White House: On Monday, January 30, the President will join a special Google+ Hangout from the West Wing. He’ll be answering several of the most popular questions that have been submitted through YouTube, and some of the people who submitted questions will even be invited to join the President in the Hangout and take part in the live conversation.
Do you have a question for President Obama? Here’s how you can participate:
Starting today through January 28th, you can visit the White House YouTube channel to submit your questions and vote on your favorites.
Tomorrow, watch the State of the Union live at 9:00 p.m. EST on YouTube.com/whitehouse or on WhiteHouse.gov/sotu
Paul Krugman: How goes the state of the union? Well, the state of the economy remains terrible. Three years after President Obama’s inauguration and two and a half years since the official end of the recession, unemployment remains painfully high.
But there are reasons to think that we’re finally on the (slow) road to better times. And we wouldn’t be on that road if Mr. Obama had given in to Republican demands that he slash spending, or the Federal Reserve had given in to Republican demands that it tighten money.
Why am I letting a bit of optimism break through the clouds? Recent economic data have been a bit better, but we’ve already had several false dawns on that front. More important, there’s evidence that the two great problems at the root of our slump — the housing bust and excessive private debt — are finally easing.
….if this year’s election brings the wrong ideology to power, America’s nascent recovery might well be snuffed out.
INGRAHAM: You’ve also noted that there are signs of improvement on the horizon in the economy. How do you answer the president’s argument that the economy is getting better in a general election campaign if you yourself are saying it’s getting better?
ROMNEY: Well, of course it’s getting better. The economy always gets better after a recession, there is always a recovery. […]
INGRAHAM: Isn’t it a hard argument to make if you’re saying, like, OK, he inherited this recession, he took a bunch of steps to try to turn the economy around, and now, we’re seeing more jobs, but vote against him anyway? Isn’t that a hard argument to make? Is that a stark enough contrast?
ROMNEY: Have you got a better one, Laura? It just happens to be the truth.
John Heilemann (NY Mag): ….. If Gingrich wins Florida, the Republican Establishment is going to have a meltdown that makes Three Mile Island look like a marshmallow roast. Why? Because the Establishment will be staring down the barrel of two utterly unpalatable choices. On the one hand, Gingrich’s national favorable-unfavorable ratings of 26.5 and 58.6 percent, respectively make him not just unelectable against Obama but also mean that he would likely be a ten-ton millstone around the necks of down-ballot Republican candidates across the country. And on the other, Romney will have shown in two successive contests—one in a bellwether Republican state, the other in a key swing state—an inability to beat his deeply unpopular rival. If this scenario unfolds, the sound of GOP grandees whispering calls for a white knight, be it Indiana governor Mitch Daniels (who, conveniently, is delivering the Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night) or Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan or even Jeb Bush, will be deafening.
Fareed Zakaria (CNN): …. President Obama entered the Oval Office with the United States deeply unpopular around the world, with vast commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, with difficult relations with many countries and a large part of the world feeling that it had been ignored by an America obsessed by the “War on Terror.”
Obama was determined to pare down America’s commitments and its military footprint and to regain goodwill and trust abroad. For the most part, he has done so….
If the war against al Qaeda is the most visible and dramatic success story, the most significant long-term success might be in Asia, where Obama has pivoted …. He did so carefully and skillfully so that Asia countries saw it as a response to their requests rather than an unilateral assertion of American power….
All in all, it’s a pretty strong record. Which is why you actually don’t hear Republicans talking much about foreign policy on the campaign trail.
Greg Sargent: Romney to bombard Gingrich with scorched earth attacks: The big news this morning is that the Romney campaign — stung by Newt Gingrich’s big South Carolina win — is prepared to unleash a white-hot series of assaults on the (again) surging challenger. One of these, apparently, will be a continued demand that Gingrich release the ethics probe that got him bounced from Congress — even though the probe has already been released.
The President has no public events scheduled for today, tomorrow or Sunday.
On Monday, the President will welcome the leaders of the European Union to a summit at the White House.
On Tuesday, he will host Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands for a meeting in the Oval Office.
On Wednesday, the President will travel to Scranton, Pennsylvania where he will deliver remarks urging Congress to act to extend and expand the payroll tax cut that has given tax breaks to millions of families across the country this year. In the evening, the President will travel to New York City where he will attend campaign events.
On Thursday, the First Family will attend the National Christmas Tree Lighting on the Ellipse.
On Friday, the President will host the White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Department of the Interior and deliver remarks.
President Obama has dinner with campaign donors and winners of the “Dinner with Barack” contest at The Liberty Tavern in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, Va.
MSNBC: Medicare’s basic monthly premium will rise significantly less than expected next year, the government announced Thursday. That could pay political dividends for President Barack Obama and for Democrats struggling to win over seniors in a close election.
…. In a statement accompanying release of the Medicare premiums, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asserted that seniors have nothing to fear from the new health care law.
