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.
People Press: As the nation prepares for another round of deficit reduction debates, the public’s confidence in congressional leaders, particularly Republican leaders in Congress, has plummeted. Just 35% say they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in Republican leaders in Congress to do the right thing when it comes to dealing with the federal budget deficit, down from 47% in May. Fully 62% say they have little or no confidence in the Republican leaders on this issue.
Public confidence in Barack Obama on the budget deficit, by comparison, has remained largely unchanged. The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center finds that 52% express at least a fair amount of confidence in Obama to do the right thing when it comes to dealing with the deficit, virtually unchanged from 55% earlier in the year.
The drop in confidence in GOP congressional leaders is broad based, even occurring among Republicans themselves …… Democrats offer a more positive assessment of their leaders’ handling of the deficit than Republicans do of theirs. Fully 84% of Democrats have at least a fair amount of confidence in Obama to do the right thing regarding the deficit, and 75% are confident in Democratic leaders in Congress….
…. The survey also finds continued public support for raising the tax rate on high incomes as a way to reduce the federal budget deficit and the size of the national debt. Two-thirds (67%) approve of raising the tax rate on incomes over $250,000 as a means of reducing the national debt … Just 30% disapprove…
NYT: President Obama on Monday will call for a new minimum tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million a year to ensure that they pay at least the same percentage of their earnings as middle-income taxpayers, according to administration officials.
…. the proposal adds a new and populist feature to Mr. Obama’s effort to raise the political pressure on Republicans to agree to higher revenues from the wealthy in return for Democrats’ support of future cuts from Medicare and Medicaid.
Mr. Obama, in a bit of political salesmanship, will call his proposal the “Buffett Rule”, in a reference to Warren E. Buffett, the billionaire investor who has complained repeatedly that the richest Americans generally pay a smaller share of their income in federal taxes than do middle-income workers, because investment gains are taxed at a lower rate than wages.
… The Obama proposal has little chance of becoming law unless Republican lawmakers bend. But by focusing on the wealthiest Americans, the president is sharpening the contrast between Republicans and Democrats with a theme he can carry into his bid for re-election in 2012.
It could also reassure Democrats who have feared that Mr. Obama would agree to changes in programs like Medicare without forcing Republicans to compromise on taxes.
Time: The employment numbers for November were far lower than people were hoping for. But here’s the problem: The employment picture might not be as disappointing as the number the Department of Labor reported. Why’s that? The Labor Department failed to count just over 350,000 jobs in its final tally. Include those jobs into the mix, and….
…..the economy actually added nearly 400,000 jobs in the month of November……
…..In reality, the retail sector added just over 300,000 new hires in the month of November. But the Labor Department didn’t count those hires. That’s because the Labor Department’s final number of employment is seasonally adjusted. And since the retail sector disproportionately adds more workers this time of the year than the other 10 months, the Labor Department adjusts down the sector’s employment numbers in November and December. So retail employment gets over counted in January and February when hiring is slow, and undercounted in November and December….
The result: In the Labor Department’s final count, 350,000 retail jobs got excluded.
And that may make sense. Many of those jobs are seasonal and temporary. But if the retail sector continues to do well this holiday season, some stores may keep a good number of those employees. If so, November’s disappointing job report might be just be setting the economy up for a surprisingly strong employment number for January.