May 11, 2009: President Obama Unrolls Budget, Credit Card and Health Care Plans


The President discusses fiscal responsibility


In Focus: Stats

  • Obama Approval Picks Up in May Still, only 25% say they would definitely vote to re-elect him in 2012: President Barack Obama appears to be slightly more popular with Americans at the start of his second 100 days in office than he was, on average, during his first 100. Gallup Poll Daily tracking from May 7-9 finds 66% of Americans approving of how he is handling his job, compared with an average 63% from January through April.
    Obama’s approval rating has registered 66% or better in each Gallup three-day rolling average since May 2. His 68% approval rating reported on May 3 is tied for the second highest of his presidency, exceeded only by the 69% recorded immediately after his inauguration. And except for one 66% approval rating in late April, all of Obama’s previous 66% to 68% readings were obtained near the start of his term…. – Gallop, 5-11-09



The President talks to the stakeholders
(President Barack Obama meeting with healthcare stakeholders in the Roosevelt Room at White House
May 11, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The Headlines….

  • Reboot in Afghanistan: Gates replaces top general: Taking a cue from voters who elected a president promising a different approach, the Obama administration is replacing the general overseeing the war in Afghanistan with a commander who has special-forces experience. Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a senior administrator with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will take the place of Gen. David McKiernan once he is confirmed by the Senate. Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez will become McChrystal’s deputy with the Senate’s approval, which Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked be granted as soon as possible…. – AP, 5-12-09
  • US to borrow 46 cents for every dollar spent: The government will have to borrow nearly 50 cents for every dollar it spends this year, exploding the record federal deficit past $1.8 trillion under new White House estimates. Budget office figures released Monday would add $89 billion to the 2009 red ink — increasing it to more than four times last year’s all-time high as the government hands out billions more than expected for people who have lost jobs and takes in less tax revenue from people and companies making less money…. – AP, 5-11-09
  • Obama’s Push for Health Care Cuts Faces Daunting Odds: President Obama engineered a political coup on Monday by bringing leaders of the health care industry to the White House to build momentum for his ambitious health care agenda. Mr. Obama pronounced it “a historic day, a watershed event,” because doctors, hospitals, drug makers and insurance companies voluntarily offered $2 trillion in cost reductions over 10 years. The savings, he said, “will help us take the next and most important step — comprehensive health care reform.”… – NYT, 5-11-09
  • Governor of Florida Plans Bid for Senate: Gov. Charlie Crist is expected to announce Tuesday that he will run next year for the United States Senate, ending months of speculation and creating a domino effect that will leave several state positions up for grabs…. – NYT, 5-11-09
  • Obama changes office name, pushes Web work: Someone really is reading those comments left on Barack Obama’s Web sites: the president himself. The White House on Monday changed the name of a major office to reflect how much the administration is using the Internet to sell its agenda and communicate directly with voters. For a candidate who harnessed the Internet to win the presidency, the move — announced on the White House Web site, naturally — underscores Obama’s understanding of new media’s power. “This office will seek to engage as many Americans as possible in the difficult work of changing this country, through meetings and conversations with groups and individuals held in Washington and across the country,” Obama said in a video message posted to the Web…. – AP, 5-11-09
  • Obama Enlists Biden’s Expertise About High Court: The person in the White House most knowledgeable about Supreme Court nominations sits in the vice president’s office. With President Obama filling his first high court vacancy with the retirement of Justice David H. Souter, Vice President Biden finds himself regularly consulting with the president and fielding queries from the White House counsel and others for insights on the process…. – WaPo,
  • Obama says Health overhaul could save U.S. trillions: President Barack Obama will aim on Monday to build support for a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system by highlighting a drive for greater efficiency he predicts could save trillions of dollars…. – Reuters, 5-10-09
  • Health Industry Is Said to Promise to Rein In Costs: Doctors, hospitals, drug makers and insurance companies will join President Obama on Monday in announcing their commitment to a sharp reduction in the growth of national health spending, White House officials said Sunday…. – NYT, 5-10-09
