Obama Signs Bill to Help 9/11 Workers:
President Obama took time out of his Hawaiian vacation on Sunday to sign into law one of the surprise accomplishments of the lame-duck Congress: a measure covering the cost of medical care for rescue workers and others sickened by toxic fumes and dust after the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
To become law, the bill required Mr. Obama’s signature before he returned to Washington on Tuesday, so he signed it at his rented vacation home in the town of Kailua, near Honolulu. There was no signing ceremony, as there would probably have been had the president been at the White House. Instead, Mr. Obama’s official photographer recorded the moment, and the White House said it would release a picture.
The $4.3 billion bill became a major point of contention in the waning days of the Congressional session. Republican senators blocked a more expensive House version, and as it appeared that the measure was going to die, the comedian Jon Stewart took up the cause, using his Comedy Central television program to advocate passage. Ultimately, the Senate approved the less expensive measure; the House quickly followed suit and sent the bill to the president…. – NYT, 1-2-11
By Bonnie K. Goodman
Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 111TH & 112TH CONGRESS:
U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson struck down on Monday a key facet of the federal health-care reform law. (Jay Paul For The Washington Post)
STATS & POLLS
- Read Judge Hudson’s 42-page health care law ruling – DocumentCloud
- Judge in Va. strikes down federal health care law: A federal judge declared the foundation of President Barack Obama’s health care law unconstitutional Monday, ruling that the government cannot require Americans to purchase insurance. The case is expected to end up at the Supreme Court.
U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson rejected the government’s argument that it has the power to enact the requirement under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.
He wrote that no court had extended the clause to allow regulation of a person’s decision not to buy a product, and that the government’s reasoning could also apply to decisions about transportation, housing or nutrition.
“At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance — or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage — it’s about an individual’s right to choose to participate,” Hudson wrote.
In his order, he said he will allow the law to remain in effect while appeals are heard, meaning there is unlikely to be any immediate impact on other provisions that have already taken effect. The insurance coverage mandate is not scheduled to begin until 2014…. – AP, 12-13-10
- Judge Voids Key Part of Health Care Law: A federal district judge in Virginia ruled on Monday that the keystone provision in the Obama health care law is unconstitutional, becoming the first court in the country to invalidate any part of the sprawling act and ensuring that appellate courts will receive contradictory opinions from below.
Judge Henry E. Hudson, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, declined the plaintiff’s request to freeze implementation of the law pending appeal, meaning that there should be no immediate effect on the ongoing rollout of the law. But the ruling is likely to create confusion among the public and further destabilize political support for legislation that is under fierce attack from Republicans in Congress and in many statehouses.
In a 42-page opinion issued in Richmond, Va., Judge Hudson wrote that the law’s central requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance exceeds the regulatory authority granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The insurance mandate is central to the law’s mission of covering more than 30 million uninsured because insurers argue that only by requiring healthy people to have policies can they afford to treat those with expensive chronic conditions.
The judge wrote that his survey of case law “yielded no reported decisions from any federal appellate courts extending the Commerce Clause or General Welfare Clause to encompass regulation of a person’s decision not to purchase a product, not withstanding its effect on interstate commerce or role in a global regulatory scheme.”
Judge Hudson is the third district court judge to reach a determination on the merits in one of the two dozen lawsuits filed against the health care law. The others — in Detroit and Lynchburg, Va. — have upheld the law. Lawyers on both sides said the appellate process could last another two years before the Supreme Court settles the dispute…. – NYT, 12-13-10
- Virginia health-care ruling strikes down key provision of Obama’s plan: A federal judge in Virginia ruled Monday that a key provision of the nation’s sweeping health-care overhaul is unconstitutional, the most significant legal setback so far for President Obama’s signature domestic initiative.
U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson found that Congress could not order individuals to buy health insurance.
In a 42-page opinion, Hudson said the provision of the law that requires most individuals to get insurance or pay a fine by 2014 is an unprecedented expansion of federal power that cannot be supported by Congress’s power to regulate interstate trade.
“Neither the Supreme Court nor any federal circuit court of appeals has extended Commerce Clause powers to compel an individual to involuntarily enter the stream of commerce by purchasing a commodity in the private market,” he wrote. “In doing so, enactment of the [individual mandate] exceeds the Commerce Clause powers vested in Congress under Article I [of the Constitution.] WaPo, 12-13-10
- Virginia Judge Rules Major Health Reform Provision Unconstitutional: Federal judge Henry Hudson ruled Monday afternoon that a major provision of the health care reform law is unconstitutional, setting up a legal battle that will likely end at the Supreme Court…. Hudson is the first federal judge to declare the individual mandate unconstitutional — two other judges have sided with the Obama administration.
“I am gratified we prevailed. This won’t be the final round, as this will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court, but today is a critical milestone in the protection of the Constitution,” Cuccinelli said in a statement.
Cuccinelli argued that the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, which gives the federal government the authority to regulate interstate economic activity, could not be used to justify requiring individuals to buy health insurance.
“The federal government asked the court to consider as economic activity the decision not to buy health insurance,” he said in a press conference. “This court and this judge rejected that leap of logic.”… – PBS Newshour, 12-13-10
- Top Republicans praise Va. health care ruling: Top Republicans Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and Eric Cantor all oppose President Obama’s health care law. Top Republicans say a Virginia court’s ruling striking down a key part of President Obama’s health care law helps their push to repeal the measure…. – USA Today, 12-13-10
- WH: Health care case does not create uncertainty: The White House says it disagrees with a Virginia judge’s ruling declaring a key provision of President Barack Obama’s health care law unconstitutional. But officials say it does not create uncertainty about the implementation of the law’s provisions.
“Our belief is that when all the legal wrangling is done, this is something that will be upheld,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
White House health reform director Nancy-Ann DeParle said that while the Virginia judge ruled against the law, the administration is encouraged by two other federal judges that have upheld the law…. – ABC, WRIC, 12-13-10
- Big legal setback for Obama’s health care overhaul: President Barack Obama’s historic health care overhaul hit its first major legal roadblock Monday, thrown into doubt by a federal judge’s declaration that the heart of the sweeping legislation is unconstitutional. The decision handed Republican foes ammunition for their repeal effort next year as the law heads for almost certain eventual judgment by the U.S. Supreme Court….. – AP, 12-13-10
- Judge’s decision on health law conflicts with other cases: A U.S. district judge’s ruling Monday that overthrows a key portion of President Obama’s health care law conflicts with other lower-court rulings and centers on a thorny area of the law at the Supreme Court.
At issue in the latest ruling on the health care initiative is a provision that requires most Americans to buy health insurance. The legal question is whether a person’s decision not to buy coverage is economic activity that affects interstate commerce and can be regulated by Congress.
U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson ruled Monday that the decision to forgo insurance does not affect interstate commerce. Hudson said the law would penalize a person for not acting, rather than for voluntarily taking part in some economic activity.
Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Norman Moon, also in Virginia, ruled the opposite, saying a decision to opt out is an “economic” one that ends up affecting the whole system, for example, “by collectively shifting billions of dollars on to other market participants and driving up the prices of insurance policies.”
