Washington Post: President Obama will announce details Friday for a $1 billion Veterans Job Corps that the White House says will put up to 20,000 veterans to work over the next five years on projects to preserve and restore national parks and other federal, state and local lands.
….. Obama proposed the corps in his State of the Union address last month, describing it as “enlisting our veterans in the work of rebuilding our nation.”
From the White House: “President Obama and the First Lady will welcome Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and his wife, Samantha Cameron, to the White House for an Official Visit with a State Dinner on March 13-14, 2012….”.
Freep.com: Long lines of people wait on the outdoor football field outside the Glick Fieldhouse on the campus of the University of Michigan hours before President Obama was to deliver his speech about education to over 3,000 people inside today
9:45 ET PBO delivers remarks at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor
11:00: Departs Michigan en route to Joint Base Andrews
12:25: Arrives at Joint Base Andrews
12:30: Departs Joint Base Andrews en route to Cambridge, Md.
1:15 PBO address House Democrats at their annual retreat (Listed for live coverage by C-Span 2 and CNN streaming)
3:00: Arrives at the White House
3:30: PBO and VP Biden meet with Secretary of State Clinton
4:30: PBO delivers remarks at a campaign event
Jonathan Cohn (TNR): President Obama visits the Detroit area on Friday, and his timing couldn’t be better: Today’s Detroit Free Press brings more good news from the auto industry:
General Motors, Ford and Chrysler all plan to add jobs in Michigan, which stands to benefit more than any other state. Nissan, BMW, Honda, Toyota, Kia and Mercedes-Benz also are hiring. Suppliers are looking to add engineers and technical people, but at a more gradual pace.
About 15,000 auto-related Michigan jobs could be created this year….
President Barack Obama greets people following his remarks at Buckley Air Force Base in Denver, Colo., Jan. 26, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
The Nation: It is hard to read Remedy and Reaction, Paul Starr’s remarkable chronicle of the hundred-year effort to legislate universal health insurance in the United States, without recalling Robert Gibbs’s tortured quip that Democrats who’ve denounced the Obama White House for having knuckled under to Republican principles or intimidation “ought to be drug-tested.” Nobody with a sense of history – that is, nobody who reads Starr’s book – could doubt how sensible and brave was the president’s effort to drive the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 through Congress. Nobody with a feel for the present moment should doubt how imminent is the threat to the act, how urgent it is for progressive Democrats to rally around Obama – and without all the condescending qualifications that “independents,” who flock away from allegedly weak or incompetent leaders, interpret as contempt.
Greg Sargent: …. At an event in Las Vegas (yesterday), Obama offered his most extensive rebuttal by far to the bogus GOP charge that the push for higher taxes on the wealthy is about “class warfare” and “envy”. The whole thing is worth a watch – the tone was not one of outrage, but one laced with a good deal of mockery and derision:
Washington Post: The Obama administration finalized a rule Thursday governing the management of 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands, establishing a new blueprint to guide everything from logging to recreation and renewable energy development.
The guidelines – which will take effect in early March and apply to all 155 national forests, 20 grasslands and one prairie – represent the first meaningful overhaul of forest rules in 30 years….
Several environmentalists and scientists praised the guidelines … “The vision is laudable, and this is no small shift in how the national forests will be managed, from one of commodity extraction into a vision of protection, restoration and water preservation,” said Dominick DellaSala, president and chief scientist for the Oregon-based Geos Institute.
1:45: PBO attends a campaign event at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington.
5:30: PBO and Michelle Obama host the Tuskegee Airmen, along with cast and crew members of the movie “Red Tails,” for a screening at the White House.
* Michelle Obama this morning joins the cast of Nickelodeon’s “iCarly” at a special screening of “iMeet The First Lady” in Alexandria, Va.
Washington Post: President Obama will ask Congress on Friday for the power to shrink the federal government, proposing a first step of combining several trade and commerce agencies under a plan that the White House said could eliminate more than 1,000 jobs and save $3 billion over 10 years.
A senior administration official cast the announcement, which Obama will make during an 11:20 a.m. White House appearance, as follow-through on the president’s promise during last year’s State of the Union address to create a leaner, more efficient bureaucracy.
CBS Philly: Vice President Joe Biden is coming to the Philadelphia area Friday morning to speak to high school students in Bucks County about the cost of college and what the Obama Administration is doing to make it more affordable.
