President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a meeting of The President’s Export Council in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC. Composed of Obama administration officials, elected leaders and executives from the private sector, the council is an advisory committee on international trade
President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with the President’s Export Council. President Obama expressed caution on Thursday about the possibility of the United States adding more sanctions against Russia for its incursion into Ukraine because it could cause divide Washington and Europe. Also pictured are Boeing President and Chief Executive Jim McNerney and Xerox Chairman and Chief Executive Ursula Burns
President Barack Obama meets with the President’s Export Council. The Export Council advises the president on policies and programs that affect trade performance and promote export expansion. Back row, from left are Jeff Zients, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney
The President’s Export Council Chair and Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney listens to President Barack Obama
Jim Messina (Op-ed at CNN) You can’t change Washington from the inside. President Obama was criticized for stating that simple truth during the campaign, but without Americans organizing in support of the issues they believe in, lobbyists and special interests will drive the agenda in Washington.
At this crossroads for our economy, we can’t afford business as usual. That’s why we’ve formed Organizing for Action, to ensure that the voices of the majority of Americans who voted for policies that will strengthen the middle class will be heard.
As we worked for change during the president’s first term, we saw special interests spend unprecedented amounts in an attempt to persuade Congress to vote against policies the American people voted for.
Jamelle Bouie: Over at the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza chides President Obama for “crying wolf” on sequestration…. There’s no doubt the White House indulged in hyperbole during the debate over sequestration. But Cillizza is exaggerating the degree to which Obama’s rhetoric was overheated or overhyped…..
…. Sequester furloughs have already begun for some federal workers, and communities that rely on military bases and federal spending will see real hardship. Over time, if sequestration is allowed to run its course, more and more Americans will feel the consequences of sudden austerity.
Private forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers estimates “sequestration would cost roughly 700,000 jobs …. Did Obama cry wolf on the sequester? No. And besides, it’s only been five days. We’ll see the effects of sequestration as time passes, and they won’t be good.
NYT Editorial: Unable to stop the sequester’s job-killing spending cuts, President Obama now says he wants to move past the endless wars of budget attrition. Though he still wants a long-term deficit deal, he said last week, it is time to turn to immigration, gun control, universal preschool, a higher minimum wage and voting reform.
But Republicans are not going to allow that pivot. Most are unalterably opposed to all of those initiatives, and want to keep their focus on cutting domestic programs and fighting off tax increases…. Paul Ryan will soon unveil his caucus’s 2014 budget, which will start to make good on the party’s ruinous plan to balance the budget in 10 years…..
Republicans are hoping to wear down their opposition with these eternal battles. But their proposals are too dangerous to allow that to happen.
Steve Benen: Maybe you agree with Sen. Rand Paul’s civil liberties arguments; maybe you don’t. Perhaps you see him as an ideal messenger for his message; perhaps you notice that he’s a strange conspiracy theorist who talks a little too often about Hitler and believes civil liberties end when a woman wants control of her own reproductive freedoms.
….. as Paul’s allies grew throughout the day, it was hard not to wonder whether at least some of his new-found friends endorsed him on the substance or whether “Stand with Rand” had become a temporary fad on the right, driven by Republicans who were simply happy to see President Obama’s national security agenda facing criticism, even if they happen to agree with President Obama’s national security agenda.
…. There’s room for a real debate about the balance between civil liberties and national security, and if Paul helps spark that conversation, I’d be delighted. But I’ll be eager to know just how much yesterday’s spectacle changed minds and how much of it was about putting on a show.
Will Femia (Maddow Blog): While Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s remarks during oral arguments in the Voting Rights Act case left some of us scratching our heads about where he came up with the “perpetuation of racial entitlement” argument, Chad Flanders, an assistant professor of law at Saint Louis University School of Law, has an idea, tracing the phrase to a 1979 paper by then-professor Scalia…..
ThinkProgress: Meet 34 Corporations That Help Inflate The NRA’s Membership
….. A recent NRA promotion invited people to join at a discounted $25 rate. In addition to receiving an official membership card, a subscription to an association magazine, and free gun insurance, new members received a $25 gift card for Bass Pro Shops, making the membership essentially free.
In addition to those incentives, members of the NRA and its business alliance receive a bevy of other discounts courtesy of the Association’s corporate affiliates. National and local companies provide discounts on everything from car rentals to identity theft protection. The companies get listed on the NRA’s site as corporate partners and can promote themselves as “NRA endorsed.” And, in some cases, the NRA gets a percentage of the profits.
