President Barack Obama introduces Maria Contreras-Sweet as his choice to be the new administrator of the Small Business Administration during an announcement ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House.
Maria Contreras-Sweet, the founder of a Latino-owned community bank in Los Angeles who was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, has a history of working with small businesses and has been an advocate for Hispanics. As California’s secretary of the state’s Business, Transportation and Housing Agency from 1999 to 2003, she was the first Latina to serve as a cabinet secretary in the state and oversaw 40,000 state employees and a $12 billion budget.
In 2006, she founded ProAmérica Bank, a financial institution that aimed to assist small and mid-size businesses. Before that, she was president and co-founder of a private equity firm that provided capital to small California businesses. Contreras-Sweet would become the second Hispanic in Obama’s second term Cabinet. The other is Labor Secretary Thomas Perez. She would also become the eighth woman in Obama’s current Cabinet.
First Lady Michelle Obama gestures while speaking in the State Dining Room of the White House where she hosted a screening of “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete,” a coming of age story about two inner-city youth who are left to fend for themselves in the Bronx.
Lesley Clark: First Lady Joins With Alicia Keys To Talk Education
First Lady Michelle Obama has earned accolades — and few brickbats — for her campaigns to improve the American diet and get people off the couch. She’s also championed hiring opportunities for returning veterans. And now, the first lady says, she’s adding another initiative to her roster: helping achieve President Obama’s goal that the U.S. by 2020 will have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. (It once was No. 1 but has fallen to 12th, she said.) Still, Obama, who turns 50 on Friday, says she’s not giving up her “Let’s Move,” food and exercise program or her “Joining Forces” campaign to help military veterans and their families.
“Nothing is going away, we’re just adding more on,” Obama said Wednesday, talking to a room full of educators at the White House. “I’m going to be doing my very best to promote these efforts by talking directly with young people. That’s my focus. Everybody else is going to be talking about resources, but the one thing I can bring to this is the message that we can give directly to young people.” Obama’s remarks came after a White House screening of “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete,” produced by the singer, Alicia Keys, who preceded Obama at the lectern in the State Dining Room.
Smithsonian political history curator Lisa Kathleen Graddy, left, and museum specialist Bethanee Bemis, show off First Lady Michelle Obama’s second inaugural gown in a storage area at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. The White House is lending Obama’s ruby-colored chiffon gown made by designer Jason Wu to the National Museum of American History for a year to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Smithsonian’s first ladies exhibition. It will be paired with Obama’s shoes designed by Jimmy Choo.
Smithsonian political history curator Lisa Kathleen Graddy shows off First Lady Michelle Obama’s second inaugural gown in a storage area at the Smithsonian Museum of American History
LA Times: President Obama accused rival Mitt Romney of “knowingly twisting” his comments about American business, in what amounted to his most forceful response to more than a week of sustained attacks by Republicans over a sound bite the president’s campaign argued was taken out of context.
In remarks to a feisty audience at Oakland’s Fox Theater on Monday evening, Obama contended that Romney had misrepresented what he said this month when he spoke of the role government plays in supporting the growth of business. He said Romney’s response showed he fails to appreciate the best way to grow the economy in a balanced way.
…. “Earlier today Gov. Romney was at it again, knowingly twisting my words around to suggest that I don’t value small businesses,” he said …. “In politics we all tolerate a certain amount of spin. I understand these are the games that get played in political campaigns. But when folks omit entire sentences of what I said – they start splicing and dicing – you may have gone a little over the edge.”
Steve Benen: ….. Last September, Elizabeth Warren explained the role of public institutions in creating a society that allows American businesses to thrive. A video of the comments went viral, and soon after, President Obama echoed the sentiment.
Last week, Mitt Romney’s campaign, hoping that voters are fools, made the case that American businesses thrive on their own without public institutions, and to believe otherwise is to be “foreign” and hostile towards free enterprise…
….if Romney’s hysterical, right-wing argument had any merit at all, this should be fairly easy. Obama’s been in office for three-and-a-half years, and if the president were, in reality, actively opposed to the interests and needs of America’s private sector, the evidence should be overwhelming and undeniable.
And yet, it’s not. Romney – and now, Scott Brown – have to resort to garbage tactics that treat Americans voters like we’re idiots. Instead of presenting credible evidence to bolster absurd claims, Romney and Brown have to rely on out-of-context nonsense to make a case that their rivals believe in an agenda that’s pure fantasy.
If President Obama and Elizabeth Warren genuinely oppose the free market — they don’t, but if they did — why do Mitt Romney and Scott Brown have to lie?…
TPM: When President Obama spoke to workers in Wisconsin last week, Politico accidentally made itself the story. The paper’s reporter mistook the Wisconsin state flag for the seal of a local union, and cited it as an illustration of President Obama’s pro-union bias.
Politico cleaned the egg off its face by wiping the story from the Internet. But the gaffe made the rounds among actual union officials in the state and now that the laughter’s subsided, they’ve turned it into a membership drive…..
CNN: Mitt Romney’s overall favorable ratings have dropped, while Rick Santorum’s standing has jumped among Republicans, according to a new national survey.
…. In the new survey, 54% of Republicans said they hold a favorable opinion of Romney, while 67% said the same in January. Among all Americans, 34% described the candidate as likable, down from 41% last month.
…. only one presidential candidate in the race has a national favorable rating above the 50% mark: President Barack Obama.
Among all Americans, Obama received positive reviews from 53%, with the poll suggesting he may have grown more popular in recent months.
