President Barack Obama greets Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom prior to a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, Jan. 16, 2015 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama meets with PM Cameron at the Oval Office. The two leaders discussed bilateral issues including economic growth, international trade, cybersecurity, Iran, ISIL, counterterrorism, Ebola, and Russia’s actions in Ukraine
President Obama and PM Cameron participate in a joint news conference at the East Room of the White House
President Obama is asked a question about Romney running for a third time by ABC’s Jon Karl
In an unexpected twist, the political world starts today with circumstances that look eerily similar to those from 24 hours ago: a bipartisan Senate deal is taking shape and a fractured House remains unpredictable. The point of yesterday, apparently, was to waste a day, humiliate House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), and bring the nation just a little closer to default.
After House Republicans rejected a series of desperate attempts by Boehner to make them happy, attention turned back to the Senate, which waited until after the lower chamber imploded to renew its talks. By all appearances, the basic framework of an agreement is in place.
Michael Tomasky: Senate Debt Ceiling Deal Won’t Mean This Chaos Is Over. Far From It.
Tuesday might have ended with the Senate on the cusp of a deal to avert a default, but it also featured Boehner bowing and scraping to his House crazies to come up with a competing plan that failed.
This is a sad and sickening spectacle, like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life. Not as bad as Watergate, you say? I beg to differ. However this turns out this has been in its way worse than Watergate. Watergate ultimately vindicated our system against the machinations of one sociopath. It took time, because he was a president. But even he ultimately observed democratic norms and, when cornered, did the honorable thing.
Today, we have a clavern of sociopaths who know nothing of honor, and we have no easy way to stop them. Except at the ballot box. Except that they’ve rigged that, too, with their House districts. They’ve rigged the whole game so that they light the match and then point at President Obama and shout: “Look! Fire!” And overseeing it all is House Speaker John Boehner, as of Tuesday officially the worst high-ranking elected officer in the history of the United States.
Here’s how grave the House Republicans’ condition has become: They’re now in the care of a mortician.
In the early minutes of a marathon meeting of House Republicans on Tuesday morning, Rep. Steve Southerland, a funeral director from Florida, rose to suggest the lawmakers sing “Amazing Grace” — and his colleagues joined him in a rendition of the burial hymn.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
It was an appropriate choice, for the House GOP is practicing its own form of mortuary science: It is burying both the Republican brand and America’s standing in the world.
…. A great portion of the courtier press that now expresses horror at what is going on now went gleefully along for the ride as it became inevitable. Any members of that courtier press who relished the pursuit of Bill Clinton’s penis, or conducted the absurd campaign of untruth that was waged against Al Gore between 1999 and 2000 lost the right years ago credibly to denounce conservative extremism and Republican vandalism.
That means you, Roger Simon of Politico, who was so shocked the other day to discover that racism may have afflicted the process of government since the president’s election, but who once claimed to right to make candidates like Gore “jump through hoops” for the pure hella-fun of it.
That means you, Chris Matthews, who chased the presidential dick for two years, all the way through an impeachment process that was a constitutional absurdity, but who now discovers that the campaign of destruction never truly stopped.
That means you, Andrew Sullivan, with your current existential torment over How It Came To This….
…… This means all of you who went along for the ride on torture, and on Iraq, and who hid under the bed after 9/11. This is how the power came to rest with Ted Yoho, who is a fool and a know-nothing. This is how historical inevitability is created. This is how its momentum becomes unstoppable. This is how the wreckage piles up.
Bob Cesca: Why Isn’t the GOP Complaining About the Deficit? Because It’s Dropping — Fast.
As we careen headlong toward the debt ceiling deadline, with the House Republicans and Speaker John Boehner in full Three-Stooges-Trying-To-Fix-The-Plumbing mode, the issue area that’s been overshadowed by the grandstanding, political props and brinksmanship is government spending itself.
The budget deficit is really the 4,000 pound gorilla in the room and the Republicans refuse to discuss anything other than the fact that employer mandate for the dreaded Affordable Care Act begins a year after the individual mandate. Yes, we’re in the middle of a showdown over the debt because of Obamacare rather than, you know, spending and fiscal responsibility.
Why aren’t they talking about the deficit? That’s easy: they can’t say anything bad about it because the Obama administration’s record on the deficit is kind of stellar.