ThinkProgress: As the 10th anniversary of President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq approaches, the body charged with overseeing Iraq’s reconstruction has issued its final report, capping a tale of spending far too much money for very little results.
Appointed in Oct. 2004, over a year into War in Iraq, the Special Inspector-General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) was charged with being a watchdog over the use of funds provided for rebuilding the Iraqi state after the downfall of Saddam Hussein. Those reconstruction and stabilization efforts wound up costing nearly $60 billion — or about $15 million per day — with up to $10 billion of that amount wasted, according to SIGIR Stuart Bowen.
The examples provided of fraud and abuse of the system are staggering both in number and nature….
3:45: President Obama delivers remarks at the Armed Forces Farewell Tribute in honor of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Joint Base Myer-Henderson (C-Span)
NYT: It happened a few minutes before the beginning of Jim Langevin’s junior cadet shift back in 1980 …. A bullet ricocheted off a locker and went right through the boy’s neck, severing his spinal cord.
At 16, he would never walk again and never fulfill his dream of becoming a police officer.
Now, three decades later and seven terms into his career as one of Rhode Island’s two members of the House of Representatives, Mr. Langevin, 48, is the only quadriplegic ever to serve in Congress….
For the past month, he has been on a quiet campaign to persuade his colleagues to give up their guest passes to next Tuesday’s State of the Union address by President Obama so that victims of gun violence can attend.
That way, he said, when the nation’s highest officeholders look up from the floor of the House to those watching from the gallery, they will not be able to avoid seeing the human toll that guns can exact.
Upworthy: It’s a fact so jaw-dropping it’s unbelievable — people thought it was a crazy Internet rumor until Politifact verified it. But it’s true: More Americans have died just since 1960 from gun incidents — suicides, accidents, and homicides — than died in every war in U.S. history. The deadliest war the U.S. has ever had is the war we waged against ourselves.
Politifact: Politifact: Since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, supporters and opponents of gun control have thrown out statistics to support their point of view.
Here’s one that caught our eye, offered by liberal commentator Mark Shields on the Dec. 21, 2012, edition of the PBS NewsHour.
Shields told host Judy Woodruff, “You know, Judy, the reality is – and it’s a terrible reality – since Robert Kennedy died in the Ambassador Hotel on June 4, 1968, more Americans have died from gunfire than died in … all the wars of this country’s history, from the Revolutionary through the Civil War, World War I, World War II, in those 43 years. … I mean, guns are a problem. And I think they still have to be confronted.”……
CNN: A group of four senators working behind the scenes on a bipartisan bill to expand background checks on gun sales is making significant progress, according to sources in both parties familiar with their work.
The group includes Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, who has an A rating with the National Rifle Association, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, a long time advocate of gun rights, and Chuck Schumer, D-New York, a long time supporter of gun control.
CNN is told the legislation they are working on would effectively require background checks on private gun purchases made with non-licensed gun dealers, according to sources in both parties. That would include closing the so-called gun show loophole.
NYT: President Obama may have run his last political campaign, but that does not relieve him of his obligations to the Democratic Party.
The president, who has a vested interest in Democrats retaining their Senate majority and trying to narrow Republican control of the House, is already making plans to return to the campaign trail. He has agreed to hold at least 14 separate fund-raising events this year, a Democratic official familiar with the plans told The New York Times, characterizing it as an “aggressive schedule.”
…. Mr. Obama will appear at 10 events outside Washington: five for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and five for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He will also host one event for each committee in Washington as well as appearing at two joint fund-raising galas for House and Senate candidates.
Reuters: A rise in exports and lower imports of oil helped push the trade deficit to its narrowest point in nearly three years in December, suggesting the economy did much better in the fourth quarter than initially estimated.
The country’s trade gap narrowed to $38.5 billion during the month, the Commerce Department said on Friday. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a deficit of $46 billion.
“Trade data for December paint a reassuring and encouraging picture of the US economy at the end of last year,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.
‘President Obama has outlined his plan for fixing our broken immigration system. Add your name to stand with the President’ – here
BuzzFeed: One of President Obama’s two nominees Thursday for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Todd M. Hughes, would become the first out gay appeals court judge in the country, if confirmed by Congress.
Hughes currently is the deputy director of the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Civil Division at the United States Department of Justice….. The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which runs the Presidential Appointments Project to support out LGBT candidates for appointments, praised the nomination.
