President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House. President Obama met with Vice President Joseph Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and spoke on the gunmen attack at the office of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France.
President Barack Obama approaches Marine One on the snow covered South Lawn prior to his departure from the White House
President Barack Obama, accompanied by 89th Airlift Wing Commander Col. John Millard, smiles as they walk on the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
President Barack Obama, followed by Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich and Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., as they arrive on Air Force One at Detroit Metro Wayne County Airport in Detroit
President Barack Obama speaks at Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., about the resurgent American automotive and manufacturing sector
Ford plant manager, Phillip Calhoun, President Barack Obama, Mark Fields, president and CEO of Ford, and Bill Ford eye a new mustang at Ford Michigan Assembly Plant
9:0 PM EDT: President Obama delivers remarks at the CBC Foundation Annual Phoenix Awards; First Lady Michelle Obama attends.
5:0 PM EDT: President Obama Speaks at the Memorial for Victims of the Navy Yard Shooting
The Week Ahead:
Monday: The President and First Lady will travel to New York City for the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly. They will remain overnight in New York City.
Tuesday: The President will deliver remarks to the U.N. General Assembly. The First Lady will attend. Later in the day, the President will attend the Clinton Global Initiative, where he and President Clinton will engage in a conversation about the benefits and future of health care reform in America and access to quality health care around the globe. In the evening, the President will attend an event for the DNC before returning with the First Lady to the White House.
Wednesday and Thursday: The President will attend meetings at the White House.
Friday: The President will welcome Prime Minister Singh of India to the White House for a bilateral meeting.
President Obama waves to the crowd after speaking to workers during a visit to the Ford Kansas City Stamping Plant on September 20, in Liberty, Missouri
Republicans’ obsession with overturning ObamaCare is getting sillier and more dangerous at the same time. Now that they’ve failed to kill the law every way the rules allow — in Congress, the Supreme Court and in a presidential election — the opponents are taking hostages and, in effect, threatening to shoot them if they don’t get their way.
Unfortunately for everyone involved, the hostages are the federal government and the U.S. economy.
… If there’s a comic aspect to all this, it’s how much the extremism is being driven by schoolyard taunting between House and Senate Republicans about who hates ObamaCare the most.
But the potential impacts of their strategy, if that’s what you can call something destined to fail, are distinctly un-funny.
Spandan (The People’s View): CBO Report is Damning for Ideologues – Right and Left
The Congressional Budget Office released its 2013 long term budget outlook on Tuesday. The document is the most significant vindication of President Obama’s economic policies to date, both enacted and proposed, and it is the most damning thing to the president’s economic critics, both Left and Right. The CBO reports that thanks to the president’s strong leadership in investing in America’s future and raising taxes on the wealthy, by 2015, the deficit will have been cut by 80% relative to the size of the economy from when President Obama took office.
Early this year, Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, made headlines by telling his fellow Republicans that they needed to stop being the “stupid party.” Unfortunately, Mr. Jindal failed to offer any constructive suggestions about how they might do that. And, in the months that followed, he himself proceeded to say and do a number of things that were, shall we say, not especially smart.
Nonetheless, Republicans did follow his advice. In recent months, the G.O.P. seems to have transitioned from being the stupid party to being the crazy party.
I know, I’m being shrill. But as it grows increasingly hard to see how, in the face of Republican hysteria over health reform, we can avoid a government shutdown — and maybe the even more frightening prospect of a debt default — the time for euphemism is past.
It helps, I think, to understand just how unprecedented today’s political climate really is.
ThinkProgress: What You Need To Know About The Funding Extension That Just Passed The House
The House of Representatives has passed a continuing resolution that would keep the government funded through Dec. 15 and withhold funding for the Affordable Care Act. The 230-189 vote comes just 10 days before a possible shutdown and includes instructions authorizing the Treasury “to pay some bills and not others in the event that no deal is reached in October on increasing the debt limit.” Rep. Scott Rigel (VA) was the only Republican to vote against the measure, while just two Democrats — Reps. Jim Matheson (UT) and Mike McIntyre (NC) voted for it.
As the resolution now moves to the Senate, here is what you have to know about the fight ahead…
Steve Benen: Warren Buffett and Obamacare: A case study
Rep. Jim Jordan, a far-right Ohio Republican, told reporters this week that the anti-healthcare forces have the wind at their backs. “All the momentum is in our direction,” he said. “Warren Buffett said yesterday, ‘Scrap the bill.'”
