Archive for December 15th, 2010

15
Dec
10

obamander the great

Greek Independence Day, March 2009

15
Dec
10

dog-tired of waiting

Bo, the Obama family dog, sits behind President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, as the President delivers remarks during a holiday reception in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Dec. 15, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

15
Dec
10

picture perfect: no 36

* Grab a spade, buddy *

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama participate in tree plantings at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, D.C., April 21, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

See all the ‘Picture Perfect’ photos here

15
Dec
10

hey, i think i like this guy

WH: Today, President Obama signed legislation that will stop a significant pay cut for doctors who treat Medicare patients from taking effect. The pay cut was called for under an old formula called the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) that governs how much doctors are paid to treat seniors on Medicare and military families enrolled in the TRICARE program.

President Obama and members of both parties agree this formula needs to be changed. Without the action the President took today, doctors who see Medicare patients and families enrolled in TRICARE would have seen their payments slashed by 23 percent.

The pay cut wouldn’t have just hurt doctors – seniors and families across America would have suffered as well. Many doctors would have simply stopped seeing Medicare patients and military families if this pay cut took effect, effectively denying patients the chance to see the doctor they know and trust.

More

15
Dec
10

step one

Lawmakers vote 250-175 in favor of measure Wednesday

ABC: Not only do supporters of the repeal have reason to celebrate today because of the House of Representatives’ vote in favor of a stand-alone bill to repeal the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, but also because the chances of the bill passing the Senate improved when Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine said she will support it.

…Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-CT, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME, who are leading the push in the Senate for the stand-alone bill repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, believe they have the 60 votes needed to overcome the Senate threshold.

…At last week’s Senate vote when the repeal was attached to the annual defense authorization bill, the measure fell only three votes short….56 Democrats voted for repeal at that time. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., missed the vote due to a dentist’s appointment

With Lincoln’s vote, that would mean 57 Democrats are in favor of repeal. Then come the Republicans. Collins brings the tally to 58 and Snowe brings it to 59.

….Two other Republicans – Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Lisa Murkowski – have also voiced support for repeal, but both of them voted against repeal last week on procedural grounds. If the repeal is to pass – and to do so it must overcome a packed Senate lame-duck calendar – Democrats need to secure the support of Brown or Murkowski.

More

Contact Senator Murkowski here

Contact Senator Brown here

President Obama’s statement: “I applaud the House for passing, with bipartisan support, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010. Legislative repeal is supported by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The process contained in this legislation allows for a smooth and responsible repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in a way that maintains good order and discipline in our military ranks. Indeed, all of the Service Chiefs have said that when this law is changed, they will implement an orderly transition effectively and efficiently.

As the comprehensive study by the Department of Defense clearly shows, we can move to a new policy in a responsible manner that ensures our military strength and our national security. I particularly want to thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Congressman Patrick Murphy for their leadership on this issue. I have consistently called for the repeal of this law. Moving forward with the repeal is not only the right thing to do, it will also give our military the clarity and certainty it deserves. We must ensure that Americans who are willing to risk their lives for their country are treated fairly and equally by their country.”

15
Dec
10

‘obama to nominate a defender for whistle-blowers’

NPR: A federal office that ran aground under the Bush administration is about to get a new leader. The White House plans to nominate Carolyn Lerner to run the Office of Special Counsel, which represents federal whistle-blowers and other victims of discrimination within the government.

Whistle-blower groups applaud the nomination and call it long overdue.

“She’s a great choice,” says Debbie Katz, a private lawyer who represents government whistle-blowers. “She’s going to have her work cut out for her.”

….The morale problem is partly due to the tumultuous reign of the last head of the office, Scott Bloch … Bloch was removed from office at the end of the Bush administration and later pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress.

….Since the start of Bloch’s tenure in 2004, whistle-blowers across the federal government have said they have had no good place to turn. “Literally hundreds of whistle-blowers every year who can’t afford a due process hearing or trial are defenseless when they try to defend the public against betrayals of trust,” says Tom Devine of the Government Accountability Project. “They can be fired virtually at will, and if they go to the Office of Special Counsel, they’ll be on an endless treadmill that goes nowhere.”

… Lerner founded a civil rights and employment law firm in Washington, D.C., and she has worked on the sorts of retaliation and discrimination cases that characterize the workload of the Office of Special Counsel. She must be confirmed by the Senate before her five-year term can begin.

