President Obama visits a pre-kindergarten classroom at College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center in Decatur, Ga., Feb. 14
10:0: President Obama meets with President Giorgio Napolitano of Italy
11:10: Welcomes the 18 recipients of the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal
12:10: Departs the White House
1:10: Arrives Chicago
2:45: Delivers remarks at Hyde Park Academy
4:30: Departs Chicago
8:0: Arrives West Palm Beach, Florida
Washington Post: President Obama used his State of the Union address to launch a push for massively expanding pre-K and other early childhood education programs. But he was pretty vague about it. Not anymore. At 6 a.m. today, the administration released its detailed plan for early childhood education….
…. Upon opening the plan for the first time (while on the phone with me) Nobel laureate and early childhood education expert James Heckman exclaimed “Holy smokes!” in approval.
Eugene Robinson: In his bid to be remembered as a transformational leader, President Obama is following the playbook of an ideological opposite, Margaret Thatcher. First you win the argument, she used to say, then you win the vote.
Obama is gradually winning the argument about what government can and should do. His State of the Union address was an announcement of that fact — and a warning to conservatives that, to remain relevant, they will have to move beyond the premise that government is always the problem and never the solution…..
Steve Benen: Sen. John McCain, as recently as a few days ago, said he would not try to stop an up-or-down vote on Chuck Hagel’s Defense Secretary nomination. And then yesterday, he did the exact opposite.
I’m sure he’ll be coming soon to a Sunday show near you to explain his thinking, but in the meantime, take a look at what McCain told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto after the first-ever instance of a Senate minority blocking a vote on a cabinet nominee:
NYT Editorial: For the last four years, Senate Republicans have used the power of the filibuster to block legislation, bottle up nominees to courts and government departments, and strangle federal agencies, even though they are in the minority. On Thursday, they hit a new low. They successfully filibustered Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s nominee for defense secretary, the first time a cabinet nominee for this post has been prevented from receiving an up-or-down vote.
NYT: At a high school near his own neighborhood here, President Obama on Friday will provide new details about an initiative to select 20 communities nationwide as laboratories for better coordination of federal, local, nonprofit and private-sector investments to revitalize long-distressed areas, according to administration officials.
Mr. Obama had announced his proposal to designate the so-called Promise Zones during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, but did not provide many details. As part of the effort, he also is seeking tax breaks, for capital investments in the zones and for employers who hire unemployed residents.
Steve Benen: Two weeks from today, deep, automatic sequestration cuts will kick in, doing real damage to the nation’s economy, military, and public needs. Both Democrats and Republicans say they want to avoid that fate, but only one side seems to be doing anything about the threat.
This week, House Republican leaders, including Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), said they would do literally nothing to resolve the problem until Senate Democrats acted. It was a bizarre posture to take — the House GOP freely admits it doesn’t want to do any work at all to clean up the mess Republican helped make.
President Barack Obama talks with Natoma Canfield, right, and her sister, Connie Anderson, in the Oval Office, Dec. 12. The letter Canfield sent the President in 2010 hangs on the wall in the background. (Photo by Pete Souza)
Politico: The Ohio woman whose name become a rallying cry for President Obama in his fight for health care reform finally came to the White House on Wednesday to see a letter that she wrote, framed and placed on a West Wing wall outside the Oval Office. Natoma Canfield wrote to Obama in 2010 about her battle with cancer and how she could no longer afford to pay insurance premiums. He cited her letter as one of his inspirations while pushing for health care reform, called her after the Supreme Court upheld the law and met her for the first time in July this year. Obama promised at that meeting that Canfield, at right above, could come to the White House and see the letter.
7:40: President Obama delivers remarks at the Hanukkah Reception at the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama attends
ABC: Barack Obama holds a substantial advantage over John Boehner in handling budget negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff: Nearly twice as many Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll approve of the president’s work on the issue so far as favor the speaker’s approach.
Jonathan Bernstein: In the “elections have consequences” department, add today’s announcement by the Federal Reserve that it will not only tolerate somewhat more inflation, but will do so until unemployment drops below 6.5 percent. It’s a decision that pushes the Fed more and more in the direction of liberal economists who have supported monetary policy designed to encourage economic growth, not fight inflation.
….. the decision is a consequence of an election, but not the one we just had — it’s a consequence of the November 2008 election, which allowed Obama to appoint and a Democratic Senate to confirm members of the Fed Board of Governors; he’s now appointed six of seven, all of whom voted for today’s policy.
Greg Sargent: Republicans have long derided Elizabeth Warren for describing herself as an intellectual godmother of Occupy Wall Street. Now the intellectual godmother of Occupy Wall Street will occupy the Senate committee that oversees it.
The Senate Democratic leadership is announcing that Warren will be given a seat on the Senate Banking Committee. As Forbes put it recently, Warren’s ascent to the Senate alone was “Wall Street’s worst nightmare.” This could make that nightmare a good deal worse.
Washington Post: Military officials on Wednesday spilled details of the elaborate plans for President Obama’s second inauguration, rolling out a gym-size map to show how an army of National Guard members and active-duty personnel will contribute to the event’s pomp and manage its backstage nitty-gritty.
Strolling the 40-by-60-foot floor map with what he quipped were “God-like powers,” Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Scott Hinds demonstrated how units will be deployed from staging areas to various command posts along the Mall and the Pennsylvania Avenue parade route.