  • U.S. Adviser Holds Firm on Airstrikes in Afghanistan: President Obama’s top national security adviser said on Sunday that the United States would likely continue conducting airstrikes against extremists in Afghanistan despite a sharp warning from President Hamid Karzai that civilian casualties were fast turning ordinary Afghans against the United States…. – NYT, 5-10-09
  • Cheney backs Limbaugh over Powell on GOP future: Dick Cheney made clear Sunday he’d rather follow firebrand broadcaster Rush Limbaugh than former Joint Chiefs chairman Colin Powell into political battle over the future of the Republican Party. Even as Cheney embraced efforts to expand the party by ex-Govs. Jeb Bush of Florida and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and the House’s No. 2 Republican, Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, the former vice president appeared to write his one-time colleague Powell out of the GOP. Asked about recent verbal broadsides between Limbaugh and Powell, Cheney said, “If I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I’d go with Rush Limbaugh. My take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn’t know he was still a Republican.”… – AP, 5-10-09 Washington Times, 5-10-09
  • Obama pokes fun at himself, Dems and GOP: It was the hottest ticket in town, a black-tie dinner gathering of Washington’s political and media elite but Dick Cheney couldn’t make it. The former vice president was busy, President Barack Obama joked, working on his memoir “tentatively titled, How to Shoot Friends and Interrogate People.'”…. – AP, 5-9-09
  • Obama: Send me credit card legislation this month: Send me a bill that stops credit card companies from taking advantage of consumers, and do it by month’s end, President Barack Obama is demanding of Congress. But there’s no guarantee lawmakers will deliver by Memorial Day, and the banking industry is fighting back…. – AP, 5-9-09
  • Republicans and ObamaCare The sound of silence is deafening: Listen. That sound of silence? That’s what’s known as the united Republican response to President Barack Obama’s drive to socialize health care. The president has a plan, and he’s laid it on the table. The industry groups that once helped Republicans beat HillaryCare are today sitting at that table. Unions are mobilized. A liberal umbrella group, Health Care for American Now, is spending $40 million to get a “public option,” a new federal entitlement that would kill off private insurance. Democrats passed a budget blueprint that will allow them to cram through that “public option” with just 51 votes…. – WSJ, 5-9-09
  • Gaps Appear in G.O.P. Solidarity: WAfter being stingy with their support in the early days of the Obama administration, significant numbers of House Republicans have begun breaking from their party leaders and voting for legislation moving through the Democratic-led Congress…. – NYT, 5-9-09
  • On Politics: Dwindling, Connecticut G.O.P. Won’t Look Inward: ON June 4, Newt Gingrich is to address a shrinking Connecticut Republican Party that has sworn off God, guns and gays as wedge issues and rallied around the Yankee ideals of “common sense” and “fiscal responsibility.” Not exactly bumper-sticker material. But this is a state where the G.O.P. has badly withered as Republicans in other states thrived using gay marriage, abortion and the death penalty to energize social conservatives and twice elect George W. Bush as president…. – NYT, 5-9-09
  • US report blames Taliban for civilian deaths: The U.S. coalition blamed Taliban militants Saturday for causing what Afghan officials say are dozens of civilian deaths during a prolonged battle that included American airstrikes. The U.S. said an unspecified number of civilians died but did not take responsibility for any deaths…. – AP, 5-9-09
  • Obama to hold town hall meeting on credit cards: U.S. President Barack Obama will hold a town hall meeting next week in New Mexico to promote congressional efforts to reform credit card practices, the White House said on Friday…. – Rreuters, 5-8-09
  • Analysis: Slow recovery no help for Obama’s plans: Barack Obama’s budget, unveiled with fanfare, fails to deal with his biggest money problems. A molasses-slow economic recovery will make it hard to find the huge sums he’ll need to reach his biggest goals — fixing health care, confronting climate change and overhauling the tax system — without much deeper cuts than he’s proposing in other programs. Obama faces not only fiscal obstacles but political ones, as well…. – AP, 5-8-09
  • The Half-Penny Solution Cutting the budget paper clip by paper clip: President Obama unveiled a budget Thursday with a 2010 price tag of $3.5 trillion financed with $1.2 trillion of new debt. For domestic agencies, that’s a 9.3% spending hike over last year…. – WSJ, 5-8-09
