First Lady Michelle Obama reads a Christmas story as her dog Bo sits on her lap and 5-year-old AJ Murray (L), and 5-year-old Jordyn Akyoko sit nearby at Children’s National Medical Center on December 14
AP: The U.S. economy grew at a faster 2.7 percent annual rate from July through September, although the strength may fade in the final months of the year.
The Commerce Department says growth in the third quarter was much better than the 2 percent rate estimated a month ago and more than twice the 1.3 percent rate logged in the April-June quarter.
The two biggest factors in the upward revision were larger gains in business stockpiles and a boost in export sales. That offset weaker consumer spending.
Economists believe growth is slowing to a rate below 2 percent in the current October-December quarter because of disruptions from Superstorm Sandy and worries about sharp tax increases and spending cuts that would occur in January without a budget deal in Washington.
Steve Benen: Initial unemployment claims spiked a few weeks ago after Hurricane Sandy slammed the Northeast, but the new figures from the Department of Labor points to a steady improvement:
Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits fell 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 393,000 in the week ended Nov. 24, the Labor Department said Thursday. Initial claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 416,000 from an original reading of 410,000, based on more complete data collected at the state level. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected claims to drop to 390,000 as the effects of Hurricane Sandy fade.
CNBC: Buyers are coming back to the housing market in ever greater numbers, as an industry index measuring contracts to purchase existing homes surged 5.2 percent in October from September.
The monthly gauge of pending home sales from the National Association of Realtors was also revised higher in September and is now up 13.2 percent from October of 2011. This is a forward looking indicator for closed sales one to two months from now.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with business leaders to discuss the actions needed to keep the economy growing and find a balanced approach to reduce the deficit, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Nov. 28, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
An angry President Obama admonishes Bo for eating Romney’s White House lunch:
E.J. Dionne: Here’s the first lesson from the early skirmishing over ways to avoid the fiscal cliff: Democrats and liberals have to stop elevating Grover Norquist, the anti-government crusader who wields his no-tax pledge as a nuclear weapon, into the role of a political Superman.
Pretending that Norquist is more powerful than he is allows Republicans to win acclaim they haven’t earned yet. Without making a single substantive concession, they get loads of praise just for saying they are willing to ignore those old pledges to Grover … kudos for an openness to compromise should be reserved for Republicans who put forward concrete proposals to raise taxes.
The corollary is that progressives should be unafraid to draw their own red lines. If you doubt that this is a good idea, just look at how effective Norquist has been.
CNN: In the final race deemed too close to call, Republican David Rouzer conceded Wednesday after a recount in the race for North Carolina’s 7th Congressional District showed incumbent Rep. Mike McIntyre won by a razor-thin margin.
…. Despite facing a newly-drawn district that appeared to have been created to end his career, McIntyre showed strong signs of life in the race and ran a competitive race in the district that skews heavily Republican. He led in fundraising over Rouzer, a state senator, and kept even with ad spending by pro-Republican outside groups and the national Republican Party. Rouzer, however, stayed off the airwaves.
The contest was considered the final unresolved House race from Election Day that could make a difference in the makeup of the 113th Congress…. McIntyre’s victory gives Democrats a net gain of eight House seats from the November election, and the next Congress will consist of 234 Republicans and 201 Democrats.
Monday: President Obama attends meetings at the White House
Tuesday: Hosts President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico at the White House
Wednesday: Holds a Cabinet Meeting at the White House
Thursday: Meets with the 2012 Nobel Prize winners in the Oval Office
In case you missed these articles/posts:
Washington Post: When Barack Obama published his autobiography, “Dreams From My Father,” about racial identity in 1995, he talked with his neighborhood newspaper in Illinois, the Hyde Park Citizen, about the economic disparities he had seen while exploring the world as a child and young adult.