At the Supreme Court, where the ultimate fate of the health care overhaul probably rests, the justices’ recent rulings on the power of Congress have been marked by narrow votes and shifting majorities. Yet in one of the most significant disputes, a 2005 case testing federal anti-drug law, the high court broadly interpreted congressional power…. – USA Today, 12-13-10
- Judge Henry Hudson, Washington Post: “Neither the Supreme Court nor any federal circuit court of appeals has extended Commerce Clause powers to compel an individual to involuntarily enter the stream of commerce by purchasing a commodity in the private market,” he wrote. “In doing so, enactment of the [individual mandate] exceeds the Commerce Clause powers vested in Congress under Article I [of the Constitution.]“
- Cantor, McDonnell call for expedited Supreme Court review of health-care law: U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) are calling on the Obama administration to join Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) in fast-tracking Supreme Court consideration of the constitutionality of the federal health-care law.
Those statements are some of a staggering volume of reaction within Virginia to today’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson that a central provision of the law requiring that individuals obtain health insurance by 2014 is unconstitutional. The federal government can appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. But Cuccinelli has asked them to consider joining him in requesting immediate Supreme Court review.
At an afternoon news conference, Cuccinelli said bypassing the appeals court would relieve the country — and its massive health-care market — of the uncertainty of a continued lengthy legal battle. Already, Americans face a confused landscaped including 25 challenges to the law. Some have been dismissed on standing; two other judges have found the same provision of the law to be constitutional.
Cuccinelli said he would consider asking the Supreme Court to take the case even without Justice Department cooperation, but he has made no decisions on the issue…. – WaPo, 12-13-10
- John Boehner: A federal judge today ruled that the individual mandate in President Obama’s jobs-killing health care law is unconstitutional. When the new Congress convenes, Republicans will make good on our pledge to America & fight to repeal ObamaCare. We need to start over w/common-sense reforms that will protect jobs & help lower health care costs without unconstitutional mandates, new taxes, & penalties on small businesses.
- Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R): In a statement, McDonnell said he has asked other governors and governors-elect to sign on to a letter to the Justice Department asking for their cooperation. McDonnell called the legal decision a “victory for the constitution” but said executives like him need a final resolution of the issue as they move ahead with implementing the complicated law. “There must be certainty and finality in order for our businesses and citizens to both know and adhere to the law.”
- U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.): Cantor pledged that the new Republican-led House of Representatives would pass a repeal of the act next year, but in the meantime also called for expedited review. “In this challenging environment, we must not burden our states, employers and families with the costs and uncertainty created by this unconstitutional law, and we must take all steps to resolve this issue immediately,” he said.
- Rep. Eric Cantor, the incoming House majority leader:
“We must not burden our states, employers and families with the costs and uncertainty created by this unconsitutional law,” said Cantor, R-Va., who vowed that Republicans in the House will push for the law’s repeal when the party takes control in January.
- Eric Cantor: Today’s ruling is a clear affirmation that President Obama’s health care law is unconstitutional and that the efforts of Governor McDonnell and Attorney General Cuccinelli have raised legitimate concerns. Furthermore, once the new House Republican Majority is sworn into office in January, we will pass a clean repeal of ObamaCare.
- Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli: “I am gratified we prevailed. This won’t be the final round, as this will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court, but today is a critical milestone in the protection of the Constitution,” Cuccinelli said in a statement.
“The federal government asked the court to consider as economic activity the decision not to buy health insurance,” he said in a press conference. “This court and this judge rejected that leap of logic.”
“Unfortunately, striking the ‘individual responsibility’ provision could also jeopardize the most popular insurance reform in the statute: preventing insurance companies from denying health coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions. While politically motivated opponents of the Affordable Care Act, like Attorney General Cuccinelli, may applaud this decision, for people with health conditions it could be quite tragic,” he said.
- Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler in a statement: “We are disappointed in today’s ruling but continue to believe — as other federal courts in Virginia and Michigan have found — that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional.” “We are confident that we will ultimately prevail.”
- White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a press conference that the administration would appeal the ruling and that “Our belief is that the health care act will go forward and that it is constitutional.”
- Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.: “Today’s ruling should signal the beginning of the end for Obamacare.”:
- Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, hailed the ruling as “a great day for liberty.” He summed up the issue of the government mandate like this: “If the government can tell you what to buy, then what limits on federal power exist?”
- Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee: “This decision strikes a blow for freedom.”
- On the Democratic side, Rep. Henry Waxman says it’s clear the question of whether the individual mandate is constitutional will be decided by the Supreme Court.
“When it gets there (to the high court), I am confident that cooler heads will prevail and that the health reform law will be upheld in full,” said Waxman, D-Calif., the current chairman of the commerce committee. He noted that some justices early on ruled that Social Security was illegal.
- MA Senator Scott Brown lauds unconstitutional ruling on Obama Care: “This shows you the federal mandate of one size fits all is not appropriate,” Brown told the Herald. “It should be left up to the states.” “This also shows the Massachusetts health care law is nothing like the federal mandate,” Brown said. “The federal mandate does not pass constitutional muster. The state’s rights are very important and this ruling proves it.” – Boston Herald, 12-13-10
- Stephanie Cutter is Assistant to the President for Special Projects: Today’s Health Care Court Ruling: Today’s narrow ruling in Virginia on the constitutionality of a provision of the Affordable Care Act is just one of many recent rulings on similar cases that have come down in recent months. Since the law passed, opponents of reform have filed more than 20 different legal challenges. Judges have already granted the Administration’s motion to dismiss 12 of these cases. And in two cases, federal judges looked at the merits of the opponents’ arguments, determined that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and upheld the law.
We disagree with the ruling issued today in Virginia and the Department of Justice is considering its appeal options.
We are pleased that Judge Hudson agrees that implementation of the law will continue uninterrupted. In the nine months since the health reform law was passed, we’ve made tremendous progress to strengthen our health care system, including lowering costs and implementing a new patient’s bill of rights to end some of the worst insurance company abuses. That work continues. And we’re confident that when it’s all said and done, the courts will find the Affordable Care Act constitutional.
History and the facts are on our side. Similar legal challenges to major new laws — including the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act — were all filed and all failed. Contrary to what opponents argue the new law falls well within Congress’s power to regulate economic activity under the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause, and the General Welfare Clause.
Opponents of reform claim that the individual responsibility requirement – the requirement that all Americans carry a minimum level insurance by 2014 –exceeds Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce because it penalizes economic “inactivity.” Make no mistake — individuals who choose to go without health insurance are actively engaged in economic decision making – the decision to pay for health care out-of-pocket or to seek uncompensated care. Every year millions of those who have chosen to go without health insurance actively seek medical care, which is evident in the billions of dollars spent on uncompensated care every year.
