AP: Chrysler followed its strong first-quarter sales with a big profit, sending its 2009 brush with financial death farther into the rearview mirror.
The Auburn Hills, Mich., company made a net profit of $473 million, its best quarter in 13 years, mainly on the back of strong U.S. sales. From January through March, Chrysler’s sales were up 39 percent as customers bought more Ram pickups, Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs and Chrysler 200 midsize sedans.
Not bad for a company that almost died three years ago. A government auto task force deadlocked on whether to save the company in 2009, with the tie broken by President Barack Obama.
Washington Post: President Obama will hold his first two major political rallies of the general-election campaign next weekend at colleges in Ohio and Virginia…
“Welcome to the general election,” David Axelrod, Obama’s senior campaign strategist, said on a conference call with reporters late Wednesday during which he and campaign manager Jim Messina announced the events….
The advisers made clear that the campaign will continue to draw a stark contrast between what they described as Obama’s long-standing desire to protect “that basic American compact that if you work hard you can get ahead” and Romney’s record of protecting the wealthy. They mentioned Romney’s time as Massachusetts governor, when the state ranked 47th in the country for job creation, as well as his time as a venture capitalist at Bain Capital, during which “he didn’t care about job creation but about wealth creation for himself and his partners.”
…. “We’re not the candidate who reinvents himself from week to week,” Axelrod said. “If you want that, you have to go somewhere else. This is a candidate who has a mission, and he’s going to see it through, and that is to rebuild an economy in which the middle class is thriving, in which people can get ahead, in which everybody from Main Street to Wall Street plays by the same rules and gets a fair shake.”
Obama’s rallies will take place on May 5 at Ohio State University in Columbus and at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond …. Messina said first lady Michelle Obama plans to travel with the president to both events.
E.J. Dionne: It turns out that there is at least one question on which Mitt Romney is not a flip-flopper: He has a utopian view of what an unfettered, lightly taxed market economy can achieve.
He would never put it this way, of course, but his approach looks forward by looking backward to the late 19th century, when government let market forces rip and a conservative Supreme Court swept aside as unconstitutional almost every effort to write rules for the economic game. This magical capitalism is the centerpiece of Romney’s campaign, and it may prove to be his undoing.
Here’s Romney’s problem. His best strategy is to cast President Obama as a failure because the economy has not come all the way back from the implosion of 2008 …. But Romney, unlike Clinton, is not offering a program through which government would take specific steps to solve the problems he catalogues. Instead, he is calling on voters to share his faith that our difficulties would go away if the state simply got out of the way, allowed the market do its thing and counted on the success of the successful to lift up everyone else.
Don’t miss Liberal Librarian’s latest post, ‘Why even have the First Amendment?’, at The People’s View
Steve Benen: For several months, the general trend on initial unemployment claims has been encouraging, reaching a four-year low in late March. Today’s new report from the Department of Labor, however, is the third consecutive week of discouraging news.
…. Obviously, a few disappointing reports may be little more than a blip, but when jobless claims are expected to drop, and instead remain stuck at a four-month high, it’s concerning.
Making matters slightly worse is the realization that if conditions continue along these lines, there’s very little that can be done – Congress simply lacks the ability to pass effective economic legislation given the Republican agenda.
In terms of metrics, when jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it’s considered evidence of an improving jobs landscape, and when the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are actually being created rather quickly. After a month of four consecutive reports below 370,000, we’ve now been above 380,000 for each of the last three weeks.
President Obama walks toward Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Oct. 24. The President is heading on a three-day trip to the West Coast
Reuters: President Barack Obama this week will announce a series of actions to help the economy that will not require congressional approval, including an initiative to make it easier for homeowners to refinance their mortgages, according to a White House official.
…. The first of the initiatives will be unveiled during Obama’s three-day trip to western states beginning Monday. He will discuss the changes in mortgage rules at a stop in Nevada, which has one of the hardest-hit housing markets in the country.
The Obama administration has been working with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to find ways to make it easier for borrowers to switch to cheaper loans even if they have little to no equity in their homes.
