President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a meeting of The President’s Export Council in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC. Composed of Obama administration officials, elected leaders and executives from the private sector, the council is an advisory committee on international trade
President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with the President’s Export Council. President Obama expressed caution on Thursday about the possibility of the United States adding more sanctions against Russia for its incursion into Ukraine because it could cause divide Washington and Europe. Also pictured are Boeing President and Chief Executive Jim McNerney and Xerox Chairman and Chief Executive Ursula Burns
President Barack Obama meets with the President’s Export Council. The Export Council advises the president on policies and programs that affect trade performance and promote export expansion. Back row, from left are Jeff Zients, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney
The President’s Export Council Chair and Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney listens to President Barack Obama
Jim Messina (Op-ed at CNN) You can’t change Washington from the inside. President Obama was criticized for stating that simple truth during the campaign, but without Americans organizing in support of the issues they believe in, lobbyists and special interests will drive the agenda in Washington.
At this crossroads for our economy, we can’t afford business as usual. That’s why we’ve formed Organizing for Action, to ensure that the voices of the majority of Americans who voted for policies that will strengthen the middle class will be heard.
As we worked for change during the president’s first term, we saw special interests spend unprecedented amounts in an attempt to persuade Congress to vote against policies the American people voted for.
Jamelle Bouie: Over at the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza chides President Obama for “crying wolf” on sequestration…. There’s no doubt the White House indulged in hyperbole during the debate over sequestration. But Cillizza is exaggerating the degree to which Obama’s rhetoric was overheated or overhyped…..
…. Sequester furloughs have already begun for some federal workers, and communities that rely on military bases and federal spending will see real hardship. Over time, if sequestration is allowed to run its course, more and more Americans will feel the consequences of sudden austerity.
Private forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers estimates “sequestration would cost roughly 700,000 jobs …. Did Obama cry wolf on the sequester? No. And besides, it’s only been five days. We’ll see the effects of sequestration as time passes, and they won’t be good.
NYT Editorial: Unable to stop the sequester’s job-killing spending cuts, President Obama now says he wants to move past the endless wars of budget attrition. Though he still wants a long-term deficit deal, he said last week, it is time to turn to immigration, gun control, universal preschool, a higher minimum wage and voting reform.
But Republicans are not going to allow that pivot. Most are unalterably opposed to all of those initiatives, and want to keep their focus on cutting domestic programs and fighting off tax increases…. Paul Ryan will soon unveil his caucus’s 2014 budget, which will start to make good on the party’s ruinous plan to balance the budget in 10 years…..
Republicans are hoping to wear down their opposition with these eternal battles. But their proposals are too dangerous to allow that to happen.
Steve Benen: Maybe you agree with Sen. Rand Paul’s civil liberties arguments; maybe you don’t. Perhaps you see him as an ideal messenger for his message; perhaps you notice that he’s a strange conspiracy theorist who talks a little too often about Hitler and believes civil liberties end when a woman wants control of her own reproductive freedoms.
….. as Paul’s allies grew throughout the day, it was hard not to wonder whether at least some of his new-found friends endorsed him on the substance or whether “Stand with Rand” had become a temporary fad on the right, driven by Republicans who were simply happy to see President Obama’s national security agenda facing criticism, even if they happen to agree with President Obama’s national security agenda.
…. There’s room for a real debate about the balance between civil liberties and national security, and if Paul helps spark that conversation, I’d be delighted. But I’ll be eager to know just how much yesterday’s spectacle changed minds and how much of it was about putting on a show.
Will Femia (Maddow Blog): While Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s remarks during oral arguments in the Voting Rights Act case left some of us scratching our heads about where he came up with the “perpetuation of racial entitlement” argument, Chad Flanders, an assistant professor of law at Saint Louis University School of Law, has an idea, tracing the phrase to a 1979 paper by then-professor Scalia…..
ThinkProgress: Meet 34 Corporations That Help Inflate The NRA’s Membership
….. A recent NRA promotion invited people to join at a discounted $25 rate. In addition to receiving an official membership card, a subscription to an association magazine, and free gun insurance, new members received a $25 gift card for Bass Pro Shops, making the membership essentially free.
In addition to those incentives, members of the NRA and its business alliance receive a bevy of other discounts courtesy of the Association’s corporate affiliates. National and local companies provide discounts on everything from car rentals to identity theft protection. The companies get listed on the NRA’s site as corporate partners and can promote themselves as “NRA endorsed.” And, in some cases, the NRA gets a percentage of the profits.
ThinkProgress: As the 10th anniversary of President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq approaches, the body charged with overseeing Iraq’s reconstruction has issued its final report, capping a tale of spending far too much money for very little results.
Appointed in Oct. 2004, over a year into War in Iraq, the Special Inspector-General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) was charged with being a watchdog over the use of funds provided for rebuilding the Iraqi state after the downfall of Saddam Hussein. Those reconstruction and stabilization efforts wound up costing nearly $60 billion — or about $15 million per day — with up to $10 billion of that amount wasted, according to SIGIR Stuart Bowen.
The examples provided of fraud and abuse of the system are staggering both in number and nature….