The Affordable Care Act came into being precisely because of the interconnectedness of our health care costs. People who make an economic decision to forego health insurance do not opt out of the health care market, but instead shift their costs to others when they become ill or are involved in an accident and cannot pay. Those costs – $43 billion in 2008 alone – are borne by doctors, hospitals, insured individuals, taxpayers and small businesses throughout the nation. This cost-shift added on average $1,000 to family premiums in 2009 and roughly $410 to an individual premium.
This concept is clearly seen in other areas of commerce. For example, in most states, drivers are required to carry a minimum level of auto insurance. Accidents happen and when they do, they need to be paid for quickly and responsibly. Requiring drivers to carry auto insurance accomplishes this goal. Similarly, the Affordable Care Act, through the individual responsibility requirement, will require everyone to carry some form of health insurance since everyone at some point in time participates in the health care system, and incur costs that must be paid for.
It’s no surprise then, that President Reagan’s Solicitor General Charles Fried recently wrote, “the health care law’s enemies have no ally in the Constitution.” Two federal judges that recently ruled on the challenge to the constitutionality of the reform law in Michigan and Virginia agreed. These lawsuits were dismissed, with the federal judge in Virginia concluding “how and when to pay for health care are activities…in the aggregate…substantially affect[s] the interstate health care market.”
Two federal judges have agreed with this argument. In an earlier ruling in the Western District of Virginia, a federal judge wrote:
“I hold that there is a rational basis for Congress to conclude that individuals’ decisions about how and when to pay for health care are activities that in the aggregate substantially affect the interstate health care market…Nearly everyone will require health care services at some point in their lifetimes, and it is not always possible to predict when one will be afflicted by illness or injury and require care…Far from ‘inactivity,’ by choosing to forgo insurance, Plaintiffs are making an economic decision to try to pay for health care services later, out of pocket, rather than now, through the purchase of insurance. As Congress found, the total incidence of these economic decisions has a substantial impact on the national market for health care by collectively shifting billions of dollars on to other market participants and driving up the prices of insurance policies.”
The Affordable Care Act also bans insurance companies from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions. However, unless every American is required to have insurance, it would be cost prohibitive to cover people with preexisting conditions. Here’s why: If insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to anyone who applies for insurance – especially those who have health problems and are potentially more expensive to cover – then there is nothing stopping someone from waiting until they’re sick or injured to apply for coverage since insurance companies can’t say no. That would lead to double digit premiums increases – up to 20% – for everyone with insurance, and would significantly increase the cost health care spending nationwide. We don’t let people wait until after they’ve been in a car accident to apply for auto insurance and get reimbursed, and we don’t want to do that with healthcare. If we’re going to outlaw discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, the only way to keep people from gaming the system and raising costs on everyone else is to ensure that everyone takes responsibility for their own health insurance.
There have been many rulings on court cases regarding health reform and we know there will be many more. In the end, the Affordable Care Act will prevail and the American people will enjoy the benefits of reform. WH, 12-13-10
HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS
- Larry J. Sabato Professor of Politics, University of Virginia “Hiccup or heart attack for health care reform? Plus, will White House charm offensive work?”: Let’s see. The Democratic judges who have ruled so far have upheld the health care reform law and the Republican judge has struck down the law’s heart. Very predictable to this point because — despite the claims of many in the judicial branch — the partisan identification and personal ideology of judges matter enormously in cases with strong political overtones. If you knew the backgrounds of the Democratic judges and Republican Judge Henry Hudson, you could have made a bundle betting in Vegas.
Eventually the controversy will reach the Supreme Court, otherwise known as “Anthony Kennedy,” for its resolution.
- Mary Frances Berry Professor of American Social Thought and History, U. Penn.: Since the legality of the Health reform law will be at issue until decided by the Supreme Court, it is worth noting that Justice Thomas has repeatedly expressed an interest in curbing the power of Congress under the Commerce Clause. He would revisit decisions dating back to the New Deal. Other justices have shown varying degrees of interest.
It is, therefore, entirely possible that the health reform individual mandate could be overturned in a 5-4 decision. It is also entirely possible that other recent congressional enactments, under the Commerce Clause, might be affected. Since the individual mandate is the “linchpin” of the health reform law, there is reason for worry.
- Tevi Troy Visiting Senior Fellow, the Hudson Institute; Former Deputy HHS secretary: President Obama is right to be concerned about oversight investigations, but a charm offensive directed toward the new GOP chairmen may not help him much. With the Democrats controlling both houses of Congress for Obama’s first two years, the White House has not had to worry much about congressional oversight into agency activities. This will change in January, and White House phone calls or tea parties with the GOP chairmen are unlikely to deter them from their investigative efforts.
- Julian E. Zelizer Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton : Many say there wasn’t that much to investigate with President Clinton, but the GOP found a way. As the politics heat up, investigations are likely to come.
- Kyle Wingfield: Strike one against ObamaCare: Today’s ruling by a federal judge in Virginia, declaring the health-insurance mandate in ObamaCare unconstitutional, is not the last word by any means. But to paraphrase Vice President Biden’s line about the law, it’s a big bleepin’ deal. This isn’t the big states’ lawsuit against the federal government over the law; Georgia and 20 other states are pursuing a lawsuit working its way through federal courts in Florida. It is, however, the lawsuit that addresses the constitutional question that so many conservatives raised during the health-reform debate: Can the federal government compel citizens to buy a particular product (in this case, health insurance)?…. – Atlanta Journal Constitution, 12-13-10
- Derek Thompson: What if the Supreme Court Strikes Down the Insurance Mandate?: The key provision in the health care reform law that requires all citizens to buy insurance is unconstitutional, according to a Virginia district judge. Judge Henry E. Hudson ruled that the insurance mandate violated the Commerce Clause because it tries to regulate the opposite of commerce — the refusal to purchase health care insurance. Before I start to make a big deal about this story, let’s remember why it’s silly to make a big deal about this story. First, two judges have already ruled that the insurance mandate is constitutional. Second, it could be another two years before the Supreme Court picks up the case against the insurance mandate. Third, the bulk of the health care overhaul doesn’t come online until 2014 anyway, which means we’re debating the legality of provisions that won’t become reality for another two election cycles.
But in the slim chance that the Supreme Court does strike down the insurance mandate, what would be the options of an Obama administration, or Democratic Party? To get a handle on that question, I spoke with Paul Van de Water at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Here were the four ideas we discussed…. – The Atlantic, 12-13-10
A new poll shows that people are becoming more nostalgic for the Bush years.
Back in April, Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg was fairly confident that Republicans had peaked too early. While Democratic losses would be severe, he predicted, “it will not be another 1994.” Now the former pollster for Bill Clinton is less sure Democrats can avoid a blowout. The reason? His polls show that President Obama’s campaign refrain that the country must “go forward, not go backward” to the past actually loses votes for Democrats.
President Obama has been enamored of the theme that the country can’t afford to return to what he terms the discredited policies of the Bush years. “That’s the mantra that he wants to drill into voters’ heads between now and November,” ABC News reported last summer.
