1:05: PBO delivers remarks at a campaign event in Corona Del Mar, Calif.
2:45: Departs Los Angeles, California en route San Francisco
3:30: Arrives San Francisco
5:00: Attends a campaign event
10:10: Delivers remarks at a campaign event
AP: The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell to the lowest point in almost four years last week, the latest signal that the job market is steadily improving.
The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment benefits dropped 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 348,000. It was the fourth drop in five weeks and the fewest number of claims since March 2008.
ABC (Devin Dwyer): Fact Check – Obama and the Resurgence of American Manufacturing
President Obama is this week heralding the resurgence of American manufacturing as a leap toward an “economy built to last,” and a sign that he deserves a second term. …. Obama’s claim is corroborated by government statistics, which show an undeniable rebound for manufacturers during his term, both in terms of productivity and employment of American workers.
When Obama took office in January 2009, unemployment in the manufacturing sector stood at 10.9 percent and spiked to 13 percent a year later, according to the Labor Department. But in the two years since, unemployment has fallen precipitously, now holding at 8.4 percent in January 2012.
In terms of raw manufacturing jobs, the trajectory is similarly positive …. U.S. manufacturers have also increased production by 15 percent since the recession officially ended in late 2009….
New York Times (Editorial): There’s nothing like a deadline – and the prospect of acute political embarrassment – to concentrate the mind. With Congress about to go on recess, and with Republicans fearing a voter backlash, negotiators on Wednesday were putting the finishing touches on a deal to extend the payroll tax cut and federal jobless benefits through 2012.
The agreement is imperfect but sound. It will help struggling Americans and the struggling economy. It is also a political win for Democrats and President Obama, who had made extending the payroll tax cut and the jobless benefits a centerpiece of his jobs agenda. We hope that it gives them the courage to stick to that agenda if they face another round of Republican obstructionism…..
LA Times: ….. President Obama was expected to raise a total of more than $3 million during two events at the expansive Holmby Hills estate of “The Bold and the Beautiful” producer Bradley Bell and his wife, Colleen. The outdoor event, with tickets priced at $250 and $500, featured a performance by the Foo Fighters and appearances by comedian Jack Black and actress Rashida Jones.
Obama spoke later to a more intimate gathering inside the Bells’ Spanish-style home, which about 80 supporters each paid $35,800 to attend. Among those present were George Clooney, Jim Belushi and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who on Wednesday was named chairman of the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Washington Post: …. If Obama is suffering any lingering Hollywood blowback after his administration failed to get behind a pair of high-profile Internet piracy bills championed by the entertainment industry, it wasn’t apparent …. The two Tinseltown events were expected to reap more than $3 million….
“Anything we can do to help,” said Andy Spahn, a political consultant to DreamWorks chief Jeffrey Katzenberg, one of Obama’s top campaign bundlers and staunchest Hollywood supporters. “The events are sold out,” Spahn said of Wednesday’s concert and dinner at the home of Bradley and Colleen Bell, producers of “The Bold and the Beautiful.” “I expect the president to continue to enjoy strong support.”
SF Gate: …. this week, The Chronicle has learned that the Obama campaign has, for the first time, opened a new type of campaign office in San Francisco: A Technology Field Office. It is believed to be the first such type of campaign office for a presidential campaign.
“We learned from 2008 that using the talents and skills of our supporters was a key to building the most effective organization,” said Obama campaign deputy press secretary Katie Hogan. “We’re taking the next step by providing tools and space for supporters in the technology community to help the campaign extend our current tools like BarackObama.com and our mobile applications.”
…. instead of cold-calling independents, a techie who wants to help Team O can come in and help develop something new for the website, etc…..
If you want to get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Guardian: …. Obama has critics and doubters. Maya Angelou, the sage of black America, now 83, has no time for them. “I think he has done a remarkable job, knowing how much he has been opposed,” she says. “Every suggestion he makes, the Republicans en masse fight against him or don’t vote at all.”
…. “I was hoping for the best. And I think I have gotten the best from him.” What of his detractors? “Those are people who didn’t see the morass into which he stepped.”
….. “His physical self, just being there, his photograph in the newspapers as president of the United States; that has done so much good for the spirit of the African American. We see more and more children wanting to be like President Obama, wanting to go to school.”
…. More recently, her presidential link has been via the first lady, Michelle Obama. “She’s the grand dame,” says Angelou. “I wrote her a note a few months ago because I was in a gathering. The president and his party were there, but I had to leave early. I know that’s a gaffe because no one leaves the building before the president so I wrote and apologised. I got a letter from her in her own handwriting. She said: ‘I have only one regret – that I didn’t come over and hug your neck.'”