Biden and Deputy Secretary of Education Tony Miller will speak to students at Central Bucks West High School in Doylestown. Even though students have finals next week, class schedules are being adjusted to give students a chance to take part in what could be a chance of a lifetime.
CBS: On the eve of a Texas meeting of prominent social conservatives and evangelical Christians to discuss the state of the Republican presidential race, one invitee is worrying that a Mitt Romney nomination would be “John McCain all over again.”
Dick Bott, founder and chairman of Christian Radio’s Bott Radio Network, says he would vote for the former Massachusetts governor against President Obama, but that “people just won’t care.”
“Why on earth give other things [like volunteering time or donations] for someone you think is a bit of sham?” says Bott, who would not confirm he will be attending this weekend’s summit. “All of a sudden there’s a conservative movement that is being spoon-fed by Republican establishment leaders.”
Steve Benen: ….. I don’t think we need any special insights to see the line Gingrich is pushing here. The disgraced former House Speaker, in advance of the South Carolina primary, wants Republican voters to think there’s something wrong with being bilingual, especially if the other language is French.
I have no idea if this will work, but the fact that “he speaks French” is considered a potentially potent attack in Republican politics in the 21st century is just sad.
LA Times: As Mitt Romney defends his record running a private equity firm, he frequently points to a fast-growing Indiana steel company, financed in part by Bain Capital, that now employs 6,000 workers.
What Romney doesn’t mention is that Steel Dynamics also received generous tax breaks and other subsidies provided by the state of Indiana and the residents of DeKalb County, where the company’s first mill was built.
The story of Bain and Steel Dynamics illustrates how Romney, during his business career, made avid use of public-private partnerships, something that many conservatives consider to be “corporate welfare.” It is a commitment that carried over into his term as governor of Massachusetts, when he offered similar incentives to lure businesses to his state.
Yet as he seeks the GOP presidential nomination, he emphasizes government’s adverse effects on economic growth
Marketwatch: The U.S. economy gained 200,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5%, the Labor Department said Friday.
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast the U.S. would add 150,000 jobs last month, with the jobless rate edging up to 8.7% from an initially reported 8.6% in November.
Subtracting another decline in government jobs, the private sector boosted payrolls by 212,000. Average hourly earnings rose 0.2% last month to $23.24 and hours worked edged up to 34.4. Job gains for November and October were little changed. The U.S. created 1.64 million jobs in 2011.
Steve Benen: Mitt Romney will probably find today’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics very discouraging. The rest of us, though, have reason to smile.
…. when monthly job growth reaches 200,000, that’s genuinely good news, and the drop in the overall unemployment to 8.5% puts the figure at nearly a three-year low, which is also encouraging. Under the circumstances, this is one of the best jobs reports since the recession began four years ago.
Reuters: The young men in business suits, gingerly picking their way among the millwrights, machinists and pipefitters at Kansas City’s Worldwide Grinding Systems steel mill…. “They looked like a bunch of high school kids to me. A bunch of Wall Street preppies,” says Jim Linson, an electronics repairman who worked at the plant for 40 years….
Apparently they liked what they saw. Soon after, in October 1993, Bain Capital, co-founded by Mitt Romney, became majority shareholder in a steel mill that had been operating since 1888.
…. Less than a decade later, the mill was padlocked and some 750 people lost their jobs. Workers were denied the severance pay and health insurance they’d been promised, and their pension benefits were cut by as much as $400 a month…..
Paul Krugman: ….. Mr. Romney claims that Mr. Obama has been a job destroyer, while he was a job-creating businessman …. his claims about the Obama record border on dishonesty, and his claims about his own record are well across that border.
….. the president inherited an economy in free fall, and can’t be held responsible for job losses during his first few months, before any of his own policies had time to take effect. So how much of that Obama job loss took place in, say, the first half of 2009?
The answer is: more than all of it. The economy lost 3.1 million jobs between January 2009 and June 2009 and has since gained 1.2 million jobs. That’s not enough, but it’s nothing like Mr. Romney’s portrait of job destruction.
Incidentally, the previous administration’s claims of job growth always started not from Inauguration Day but from August 2003, when Bush-era employment hit its low point. By that standard, Mr. Obama could say that he has created 2.5 million jobs since February 2010.
