First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden talk outside the State Dining Room before addressing the National Governors Association annual meeting at the White House, Feb. 27, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
Tuesday: PBO will deliver remarks at the United Auto Workers conference in Washington, DC.
Wednesday: PBO and the First Lady will host a dinner at the White House to honor Armed Forces, who served in Iraq, and their families.
Thursday: PBO will travel to Nashua, New Hampshire, and deliver remarks on the economy. In the evening, the President will attend campaign events in New York City.
Friday: PBO will travel to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, to visit with wounded service members.
Toronto Star: When Mitt Romney regaled a Michigan audience this week with childhood memories of a landmark moment in Detroit history, it was a rare instance of emotional candour.
And, perhaps, an even rarer example of time travel.
Romney recalled he was “probably 4 or something like that” the day of the Golden Jubilee, when three-quarters of a million people gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the American automobile.
“My dad had a job being the grandmaster. They painted Woodward Ave. with gold paint,” Romney told a rapt Tea Party audience in the village of Milford Thursday night, reliving a moment of American industrial glory.
The Golden Jubilee described so vividly by Romney …. took place June 1, 1946 – fully nine months before Romney was born…..
Slate: …. In January, workers in the manufacturing sector worked an average of 41.9 hours per week. That same figure was reached for a few months during the winter of 1997-1998, but the last time it was actually higher than that was July of 1945 when America’s factories were working overtime to fight and win World War II….
We’re at the point, in other words, where just to sustain current levels of output American factories are going to need to start adding workers.
Yahoo: Five months after the military’s ban on openly gay service expired, a photo of a young gay Marine’s homecoming kiss has gone viral. Nearly 15,000 people have liked the picture on Facebook, which was posted in a group for gay Marines on Saturday.
The Marine, Brandon Morgan, posted a response on his Facebook wall according to the JoeMyGod blog. “To everyone who has responded in a positive way. My partner and I want to say thank you. Dalan, the giant in the photo, can’t believe how many shares and likes we have gotten on this. We didn’t do this to get famous,or something like that we did this cause after 3 deployments and four years knowing each other, we finally told each other how we felt,” Morgan wrote.
ThinkProgress: An article in The Hill today describing the results of a new poll inaccurately reports that voters want “a lower tax bill” for wealthy individuals and businesses. If anything, the poll shows the opposite.
In tax policy, it’s critical to distinguish between marginal tax rates and effective tax rates … The Hill article fails to sort out this very basic distinction, then proceeds to make a number of apples-to-oranges comparisons that paint a misleading picture of what wealthy people and corporations are paying in taxes now and what people want them to pay.
….. Having repeatedly confused marginal and effective rates, the article misinterprets the poll results to conclude that people want “a lower tax bill” for individuals and corporations….
….Here’s a better explanation: Voters understand what The Hill does not – that wealthy people and corporations actually pay taxes at much lower rates than the top marginal rates on the books. And when asked what they think the “most appropriate” rates should be, a majority of people cite rates that are higher than what the wealthy and corporations are actually paying now.
Washington Post (Editorial): At a time of record debts and deficits, the two leading Republican presidential candidates are proposing a path on taxes and spending likely to add trillions more. That’s the sobering conclusion of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), whose board includes six Republican former lawmakers with expertise in budget issues, three Republican former heads of the Congressional Budget Office, and two former Office of Management and Budget directors under Republican presidents.
NY Mag: Of the various expressions of right-wing hysteria that have flowered over the past three years – goldbuggery, birtherism, death panels at home and imaginary apology tours by President Obama abroad – perhaps the strain that has taken deepest root within mainstream Republican circles is the terror that the achievements of the Obama administration may be irreversible, and that the time remaining to stop permanent nightfall is dwindling away.
… The GOP has reason to be scared. Obama’s election was the vindication of a prediction made several years before…. that demographic and political trends were converging in such a way as to form a natural-majority coalition for Democrats.
… if they lose their bid to unseat Obama, they will have mortgaged their future for nothing at all. And over the last several months, it has appeared increasingly likely that the party’s great all-or-nothing bet may land, ultimately, on nothing. In which case, the Republicans will have turned an unfavorable outlook into a truly bleak one in a fit of panic. The deepest effect of Obama’s election upon the Republicans’ psyche has been to make them truly fear, for the first time since before Ronald Reagan, that the future is against them.
ABC: …“I don’t pay hardly any payroll taxes,” Buffett said. “Gov. Romney hardly pays any payroll taxes, Newt Gingrich hardly pays any payroll taxes. Debbie pays lots of payroll taxes.”
He lashed out at assertions from many Republican leaders that the “Buffett rule” is class warfare.
“If this is a war, my side has the nuclear bomb,” Buffett said. “We have K Street. … We have Wall Street. Debbie doesn’t have anybody. I want a government that is responsive to the people who got the short straw in life.”