…. That sensitivity to inequality has stuck with Obama throughout his rise in politics, from Chicago’s South Side all the way to the White House. He remains largely a pragmatist in his approach to governing. But beneath his tactical maneuvering lies a consistent and unifying principle: to use the powers of his office to shrink the growing gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else…..
Washington Post: Late on election night, a small melee erupted at the University of Mississippi when a group of white students frustrated by the reelection of President Obama marched outside and began shouting racial slurs at African American students. Several hundred people gathered to watch as two white students were arrested.
…. Yet even as that incident evoked ugly memories of an earlier era, Election Day in the South told a newer and more surprising story: The nation’s first black president finished more strongly in the region than any other Democratic nominee in three decades, underscoring a fresh challenge for Republicans who rely on Southern whites as their base of national support.
Obama won Virginia and Florida and narrowly missed victory in North Carolina. But he also polled as well in Georgia as any Democrat since Jimmy Carter, grabbed 44 percent of the vote in deep-red South Carolina and just under that in Mississippi — despite doing no substantive campaigning in any of those states.
Michael Tomasky: A new report appears to exonerate Susan Rice for public statements following the Benghazi attack. Will John McCain apologize for his reckless crusade against her? Don’t bet on it.
We don’t yet really know as a society what a person has to do to completely and utterly cancel out a record of war heroism, but we may be about to find out. If this CBS News report is even close to accurate, John McCain’s arguments of the last few weeks about Susan Rice are thrashingly demolished. He has, or should have, zero credibility now on this issue.
…. Will he stand down now from this embarrassing crusade? …. Once you’ve hopped on the Crooked Talk Express, detraining isn’t easy.
2:10: President Obama participates in a town hall hosted by Univision (Live on Facebook – and here)
President Barack Obama and Burmese Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi pet Bo, the Obama family dog, at the conclusion of their meeting in the Oval Office, Sept. 19, 2012. Attendees included Danny Russel, Senior Director for Asian Affairs, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Michael Tomasky: Well, leave it to Mitt Romney of all people to put Paul Ryan on his ticket and then move immediately thereafter to distance himself from the Ryan budget. It’s so typical of everything we’ve seen of this semi-vertebrate. Try to bathe in Ryan’s refracted glory to right wingers while trying to tell seniors hey, psst, this is not really my thing, get it? Unbelievable.
It’s important to keep track of the Medicare lies, as they’re bound to pile up. The basic deal is that the Romney-Ryan line about Obama cutting $716 billion while they’ll “strengthen” the program is, shockingly I know, a lie. Ryan’s Medicare program cuts the same $716 billion! And then it cuts even more. And then, Romney’s proposal, insofar as it can be divined because as usual the details are scant, would likely cut even more than that.
…. I trust you saw the USA Today/Gallup poll yesterday showing that Ryan is the second least-approved of vice-presidential choice in the last quarter century …. “If the Democrats handle this right” is always a big if, but if they do, this ticket has the makings of a disaster.
Jonathan Cohn (TNR): Have you seen Mitt Romney’s new ad on Medicare? …. It’s not very subtle. And it’s not very true.
By now, you should know all about the hypocrisy of Romney attacking Obama for cutting Medicare. Paul Ryan put the same cuts in his budget plan. And while Romney has insisted he’d restore them, his budget doesn’t have room for that. If he’s serious about his overall spending plan, then he’d surely have to cut Medicare by as much as Obama did. In fact, he’d probably have to cut it by even more. And that’s just in the first ten years.
Still, the power of this ad is the appeal to senior citizens: Obama is taking your money and giving it somebody else. That’s why Romney and his allies keep saying that Obama “raided” Medicare. But, under the Affordable Care Act, a chunk of the money that comes out of Medicare goes right back into it. It helps seniors pay for prescription drugs, filling in the donut hole from Medicare Part D. It also allows seniors to get preventative care without co-pays, which means they can get an annual wellness visit, cancer screenings, and the like with no out-of-pocket costs. In the first half of this year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, more than a million seniors have saved an average of $629 on their drug bills because of this assistance.