NYT: Cardiss Collins, who reluctantly ran for a Chicago Congressional seat left vacant when her husband died in a plane crash and went on to become Illinois’s first black congresswoman, serving for nearly 25 years as a voice for racial and gender equality and expanded health care for the poor, died on Sunday in Arlington, Va. She was 81.
….. She campaigned little but easily won the primary in April and cruised through the general election in June with 92 percent of the vote. Six years later, and after some early struggles in office — she had never considered a political career before she was thrust into one — she became chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. For much of the 1980s, she was the only black woman in Congress.
TPM: Outgoing Energy Department Secretary Steven Chu, who announced his resignation last week, took to his Facebook page Thursday to make light of an article from parody news site “The Onion” alleging that he woke up next to a solar panel after a night of partying in D.C. As Chu wrote in a post on his Facebook page:
“I just want everyone to know that my decision not to serve a second term as Energy Secretary has absolutely nothing to do with the allegations made in this week’s edition of the Onion. While I’m not going to confirm or deny the charges specifically, I will say that clean, renewable solar power is a growing source of U.S. jobs and is becoming more and more affordable, so it’s no surprise that lots of Americans are falling in love with solar.”
People: My song with my husband: Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”
Michelle Obama: Barack and I danced to “Let’s Stay Together” at this Inauguration, and it was such a special moment for us. We had spent all day together with our family and friends at different Inaugural events, and at the end of the day the dance was really our one-on-one moment with each other. Well, each other and everyone watching on TV!
11:30 ET: VP Biden speaks at a campaign event in Sarasota, Florida (listed at CNN live streaming)
12:0: President Obama departs the White House
12:25 Arrives in Atlantic City and views storm damage with Governor Chris Christie
3:0: VP Biden speaks at at campaign event in Ocala, Florida (C-Span)
3:15: PBO departs Atlantic City
4:25: Arrives at the White House
(Need to check these times, they’re different in every schedule I see)
President Obama will return to the campaign trail on Thursday after taking three days off to oversee storm response. He will attend rallies in Green Bay, Wis.; Boulder, Colo.; and Las Vegas.
Jonathan Chait (NY Mag): …. Obama can boast a record of accomplishment that bests any president since Roosevelt, and has fewer demerits on his record than any of them, including Roosevelt. The only president that comes close in gross positive accomplishment is Lyndon Johnson, whose successes were overwhelmed by his failures ….
….What can be said without equivocation is that Obama has proven himself morally, intellectually, temperamentally, and strategically. In my lifetime, or my parents’, he is easily the best president. On his own terms, and not merely as a contrast to an unacceptable alternative, he overwhelmingly deserves reelection.
NYT: Chris Christie was supposed to be one of Mitt Romney‘s most aggressive surrogates, constantly attacking President Obama in the waning days of the presidential campaign.
Instead, Mr. Christie on Tuesday repeatedly heaped praise on Mr. Obama for his leadership of the federal government’s response to the storm that slammed into his state on Monday …. he was effusive about Mr. Obama’s administration, calling the storm response “wonderful,” “excellent” and “outstanding.”
…. some Republicans have already begun grumbling about Mr. Christie’s over-the-top praise of the president at such a crucial time in the election…
…. In several appearances on morning news programs on Tuesday, Mr. Christie went out of his way to thank the president personally….
David Firestone (NYT): On a day when millions of Americans face serious hardship as they recover from Hurricane Sandy’s damage, Mitt Romney clearly decided it would be crass to campaign in a conventional way. So he turned a scheduled rally in Kettering, Ohio, this morning into a “storm relief event,” and posed before piles of donated canned goods.
…. He described such donations as “the American way” …. but the real “American way” is quite different. Most disaster agencies don’t want donated goods; they need cash. And in the modern era, the most important cash comes from taking people’s tax dollars and distributing them in the form of federal aid to communities hard-hit by a disaster. Because that involves the federal government, it is tainted in the minds of Mr. Romney and his party. It is compulsory, and thus not an offering of the heart.
….. Mr. Romney ignored all questions about his plans for federal emergency management. It’s probably embarrassing to admit those plans consist largely of collecting soup cans.
I’m writing to tell you about the $15 my family just donated to your 2012 campaign.
It was $15. That’s really all we could give.
