Greg Sargent: There seems to be widespread agreement that the half-hour documentary attacking Mitt Romney’s Bain years that was released yesterday by the pro-Gingrich Super PAC was a very effective piece of political communication. Ed Kilgore, for instance, described it as a “heat seaking missle aimed directly at the white working class id”.
But what will South Carolina voters themselves see? Will this attack translate well in the 30-second and 60-second ads based on this documentary that the Newt Super PAC ad will run in the state?
…. Rick Tyler, the GOP operative who works for Winning The Future, says the ads are part of a $3.4 million buy that includes other media. We should obviously treat that figure with serious skepticism until the money is actually spent, but if that’s true, that’s a significant buy for South Carolina.
Robert Shrum: … what he spoke on election night in New Hampshire puts the presumptive Republican nominee at odds with the essential character of America. In a well-coiffed gentrification of the racist-tinged attack on Barack Obama as “the other” – a somehow alien and illegitimate president – Flip Romney, in full pander mode to the paranoia of the far right, arraigned the president for “tak[ing] his inspiration from the capitals of Europe” — and seeking “to turn America into a European-style entitlement society.”
…. In reality, Obama has been defending and extending the nation’s long march toward fulfilling its founding ideals. It’s Romney who, on critical economic issues, takes his inspiration from the capitals of Europe….
…. I doubt Romney will give up the xenophobia anytime soon. It plays well among primary voters who are suspicious that he’s not reliably reactionary; it’s a code-coated formula to depict Barack Obama as someone from another country, another continent, another tradition. In that sense, it’s a modulated form of “birtherism.”
Romney’s right when he says this election is about “the soul of America”. With his hostility to economic justice and the social safety net, his record in business, his desertion of the American quest for equal rights, and his embrace of floundering European economics, he would, if he ever got there, be the president of a very different and lesser United States…..
TPM: If a speech Thursday morning by one of his top economists is any indication, President Barack Obama is going all in with the 2012 re-election message of stemming the rise in income inequality and reforming a system that’s increasingly perceived to be rigged in favor of the rich.
White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan Krueger rattled off a flurry of statistics illustrating the rise of inequality and its connection to the shrinking middle class. He blamed it on economic policies tilted to favor top earners – including income tax reforms (presumably during the Bush era) and the “drastic cut in the estate tax.”
He also argued that implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans are eager to repeal, will help reduce the disparities.
It’s a message that bore an uncanny resemblance to the “Teddy Roosevelt” speech President Obama delivered in early December, which was interpreted by many as laying out the grounds for his re-election campaign …. Romney has taken to decrying this message as the “politics of envy” and “class warfare” …. Krueger’s speech Thursday makes clear that that’s a fight the White House is happy to have.
Our old GOPolitico friend Byron Tau got very excited today about the date on that DoJ memo on recess appointments. Read and learn Byron:
Mother Jones: ….. The opinion itself is dated January 6, two days after the appointments were announced – but that doesn’t mean the opinion was sought retroactively. “It is common, especially where time is of the essence, to give legal advice prior to a formal written opinion,” says Marty Lederman, a former attorney with the Office of Legal Counsel. “It takes time to produce an opinion with this level of detail.”
Young Byron then updated his post with this: White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters in the briefing that the DoJ memo was based on advice given by the president’s Office of Legal Counsel. “The opinion was rendered verbally prior to the date of the opinion itself,” Carney said, explaining the discrepancy. “The opinion was based on the advice provided by OLC”
Discrepancy? 😆 Byron? Quit while you’re that far behind behind.
The Hill: Justice expands definition of rape – Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, said the administration supported the update and worked with DOJ on the matter. The Department of Justice has broadened its definition of rape to lead to more comprehensive statistical reporting of the crime nationwide. Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday announced the changes to the Uniform Crime Report’s definition of rape, which the Justice Department said better reflect state criminal codes….