The only problem, according to Mr. Greenberg, is that it doesn’t work. “Though voters agree the economy was an ‘inherited’ problem, they do not like to hear politicians blaming Bush or looking backwards,” he concluded in his study. In an interview with Jane Hamsher of the blog Firedog Lake, Mr. Greenberg went on to say: “I’m really puzzled by Democratic leaders stuck in a message that demonstrably doesn’t work.” He puts it down to the president listening to economic advisers who want him to set a rhetorical tone that “will help confidence to come back.”
But so far the only thing that seems to be coming back is nostalgia for George W. Bush. A new CNN poll finds voters still believe Mr. Obama is a better president than Mr. Bush was, but by only 47% to 45%. That’s down from a whopping 23-point margin last year. “Democrats would be wise to think twice before bringing up the name of President Bush on the campaign trail this fall,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs briefs reporters at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 11.
- Robert Gibbs on flak from the left: ‘No inflatable exit’ from his office: At Wednesday’s White House briefing, press secretary Robert Gibbs came prepared to field questions concerning his recent complaint about the ‘professional left.’… – CS Monitor, 8-11-10
- Gibbs stands by remarks on liberals _ sort of: White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday he might have said things differently when he lashed out at liberals he called the “professional left” and suggested some of them should be drug tested. But he told his daily White house briefing that he’s certainly not leaving his job over the remark, as at least one Democratic congressman has suggested. And he stuck to his line that President Barack Obama has accomplished or made great strides on key goals and promises despite criticism from some liberals that he has not done enough…. – AP, 8-11-10
- White House in dispute with ‘professional left’: The White House was on the defensive Tuesday after press secretary Robert Gibbs lashed out at liberals he dubbed the “professional left,” saying some of them should be drug-tested. Gibbs contended that some progressives critical of President Barack Obama wouldn’t be satisfied until the Pentagon was eliminated and Canadian-style health care ushered into the U.S. Some of them wouldn’t even be happy if anti-war congressman Dennis Kucinich were president, according to Gibbs. His comments appeared Tuesday in “The Hill” newspaper…. – AP, 8-10-10
- White House unloads anger over criticism from ‘professional left’: The White House is simmering with anger at criticism from liberals who say President Obama is more concerned with deal-making than ideological purity. During an interview with The Hill in his West Wing office, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs blasted liberal naysayers, whom he said would never regard anything the president did as good enough.
“I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs said. “I mean, it’s crazy.” The press secretary dismissed the “professional left” in terms very similar to those used by their opponents on the ideological right, saying, “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.” Of those who complain that Obama caved to centrists on issues such as healthcare reform, Gibbs said: “They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.” – The Hill, 8-10-10
- Robert Gibbs, putting things a little too plainly: The president has succeeded in passing the bulk of his agenda over the strenuous objections of a resurgent Republican minority. But his critics, particularly those on the left, are still grumbling and unsatisfied. They say the president is not moving fast enough. Some have even compared him to former president George W. Bush.
That last was enough to send press secretary Robert Gibbs over the edge Tuesday. In a rant that he later described as “inartful,” Gibbs unloaded on what he called the “professional left” and said they were out of touch with reality. “I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug-tested,” Gibbs told The Hill’s Sam Youngman in an interview. “I mean, it’s crazy.”
In his apology, Gibbs offered a peek inside the current mental state at the White House: “Day after day, it gets frustrating,” he wrote. – (Gibbs’s comments about the Democratic base) The Hill Interview – WaPo, 8-11-10
- Gibbs condemns criticism from ‘professional left’: Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) says Gibbs should resign. “This is not the first time that Mr. Gibbs has made untoward and inflammatory comments and I certainly hope that people in the White House don’t share his view that the left is unimportant to the president,” he said. “I understand him having some loyalty to the president who employs him, but I think he’s walking over the line.”… White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters, “I don’t think there’s any danger of that happening.”…. – WaPo, 8-11-10
KAGAN CONFIRMED AND SWORN IN AS THE 112TH JUSTICE
By Bonnie K. Goodman
Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.
AP Elena Kagan is sworn in Saturday as the Supreme Court’s newest member as Chief Justice John Roberts, right, administers the judicial oath. More photos
- Kagan sworn in as fourth woman on Supreme Court: Elena Kagan was sworn in Saturday as the 112th justice and fourth woman ever to serve on the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath to Kagan in a brief private ceremony at the court. Kagan, joined by family and friends, pledged to faithfully and impartially uphold the law. Afterward, she smiled broadly as a crowd of onlookers stood and applauded. “We look forward to serving with you,” Roberts said…. – AP, 8-7-10
- Elena Kagan sworn in as Supreme Court justice: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. administers the oath two days after her confirmation by the Senate. She is not expected to dramatically alter the ideological makeup of the court…. – LAT, 8-7-10
- Brewing legal disputes could define Kagan’s early tenure: Reporting from Washington– This summer, as Elena Kagan quietly moved toward confirmation to the Supreme Court, three major legal disputes took shape that could define her early years. The justices soon will be called upon to decide whether states like Arizona can enforce immigration laws, whether same-sex couples have a right to marry and whether Americans can be required to buy health insurance. Kagan’s record strongly suggests she will vote in favor of federal regulation of immigration and health insurance and vote to oppose discrimination against gays and lesbians. What is less clear is whether she will be voting with a center-left majority that includes Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, or as liberal dissenter on a court whose five Republican appointees outvote the four Democratic appointees…. – LAT, 8-8-10
- Kagan celebrates with Obama, to be sworn Saturday: A beaming Elena Kagan and President Barack Obama on Friday celebrated her imminent ascension to the Supreme Court with jokes and references to the irreverent sense of humor she put on display during her Senate confirmation hearing.
An audience in the East Room of the White House, filled with Kagan’s friends and extended family, along with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy, screamed with joy and applauded as Obama introduced “Justice Elena Kagan.” Kagan, 50, holds the title of U.S. solicitor general for one more day.
“While she may be feeling a twinge of sadness about giving up the title of general — a cool title — I think we can agree that Justice Elena Kagan has a pretty nice ring to it,” Obama said of his second successful appointment to the court…. – AP, 8-6-10
- Obama on Kagan: ‘This is a good day’: After receiving some so-so news on unemployment this morning, President Obama got to kick back today and celebrate the elevation of his second Supreme Court justice. “This is a good day,” Obama said in a ceremony for Elena Kagan, who on Saturday will be sworn in as the high court’s 112th justice. Noting that he appointed Kagan as U.S. solicitor general two years ago, Obama said: “While she may be feeling a twinge of sadness about giving up the title of general — a cool title — I think we can all agree that Justice Elena Kagan has a pretty nice ring to it.”… – USA Today, 8-6-10
- Senate confirms Kagan as 112th justice: The Senate confirmed Elena Kagan Thursday as the Supreme Court’s 112th justice and the fourth woman in its history, granting a lifetime term to a lawyer and academic with a reputation for brilliance, a dry sense of humor and a liberal bent.
The vote was 63-37 for President Barack Obama’s nominee to succeed retired Justice John Paul Stevens.
Five Republicans joined all but one Democrat and the Senate’s two independents to support Kagan. In a rarely practiced ritual reserved for the most historic votes, senators sat at their desks and stood to cast their votes with “ayes” and “nays.”
