Statement by the President on the Passing of Senator Daniel Inouye
Tonight, our country has lost a true American hero with the passing of Senator Daniel Inouye. The second-longest serving Senator in the history of the chamber, Danny represented the people of Hawaii in Congress from the moment they joined the Union. In Washington, he worked to strengthen our military, forge bipartisan consensus, and hold those of us in government accountable to the people we were elected to serve. But it was his incredible bravery during World War II – including one heroic effort that cost him his arm but earned him the Medal of Honor – that made Danny not just a colleague and a mentor, but someone revered by all of us lucky enough to know him. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Inouye family.
Ezra Klein: …. a “fiscal cliff” deal seems to be coming together … Boehner offered to let tax rates rise for income over $1 million. The White House wanted to let tax rates rise for income over $250,000. The compromise will likely be somewhere in between….
On the spending side, the Democrats’ headline concession will be accepting chained-CPI (see here), which is to say, accepting a cut to Social Security benefits…..
…. On stimulus, unemployment insurance will be extended, as will the refundable tax credits. Some amount of infrastructure spending is likely. Perversely, the payroll tax cut, one of the most stimulative policies in the fiscal cliff, will likely be allowed to lapse, which will deal a big blow to the economy…..
….. As is always the case, the negotiations could fall apart, or the deal could change. But right now, the participants sound upbeat….
Paul Krugman: It sounds as if Ezra Klein is hearing more or less the same things I’m hearing: Republicans willing to give up a lot more on tax rates, although not fully undoing the Bush tax cuts in the 250-400 range; additional tax hikes via deduction limits in a form that hits the wealthy, not the upper middle class; unemployment extension and infrastructure spending; but “chained CPI” for Social Security, which is a benefit cut.
… this contains stuff that Obama can’t get just by letting us go over the cliff: more revenue than he could get just from tax-cut expiration, unemployment and infrastructure too. But it has a cost, those benefit cuts.
Those cuts are a very bad thing, although there will supposedly be some protection for low-income seniors. But the cuts are not nearly as bad as raising the Medicare age….
…. we shouldn’t be doing benefit cuts at all; but if benefit cuts are the price of a deal that is better than no deal, much better that they involve the CPI adjustment than the retirement age….
President Barack Obama works with senior advisors in the Oval Office, Dec. 17. Standing, from left, are: Rob Nabors, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs; Jeffrey Zients, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget; and Chief of Staff Jack Lew. (Photo by Pete Souza)
National Journal: Republicans alarmed at the apparent challenges they face in winning the White House are preparing an all-out assault on the Electoral College system in critical states, an initiative that would significantly ease the party’s path to the Oval Office.
Senior Republicans say they will try to leverage their party’s majorities in Democratic-leaning states in an effort to end the winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes. Instead, bills that will be introduced in several Democratic states would award electoral votes on a proportional basis.
….. if more reliably blue states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin were to award their electoral votes proportionally, Republicans would be able to eat into what has become a deep Democratic advantage.
All three states have given the Democratic nominee their electoral votes in each of the last six presidential elections. Now, senior Republicans in Washington are overseeing legislation in all three states to end the winner-take-all system.
Charles Pierce: There is no longer any reason to believe that the Republican party has any intention of changing itself to adapt to a changing America. Every story you read to that effect is a lie. Every apparent attempt by the party to convince you that it is planning to do it is a fake. They are not planning on adapting to a changing country. What they’re planning is to change the system of presidential elections so that they never have to do so. I’m not sure it will work, but that hasn’t stopped them recently….
Jonathan Bernstein: There was a lot of chatter today about National Journal’s report that national Republicans are pushing a plan to…well, there’s no other way to say it: they’re pushing a plan to rig presidential elections.
…. Fortunately, it’s unlikely that it will happen. As I’ve argued, unlike the cases in which state Republican parties have tried to strip unions of resources or engaged in gerrymanders, the incentives on this one are at cross-purposes. What’s good for the national GOP would be quite bad for Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, and probably even worse for Republican legislators and governors in those states.
E.J. Dionne: …. There was a different quality to President Obama’s response to this mass shooting, both initially and during his Sunday pilgrimage to offer comfort to the families of victims. I think I know why. It is not just that 20 young children were killed, although that would be enough.
For some months now, there have been rumblings from the administration that Obama has been unhappy with his own policy passivity in responding to the earlier mass shootings and was prepared in his second term to propose tough steps to deal with our national madness on firearms.