Steve Benen: GOP refuses to let House Dems speak….. When President Obama wants to raise the debt ceiling, congressional Republicans respond, “You can’t do that; we’re not in session.” When the White House wants to make recess appointments, congressional Republicans respond, “You can’t do that; we are in session.” And when James Clyburn wants to say a few words from the House floor, congressional Republicans respond, “You can’t do that; we’re not in session.”
Marketwatch: The U.S. economy gained 200,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5%, the Labor Department said Friday.
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast the U.S. would add 150,000 jobs last month, with the jobless rate edging up to 8.7% from an initially reported 8.6% in November.
Subtracting another decline in government jobs, the private sector boosted payrolls by 212,000. Average hourly earnings rose 0.2% last month to $23.24 and hours worked edged up to 34.4. Job gains for November and October were little changed. The U.S. created 1.64 million jobs in 2011.
Steve Benen: Mitt Romney will probably find today’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics very discouraging. The rest of us, though, have reason to smile.
…. when monthly job growth reaches 200,000, that’s genuinely good news, and the drop in the overall unemployment to 8.5% puts the figure at nearly a three-year low, which is also encouraging. Under the circumstances, this is one of the best jobs reports since the recession began four years ago.
Reuters: The young men in business suits, gingerly picking their way among the millwrights, machinists and pipefitters at Kansas City’s Worldwide Grinding Systems steel mill…. “They looked like a bunch of high school kids to me. A bunch of Wall Street preppies,” says Jim Linson, an electronics repairman who worked at the plant for 40 years….
Apparently they liked what they saw. Soon after, in October 1993, Bain Capital, co-founded by Mitt Romney, became majority shareholder in a steel mill that had been operating since 1888.
…. Less than a decade later, the mill was padlocked and some 750 people lost their jobs. Workers were denied the severance pay and health insurance they’d been promised, and their pension benefits were cut by as much as $400 a month…..
Paul Krugman: ….. Mr. Romney claims that Mr. Obama has been a job destroyer, while he was a job-creating businessman …. his claims about the Obama record border on dishonesty, and his claims about his own record are well across that border.
….. the president inherited an economy in free fall, and can’t be held responsible for job losses during his first few months, before any of his own policies had time to take effect. So how much of that Obama job loss took place in, say, the first half of 2009?
The answer is: more than all of it. The economy lost 3.1 million jobs between January 2009 and June 2009 and has since gained 1.2 million jobs. That’s not enough, but it’s nothing like Mr. Romney’s portrait of job destruction.
Incidentally, the previous administration’s claims of job growth always started not from Inauguration Day but from August 2003, when Bush-era employment hit its low point. By that standard, Mr. Obama could say that he has created 2.5 million jobs since February 2010.
Washington Post editorial: ….. Republicans may well be correct that Mr. Obama is playing politics with these appointments …. But so what? Both the consumer bureau and the labor relations board are agencies of the U.S. government, created by Congress, and it is inexcusable that congressional obstructionism would leave them unable to function. If Republicans don’t like the structure or purpose of either agency, they should try to alter them through legislation. Meanwhile their filibustering against qualified nominees to make political points or extort concessions from the White House cripples government and discourages good people from serving. That is the real poisonous practice, in which both parties have engaged. Until there is a de-escalation, the country will continue to pay a high price.
New York Times: Obama administration officials announced on Friday that they will propose a fix to a notorious snag in immigration law that will spare hundreds of thousands of American citizens from prolonged separations from immigrant spouses and children.
The change that immigration officials are offering would benefit United States citizens who are married to or have children who are illegal immigrants. It would correct a bureaucratic Catch-22 that those Americans now confront when their spouses or children apply to become legal permanent residents.
President Barack Obama greets neighbors outside the home of William and Endia Eason in Cleveland, Ohio, Jan. 4, 2012
(Despite having the latest version, I can’t see these Videopress videos with Firefox any more, but I can with Safari. What’s up with Firefox?!)
