CBS: President Obama has instructed the Justice Department to no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act….
Attorney General Eric Holder: “After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that … Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, is unconstitutional. Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases. I fully concur with the President’s determination.”
10:45 President Obama will call on Congress to avert the automatic spending cuts coming next week
3:30: VP Biden participates in a Facebook Town Hall on gun violence
President Obama returning to the White House, Feb 18
USA Today: President Obama will urge congressional Republicans to avoid automatic budget cuts next month by appearing Tuesday with a group of emergency responders who might have to absorb some of those cuts.
The group of emergency responders who will stand beside Obama at 10:45 a.m. are “the kinds of working Americans whose jobs are on the line if Congressional Republicans fail to compromise on a balanced solution,” said an addition to the White House schedule.
Michael Tomasky: Whose “idea” was the sequester, and why should it matter? My Twitter feed these last couple of weeks has been overflowing with people going beyond the usual “communist” and “idiot” name-calling that I get every day and throwing the occasional “liar” in there because I “withhold” the information that the sequester was the Obama administration’s idea. Very well, consider that nugget hereby unwithheld. Let’s grant that this is true. But it’s true only because the Republicans were holding a gun to the administration’s head—and besides, the Republicans immediately voted for it. In any case the important thing now is that outside of Fox News land, it’s an unimportant fact whose “idea” it was. The Republicans are partial owners of this idea, and as the party that now wants the cuts to kick in, they deserve to – and will – bear more responsibility for the negative impacts.
Steve Benen: Over the weekend, USA Today published the leaked blueprint of the White House’s comprehensive immigration reform plan, built around an eight-year pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), demonstrating the kind of devotion to serious policymaking we’ve come to expect over his brief career, immediately condemned the unfinished plan he had not yet seen.
Deaniac (The People’s View): So, after USA Today reported on a White House draft legislation on immigration reform – something the president has always said he would do in the event Congress follows its usual path of doing nothing – Republicans began melting down faster than wax in a lit candle. Suddenly after months of complaining that the president won’t put his own plan out to deal with the debt, Republicans are seething that the president has his own plan on immigration.
Sen. Hydration, I mean Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida accused the White House proposal of following some sort of failed path even though he wouldn’t say just what in the White House draft he disagreed with……
Comment on YouTube by ‘Jack194343′: Before Mississippi could ratify the amendment, they had to learn how to read the amendment. That only took 147 years. Wait until they discover addition. That will knock their socks off. Imagine, not having to count by their fingers. What a leap forward that will be. But first, they have to learn to count to ten, so they know how many fingers they have. First things first, you know.
Join Organizing for Action’s Stephanie Cutter and other supporters online at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time this Wednesday for a policy briefing on gun violence prevention – see here
The First Lady will be on the Rachael Ray Show tomorrow
2:45 ET: Michelle Obama speaks at a campaign event at Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware
5:45 ET: Michelle Obama speaks at a campaign event at Cuyahoga County Community College, Cleveland
NYT Editorial: There are many unanswered questions about the vicious assault in Benghazi last month that killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. And Congress has a responsibility to raise them. But Republican lawmakers leading the charge on Capitol Hill seem more interested in attacking President Obama than in formulating an effective response.
It doesn’t take a partisan to draw that conclusion. The ugly truth is that the same people who are accusing the administration of not providing sufficient security for the American consulate in Benghazi have voted to cut the State Department budget, which includes financing for diplomatic security. The most self-righteous critics don’t seem to get the hypocrisy, or maybe they do and figure that if they hurl enough doubts and complaints at the administration, they will deflect attention from their own poor judgments on the State Department’s needs.
Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, October 13 (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Washington Post: President Obama is regarded as significantly more honest and trustworthy than Mitt Romney in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll — a finding that could inform the incumbent’s strategy heading into the second debate of the general election Tuesday night.
Fifty-five percent of likely voters said that Obama is “honest and trustworthy,” while 41 percent said he was not. For Romney, on the other hand, 47 percent said he could be described as honest and trustworthy, while an equal 47 percent said that he could not.
…. But in the handful of swing states identified by the Post (along with Democratic-leaning Ohio), Obama’s lead is even more pronounced on the question. Fifty-six percent of swing-state voters said the incumbent is honest and trustworthy, while just 44 percent said the same of Romney.
Virginia Gazette: …. The president arrived at the office, where he came into the lobby carrying a stack of pizzas …. he introduced himself to a small group of campaign workers in the lobby before heading into a back room, where 11 volunteers were phone banking. Obama introduced himself to the volunteers before taking a seat between Alexa Kissinger and Suzanne Stern to make his own phone calls to local volunteers. “I’ve got to get to work,” Obama said.
After joking with Stern about “old school” phones Obama …. then called Ellen and Chuck Hawkins. “Is this Ellen?” Obama asked. “Ellen this is Barack Obama.” Hawkins seemed not to believe she was getting a call from the president of the United States.