Kagan watched the vote with her Justice Department colleagues in the solicitor general’s conference room, the White House said. Obama, traveling in Chicago, said her confirmation was an affirmation of her character and judicial temperament, and called the addition of another woman to the court a sign of progress for the country…. – AP, 8-5-10
White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 8/6/10
- Honoring Elena Kagan: Remarks by the President and Elena Kagan at Reception Honoring Her Confirmation: These folks may not agree on much, but they’ve all been impressed, as I have, by Elena’s formidable intellect and path-breaking career — as an acclaimed scholar and presidential advisor, as the first woman to serve as Dean of the Harvard Law School, and most recently as Solicitor General. They admire how, while she could easily have settled into a comfortable practice in corporate law, she chose instead to devote her life to public service. They appreciate her even-handedness and open-mindedness, and her excellent — and often irreverent — sense of humor.
These are traits that she happens to share with the last Solicitor General who went on to become a Supreme Court Justice — one for whom Elena clerked, and whom she considers one of her heroes — Justice Thurgood Marshall. And we are very proud to have Justice Marshall’s widow here today joining us. (Applause.)
In a tribute she wrote after Justice Marshall’s death, Elena recalled how she and her fellow clerks took turns standing guard when his casket lay in state at the Supreme Court — and how 20,000 people stood in a line that stretched around the block to pay their respects. They were people from every background and every walk of life: black, white, rich and poor, young and old. Many brought their children, hoping to impress upon them the lessons of Justice Marshall’s extraordinary life. Some left notes, some left flowers. One mourner left a worn slip opinion of Brown v. Board of Education.
It is, to this day, a moving reminder that the work of our highest Court shapes not just the character of our democracy, but the most fundamental aspects of our daily lives — how we work, how we worship, whether we can speak freely and live fully, whether those words put to paper more than two centuries ago will truly mean something for each of us in our time. – WH, 8-6-10
- Honoring Elena Kagan: Remarks by Elena Kagan at Reception Honoring Her Confirmation: Finally, I want to thank my family and friends. I have a lot of family here today — my brothers and sister-in- law, a nephew, a niece, aunts, uncles, cousins — and I have a great many friends here as well. You came from all over the country as soon as you heard the Senate had approved my nomination. And I’m moved and deeply grateful for your support.
And all around me in this room, I feel the presence of my parents. I wouldn’t be standing here today if not for their love and sacrifice and devotion. And although my parents didn’t live to see this day, what I can almost hear them saying — and I think I can hear Justice Marshall saying this to me right now as well — is that this appointment is not just an honor. Much more importantly, it is an obligation — an obligation to protect and preserve the rule of law in this country; an obligation to uphold the rights and liberties afforded by our remarkable Constitution; and an obligation to provide what the inscription on the Supreme Court building promises: equal justice under law.
Tomorrow, I will take two oaths to uphold this solemn obligation: one, to support and defend the Constitution; and the other, to administer justice without respect to persons, to the rich and poor alike.
Today, Mr. President, I will simply say to you and to everyone here and across the nation that I will work my hardest and try my best to fulfill these commitments and to serve this country I love as well as I am able. – WH, 8-6-10
IN FOCUS: CHELSEA CLINTON’S WEDDING
Former US president Bill Clinton and wife US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with their daughter Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky. Photo: AFP
- The Big Day: Chelsea Clinton’s Wedding – NYT Caucus, 8-2-10
- Just Married: Mr. and Mrs. Marc Mezvinsky Chelsea Clinton Got What She Wanted: A Wedding Surrounded by Family and Friends, With the Media at Arm’s Length: “Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. and Mrs. Marc Mezvinsky.” Perhaps you’ve heard: Chelsea Victoria Clinton, the only child of the 42nd President and the current Secretary of State, was married to her long-time beau, investment banker Marc Mezvinsky. It happened last night at Astor Courts, a lavish estate on the east bank of the Hudson River, about 90 miles north of New York City. In a statement, the family said they couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day…. – CBS News, 8-1-10
- Town Elbows Its Way Into Clinton Wedding: At 7:23 p.m. came an announcement from the family via e-mail: Ms. Clinton was now married to Marc Mezvinsky.
Ms. Clinton, 30, wore a strapless gown, beaded at the waist and designed by Vera Wang (who caused a commotion of her own when she showed up in town on Saturday). The mother of the bride wore a plum-colored gown by Oscar de la Renta.
The interfaith ceremony was conducted by Rabbi James Ponet and the Rev. William Shillady. Ms. Clinton is Methodist, and Mr. Mezvinsky is Jewish.
It included elements from both traditions: friends and family reading the Seven Blessings, which are typically recited at traditional Jewish weddings following the vows and exchange of rings.
A friend of the couple read the poem “The Life That I Have” by Leo Marks…. – NYT, 8-1-10
- Chelsea Clinton weds at New York estate: Chelsea Clinton has married her longtime boyfriend at an exclusive estate along New York’s Hudson River.
Bill and Hillary Clinton announced in a statement that their daughter wed investment banker Marc Mezvinsky on Saturday night after weeks of secrecy and buildup that had celebrity watchers flocking to the small village of Rhinebeck for the evening nuptials…. – Sydney Morning Herald, 8-1-10
- Joint statement from Clintons on Chelsea’s wedding: Joint statement by former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the wedding of their daughter, Chelsea:
“Today, we watched with great pride and overwhelming emotion as Chelsea and Marc wed in a beautiful ceremony at Astor Courts, surrounded by family and their close friends. We could not have asked for a more perfect day to celebrate the beginning of their life together, and we are so happy to welcome Marc into our family. On behalf of the newlyweds, we want to give special thanks to the people of Rhinebeck for welcoming us and to everyone for their well-wishes on this special day.”…. – AP, 8-1-10
- Chelsea’s wedding puts a spotlight on mixed marriages: Chelsea Clinton, a Methodist, and Marc Mezvinsky, a conservative Jew, had their very private wedding on Saturday. But the public may not be done peering through the shrubbery at their lives.
Like it or not, the famous bride and groom will continue to be the focus of scrutiny for their religiously mixed marriage — a category that’s growing rapidly among U.S. couples…. – USA Today, 8-2-10
- New Chelsea Clinton Wedding Photo Shows Bride with Mother, Grandmother: Three generations of women pose side by side in a newly released photo from Chelsea Clinton’s wedding. The image shows the bride posing with her mother, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and her grandmother, Dorothy Howell Rodham. The picture shows more of Clinton’s ivory strapless gown with a laser-cut organza ballgown skirt and a sparkly belt, which was designed by Vera Wang, and also gives a better look at her mother’s dress, a fuchsia gown with floral details by Oscar de la Renta…. – CBS News, 8-4-10
- No Wonder Chelsea Clinton Wanted Secrecy: WHEN it comes to publicly exploiting one’s nuptials, Chelsea Clinton could fairly be described as the antipode of Bethenny Frankel. Ms. Clinton, in the words of Joanna Coles, the editor of Marie Claire, “shows celebrities how they should be getting married and that it is possible to stay out of the limelight, if you want to.” Oh, but who would want to? Few images of Ms. Clinton’s wedding to Marc Mezvinsky have been released, frustrating those whose livelihoods depend on a feed of nuptial news. Think of the publicity-seeking designers, the poor caption writers for InStyle, the knockoff artists hoping to make a buck off a Chelsea-inspired trend. Once, designers talked freely about their designs, but this week, an assistant to Vera Wang, who made the wedding gown, hung up on a reporter calling for more details. NYT, 8-4-10
- Doug Wead: Just Married: Mr. and Mrs. Marc Mezvinsky Chelsea Clinton Got What She Wanted: A Wedding Surrounded by Family and Friends, With the Media at Arm’s Length: “We can assume, and people do assume, that Richard Nixon was a very private person, and he didn’t want to have anybody see him cry,” said presidential historian Doug Wead.