TPM: McCain: ‘Republicans Have To Understand We Have Lost This Battle’
With the government shutdown in its third week and the United States dangerously close to the debt limit, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) urged members of his party on Tuesday to stop digging.
“It’s very, very serious,” McCain said, as quoted by the New York Times. “Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle, as I predicted weeks ago, that we would not be able to win because we were demanding something that was not achievable.”
Barring an accident of political brinksmanship, the United States will not default on its debts and other obligations.
Economic conditions provide exactly zero reasons to worry that the U.S. cannot service its debts. The danger in the current crisis, therefore, is not catastrophic economic collapse.
Rather, the danger is that the House’s tea party Republicans, in their zeal to block President Barack Obama’s policies, especially on health care, have damaged investors’ long-term trust in the U.S. government. And by thwarting the principle of majority rule, they have demonstrated a disrupting power that they may wield into the next decade, causing further erosion in confidence.
As the federal government enters its sixteenth day of shutdown and stands just hours away from defaulting on the national debt, the largest newspaper in Texas has pulled its endorsement of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). The conservative lawmaker delivered a 21-hour speech on Sep. 24, urging Senate and House Republicans to vote against any government funding measure that includes appropriations for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and is viewed as at least partially responsible for the current impasse.
President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden link arms and sing “We Shall Overcome” during the dedication ceremony for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011 Joining them, from left, are: Harry Johnson, Sr.; Interior Secretary Ken Salazar; and Herman “Skip” Mason (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama says goodbye to former President George H. W. Bush and former Secretary of State James A. Baker, prior to departure from Easterwood Field landing zone, in College Station, Texas, Oct. 16, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Neighbors in West Newton, Mass., react as the President headed their way after speaking at an event next door, Oct. 16, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama has no public events scheduled on Saturday. On Sunday, he and first lady Michelle Obama will attend the Kennedy Center Honors. They will host the honorees beforehand at a White House reception.
Kennedy Center: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has announced the selection of the seven individuals who will receive the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors. Recipients to be honored at the 35th annual national celebration of the arts are: bluesman Buddy Guy, actor and director Dustin Hoffman, comedian and television host David Letterman, ballerina Natalia Makarova, and rock band Led Zeppelin. While Led Zeppelin is being honored as a band, keyboardist/bassist John Paul Jones, guitarist Jimmy Page, and singer Robert Plant will each receive the Kennedy Center Honors.
Joe Klein (Time): The Republicans are, reportedly, outraged by President Obama’s opening bid in the fiscal cliff talks. Republicans always seem to be outraged. It’s getting boring. They need to step up and make a counter-offer.
…. It might have seemed “righteous” indignation when the GOP was deluding itself about representing a majority of Americans; now, it just seem puerile and petulant.
… What is difficult for the Fox talking heads to understand is this: We had an election. The President won. This gives him greater leverage than the last election we had, in 2010, when the President’s party lost…
…. the assorted Republican drama queens seem so two months ago, don’t they?
ThinkProgress: With Republicans balking at the prospect of allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for the top 2 percent of Americans, Democrats are losing patience. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Friday that the House GOP will not hold a vote on a middle-class tax bill that excludes the top income brackets, even though the Senate has already approved one.
In response, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced Friday that Democrats plan to bring the legislation to a floor vote next week no matter what. The Democrats plan to use a discharge petition, which can force a bill to the floor if it has been stuck in committee for 30 legislative days. In a new statement, Pelosi dared her Republican colleagues to reject the plan to extend tax cuts for 98 percent of the country…
Gail Collins: You undoubtedly have heard that Barack Obama invited Romney for lunch this week…. …. You’d think they could have served meat loaf. Mitt’s favorite food is meat loaf. Also, Mitt loves practical jokes, and if Obama had really wanted to get in the spirit of things, he could have had Romney arrested by the Capitol Police in the lobby.
…. The makeup meal doesn’t even have to make the loser feel better. (In 2008, Obama had John McCain over for a postelection meeting in Chicago, and you can see what a healing effect that had on McCain’s ego.) …
…. [the president] elaborated at his first postelection news conference, saying that Romney “presented some ideas during the course of the campaign that I actually agree with.”
The “actually” didn’t sound all that enthusiastic. Also, when it came time to praise his former rival, Obama said Romney “did a terrific job running the Olympics.”