Bob Cesca: Regular people are donating to the president’s re-election campaign in record numbers:
According to an analysis by The Huffington Post, the Obama reelection campaign committee, Obama for America, pulled in at least 45 percent of its contributions from donors giving less than $200 during each of the fundraising quarters it was active in 2011…..
This is another strong indicator that the anti-Obama smearfest on the left is out of touch with the rest of the American left…..
Wednesday: PBO will travel to Master Lock in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to continue to discuss his blueprint for an economy built to last based on American manufacturing and the importance of companies insourcing and investing in America. He will then travel to Los Angeles, California where he will attend campaign events. He will spend the night in Los Angeles.
Thursday: PBO will attend campaign events in Corona del Mar, California before traveling to San Francisco, California to attend campaign events. He will spend the night in San Francisco.
Friday: PBO will travel to the Seattle where he will continue to discuss his blueprint for an economy built to last. He will also attend campaign events in the Seattle area before returning to Washington, D.C. later in the evening.
From left, Chief of Staff Jack Lew, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling and U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke confer as President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Vice President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China in the Oval Office, Feb. 14, 2012. Kurt Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs; Mike Froman, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics; and Lael Brainard, Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, are also pictured. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
ABC: For Jenna Lyons, Michelle Obama has been the best endorsement J. Crew has ever received …. (her) penchant for J. Crew clothing has been “the most incredible gift that keeps on giving.” Not only did the company see a “huge lift” in business, Lyons credited Obama, 48, with creating a special bond with customers.
…. When Obama appeared on “The Tonight Show” in 2008 and told Jay Leno that her yellow sweater, skirt and blouse were a “J.Crew ensemble,” the company’s stock went up 8.2 percent. In 2011, Business Insider credited her with contributing to one of the most successful re-branding campaigns ever…
Washington Post: The White House says a more aggressive effort to nab deceptive government contractors and deceitful Medicare recipients is paying off – to the tune of billions of dollars.
The Obama administration plans to announce Tuesday that the Justice Department recovered more than $5.6 billion in fraud committed against the government in fiscal 2011. Almost $3.4 billion of the funds came in civil fraud recoveries, with more than $2.2 billion tied to criminal fraud, according to administration officials familiar with the announcement who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The announcement is tied to a Cabinet-level meeting to be held Tuesday regarding plans to cut wasteful government spending across federal agencies and departments.
Bloomberg: U.S. economic data are outperforming expectations by the most in nine months, a trend Federal Reserve officials may incorporate into their policy statement tomorrow.
The Citigroup Economic Surprise Index, a daily measure of whether economic data is better or worse than economists’ projections, improved to 85.7 on Dec. 2, the highest since March 9, after the Labor Department reported an unexpected drop in the jobless rate….
“Most of the economists are missing the underlying strength” in the world’s largest economy, said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors. The Fed will “modestly upgrade the economic outlook but change little else.”
November unemployment at the lowest level in more than two years and manufacturing running at the fastest pace in five months are among data that may dissuade Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and fellow central bankers from pursuing a third-round of large scale asset purchases. At the same time, the Fed may still see “significant downside risks” for the economy as Europe’s financial crisis evolves.
Business Insider: It didn’t get much attention, but this morning the latest NFIB small business optimism survey came in stronger than expected, as more and more corporations see good sales and decent business conditions on the way.
This is important, in part, since small businesses have been rather negative on the economy, even while large companies have reported record earnings.
Chicago Sun Times: President Barack Obama’s top strategist, David Axelrod, predicted much more scrutiny of GOP frontrunner Newt Gingrich, citing the “homespun wisdom” of Ald. Dick Mell (33rd) as he compared Gingrich to a monkey on a pole exposing his butt.
“…. Last week you all left him for dead at the checkout counter at Tiffany’s and now he’s back, a lion in winter,” Axelrod quipped. “That’s L-I-O-N by the way, I don’t want to stir up any trouble here.”
…. “In certain ways [Gingrich] fits the role for this, because as we pointed out earlier in the week he is the original tea partier. You know, he brought that kind of politics to Congress in the early 90s, he led three government shut downs in order to try and roll back environmental protection…roll back the Department of Education and education programs, he wanted to cut Medicare, he wanted to give more tax cuts to the wealthy. He was really a forerunner of what we see today.”
“I told my colleagues yesterday a bit of homespun wisdom that I got from an alderman in Chicago some years ago when one of his …colleagues wanted to run for higher office and he was really dubious. He said:
“Just remember the higher a monkey climbs on a pole, the more you can see his butt.”
So, you know, the Speaker is very high on the pole right now and we’ll see how people like the view.”
President Obama arrives to speak at a campaign event in Washington, Dec. 13
“If you stay steady, we’re going to win this thing …. This is going to be tough. But, I just want to remind all of you that you didn’t decide to support Barack Hussein Obama because it would be easy.”
Washington Jewish Week: When flames swept through Israel’s Carmel Forest last year, destroying dozens of homes and lives, President Barack Obama didn’t hesitate to help, said Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S….
…. Netanyahu directed his ambassador to, “Quick, go ask President Obama for help.”
That’s when Oren entered the White House and asked to see the president. “I told him the situation and without hesitation, President Obama turned to one of his aides and said, ‘get Israel whatever it needs. Now,’” Oren recalled.
….”America has 11 fire-fighting planes; the next morning, 8 of them took off for Israel, along with a team of fire-fighting commandos.” “Later that night,” Oren continued, “I learned, that the President left the Hanukkah reception and flew secretly to Afghanistan. Upon arriving, he called Washington and the first question he asked, ‘Has Israel gotten its planes?’”…..