…. did the Sage of Omaha actually say “Scrap the bill” this week? Wouldn’t that have been a pretty big story?
…. the quote was taken out of context from something Buffett said in 2010. In fact, he actually supports Obamacare with a fair amount of enthusiasm. He said what Americans “have now is untenable” three years ago in reference to the health care system before the Affordable Care Act.
Washington Post: Shutting down the government won’t stop Obamacare. It might even help it.
There’s a cold logic behind the willingness of some conservatives to risk everything to stop Obamacare. But it’s not that Obamacare will fail. After all, if the law will just be a debacle, Republicans should let it take effect, ride the catastrophe to overwhelming victory in the 2014 midterms, and then use their massive congressional majorities to repeal it.
Rather, as EJ Dionne writes, the real fear is that the law will succeed. Once Obamacare begins delivering health insurance to millions of Americans it will become effectively impossible to repeal. That’s what’s happened in every other country that’s introduced a national health-care system. That’s why the right needs to stop Obamacare before it begins.
The irony of their strategy, though, is that shutting down the federal government won’t stop Obamacare. It might even help it….
ThinkProgress: The Complete Guide To The GOP’s Three-Year Campaign To Shut Down The Government
As the nation races toward another budgetary crisis next month, Republican leaders are using the prospect of a government shutdown and the need to raise the nation’s debt ceiling as leverage points to undermine the Affordable Care Act — just days before uninsured Americans are expected to sign up for health care coverage — and extract additional cuts to government programs.
Past Congresses have used the debt ceiling as a “vehicle for other legislative matters” or nongermane amendments, but as the timeline below demonstrates, the Republicans that came to power after the 2010 midterm elections demanded something entirely different: they threatened to push the nation into default and shut down the government unless Congress approves deep structural budget cuts during a period of economic recession.
Washington Post: House Republicans voted to cut food stamps by $39 billion. Here’s how.
The House just voted 217 to 210 to approve a GOP bill to cut food-stamp spending by $39 billion over the next ten years. That’s roughly a 5 percent cut compared with current law.
The House legislation isn’t expected to get past the Senate, but it’s worth a closer look. The bill would spend $725 billion on food stamps over the next ten years, compared with about $760 billion in the Senate farm bill.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a long analysis looking at how, specifically, the House GOP would rein in food-stamp spending through a variety of restrictions on eligibility. About half the savings come from new curbs on aid to unemployed, childless adults between the ages of 18 and 50. Here’s the full rundown of cuts….
The Sterling Road: My Name Is Jason, I’m A 35-Yr-Old White Male Combat Veteran…And I’m On Food Stamps
My name is Jason. I turned 35 less than a week ago. My first job was maintenance work at a public pool when I was 17. I worked 40-hours a week while I was in college. I’ve never gone longer than six months without employment in my life and I just spent the last three years in the military, one of which consisted of a combat tour of Afghanistan.
Oh, and I’m now on food stamps. Since June, as a matter of fact.
Why am I on food stamps?
The same reason everyone on food stamps is on food stamps: because I would very much enjoy not starving.
There is one main reason why Iran is making conciliatory noises about its relationship with the U.S. and about the future of its nuclear program, and there is one main reason why Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator, is signaling his intention to give up his stockpiles of chemical weapons.
The reason: President Barack Obama’s toughness.
Yes, I know. Toughness isn’t a quality lately ascribed to the president. But hear me out.
On the night of September 10, hours before President Obama addressed the nation about developments surrounding the crisis in Syria, NBC Nightly News host Brian Williams huddled with Meet The Press host David Gregory to analyze the day’s top story.
Events were moving quickly. After weeks of Obama threatening to use military strikes against Syria in the wake of President Bashar Al-Assad being accused of gassing his own people with chemical weapons as part of a “massive attack,” a sudden diplomatic opening had appeared. Rather than bombing Syria, the United States might be able to work with Russia and get Syria to voluntarily hand over its chemical weapons.
Good news? Not necessarily according to Williams and Gregory….
….. The Syria coverage represents a clear case of the press adopting style over substance, as well as channeling Republican spin. Of treating foreign policy as if it were a domestic political campaign and insisting that a story unfolding half-a-world away was really all about Obama and how it affected (and/or damaged) his political fortunes….
Since the D.C. shooting, Republicans care about mental health! Yet they opposed—and want to defund—the law that does more to advance the cause than any in history.
