First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks at an event celebrating the success of her Let’s Move! program and the new statistics showing a decline in obesity rates among young children
Left to right: U.S. track and field Olympic champion Allyson Felix, Washington D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, First Lady Michelle Obama, North America Reebok President Uli Becker and former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal
@VP meets with parents of teen dating violence victims in his office today
Statement from the President:
Today, Republicans in the Senate faced a choice about how to grow our economy and reduce our deficit. And instead of closing a single tax loophole that benefits the well-off and well-connected, they chose to cut vital services for children, seniors, our men and women in uniform and their families. They voted to let the entire burden of deficit reduction fall squarely on the middle class.
I believe we should do better. We should work together to reduce our deficit in a balanced way – by making smart spending cuts and closing special interest tax loopholes. That’s exactly the kind of plan Democrats in the Senate have proposed. But even though a majority of Senators support this approach, Republicans have refused to allow it an up-or-down vote – threatening our economy with a series of arbitrary, automatic budget cuts that will cost us jobs and slow our recovery.
Tomorrow I will bring together leaders from both parties to discuss a path forward. As a nation, we can’t keep lurching from one manufactured crisis to another. Middle-class families can’t keep paying the price for dysfunction in Washington. We can build on the over $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction we’ve already achieved, but doing so will require Republicans to compromise. That’s how our democracy works, and that’s what the American people deserve.
Ever since they took control of the House of Representatives in 2011, Republicans have made journeys to the fiscal brink as commonplace as summertime visits to the beach or the ballpark. The country has been put through a series of destructive showdowns over budget issues we once resolved through the normal give-and-take of negotiations.
The old formula held that when government was divided between the parties, the contending sides should try to “meet in the middle.” But the current Republican leadership doesn’t know the meaning of the word “middle,” so intimidated by the tea party has it become.
Washington Post Editorial: “This is not the kind of a question you can leave to Congress,” Justice Antonin Scalia pronounced during a Supreme Court argument Wednesday.
The subject was the Voting Rights Act, one of the most successful pieces of civil rights legislation in U.S. history, and in particular its Section 5….
“It was clear to 98 senators, including every senator from a covered state, who decided that there was a continuing need for this piece of legislation,” Justice Elena Kagan said, in what might seem a self-evident point.
But not to Justice Scalia. “Or decided that perhaps they’d better not vote against …. They are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act. Even the name of it is wonderful: the Voting Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future?”
ThinkProgress: After nearly a year of partisan infighting on Capitol Hill, the House of Representatives and the Senate finally agreed to send a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act to President Obama’s desk.
…. by a vote of 286 to 138, the House passed the bipartisan Senate-approved version of the bill … all 138 votes against the bill were Republicans.
A watered down Republican version of the bill, which was offered as a substitute amendment, failed to garner enough votes to slow the process. It was struck down by a vote of 257 to 166. Sixty Republicans voted against their own party’s replacement measure. Twenty-seven members of Congress, all Republicans, voted against both versions….
President Obama and VP Joe Biden talk with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew in the Outer Oval Office, following his swearing-in ceremony in the Oval Office, Feb. 28 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Greg Sargent: As expected, the Obama administration has submitted a friend of the court brief in the case challenging Proposition 8 before the Supreme Court. Just as gay rights advocates had hoped, Obama’s Solicitor General has made a sweeping case against Proposition 8 as unconstitutional, which is a bold move and makes it more likely that the Supreme Court will strike down the law with a similarly sweeping argument. This in turn could set a precedent for challenging the constitutionality of other state laws banning gay marriage — potentially leading to full equality across the country.
In short, in this brief, the United States government has put the force of a fully fleshed out legal argument behind Obama’s historic words during his Inaugural Address: “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
TPM: Chrysler is investing millions in the Kokomo, Indiana, area as it shifts most of its vehicles to new transmissions that save fuel and better suit the driving habits of Americans.
The automaker will invest nearly $400 million at four plants in the Kokomo, Indiana, area, adding 1,250 jobs to what it says it the largest transmission factory complex in the world. The plants will make fuel-efficient eight- and nine-speed automatic transmissions.