3:45: President Obama delivers remarks at the Armed Forces Farewell Tribute in honor of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Joint Base Myer-Henderson (C-Span)
NYT: It happened a few minutes before the beginning of Jim Langevin’s junior cadet shift back in 1980 …. A bullet ricocheted off a locker and went right through the boy’s neck, severing his spinal cord.
At 16, he would never walk again and never fulfill his dream of becoming a police officer.
Now, three decades later and seven terms into his career as one of Rhode Island’s two members of the House of Representatives, Mr. Langevin, 48, is the only quadriplegic ever to serve in Congress….
For the past month, he has been on a quiet campaign to persuade his colleagues to give up their guest passes to next Tuesday’s State of the Union address by President Obama so that victims of gun violence can attend.
That way, he said, when the nation’s highest officeholders look up from the floor of the House to those watching from the gallery, they will not be able to avoid seeing the human toll that guns can exact.
Upworthy: It’s a fact so jaw-dropping it’s unbelievable — people thought it was a crazy Internet rumor until Politifact verified it. But it’s true: More Americans have died just since 1960 from gun incidents — suicides, accidents, and homicides — than died in every war in U.S. history. The deadliest war the U.S. has ever had is the war we waged against ourselves.
Politifact: Politifact: Since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, supporters and opponents of gun control have thrown out statistics to support their point of view.
Here’s one that caught our eye, offered by liberal commentator Mark Shields on the Dec. 21, 2012, edition of the PBS NewsHour.
Shields told host Judy Woodruff, “You know, Judy, the reality is – and it’s a terrible reality – since Robert Kennedy died in the Ambassador Hotel on June 4, 1968, more Americans have died from gunfire than died in … all the wars of this country’s history, from the Revolutionary through the Civil War, World War I, World War II, in those 43 years. … I mean, guns are a problem. And I think they still have to be confronted.”……
CNN: A group of four senators working behind the scenes on a bipartisan bill to expand background checks on gun sales is making significant progress, according to sources in both parties familiar with their work.
The group includes Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, who has an A rating with the National Rifle Association, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, a long time advocate of gun rights, and Chuck Schumer, D-New York, a long time supporter of gun control.
CNN is told the legislation they are working on would effectively require background checks on private gun purchases made with non-licensed gun dealers, according to sources in both parties. That would include closing the so-called gun show loophole.
NYT: President Obama may have run his last political campaign, but that does not relieve him of his obligations to the Democratic Party.
The president, who has a vested interest in Democrats retaining their Senate majority and trying to narrow Republican control of the House, is already making plans to return to the campaign trail. He has agreed to hold at least 14 separate fund-raising events this year, a Democratic official familiar with the plans told The New York Times, characterizing it as an “aggressive schedule.”
…. Mr. Obama will appear at 10 events outside Washington: five for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and five for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He will also host one event for each committee in Washington as well as appearing at two joint fund-raising galas for House and Senate candidates.
Reuters: A rise in exports and lower imports of oil helped push the trade deficit to its narrowest point in nearly three years in December, suggesting the economy did much better in the fourth quarter than initially estimated.
The country’s trade gap narrowed to $38.5 billion during the month, the Commerce Department said on Friday. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a deficit of $46 billion.
“Trade data for December paint a reassuring and encouraging picture of the US economy at the end of last year,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.
‘President Obama has outlined his plan for fixing our broken immigration system. Add your name to stand with the President’ – here
BuzzFeed: One of President Obama’s two nominees Thursday for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Todd M. Hughes, would become the first out gay appeals court judge in the country, if confirmed by Congress.
Hughes currently is the deputy director of the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Civil Division at the United States Department of Justice….. The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which runs the Presidential Appointments Project to support out LGBT candidates for appointments, praised the nomination.
NYT: Cardiss Collins, who reluctantly ran for a Chicago Congressional seat left vacant when her husband died in a plane crash and went on to become Illinois’s first black congresswoman, serving for nearly 25 years as a voice for racial and gender equality and expanded health care for the poor, died on Sunday in Arlington, Va. She was 81.
….. She campaigned little but easily won the primary in April and cruised through the general election in June with 92 percent of the vote. Six years later, and after some early struggles in office — she had never considered a political career before she was thrust into one — she became chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. For much of the 1980s, she was the only black woman in Congress.
TPM: Outgoing Energy Department Secretary Steven Chu, who announced his resignation last week, took to his Facebook page Thursday to make light of an article from parody news site “The Onion” alleging that he woke up next to a solar panel after a night of partying in D.C. As Chu wrote in a post on his Facebook page:
“I just want everyone to know that my decision not to serve a second term as Energy Secretary has absolutely nothing to do with the allegations made in this week’s edition of the Onion. While I’m not going to confirm or deny the charges specifically, I will say that clean, renewable solar power is a growing source of U.S. jobs and is becoming more and more affordable, so it’s no surprise that lots of Americans are falling in love with solar.”
People: My song with my husband: Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”
Michelle Obama: Barack and I danced to “Let’s Stay Together” at this Inauguration, and it was such a special moment for us. We had spent all day together with our family and friends at different Inaugural events, and at the end of the day the dance was really our one-on-one moment with each other. Well, each other and everyone watching on TV!