NYT: For the first time in many years, manufacturing stands out as an area of strength in the American economy.
When the Labor Department reports December employment numbers on Friday, it is expected that manufacturing companies will have added jobs in two consecutive years. Until last year, there had not been a single year when manufacturing employment rose since 1997.
David Rothkopf (Foreign Policy): …. the Obama track record on many fronts is much better than the administration gives itself credit for. They could be doing much, much more to tout what is an impressive litany of successes.
While the list of those successes is long and compelling-defeating Bin Laden, getting out of Iraq, helping to oust Qaddafi, restoring our reputation internationally, resetting our international priorities to better coincide with our long term interests (the “pivot” to a focus on Asia), producing meaningful healthcare reform, producing significant financial services reforms, stopping the downward spiral in the economy and laying the foundations of recovery, etc. – let me focus on three areas that deserve much more attention and appreciation ….. ** See article **
…. the president is actually doing remarkably well in the world’s toughest job right now, and he is and has been doing so under truly extraordinarily adverse circumstances. This is one of those circumstances in which the substance is better than the PR – and it’s time for the White House’s political and communications brain trust to get out a clean sheet of paper and begin to make new and better plans for claiming the credit the Obama team deserves.
Jonathan Cohn: Should President Obama use the recess appointment power when Republicans in Congress refuse even to consider his nominees? You better believe it.
Not only are Republicans blocking Obama’s nominations at a record rate. They are doing so in order to impose their own ideological agenda and, in some cases, to undermine duly passed laws they don’t like but can’t repeal.
That’s a modern-day form of nullification … Obama would be derelict in his duties if he did not use every inch of executive branch authority to overcome it.
…. based on a series of conversations today, I think Obama was within his rights after all.
TPM: Mitt Romney’s tax plan is more complex than those of his current and erstwhile primary competitors. But in broad effect it accomplishes the conservative goal of dramatically lowering taxes on the wealthy at the expense of the lower and middle classes.
USA Today: President Obama announced a new military strategy on Thursday that will cut the Pentagon budget by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade.
Speaking from the Pentagon, Obama said the plan is “smart, strategic” and sets priorities.
…. The new military strategy includes $487 billion in cuts over the next decade. An additional $500 billion in cuts could be coming if Congress follows through on plans for deeper reductions. The announcement comes weeks after the U.S. officially ended the Iraq War and after a decade of increased defense spending in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
Dana Milbank: If this is Mitt Romney’s idea of a victory rally, one shudders to think what would have happened if he had lost the Iowa caucuses. The day after his impossibly thin eight-vote victory …. he flew here for a town hall meeting at Manchester Central High School, where he was to bask in the endorsement of his 2008 arch rival, John McCain.
But the senator grimaced when he was introduced, and as Romney delivered his own stump speech, an increasingly impatient McCain pulled up his sleeve and checked his watch. McCain gave his endorsement address without mentioning Romney’s Iowa win until the end. “By the way, we forgot to congratulate him on his landslide victory last night,” he said, laughing. Romney ignored him.
….. Romney continued to wrestle with words when he took the stage … “What a, uh, big night we had last night, or what a big morning we had, uh, last morning, this morning, in, uh, Iowa,” he began…..
Washington Monthly: What If Obama Loses? … there’s a widespread assumption that extreme positions taken in the (GOP) primaries will fade in the general election as candidates “move to the center,” and will disappear entirely once the serious business of governing begins. Surely President Newt Gingrich would not get rid of child labor laws. Surely President Perry would not seek to eliminate three cabinet departments.
We don’t think that this year, with this GOP, those assumptions are warranted. And so we asked a distinguished group of reporters and scholars to think through the hitherto unthinkable: What if one of these people actually wins?
Reuters: New claims for unemployment benefits fell by 15,000 last week in the latest sign the labor market was improving and could help the country resist the effects of a likely euro zone recession.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped to a seasonally adjusted 372,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The prior week’s claims data was revised up to 387,000 from the previously reported 381,000.