He spoke in Newtown in solidarity with the suffering, but pointed toward action. No, he said, we are not “doing enough to keep our children, all our children, safe.” He added: “We will have to change.”
Charles Pierce: ….. Too many people make too much money on guns and ammo …. Profit is what gives the NRA its real power; it lobbies less for the rights of its membership than for the right of weapons manufacturers to make a pile….
…. You want to eliminate the guns? Take the profit out of them. Take the fight to the people who make the weapons, not to the people who sell them or the people who buy the politicians so that selling them will be easier….
…. Too much of our entire national economy is based on violence — physical violence, emotional violence, environmental violence, economic violence — and there is too much profit to be made out of the production of violence. You want the violence to stop, break the people who are getting rich off it. Break their fortunes and you can break their power. The money comes first. It always does.
NY Mag: At 7:58 p.m. on Saturday evening, gun control’s newest advocate took to Twitter to call for stricter firearm legislation. “Nice words from POTUS on shooting tragedy,” wrote News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch, “but how about some bold leadership action?” Around the same time at Fox News, one of Roger Ailes’s deputies was sending a very different message.
According to sources, David Clark, the executive producer in charge of Fox’s weekend coverage, gave producers instructions not to talk about gun-control policy on air. “This network is not going there,” Clark wrote one producer on Saturday night….
Steve Benen: With gun legislation practically non-existent in recent years, it’s easy to forget that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), before he became his caucus’ leader, voted against the assault weapons ban. But in light of Friday’s violence, Reid is joining his Democratic colleagues in looking anew at possible changes.
ABC: President Obama “reinforced” his stance on the controversial contraception mandate while speaking at the Democrats’ annual retreat at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. today, Senate Democrats said.
Following President Obama’s speech at the retreat, a small group of Senate Democrats, mostly women, left the retreat early in order to hold a news conference on Capitol Hill to counter the Republicans’ news conference today at which they called for the mandate to be overturned.
Democrats said they will “fight strongly” to keep the mandate in place …. “It’s time to tell Republicans ‘mind your own business,’” said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. ”Ideology should never be used to block women from getting the care they need to lead healthier lives.
Michelle Goldberg (Daily Beast): Mitt Romney has been railing again the Obama administration’s refusal to exempt Catholic-affiliated institutions like hospitals and universities from its mandate that health insurance cover contraception …. Perhaps no one told him that such rules were in place in Massachusetts the entire time he was governor, because as far as I’ve been able to tell, he never raised a word of objection then.
…. many Catholic institutions are already operating in states that require contraceptive coverage, such as New York and California. Such laws are on the books in 28 states, and only eight of them exempt Catholic hospitals and universities. Nowhere has the Catholic Church shut down in response.
…. Nationwide, major Catholic universities including Fordham, Georgetown, and DePaul all offer birth-control coverage. So does Dignity Health, until recently known as Catholic Healthcare West, the fifth-largest health system in the country. In Massachusetts, the six former Caritas Christi Catholic hospitals, which were recently acquired by Steward Health Care System, all complied with the state law.
…. The Obama administration, then, was acting in line with several longstanding state and federal precedents when it issued these new regulations, something that’s been totally obscured amid all the caterwauling we’ve heard in response….
Michael Tomasky (Daily Beast): Seriously? He lost to Santorum? …. At this point, it’s fair to start questioning how Romney can really unite this party behind him eventually and make people enthusiastic about him. It sure doesn’t look, on the evidence of last night, like he’ll seriously be able to compete with Obama in Colorado or Minnesota. Even Missouri, which Obama lost by 0.1 percent last time, looks problematic for him right now.
But the Romney contests to watch in some ways aren’t against Obama or Santorum or Newt Gingrich, but against himself and against history – his numbers, and the overall turnout numbers, from last time. If he doesn’t show impressively in Arizona and Michigan on Feb. 28, GOP power brokers are really going to start wondering what they’ve bought into.
USA Today: President Obama will sign the last piece of legislation sponsored by former representative Gabrielle Giffords on Friday, the White House announced today.
The Arizona Democrat and her husband, Mark Kelly, as well as Vice President Biden will be on hand in the Oval Office for the signing. The legislation gives law enforcement greater authority to combat drug trafficking between the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders.
The bill was the last piece of legislation that Giffords voted on before she resigned on Jan. 25 …
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with members of the national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan, in the Situation Room of the White House, Feb. 8, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Sun Times: First Lady Michelle Obama to embark on three day national tour celebrating second anniversary of Let’s Move!
Thursday: Des Moines, Iowa / Little Rock, Arkansas / Fort Worth, Texas