NYT Editorial: President Obama’s fruitless three-year search for compromise with the Republicans ended in a thunderclap of a speech on Tuesday, as he denounced the party and its presidential candidates for cruelty and extremism. He accused his opponents of imposing on the country a “radical vision” that “is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity.”
….The speech was the first time that Mr. Obama linked Mr. Romney, by name, to his party’s dishonest budget and discredited trickle-down policies. As Mr. Obama pointed out, Mr. Romney described as “marvelous” a budget that would drastically cut student financial aid, medical research, Head Start classrooms and environmental protections. Mr. Obama further ridiculed the budget’s deficit-cutting goal as “laughable” because it refuses to acknowledge the need for new revenues.
…. Mr. Obama provided a powerful signal on Tuesday that he intends to make this election about the Republican Party’s failure to confront, what he called, “the defining issue of our time”: restoring a sense of economic security while giving everyone a fair shot, rather than enabling only a shrinking number of people to do exceedingly well. His remarks promise a tough-minded campaign that will call extremism and dishonesty by name.
Hadley Freeman (The Guardian): And so, as widely dreaded, the Republican primaries have dragged on into April. Well played, everyone! In a country so ruthless that TV shows can get cancelled after just one episode, maintaining such a long-running entertainment programme is an achievement. Admittedly, this is largely due to the fact that all of its featured stars are so uninspiringly bad….
…. one must not underestimate the impulse of Romney’s own party towards the ABR tactic – Anyone But Romney – one that has led to a sex-obsessed homophobe in a sweater vest and the Pillsbury Doughboy, AKA Newt Gingrich, being touted as sorta serious contenders for a presidential election …. Rick Santorum is predictably digging his heels in, like a toddler refusing to go to bed even though it’s at least two hours after his bed time, showing the deluded tenacity one would expect of a grown man who believes that restricting access to contraception reduces unwanted pregnancies….
Nevertheless, it does increasingly look as if, after all the bloodletting and financial expenditure of the past months, the Republicans will end up with the nominee who was always going to be the nominee. Hasn’t this been an excellent use of everyone’s time and energy?
But if you think this signifies the end of the bursts of crazy fun Santorum and Gingrich provided, don’t worry! Despite the vice-presidency being the most high-profile and pointless job outside the royal family, the Republicans have a knack for picking some doozies as running mates. There was Ken doll Dan Quayle, who thought he was JFK and couldn’t spell potato; Dick Cheney, the human Heart of Darkness; and of course, Sarah Palin, who needs no elaboration…..
Laughingsquid: Star Trek original television series actress Nichelle Nichols (Lieutenant Uhura on the USS Enterprise) recently visited the White House for Black History Month. She was given a photo opportunity with President Obama and they both posed with their hands firmly giving the Vulcan salute.
Nichelle Nichols: On Feb 29, 2012 I was honored to have the chance to meet with President Obama in the Oval Office. I always knew that there was a reason that I liked him so much! Live Long & Prosper!
11:30 AM: Michelle Obama holds a conference call with reporters in the week leading up to the one-year anniversary of Joining Forces
2:00 PM: Michelle Obama will visit the Fisher House located at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
NYT Editorial: In ruling on the constitutionality of requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance, the Supreme Court faces a central test: whether it will recognize limits on its own authority to overturn well-founded acts of Congress.
… The court has no authority under the Constitution to judge the merits or effectiveness of the health care law. That is Congress’s job.
…. If the Supreme Court hews to established law, the only question it must answer in this case is modest: Did Congress have a rational basis for concluding that the economic effects of a broken health care system warranted a national solution? The answer is incontrovertibly yes.
Greg Sargent: If you want to understand what’s really at stake in the battle over Obamacare you need to watch Mitt Romney’s appearance on Jay Leno last night.
It comes down to this: Should the federal government play any meaningful role at all in helping the millions of uninsured who can’t get coverage — particularly those with preexisting conditions?