Washington Post editorial: ….. Republicans may well be correct that Mr. Obama is playing politics with these appointments …. But so what? Both the consumer bureau and the labor relations board are agencies of the U.S. government, created by Congress, and it is inexcusable that congressional obstructionism would leave them unable to function. If Republicans don’t like the structure or purpose of either agency, they should try to alter them through legislation. Meanwhile their filibustering against qualified nominees to make political points or extort concessions from the White House cripples government and discourages good people from serving. That is the real poisonous practice, in which both parties have engaged. Until there is a de-escalation, the country will continue to pay a high price.
New York Times: Obama administration officials announced on Friday that they will propose a fix to a notorious snag in immigration law that will spare hundreds of thousands of American citizens from prolonged separations from immigrant spouses and children.
The change that immigration officials are offering would benefit United States citizens who are married to or have children who are illegal immigrants. It would correct a bureaucratic Catch-22 that those Americans now confront when their spouses or children apply to become legal permanent residents.
Washington Post: Facing withering criticism from across the political spectrum and abandoned by Senate allies, House Republicans bowed to political reality Thursday and agreed to a two-month extension of a payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans.
The agreement represented a remarkable capitulation on the part of House Republicans, who had two days earlier rejected such a deal with Democrats as the kind of half-measure that their new majority was elected to thwart.
And it amounts to a Christmas gift for President Obama, who attempted to paint his Republican opponents as willing to raise taxes for millions of Americans. Such an image could have cost the party politically just as it is gearing up to try to take back the White House and the Senate in 2012.
Eugene Robinson: Finally. After a year of artful camouflage and concealment, Republicans let us glimpse the rift between establishment pragmatists and Tea Party ideologues. There may be hope for the republic after all.
…. There are only two possible reasons for House Republicans to behave the way they did. Maybe they are so blinded by ideology that they no longer care about the impact their actions might have on struggling American families. Or maybe their only guiding principle is that anything Obama supports, they oppose.
The week’s events offer a lesson for Obama, too. One reason for all the Republican angst was that public opinion has become more sensitive to issues of economic justice. This may be partly due to the Occupy protests. But I’m convinced that Obama’s fiery barnstorming in favor of his American Jobs Act has played a big role. People are hearing his message.
The president has been on the offensive. It’s no coincidence that, for the first time in quite a while, Republicans are backing up.
Steve Benen: …. the GOP leadership will, probably later today, bring the tweaked Senate agreement to the House floor, hoping to approve it by unanimous consent. If Republicans balk – and they might – Boehner will reconvene the House next week for an up-or-down vote. Since that vote would very likely pass the Senate bill, an objection today would only delay the inevitable, and extend this fiasco for a few more days.
…. perhaps one of the most striking realizations from this entire dispute is that Republicans gambled that Democrats would cave when the pressure was on – and Democrats didn’t. Arguably for the first time all year, Democrats from the White House to Capitol Hill knew they had the better hand, told Republicans that Dems wouldn’t fold this time, and sat back and watched and the GOP unraveled.
… After a year in which policymakers have moved from one hostage crisis to another, Democrats won a big one to close out the year, leaving Republicans looking awful and a weakened Speaker looking beaten.
For a party that earned a reputation for capitulating a little too often, it’ll start 2012 on the right foot.
Vice President Biden in the Des Moines Register: Mitt Romney recently laid out his plan for America. Reading about it, I thought of my dad. My dad was a hard worker. He took pride in what he did. And, like millions of Americans, that pride was put to the test when he found himself struggling to make ends meet.
When I was a child, he had to ask my grandfather to take care of my mom, my brother, sister and I while he moved away to find a better job in Wilmington, Del. My dad had a saying: “A job is about more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity. It’s about respect.”….
Michael Tomasky (Daily Beast): Last week, I mentioned the racism charges against Ron Paul, involving the newsletter he used to publish and some of the vile and witless statements therein….
….These are not your run-of-the-mill euphemisms. These are blatantly racist comments by, I would hope, nearly any measure. Jews and gays get their moment in the sun ….The “Special Issue on Racial Terrorism,” produced after the Los Angeles riots, offers many gems, including this advice: “I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense. For the animals are coming.” …. It would seem, in the pages of something called the Ron Paul Political Report, that that “I” would represent, well, Ron Paul. But he denies authorship….
…. If he didn’t write those sentences, who did? Why not say? If he genuinely disagrees with the statements and truly disavows them, there could be no good reason not to name names.
… I humbly suggest that there are some matters on which there should not a statute of limitations …. Calling a group of people—identifiable only by their race “animals” belongs in that company. We lack proof that Paul did that, but at the very least we have proof that he has regarded this whole thing very casually….