First lady Michelle Obama hugs Lianyun Wu during an awards ceremony for the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in the East Room at the White House on November 19. The first lady talked about the importance of afterschool and out of school arts and humanities education and presented awards recognizing programs across the country that benefit underserved youth
Jon Taplin (TPM): Barack Obama learned a political trick from Muhammad Ali called Rope a Dope. For you youngsters, this refers to the epic Rumble in the Jungle Heavyweight fight against George Foreman in 1974….
Last summer during the debt ceiling hostage crisis, Obama appeared to be the loser, but yesterday Republicans woke up to the reality that they lost Big Time – that we were going to get $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions, with 50% of the cuts coming from the military and none of the cuts from Social Security and Medicare. The Congressional water carriers for the Military Industrial Complex are in a panic.
…. So why aren’t progressives celebrating this morning? Got me … If you had suggested to me last spring that a Republican House would pass a bill cutting $600 billion from the Pentagon budget over ten years, I would have called you crazy. But that is just what happened.
So there is only one election that matters a year from now. And that is that President Obama will be reelected and able to keep his veto threat….
This is an amazing victory and all we have to do to hold on to it is reelect the President.
The Hill: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Tuesday that President Obama’s 2009 stimulus package continues to benefit the struggling economy.
…. By CBO’s numbers, the $800 billion stimulus added up to 0.9 million jobs in 2009, 3.3 million jobs in 2010 and 2.6 million jobs in 2011. As the effects of the stimulus wind down, Obama has been pushing Congress to enact a $447 billion jobs bill that includes infrastructure spending and tax cuts.
Steve Benen: Romney’s willingness to lie to voters raises important questions about his integrity, but the question now becomes whether television stations will participate in the lie by airing a spot that’s proven to be deceptive.
Steve Benen: President Obama’s week-long trip to Asia didn’t generate a lot of attention from the domestic media, and based on Walter Russell Mead’s description, that’s a real shame. Americans have every reason to be pleased with the results of the president’s successful efforts:
The cascade of statements, deployments, agreements and announcements from the United States and its regional associates in the last week has to be one of the most unpleasant shocks for China’s leadership – ever …. Rarely has a great power been so provoked and affronted. Rarely have so many red lines been crossed. Rarely has so much face been lost, so fast…. [I]t was as decisive a diplomatic victory as anyone is likely to see. Congratulations should go to President Obama and his national security team.
…. I suspect the number of Americans who’ll vote in 2012 based on foreign policy can meet in a broom closet, but it’s getting tougher for even the harshest White House critics to deny President Obama’s impressive record on foreign policy…..
Andrew Sullivan: The one thing I noticed in my continental run-around this past week is just how mad liberals are at Obama. I remain as baffled by this anger as I am by Republican contempt for the guy. New York magazine has two superb essays that sum up my own feelings on both sides pretty perfectly – by Jon Chait and David Frum. Chait notes how systemic and eternal liberal disenchantment is, and how congenitally useless Democrats are in rallying round a leader, even one who has achieved so much in such a short time.
Many Dems even now think Clinton was more successful in fighting the GOP in his first term than Obama has been. (Memo to the left: universal healthcare was achieved under Obama). But much of this is the usual Democratic limpness and whininess. If George Bush had taken out Osama bin Laden, wiped out al Qaeda’s leadership and gathered a treasure trove of real intelligence by a daring raid, he’d be on Mount Rushmore by now. If he’d done the equivalent on the right of universal healthcare, he’d be the second coming of Reagan. But Obama and liberals? If I hear one more gripe about single payer from someone in their fifties with a ponytail, I’ll scream.
… I remain unrepentant in my support for this president, a man who has accomplished more in the face of a more hostile environment in his first three years than any president since Johnson. I wish more reasonable Dems and a few moderate Republicans will soon have the courage to say so.
Robert Shrum: …. In a New York Times blog post titled “Decision 2013,” Emory University psychology professor Drew Westen offers strong opinions about the shortcomings of a president “tied up in knots of indecision” ….