  • List Says Top Democrats Were Briefed on Interrogations: Congressional Republicans on Friday accused Democrats of full complicity in the approval of the Bush administration’s brutal interrogations, citing a new accounting that shows briefings for some top Democrats on waterboarding and other harsh methods starting in 2002…. – NYT, 5-8-09
  • Pelosi still explaining interrogation briefing: It’s a political squall that won’t die: What did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi know about harsh questioning of detainees, and when did she know it? On Friday, the California Democrat was forced to issue yet another press release, reiterating her past assertions that she had been briefed in 2002 only on new interrogation techniques that had been deemed legal and were planned for future use. Pelosi had made the same comments in 2007 when word first leaked that she was aware of the interrogation program and had not objected to it. Her latest statement came three weeks after the Justice Department released formerly classified legal memos that detailed the once-secret CIA harsh interrogation program, and two weeks after she told reporters that when she got her sole CIA briefing on interrogation back in 2002, she had no idea the technique of waterboarding had already been used on a prisoner. Waterboarding is a form of simulated drowning that President Barack Obama last week called torture…. – AP, 5-8-09
  • New Jersey’s GOP Sees Opportunity in Corzine Another moderate Christie seeks the Republican nod: One bright spot for Northeast Republicans is the chance this year to retake the governorship of New Jersey. The seat is now held by Democrat Jon Corzine — a former Goldman-Sachs CEO who has been trailing or tied in the polls with the two Republicans running in the party’s June 2 primary for the chance to unseat him. But the party is divided between moderates who say that only a centrist can win and conservatives who believe that only a bold agenda of tax cuts, spending restraint, and school reform can catch fire with voters…. – WSJ, 5-8-09
  • Souter’s Exit Opens Door for a More Influential Justice: A couple of days ago, Fred R. Shapiro, the editor of The Oxford Dictionary of American Legal Quotations, asked constitutional law scholars for memorable quotations from Justice David H. Souter of the Supreme Court. Mr. Shapiro got only four responses. One was about television coverage of the court (“The day you see a camera come into our courtroom, it’s going to roll over my dead body”). Another concerned the limited pleasures of reading legal briefs rather than serious books (“I find the workload of what I do sufficiently great that when the term of court starts I undergo a sort of annual intellectual lobotomy”). Just two quotations came from the hundreds of opinions that Justice Souter, who is retiring in June, wrote in his 19 years on the court. Neither had much juice to it. ….Instead, he told Mr. Obama that was retiring “under the provision of 28 U.S.C. Section 371(b)(1), having attained the age and met the service requirements of subsection (c) of that section.” He appeared to have signed it in fountain pen, in script that would not have looked out of place on the Declaration of Independence. – NYT, 5-8-09
  • Official Quits Over Jet Flight That Alarmed New Yorkers: The photo shoot of Air Force One soaring above the Statue of Liberty cost taxpayers $328,835. Now the incident, which incited panic among scores of people in New York City, has cost the director of the White House Military Office his job. The White House released the photo that caused the controversy on Friday. The director, Louis Caldera, who was appointed by President Obama to the White House post and had been a secretary of the Army in the Clinton administration, resigned on Friday for his role in approving the April 27 flyover. In a brief letter to Mr. Obama, Mr. Caldera said that the matter “has become a distraction for the important work you are doing as president.”…. – NYT, 5-8-09
  • Aide resigns over NYC flyover; probe continues: The Pentagon and Air Force are reviewing whether their officials may be partly to blame for a $328,835 photo-op of a jumbo jet used by the president soaring above New York City that has already forced the White House military director to step down… – AP, 5-9-09
  • Banks’ tests results lift cloud of uncertainty: Government exams of the nation’s biggest banks have helped lift a cloud of uncertainty that has hung over the economy. The so-called stress tests — a key Obama administration effort to boost confidence in the financial system — showed nine of the 19 biggest banks have enough capital to withstand a deeper recession. Ten must raise a total of $75 billion in new capital to withstand possible future losses…. – AP, 5-8-09