Washington Post: Facing withering criticism from across the political spectrum and abandoned by Senate allies, House Republicans bowed to political reality Thursday and agreed to a two-month extension of a payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans.
The agreement represented a remarkable capitulation on the part of House Republicans, who had two days earlier rejected such a deal with Democrats as the kind of half-measure that their new majority was elected to thwart.
And it amounts to a Christmas gift for President Obama, who attempted to paint his Republican opponents as willing to raise taxes for millions of Americans. Such an image could have cost the party politically just as it is gearing up to try to take back the White House and the Senate in 2012.
Eugene Robinson: Finally. After a year of artful camouflage and concealment, Republicans let us glimpse the rift between establishment pragmatists and Tea Party ideologues. There may be hope for the republic after all.
…. There are only two possible reasons for House Republicans to behave the way they did. Maybe they are so blinded by ideology that they no longer care about the impact their actions might have on struggling American families. Or maybe their only guiding principle is that anything Obama supports, they oppose.
The week’s events offer a lesson for Obama, too. One reason for all the Republican angst was that public opinion has become more sensitive to issues of economic justice. This may be partly due to the Occupy protests. But I’m convinced that Obama’s fiery barnstorming in favor of his American Jobs Act has played a big role. People are hearing his message.
The president has been on the offensive. It’s no coincidence that, for the first time in quite a while, Republicans are backing up.
Steve Benen: …. the GOP leadership will, probably later today, bring the tweaked Senate agreement to the House floor, hoping to approve it by unanimous consent. If Republicans balk – and they might – Boehner will reconvene the House next week for an up-or-down vote. Since that vote would very likely pass the Senate bill, an objection today would only delay the inevitable, and extend this fiasco for a few more days.
…. perhaps one of the most striking realizations from this entire dispute is that Republicans gambled that Democrats would cave when the pressure was on – and Democrats didn’t. Arguably for the first time all year, Democrats from the White House to Capitol Hill knew they had the better hand, told Republicans that Dems wouldn’t fold this time, and sat back and watched and the GOP unraveled.
… After a year in which policymakers have moved from one hostage crisis to another, Democrats won a big one to close out the year, leaving Republicans looking awful and a weakened Speaker looking beaten.
For a party that earned a reputation for capitulating a little too often, it’ll start 2012 on the right foot.
Vice President Biden in the Des Moines Register: Mitt Romney recently laid out his plan for America. Reading about it, I thought of my dad. My dad was a hard worker. He took pride in what he did. And, like millions of Americans, that pride was put to the test when he found himself struggling to make ends meet.
When I was a child, he had to ask my grandfather to take care of my mom, my brother, sister and I while he moved away to find a better job in Wilmington, Del. My dad had a saying: “A job is about more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity. It’s about respect.”….
Michael Tomasky (Daily Beast): Last week, I mentioned the racism charges against Ron Paul, involving the newsletter he used to publish and some of the vile and witless statements therein….
….These are not your run-of-the-mill euphemisms. These are blatantly racist comments by, I would hope, nearly any measure. Jews and gays get their moment in the sun ….The “Special Issue on Racial Terrorism,” produced after the Los Angeles riots, offers many gems, including this advice: “I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense. For the animals are coming.” …. It would seem, in the pages of something called the Ron Paul Political Report, that that “I” would represent, well, Ron Paul. But he denies authorship….
…. If he didn’t write those sentences, who did? Why not say? If he genuinely disagrees with the statements and truly disavows them, there could be no good reason not to name names.
… I humbly suggest that there are some matters on which there should not a statute of limitations …. Calling a group of people—identifiable only by their race “animals” belongs in that company. We lack proof that Paul did that, but at the very least we have proof that he has regarded this whole thing very casually….
Funny, the President said the same thing to John Boehner today:
President Barack Obama talks with Rob Nabors, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, in the Oval Office, Dec. 22, 2011. Nabors informed President Obama that a bipartisan agreement was reached to extend the payroll tax cut. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
House Republicans caved to President Barack Obama’s demand for a two-month payroll tax cut extension, ending an impasse that threatened to raise taxes on 160 million Americans.
The capitulation came fast Thursday afternoon as House Republicans found themselves increasingly isolated in insisting that a full one-year extension was the only solution to the year-end crisis. The end of this debate will also come quickly – the House and Senate are expected to clear the legislation on a voice vote Friday morning.