“The Affordable Care Act is helping to keep Medicare strong and affordable,” she said. “People with Medicare are seeing higher quality benefits, better health care choices and lower costs.”
ThinkProgress: Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry released a tax plan this week that he and many media reports called a “20 percent flat tax.” But Perry’s new alternative tax scheme is hardly “flat”.
Leaving aside the fact that it is layered on top of the existing tax code, it establishes not one but two different tax rates: 20 percent for wages, and zero percent for investment income. Because capital gains and dividends would be sheltered from taxes under Perry’s plan, some of the wealthiest Americans would wind up paying nowhere near 20 percent overall.
In fact, billionaire Warren Buffett, who has lamented the fact that he currently pays only 11 percent of his adjusted gross income in federal income taxes, would pay as little as 0.2 percent under Perry’s plan.
ABC: Today’s New York Times story … includes an intriguing reference to a staff memo directing those traveling in a car with Mr. Cain, “Do not speak to him unless you are spoken to.”
Could the affable Mr. Cain really have a “don’t-talk-to-me-unless-I-talk-to-you” policy?
Yes. He does. Really.
A top aide to Mr. Cain explains to me why.
“It’s the same policy for any Secretary of Defense or four-star general,” a senior Cain staffer explained to ABC News. “You don’t talk to them unless they talk to you, generally. Sometimes you get guests in the car and they want to talk and talk and talk, and then Mr. Cain wants to prepare for the next interview or the next speech and he’s very engaging, so it can be a distraction. After a while, he gets to the point where he doesn’t want to talk, but wants to prepare for what he’s doing next.”
More excellent comedy from Dick Halperin today in Time. He magnificently ignored all the polls that show President Obama leading RomPerryCain in swing states, and concluded that if the election was held today he’d lose.
It’d be nice, though, if Halperin had an original thought:
Mark Halperin (today): Is President Obama on the ropes? …. The coalition that helped elect the President …. has been disbanded.
Mark Halperin (December 2010): The coalition that got Barack Obama elected President just two years ago has been shattered ….
Last year, Alex Pareene of Salon (which I seriously hate linking because it’s become Firebagger Central) did a series on “the worst columnists and cable news commentators America has to offer …. the most predictable, dishonest and just plain stupid pundits in the media.” Halperin had to settle for the runners-up prize, behind Richard Cohen. It’s worth a read again:
Alex Pareene (2010): Mark Halperin – The Drudge-loving political analyst who gets everything wrong …. his belief in the unerring political instincts of Karl Rove and the godlike omniscience of Matt Drudge ….
…. Halperin’s worst quality is actually that he is constantly wrong. He is a professional political analyst, yet he often seems to be completely, 100 percent wrong about even the horse-race aspects of politics that he specializes in. He kept promising, in 2006, that Bush’s approval ratings would once again surge past 50 percent. Remember when John McCain “suspended his campaign” to fix the economy? Mark Halperin said McCain won the week.
The book Halperin wrote …. “The Way to Win,” his preview of “the way to win” the presidential election in 2008. His advice was to emulate Karl Rove and worship Matt Drudge – the key to victory seemed to involve a lot of Matt Drudge – and the 2008 election as it actually happened made the whole book (which he co-wrote with Politico co-founder John Harris!) look utterly ridiculous.
… All we ask for is a little accountability. At the very least, Halperin’s TV chyron should read, “ALWAYS WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING.”
Marketwatch: With a little more than two trading days left in the month, it is shaping up to be the best October ever for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. And that is saying something, since the Dow has existed since 1896, 115 years ago.
As of mid-day trading on Thursday, the Dow INDU is ahead more than 11% for the month. The previous record for the month of October was held by 1982, when the Dow turned in a 10.7% return. That’s an auspicious historical precedent, since that month came very early in that decade’s spectacular bull market which, arguably, didn’t end until nearly 20 years later.
Steve Benen: ….I can appreciate all of the reasons to take Jon Huntsman seriously as a candidate ….. but Huntsman is a moderate in an era when Republicans don’t like moderates.
Huntsman believes “health care is a right” …. He believes climate change is real and endorsed a cap-and-trade plan to address is …. He supported an individual mandate as part of health care reform … Republicans are on the opposite side of all of these issues. .. Oh, and he’s also a former member of the Obama administration who called President Obama a “remarkable leader.”
The Republican base has gone to great lengths to target so-called RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) … We’re to believe this same base will tolerate a moderate as their presidential nominee? Sure, Huntsman will start engaging in Romney-like flip-flops and try to reinvent himself. And sure, the media’s sycophantic adulation will give the guy a boost his rivals probably won’t enjoy.
But when push comes to shove, what are the chances Republican voters will nominate a former member of Obama’s team who doesn’t even want to describe himself as conservative? Strange things happen, but I’m hard pressed to imagine how anything this strange happens.
According to GOPolitico, Fox News was the first to cut away from Huntsman’s ‘big’ announcement today – half way through his speech. So, they’ll treat him with as much as respect during his campaign as they do the President.