On Leno, Romney repeated his vow to transfer health reform back to the states. But he was also repeatedly pressed to say what he would do for those with preexisting conditions if Obamacare were repealed. Without saying how, Romney replied that people with preexisting conditions should continue to get insurance — as long as they’ve been insured in the past. He refused to say what should be done about those who have never had insurance.
Washington Post: Half of all Americans now express unfavorable views of Mitt Romney, a new high for the GOP presidential hopeful in Washington Post-ABC News polling…
….. Negative impressions are up eight percentage points in the past week, nudging past the previous high …. 50 percent of all adults and 52 percent of registered voters express unfavorable opinions of Romney…
…. 53 percent of Americans hold favorable views of the president; for Romney, that number slides to 34 percent …Romney is underwater with independents: 35 percent view him favorably, 52 percent unfavorably.
TPM: A set of three new swing state polls from Quinnipiac University show President Obama leading Mitt Romney in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. His smallest lead is in Pennsylvania, where Obama holds a small three point advantage at 45 – 42, and he leads in Ohio 47 – 41. Obama leads outside the margin of error in Florida, a state which Romney has done well in previously, at 49 – 42.
“President Barack Obama is on a roll in the key swing states. If the election were today, he would carry at least two states. And if history repeats itself, that means he would be re- elected,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in a release. “The biggest reason for the president’s improving prospects probably is the economy. Roughly six in 10 voters in all three states think the economy is recovering. Moreover, voters blame the oil companies and oil-producing countries for the rise in gasoline prices and only about one in six voters blame them on President Obama.”
USA Today: The White House is again unleashing Vice President Joe Biden on the campaign trail, this time to attack Mitt Romney over manufacturing policy …. It’s the third in a series of four campaign speeches Biden is delivering on the economy. The vice president previously discussed the auto bailout in Ohio and Medicare policy in Florida, attacking Romney and other Republican candidates along the way.
Today at PCT Engineered Systems in Davenport, Iowa Biden plans to stress the 430,000 new manufacturing jobs created since January of 2010 …. The Obama campaign has released other excerpts from Biden’s speech:
“Mitt Romney has been remarkably consistent – as an individual investor, a businessman, as Governor of Massachusetts, and now as a candidate for President.
Washington Post: The Obama 2012 campaign unveiled a Barack Obama Pinterest page on Tuesday, taking advantage of the fast-growing social network by sharing images of Obama and his family, campaign supporters and paraphernalia and visuals that support administration policies.
The page, run by the Obama 2012 campaign staff, features eight “boards.” (For those of you not among the 17.8 million Pinterest users last month, boards are like folders where users categorize “pins,” or images they collect and share on the site).
Five of the boards feature lighter fare: ”Obama-inspired recipes” shows the family chili recipe and cupcakes with images of the president on them. The first family and pets wearing Obama gear get their own boards, and merchandise from the Obama campaign store is featured in another. The more substantive boards include pinned infographics on job growth and the health-care act, and another with images of people supporting or affected by the administration’s initiatives.
MTV: Michelle Obama will appear at Nickelodeon’s 25th annual Kids’ Choice Awards to present a special award to Taylor Swift. The first lady will be on hand to honor Swift with the Big Help Award, in recognition of her philanthropic efforts, including work with U.S. tornado and flood survivors. Obama herself was the recipient of the award in 2010, in recognition of her Let’s Move! Campaign…
…. The 25th annual Kids’ Choice Awards in Los Angeles air live Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on Nickelodeon.
Marketwatch: The U.S. economy added 227,000 jobs in February while hiring in January and December was revised up by a combined 61,000, the Labor Department reported Friday.
The unemployment rate remained at 8.3%, largely because more people entered the workforce in search of jobs.
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast the U.S. would add 213,000 jobs last month, with the jobless rate holding steady at 8.3%.