  • Obama opts out of prayer day The move disappoints evangelicals. Under President George W. Bush, the event was held at the White House with political fanfare: For years, it’s been a staple of the White House calendar. On the first Thursday of May, dedicated as the National Day of Prayer, President George W. Bush hosted an ecumenical service in the East Room, a big public endorsement of evangelical Christians. (The event is different from the National Prayer Breakfast, held elsewhere in Washington on the first Thursday of February.) President Obama opted not to have a service in the White House this year. “Prayer is something that the president does every day,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, adding that Obama will sign a proclamation to recognize the day. “I think the president understands, in his own life and in his family’s life, the role that prayer plays.” President Truman signed the first National Day of Prayer proclamation, and President Reagan made it a permanent occasion…. – LAT, 5-7-09
  • Specter gets chairmanship consolation prize Seniority to be settled in 2011 caucus: Senate Democratic leaders on Thursday gave Sen. Arlen Specter the chairmanship of a key Judiciary subcommittee, pacifying the veteran Pennsylvania lawmaker after his shaky start as the chambers newest Democrat. In another reversal of fortune, Mr. Specter’s prospects for re-election as a Democrat in 2010 improved slightly when Republican heavyweight Tom Ridge announced he would not enter the U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania…. – Washington Times, 5-7-09
  • Colin Powell’s Bad Advice Nobody wants the government in their living room: In good times or bad, there’s always someone willing to tell the Republican Party that the road to success is to embrace the liberal agenda. In a speech in Washington Monday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell joined the chorus. We hope for the sake of the country that his party doesn’t listen. Mr. Powell insisted that he doesn’t want the Republicans to turn into Democrats or clones of the Democrats. But it’s hard to see what other space he hopes the GOP will carve out for itself given his analysis. According to press accounts, Mr. Powell argued that America has changed, and “Americans do want to pay taxes for services” and “Americans are looking for more government in their life, not less.”… – WSJ, 5-7-09
  • Specter gets subcommittee chair, primary challenge: Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter gained a Judiciary subcommittee chairmanship but also a potential primary challenger Thursday, the latest twists in a turbulent episode of party switching. The good news-bad news day for Specter didn’t stop there. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge announced he would not challenge Specter next year. Ridge, a moderate Republican and the first homeland security chief, had been running about even against Specter in a hypothetical general election race, according to a recent poll. “My desire and intention is to help my party craft solutions that both sides of the aisle can embrace,” said Ridge, whose decision eliminates one major challenge to Specter…. – AP, 5-7-09
  • Obama touts $17 billion ‘lot of money’ budget cuts: President Barack Obama sent Congress a detailed budget Thursday boasting of cutting or killing 121 federal programs in a belt-tightening he likened to that of most Americans in difficult times. But the trims amounted to a tiny fraction of the new spending he wants, and some have already been nixed by allies on Capitol Hill. Obama said his cuts would amount to $17 billion — in a budget totaling well over $3 trillion for the fiscal year that begins in October. He’s estimating the government’s red ink will still be about $1.2 trillion, down only slightly from this year’s all-time record…. – AP, 5-7-09
  • Bush attorneys who wrote terror memo face backlash: Pressure is mounting against two former Bush administration attorneys who wrote the legal memos used to support harsh interrogation techniques that critics say constituted torture. John Yoo, a constitutional law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is fighting calls for disbarment and dismissal, while Judge Jay Bybee of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals faces calls for impeachment…. – AP, 5-7-09
  • Souter chokes up at farewell: Supreme Court Justice David Souter, momentarily choked with emotion, bid an affectionate farewell yesterday to judges and lawyers he has worked with for nearly two decades. AP, 5-6-09
