President Barack Obama walks with Col. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost, commander of the 89th Airlift Wing, before boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. The president is scheduled to deliver remarks on the economy at Shaker Heights High School in Shaker Heights, Ohio.
11:35: PBO arrives in Cleveland, Ohio.
12:05: PBO participates in a discussion with a family at a private residence.
President Obama speaks during a news conference on Republican obstruction of Richard Cordray’s nomination to head the CFPB, Dec 8
Steve Benen: Two months after the Senate Banking Committee approved Richard Cordray as the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Senate leadership brought the nomination to the floor this morning. Republicans refused to allow a vote …. It’s hard to overstate how outrageous today’s filibuster really is.
…. It’s all part of the normalization of extortion politics. Traditionally, if the GOP wanted to alter the powers of the CFPB, it would write legislation, send it to committee, bring it to the floor, send it to the other chamber, etc. But that takes time and effort, and might not work. Instead, we see the latest in a series of GOP extortion strategies: Republicans will force Democrats to accept changes to the agency, or Republicans won’t allow the agency to meet its legal mandate…..
The President is pre-taping interviews with WISH (Indianapolis, IN), KSNV (Las Vegas, NV), WREG (Memphis, TN) and WCHS (Portland, ME) today
Steve Benen: We generally look to the first Friday of every month for new unemployment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but every Thursday morning, the Department of Labor releases a report on initial unemployment claims.
And this morning, the news is very good:
The number of people filing for state unemployment benefits for the first time fell 23,000 to the lowest level since late February, the government said Thursday. The Labor Department said claims fell to a seasonally adjusted 381,000 last week. The level of initial claims in the week ended Nov. 26 was revised up by 2,000 to 404,000.
The consensus expectations were for a slight drop, which makes the sharp drop that much more encouraging…..
Steve Benen: Politico has a piece today on Senate Democrats’ outrage over Republican obstructionism, as evidenced by Tuesday’s filibuster of judicial nominee Caitlin Halligan and today’s expected filibuster of CFPB nominee Richard Cordray. As Dems see it, GOP abuses are setting a new standard — which Democrats will take advantage of the next time they’re in the minority.
…. Republicans respond that these current tactics aren’t new, and the Politico article tells readers the GOP argument is sound.
…. This isn’t a subjective question on which the parties are entitled to different opinions. There are objective, often quantifiable, answers to the points Politico and Republicans are raising: are GOP senators “replicating” Democratic tactics? Were Dems abusing Senate rules in the Bush era to the same degree that Republicans are abusing them now?
The answer to both is “no,” and the false equivalence does little to advance the discussion.
Steve Benen: Most of the Affordable Care Act won’t take effect for a few years – and if court rulings and the 2012 elections go a certain way, it may not take effect at all – but there’s already evidence that the reform law is working.
It’s making a big difference in providing coverage for young adults; it’s providing treatment options for women like Spike Dolomite Ward; and it’s slowing the growth in Medicare spending.
It’s also, as Jonathan Cohn explained, saving seniors quite a bit of money on prescription medication…..
President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrive to speak in the South Court Auditorium on the White House, Dec. 7
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada talk backstage at the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building following their joint press conference, Dec. 7, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
CBS: President Barack Obama will appear on “60 Minutes” in an interview with Steve Kroft to be broadcast Sunday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Steve Kroft interviewed the president on Tuesday in Kansas after he delivered an economic speech in the small town of Osawatomie. President Obama will talk to Kroft again tomorrow at the White House for Sunday’s report.
Republic of Korea President Lee Myung-bak tips his Detroit Tigers baseball hat
President Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak at General Motors’ Orion Assembly Plant in Lake Orion, Michigan
President Obama is seen through a window backstage at the General Motors Lake Orion Assembly Plant in Orion Township, Mich., Oct. 14. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama returns a salute as he gets off Air Force One at Air Force Base after a day trip to Michigan
AP: U.S. consumers stepped up their spending on retail goods in September, a hopeful sign for the sluggish economy.