Subtracting another decline in government jobs, the private sector boosted payrolls by 233,000.
….job gains for January were revised up to 284,000 from 243,000 – the biggest monthly increase since the recession ended – and December’s employment gains were revised up to 223,000 from 203,000. The past three months of full-time job growth is the fastest since early 2006
First Lady Michelle Obama meets with Ernestina Mills, First Lady of Ghana, at the State Department in Washington, D.C., March 8. (Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)
10:40: PBO departs the White House en route Joint Base Andrews
11:35: Arrives Richmond, Virginia
12:15: Tours Rolls-Royce Crosspointe
12:30: Delivers remarks at Rolls-Royce Crosspointe
2:40: Departs Richmond, Virginia en route Houston, Texas
3:40: Arrives Houston
4:50: Delivers remarks at a campaign event
6:50: Delivers remarks at a campaign event
8:10: Departs Houston
ThinkProgress: Rush Limbaugh’s advertising exodus is deep into its second week, and despite the radio host’s claim that the impact of 50 companies pulling their business has been negligible, listeners in the nation’s largest media market were treated to over five minutes of radio silence where Limbaugh’s advertisers once stood today.
There were four separate instances during this afternoon’s broadcast on WABC 770 AM in New York City where the network fell silent. During the lead in to the show, two and a half minutes of silence was broken up by a single, solitary ad before Limbaugh hit the air.
LA Times: …. President Obama brings to the 2012 campaign one strategic advantage that previous Democratic presidential candidates would have envied: the money to compete everywhere.
Flush with more cash than all the Republican candidates combined, Obama’s reelection campaign envisions an electoral map every bit as expansive as that of 2008 ….. campaign officials say they are determined to use their financial clout to keep as many states as possible in play for as long as possible.
…. So Democrats are opening offices, airing TV ads and building up campaign machinery in the upper South, in Rust Belt Midwestern states and across the Southwest.
…. Obama is raising money in buckets, packing in half a dozen fundraising trips on quick sprints west. So far, he has collected $89 million, while his nearest competitor – Mitt Romney – has picked up $32 million….
…. Obama’s advisors cite population trends showing growth of the Democratic-leaning Latino population. In Virginia, for example, the state grew 13% as a whole from 2000 to 2010, but its Latino population nearly doubled. The Obama campaign also has recruited volunteers and begun to register voters in Arizona, where Latinos have gone from 25% to 30% of the population over the last decade…..
Michael Tomasky (Daily Beast): …. The most important and interesting poll question asked in recent memory is the one Suffolk University finally thought to ask last week …. Floridians were asked if they thought the Republicans were “intentionally stalling efforts to jumpstart the economy to insure that Barack Obama is not re-elected.” In response, 49 percent said yes, and just 39 percent said no.
… this is a shockingly large number considering that we Americans are supposed to believe that no one in our great and celebrated system of government would ever do such a thing. But people are starting to believe it, and it will be the GOP’s worst nightmare if it gets to the point that 58 percent or so of the country agrees. Given that majorities of conservatives and Republicans will never agree with this, a number like 58 (or even 55) will mean that a substantial majority of independents think it’s true.
…. the GOP’s reputation is so low, and its image (and reality) as obstructionist so steadily solidifying, that it’s going to hang like the stink of garlic around the nominee’s neck.
…. what a beautiful thing it would be if the GOP’s obstructionism were the factor that buried its candidate next year. It’s the Democrats’ job to make sure that one year from today, as voters are doing their last-second sizing up of things, the behavior of the GOP over the last four years is one of the things they think about. If it is, Obama will win, even if the economy is ho-hum…..
Chris Cillizza: …… A new Washington Post-ABC News poll suggests that President Obama is narrowly getting the benefit of the doubt (on the economy) – at least, at the moment.