A red ribbon is hung from the North Portico of the White House, Nov. 30, to mark World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
Michael Grunwald (Time): It’s really amazing to see political reporters dutifully passing along Republican complaints that President Obama’s opening offer in the fiscal cliff talks is just a recycled version of his old plan, when those same reporters spent the last year dutifully passing along Republican complaints that Obama had no plan….
This isn’t just cognitive dissonance. It’s irresponsible reporting. Mainstream media outlets don’t want to look partisan, so they ignore the BS hidden in plain sight, the hypocrisy and dishonesty that defines the modern Republican Party…..
…. we’re not supposed to be stenographers. As long as the media let an entire political party invent a new reality every day, it will keep on doing it. Every day.
David Firestone (NYT): Republicans reportedly laughed when they saw the Obama administration’s initial offer in the fiscal negotiations yesterday. The idea that President Obama might actually want to enact his campaign promises – tax hikes on the rich, modest Medicare cuts, investments in infrastructure – is apparently considered a joke to the party that has shown virtually no flexibility in the last four years.
But some of that laughter may contain nervousness, because there is more going on here than just a pathway to splitting the difference. The White House made clear yesterday that it is approaching these talks from a position of responsibility, and that it actually takes seriously the notion of old-fashioned bargaining. That’s something Republicans have refused to do — and now they realize they’ve been called out.
Deaniac (The People’s View): The president is in a fighting mood. Starting today, he’s barnstorming the country, getting the American people to pressure Congress to extend the middle class tax breaks, and to do so now. Yesterday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner presented the leaders of Congress with the Administration’s opening offer. That offer is heavy on revenue, tax fairness, and Medicare savings without affecting benefits. Here’s a short summary of what the president has proposed, from leaked details.
Liberal Librarian (The People’s View): Yesterday’s vote in the UN on Palestine has stirred a lot of emotions on the left; I’ve taken the time to read the responses across a few blogs this morning, and for the most part they’ve been considered and judicious. So here are my two pfennigs.
When the world’s three most powerful faiths declare a piece of real estate “holy”, that causes problems of a sort not found anywhere else. To the Jews, it is the “Promised Land”, vouchsafed to them by God unto the last generation. To Muslims, it’s holy because God walked in it with the Hebrew patriarchs, whom they consider earlier prophets; and, of course, they believe Muhammad made his Night Journey to heaven from the Temple Mount. To Christians, obviously, it was the land where Jesus lived, preached, and died. The deep emotional and religious attachments are not to be disregarded.
Kevin Drum (Mother Jones): There’s one particular strain of Republican reaction to their election loss that’s always given me the biggest chuckle, and today Paul Waldman highlights it: the absurd proposition that Mitt Romney never forthrightly defended conservative principles….
…. For months, conservatives yelled from the rooftops about how 2012 presented the sharpest choice ever in governing philosophies …. [they] claimed that this one was truly an ideological turning point, America’s last chance to choose what kind of country we should be. But literally within hours of defeat, they turned on a dime and insisted that the American people weren’t given a real chance to decide between two competing visions. And they’ve maintained this claim despite losing the popular vote in the House, the Senate, and the presidency, and despite the fact that demographic trends very clearly spell even further trouble in the future for their hardnosed brand of social intolerance and slavish dedication to the interests of the rich.
11:0: VP Biden attends the inaugural speech of President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico at the National Palace
11:05: PBO arrives in Philadelphia
11:45: Tours The Rodon Group manufacturing facility
12:05: Delivers remarks
2:00: Departs Philadelphia
2:55: Arrives at the White House
NYT: Timothy Geithner presented John Boehner a detailed proposal on Thursday to avert the year-end fiscal crisis with $1.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years, $50 billion in immediate stimulus spending, home mortgage refinancing and a permanent end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits.
The proposal, loaded with Democratic priorities and short on detailed spending cuts, met strong Republican resistance …. the details show how far the president is ready to push House Republicans. The upfront tax increases in the proposal go beyond what Senate Democrats were able to pass earlier this year….
…. Senate Democratic leaders left their meeting with Mr. Geithner ecstatic. If the Republicans want additional spending cuts in that down payment, the onus is on them to put them on the table, said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader.
