AP: Chrysler followed its strong first-quarter sales with a big profit, sending its 2009 brush with financial death farther into the rearview mirror.
The Auburn Hills, Mich., company made a net profit of $473 million, its best quarter in 13 years, mainly on the back of strong U.S. sales. From January through March, Chrysler’s sales were up 39 percent as customers bought more Ram pickups, Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs and Chrysler 200 midsize sedans.
Not bad for a company that almost died three years ago. A government auto task force deadlocked on whether to save the company in 2009, with the tie broken by President Barack Obama.
Washington Post: President Obama will hold his first two major political rallies of the general-election campaign next weekend at colleges in Ohio and Virginia…
“Welcome to the general election,” David Axelrod, Obama’s senior campaign strategist, said on a conference call with reporters late Wednesday during which he and campaign manager Jim Messina announced the events….
The advisers made clear that the campaign will continue to draw a stark contrast between what they described as Obama’s long-standing desire to protect “that basic American compact that if you work hard you can get ahead” and Romney’s record of protecting the wealthy. They mentioned Romney’s time as Massachusetts governor, when the state ranked 47th in the country for job creation, as well as his time as a venture capitalist at Bain Capital, during which “he didn’t care about job creation but about wealth creation for himself and his partners.”
…. “We’re not the candidate who reinvents himself from week to week,” Axelrod said. “If you want that, you have to go somewhere else. This is a candidate who has a mission, and he’s going to see it through, and that is to rebuild an economy in which the middle class is thriving, in which people can get ahead, in which everybody from Main Street to Wall Street plays by the same rules and gets a fair shake.”
Obama’s rallies will take place on May 5 at Ohio State University in Columbus and at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond …. Messina said first lady Michelle Obama plans to travel with the president to both events.
E.J. Dionne: It turns out that there is at least one question on which Mitt Romney is not a flip-flopper: He has a utopian view of what an unfettered, lightly taxed market economy can achieve.
He would never put it this way, of course, but his approach looks forward by looking backward to the late 19th century, when government let market forces rip and a conservative Supreme Court swept aside as unconstitutional almost every effort to write rules for the economic game. This magical capitalism is the centerpiece of Romney’s campaign, and it may prove to be his undoing.
Here’s Romney’s problem. His best strategy is to cast President Obama as a failure because the economy has not come all the way back from the implosion of 2008 …. But Romney, unlike Clinton, is not offering a program through which government would take specific steps to solve the problems he catalogues. Instead, he is calling on voters to share his faith that our difficulties would go away if the state simply got out of the way, allowed the market do its thing and counted on the success of the successful to lift up everyone else.
Don’t miss Liberal Librarian’s latest post, ‘Why even have the First Amendment?’, at The People’s View
Steve Benen: For several months, the general trend on initial unemployment claims has been encouraging, reaching a four-year low in late March. Today’s new report from the Department of Labor, however, is the third consecutive week of discouraging news.
…. Obviously, a few disappointing reports may be little more than a blip, but when jobless claims are expected to drop, and instead remain stuck at a four-month high, it’s concerning.
Making matters slightly worse is the realization that if conditions continue along these lines, there’s very little that can be done – Congress simply lacks the ability to pass effective economic legislation given the Republican agenda.
In terms of metrics, when jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it’s considered evidence of an improving jobs landscape, and when the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are actually being created rather quickly. After a month of four consecutive reports below 370,000, we’ve now been above 380,000 for each of the last three weeks.
President Obama walks toward Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Oct. 24. The President is heading on a three-day trip to the West Coast
Reuters: President Barack Obama this week will announce a series of actions to help the economy that will not require congressional approval, including an initiative to make it easier for homeowners to refinance their mortgages, according to a White House official.
…. The first of the initiatives will be unveiled during Obama’s three-day trip to western states beginning Monday. He will discuss the changes in mortgage rules at a stop in Nevada, which has one of the hardest-hit housing markets in the country.
The Obama administration has been working with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to find ways to make it easier for borrowers to switch to cheaper loans even if they have little to no equity in their homes.