“For the past several weeks, I’ve stated consistently that it was critical that Congress not go home without preventing a tax increase on 160 million working Americans. Today, I congratulate members of Congress for ending the partisan stalemate by reaching an agreement that meets that test.
“Because of this agreement, every working American will keep his or her tax cut – about $1,000 for the average family. That’s about $40 in every paycheck. Vital unemployment insurance will continue for millions of Americans who are looking for work. And when Congress returns, I urge them to keep working to reach an agreement that will extend this tax cut and unemployment insurance for all of 2012 without drama or delay.
“This is good news, just in time for the holidays. This is the right thing to do to strengthen our families, grow our economy, and create new jobs. This is real money that will make a real difference in people’s lives. And I want to thank every American who raised your voice to remind folks in this town what this debate was all about. It was about you. And today, your voices made all the difference.”
Now, get yourself to Hawaii Mr President:
President Barack Obama plays golf at the Kaneohe Klipper Marine Golf Course in Oahu, Hawaii, Dec. 26, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Reuters: Israel’s defense minister extolled what he called Barack Obama’s resolve and risk-taking on Thursday, remarks likely to help the president’s re-election bid after the Pentagon beefed up warnings to Iran over its nuclear program.
….Citing Obama’s ideologically tinged 2009 speeches in Cairo and on the occasion of winning the Nobel Peace Prize, and this month’s U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, Barak said: “Ultimately you cannot deny he has a certain degree of consistency.”
“You may not like what he does (but) you discern a man who is capable and ready to undertake the fiercest of political risks to his survival, in order to make good on what he believes in,” said Barak, who met Obama in Washington last week.
“We are asked, sometimes, whether Obama is really a soft appeaser. To that, I say: ‘Go ask Osama bin Laden.'”
Greg Sargent: The President is set to hold another event today urging the House GOP to support the Senate payroll tax extension compromise…. A White House official emails that Obama today “will be joined by Americans who would see their taxes go up if the House Republicans fail to act”.
Washington Post: House Republicans faced mounting pressure Wednesday from critics inside and outside Congress who worry that their standoff with President Obama over whether to extend a payroll tax cut could do lasting damage to the GOP.
… The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board captured the frustration among Republicans in the paper’s Wednesday editions, asking whether the GOP’s handling of the tax debate “might end up re-electing the President before the 2012 campaign even begins in earnest.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said the House GOP must get past the issue. “Are Republicans getting killed now in public opinion? There’s no question,” he said Wednesday on CNBC. “Both Republicans and Democrats have agreed that this is going to happen, and probably the best thing to happen now is just to get it over with.”
Marketwatch: The number of Americans filing initial claims for regular state unemployment-insurance benefits fell 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 364,000 in the week ended Dec. 17, reaching the lowest level since April 2008, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected that claims would rise to 375,000, while remaining at levels historically associated with an improving labor market.
The four-week average of initial claims – a smoother gauge than the weekly data – fell 8,000 to 380,250, the lowest level since June 2008.
Steve Benen: It’s generally wise to avoid sweeping conclusions about week-to-week changes in data like this, but when these jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it’s evidence of an improving jobs landscape. When the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are actually being created rather quickly.
Michael Tomasky: President Obama has had an awful year. But thanks to the politically asinine miscalculations of House Republicans, he’s ending 2011 with a bang.
For a bunch of people who don’t believe that Barack Obama celebrates Christmas, Republicans sure are going out of their way to make sure the president has a merry one. The short-sighted stupidity of the House Republicans is hardly to be believed. The presidential nomination contest is as unsettled as ever and still features a bunch of candidates who are about as appealing to most Americans as Aunt Gladys’s fruitcake.
…. It’s all a reminder that Obama won’t be running just against a Republican candidate. He’ll be running, as he has been, against a Republican Congress. And the public is finally getting the message that they are breathing a different kind of air from the rest of us.
Paul Krugman: David Roberts reports on the EPA’s decision, finally, to regulate mercury from coal plants … it will save tens of thousands of lives every year and prevent birth defects, learning disabilities, and respiratory diseases. This is actually a much bigger issue, when it comes to saving American lives, than terrorism.
…. The point that strikes me most, however, is that this shows that it matters who holds the White House. You can complain about Obama’s lack of a strong progressive agenda, which I sometimes do, or wonder what good it is to hold the White House when the other side blocks every attempt to do good through legislation. But mercury regulation would not have happened if John McCain were president.
Elections have consequences, and this is one delayed consequence of 2008 that will make a big difference.