You’ve heard it from the pundits: “Obama is cloistered in the White House.” “He’s aloof.” “He’s in the bubble.” “He’s not connecting.” And that’s why one of my big goals this year was to get out and be among everyday, ordinary Americans – like the men and women of the Alfalfa Club.
And Speaker (John) Boehner, it is good to see you at the head table. I know how badly Eric Cantor wanted your seat. But, John, I want you to know: I am eager to work with members of Congress to be entertaining tonight. But if Congress is unwilling to cooperate, I will be funny without them.
I’d like to acknowledge a very good friend of mine – Warren Buffet’s secretary’s boss is in the house.
Time: President Obama dismissed Republican rival Mitt Romney’s critiques of his foreign policy credentials in an exclusive TIME interview, saying the GOP frontrunner’s attacks are little more than primary posturing that will wither under the glare of “a serious debate.”
“I think Mr. Romney and the rest of the Republican field are going to be playing to their base until the primary season is over,” Obama told TIME’s Fareed Zakaria during a White House interview that will appear in the next issue of TIME magazine. “Overall, I think it’s going to be pretty hard to argue that we have not executed a strategy over the last three years that has put America in a stronger position than it was than when I came into office.”
ABC: Although it is not apparent on his financial disclosure form, Mitt Romney has millions of dollars of his personal wealth in investment funds set up in the Cayman Islands, a notorious Caribbean tax haven.
…… As the race for the Republican nomination heats up, Mitt Romney is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain a shroud of secrecy around the details about his vast personal wealth, including, as ABC News has discovered, his investment in funds located offshore and his ability to pay a lower tax rate.
Greg Sargent: …. Take special note of the quote that one expert gave to ABC: “His personal finances are a poster child of what’s wrong with the American tax system.” …. this is very dicey for Romney. Dems want to paint Romney as the walking embodiment of everything that’s unfair about our tax system and of all the ways the system is rigged on behalf of the rich and against the middle class. This won’t hurt that case.
One wonders if these revelations – combined with the layoffs at Bain; Romney’s tax rate; the fact that his tax plan would give the very wealthy enormous tax cuts while raising taxes marginally on lower income people; and his penchant for saying things that perfectly feed the “one percent” storyline – will generate any concerns among Romney’s top backers about his electability.
Media Matters: The Washington Examiner blog Beltway Confidential put up a post yesterday reporting that President Obama’s acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, Jeffrey Zients, worked at Bain & Company in the late 1980s. The Examiner suggested that this could “undercut attacks on Republican Mitt Romney’s career as a venture capitalist, because Zients and Romney are both alumni of Bain & Company.”
……. The criticism of Romney has focused on his work at Bain Capital, not his time at Bain & Company.
To be clear: Bain & Company is an entirely separate entity from Bain Capital …. The Drudge Report linked to the Beltway Confidential post with the headline “OBAMA PICKS BAIN MAN FOR OMB…”:
ThinkProgress: Samantha Garvey, a New York high school senior who has been living in a homeless shelter and recently named a semi-finalist in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search competition, will be Rep. Steve Israel’s (D-NY) guest at President Obama’s State of the Union address next Tuesday.
…. Israel told Newsday he was moved by Garvey’s story. “The State of the Union attracts the most powerful people on Earth, but I really think Samantha can teach them all a lesson in perseverance,” he said.
More: …. Michelle Obama is one of those people you sense before you see, her confidence somehow arriving on the scene a few seconds before she does. Even a roomful of antsy teenagers can feel it, leading them to fall silent moments before the first lady strides into the State Dining Room and greets them with a friendly “Hey! What’s happening?”
…. “They call me FLOTUS, for first lady of the United States,” she explains, noting that the president’s internal White House acronym is POTUS. “And there are many times when FLOTUS and POTUS feel like characters.” There have even been times, she says, when she’s craned her own neck to see which celebrity might be causing all the excitement. “And it’s me. Oh, man, it’s FLOTUS. FLOTUS is here. No one told me FLOTUS was coming.”
….. “But sometimes,” Obama tells her class of mentees, “I just want to be Michelle. So you guys have to start slowly seeing me as Michelle, all right?”
WSJ: Chrysler Group LLC is on track to generate $3 billion in operating profit in 2012 thanks to rising vehicle sales in a recovering U.S. auto market, the company’s chief executive said Tuesday.
The auto maker should see its global sales reach two million cars and trucks this year, and rise 20% to 2.4 million in 2012…
….In the first three quarters of this year, Chrysler made $1.47 billion in operating profit. Year-to-date, the company has reported a net loss of $42 million, in part because it was paying interest on U.S. government loans for much of the year.
…. For the first three quarters of this year, GM reported $7.7 billion in net income, and Ford $6.6 billion.
Vice President Joe Biden, flanked by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, hosts a Cabinet meeting to discuss the latest efforts to cut waste, fraud and abuse, Dec. 13
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden listen to Rob Nabors, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, during a meeting with senior advisors in the Oval Office, Dec. 13, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)