10:30 AM CT: The President departs Chicago
1:30 EDT: Arrives White House
3:0 EDT: Signs H.R. 1209, an act to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the World War II members of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders for conducting the bombings of Tokyo, and H.R. 685, the American Fighter Aces Congressional Gold Medal Act
3:30 EDT: The President will make a personnel announcement (see below)
And the very lovely news: the video will be in the new Barack Obama Visitor Center in Moneygall – thank you Henry Healy!
(Not sure if the video is watchable in all YouTube regions??)
Remember, if you would like to send any election/inauguration items to Henry for the Visitor Center, just email me and I’ll pass on his address – thanks a gazillion for the wonderful response so far.
— Henry Healy (@henryhealy) May 23, 2014
USA Today: Obama’s day: A new budget director, housing secretary
President Obama pulls a Cabinet switch on Friday.
The president will nominate Shaun Donovan, now the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, to be the new director of the Office of Management and Budget.
To replace Donovan as HUD secretary, Obama will nominate San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro.
Obama will make the announcements on Friday afternoon, after he returns to the White House from Chicago. The president spent Thursday night in the Windy City after headlining a pair of Democratic fundraisers.
Sun Times: Obama in Chicago: “I need a Democratic Senate” (Transcript)
At the first of two fundraisers in Chicago on Thursday, President Barack Obama told donors “I need a Democratic Senate” or else his agenda for the last two terms of his term – including immigration reform – will not succeed. Obama said he is worried about people not voting in November:
…… I need a Congress that works. And that means I need a Democratic Senate. And it would be helpful to have a Democratic House. Now, you all know this so I’m preaching to the choir. But here’s the challenge we have: Democrats are not perfect and it turns out one of our great imperfections is we have a congenital tendency not to vote in midterm elections.
I don’t know what it is. Presidential elections, we’re all in. In 2008, you all went crazy; 2012, you still went crazy. High turnout, we’re motivated, donors are involved, people are active, folks are knocking on doors, people making phone calls. And then the midterm comes and we fall asleep.
That cannot happen in this election because the stakes are too high. And I say this mindful that in every election somebody says how high the stakes are. But think about what’s at stake right now. Think about it. If we do not hang on to the Senate and make gains in the House we may not get immigration reform done, which means we could have another three, four years in which we’re being deprived of talent we’re training here in the United States – they go back home and start businesses someplace else. There are Michael Polskys right now in universities that have the possibility of creating businesses here but may end up going back home because we have a broken immigration system. That’s what’s at stake.
Obama unleashes harsh criticism of both-sides-to-blame media, claims it isn’t reckoning w/”broken” GOP: http://t.co/qVxp1mvGd8
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) May 23, 2014
NJ.com: Obamacare enrollment drives down NJ’s uninsurance rate by 38 percent
The first look at the Affordable Care Act’s impact on New Jersey reveals the percentage of uninsured people is on track to reach its lowest level in nearly a quarter of a century, according to a new report released Thursday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The proportion of uninsured adults decreased 38 percent from September to early March, according to the foundation. That decline is likely to accelerate, knowing that many people waited until the last minute to beat the March 30 enrollment deadline.
“These findings suggest that uninsurance in New Jersey is at its lowest level since 1990,” according to the report produced by the foundation and the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy.
The survey results suggest that many concerns about the law — from Gov. Chris Christie hand-off approach to its implementation, to the Obama administration’s troubled launch of the HealthCare.Gov website — did not create insurmountable roadblocks.
— Charles Gaba (@charles_gaba) May 23, 2014
Eugene Robinson: The GOP is still swallowing the tea
What’s happening in the Republican primaries is less a defeat for the tea party than a surrender by the GOP establishment, which is winning key races by accepting the tea party’s radical anti-government philosophy.
Anyone who hopes the party has finally come to its senses will be disappointed. Republicans have pragmatically decided not to concede Senate elections by nominating eccentrics and crackpots. But in persuading the party’s activist base to come along, establishment leaders have pledged fealty to eccentric, crackpot ideas.
Similarly, from Charles Pierce:
This is a mutually co-opting dynamic that is becoming smoother. The “establishment” adopts uniformly extremist policies that would have been unthinkable for a national Republican party two decades ago. The “Tea Party wing” contents itself in the knowledge that the party declines any more to nominate raving loons for election to the national legislature. My guess is that this modus vivendi will provide some empty conflict entertainment over the next two election cycles, but it all will be moon pigeons for the punditocracy to marvel at. The radical conservative philosophy has captured the infrastructure of the Republican party, root and branch, local and national. It’s just wearing shoes again now.
Full post here
— Steve Marmel (@Marmel) May 22, 2014
— Chris Savage (@Eclectablog) May 23, 2014
Steve Benen: Why Guantanamo remains open
President Obama has received a fair amount of criticism from the left about the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The president vowed to close the prison, but after five years in office, it remains open.
That’s not for lack of effort. Obama has tried, repeatedly, to pursue the policy that used to enjoy bipartisan support, but Congress – including members of both parties – have placed inflexible restrictions on the administration, preventing progress. In other words, the president hasn’t closed the prison because lawmakers simply won’t let him.
Every time there’s reason to think progress is possible, Congress does what it always does…..
… There’s certainly nothing wrong with being frustrated by the detention facility remaining open, but if you’re blaming the White House, you’re pointing the finger at the wrong end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Cue Exploding Heads on the Right:
Bloomberg: Netanyahu Says Obama Got Syria Right
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has some uncharacteristically positive words for one of U.S. President Barack Obama’s most controversial foreign policy initiatives: the deal struck last year to remove chemical weapons from Syria.