15
Dec
10

‘the liberal backlash that isn’t’

In the wake of his “cave” on taxes, a new poll finds that among liberals Barack Obama is … still wildly popular

Salon (Steve Kornacki): As one prominent liberal after another cried “betrayal!” over President Obama’s tax cut deal last week, I cautioned against reading too much into it: One of the most underappreciated stories of Obama’s tenure has been the consistent disconnect between elite liberal opinion about the president and the view of rank-and-file liberals.

That point is more evident than ever today, with the release of a new Washington Post/ABC News poll — conducted late last week and over the weekend, as the supposed liberal backlash against the deal was at its peak — that shows Obama’s approval rating with liberal Democrats sitting at 87 percent.

That’s essentially where it’s been all year; it represents a statistically microscopic decline from where he stood with liberal Democrats in the last WaPo/ABC survey, taken about six weeks ago. Among all Democrats, Obama’s approval rating in the new survey sits at 79 percent — again, pretty much exactly where it’s been all year. As has been the case throughout his presidency, Obama’s problem among Democrats — to the extent he has one at all — is with self-described moderates and conservatives in the party.

…this is hardly the first time that elite liberal voices have branded Obama a sellout — remember last September, when Keith Olbermann suggested that Obama could face a serious 2012 primary challenge if a public option wasn’t included in the final healthcare bill? Those eruptions all failed to manifest themselves in polls of rank-and-file Democrats, and it’s likely this one will, too.

15
Dec
10

(whisper it: the senate just passed the second stimulus package)

NYT: The Senate on Wednesday approved the $858 billion tax plan negotiated by the White House and Republican leaders — the first concrete product of a new era of divided government and acid compromise.

The vote was 81 to 19, as Democrats yielded in their long push to end the Bush-era lowered tax rates for high-income taxpayers, and Republicans agreed to back a huge economic stimulus package, including an extension of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed and a one-year payroll-tax cut for most workers, with the entire cost added to the federal deficit….

….“A tremendous accomplishment,” the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, declared shortly before the vote on Wednesday. “Whether you agree with all the contents of the bill or not, everyone should understand this is one of the major accomplishments of any Congress where two parties, ideologically divided, have agreed on a major issue for the American people.”

…The bill would also keep jobless aid flowing to the long-term unemployed for an additional 13 months, maintaining extended limits, which now range from 60 weeks in states with less than 6 percent joblessness to 99 weeks in states where the unemployment rate is more than 8.5 percent. Benefits normally last for just 26 weeks.

…..The bill also contains an array of other tax breaks for individuals and businesses, aimed at pumping up the economy. It continues a college tuition credit for some families, an expanded child tax credit and the earned income tax credit. It also includes a two-year adjustment to the Alternative Minimum Tax to prevent as many as 21 million more households from being hit by it, and it contains a provision allowing businesses to write off some kinds of expenses more quickly.

President Obama:

“Today, the Senate passed with strong bipartisan support a bill that’s a win for American families, American businesses, and our economic recovery. This vote brings us one step closer to ensuring that middle class families across the country won’t have to worry about a massive tax hike at the end of the year. It would offer hope to millions of Americans who are out of work that they won’t suddenly find themselves without the unemployment insurance they need to make ends meet as they fight to find a job. And it would offer additional tax relief to families across the country and encourage businesses to grow and hire.

”

“I know that not every Member of Congress likes every piece of this bill, and it includes some provisions that I oppose. But as a whole, this package will grow our economy, create jobs, and help middle class families across the country. As this bill moves to the House of Representatives, I hope that members from both parties can come together in a spirit of common purpose to protect American families and our economy as a whole by passing this essential economic package.”

15
Dec
10

wait a minute, what’s with all this positive news?

“But I thought they said I was DESTROYING the economy?!”

AP: U.S. factory output grew for the fifth straight month in November, adding to evidence that manufacturing remains an engine of economic growth….

….Overall industrial production has increased 9.8 percent since its low point of the recession in July 2009…

….Factory output has recovered by 10.6 percent since its low point in June 2009….

…All other categories of long-lasting durable goods posted increases. Business equipment, construction supplies and business supplies each grew 0.9 percent.

15
Dec
10

done talking

President Barack Obama walks from the Blair House across Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House after meeting with business leaders in Washington on December 15




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