“U.S. Grant was a great general, as you know he’d seen a lot of blood, entire tents full of arms and legs amputated,” said Wead. “But when his daughter was married, he wept. He looked at the floor and wept throughout, and said he wouldn’t make eye contact with anybody – looked at his shoes, his boots, and wept through the whole ceremony.” – CBS News, 8-1-10
Chelsea Clinton, right, poses with her mother, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, and grandmother Dorothy Howell Rodham, on July 31, 2010, during her wedding in Rhinebeck, N.Y. (Credit: Barbara Kinney)
- Bill Clinton emerges on Chelsea’s NY wedding eve: The secret of Chelsea’s wedding is officially over. Former President Bill Clinton strolled up the main street in Rhinebeck, N.Y., shortly after noon Friday, the day before his daughter is to marry Marc Mezvinsky at the much-ballyhooed wedding at a private estate. The former president, looking relaxed in blue jeans and a black knit shirt, walked with security a few blocks north from the picturesque village’s main intersection to Gigi Trattoria, whose chef is rumored to be catering tonight’s rehearsal dinner…. – AP, 7-30-10
- Will Chelsea Clinton – Marc Mezvinsky Union Weaken Co-officiation Taboo? Marc and Chelsea under the chupah: Intermarriage for the ages. Strong opposition to rabbi-minister weddings, but some cracks appearing: A ketubah behind them, the bride and groom stood under a chupah with a rabbi, listened to friends recite the Sheva Brachot — and at the end of the ceremony, the tallit-wearing groom stepped on a glass.
But Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky’s long-awaited wedding Saturday night was not your average Jewish ceremony.
That’s not just because the parents held aloft on chairs at the reception included a former U.S. president, the current U.S. secretary of state and two former members of Congress.
And it wasn’t only because the ceremony occurred before Shabbat’s end. It was also because Rabbi James Ponet (pronounced Po-NET), Hebrew Union College-ordained and the longtime director of Yale University’s Slifka Center for Jewish Life, co-officiated alongside Rev. William Shillady, a Methodist minister.
Even as the number of liberal rabbis willing to preside at weddings of Jews to gentiles appears to be growing, co- officiation with clergy of another faith, while hardly unheard of, remains taboo.
Indeed, many, if not most, rabbis who officiate at intermarriages do so only under certain conditions: the ceremony must be exclusively Jewish, and couples are often required to commit to raising Jewish children, taking a Judaism class together and, in some cases, joining a synagogue.
The Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis, of which Rabbi Ponet is a member, officially opposes co-officiating, as does the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, although it is rare for either to discipline members who do so. (Orthodox and Conservative rabbis are forbidden from officiating at all interfaith weddings…. – The Jewish Week, 8-4-10
- Gil Troy: Chelsea Clinton’s Jew “ish” wedding contrasts American Jewish vastness with Israeli Jewish density: This week, Chelsea Clinton was married under a chupah, during Shabbat, to a Jew, Marc Mezvinsky. That Bill and Hillary Clinton’s daughter married a Jew has thrilled many Jews craving acceptance as further proof that American Jews have “made it.” That this intermarriage was adorned with some ritualistic Jewish touches has appalled many Jews defending tradition as further proof that American Jews have diluted Judaism, making it Jew-ish, a more digestible Judaism- lite. I am surprised either camp is surprised.
North America is defined by its vastness. Whenever I travel around America, I am struck by the expanse that defines the New World. Irving Berlin was not just whistling Dixie when he praised America’s spacious skies.
By contrast, Israel is defined by its density. First time pilgrims and veteran Israelis are equally impressed by all the history, humanity, and hysteria often packed into every square kilometer. Israel’s greatest national songwriter Naomi Shemer got it right when she channeled the great medieval poet Yehudah HaLevi in “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” by writing “for ALL of your songs I am your violin” (or lute) – lechol shiriech ani kinor. Especially in Jerusalem, it seems that every stone has multiple stories, nothing is simple; everything is multilayered, multidimensional.
Parked in a land so vast and free, American Jewry has developed a culture of expansiveness. American Jewry is justly celebrated for its openness, to others and to new ideas. The creativity and accessibility make American Jewry hip, dynamic, and welcoming. Most American Jews seem to shout out “Shalom Aleichem,” or “y’all come on in,” to fresh initiatives for achieving gender equality, to liturgical updating, to new rituals, to syntheses with modern culture, to new bridges beckoning to those who show interest in Judaism, regardless of their halachic legal status. Alas, the vastness also leads to porousness, the creativity flirts with superficiality, constantly being demeaned by trendiness. Judaism, traditionally defined as the Etz Haim, the solid, steadfast Tree of Life, risks becoming a will o’ the wisp…. – Jerusalem Post, 8-5-10
By Bonnie K. Goodman
Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:
White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 7/21/10
IN FOCUS: STATS
- Obama signs financial overhaul law: Declaring that “the American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes,” President Obama on Wednesday signed landmark legislation providing the most sweeping overhaul of financial rules since the Great Depression.
The new law reverses decades of deregulation, aiming to provide greater government protection for consumers and reduce risky practices at financial institutions to prevent a repeat of the financial crisis.