I met Netanyahu last Friday afternoon in his bunkerlike office in Jerusalem. During the course of our discussion, I asked him about the famous “red line” crisis – Obama’s last-minute decision to abort a missile strike and instead negotiate the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile – that colors so much of foreign-policy commentary today.
Netanyahu issued what was for him a full-throated endorsement of an Obama initiative, calling it “the one ray of light in a very dark region.”
— AAmom (@AVD911) May 22, 2014
Greg Sargent: On immigration, the GOP is Steve King’s party
It’s not often that GOP Rep. Steve King says anything usefully revelatory on immigration reform. Today, however, he went on to the House floor and, in just over a minute, unmasked the truth about the Republican Party’s position on immigration — a position that House Republican leaders have tried to obscure for months.
King cited Chuck Schumer’s recent claim that the Congressman from Iowa is an “extreme outlier” on the issue. King then helpfullly pointed out that in fact, his position is indistinguishable from the Republican Party position, while deriding the Democratic position as akin to socialism…
Cuban would love it if that same young Black man in a hoodie helped him win championships or put bread in his pocket, tho.
— everything I’m not (@No_Cut_Card) May 22, 2014
Fernando Espuelas: Boehner lies to Hispanics again
Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) published an orotund statement predicated on a lie, betting that Hispanic Americans are incapable of distinguishing between fact and fiction.
According to Boehner, President Obama’s recent designation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico as a national monument — lands with deep historical and archeological significance to Hispanics and Native Americans — demonstrated “the president’s fondness for unilateral action [that] has created widespread doubt among the American people that he and his administration can be counted on to enforce any law he signs, particularly when it comes to securing our nation’s borders and reforming our immigration system.”
Now, to be fair, the Boehner-led House is so chaotic that it resembles more a gang of yammering ruffians than a serious legislative body. So there is a possibility, even a small chance, that Boehner doesn’t even know what is said in his name through his office’s communications office.
Even so, what is the best case scenario? Incompetence instead of deception? Rogue staff? After a litany of objectively dubious statements about immigration reform in the past, it’s hard to give Boehner the benefit of the doubt.
Text of the First Lady’s remarks here
Harold Meyerson: The boost that comes from raising the minimum wage
The standard argument — really, the only argument — against raising the minimum wage is that it will lead to job loss. The argument is beloved by die-hard opponents of raising the wage because it provides them with a veneer, however flimsy, of concern about the welfare of the working poor.
Economic studies have repeatedly shown that argument to be spurious. Now the latest survey of 350,000 small businesses from Paychex, a payroll provider company, and IHS, a business analysis firm, provides strong indications that the exact opposite may be true.
In April, the Paychex/IHS survey, which looks at employment in small businesses, found that the state with the highest percentage of annual job growth was Washington — the state with the highest minimum wage in the nation, $9.32 an hour. The metropolitan area with the highest percentage of annual job growth was San Francisco — the city with the highest minimum wage in the nation, at $10.74.
This suggests that the relationship between a high minimum wage and job creation needn’t be inverse. If anything, it suggests that relationship is direct.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi talks with President of the Harvey Milk Foundation Stuart Milk, next to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, after they unveiled the Harvey Milk Forever Stamp at its dedication ceremony at the White House
Deputy Postmaster General Ronald A. Stroman, fourth from right, and others, applaud during the unveiling ceremony of the Harvey Milk Forever Stamp in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
Joining Stroman, from left are, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., Stuart Milk, Founder and President, Harvey Milk Foundation, UN Ambassador Samantha Power, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. On the day he would have turned 84 years old, Harvey Milk, the San Francisco supervisor and gay activist gunned down at City Hall in 1978, had a postal stamp in his honor unveiled at the White House
Haven’t read the Ta-Nehisi Coates reparations piece yet but I’m already convinced he’s right just because of caliber of humans disputing it
— Ben Jacobs (@benhjacobs) May 22, 2014
How to Read TNC’s piece on reparations: 1. Read the title. 2. Stop reading. Do not read past the title. 3. Explain that racism is over.
— AdamSerwer (@AdamSerwer) May 22, 2014
Michael Tomasky: The Roots of the GOP’s Race Problem
Thursday is the 50th anniversary of the Great Society and the civil rights push. But if conservative hero Barry Goldwater had had his way, government would have stayed out of it.
…. I like the way today’s conservatives rush to point out, as they will in this comment thread, that most of the opposition to the civil rights bill was Democratic, as I noted above. There’s no denying that. But the more relevant point for today is this: Over the next few years, those people left the Democratic Party. They knew there was no place for them there.
In today’s GOP, however, the successors to the Richard Russells and Harry Byrds have been welcomed with open arms. And Barry Goldwater is not merely one guy among many guys they kind of like from the past. He is conservatism’s great hero! And 1964 is thought of as a shining moment in their movement’s history! And here we are, 50 years later, with the Republican Party looking as if it just might nominate for president a guy (Rand Paul) who once admitted that he’d have opposed the Civil Rights Act and basically was still against it (and Paul is one of the better Republicans on race!). Half a century, and society has changed for the better in amazing ways. But one of our two parties is still dedicated to fighting it.
Full post here
Three Years Ago Today
Arriving in Dublin, May 23, 2011
President Obama holds a hurley as Taoiseach Enda Kenny looks on
President Obama poses for a photograph with a young girl during a walk along Main Street in Moneygall (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama watches as First Lady Michelle Obama draws a pint at Ollie Hayes’ Pub in Moneygall (Photo by Pete Souza)
Thousands of people gather at College Green in Dublin, Ireland, to welcome President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, May 23, 2011 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)