Still catching up with stuff on poor threatened Bob Woodward, these are just a few snippets that you probably all read, oh, hours ago. That he’s appearing on Hannity says it all, really –
Steve Benen: …. This would be an ideal time for Woodward to start walking back some of his increasingly bizarre claims, but instead, he’s agreed to appear on television tonight – with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
When it comes to his chosen profession, Bob Woodward has had the kind of career most media professionals can only dream of … Which is why it saddens me to see him become so reckless for no reason. I just can’t figure out what’s gotten into Woodward, or why he’s acting so erratically. But at this point, it seems Woodward is doing lasting, possibly irreparable harm to his once-sterling reputation, and that is a genuine shame….
Michael Tomasky: … it’s obvious to anyone who knows [Sperling] that he meant Woodward would regret having a big factual error hanging around his neck for the sake of his historical reputation… A big factual error Woodward made over the weekend that is misleading in very important ways. He said that Obama and his people were lying when they claim that revenues have been understood to be part of any sequester deal. He is wrong. Dead flat-out wrong.
He doesn’t correct this, and the Politico story, which started this whole thing, doesn’t correct it…
…. And all this is happening, of course, in a larger context in which you have one side, the side that lost the last election by the way, taking a “negotiating” position that is supported by 19 percent of the people and refusing to budge from it one inch. Which is somehow Obama’s fault because he just needs to show “leadership.” The economy is at serious risk here, and this is what our agenda-setters are feeding us? These people are children, and this is really as bad as Washington gets.
Charles Pierce: [Politico] were summoned to an undisclosed location where Bob Woodward is hiding because someone in the Obama administration pointed out that he might one day regret having been publicly stupid on the subject of the sequester, and Bob knows what that means. So, huddled in his bunker, fiddling with the knobs on the crystal set and eating cold Spaghetti-O’s out of the can, Bob summoned two of the only reporters he knows who share the same level of self-delusion that he does.
…. Jesus H. Christ on a two-picture deal, Bob, you got your ass kicked by Ezra Klein, let alone the White House. This is the guy who bravely walked into darkened parking garages in the dead of night to bring down a criminal president? He now believes himself “threatened” by Gene Fcking Sperling, because Sperling said Woodward was “going to regret” being wrong? ….
Washington Post: First lady Michelle Obama on Thursday announced an effort to engage 50,000 schools in an effort to bring physical activity back to the classroom, and she’s getting a big assist from Nike.
The shoe-maker will spend $50 million on the “Let’s Move Active Schools” effort over the next five years. Several other organizations are combining to donate $20 million, including the GENYOUth Foundation, ChildObesity180, Kaiser Permanente and the General Mills Foundation.
…. “With each passing year, schools feel like it’s just getting harder to find the time, the money, and the will to help our kids be active,” Michelle Obama said. “But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean we should stop trying – it means we should try harder. It means that all of us – not just educators, but businesses and non-profits and ordinary citizens – we all need to dig deeper and start getting even more creative.”
Just catching up with reaction to what Scalia said today. Absolutely stunning. More in the morning, just a few snippets:
ThinkProgress: There were audible gasps in the Supreme Court’s lawyers’ lounge, where audio of the oral argument is pumped in for members of the Supreme Court bar, when Justice Antonin Scalia offered his assessment of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. He called it a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”
….It should be noted that even one of Scalia’s fellow justices felt the need to call out his remark. Justice Sotomayor asked the attorney challenging the Voting Right Act whether he thought voting rights are a racial entitlement as soon as he took the podium for rebuttal.
Charles Pierce: …. Sotomayor, for whom this seems very, very personal, made an argument from history that discrimination is an infinitely mutable thing and that, as soon as you find a remedy for one form of it, human ingenuity will devise three new ones…..
……it was hard not to go back to Florida, and to all the people I met who were waiting in line for six and seven hours to vote because the state had deliberately enacted policies to make it more difficult. Those policies were discriminatory. The people enacting them knew exactly what they were doing. They knew who those policies were aimed at as surely as did the county registrars administering the literacy tests did back in 1965…..