Fifty percent of those tested agreed with the statement that Obama is “making a good faith effort to deal with the country’s economic problems, but the Republicans in Congress are playing politics by blocking his proposals and programs” while 44 percent said that the president had not “provided leadership on the economy, and he is just blaming the Republicans in Congress as an excuse for not doing his job”.
…. In a bit of a boost for Obama, 54 percent of independents – that most coveted of voting blocs – said he was making an effort on the economy while 40 percent said he had not led as required on the issue.
…. It’s why the president has signed a series of executive orders aimed at unilateral action on the economy under the “We Can’t Wait” mantra, and focused more and more in his public speeches on Republicans’ unwillingness to back plans and programs that they had supported in past years.
These latest numbers suggest he is winning that argument – albeit narrowly…..
Many thanks to AJ for this – I posted the President’s 2004 Convention speech in the new speeches’ section here and AJ let me know about this video of the reaction at the time of the PBS panel (Mark Shields, David Brooks and Richard Norton Smith):
MSNBC: U.S. private-sector employers added 110,000 jobs in October, beating economists’ expectations, a report by a payrolls processor showed Wednesday.
Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast the ADP National Employment Report would show a gain of 101,000 jobs. September’s private payrolls were revised up to an increase of 116,000 from the previously reported 91,000.
The report, which is jointly developed with Macroeconomic Advisers LLC, gives some hope ahead of the release of the key U.S. jobs report from the government, which is due Friday morning and forecast to show the economy created 95,000 jobs last month.
ABC: Continuing his executive actions campaign, President Obama will sign a proclamation this afternoon to designate Fort Monroe a national monument.
“Fort Monroe has played a part in some of the darkest and some of the most heroic moments in American history. But today isn’t just about preserving a national landmark – it’s about helping to create jobs and grow the local economy. Steps like these won’t replace the bold action we need from Congress to get our economy moving and strengthen middle-class families, but they will make a difference,” Obama said in a written statement.
According to the White House, the preservation of Fort Monroe will help create nearly 3,000 jobs in Virginia …. Fort Monroe is integral to the history of slavery, the Civil War, and the U.S. military. It was the place where Dutch traders first brought enslaved Africans in 1619 and during the Civil War the fort became a place for escaped slaves to find refuge. In 1861, the fort was the site of Gen. Benjamin Butler’s “Contraband Decision,” which provided a pathway to freedom for thousands of slaves.
Think Progress: Mitt Romney, his son Tagg, and Romney’s chief fundraiser, Spencer Zwick, have extensive financial and political ties to three men who allegedly participated in an $8.5 billion Ponzi scheme. A few months after the Ponzi scheme collapsed, a firm financed by Mitt Romney and run by his son and chief fundraiser partnered with the three men and created a new “wealth management business” as a subsidiary.
AJC: Pushing a campaign to act without Congress, President Barack Obama will announce on Friday two more executive actions on the economy, both of them small steps intended to give a boost to businesses.
The moves cap a week in which Obama has sought to employ the power of his office as he struggles to make headway on his jobs bill on Capitol Hill.
Obama is directing government agencies to shorten the time it takes for federal research to turn into commercial products in the marketplace. The goal is to help startup companies and small businesses create jobs and expand their operations more quickly.
On the other front, Obama is calling for creation of a centralized online site, to be known as BusinessUSA, for companies to easily find information on federal services. The site is to be up and running within 90 days and will be designed with input from U.S. businesses.
Obama is announcing both steps in presidential memos to be released Friday morning, according to administration officials.
Washington Post: The U.S. economy grew at its fastest clip in a year during late summer as consumers and businesses shrugged off fears of a new recession, according to government data released Thursday that helped drive the stock market to its best day since August.
Investors were also cheered by overnight news that European leaders have reached an agreement on how to address their continent’s debt crisis, and the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index ended the day up 3.4 percent. European markets were up even more sharply, with the German Dax index up 5.3 percent.