So now we’re being treated to the charming spectacle of Republicans, or a few of them anyway, purporting to care about mental-health treatment in the wake of the Washington Navy Yard shooting. How touching. This doesn’t mean, of course, that they care about mental health. They’re just coming up with something to say in the wake of the tragedy that sounds to the willfully credulous like action and that won’t offend the National Rifle Association.
Meanwhile, they have devastated mental-health funding since you-know-who became president. And more important than that, they voted against, and are now preparing to vote en bloc to defund or delay, the law that will do more to address mental health and give society at least a chance that future Aaron Alexises will get treatment that could prevent them going on shooting sprees since … well, pretty much since ever.
Sept. 21, 2011: “The First Lady reacts to something the President whispered to her at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in between events related to the United Nations General Assembly in New York City” (Pete Souza)
Sept. 21, 2010: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk along the Colonnade of the White House (Pete Souza)
Sept. 21, 2011: First Lady Michelle Obama talks with Director and Chief Curator Thelma Golden during a tour of the Studio Museum in Harlem, in New York (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
MoooOOOooorning! And huuuuuuuuge thanks again to UT for all of yesterday’s posts – and to the Toon Master, Amk.
And thanks to the mighty blog tyrants, it’s been an amazing week at TOD, around 100,000 hits since last weekend – lots of them for Zizi’s post on PBO’s foreign policy, LL on Chuck Todd and Co, and UT’s newsie round-ups. Thank you, legends!
We’ll try and put all the visits to good use in the days ahead by doing lots of features on Obamacare.
USA Today: President Obama has added events to his Monday schedule, a Cabinet meeting and a statement on his “management agenda” for “smarter government.” …. the White House said Obama will discuss progress in three key areas: “Delivering government services better, smarter and faster … finding ways to reduce waste and save taxpayers money; and … opening up huge amounts of government data to give entrepreneurs and businesses the ability to create jobs and solve problems.” … he “will direct his Cabinet and key members of his Administration to build on the progress made over the first term, and challenge them to go even further.”
With several controversies fading and a period of intense foreign travel over, President Obama is narrowing his focus this summer to two issues, immigration and the economy….
On immigration, Obama is devising a new, more public strategy that will include events in states with large Latino populations, advisers say — part of an aggressive effort to pressure House Republicans who remain skeptical of proposed changes…..
The president also plans a series of summertime events focused on steps the government can take to drive economic growth, aides said. Many in the White House see a Sept. 30 deadline to renew government funding as probably the last opportunity for Obama to scale back the deep domestic spending cuts known as sequestration before the 2014 midterm elections.
…. His aides say the president is buoyed by the Senate’s passage of an immigration bill and by a steady stream of positive economic news, including a report Friday showing robust job growth.
“When you’re toiling in the vineyard through a tumultuous spring, it can be hard to see it all coming together,” said Jennifer Palmieri, the White House communications director. But now, she said, “you can see it coming together.”
Steve Benen: The Voting Rights Act was gutted, but it’s not yet dead
With lightning speed, state Republican policymakers responded to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act by moving on a series of new voting restrictions, primarily targeting minority groups, students, and the poor. Before two weeks ago, many states would have needed Justice Department approval for these changes – approval they would not have received – but it is now “open season” on Americans’ access to their own democracy.
There is, however, a possible hurdle for those waging the “war on voting.” The Supreme Court undermined the Voting Rights Act by targeting Section 5 of the law – the provision related to pre-clearance – ordering Congress to come up with new standards and leaving this area of the law unenforceable. But Section 2 of the VRA – described by Chief Justice John Roberts in his ruling as “permanent” and applicable “nationwide” – remains intact…..
Michael Tomasky: Starting today, Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers’ propaganda arm, will run an ad, the first of several that are planned, to attack Obamacare. This marks the official opening salvo of the 2014 election campaign. Republicans — with no accomplishments, no remotely popular vision of the country, on the cusp of possibly killing immigration reform, and perhaps admitting (at least to themselves) that Benghazi and the IRS are not going to be Barack Obama’s undoing after all — have been reduced to grasping at their final straw: frightening people about health-care reform…..
…. this is all the GOP has. They have tried to beat Obama on every front, from the economy to terrorism to the environment to the recent “scandals” to the question of his very legitimacy as president. They’ve lost most of these fights …. and, of course, they lost the big fight, the world-historical state versus anti-state fight — the one over Obamacare.
They are going to spend the next three-and-a-half years trying to reverse that loss…..
Washington Post: On Wednesday, just before the Fourth of July holiday, North Carolina Republicans added a slew of anti-abortion restrictions at the last minute to a bill otherwise concerned with banning Sharia law (already a questionable endeavor, but never mind that now).