They spent more on autos, clothing and furniture last month to boost retail sales 1.1 percent, the Commerce Department said Friday. It was the largest gain in seven months.
Auto sales rose 3.6 percent to drive the overall increase. Still, excluding that category, sales gained a solid 0.6 percent.
The government also revised the August figures to show a 0.3 percent increase, up from its initial report of no gain.
Stocks rose after the release of the report, which is the government’s first look at consumer spending each month. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 87 points in afternoon trading. Broader indexes also rose.
A separate Commerce report showed that businesses added to their stockpiles for a 20th consecutive month in August while sales rose for a third straight month. The increase suggests businesses were confident enough in the economy to keep stocking their shelves.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood feigns being a blocking back for President Barack Obama as he arrives backstage to meet with GOP House leaders, January 2010
AP: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the most prominent Republican in President Barack Obama’s administration, accused GOP House members Friday of putting their hope for the president to fail ahead of working toward solving the nation’s problems.
Responding to a question about why it was so difficult to get big infrastructure projects built right now, LaHood told a transportation conference that “some people don’t want Obama to be successful.”
“A big percentage of the Republicans that were elected this time came here to do zero, and that’s what they’ve done,” he said. Those lawmakers, he said, have obstructed other people who are trying to get things done.
…. “Here we are almost 12 months from the election and there are some people in Congress – look there are probably 40 people, 40 Republicans, elected to the House to come here to do nothing,” Lahood said. “That’s why they felt they were elected.”
…. “When I was elected in `94 we had a very reform-minded class, 82 new people, but they came here to do something, to solve problems,” he said. “Almost always in the past when people have run for Congress, they ran for Congress on the opportunity to help solve the problems of America.”
Paul Krugman: Reading the transcript of Tuesday’s Republican debate on the economy is, for anyone who has actually been following economic events these past few years, like falling down a rabbit hole. Suddenly, you find yourself in a fantasy world where nothing looks or behaves the way it does in real life.
And since economic policy has to deal with the world we live in, not the fantasy world of the G.O.P.’s imagination, the prospect that one of these people may well be our next president is, frankly, terrifying.
…. the G.O.P. has responded to the crisis not by rethinking its dogma but by adopting an even cruder version of that dogma, becoming a caricature of itself. During the debate, the hosts played a clip of Ronald Reagan calling for increased revenue; today, no politician hoping to get anywhere in Reagan’s party would dare say such a thing.
It’s a terrible thing when an individual loses his or her grip on reality. But it’s much worse when the same thing happens to a whole political party, one that already has the power to block anything the president proposes — and which may soon control the whole government.
Greg Sargent: By now you may have heard about that 78-year-old grandmother who is fully against Ohio’s new push to roll back collective bargaining rights for public employees – but who had her words brazenly torn out of context and put into an ad advocating for the measure.
The tale has gone national. And now the story is about to get even bigger: The grandma is set to appear in a pro-union ad denouncing the anti-union forces as “desperate” for stealing her words. This will likely earn much more attention to a fight which is now being viewed nationally as yet another major referendum on whether the right will succeed in breaking labor in the industrial heartland.
Could this blunder by the anti-union forces be decisive? Labor hopes so….
Washington Post: As a result of stimulus spending and increased funding through the 2010 health-care law, the number of clinicians participating in a federal program to expand access to care in under-served communities has nearly tripled in the past three years.
About 10,000 doctors, nurses and other providers now participate in the National Health Service Corps, the highest number since the program was established in 1972….Officials estimated that the corps is serving about 10.5 million patients.
Barney Frank (in the Washington Post): …. The president has nominated Richard Cordray, an able, experienced and thoughtful former state attorney general who has a record of achievement in protecting individuals against financial abuse, to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And the Republican minority in the Senate has announced that it intends to deny any consideration of the individual …. they will do that by blatantly distorting the Constitution…..