President Obama speaks during a news conference on Republican obstruction of Richard Cordray’s nomination to head the CFPB, Dec 8
Steve Benen: Two months after the Senate Banking Committee approved Richard Cordray as the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Senate leadership brought the nomination to the floor this morning. Republicans refused to allow a vote …. It’s hard to overstate how outrageous today’s filibuster really is.
…. It’s all part of the normalization of extortion politics. Traditionally, if the GOP wanted to alter the powers of the CFPB, it would write legislation, send it to committee, bring it to the floor, send it to the other chamber, etc. But that takes time and effort, and might not work. Instead, we see the latest in a series of GOP extortion strategies: Republicans will force Democrats to accept changes to the agency, or Republicans won’t allow the agency to meet its legal mandate…..
The President is pre-taping interviews with WISH (Indianapolis, IN), KSNV (Las Vegas, NV), WREG (Memphis, TN) and WCHS (Portland, ME) today
Steve Benen: We generally look to the first Friday of every month for new unemployment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but every Thursday morning, the Department of Labor releases a report on initial unemployment claims.
And this morning, the news is very good:
The number of people filing for state unemployment benefits for the first time fell 23,000 to the lowest level since late February, the government said Thursday. The Labor Department said claims fell to a seasonally adjusted 381,000 last week. The level of initial claims in the week ended Nov. 26 was revised up by 2,000 to 404,000.
The consensus expectations were for a slight drop, which makes the sharp drop that much more encouraging…..
Steve Benen: Politico has a piece today on Senate Democrats’ outrage over Republican obstructionism, as evidenced by Tuesday’s filibuster of judicial nominee Caitlin Halligan and today’s expected filibuster of CFPB nominee Richard Cordray. As Dems see it, GOP abuses are setting a new standard — which Democrats will take advantage of the next time they’re in the minority.
…. Republicans respond that these current tactics aren’t new, and the Politico article tells readers the GOP argument is sound.
…. This isn’t a subjective question on which the parties are entitled to different opinions. There are objective, often quantifiable, answers to the points Politico and Republicans are raising: are GOP senators “replicating” Democratic tactics? Were Dems abusing Senate rules in the Bush era to the same degree that Republicans are abusing them now?
The answer to both is “no,” and the false equivalence does little to advance the discussion.
Steve Benen: Most of the Affordable Care Act won’t take effect for a few years – and if court rulings and the 2012 elections go a certain way, it may not take effect at all – but there’s already evidence that the reform law is working.
It’s making a big difference in providing coverage for young adults; it’s providing treatment options for women like Spike Dolomite Ward; and it’s slowing the growth in Medicare spending.
It’s also, as Jonathan Cohn explained, saving seniors quite a bit of money on prescription medication…..
President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrive to speak in the South Court Auditorium on the White House, Dec. 7
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada talk backstage at the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building following their joint press conference, Dec. 7, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
CBS: President Barack Obama will appear on “60 Minutes” in an interview with Steve Kroft to be broadcast Sunday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Steve Kroft interviewed the president on Tuesday in Kansas after he delivered an economic speech in the small town of Osawatomie. President Obama will talk to Kroft again tomorrow at the White House for Sunday’s report.
NT News: President Barack Obama has been insured against crocodile attack for his visit to the Northern Territory. TIO issued him the standard policy – a cover note carrying a photograph of a saltie with the promise to pay $50,000 in the event of a fatal attack.
Chief executive Richard Harding said the insurance policy had been framed and would be presented to the president during his visit to Darwin on Thursday. … “We’re excited to be issuing one of these policies for President Obama as a memento of his time in the Territory.”
TIO has been selling the $10 cover for 23 years – but President Obama will get his for free.
CNN: A new poll shows Mitt Romney leading the GOP presidential field by a wide margin in New York, but a majority of voters statewide said they would choose to re-elect President Barack Obama if the election were held today.
Romney was the choice of 32% of Republican voters in the state, double the support of businessman Herman Cain, who was second at 15%, according to a Siena College Research Institute poll released Tuesday.
….. Fifty-seven percent of registered voters said they hold a favorable view of the president … He also carries a wide lead over Romney in a hypothetical matchup, 59%-34%.
MSNBC: In light of Herman Cain’s moment yesterday …. it’s worth noting that he wrote a book in 1999 titled “Speak as a Leader: Develop the Better Speaker in You.” In that book, he offers advice about public speaking, particularly on how to handle media interviews.
….. “First, if you know the topic ahead of time,” he writes, “plan the key points you want to make during the interview and be able to state those points in a variety of ways. If you will be doing frequent interviews with the press, then a media training course would be advisable in order to learn effective communication techniques. Second, there is no such thing as off the record. If you say it, then assume it might be used at some point. Third, expect the unexpected and be prepared to remain calm and professional.”
Bloomberg: Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said during a Nov. 9 debate that he earned a $300,000 fee to advise Freddie Mac as a “historian” who warned that the mortgage company’s business model was “insane.”