….. In pretending to promote safety, the actual accomplishment of these amendments would be to place an undue burden on women seeking abortions. Fewer clinics means less access to licensed, well-equipped providers. Where is the safety in that? These restrictions are disingenuous attempts to infringe on a woman’s ability to make constitutionally protected decisions in consultation with her doctor.
…. disrespect for process is a disturbing commonality in many of these proposed restrictions and further evidence of their true intent. Any law that will limit women’s access to abortion and to much other health care deserves a public hearing. Honesty about the true motivation of these laws would be welcome, too.
Steve Benen: ….. perhaps now would be a good time to consider why Gov. Rick Perry and his party are preoccupied with reproductive rights, but have done nothing to address exploding fertilizer plants.
Tim Murphy reported on Friday: In the two and a half months since an explosion at a West, Texas, fertilizer storage facility left 12 first responders dead and at least 200 people injured, two things have become clear. The disaster could have been avoided if the proper regulations had been in place and enforced — and state and federal agencies don’t appear to be in a hurry to put those regulations in place or enforce them.
…. Lawmakers in Austin have a handy excuse for punting on new fertilizer regulations: That would be intrusive.
…. Got that? When the issue is exploding fertilizer plants, which recently leveled part of a town and killed 15 people, state Republican policymakers are concerned with “overregulation.” When the issue is uteruses, state Republican policymakers believe there is no point at which you can overregulate.
Star Telegram: Despite Democrats’ requests for a series of hearings statewide, Sen. Jane Nelson has scheduled one hearing on the abortion restrictions bill.
The hearing, to begin at 10 a.m. Monday at the Texas Capitol, will be at least the third time this year that testimony will be taken in a Senate committee on the proposal.
…. Gov. Rick Perry called a second special session to deal with the comprehensive abortion bill, as well as transportation funding and sentencing guidelines for 17-year-olds convicted of capital murder.
Spandan C (The People’s View): Republicans Revive Empty Debt Ceiling Threats in Suicide Move
The National Journal is reporting that John Boehner and his unruly herd of Republicans are preparing once again to issue empty threats on the country’s debt ceiling – putting up a brave front and demanding that Medicare be dismantled, or Social Security privatized, or food stamps cut back further for them to give the president a debt ceiling increase. Huh? What debt ceiling increase? Two months ago, we talked about how the president’s policies resulting improving economy (and raising taxes on the rich) made the bottom fall out of the GOP’s debt ceiling square dance, as the president paid down the debt and cut the deficit in half (when measured against the size of the economy).
But fret not, think Boehner and Ryan, maybe the President’s policies took that candy from their petulant hands back in May, but we will reach the debt ceiling again….
Smartypants: President Obama’s foreign policy: Moving from dominance to partnership
During the Cold War, all foreign policy issues for the United States were defined as good vs evil…capitalism vs communism. Of course that kind of binary view of the world had disastrous consequences – not just in Viet Nam in the 60’s, but also in Africa and South/Central America in the 70’s and 80’s as attempts by countries all over the globe to extricate themselves from colonialism got labelled “communist.”
The neocons of the Bush/Cheney administration tried desperately to recreate that good vs evil frame with their Global War on Terror. Playing on the anger/fear after 9/11, they had us going for a while on that one. I suspect that one of President Obama’s greatest legacies will be that the very policies many on the left so vociferously criticize him for will prove to be effective enough to actually end not only that “war,” but also the frame the neocons wanted to reignite.
Republic of Korea President Lee Myung-bak tips his Detroit Tigers baseball hat
President Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak at General Motors’ Orion Assembly Plant in Lake Orion, Michigan
President Obama is seen through a window backstage at the General Motors Lake Orion Assembly Plant in Orion Township, Mich., Oct. 14. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama returns a salute as he gets off Air Force One at Air Force Base after a day trip to Michigan
AP: U.S. consumers stepped up their spending on retail goods in September, a hopeful sign for the sluggish economy.
They spent more on autos, clothing and furniture last month to boost retail sales 1.1 percent, the Commerce Department said Friday. It was the largest gain in seven months.
Auto sales rose 3.6 percent to drive the overall increase. Still, excluding that category, sales gained a solid 0.6 percent.
The government also revised the August figures to show a 0.3 percent increase, up from its initial report of no gain.
Stocks rose after the release of the report, which is the government’s first look at consumer spending each month. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 87 points in afternoon trading. Broader indexes also rose.
