1:05: PBO delivers remarks at a campaign event in Corona Del Mar, Calif.
2:45: Departs Los Angeles, California en route San Francisco
3:30: Arrives San Francisco
5:00: Attends a campaign event
10:10: Delivers remarks at a campaign event
AP: The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell to the lowest point in almost four years last week, the latest signal that the job market is steadily improving.
The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment benefits dropped 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 348,000. It was the fourth drop in five weeks and the fewest number of claims since March 2008.
ABC (Devin Dwyer): Fact Check – Obama and the Resurgence of American Manufacturing
President Obama is this week heralding the resurgence of American manufacturing as a leap toward an “economy built to last,” and a sign that he deserves a second term. …. Obama’s claim is corroborated by government statistics, which show an undeniable rebound for manufacturers during his term, both in terms of productivity and employment of American workers.
When Obama took office in January 2009, unemployment in the manufacturing sector stood at 10.9 percent and spiked to 13 percent a year later, according to the Labor Department. But in the two years since, unemployment has fallen precipitously, now holding at 8.4 percent in January 2012.
In terms of raw manufacturing jobs, the trajectory is similarly positive …. U.S. manufacturers have also increased production by 15 percent since the recession officially ended in late 2009….
New York Times (Editorial): There’s nothing like a deadline – and the prospect of acute political embarrassment – to concentrate the mind. With Congress about to go on recess, and with Republicans fearing a voter backlash, negotiators on Wednesday were putting the finishing touches on a deal to extend the payroll tax cut and federal jobless benefits through 2012.
The agreement is imperfect but sound. It will help struggling Americans and the struggling economy. It is also a political win for Democrats and President Obama, who had made extending the payroll tax cut and the jobless benefits a centerpiece of his jobs agenda. We hope that it gives them the courage to stick to that agenda if they face another round of Republican obstructionism…..
LA Times: ….. President Obama was expected to raise a total of more than $3 million during two events at the expansive Holmby Hills estate of “The Bold and the Beautiful” producer Bradley Bell and his wife, Colleen. The outdoor event, with tickets priced at $250 and $500, featured a performance by the Foo Fighters and appearances by comedian Jack Black and actress Rashida Jones.
Obama spoke later to a more intimate gathering inside the Bells’ Spanish-style home, which about 80 supporters each paid $35,800 to attend. Among those present were George Clooney, Jim Belushi and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who on Wednesday was named chairman of the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Washington Post: …. If Obama is suffering any lingering Hollywood blowback after his administration failed to get behind a pair of high-profile Internet piracy bills championed by the entertainment industry, it wasn’t apparent …. The two Tinseltown events were expected to reap more than $3 million….
“Anything we can do to help,” said Andy Spahn, a political consultant to DreamWorks chief Jeffrey Katzenberg, one of Obama’s top campaign bundlers and staunchest Hollywood supporters. “The events are sold out,” Spahn said of Wednesday’s concert and dinner at the home of Bradley and Colleen Bell, producers of “The Bold and the Beautiful.” “I expect the president to continue to enjoy strong support.”
SF Gate: …. this week, The Chronicle has learned that the Obama campaign has, for the first time, opened a new type of campaign office in San Francisco: A Technology Field Office. It is believed to be the first such type of campaign office for a presidential campaign.
“We learned from 2008 that using the talents and skills of our supporters was a key to building the most effective organization,” said Obama campaign deputy press secretary Katie Hogan. “We’re taking the next step by providing tools and space for supporters in the technology community to help the campaign extend our current tools like BarackObama.com and our mobile applications.”
…. instead of cold-calling independents, a techie who wants to help Team O can come in and help develop something new for the website, etc…..
If you want to get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Guardian: …. Obama has critics and doubters. Maya Angelou, the sage of black America, now 83, has no time for them. “I think he has done a remarkable job, knowing how much he has been opposed,” she says. “Every suggestion he makes, the Republicans en masse fight against him or don’t vote at all.”
…. “I was hoping for the best. And I think I have gotten the best from him.” What of his detractors? “Those are people who didn’t see the morass into which he stepped.”
….. “His physical self, just being there, his photograph in the newspapers as president of the United States; that has done so much good for the spirit of the African American. We see more and more children wanting to be like President Obama, wanting to go to school.”
…. More recently, her presidential link has been via the first lady, Michelle Obama. “She’s the grand dame,” says Angelou. “I wrote her a note a few months ago because I was in a gathering. The president and his party were there, but I had to leave early. I know that’s a gaffe because no one leaves the building before the president so I wrote and apologised. I got a letter from her in her own handwriting. She said: ‘I have only one regret – that I didn’t come over and hug your neck.'”
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….
Funny, the President said the same thing to John Boehner today:
President Barack Obama talks with Rob Nabors, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, in the Oval Office, Dec. 22, 2011. Nabors informed President Obama that a bipartisan agreement was reached to extend the payroll tax cut. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)