Its controversial centerpiece is a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which will have broad authority to write new rules for mortgages, credit cards, payday loans and other consumer products and make sure firms are adhering to them…. – LAT, 7-21-10
- Factbox: Major financial regulation reform proposals: Following are the key elements of the 2,300-page bill… – Reuters, 7-21-10
- The Top 10 Things You May Not Know About the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act – WH, 7-21-10
- Obama, Republicans get ready for new Wall Street battle: We’ve long had the political debate over the effectiveness of the stimulus bill; then this year came the battle over the impact of new health care law. Get ready for the political fight over the value of new Wall Street regulations. President Obama is set to sign the financial regulation bill next week, and he and the Republicans have started an argument that will last until the Nov. 2 congressional elections and beyond. The law will protect consumers, stop the “shadowy deals” that led to the financial crisis of 2008, and keep taxpayers from being “on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes,” Obama said last evening…. – USA Today, 7-17-10
- Financial Overhaul Signals Shift on Deregulation: Congress approved a sweeping expansion of federal financial regulation on Thursday, reflecting a renewed mistrust of financial markets after decades in which Washington stood back from Wall Street with wide-eyed admiration. The bill, heavily promoted by President Obama and Congressional Democrats as a response to the 2008 financial crisis, cleared the Senate by a vote of 60 to 39, largely along party lines, after weeks of wrangling that allowed Democrats to pick up the three Republican votes to ensure passage. The vote was the culmination of nearly two years of fierce lobbying and intense debate over the appropriate response to the financial excesses that dragged the nation into the worst recession since the Great Depression…. – NYT, 7-16-10
- Congress acts, but bank bill has work ahead: In the end, it’s only a beginning. The far-reaching new banking and consumer protection bill awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature now shifts from the politicians to the technocrats. The legislation gives regulators latitude and time to come up with new rules, requires scores of studies and, in some instances, depends on international agreements falling into place. For Wall Street, the next phase represents continuing uncertainty. It also offers banks and other financial institutions yet another opportunity to influence and shape the rules that govern their businesses…. – AP, 7-16-10
- Financial reform bill another win for Obama, but will the public care?: Following the Recovery Act and health-care reform, the newly approved financial reform bill shows that President Obama is adept at getting his agenda through Congress. But the American public cares about one thing right now: the economy…. – CS Monitor, 7-16-10
- Major banking bill faces final vote this week: President Barack Obama on Tuesday secured the 60 votes he needs in the Senate to pass a sweeping overhaul of financial regulations, all but ensuring that he soon will sign into law one of the top initiatives of his presidency. With the votes in hand to overcome Republican delaying tactics, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday took steps to end debate on the bill Thursday, setting the stage for final passage perhaps later in the day. The House already has passed the bill.
“This reform is good for families, it is good for businesses, it’s good for the entire economy,” Obama said as he prodded the Senate to act quickly…. – AP, 7-14-10
- Nelson ensures 60 votes for bank regulation bill: All but clearing the way for passage of financial regulations, conservative Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska said Tuesday he will vote for the sweeping overhaul of banking. His support ensures the legislation now has 60 votes to clear the Senate and land on President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature. The House passed the bill last month.
“This reform is good for families, it is good for businesses , it’s good for the entire economy,” Obama said as he announced his nomination of Jacob Lew to be the new director of the White House budget office…. – AP, 7-13-10
- President Obama Signs Wall Street Reform: “No Easy Task”
Remarks by the President at Signing of Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act:
Passing this bill was no easy task. To get there, we had to overcome the furious lobbying of an array of powerful interest groups and a partisan minority determined to block change. So the members who are here today, both on the stage and in the audience, they have done a great service in devoting so much time and expertise to this effort, to looking out for the public interests and not the special interests. (Applause.) And I also want to thank the three Republican senators who put partisanship aside — (applause) — judged this bill on the merits, and voted for reform. We’re grateful to them. (Applause.) And the Republican House members. (Applause.) Good to see you, Joe. (Applause.)
Now, let’s put this in perspective. The fact is, the financial industry is central to our nation’s ability to grow, to prosper, to compete and to innovate. There are a lot of banks that understand and fulfill this vital role, and there are a whole lot of bankers who want to do right — and do right — by their customers. This reform will help foster innovation, not hamper it. It is designed to make sure that everybody follows the same set of rules, so that firms compete on price and quality, not on tricks and not on traps.
It demands accountability and responsibility from everyone. It provides certainty to everybody, from bankers to farmers to business owners to consumers. And unless your business model depends on cutting corners or bilking your customers, you’ve got nothing to fear from reform. (Applause.)
Now, for all those Americans who are wondering what Wall Street reform means for you, here’s what you can expect. If you’ve ever applied for a credit card, a student loan, or a mortgage, you know the feeling of signing your name to pages of barely understandable fine print. What often happens as a result is that many Americans are caught by hidden fees and penalties, or saddled with loans they can’t afford.
That’s what happened to Robin Fox, hit with a massive rate increase on her credit card balance even though she paid her bills on time. That’s what happened to Andrew Giordano, who discovered hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees on his bank statement –- fees he had no idea he might face. Both are here today. Well, with this law, unfair rate hikes, like the one that hit Robin, will end for good. (Applause.) And we’ll ensure that people like Andrew aren’t unwittingly caught by overdraft fees when they sign up for a checking account. (Applause.)
With this law, we’ll crack down on abusive practices in the mortgage industry. We’ll make sure that contracts are simpler -– putting an end to many hidden penalties and fees in complex mortgages -– so folks know what they’re signing.
With this law, students who take out college loans will be provided clear and concise information about their obligations.
And with this law, ordinary investors -– like seniors and folks saving for retirement –- will be able to receive more information about the costs and risks of mutual funds and other investment products, so that they can make better financial decisions as to what will work for them.
So, all told, these reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history. (Applause.) In history. And these protections will be enforced by a new consumer watchdog with just one job: looking out for people -– not big banks, not lenders, not investment houses -– looking out for people as they interact with the financial system. – WH, 7-21-10
- Wall Street Reform: Final Votes Approach: Remarks by the President in Selection of Jack Lew to be Director of OMB: Before I begin, I just want to note a breakthrough that we’ve had on our efforts to pass the most comprehensive reform of Wall Street since the Great Depression. Three Republican senators have put politics and partisanship aside to support this reform, and I’m grateful for their decision, as well as all the Democrats who’ve worked so hard to make this reform a reality, particularly Chairman Dodd and Chairman Barney Frank.
What members of both parties realize is that we can’t allow a financial crisis like this one that we just went through to happen again. This reform will prevent that from happening. It will prevent a financial crisis like this from happening again, by protecting consumers against the unfair practices of credit card companies and mortgage lenders. It will ensure that taxpayers are never again on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes. And it will end an era of irresponsibility that led to the loss of 8 million jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth.
Now, as we finish our work on Wall Street reform, we’re also mindful that we’ve got significant work to do when it comes to reforming our government and reducing our deficit.
This reform is good for families. It’s good for businesses. It’s good for the entire economy. And I urge the Senate to act quickly so that I can sign it into law next week….. – WH, 7-13-10
President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, delivers remarks before signing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. July 21, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
SEN. ROBERT C. BYRD, 1917-2010
- Remembering Robert Byrd: The longest-serving senator in U.S. history dies at 92 – Time
- Video: Sen. Robert C. Byrd, 1917-2010: Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), the longest-serving senator in U.S. history, has died at the age of 92. Whit Johnson reports. (CBS News) WaPo
- Sen. Robert C. Byrd, champion of the Constitution and his home state, dies at 92: Robert C. Byrd, an orphan from the West Virginia coal fields who served more than half a century in the Senate and used his canny, masterful knowledge of the institution to protect its rules, shape the federal budget and, above all else, tend to the interests of his impoverished state, died Monday. He was 92…. – WaPo, 6-28-10
- Longest-serving US Senator dies: U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, who evolved from a segregationist to a civil rights advocate in becoming the longest serving member ever of the Congress, died on Monday. First elected in 1952, Byrd was 92…. – Reuters, 6-28-10
- Robert C. Byrd, a Pillar of the Senate, Dies at 92: Robert C. Byrd served 51 years in the United States Senate, longer than anyone else in history, and with his six years in the House of Representatives, he was the longest-serving member of Congress. But it was how he used that record tenure that made him a pillar of Capitol Hill — fighting, often with florid words, for the primacy of the legislative branch of government and building, always with canny political skills, a modern West Virginia with vast amounts of federal money….