…. In Denver Wednesday, Obama will announce a student loan initiative.
“The only way we can truly attack our economic challenges is with bold, bipartisan action in Congress,” White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer told The New York Times. “The president will continue to pressure Congressional Republicans to put country before party and pass the American Jobs Act, but he believes we cannot wait, so he will act where they won’t.”
Steve Benen: It’s been about five months since the White House took the extraordinary step of unveiling President Obama’s long-form birth certificate, ending the “Birther” conspiracy theory once and for all. With the questions answered, unhinged conservatives were forced to move on to other areas of nonsense.
Well, most of them, anyway:
New comments by Rick Perry in Parade magazine have revived the issue of whether the Texas governor believes that President Obama was born in the United States.
…..I suspect all of this should, in fact, be taken at face value – he had dinner with a nutty conspiracy theorist; they chatted about Trump’s silly ideas; Perry found the nonsense persuasive; and when asked about it, the governor said what he was thinking.
There’s no 11-dimensional chess here; Perry just isn’t terribly bright.
GOPolitico: President Barack Obama has a few very funny people on his side. Will Ferrell was honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center on Sunday night, and many of the comedians on the red carpet had nothing but good things to say about the president.
Ferrell said that he “most definitely” wants Obama to win another term …. he told POLITICO that Obama has faced some unprecedented challenges. “Every president has a hard job but I think his is times ten,” Ferrell said, adding that he likes that Obama “thinks before he speaks.”
…. Obama is doing a “great job,” said Tim Meadows, another former “SNL” cast member. “It’s easy for white liberals to turn their backs on Obama,” he said, complaining that many people who used to support the president have jumped ship. “I don’t like how people are so wishy-washy,” he said.
Not in the wishy-washy category: Comedian Jack Black. “There’s a lot of haters out there, but I’m not one of them,” he said, declaring: “Obama all the way.”
Thanks Tulips & Donna Dem
Irish Central: I think now would be an appropriate time to say thank you to President Barack Obama.
In comparison to his immediate predecessor his success in bringing the world’s most wanted terrorists and dictators to justice has been nothing short of remarkable.
….. Obama has rid the world of the scourge of Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki and Moammar Qaddafi. And all of this was accomplished within six months: if Obama were a Republican, they’d be commissioning bronze statues by now.
You know they won’t say it now or ever, so let’s say it for them: thank you President Obama for making the world and the United States safer.
Dallas News: As Mitt Romney campaigns for the White House, his Mexican cousins and supporters in this Mormon community would like to weigh in on some of the most contentious issues of the campaign: immigration, border security and religion.
Romney has more than 20 distant relatives going back three generations and a legion of supporters living in this region where his father, George, was born – a sanctuary colony in the northern state of Chihuahua originally established by polygamists from Utah led by Mitt Romney’s great-grandfather Miles Park Romney. Mitt Romney has never set foot in the region, his relatives say, but they are closely following the campaign for the Republican nomination, sometimes a bit uncomfortably.
For one thing, Romney has said that, if elected, he’d deport illegal immigrants within 90 days, build a border fence and have enough guards to secure it … These are positions with which the Romneys south of the border don’t entirely agree.
“Let’s get real. Sealing the border is a joke, it’s senseless,” said Brandon Romney, 33, a chili farmer and the local football coach….
…. Cousin Michael Romney … is “pretty sure” he will support Mitt Romney but wants to first understand his economic plan and vision for Mexico. “I don’t really understand what his policy is,” he said. “Addressing illegal immigration and Mexico have to be top priorities.”
….Mitt Romney, as the son of an American born in Mexico, is entitled to dual citizenship under Mexican law.
…. “I certainly hope his father’s Mexican background would be a positive sign for better relations and a deeper understanding of issues between the United States and Mexico,” said Jeffrey Jones, a Mormon and former Mexican senator. “I’m disappointed that we haven’t seen that side of Mitt Romney. We need solutions by working together because the United States needs Mexico very seriously and Mexico needs the United States badly.”
