encounter did not go well – if by “not well” you mean abysmally. This was on May 20, the day after Obama gave his big speech on the Arab Spring …. Obama was furious with Netanyahu, who in choosing to ignore the crucial qualifier about land swaps had twisted Obama’s words beyond recognition – the kind of mendacious misinterpretation that makes the presidential mental.
The senior most members of Obama’s team felt much the same. Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Bob Gates, Bill Daley, the former Mideast-peace envoy George Mitchell: All were apoplectic with the prime minister, whose behavior over the past two years had already tried their patience…..
…. The premise of Obama’s approach to Israel all along has been straightforward. Given the demographic realities it faces …. our ally confronts a fundamental and fateful choice: It can remain democratic and lose its Jewish character; it can retain its Jewish character but become an apartheid state; or it can remain both Jewish and democratic, satisfy Palestinian national aspirations, facilitate efforts to contain Iran, alleviate the international opprobrium directed at it, and reap the enormous security and economic benefits of ending the conflict by taking up the task of the creation of a viable Palestinian state – one based, yes, on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed upon land swaps, with East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.
The irony is that Obama – along with countless Israelis, members of the Jewish diaspora, and friends of Israel around the world – seems to grasp these realities and this choice more readily than Netanyahu does. “The first Jewish president?” Maybe not. But certainly a president every bit as pro-Israel as the country’s own prime minister – and, if you look from the proper angle, maybe even more so.
Chris Cillizza (Washington Post): In a remarkable act of political gauntlet-throwing, President Obama castigated House Speaker John Boehner for his approach to reducing the country’s deficit, called on Members of Congress to do what’s “right” when it comes to debt reduction and issued a veto threat if a bill that does not meet his standards comes to his desk.
“This is not class warfare, it’s math,” Obama said in response to early Republican critiques of his proposal. At another point he said that GOP members should be “called out” for signing a pledge not to raise taxes ever.
But Obama saved his choicest words for Boehner. Obama said the Speaker had “walked away from a balanced package” during the debt-ceiling negotiations and added that Boehner’s approach to debt reduction was “not smart…it’s not right”.
…. What that means, wethinks, is that Obama has given over the idea of being the compromiser-in-chief – the prevailing sentiment of the first eight months of 2011 – in favor of taking the fight to Republicans and forcing them to respond in kind or feel the political consequences.
…. The 2012 election may still be 14 months away but the central debate on which it will pivot began in earnest this morning.
Greg Sargent: This has to be the clearest sign yet that Obama has taken a very sharp populist turn as he seeks to frame the contrast between the parties heading into 2012. During his remarks this morning, Obama directly responded to Republicans accusing him of “class warfare,” but rather than simply deny the charge, he made the critical point that the act of protecting tax cuts for the rich is itself class warfare, in effect positioning himself as the defender of the middle class against GOP class warriors on behalf of the wealthy.
Don (in the comments in the thread below): Just in case anyone forgot, tomorrow is September 20, 2011, the day DADT is officially over. Is this guy for real or what, he changes the arch of justice and then just goes on about his business quietly. President Obama “gave “Boehner 98% of everything he wanted, which turned out to be ocean front property in Oklahoma. And now Boehner is in a race against time, come November Boehner has to either accept what President Obama gives him or accept what the Super-Committee gives him, which President Obama has already said he will veto if revenues are not included. And this, Professional Lefters, is how it is done.
*drops microphone, turns around and walks away*
Steve Benen: ….. The president has operated under a set of assumptions – GOP leaders are reasonable people, willing to compromise in good faith, acting with the nation’s best interests at heart – that have always seemed rather fanciful.
With the introduction of the American Jobs Act and today’s debt-reduction plan, President Obama and his team appear to have thrown out the old playbook …. It’s about time. The White House suffered some major setbacks, but officials have apparently decided to send congressional Republicans a new message: no more Mr. Nice President.
…. The new playbook is predicated on more realistic expectations: Republicans are going to say no to everything anyway …. What are the major concessions Obama has included in his economic plan? There aren’t any; that’s the point….
….. It took a while, but President Obama seems to have decided to break out of the box Republicans have spent years trying to weld shut. Between the American Jobs Act and today’s debt-reduction plan, the White House appears more invested in presenting what should pass, and less concerned about what might pass.
It’s the difference between following and leading.
Andrew Sullivan: Every single poll shows that the American public overwhelmingly supports higher taxes on the wealthy as part of a package to cut the deficit. The margins are staggering: the NYT poll shows a majority of 74 – 21; even Rasmussen shows a majority of 56 – 34. What the president proposed this morning is simply where the American people are at. If he keeps at it, if he turns his administration into a permanent campaign for structural fiscal reform, I don’t see how he loses the argument.
In case you you don’t listen to podcasts, the video above has an extract from the show (recorded after OFA New Mexico State Director Ray Sandoval sent an email to supporters attacking Firebaggers and Paul Krugman).
It’s the best analysis of the Firebaggers I’ve heard. Be good to yourself, subscribe to The Bob and Chez Show on iTunes. ;-)
Washington Post: When President Obama unveils his deficit-reduction plan this morning in the Rose Garden, the proposal sure to draw the most attention is his call for people making $1 million or more to pay more in taxes.
And there are (smart) politics everywhere in it. Here’s why.
1. Polling: The numbers on taxing the wealthy are very clear. In a July Washington Post/ABC poll, 72 percent of those tested supported raising taxes on those making $250,000 or more as a means of reducing the debt …. In our 50-50 political world, those numbers are as close as you can get to a political slam dunk.
2. Populism: Obama is an awkward populist, at best, but if ever there was a time when populism could sell, it’s now….
3. Middle class: These earners are, without question, the swing vote of the 2012 presidential election …. and at a time when many members of the middle class are feeling more and more squeezed economically, the idea of getting the wealthy to pay more will seem to many of them like a political no-brainer.
…. Make no mistake: President Obama has picked a political fight on the most solid ground on which he has to stand at this turbulent time. Winning it would help turn around his political fortunes as the calendar turns to 2012.
Warren Buffett says he’s absolutely “fine” with President Obama calling the new plan to establish a minimum tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million a year the “Buffett Rule.”
….. the billionaire told the FOX Business Network the administration “asked me if they could use my name (on it) and I said, ‘Sure. It’s what I believe.'”
Buffett has long argued that the wealthiest Americans tend to pay a smaller portion of their income in federal taxes than middle-income earners because some millionaires and billionaires often get much of their income from capital gains, which are taxed at a lower rate than basic wages.
Buffett has argued that the “billionaire-friendly Congress” has coddled the wealthy and that that practice should end.
…. When asked if he’s heard complaints or gotten friendly jabs from his wealthy friends about the Buffett Rule, Buffett quipped:
“Well, I’ve employed a food taster, but other than that…”