  • Baucus, Obama talk health care at White House: Montana Sen. Max Baucus says a private lunch with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden should help as he leads efforts to overhaul the nation’s health care system. Baucus, a veteran Democrat who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, had lunch with Obama and Biden at the White House Wednesday, along with Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, the senior Republican on the finance panel. Baucus said the four men had a wide-ranging discussion, but focused on health care. Baucus called the meeting productive. He pledged to continue to work with Obama, Biden, Grassley and others to get a bill passed…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • Franken meets with vice president in Washington: Democratic Senate candidate Al Franken met privately with Vice President Joe Biden late Wednesday afternoon to update him on the still-contested Minnesota Senate race. Franken, who said he is eager to join the Senate, said the two men also discussed President Barack Obama’s policy goals…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • New Democrat Specter loses committee seniority: Arlen Specter’s switch to the Democratic Party has cost him his seniority on Senate committees. The Senate passed a resolution Tuesday night that made him the most junior Democrat on the committees on which he serves. The resolution was passed after an agreement was reached between leadership in both parties and Specter, said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Manley said the seniority issue will be revisited after the 2010 elections…. Specter serves on the Appropriations, Judiciary, Veterans Affairs, Environment and Public Works, and Special Aging committees…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • Source: No charges seen over interrogation memos: Justice Department investigators say Bush administration lawyers who approved harsh interrogation techniques of terror suspects should not face criminal charges, according to a draft report that also recommends two of the three attorneys face possible professional sanctions…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • Senate hears a dim forecast for newspapers’ future: One way to save some of the nation’s struggling newspapers would be to let them become nonprofits similar to public broadcasting stations, a senator said Wednesday as editors and other journalists painted a grim future for daily print journalism. “We need to save our community newspapers and the investigative journalism they provide,” Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., told a subcommittee of the Senate’s Commerce Committee. Under a bill proposed by Cardin, newspapers turning to nonprofit status would no longer be able to make political endorsements but could report on all issues including political campaigns. Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax-exempt and contributions to support coverage could be tax deductible…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • AP sources: Obama to seek $17B in budget savings: After a line-by-line scrub of the federal budget, President Barack Obama has signed off on a roster of 121 budget cuts totaling $17 billion — or about one-half of 1 percent of the $3.4 trillion budget Congress has approved for next year. Budget Director Peter Orszag briefed Democratic lawmakers on a partial roster of the cuts Wednesday before a public release on Thursday. Obama also is fleshing out the details of the $1.3 trillion portion of the budget that he requested Congress pass through appropriations bills for the budget year beginning Oct. 1…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • Top Judiciary Republican Inclined Against Blocking Supreme Court Nominee: Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama said a deal among centrist senators four yours ago that averted filibusters against some of former President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees established a “standard” that shouldn’t be discarded except in unusual circumstances…. – Fox News, 5-6-09
  • U.S. Says Bank of America Needs $33.9 Billion Cushion: The government has told Bank of America it needs $33.9 billion in capital to withstand any worsening of the economic downturn, according to an executive at the bank…. – NYT, 5-5-09
  • Pakistani President Tries to Assure U.S. on Taliban: Pakistan’s leaders began an arduous campaign here on Tuesday to convince the United States that they will repel recent incursions by Taliban militant groups, secure their own nuclear arsenal and make good use of American military and economic assistance. NYT, 5-5-09
  • House Dems narrow energy, climate bill differences: Key lawmakers agreed Tuesday on a strategy for replacing gas-guzzling cars with more fuel-efficient models, but much tougher negotiations lie ahead on a bill that would, for the first time, limit emissions linked to global warming. President Barack Obama summoned three dozen House Democrats to the White House to build consensus around climate and energy legislation that is under increasing criticism from Republicans and members of his own party. AP, 5-5-09
  • Party Switch Costs Specter His Seniority on Senate Committees: The Senate last night stripped Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) of his seniority on committees, a week after the 29-year veteran of the chamber quit the Republican Party to join the Democrats. In announcing his move across the aisle last week, Specter asserted that Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) had assured him he would retain his seniority in the Senate and on the five committees on which he serves. Specter’s tenure ranked him ahead of all but seven Democrats. Instead, though, on a voice vote last night, the Senate approved a resolution that made Specter the most junior Democrat on four committees for the remainder of this Congress. Reid himself read the resolution on the Senate floor, underscoring the reversal…. – WaPo, 5-5-09