Cordray is just the latest capable, dedicated public servant to fall victim to a Republican mugging …. his record as attorney general of Ohio puts him in a small group of people able to act effectively to deal with the mortgage crisis. No one has raised any questions about his intelligence, integrity or dedication.
Yet his nomination will not even be fairly considered by the full Senate …. They will not confirm anyone until the Senate majority reverses itself to once again put bank regulators in a position to overrule virtually all of the policies that would be set by the consumer agency. The president is being told that the price of having a nominee confirmed is reversing himself on a major policy initiative that has already been enacted.
…. Cordray’s hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, and we’re going to see an extraordinarily qualified administrator of an important consumer protection agency be trashed by the Senate Republican minority because their primary goal is to ensure that financial institutions are not troubled by what they may see as an excessive concern for consumer fairness.
They are now refusing to confirm any recess appointment …. It is the legislative equivalent to an arsonist having set a fire and objecting to a building’s inhabitants using the fire exit.
The personnel announcement concerns Alan Krueger who the President has nominated to be the next chairman of his Council of Economic Advisers.
The 50-year-old Princeton University professor, who was the assistant secretary for economic policy and the chief economist of the Treasury Department from 2009 to 2010, will replace Austan Goolsbee, who left to teach at the University of Chicago. Krueger also was a chief economist at the Labor Department in President Bill Clinton’s administration.
NYT: Consumer spending in the United States rebounded strongly in July to post the largest increase in five months on strong demand for motor vehicles, a government report showed on Monday, supporting views the economy was not falling back into recession.
The Commerce Department said consumer spending increased 0.8 percent, the largest gain since a matching increase in February, after slipping 0.1 percent in June.
… When adjusted for inflation, spending rose 0.5 percent last month, the largest gain since a matching increase in December 2009, after being flat in June.
The data suggested the economy started the third quarter with some strength after growth almost stalled in the first half of the year…..
Elizabeth Warren: This is a big week for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Today, the President will announce his intent to nominate Richard Cordray to serve as its first Director. On Thursday, the CFPB makes its transition from a start-up to a real, live agency with the authority to write rules and to supervise the activities of America’s largest banks.
Rich will be a strong leader for this agency. He has a proven track record of fighting for families during his time as head of the CFPB enforcement division, as Attorney General of Ohio, and throughout his career. He was one of the first senior executives I recruited for the agency, and his hard work and deep commitment make it clear he can make many important contributions in leading it. Rich is smart, he is tough, and he will make a stellar Director. I am very pleased for him and very pleased for the CFPB.
…. Our mission is clear: No one should be tricked in any financial transaction. Prices and risks should be clear. People should be able to make apples-to-apples comparisons. Fine print should be mowed down, not used to hide nasty surprises. And, everyone – even trillion dollar banks – should follow the law…..
President Barack Obama announces Richard Cordray as his nominee to be the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the Rose Garden, July 18. Obama was joined by Elizabeth Warren, Special Advisor on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Ezra Klein: There’s a fair amount of disappointment over the White House’s decision to formally nominate Richard Cordray rather than Elizabeth Warren to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau….
I don’t really understand this. Whoever is nominated to lead the CFPB is going to spend the next year of his life being filibustered by Republicans …. so the question isn’t who you want leading the CFPB for the foreseeable future. It’s who you want spending his or her time being stopped from leading the CFPB for the foreseeable future. And it’s not clear that the answer to that question is “Elizabeth Warren.”
Warren, after all, has another option that she appears to be taking seriously: challenging Scott Brown in the 2012 electionm … if she wants to do that, she can’t spend the next year being blocked from leading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau…
…. Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general with a great reputation in consumer-protection circles and Warren’s blessing, doesn’t have anything to run for until Ohio’s governorship opens in 2014. By all accounts, he’s a good choice to lead the agency now, if he can somehow get past the Republicans, and spending a few years publicly fighting to protect consumers is unlikely to hurt him back home.
… given the information we have now, it seems like a fairly smart way to deploy the talents and preserve the future options of the various consumer protectors whom Republicans plan to filibuster.