…. It is a scathing indictment from someone who plainly feels his counsel and wisdom have been scorned. It is also a stunning repudiation of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s insistence that people are entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.
…. Westen launches an overall indictment of the president’s character – Obama is a president frozen in the ice of his own intellect, too logical, too rational, too disconnected from emotions …. the portrayal here of Obama is far removed from reality.
Ask Osama bin Laden if the president is indecisive. As for delay, health care reform was delayed for a century – and Obama passed it. The economy continues to be troubled, but Obama saved it from disaster … Financial reform, student loan reform, credit card reform, the greatest infrastructure investment in a generation – the list goes on. These are not the markers of indecision and delay. Nor is something else progressive critics thought Obama could never achieve. It was Bill Clinton, who famously felt our pain, who inflicted plenty of it by signing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” into law. It was Obama who repealed it with a masterful sense of timing and a cool and rational approach to the Pentagon.
That is a hallmark of his presidency. An effective president can’t be just a partisan, appealing solely to the base. But Obama has delivered more progressive change than anyone at anytime since the 1960s. He hasn’t, as Westen writes, “just run out the clock.” He’s moved history ahead….
I never expected an easy ride for this President. No doubt, he is a different kind of leader. His problem is not that he is controversial, but that he is so insistent upon values that define what is best about our traditions and our history.
How often have we heard him exclaim “that’s who we are” as Americans when speaking of the mutualism of citizenship. He will cite “E pluribus unum” to celebrate equal rights and equal opportunity as well as responsibility for one another. He will insist that we are indeed “our brother’s and our sister’s keeper”. That’s not just a phrase for him, that’s a core belief.
With that in mind, of course he will be the President of all the people all the time. He will treat all citizens with the same unfailing civility and regard, including those who do not respond in kind.
He will take pains to understand the points of view he does not share, not because he is lacking conviction, but because he will always attempt to find some common ground as a base for discussion and negotiation.
The outcome of such negotiations must always meet the test of “who we are”. Or, in the case of the arrogant dismissal of such things as the Geneva convention, he will say “that’s NOT who we are” and insist upon making our actions match our values.
There are those who dismiss this as “elitism” or as somehow ill-conceived and unrealistic, but it is this same clear evidence of character that people value most about this greatest of all Presidents. And that will prevail over all self-centered political grandstanding and furor, over envy, racism and contempt because all of those manifestations fail the test of “who we are”.
Greg Sargent (Washington Post): Here’s why the supercommittee is failing, in one sentence: Democrats wanted the rich to pay more in taxes towards deficit reduction, and Republicans wanted the rich to pay less in taxes towards deficit reduction.
Any news outlet that doesn’t convey this basic fact to readers and viewers with total clarity is obscuring, rather than illuminating, what actually happened here.
Paul Begala: What’s next? The Santorum Surge? The Huntsman Hiccup? Why Newt Gingrich would be a godsend to the Democrats.
…. More likely the Gingrich surge is just the latest Republican tulip craze …. with Newt simply serving as the latest vessel for the ABR movement: Anybody But Romney.
….. like MacArthur, Newt has returned. I, for one, could not be happier – but then again, I’m a Democrat, so I have to take my political pleasures where I can find them….
…. I fear the dream won’t last, alas. At some point Republicans will wise up and nominate the zillionaire layoff artist with the square jaw and the Slinky spine. But I’ve been saying that all year, and I’ve been wrong all year.
I really can’t imagine how it must pain Mitt Romney …. What does the guy have to do to win? He’s changed so many of his deeply held convictions that he’s reduced to bragging that he hasn’t changed wives or religions. Newt has changed wives and religions, and the base still likes him better than Romney….