Thom Anderson (SCNow.com): “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
That is the oath that members of the United States Congress, both houses, take as they begin their duties. Sounds good, but a majority in this Congress put an asterisk on it. Maybe they had their fingers crossed as they recited the oath.
The asterisk concerns a pledge, developed in the ‘80s by a 20-something fellow named Grover Norquist, who grew up rich and privileged, received two degrees from the dreaded Harvard, and then went directly into partisan, highly ideological company in the Reagan White House where he got the “inspiration” for the oath. An Internet search indicates he has never worked in the “real America” that right-wingers so revere, only in strong ideological company.
… When they sign this pledge, politicians promise that under no circumstance, not war, not danger of the government defaulting on legally and properly owed debt, not danger that the infrastructure will crumble us into Third World status, will they tolerate an increase in government revenue….
In other words, when these politicians swore before God and their country that they take their obligations “freely” and “without any mental reservation,” they were not truthful. How can they claim to face their obligations in Congress freely when they have made a prior pledge they consider unbreakable not to do certain things? They can’t.
…. This pledge of which most voters are unaware has been taken by some Congressmen since the 1980s. It was a major reason that a “conservative” president and Congress not only failed to pay for a war that has gone sour but cut taxes as they entered it, turning an inherited surplus into a huge deficit.
They also added an expensive Medicare drug benefit without funding, further increasing the deficit. This higher cost they created, they now use as an excuse to scrap Medicare.
Also, you wouldn’t pick a music-hater to conduct an orchestra. Why pick a government-hater to run your country? When electing people who are against government, think of Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen. They don’t have real governments.
Let’s never forget, Norquist is the traitor Firedogfake’s Hamsher teamed up with when they campaigned together for the resignation of Rahm Emanuel:
Kevin Drum (Mother Jones, December 2009): Apparently Jane Hamsher has decided that a healthcare bill that provides a trillion dollars worth of benefit to low and middle income workers is so odious that mere opposition isn’t enough. Nor is opposition that increasingly employs the worst kind of right-wing talking points. No, it’s so odious that it deserves a scorched earth campaign against the Obama White House in partnership with Grover Norquist. Hard to know what to say about this. What’s next? A joint Twitter campaign with Sarah Palin? A letter writing campaign cosponsored by Richard Viguerie? A joint lawsuit with Orly Taitz? Jeebus.
Nicholas D. Kristof (NYT): If China or Iran threatened our national credit rating and tried to drive up our interest rates, or if they sought to damage our education system, we would erupt in outrage.
Well, wake up to the national security threat. Only it’s not coming from abroad, but from our own domestic extremists.
We tend to think of national security narrowly as the risk of a military or terrorist attack. But national security is about protecting our people and our national strength — and the blunt truth is that the biggest threat to America’s national security this summer doesn’t come from China, Iran or any other foreign power. It comes from budget machinations, and budget maniacs, at home.
…. on this issue, many House Republicans aren’t serious, they’re just obsessive in a destructive way. The upshot is that in their effort to protect the American economy from debt, some of them are willing to drag it over the cliff of default.
…. Republican zeal to lower debts could result in increased interest expenses and higher debts. Their mania to save taxpayers could cost taxpayers. That suggests not governance so much as fanaticism.
More broadly, a default would leave America a global laughingstock. Our “soft power,” our promotion of democracy around the world, and our influence would all take a hit. The spectacle of paralysis in the world’s largest economy is already bewildering to many countries. If there is awe for our military prowess and delight in our movies and music, there is scorn for our political/economic management.
While one danger to national security comes from the risk of default, another comes from overzealous budget cuts — especially in education, at the local, state and national levels. When we cut to the education bone, we’re not preserving our future but undermining it.
… “The attack on literacy programs reflects a broader assault on education programs,” said Rosa DeLauro, a Democratic member of Congress from Connecticut. She notes that Republicans want to cut everything from early childhood programs to Pell grants for college students. Republican proposals have singled out some 43 education programs for elimination, but it’s not seen as equally essential to end tax loopholes on hedge fund managers.
So let’s remember not only the national security risks posed by Iran and Al Qaeda. Let’s also focus on the risks, however unintentional, from domestic zealots.