A separate Commerce report showed that businesses added to their stockpiles for a 20th consecutive month in August while sales rose for a third straight month. The increase suggests businesses were confident enough in the economy to keep stocking their shelves.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood feigns being a blocking back for President Barack Obama as he arrives backstage to meet with GOP House leaders, January 2010
AP: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the most prominent Republican in President Barack Obama’s administration, accused GOP House members Friday of putting their hope for the president to fail ahead of working toward solving the nation’s problems.
Responding to a question about why it was so difficult to get big infrastructure projects built right now, LaHood told a transportation conference that “some people don’t want Obama to be successful.”
“A big percentage of the Republicans that were elected this time came here to do zero, and that’s what they’ve done,” he said. Those lawmakers, he said, have obstructed other people who are trying to get things done.
…. “Here we are almost 12 months from the election and there are some people in Congress – look there are probably 40 people, 40 Republicans, elected to the House to come here to do nothing,” Lahood said. “That’s why they felt they were elected.”
…. “When I was elected in `94 we had a very reform-minded class, 82 new people, but they came here to do something, to solve problems,” he said. “Almost always in the past when people have run for Congress, they ran for Congress on the opportunity to help solve the problems of America.”
Paul Krugman: Reading the transcript of Tuesday’s Republican debate on the economy is, for anyone who has actually been following economic events these past few years, like falling down a rabbit hole. Suddenly, you find yourself in a fantasy world where nothing looks or behaves the way it does in real life.
And since economic policy has to deal with the world we live in, not the fantasy world of the G.O.P.’s imagination, the prospect that one of these people may well be our next president is, frankly, terrifying.
…. the G.O.P. has responded to the crisis not by rethinking its dogma but by adopting an even cruder version of that dogma, becoming a caricature of itself. During the debate, the hosts played a clip of Ronald Reagan calling for increased revenue; today, no politician hoping to get anywhere in Reagan’s party would dare say such a thing.
It’s a terrible thing when an individual loses his or her grip on reality. But it’s much worse when the same thing happens to a whole political party, one that already has the power to block anything the president proposes — and which may soon control the whole government.
Greg Sargent: By now you may have heard about that 78-year-old grandmother who is fully against Ohio’s new push to roll back collective bargaining rights for public employees – but who had her words brazenly torn out of context and put into an ad advocating for the measure.
The tale has gone national. And now the story is about to get even bigger: The grandma is set to appear in a pro-union ad denouncing the anti-union forces as “desperate” for stealing her words. This will likely earn much more attention to a fight which is now being viewed nationally as yet another major referendum on whether the right will succeed in breaking labor in the industrial heartland.
Could this blunder by the anti-union forces be decisive? Labor hopes so….
Washington Post: As a result of stimulus spending and increased funding through the 2010 health-care law, the number of clinicians participating in a federal program to expand access to care in under-served communities has nearly tripled in the past three years.
About 10,000 doctors, nurses and other providers now participate in the National Health Service Corps, the highest number since the program was established in 1972….Officials estimated that the corps is serving about 10.5 million patients.
President Obama arrives to speak to workers at the Alcoa Davenport Works Factory in Bettendorf, Iowa
Des Moines Register: Alcoa officials and business leaders dismissed an assertion from … Mitt Romney that a federal labor board’s actions could threaten jobs at the Alcoa plant in Iowa. “No, we don’t see that happening,” said Alcoa spokesman Michael Belwood…
Romney said Monday that National Labor Relations Board’s actions against aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co. could result in job losses nationally and in Iowa. Boeing is accused of trying to move its Washington-based assembly line for its 787 airliner to a new nonunion factory in South Carolina as retaliation for past strikes in Washington.
Romney has complained about the federal board before, and on Monday said its decision to file a complaint against Boeing for unfair labor practices “slanted the field toward labor bosses.”
….. but the outcome of the NLRB hearing – whether it’s in favor of Boeing or against – will have no impact on this plant, the Alcoa spokesman said. Alcoa is growing, Belwood said. It has added 240 jobs since Dec. 1 and it has 60 more to fill in July and August. “The outlook is very good for the industry and for this plant.”
…. the National Labor Relations Board is an independent board and the president doesn’t control its decisions other than to appoint new members as terms expire.
….U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, a Democrat, said Romney made it sound like a final decision has been made to block Boeing from opening its South Carolina plant. The reality is, the hearing process is at its beginning stages, Braley said. “(Romney) obviously doesn’t understand how the National Labor Relations Board works.”