President Barack Obama says goodbye to students lining a second floor hallway at the Yeadon Regional Head Start Center in Yeadon, Pa., Nov. 8, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
ABC: President Obama holds leads over the top three Republican presidential candidates in a new national poll conducted by Latino Decisions for Univision, with the president enjoying far wider advantages among Latino voters, an area of strength that could ultimately prove crucial come next year’s election.
…. Among registered voters nationwide, Obama holds the largest lead over Perry at 10 percent, with his edge over Romney at 9 percent. Cain, meanwhile, is within 6 percent of the president.
Among registered Latino voters in the 21 most Latino-heavy states, Obama’s advantage is far greater, exceeding two-to-one margins in every case. The president is up 65 percent to 22 percent on Cain, 67 percent to 24 percent on Romney and 68 percent to 21 percent on Perry…..
Greg Sargent: As you may have heard, Republicans on the supercommittee are privately offering Dems what they’re calling a big concession: They will agree to hundreds of billions in new revenues through an overhaul of the tax code in exchange for making the Bush tax cuts permanent.
A senior Senate Democratic aide directly familiar with the discussions tells me that as part of that tax rate overhaul, Republicans are also pushing to drop the highest end tax rate down to 28 percent.
ABC: Michelle Obama told high school students taking part in a mentoring program at Georgetown University on Tuesday that being married to the president can be scary at times, because he makes the family get out of its comfort zone.
The first lady urged students not to let fear guide them after a student asked about being worried about going away to college.
“I mean this is scary,” she said. “Shoot, being married to Barack Obama? He’s got big plans. He’s always pushing us beyond our comfort zones, and I’m dragged along going, ‘What’s he doing now? No, not this.'”
Steve Benen: ….. “It’s safe to say Speaker John Boehner does not agree with President Obama’s suggestion on Tuesday that Americans are better off now than they were when he took office. “Are you kidding me?!” Boehner said loudly in response to a reporter’s question on the comment.”
…. Obviously, national conditions aren’t close to where they need to be. …. Maybe, if guys like Boehner would start passing jobs bills and stop holding the economy back on purpose, the public would start to feel like the country is on the right track again.
But for those who take reality seriously, there’s no real question as to whether the country is better off now than in January 2009:
Then the nation was hemorrhaging jobs; now it’s gaining jobs.
Then the economy was shrinking; now the economy is growing.
Then the American automotive industry was on the verge of collapse; now it’s starting to thrive.
Then taxpayers were sending money to Wall Street; now taxpayers are being paid back.
Then Osama bin Laden was targeting Americans and our allies; now he’s dead and al Qaeda’s leadership has been decimated.
Then U.S. troops were headed into the Middle East in greater numbers; now they’re headed home with their heads held high.
Republicans, including John Boehner, drove the United States into a pretty deep ditch during the Bush/Cheney era, and conditions are still pretty ugly. That doesn’t change the simple fact that the nation is much stronger now than the day the president was inaugurated ….
AP: A third former employee considered filing a workplace complaint against Herman Cain over what she deemed aggressive and unwanted behavior when she and Cain, now a Republican presidential candidate, worked together during the late 1990s, the woman told The Associated Press on Wednesday. She said the behavior included a private invitation to his corporate apartment.
The woman said he made sexually suggestive remarks or gestures about the same time that two co-workers had settled separate harassment complaints against Cain, who was then the head of the National Restaurant Association.
Washington Post: Car buyers were out in force in October, snapping up trucks and SUVs and taking advantage of deals on Japanese cars.
U.S. car and truck sales were expected to top 1 million in October, a surprising number for a month when sales are usually slow. When adjusted for seasonal factors, that would be the best pace since the Cash for Clunkers program in August 2009.
Mediaite: In a Quinnipiac poll taken Oct. 25-31, embattled GOP juggernaut Herman Cain continued to show amazing staying power …. (but) The real news from this poll, taken before most of the fallout from Politico‘s alleged sexual harassment expose, might be that some rays of sunshine are finally hitting President Obama.