My husband Steve is currently a student at Temple University. Since starting his degree, three years ago, we’ve been living considerably below the poverty level (I keep forgetting which percent … does it matter?). But we aren’t complaining. Two healthy daughters; dusty, well-travelled backpacks in the basement; a house full of memories — a future full of hope. We’re the lucky ones.
So — we’re currently “poor on money — rich in life” (as we like to say). It hasn’t always been like this. My husband spent most of his life doing what he loved — playing or coaching basketball. Born in SE Iowa, he was an Academic All-American and once-upon-two-good-knees-ago, the “local town hero” of his small town — after bringing home the State Championship during high school, followed by NJCAA National Championship years later as a coach. He’s a big a fan of yours by the way … as a player, father and president … not necessarily in that order.
But this really wasn’t supposed to be a letter about him.
It’s about this year’s campaign. It’s about wanting to say that $15 means something these days and deserves a moment of pause (and some words on paper) for this girl and her family of Obama fans.
— $15 is a special pizza dinner at our local pizza stop (Poppi’s in Wynnewood).
— It’s 1 1/2 tickets to see the newest film at the old-school cinema we walk our daughters to.
— It’s getting fresh fruit, instead of frozen; fresh veg, instead of canned.
— It’s tickets to the Franklin Institute in the heart of Philly. (We’ve never been.)
It’s all these things to a family like ours.
I’ve listened with curiosity, mostly frustration, as the nation debates Citizens’ United and the string of new laws that now allow the bellowing voices of private interest to drown out the sounds of tiny voices (like ours/mine). Our pebble-in-the-ocean support feels almost pointless. “Leave the campaigns to the rich,” I think to myself, “Get your daughters a pizza instead.”
But I refuse to allow new laws to stop us/me from being A PART of this campaign. After all, I will never be a “player” (in the political sense), but I still want to believe I can play a part.
Then, out of the blue, there you are — shooting a jumpshot on my (Facebook) wall — and asking for “players” to join you on your home court. I had to smile, and then I couldn’t resist. And so, I have relinquished those $15.
Please know that they count. To us. Please stay in Washington. Do, in this second term, what you were not assisted/supported to do during your first term. Get this country moving/working/hoping again.
Please continue being a champion for the middle class — I’m hoping the next pizza will be on you.
Wishes to your brave wife and beautiful daughters from another brave wife with two beautiful daughters.
USA Today: President Obama’s campaign raised $114 million in August, edging Mitt Romney’s haul of $111.6 million and ending the Republican’s three month winning streak in the money race.
“The key to fighting back against the special interests writing limitless checks to support Mitt Romney is growing our donor base, and we did that substantially in the month of August,” said Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign spokesman.
The $114 million in August is a big spike for Obama, who had raised only $75 million in July.
….. The new fundraising totals come right after the Republican and Democratic conventions, and at a time when Obama is taking a lead over Romney in daily tracking polls.
Steve Benen: Just this morning, I noted that Mitt Romney publicly gave his word, on camera, that he would “go back and look” to let us know what tax rates he paid over the last decade. The good news is, Romney really did “go back and look,” and elaborated on the findings today.
The bad news is, his answer was horrible:
“…I did go back and look at my taxes and over the past 10 years I never paid less than 13 percent. I think the most recent year is 13.6 or something like that. So I paid taxes every single year. Harry Reid’s charge is totally false. I’m sure waiting for Harry to put up who it was that told him what he says they told him. I don’t believe it for a minute, by the way. But every year I’ve paid at least 13 percent and if you add in addition the amount that goes to charity, why the number gets well above 20 percent.”
Let’s walk through the top five reasons this answer is woefully unacceptable…..
David Simon: Can we stand back and pause a short minute to take in the spectacle of a man who wants to be President of The United States, who wants us to seriously regard him as a paragon of the American civic ideal, declaiming proudly and in public that he has paid his taxes at a third of the rate normally associated with gentlemen of his economic benefit.
Am I supposed to congratulate this man? Thank him for his good citizenship? Compliment him for being clever enough to arm himself with enough tax lawyers so that he could legally minimize his obligations?
Thirteen percent. The last time I paid taxes at that rate, I believe I might still have been in college. If not, it was my first couple years as a newspaper reporter. Since then, the paychecks have been just fine, thanks, and I don’t see any reason not to pay at the rate appropriate to my earnings, given that I’m writing the check to the same government that provided the economic environment that allowed for such incomes.