Steve Benen: President Obama had to endure some deeply unpleasant experiences with Congress over the last couple of years, but the result of the incidents taught him valuable lessons. It’s clear, especially after last year’s debt-ceiling crisis, that the president now knows exactly how to negotiate with reckless, radicalized Republicans.
…. The days of preemptive concessions and negotiating from a defensive crouch are over …. Obama is acting like a confident, re-elected president who expects congressional Republicans to start moving in his direction, not the other way around. GOP leaders aren’t accustomed to this dynamic, but it’s probably time they adapt to their new surroundings.
…. Republicans desperately want the president to negotiate with himself …. Obama clearly isn’t willing to play that game anymore.
Greg Sargent: … the White House position is that it has laid out what it wants in the way of new revenue and spending, and that it’s now up to Republicans to detail their bottom line on cuts. It’s the GOP’s turn now. This opening bid will cheer liberals – it strongly suggests the White House is willing to push Republicans very hard, in the belief that it has all the leverage.
The Daily Dolt: Humanity’s most divisive figure, Barack Hussein Obama, is set to become the first president since Dwight Eisenhower in 1956 to win over 51% of the popular vote twice. The Great Divider is currently at 50.9% of the popular vote, and his lead continues to expand as results are still being tallied.
….. now we shall commence with the childish, entirely unprofessional gloating segment of this blog post:
Suck it, Marco Rubio. Suck it, Mitch McConnell. And suck it, Reince Priebus.
AP: The U.S. economy grew at a faster 2.7 percent annual rate from July through September, although the strength may fade in the final months of the year.
The Commerce Department says growth in the third quarter was much better than the 2 percent rate estimated a month ago and more than twice the 1.3 percent rate logged in the April-June quarter.
The two biggest factors in the upward revision were larger gains in business stockpiles and a boost in export sales. That offset weaker consumer spending.
Economists believe growth is slowing to a rate below 2 percent in the current October-December quarter because of disruptions from Superstorm Sandy and worries about sharp tax increases and spending cuts that would occur in January without a budget deal in Washington.
Steve Benen: Initial unemployment claims spiked a few weeks ago after Hurricane Sandy slammed the Northeast, but the new figures from the Department of Labor points to a steady improvement:
Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits fell 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 393,000 in the week ended Nov. 24, the Labor Department said Thursday. Initial claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 416,000 from an original reading of 410,000, based on more complete data collected at the state level. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected claims to drop to 390,000 as the effects of Hurricane Sandy fade.
CNBC: Buyers are coming back to the housing market in ever greater numbers, as an industry index measuring contracts to purchase existing homes surged 5.2 percent in October from September.
The monthly gauge of pending home sales from the National Association of Realtors was also revised higher in September and is now up 13.2 percent from October of 2011. This is a forward looking indicator for closed sales one to two months from now.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with business leaders to discuss the actions needed to keep the economy growing and find a balanced approach to reduce the deficit, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Nov. 28, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
An angry President Obama admonishes Bo for eating Romney’s White House lunch:
E.J. Dionne: Here’s the first lesson from the early skirmishing over ways to avoid the fiscal cliff: Democrats and liberals have to stop elevating Grover Norquist, the anti-government crusader who wields his no-tax pledge as a nuclear weapon, into the role of a political Superman.
Pretending that Norquist is more powerful than he is allows Republicans to win acclaim they haven’t earned yet. Without making a single substantive concession, they get loads of praise just for saying they are willing to ignore those old pledges to Grover … kudos for an openness to compromise should be reserved for Republicans who put forward concrete proposals to raise taxes.
The corollary is that progressives should be unafraid to draw their own red lines. If you doubt that this is a good idea, just look at how effective Norquist has been.
CNN: In the final race deemed too close to call, Republican David Rouzer conceded Wednesday after a recount in the race for North Carolina’s 7th Congressional District showed incumbent Rep. Mike McIntyre won by a razor-thin margin.
…. Despite facing a newly-drawn district that appeared to have been created to end his career, McIntyre showed strong signs of life in the race and ran a competitive race in the district that skews heavily Republican. He led in fundraising over Rouzer, a state senator, and kept even with ad spending by pro-Republican outside groups and the national Republican Party. Rouzer, however, stayed off the airwaves.
The contest was considered the final unresolved House race from Election Day that could make a difference in the makeup of the 113th Congress…. McIntyre’s victory gives Democrats a net gain of eight House seats from the November election, and the next Congress will consist of 234 Republicans and 201 Democrats.
