President Obama walks to a meeting with House Democrats on Capitol Hill, July 31
President Obama is escorted by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Assistant Democratic Party Leader Rep. James Clyburn and Vice Chairman of the Democratic Caucus Rep. Joseph Crowley at the US Capitol after concluding talks with House Democrats
USA Today: … President Obama will appear on NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Tuesday as part of a western swing next week, officials said.
…. In its announcement, the Tonight Show said Obama plans “to discuss his second term concentrating on his jobs initiatives and the economy.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president’s trip will also include a housing speech in the Phoenix, Ariz., area, and a talk with troops at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Amazon: President Barack Obama: The Kindle Singles Interview
In this Kindle Singles Interview, President Barack Obama decried the “change in culture” that has changed our view of the American Dream. “There was not that window into the lifestyles of the rich and famous,” the President said. “Kids weren’t monitoring everyday what Kim Kardashian was wearing, or where Kanye West was going on vacation, and thinking that somehow that was the mark of success.” He addressed the jobs issue from a personal perspective, reflecting on how his own life might have been different had he not experienced success in politics. “I could picture myself being a good teacher,” the President mused.
In the interview, which took place on July 30, 2013, at an Amazon facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Obama discussed the increasing need for government programs that can actually make a difference. Sticking close to his standard message, he spoke frankly about the increasing polarization of American politics since the Great Recession and Republican Party intransigence over his agenda. On a personal note, he reflected that he and First Lady Michelle Obama are constantly reminding their daughters of the “slightly unreal environment that they’re in,” as children of privilege in a world constrained by unemployment and recession.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill in Washington are getting ready for a four-week break, followed by a September in which House Republicans have only scheduled nine days of work for the entire month, and they’re leaving quite a to-do list behind. Four of the 12 appropriations bills that have to pass before the end of the fiscal year are being ignored; the farm bill is stuck; immigration reform is demanding attention; and a debt-ceiling crisis looms.
There is, in other words, real work that needs to get done, and in theory, members of Congress would be scrambling right now to get as much finished as possible.
Going into this morning, expectations for economic growth in the second quarter — April, May, and June of this year — were quite poor, making the actual GDP report a little more encouraging.
The U.S. economy grew at a 1.7% annual rate in the second quarter, buoyed by a solid gain in consumer spending and a sharp increase in business investment, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected growth to total 1.0%.
To be sure, 1.7% GDP growth is not, by any fair measure, good news. It tells us the economy is growing, but the recovery is at best sluggish. But given the news we were expecting, 1.7% is a relatively pleasant surprise, especially since the previous quarter’s growth was revised down to 1.1%.
Bloomberg: Economy in U.S. Expands More Than Forecast on Inventories
The economy in the U.S. grew more than projected in the second quarter, reflecting an unexpected pickup in inventory building as consumer spending cooled. Growth in the previous three months was revised down.
Gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services produced, rose at a 1.7 percent annualized rate, after a 1.1 percent gain the prior quarter, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 85 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 1 percent advance for last quarter. Consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy, climbed 1.8 percent after increasing 2.3 percent.
Job gains and rising home prices are shoring up Americans’ confidence and lifting automobile sales and production, making it likely the U.S. will pick up once government spending cuts and tax increases pose less of a restraint. The report also showed inflation is falling further below the Federal Reserve’s goal….
Steve Benen: Reality gets in the way of far-right shutdown scheme
As a large group of Republicans push for a government shutdown over the Affordable Care Act, Norm Ornstein offered some compelling context. “You could say it’s a do-nothing Congress but that doesn’t do justice to it,” he said. “These guys are doing something, which is to destroy the economic fabric of the country by holding the functions of government hostage to a non-negotiable demand to eliminate Obamacare.”
That’s plainly true, though Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), arguably the main ringleader of the scheme, apparently believes destroying the economic fabric of the country by holding the functions of government hostage to a non-negotiable demand to eliminate Obamacare is a fine idea. As Sarah Kliff reported, however, there is a flaw in the right-wing premise…..
Steve Benen: ATF finally poised to move forward with real leadership
Ask conservative opponents of gun reforms what they’d like to see from law enforcement, and you’ll probably get a predictable answer: we should enforce the gun laws we already have, not approve new ones. For the last several years, however, that’s been easier said than done.
Enforcement of existing gun laws generally falls under the purview of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which has lacked a permanent, Senate-confirmed leader for the last seven years, thanks to opposition from Republicans and the National Rifle Association, both of which have reflexively balked at the very idea of an ATF chief.
With this in mind, we may be poised for a breakthrough this week….
ThinkProgress: Texas Lawmakers Are Too Busy Focusing On Abortion Restrictions To Get Anything Else Done
Just over an hour after Texas legislators concluded their second special session — an extra lawmaking session they used to enact sweeping abortion restrictions — Gov. Rick Perry (R) called them back for a third one. An outstanding highway funding bill is the only item on the agenda. “When it comes to transportation, the stakes facing our state could not be higher,” the governor noted in a statement.
Perry cited that same transportation measure as one of the reasons he believed it was necessary to call the first special legislative session at the beginning of June. But instead of focusing on getting that done, the governor demonstrated a different set of priorities — adding a slew of anti-abortion provisions that were unable to advance during the state’s regular session to the docket.
Bob Cesca: Bradley Manning Lives in a Nation of Laws, and, Hero or Not, He Broke 16 of Those Laws
While fleeing from the law in Hong Kong, Edward Snowden encouraged a return to “the rule of law rather than men.” In spite of his politically incorrect usage of “men” instead of “men and women,” he’s right. Generally speaking, individual citizens shouldn’t be held above the law — least of all a soldier named Pfc. Bradley Manning who stole 720,000 classified documents and handed them over to be be indiscriminately posted for public consumption by Julian Assange’s Wikileaks.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden shake hands in the Oval Office following a phone call with House Speaker John Boehner securing a bipartisan deal to reduce the nation’s deficit and avoid default, Sunday, July 31, 2011. (Photo by Pete Souza)