Greg Sargent: Judging by all the early reporting on the first round of Supreme Court arguments about a key section of the Voting Rights Act, that provision may be in real peril. Conservative justices expressed sharp skepticism of the law, with much attention being paid to Antonin Scalia’s description of it as a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”
…. all may not be lost. That’s because proponents of the Voting Rights Act are focused mainly on holding on to Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Steve Benen: I’m beginning to think an infectious disease is spreading in the nation’s capital. Symptoms include memory loss (forgetting everything Republicans have done in recent years), blurred vision (an inability to see obvious GOP ploys), and an uncontrollable urge to blame “both sides” for everything, even when it doesn’t make any sense.
The disease has already affected pundits like Bob Woodward, Ron Fournier, David Brooks, nearly everyone on the network Sunday shows, and today reaches the editorial board of the Washington Post. Indeed, the Post’s editors seem to have come down with an especially acute case today, as evidenced this bang-your-head-against-your-desk editorial on the sequester, which cavalierly ignores the paper’s own reporting, and demands that President Obama “lead” by somehow getting congressional Republicans to be more responsible.
President Barack Obama talks with Congressional leaders prior to the Rosa Parks statue unveiling ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Feb. 27, 2013. Pictured, from left, are: Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Assistant Democratic Leader Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C.; Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.; House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio; and House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
First lady Michelle Obama at a “Let’s Move!” event in Clinton, Miss.
… listening to Gladys Knight perform during the Governors Dinner, Feb. 27, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Sunday: The President and the First Lady will welcome the National Governors Association to the White House for the 2013 Governors’ Dinner (7:10 EST). The Vice President and Dr Biden will also attend.
Monday: The President and the Vice President will deliver remarks to the National Governors Association in the State Dining Room. The First Lady and Dr Biden will also deliver remarks.
Tuesday: The President will travel to Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, in Newport News, Virginia, to highlight the devastating impact that the sequester will have on jobs and middle class families if Congressional Republicans fail to compromise to avert the sequester by March 1.
Wednesday: The President will deliver remarks at the unveiling of a statue of Rosa Parks at the United States Capitol. In the evening, he will deliver remarks at the Business Council Dinner in Washington, D.C.
First Lady Michelle Obama will join Rachael Ray in Clinton, Mississippi (3:0 EST) as part of the Let’s Move national tour.
Thursday: The President will attend meetings at the White House
First Lady Michelle Obama will return to her hometown of Chicago to make a major announcement to bring physical activity back to schools. The First Lady will be joined by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, NIKE, Inc. President & CEO Mark Parker, Dominique Dawes, Gabby Douglas, Allyson Felix, Bob Harper, Bo Jackson, Colin Kaepernick, Sarah Reinertsen, Paul Rodriguez, Serena Williams, a surprise musical guest and thousands of Chicago area teachers and students at the event. (12:0 EST)
Later on Thursday (3:25 EST), the First Lady will travel to Springfield, Missouri to see changes Walmart has made to reduce sodium and added sugars from packaged food items, to make healthier food more affordable. More details here on the Let’s Move! national tour schedule.
Friday: The President will attend meetings at the White House
A year ago: “Egged on by B.B. King, at right, the President joins in singing ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ during the ‘In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues’ concert in the East Room. Participants include, from left: Troy ‘Trombone Shorty’ Andrews, Jeff Beck, Derek Trucks, B.B. King, and Gary Clark, Jr.” Feb. 21, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
11:25: President Obama records radio interviews with Al Sharpton, Joe Madison and Yolanda Adams
12:30: VP Biden delivers remarks at a conference on gun violence at Western Connecticut State University
1:0: Jay Carney briefs the press
Steve Benen: A new Bloomberg National Poll shows President Obama’s approval rating reaching a three-year high and public approval of Republicans reaching a three-year low. The same poll found that a plurality of Americans blame the congressional GOP, not Democrats, for “what’s wrong in Washington.”