…. Claims have now fallen in four of the last five weeks, and the four-week moving average – a better measure of trends – fell 3,250 to 376,500, the lowest level since June 2008.
The Hill: President Obama on Thursday will unveil a summer-jobs initiative that the White House says is already on track to create 180,000 “work opportunities” in the private sector in 2012.
That is the number of opportunities, which includes mentoring and unpaid internships, that companies have told the administration they are willing to create. Some 70,000 jobs are paid, the White House says.
…. “Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of executive actions the Obama administration is taking to strengthen the economy and move the country forward because we can’t wait for Congress to act,” a White House statement reads.
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney shakes hands with U.S. Senator John McCain at a campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire, January 4
Time: Announcing his support for Mitt Romney, Senator John McCain said, “The time has arrived for Republicans to choose a presidential nominee; a new standard bearer who has the ability and determination to defeat President Obama …. I’m pleased to have made my choice, and to endorse Governor Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination for President.
Governor Romney offers us the commonsense reforms of government policy that are necessary to turn around our economy. His record of accomplishment in government and business are a testament to his leadership abilities…
“I had the privilege of running against Governor Romney for the nomination four years ago, and I know he is a tough competitor. I have no doubt he is the best candidate we can nominate. And I am proud to support him for President.”
President Barack Obama greets people outside the Eason home in Cleveland, Ohio, Jan. 4, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Paul Begala (Daily Beast): You gotta love a party in which Mitt Romney can do no better than virtually tie with the guy who compared gays to “man on dog” sex and thinks contraception is evil.
I would have never guessed Rick Santorum would be so happy about two men being tied up together….
So while the winner of Iowa in terms of expectations is Santorum, the story is the man he basically tied: Mitt Romney. Not to put too fine a point on it, but when you can’t beat the Man-on-Dog guy, who lost his home state by 18 percent, you stink. You really stink.
…. Four years ago, Romney received 25 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses. Unencumbered by the need for gainful employment, Romney has been running nonstop ever since, and, along with a pro-Romney super PAC, spent at least $4 million in Iowa in 2012. Yet he garnered – wait for it – 25 percent …. it seems to me that spending $4 million to gain zero points is a bad return on investment. That is one expensive treadmill. I’ve seen Astroturf with stronger growth…..
Greg Sargent: It isn’t just Richard Cordray. Obama is also set to use recess appointments to install his picks to the National Labor Relations Board, according to White House officials and others familiar with ongoing discussions.
The move, which is arguably as important as the Cordray appointment, will ratchet up opposition from Republicans and make this an even bigger fight, since they have been attacking the NLRB regularly for its moves to streamline union elections and inform workers of their rights.
…. Obama’s move, which will help energize unions in advance of the 2012 election, is yet another sign that he is determined to circumvent GOP opposition and make government functional again by any means necessary….
ThinkProgress: Republicans have shown outrage at Obama for using his recess appointment powers with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray, and similar outrage is likely to follow the news of the NLRB appointments. But the past three Republican presidents also made recess appointments to the NLRB. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush each made three recess appointments to the NLRB, while George W. Bush made seven such appointments.
AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka: We commend the President for exercising his constitutional authority to ensure that crucially important agencies protecting workers and consumers are not shut down by Republican obstructionism. Working families and consumers should not pay the price for political ploys that have repeatedly undercut the enforcement of rules against Wall Street abuses and the rights of working people.
NYT: A defiant President Barack Obama, tired of Senate Republicans stalling his nominee to lead a new consumer protection agency, put him in charge Wednesday over their opposition.
“I refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer,” the president said.
… With a director in place, Obama said the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can start overseeing the mortgage companies, payday lenders, debt collectors and other financial operations often blamed for practices that helped undermine the economy.
Obama announced the move with Cordray by his side before a cheering crowd in Ohio … “Every day that we waited was another day when millions of Americans are left unprotected,” Obama.