I can’t get over the absurdity of this moment, honestly: Hey, I never paid less than thirteen percent. I swear. And no, you can’t examine my tax returns in any more detail. But I promise you all, my fellow American citizens, I never once slipped to single digits. I’m just not that kind of guy.
Charles Pierce: The president is angry. The president is an angry man. The president is black. The president is an angry black man …. That is the four-point plan on “the economy” on which Willard Romney apparently intends to run for president for a while…..
“If you look at the ads that have been described and the divisiveness based on income, age, ethnicity and so-forth, it’s designed to bring a sense of enmity and jealousy and anger and this is not in my view what the American people want to see,” Romney said.
Ethnicity? And so forth…. If he blows that dog-whistle any louder, Seamus may return from that great roof-rack in the sky.
This should surprise absolutely nobody, because, if there’s one thing candidate Romney has demonstrated, it is that he really is quite a remarkable liar…. Asking a Republican presidential candidate to abandon race-baiting entirely is to ask for an awful lot of 13-second Republican stump speeches. Asking Willard Romney to do it is to assume that there is muck so foul that he will not immerse himself in it to be president….
…. There was nothing Romney wouldn’t do in business to make a buck. Why should we be surprised that he campaigns the same way? ….
…. Since you can count on Rafalca’s hooves the number of times in his life that Willard Romney has been in a fair fight, it’s no great shock to discover that, since he can’t fight hard, he’ll fight dirty, because winning is not something you earn. Winning is something you inherit…..
McClatchy: …. Paul Ryan will leave sizable footprints on the 2012 presidential race. His controversial plan to overhaul the federal budget has been the chief talking point of the campaign since Mitt Romney put him on the GOP ticket last weekend.
…. According to a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, “[Medicaid] Cutbacks might involve reduced eligibility … coverage of fewer services, lower payments to providers, or increased cost-sharing by beneficiaries – all of which would reduce access to care.”
Those cuts and the Ryan plan’s calls to repeal the Affordable Care Act would add tens of millions of low-income Americans to the ranks of the uninsured. It also would raise taxpayers’ bill for emergency room indigent care and cause an increase in private insurance rates.
…. Ryan’s plans for Medicare have caused a stir … In order to slow spending in the national health plan for seniors, Ryan would replace Medicare’s guarantee of coverage for new beneficiaries in 2023 with a flat payment to seniors known as a “voucher” or “premium support” ….
Ryan’s planned tax cuts favor the affluent. Those who earn more than $1 million annually would see an average tax cut of $265,000 and a 12.5 percent increase in after-tax income … But at the lower end of the scale, people earning between $20,000 and $30,000 would get no tax cut …
…. All told, the Tax Policy Center said, Ryan’s tax plans would increase the deficit by $4.6 trillion over the next 10 years. His call to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for high-earning Americans would boost the deficit by an additional $5.4 trillion.
NYT Editorial: Three days after Paul Ryan became the presumptive Republican vice presidential candidate, he made a pilgrimage on Tuesday to the Las Vegas gambling palace of Sheldon Adelson, the casino tycoon who is spending more than any other donor to try to send Mr. Ryan and Mitt Romney to the White House. No reporters were allowed, perhaps because the campaign didn’t want them asking uncomfortable questions about the multiple federal investigations into the company behind Mr. Adelson’s wealth.
Those questions, though, aren’t going away, and neither are the ones about the judgment of Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan in drawing ever closer to a man whose business background should lead them to back away — fast. By not repudiating Mr. Adelson’s vow to spend as much as $100 million on their behalf, the two candidates seem more eager to keep the “super PAC” dollars flowing than to preserve the integrity of their campaign.
The issues swirling about Mr. Adelson’s business practices are not new and can hardly come as a surprise to the Romney campaign…. A careful presidential campaign would put distance between itself and a businessman like Mr. Adelson … By allowing Mr. Adelson to have such an outsize role in their race, the candidates themselves are placing a very risky bet.
NYT: As Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan fanned out across the country this week, glad-handing voters and donors, a smaller but no less important gathering was taking place on Capitol Hill: Mr. Romney’s transition team met on Tuesday with more than a dozen loyalists from the private and public sectors in space borrowed from a law office.
Mr. Romney’s transition team …. offers a glimpse of what might be Mr. Romney’s approach to governing, functioning much like his old private equity firm, Bain Capital. The team is assessing the government and looking for ways to make it more efficient and streamlined…..