And an interesting twist, the Bloomberg poll results aren’t the worst polling results for Republicans this morning. That prize goes to a new USA Today/Pew Research Center Poll, which suggests Americans just aren’t buying what Republicans are selling…..
In case you missed the link in the previous post, read Steve Benen shredding Boehner’s op-ed, point by point, here
USA Today: President Obama’s new grass-roots advocacy group will target more than a dozen members of Congress with online ads this week for failing to voice support for his plan to expand background checks to all gun buyers….
The advertising push is part of a national day of action planned Friday by Obama’s backers to rally support for background checks. It will mark the first large-scale test of Organizing for Action’s ability to mobilize the president’s army of 2.2 million campaign volunteers to press for legislative change.
TPM: Lost in the political fight between President Obama and Marco Rubio, is that the White House’s leaked bill is the first new proposal from anyone involved in negotiations that actually specifies its path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Given that the details of legalization are one of the most contentious issues in the process, it’s worth taking a look at what they came up with. Here are some of the highlights from the section detailing the new path to citizenship, which are part of a broader draft that also includes border security provisions and new restrictions on employers to prevent them from hiring undocumented workers.
Charles Pierce: Things In Politico That Make Me Want To Guzzle Antifreeze, Part The Infinity
Good Christ, what does it take? A silver fking bullet?
What will it possibly take to get our courtier press to stop taking seriously the latest pronouncement from the Sinai of his own ego emitted by N. Leroy Gingrich, Definer of Civilization’s Rules And Leader (perhaps) Of The Civilizing Forces? When will they all collapse from the effort it takes to keep his Macy Parade-caliber megalomania aloft?
ThinkProgress: It’s been nearly a year since George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old on his way back to his father’s townhouse. In the weeks following the shooting, the story captured the nation’s attention, culminating with Zimmerman being charged with second-degree murder last April.
But as the story has receded from the headlines, the legal case has plodded along and the trial is likely to be completed this summer. Here’s what you may have missed….
President Barack Obama sits on the famed Rosa Parks bus at the Henry Ford Museum following an event in Dearborn, Mich., April 18, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
This will be a beautiful day……
Washington Post: President Obama will head to the Capitol next week for the dedication of a new statue honoring civil rights icon Rosa Parks, a White House official confirmed Wednesday.
The statue – which will be the first of an African American woman to be placed in the Capitol — will be unveiled next Wednesday at 11 a.m. in Statuary Hall, the exhibition space that sits just south of the Capitol Rotunda.
11:25: President Obama records radio interviews with Al Sharpton, Joe Madison and Yolanda Adams
12:30: VP Biden delivers remarks at a conference on gun violence at Western Connecticut State University
1:0: Jay Carney briefs the press
“I knew that I better keep my day job”:
Stephanie Cutter’s Organizing for Action call tonight on gun violence prevention
Vice President Joe Biden receives a bracelet from Paige Baitinger, wife of fallen St. Petersburg, Fla., police Sgt. Thomas Baitinger, following a Medal of Valor ceremony in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Feb. 20, 2013. The Vice President and Attorney General Eric Holder presented 18 recipients with the Medal of Valor, which is awarded to public safety officers who have exhibited exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect others from harm. Baitinger accepted the award on behalf of her husband who was killed in the line of duty in 2011. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
Secretary of State John Kerry made his first public remarks regarding U.S. foreign policy and diplomacy Wednesday to students and faculty at the University of Virginia – see the speech here
BobCesca.com: Obamacare is Working …. Projections for Medicare spending between 2011 and 2020 have fallen by $500 billion.
…. The Affordable Care Act is bringing down the cost of healthcare by challenging a culture of waste, not by throwing momma from the train.
Hopefully, the full interview will be on Rachael Ray’s site soon – meanwhile, here’s a clip:
WH.gov: First Lady Michelle Obama to Embark on National Tour Celebrating Third Anniversary of Let’s Move!