Former Freddie Mac officials familiar with the consulting work Gingrich was hired to perform for the company in 2006 tell a different story. They say the former House speaker was asked to build bridges to Capitol Hill Republicans and develop an argument on behalf of the company’s public-private structure that would resonate with conservatives seeking to dismantle it.
President Barack Obama shows students from Johnson College Prep in Chicago, Ill., and their principal, Dr. Garland Thomas, a model of Samuel Morse’s telegraph in the Oval Office, during their visit to the White House, Oct. 28, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Yahoo: …. In New Hampshire, where Huntsman moved his campaign headquarters a few weeks ago and where he spends most of his time, he’s polling at less than 5 percent.
New Hampshire residents aren’t even donating to his campaign. In the last quarter, Huntsman’s campaign reported just two donors in the entire state who gave a combined $1,000.
Mother Jones: This is a photo of a volunteer meeting for Elizabeth Warren, who is leading the race for the Democratic nomination to take on Sen. Scott Brown (R) in Massachusetts …. This looks more like the kind of crowd you’d see at presidential volunteer meeting late in the campaign than a rally for a Senate candidate 13 months before the general election. It sure looks like Warren has her base fired up:
Steve Benen: ….. These days, candidates have to realize that using stock photos is inviting trouble.
Just as Rep. Denny Rehberg (R), running for the Senate in Montana, who used a nice photo of “Montana’s seniors” in a taxpayer-financed mailing who aren’t from Montana:
Steve Benen: The latest CBS News poll asked national respondents whether they’d support higher taxes on millionaires to lower the deficit. The results weren’t exactly close:
….it appears “class warfare” is pretty popular with the American mainstream … Why are Democrats, from President Obama on down, so unafraid of this issue? Because they’ve seen polls like this one, and know most Americans agree with them.
Michael Scherer (Time): When Barack Obama talks about taxes these days, he likes to talk about Omaha billionaire Warren Buffett’s secretary …. but if Mitt Romney is able to clinch the Republican nomination for President next spring, Obama will have a better example to talk about.
That’s because Romney, a wealthy man whose income mostly comes from long-term investments, is exactly the sort of “millionaire and billionaire” that Obama likes to hold up for scrutiny, since the source of Romney’s income allows him to pay a lower percentage of his money to the federal government each year than many middle-class wage earners.
…. People who earn as much money as Romney typically make most of it in capital gains and often deduct more than they earn in royalties, salary and interest. In other words, they never pay the 35% rate that their income would be subject to if they just got a paycheck like most Americans.
…. Should Romney win the Republican nomination, he will face substantial pressure to release his own tax returns. Usually such disclosures are little more than formality, but in Romney’s case, it would land him in the middle of one of the biggest policy debates of this election season.
…. any tax reform plan put forward by Obama would likely have a significant impact on Romney’s returns. And perhaps more importantly, if Romney wins the nomination, Obama will have a great line to use in debates and on the stump. He wouldn’t just be running against Romney, he’d be running against the large tax advantage that a millionaire investor’s income provides.
Greg Sargent (Wasington Post): Fact check of the day: CNN takes apart the ubiquitous GOP claim that tax hikes on the rich would be damaging to small businesses and the nation’s “job creators”:
In sharp contrast to the rhetoric, current data suggests small businesses don’t create an outsized number of jobs, very few small business owners fall into the top two tax brackets, and tax cuts for small businesses are ineffective stimulus measures.
Relatively few small businesses would be affected: Extending the tax cuts for top earners for another decade would come at a significant cost – nearly $1 trillion in added debt over a decade. But small businesses wouldn’t see much of that cash. Only 2.5% to 3.5% of small businesses would be affected by an increase in those two rates.
People Press: As the nation prepares for another round of deficit reduction debates, the public’s confidence in congressional leaders, particularly Republican leaders in Congress, has plummeted. Just 35% say they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in Republican leaders in Congress to do the right thing when it comes to dealing with the federal budget deficit, down from 47% in May. Fully 62% say they have little or no confidence in the Republican leaders on this issue.
Public confidence in Barack Obama on the budget deficit, by comparison, has remained largely unchanged. The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center finds that 52% express at least a fair amount of confidence in Obama to do the right thing when it comes to dealing with the deficit, virtually unchanged from 55% earlier in the year.
The drop in confidence in GOP congressional leaders is broad based, even occurring among Republicans themselves …… Democrats offer a more positive assessment of their leaders’ handling of the deficit than Republicans do of theirs. Fully 84% of Democrats have at least a fair amount of confidence in Obama to do the right thing regarding the deficit, and 75% are confident in Democratic leaders in Congress….
…. The survey also finds continued public support for raising the tax rate on high incomes as a way to reduce the federal budget deficit and the size of the national debt. Two-thirds (67%) approve of raising the tax rate on incomes over $250,000 as a means of reducing the national debt … Just 30% disapprove…