….. President Obama gained six points on his approval rating … and is now beating all Republican challengers by margins of 5-16 points. The President has seen steady progress in the polls since rolling out his American Jobs Act in September, taking it on the road, and taking the fight to the Republicans who oppose it.
Elsewhere in the poll, Democrats opened up a lead on the generic House ballot, beating Republicans 42-36, after tying them at 39 in October.
AP: Michelle Obama has presented national arts and humanities awards to 12 community-based, after-school programs, including for at-risk kids.
The programs use dance, theater, writing, music, history and other art mediums to inspire teen moms and other young people and help them reach their potential. The first lady said at a White House ceremony Wednesday that the programs show that the arts are a lifeline – not a luxury – for many of these kids.
Most of the participants graduate from high school or earn a GED and go on to college.
The 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards are presented on behalf of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in partnership with three national cultural agencies.
Bob Cesca: The Republicans are growing a little worried about the mission they mandated to the “Super Committee” because the Obama Administration is now seeking to use that committee to pass the president’s jobs proposal.
…. what the president is asking the committee to do is to agree to even more deficit reduction, and just when I thought this administration couldn’t impress me any more with their deviousness, they pull another rabbit out of their hat.
…. In case you don’t understand – the Congressional Budget Office has scored the president’s jobs proposal as deficit-reducing beginning in 2013. This is accomplished by accounting for the closure of tax-loopholes and the revenue that will be generated by a wave of new jobs. This mean’s the “Super Committee” can include the president’s jobs proposal in their mandated mission to find over a trillion in savings over the next 10 years.
This is why the Republicans are now downplaying their expectations of the Super Committee and suggesting the committee should go small. Not big.
They’re playing catch-up to President Obama, and opposing a jobs bill and more deficit reduction at the same time may be beyond the vast, obstructionist powers of the Republicans. Their only remaining option may be to stall and do nothing…..
NYT: Representative Nancy Pelosi today announced her three appointees to the special congressional committee tasked with finding ways to reduce federal budget deficits, even as a Republican member of the newly formed panel expressed an openness to consider possible tax increases.
Ms. Pelosi’s choices complete the 12-member panel, which is evenly divided between both the parties and the two houses of Congress.
All three members named by Ms. Pelosi hold leading roles in the party: Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, the No. 3 House Democrat; Representative Xavier Becerra of California, vice chair of the Democratic Caucus; and Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee.
… One Republican member of the committee, Representative Dave Camp of Michigan, said today that he would not rule out possible tax increases – a central point of contention in the recent debt talks and something many economists contend will be a necessary element to any successful bipartisan proposal.
“I don’t want to rule anything in or out,” Mr. Camp told Reuters. “I am willing to discuss all issues that might help us reduce our short and long-term debt and grow our economy. Everything is on the table, until we as a group rule it out,” he said.
Ms. Pelosi, in her statement, described Mr. Clyburn as a consensus builder with experience on the Appropriations Committee; Mr. Becerra as a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee who “placed the interests of America’s working families first”; and Mr. Van Hollen as a Democratic leader in the deficit-reduction talks led by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
The three Democratic members will join three House Republicans, Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Mr. Camp and Fred Upton, both from Michigan, on the committee. The Senate will be represented by three Republicans, Jon Kyl of Arizona, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Rob Portman of Ohio, along with the Democrats Patty Murray of Washington, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Max Baucus of Montana.
CBS: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to name Sen. Patty Murray of Washington as co-chair of the deficit reduction committee tasked with finding at least $1.2 in federal government savings by October, a Democratic aide tells CBS News.
The aide said Reid will also name Democratic Sens. Max Baucus of Montana and John Kerry of Massachusetts to the committee.
…. The committee will ultimately be made up of 12 members – three Senate Democrats, three Senate Republicans, three House Democrats and three House Republicans. The party leadership in each chamber appoints the members. The other co-chair of the committee will be named by House Speaker John Boehner.
All the members of the committee must be appointed by August 16, and the committee must hold its first meeting by September 16…..