11:50: Delivers remarks at a campaign event at Farm Bureau Live, Virginia Beach
1:0: Departs Virginia Beach
2:10: Arrives the White House
First Lady Michelle Obama visits Chicago on Thursday to headline two fund-raisers and to debut on Steve Harvey’s new television show. Mrs Obama has funders at Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo’s Studio and at the home of business executive and Democratic donor Fred Eychaner.
CNN: A new survey indicates President Barack Obama moved up four points following the Democratic National Convention last week, and now has a six point advantage over his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
According to a CNN/ORC International Poll released Monday, 52% of likely voters nationwide back the president, compared to 46% for Romney. Just before the convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, Obama was tied with Romney 48%-48%.
Steve Benen: “Obamacare” is working: “The share of young adults without health insurance fell by one-sixth in 2011 from the previous year, the largest annual decline for any age group since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began collecting the data in 1997.” (See NYT)
WSJ: The Planned Parenthood Action Fund is making one of the largest ad buys in its history, buying $3.2 million TV time in the battleground states of Virginia and Ohio, saying Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is bad for women’s health.
Tuesday: To mark the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the President, the First Lady and White House staff will gather on the South Lawn of the White House Tuesday morning to observe a moment of silence. Later that morning, they will travel to the Pentagon Memorial. In the afternoon, the President will travel to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and visit with wounded warriors who are being treated at the hospital and their families
Wednesday: The President will travel to Las Vegas and Denver for campaign events. He will remain overnight in Denver
Thursday: The President will travel to Arvada, Colorado. He will return to the White House in the evening
Friday: The President and First Lady will welcome the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams to the White House
First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden talk outside the State Dining Room before addressing the National Governors Association annual meeting at the White House, Feb. 27, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
Tuesday: PBO will deliver remarks at the United Auto Workers conference in Washington, DC.
Wednesday: PBO and the First Lady will host a dinner at the White House to honor Armed Forces, who served in Iraq, and their families.
Thursday: PBO will travel to Nashua, New Hampshire, and deliver remarks on the economy. In the evening, the President will attend campaign events in New York City.
Friday: PBO will travel to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, to visit with wounded service members.
Toronto Star: When Mitt Romney regaled a Michigan audience this week with childhood memories of a landmark moment in Detroit history, it was a rare instance of emotional candour.
And, perhaps, an even rarer example of time travel.
Romney recalled he was “probably 4 or something like that” the day of the Golden Jubilee, when three-quarters of a million people gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the American automobile.
“My dad had a job being the grandmaster. They painted Woodward Ave. with gold paint,” Romney told a rapt Tea Party audience in the village of Milford Thursday night, reliving a moment of American industrial glory.
The Golden Jubilee described so vividly by Romney …. took place June 1, 1946 – fully nine months before Romney was born…..
Slate: …. In January, workers in the manufacturing sector worked an average of 41.9 hours per week. That same figure was reached for a few months during the winter of 1997-1998, but the last time it was actually higher than that was July of 1945 when America’s factories were working overtime to fight and win World War II….
We’re at the point, in other words, where just to sustain current levels of output American factories are going to need to start adding workers.
Yahoo: Five months after the military’s ban on openly gay service expired, a photo of a young gay Marine’s homecoming kiss has gone viral. Nearly 15,000 people have liked the picture on Facebook, which was posted in a group for gay Marines on Saturday.
The Marine, Brandon Morgan, posted a response on his Facebook wall according to the JoeMyGod blog. “To everyone who has responded in a positive way. My partner and I want to say thank you. Dalan, the giant in the photo, can’t believe how many shares and likes we have gotten on this. We didn’t do this to get famous,or something like that we did this cause after 3 deployments and four years knowing each other, we finally told each other how we felt,” Morgan wrote.
ThinkProgress: An article in The Hill today describing the results of a new poll inaccurately reports that voters want “a lower tax bill” for wealthy individuals and businesses. If anything, the poll shows the opposite.
In tax policy, it’s critical to distinguish between marginal tax rates and effective tax rates … The Hill article fails to sort out this very basic distinction, then proceeds to make a number of apples-to-oranges comparisons that paint a misleading picture of what wealthy people and corporations are paying in taxes now and what people want them to pay.
….. Having repeatedly confused marginal and effective rates, the article misinterprets the poll results to conclude that people want “a lower tax bill” for individuals and corporations….
….Here’s a better explanation: Voters understand what The Hill does not – that wealthy people and corporations actually pay taxes at much lower rates than the top marginal rates on the books. And when asked what they think the “most appropriate” rates should be, a majority of people cite rates that are higher than what the wealthy and corporations are actually paying now.
Washington Post (Editorial): At a time of record debts and deficits, the two leading Republican presidential candidates are proposing a path on taxes and spending likely to add trillions more. That’s the sobering conclusion of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), whose board includes six Republican former lawmakers with expertise in budget issues, three Republican former heads of the Congressional Budget Office, and two former Office of Management and Budget directors under Republican presidents.