…this business about “raiding” Medicare? It’s a naked appeal to selfishness and brazen misrepresentation of reality.
Michael Cohen (NY Daily News): …. if you really want to talk about who is playing the race card this year, it’s worth briefly revisiting the latest attack ad from the Romney campaign on welfare….
It might seem odd to the untrained observer that welfare is even being prominently featured in this campaign. It’s hardly an issue of pressing concern among voters. But of course, welfare never is and never has been just about policy; it’s really about politics and in particular, racial politics.
Romney accuses Obama of gutting welfare reform by granting waivers to state governments in how they choose to implement the law. It’s a charge that is completely without merit; spun from whole cloth; an invented attack line. But again, lying on the campaign trail about President Obama’s record is the rule, not the exception, for Mitt Romney.
… What’s most striking about the ad are the visuals – workers wiping their brow; working class Americans toiling away at manufacturing jobs. And coincidentally all the people in the ad … are white. This might not mean much, except for the fact that, as anyone who has followed American politics for the past 45 years knows, criticisms of the welfare system from the campaign trail have habitually always been used as racial code in attacks on Democrats for coddling blacks. It is the symbol of wasteful government spending, rewarding poor Americans for not working and creating a culture of dependency.
…. Indeed, this ad and in fact this whole line of attack is one of the most blatant uses of racial coding in a presidential campaign since the Willie Horton ad of 1988….
4:30: VP Biden delivers remarks at Spiller Elementary School, Wytheville, Va.
5:00: President Obama delivers remarks at B.R. Miller Middle School in Marshalltown, Iowa
8:45: President Obama delivers remarks at the Waterloo Center for the Arts in Waterloo, Iowa
OFA: During a quick stop off in Denison, IA on the first day of President Obama’s bus tour across Iowa, there was a young supporter who had to get to the bottom of something that had been puzzling him for some time.
“Are you Spider-Man’s boss?”
And the President’s response…
“Well, I’m the Commander-in-Chief. But Spider-Man is a free agent.”
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama look out at the Chicago skyline, June 15
President Obama and Vice President Biden talk with Zachary Atala, son of Dr. Anthony Atala, M.D., Director, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House, June 5
First Lady Michelle Obama waits to greet President Barack Obama upon his arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, N.Y., June 14
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama present a birthday cake to Assistant Usher Reggie Dickson outside the Usher’s Office of the White House, following a Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony and dinner honoring President Shimon Peres of Israel, June 13
President Obama with Bo in the Oval Office, June 21
Brian Mosteller, Director of Oval Office Operations, sits with Bo in the Outer Oval Office, June 20 😎
A young boy salutes President Obama as he greets audience members following his remarks at the NALEO Conference in Orlando, Fla., June 22
President Obama talks to a group of kids from Lenora Academy in Snellville, Ga., during a stop at the Varsity, a restaurant in Atlanta, Ga., June 26
President Obama talks to kids during a stop at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland on Broadway Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio, June 14
President Obama talks on the phone with Prime Minister Mario Monti of Italy aboard Air Force One, June 6
President Obama greets 11-year-old Haley Klepper during a ceremony honoring the 2012 NCAA Women’s College Basketball Champion Baylor Bears in the East Room of the White House. The team’s so-called biggest fan, Klepper, who suffers from a rare Mitochondrial disease, attends all the games and has a reserved spot in the locker room
10:45: President Obama departs the White House en route Joint Base Andrews
12:45: Arrives in Jacksonville, Florida
1:15: Delivers remarks at a campaign event
3:05: Attends a campaign event at Prime Osborn Convention Center
4:35: Departs Jacksonville en route West Palm Beach
5:35: Arrives at West Palm Beach
6:20: Delivers remarks at a campaign event
7:35: Attends a campaign event at Century Plaza
A crowd of residents wait to get tickets for Friday’s visit by Michelle Obama in Fredericksburg, Va.