“It is. It is. Really, truly,” Obama said. “I’m over here in the Williamsburg office. They have told me some of the great folks that have been doing work, and I know you and Chuck have been working so hard.”
After making phone calls Obama, shook hands with and hugged a line of roughly 20 volunteers standing outside in front of the office, before heading back to Kingsmill to continue preparing for the debate.
With campaign volunteer Suzanne Stern at a campaign office in Williamsburg, October 14 (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
…. greeting supporters outside the Williamsburg campaign office (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
NYT: BOSTON — When the ceiling collapsed in the Big Dig tunnel here, Gov. Mitt Romney was at his vacation home in New Hampshire. When the Bush administration warned that the nation was at high risk of a terror attack in December 2003, he was at his Utah retreat. And for much of the time the legislature was negotiating changes to his landmark health care bill, he was on the road.
During Mr. Romney’s four-year term as governor of Massachusetts, he cumulatively spent more than a year – part or all of 417 days – out of the state, according to a review of his schedule and other records. More than 70 percent of that time was spent on personal or political trips unrelated to his job, a New York Times analysis found.
Reuters: U.S. retail sales rose in September as Americans bought more cars and gasoline, while a gauge of consumer spending pointed to stronger-than-expected economic growth in the third quarter.
Retail sales increased 1.1 percent, the Commerce Department said on Monday, beating expectations after an upwardly revised 1.2 percent rise in August.
…. The details of the report showed broad strength across retailers, with sales of motor vehicles and parts up 1.3 percent … Other categories were also strong, with sales at electronics retailers up 4.5 percent, while sales at food and beverage stores rose 1.2 percent.
Charles Pierce: …. Emboldened by enablers, the bishops have expanded their demands for exemptions from simply Catholic institutions to every business in America. There’s a reason for this …. they’ve been sitting back on their ermined duffs, believing that they were done so very wrong in the investigation of their crimes, and nursing the mother of all grudges, for over a decade. Now they’ve decided to strike back for the power they’ve lost. Women’s health is the issue they’ve chosen, because, in their little unindicted world, women don’t count, and never have….
There were a couple of ways all of this could have been avoided. One … would have been to toss a whole lot of bishops in jail for conspiracy to obstruct justice, enough of them so their power to influence the secular law was destroyed forever. They needed to be humbled, unmercifully, until the hubris was wrung out of every damn one of them. Now, a woman working a low-income service industry job under the supervision of a Catholic boss will have her access to essential health-care truncated by a discredited encyclical to which no Catholic has paid any heed since the administration of Lyndon Johnson. These bastards needed to be broken, publicly, and into a thousand pieces that were scattered to the winds. Instead, they are “voices of conscience” again. It is to weep.
Greg Sargent (Washington Post): Is media getting politics of contraception all wrong?
Since the controversy over the White House’s new contraception policy broke, it’s been widely assumed that the battle is terrible politics for Obama, because it will cost him among Catholic swing voters.
But some polling from August suggests a majority of Americans supports the White House position – and that the opposition to the provision from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops makes no difference to them. Even a majority of Catholic respondents said the same.
….. The White House very well may buckle in this fight. But these numbers do suggest at least the possibility that leading commentators have been far too quick to declare this a certain political loser.
Greg Sargent: Since details of the big foreclosure settlement began leaking out, liberals have been watching to see how New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman would react, as a sign of whether the deal is a giveaway to big banks – or whether it contains the promise of real accountability.
In an interview with me just now, Schneiderman – who has gained a national liberal profile for his insistence on true accountability for financial institutions – conceded the settlement announced today was “small” in financial terms, given the struggles of underwater homeowners and people who lost their homes.
But he insisted that time will show that today’s settlement was a win – that it secured a framework that will ultimately result in a true accounting of the role big banks played in sparking the economic meltdown…..
Attorney General Eric holder listens as President Obama speaks about a mortgage settlement in the Eisenhower Executive Office building
President Obama arrives to deliver remarks on the No Child Left Behind law in the East Room of the White House
Jonathan Bernstein (Washington Post): Today’s economic news is that new claims for unemployment benefits have fallen again, with the four-week average now at the lowest point since spring 2008. That’s not all; the stock market is also at its highest point since spring 2008, and Gallup’s economic confidence numbers are also approaching post-recession highs.
It’s no coincidence that the run of good economic news – and employment is only a part of that – has been accompanied by a climb by Barack Obama in the polls. Indeed, the Pollster average now has Obama with an average 5.5 point lead over Romney.
….. It’s certainly possible that the new economic momentum will, again, dissipate. But the signs are mounting that people are being a bit too pessimistic. And if so, there’s a chance that Democrats and the president could be about to receive a whole lot of unexpected good news indeed.