NY Mag: Of the various expressions of right-wing hysteria that have flowered over the past three years - goldbuggery, birtherism, death panels at home and imaginary apology tours by President Obama abroad – perhaps the strain that has taken deepest root within mainstream Republican circles is the terror that the achievements of the Obama administration may be irreversible, and that the time remaining to stop permanent nightfall is dwindling away.
… The GOP has reason to be scared. Obama’s election was the vindication of a prediction made several years before…. that demographic and political trends were converging in such a way as to form a natural-majority coalition for Democrats.
… if they lose their bid to unseat Obama, they will have mortgaged their future for nothing at all. And over the last several months, it has appeared increasingly likely that the party’s great all-or-nothing bet may land, ultimately, on nothing. In which case, the Republicans will have turned an unfavorable outlook into a truly bleak one in a fit of panic. The deepest effect of Obama’s election upon the Republicans’ psyche has been to make them truly fear, for the first time since before Ronald Reagan, that the future is against them.
First lady Michelle Obama is joined by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the future site of a Northgate Market in Inglewood, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012. Michelle Obama says the proposed new supermarket in the middle of a blue-collar Hispanic neighborhood in Southern California is an example of how the effort to bring healthy foods to low-income communities is paying off.
AP: First lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday said the campaign to bring healthy food to all Americans is happening neighborhood by neighborhood.
Standing in a vacant Southern California store set to be refurbished and reopened this summer, Obama lauded efforts to bring large grocery retailers to inner-city areas that traditional supermarket chains spurn.
…. Obama, who is on the second day of her two-day visit to the Los Angeles area, made the stop in the blue-collar, largely Hispanic neighborhood as part of her “Let’s Move!” campaign to boost healthy food and fitness.
Part of the campaign includes promoting initiatives such as the $264 million California FreshWorks Fund, which finances grocery businesses willing to open in urban areas.
…. After the Inglewood event, Obama was scheduled to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and to deliver a luncheon speech at the Democratic National Committee.
Washington Post: U.S. factories grew in January at the fastest pace in seven months, boosted by a rise in new orders. And builders ended a poor year for construction by spending more on homes and projects for the fifth straight month.
The reports bolster other data showing the U.S. economy started the year strong.
The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said Wednesday that its manufacturing index rose last month to 54.1 from 53.1 in December. Readings above 50 indicate expansion.
Consumers are buying more cars and trucks, while businesses ordered more machinery and other equipment. That has driven manufacturing, which expanded for the 30th straight month.
Both new orders and order backlogs rose to nine-month highs. Increasing order backlogs suggest manufacturers are lacking the capacity to meet demand. That could mean more growth in production and employment in the near future, economists said.
Export orders also rose, a sign that U.S. manufacturers haven’t yet been affected by Europe’s slowing economy.
“This is a very encouraging report on manufacturing activity that shows particular strength in leading indicators,” said John Ryding, an economist at RDQ Economics.
Steve Benen: For campaign watchers, Florida’s Republican presidential primary was the big draw yesterday, but there was another noteworthy race on the other side of the country: a U.S. House special election in Oregon’s 1st congressional district.
Just two weeks ago, the National Republican Congressional Committee took an interest in the race, airing attack ads against Democratic candidate Suzanne Bonamici. The GOP candidate, Rob Cornilles, even released an internal poll showing him trailing by only four points.
Yesterday, however, it became clear Republicans were chasing a mirage.
Democrat Suzanne Bonamici swept to victory Tuesday in Oregon’s 1st Congressional District, continuing her party’s nearly four-decade-long hold on the seat covering the northwestern corner of the state. With the bulk of ballots counted, Bonamici was defeating Republican Rob Cornilles by about 15 percentage points…..
TPM: The Obama administration announced Wednesday that the Medicare Advantage program, which allows seniors to receive health coverage through a private insurer, is enjoying lower costs and more customers as a result of the health care reform law.
Yahoo: If you watched President Obama’s Google+ hangout Monday night, you saw two interesting exchanges between the president and Jennifer Wedel, a 29-year-old Texas mother of two.
It turns out that Wedel’s digital meeting convinced her to vote for Obama in this year’s presidential election – despite her support for the GOP.
…. Afterwards, Wedel, who described herself as a “good Republican,” is now planning to vote for Obama in this year’s presidential election.
“I didn’t vote for him four years ago. But I have been so disappointed with the presidential race. I haven’t seen anybody who would have been a good replacement. I know how Obama is now. I know how he rolls. So I’d probably vote him back in,” said Wedel in an interview with The Atlantic. “I (feel) like I know him a little more,” Wedel said. “There was a connection. He should definitely do this with more people…..”
….. for those who watched the event, a slightly odd moment near the end might have jumped out. During that personal question round, Wedel asked Obama if he would do a little jig. Obama demurred. What was that about? It’s a YouTube meme thing, explained Wedel. An extremely popular video on the site is a minute-and-a-half clip of then-candidate Obama shaking it on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” back in 2007; one version has 12 million hits and counting.
“It’s so funny,” said Wedel. “You’ve got to watch it.”