3:40: President Obama and VP Biden meet with President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico.
Steve Benen: …. Susan Rice will head to Capitol Hill today where she’s scheduled to meet with the same Republican senators who’ve spent a few weeks trying to destroy her reputation …. it now appears Rice’s nomination to replace Hillary Clinton at the State Department is practically a foregone conclusion….
…. the White House is giving McCain, Graham, and Ayotte some special attention and a way out of their own mess. They can, in other words, come out of today’s meeting saying, “We had serious questions, and we’re glad Rice took the time to answer them.” If they then drop the filibuster threat, they’d look less ridiculous.
At least, that’s the idea. In practice, the GOP campaign against Rice has always been detached from reality, and facts from Rice and Morell may not matter, but from the administration’s perspective, it can’t hurt to try.
AP: President Barack Obama plans to make a public case this week for his strategy for dealing with the looming fiscal cliff, traveling to the Philadelphia suburbs Friday as he pressures Republicans to allow tax increases on the wealthy while extending tax cuts for families earning $250,000 or less.
The White House said Tuesday that the president intends to hold a series of events to build support for his approach to avoid across-the-board tax increases and steep spending cuts in defense and domestic programs. Obama will meet with small business owners at the White House on Tuesday and with middle-class families on Wednesday.
The president will visit the Rodon Group on 2800 Sterling Drive in Hatfield. The president’s visit will cap a week of public outreach as the White House and congressional leaders negotiate a way to avoid the tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
Steve Benen: …. as of yesterday, we appear to have reached an interesting, albeit largely symbolic, threshold:
“Call it irony or call it coincidence: Mitt Romney’s share of the popular vote in the 2012 presidential race is very likely to be 47 percent…..”
…. as things currently stand, Obama’s popular vote margin of victory is 3.43%. That’s close, to be sure, but for all the talk about the razor-thin race and the speculation that this could be the tightest national election any of us have ever seen, Obama’s 2012 victory isn’t even in the top 10 of the closest presidential elections in American history.
Eugene Robinson: Maybe the fever is breaking. Maybe the delirium is lifting. Maybe Republicans are finally asking themselves: What were we thinking when we put an absurdly unrealistic pledge to a Washington lobbyist ahead of our duty to the American people?
I said maybe. So far, the renunciations of Grover Norquist’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” amount to a trickle, not a flood….
…. Republicans who signed the pledge – and who now find themselves in a box – have only themselves to blame. To boost their own political fortunes, they lied to the voters. They pretended it was possible to provide the services that Americans need and want without collecting sufficient revenue. They sold the bogus promise of not just a free lunch, but a free breakfast and supper, too.
…. President Obama has been trying to wake Republicans from this silly, self-defeating dream for four long years. Now, perhaps, a twitching of eyelids.
Dana Milbank: President-unelect Rick Santorum made his triumphant return to the Capitol on Monday afternoon and took up a brave new cause: He is opposing disabled people.
Specifically, Santorum, joined by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), declared his wish that the Senate reject the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities….
The former presidential candidate pronounced his “grave concerns” about the treaty, which forbids discrimination against people with AIDS, who are blind, who use wheelchairs and the like. “This is a direct assault on us,” he declared at a news conference.
Lee, a tea party favorite, said he, too, has “grave concerns” about the document’s threat to American sovereignty. “I will do everything I can to block its ratification, and I have secured the signatures of 36 Republican senators, all of whom have joined with me saying that we will oppose any ratification of any treaty during this lame-duck session.”
So much for voter suppression. So much for the enthusiasm gap. So much for the idea that smug, self-appointed arbiters of what is genuinely “American” were going to “take back” the country, as if it had somehow been stolen.
On Tuesday, millions of voters sent a resounding message to the take-it-back crowd: You won’t. You can’t. It’s our country, too.
…. Nationwide, roughly three of every 10 voters Tuesday were minorities. African Americans chose Obama by 93 percent, Latinos by 71 percent and Asian Americans, the nation’s fastest-growing minority, by 73 percent.
….. On Tuesday, the America of today asserted itself. Four years ago, the presidential election was about Barack Obama and history. This time, it was about us — who we are as a nation — and a multihued, multicultural future.