“America has lost a voice of principle and reason,” the president said. – NYT, 6-28-10
- U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd — 1917-2010: Senator Robert C. Byrd, a son of West Virginia coal country who used his mastery of Senate rules and a taste for hardball tactics to become a passionate and often feared advocate for the state and the Senate he loved, died Monday at age 92. As the Senate opened Monday, Byrd’s desk was draped in black cloth with a bowl of white roses. Flags outside the White House and the Capitol flew at half-staff. … He served longer and cast more votes than any senator in history… – Register Herald, 6-28-10
- Robert Byrd, Respected Voice of the Senate, Dies at 92: Robert C. Byrd, who used his record tenure as a United States senator to fight for the primacy of the legislative branch of government and to build a modern West Virginia with vast amounts of federal money, died at about 3 a.m. Monday, his office said. He was 92.
He had been in failing health for several years. Mr. Byrd served 51 years in the Senate, longer than anyone in American history, and with his six years in the House, he was the longest-serving member of Congress. He held a number of Senate offices, including majority and minority leader and president pro tem. But the post that gave him the most satisfaction was chairman of the Appropriations Committee, with its power of the purse — a post he gave up only last year as his health declined. A New Deal Democrat, Mr. Byrd used the position in large part to battle persistent poverty in West Virginia, which he called “one of the rock bottomest of states.”… – NYT, 6-28-10
- Sen. Robert C. Byrd: Longest-serving senator embodied changes in U.S.: ….In many ways, Sen. Byrd embodied the changes the nation has undergone in the past half century. A onetime segregationist and opponent of civil rights legislation, he evolved into a liberal hero as one of the earliest, unrepentant and most vocal foes of the Iraq war and a supporter of the rights of gays to serve in the military. He was the acknowledged Senate Renaissance man, who could recite poetry by memory for hours and yet be ruthless in advancing his legislative agenda. In many ways a throwback to an era of powerful orators like Henry Clay or John C. Calhoun, the stiff and formal Sen. Byrd could speak at great length with fire and passion, mixing references to the Roman Empire with emotional memories of his almost seven decades with his late wife Erma…. – AP, 6-28-10
- Constitutional Scholar, Senate Elder Statesman Robert Byrd Remembered: Gwen Ifill reports on the life and legacy of West Virginia’s Sen. Robert Byrd, the longest-serving member in the history of Congress. Byrd died Monday at the age of 92… – PBS Newshour, 6-28-10
- Former reporter remembers Byrd’s first office run: But John B. “Jack” Van Dyke remembers a West Virginia House of Delegates candidate in a messy butcher’s apron — “a guy by the name of Robert C. Byrd.” “He said, ‘There’s a guy by the name of Robert C. Byrd. I want you to go interview him,’” Van Dyke recalled. The young reporter walked into the grocery store, asked where he could find “Mr. Robert Byrd” and was sent to the meat counter. “He was cutting up chicken and wearing a bloody apron,” Van Dyke said. “He had on a white cap like I had worn in the Army overseas, but in a different color. There was one black lock of hair showing. ” “I told him who I was, and he said, ‘Give me five minutes.’ … Then, I interviewed Robert Carlyle Byrd, a butcher at the store.”… – Register-Herald, 6-30-10
- Senate Stalwart Returns to Chamber One Last Time: Senator Robert C. Byrd made one last visit to the Senate floor on Thursday to allow his colleagues, staff members and the public to bid him a Capitol farewell after his death Monday at 92. The flag-draped casket of Mr. Byrd was positioned on the Lincoln Catafalque in the well of the Senate, where for decades Mr. Byrd had argued his case as he sought money for his poor state of West Virginia, challenged presidents, opposed the Iraq war and sought to uphold the traditions and trappings of the Senate.
“Lord, we appreciate his wit and wisdom, his stories and music, as well as his indefatigable commitment to the principles of freedom that made American great,” Dr. Barry C. Black, the Senate chaplain, said during a prayer in a private ceremony for senators and family before the doors to the Senate chamber were opened… – NYT, 7-1-10
Senator Robert C. Byrd filing his papers for reelection with Secretary of State Joe Burdett, 1964.
- Sen. Byrd viewing in WV goes into wee hours: They came by the thousands to pay their respects to U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, and they kept trickling in past midnight and into the early morning hours Friday to honor a statesman, a scholar and, above all, a proud West Virginian…. – AP, 7-2-10
- Byrd memorial scheduled today: Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden plan to lead a memorial service today for West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, who died Monday at age 92. Byrd’s casket has been lying in the Capitol in Charleston overnight, for viewing by the public.
On Thursday the Senate bid farewell to Byrd. He lay in repose on the Senate floor for six hours while his colleagues and Capitol Hill staffers lined up to pay their final respects. A private funeral is set for Tuesday in Arlington, Va. – AP, 7-2-10
- Washington begins paying final respects to Robert Byrd: Senators spent Thursday morning paying their final respects to the man they called their dean. Family, friends, colleagues and admirers of Sen. Robert Byrd, the senate’s longest serving member, began what will be a long goodbye honoring the man who was elected to the chamber in 1958 and served through 11 presidential administrations…. – WaPo, 7-1-10
- The opinions of Sen. Robert Byrd: Featured here are some of the opinion columns that Sen. Robert Byrd wrote for The Post during his tenure on Capitol Hill. Byrd, the longest-serving member of Congress, died June 28, 2010 at age 92… – WaPo
- Byrd’s hometown remembers him fondly: The town of Sophia has a population of just 1200 – a small, tight-knit community that is grieving a very personal loss with the death of Robert C. Byrd. “Oh everybody in town is distraught,” said Mayor Danny Barr. “But today I think he’s in heaven with his wife Erma and the Lord carried him back home.” Barr said the citizens of Sophia have always retained a genuine affection for Robert Byrd. “The town will remember him as its favorite son. He always called Sophia his home.” “Byrd was like the rest of us, we were all poor,” he said. “We were all coal mining people, it was just a tough, tough life for everybody.”… – WV PubCast, 6-29-10
- HNN Hot Topics: Robert Byrd, the Historian’s Senator – HNN
Raleigh County historian Scott Worley said he’ll remember Byrd as a teacher:
“He had a wonderful sense of community and history. He wanted people to know and be reminded of their history,” said Worley. “So not only was he the wonderful statesman, he was a wonderful teacher, he wanted us to keep learning from our history,” he said…. – WV PubCast, 6-29-10
Stephen Crowley/The New York Times The coffin of Senator Robert C. Byrd lay in repose in the Capitol on Thursday.