…. In Denver Wednesday, Obama will announce a student loan initiative.
“The only way we can truly attack our economic challenges is with bold, bipartisan action in Congress,” White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer told The New York Times. “The president will continue to pressure Congressional Republicans to put country before party and pass the American Jobs Act, but he believes we cannot wait, so he will act where they won’t.”
Steve Benen: It’s been about five months since the White House took the extraordinary step of unveiling President Obama’s long-form birth certificate, ending the “Birther” conspiracy theory once and for all. With the questions answered, unhinged conservatives were forced to move on to other areas of nonsense.
Well, most of them, anyway:
New comments by Rick Perry in Parade magazine have revived the issue of whether the Texas governor believes that President Obama was born in the United States.
…..I suspect all of this should, in fact, be taken at face value – he had dinner with a nutty conspiracy theorist; they chatted about Trump’s silly ideas; Perry found the nonsense persuasive; and when asked about it, the governor said what he was thinking.
There’s no 11-dimensional chess here; Perry just isn’t terribly bright.
GOPolitico: President Barack Obama has a few very funny people on his side. Will Ferrell was honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center on Sunday night, and many of the comedians on the red carpet had nothing but good things to say about the president.
Ferrell said that he “most definitely” wants Obama to win another term …. he told POLITICO that Obama has faced some unprecedented challenges. “Every president has a hard job but I think his is times ten,” Ferrell said, adding that he likes that Obama “thinks before he speaks.”
…. Obama is doing a “great job,” said Tim Meadows, another former “SNL” cast member. “It’s easy for white liberals to turn their backs on Obama,” he said, complaining that many people who used to support the president have jumped ship. “I don’t like how people are so wishy-washy,” he said.
Not in the wishy-washy category: Comedian Jack Black. “There’s a lot of haters out there, but I’m not one of them,” he said, declaring: “Obama all the way.”
Thanks Tulips & Donna Dem
Irish Central: I think now would be an appropriate time to say thank you to President Barack Obama.
In comparison to his immediate predecessor his success in bringing the world’s most wanted terrorists and dictators to justice has been nothing short of remarkable.
….. Obama has rid the world of the scourge of Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki and Moammar Qaddafi. And all of this was accomplished within six months: if Obama were a Republican, they’d be commissioning bronze statues by now.
You know they won’t say it now or ever, so let’s say it for them: thank you President Obama for making the world and the United States safer.
Dallas News: As Mitt Romney campaigns for the White House, his Mexican cousins and supporters in this Mormon community would like to weigh in on some of the most contentious issues of the campaign: immigration, border security and religion.
Romney has more than 20 distant relatives going back three generations and a legion of supporters living in this region where his father, George, was born – a sanctuary colony in the northern state of Chihuahua originally established by polygamists from Utah led by Mitt Romney’s great-grandfather Miles Park Romney. Mitt Romney has never set foot in the region, his relatives say, but they are closely following the campaign for the Republican nomination, sometimes a bit uncomfortably.
For one thing, Romney has said that, if elected, he’d deport illegal immigrants within 90 days, build a border fence and have enough guards to secure it … These are positions with which the Romneys south of the border don’t entirely agree.
“Let’s get real. Sealing the border is a joke, it’s senseless,” said Brandon Romney, 33, a chili farmer and the local football coach….
…. Cousin Michael Romney … is “pretty sure” he will support Mitt Romney but wants to first understand his economic plan and vision for Mexico. “I don’t really understand what his policy is,” he said. “Addressing illegal immigration and Mexico have to be top priorities.”
….Mitt Romney, as the son of an American born in Mexico, is entitled to dual citizenship under Mexican law.
…. “I certainly hope his father’s Mexican background would be a positive sign for better relations and a deeper understanding of issues between the United States and Mexico,” said Jeffrey Jones, a Mormon and former Mexican senator. “I’m disappointed that we haven’t seen that side of Mitt Romney. We need solutions by working together because the United States needs Mexico very seriously and Mexico needs the United States badly.”