On February 27, 2013, First Lady Michelle Obama will kick off a two day nation-wide tour celebrating the third anniversary of Let’s Move!, her initiative to ensure that all our children grow up healthy and reach their full potential. The tour will showcase progress and announce new ways the country is coming together around the health of our children. Mrs. Obama will also travel to New York City this week to talk about the third anniversary of Let’s Move! on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show.
Steve Benen: …… John Boehner has a 900-word op-ed in the Wall Street Journal … devoted almost entirely to a desperate attempt to avoid blame …. Reading this breathtakingly dishonest op-ed, I can’t help but wonder about the House Speaker’s frame of mind. Either Boehner actually believes the transparent nonsense he wrote, which would mean the Speaker is alarmingly ignorant about the basics of current events, he’s deliberately trying to deceive the public, counting on Americans to be foolish enough to buy demonstrable falsehoods.
Either way, Boehner’s mendacious piece is a profound disappointment, and beneath the dignity of his office. If the Speaker is still capable of shame, he should be embarrassed to peddle such nonsense.
See full post here – Benen shreds Boehner’s op-ed, point by point
Bloomberg: President Barack Obama enters the latest budget showdown with Congress with his highest job- approval rating in three years and public support for his economic message, while his Republican opponents’ popularity stands at a record low.
Fifty-five percent of Americans approve of Obama’s performance in office, his strongest level of support since September 2009, according to a Bloomberg National poll conducted Feb. 15-18. Only 35 percent of the country has a favorable view of the Republican Party, the lowest rating in a survey that began in September 2009. The party’s brand slipped six percentage points in the last six months, the poll shows.
ThinkProgress: Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), a former hospital CEO and ardent Obamacare critic, announced at a press conference Wednesday evening that he will accept Obamacare funding in order to expand his state’s Medicaid program for low-income Americans. The move comes after Scott secured a waiver to privatize the public insurance program.
The decision represents a marked departure from Scott’s previously held stance. Scott didn’t just initially oppose taking part in the expansion — which the Supreme Court ruled to be optional last summer — he knowingly cited wildly inaccurate figures to inflate the program’s cost to the state by 2500 percent in an effort to discredit it. He eventually dropped his estimate for the expansion by $23 billion in the face of intense media scrutiny…..
Not being, well, a drones ‘fan’ (is anyone??), I’m half reluctant to post this – one civilian death is too many. But, still, an interesting take on the issue:
William Saletan (Slate): In Defense of Drones – They’re the worst form of war, except for all the others.
“UN: Drones killed more Afghan civilians in 2012,” says the Associated Press headline. The article begins: “The number of U.S. drone strikes in Afghanistan jumped 72 percent in 2012, killing at least 16 civilians in a sharp increase from the previous year.” The message seems clear: More Afghans are dying, because drones kill civilians.
Wrong. Drones kill fewer civilians, as a percentage of total fatalities, than any other military weapon. They’re the worst form of warfare in the history of the world, except for all the others.
Start with that U.N. report. Afghan civilian casualties caused by the United States and its allies didn’t go up last year. They fell 46 percent. Specifically, civilian casualties from “aerial attacks” fell 42 percent….
Jet planes. Machine guns. Bombing. Drones aren’t the problem. Bombs are the problem.
Columbus Dispatch: President Barack Obama will deliver the commencement address at Ohio State University’s graduation ceremonies this year, the White House announced today.
The trip is his first scheduled trip to Ohio since he stopped in Columbus with singer Bruce Springsteen and rapper Jay-Z.
Commencement ceremonies are scheduled for noon on Sunday, May 5 at Ohio Stadium. This will be the largest class in university history and the first spring graduation on the semester system. About 12,000 students are expected to graduate that day.
AP: The Obama administration is quietly considering urging the Supreme Court to overturn California’s ban on gay marriage, a step that would mark a political victory for advocates of same-sex unions and a deepening commitment by President Barack Obama to rights for gay couples.
Obama raised expectations among opponents of the Proposition 8 ban when he declared in last month’s inaugural address that gays and lesbians must be “treated like anyone else under the law.” The administration has until Feb. 28 to intervene in the case by filing a “friend of the court” brief.