The agreement in Europe still has many details to be filled in, and the 2.5 percent pace of U.S. economic expansion in the third quarter isn’t enough to bring unemployment down quickly, even if it is sustained. But on both sides of the Atlantic, the news on Thursday offered a sense of relief: Maybe the world isn’t falling apart after all.
National Journal: On the surface, it seems surprising that the U.S. economy nearly doubled its growth in the third quarter.
July brought tense debt-ceiling negotiations and threat of a government default. In August, a top credit ratings agency cut the United States’ top AAA rating. Concerns over European sovereign debt seeped into the U.S. and grew in September as the situation across the Atlantic appeared to be rapidly unraveling. Congress announced no major steps to fix the economy and the weak housing and labor markets treaded water.
But on Thursday, the Commerce Department announced that gross domestic product grew by 2.5 percent during that time, up from just 0.9 percent in the first half of the year.
While 2.5 percent GDP growth hardly signals boom times, it seems to fly in the face of those major headwinds. But economists say it reflects a gradual climb out of recession rather than a rapid shift in the country’s fortune.
…. The good news is that the third quarter shared many of the same uncertainties that are likely to shape the fourth: uncertainty over the budget and deficit, threat of a downgrade, and the European debt crisis. The economy, while hardly in fighting shape, pulled through the third quarter to eke out 2.5 percent GDP growth — which is not too shabby.
AP: He is the man with the mustache who takes a rebellious drag on a cigarette in the Herman Cain Internet ad gone viral …. Meet Mark Block, Cain’s unorthodox campaign manager …. a Republican strategist and tea party leader who’s left a trail of questionable campaign work behind him.
Block has been accused of voter suppression and was banned from running Wisconsin political campaigns for three years to settle accusations he coordinated a judge’s re-election campaign with a special interest group.
Records show Block has faced foreclosure on his home, a tax warrant by the Internal Revenue Service and a lawsuit for an unpaid bill. He also acknowledges he was arrested twice for drunken driving…..
Eugene Robinson: The hard-right conservatives who dominate the Republican Party claim to despise the redistribution of wealth, but secretly they love it – as long as the process involves depriving the poor and middle class to benefit the rich, not the other way around.
That is precisely what has been happening, as a jaw-dropping new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office demonstrates. Three decades of trickle-down economic theory, see-no-evil deregulation and tax-cutting fervor have led to massive redistribution. Another word for what’s been happening might be theft.
ThinkProgress: House Republicans took the government to the brink of shutdown last spring by demanding across-the-board budget cuts to many vital programs. Instead of focusing on job creation, as Americans wanted them to, the GOP turned its attention to slashing funds for programs that funded assistance for women and children, local law enforcement, the social safety net, environmental protections, and many other programs they deemed as either too expensive or unnecessary. Worse, when challenged on why they hadn’t made the effort to tackle high unemployment, Republicans insisted that their slash-and-burn budget cuts were meant to create jobs.
….. According to a new report from the Center for American Progress’ Scott Lilly, those cuts didn’t result in the job creating boon Republicans insisted would follow. Instead, it has done just the opposite, as those cuts will result in the destruction of roughly 370,000 jobs……
First lady Michelle Obama visited three Florida cities on Thursday for campaign fundraisers…. “This has been a great day,” the first lady told supporters in Ft. Lauderdale. “This is my third city in one day. And I go home tonight and Barack and I get up and go to parent-teacher conference tomorrow morning.”
“Just so you know,” she said. “Just handling our business.”
The Hill: The government’s bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac might end up costing taxpayers billions less than originally estimated, the mortgage giants’ regulator said Thursday.
In a new report, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) said the actual performance of the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) had been “substantially better” than originally projected, lowering the overall bill for the bailout, a longtime sore spot with GOP lawmakers.
…. So far, Fannie and Freddie are beating bailout expectations. In the first year of projections, the GSEs actually tapped the Treasury Department for $19 billion to $73 billion less than anticipated, depending on what scenario was applied.