  • Michelle Obama captivates glittery crowd in NYC: She’s already conquered Britain, France and Germany. On Tuesday, it was time for Michelle Obama to conquer New York. After a visit to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and an appearance on “Sesame Street,” Mrs. Obama capped her first visit to New York as first lady with an appearance before a glittery crowd at Time magazine’s annual Time 100 gala, honoring its 100 “Most Influential People.” There, she mixed sparkle with substance, introducing the administration’s proposal to give $50 million to innovative nonprofit groups…. – AP, 5-5-09
  • Republicans attacking Obama on terror policy: After weeks of concentrating their attacks against President Barack Obama on the economy, Republicans are branching out. They’re taking aim at his anti-terrorism policy. “Just what is the administration’s overarching plan to take on the terrorist threat and to keep America safe?” asks House Republican leader John Boehner in a new Web video featuring ominous music, unsettling images and less than flattering photos of the president…. – AP, 5-5-09
  • G.O.P. Picks Conservative for Senate Judiciary Post: Senator Jeff Sessions, a conservative from Alabama, has struck an agreement to assume the top Republican position on the Judiciary Committee, making him the chief voice of the opposition in summer confirmation hearings for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee…. – NYT, 5-5-09
  • At Annual Meeting, Pro-Israel Group Reasserts Clout: The formidable political strength of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the nation’s major pro-Israel lobby, has been on decidedly intentional display here in the last few days. But this year, Aipac’s annual conference comes after a period fraught with small anxieties for the group and its supporters…. – NYT, 5-5-09
  • White House seeks comments on education law: Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a former big-city schools chief, traveled through rural terrain Tuesday as he asked educators and parents how the Obama administration should overhaul the No Child Left Behind law. Duncan is from Chicago, but he made West Virginia the first stop on a 15-state “listening tour.” “I think the challenges are very similar,” Duncan told The Associated Press in an interview. “I know there are high-performing schools in every state in the country, and what’s important to me is to really understand what enables them to beat the odds.”… – AP, 5-5-09
  • Republicans branch out from criticism over economy to hit Obama on terror policy: After weeks of concentrating their attacks against President Barack Obama on the economy, Republicans are branching out. They’re taking aim at his anti-terrorism policy. “Just what is the administration’s overarching plan to take on the terrorist threat and to keep America safe?” asks House Republican leader John Boehner in a new Web video featuring ominous music, unsettling images and less than flattering photos of the president…. – AP, 5-5-09
  • Congress leery about Obama’s plan on tax loopholes: President Barack Obama promised sternly on Monday to crack down on companies “that ship jobs overseas” and duck U.S. taxes with offshore havens. It won’t be easy. Democrats have been fighting — and losing — this battle since John F. Kennedy made a similar proposal in 1961. Obama’s proposal to close tax loopholes was a reliable applause line during the presidential campaign, but it got a lukewarm response Monday from Capitol Hill…. – AP, 5-5-09
  • Obama vows tougher overseas tax policies: President Barack Obama vowed on Monday to overhaul tax policies that he said reward companies for shifting U.S. jobs overseas and allow wealthy people to evade taxes using offshore accounts. The White House estimated the plan would save $210 billion over the next decade. In one proposal businesses are poised to fight, Obama would tighten tax-code provisions that allow firms to defer paying taxes on profits they make overseas as long as those earnings are ploughed back into the foreign subsidiaries…. – Reuters, 5-4-09
  • Standing on Ceremony Is the press showing more respect for Obama than Bush?: A video, put together by Politico’s Patrick Gavin, is making the rounds showing two presidential visits to the White House briefing room. In one, George Bush arrives for a press conference in February 2008, and the press remains seated. In the second, from last Friday, Barack Obama surprises the press by appearing in the midst of the daily briefing. They stand to greet him. (Given that the press is supposedly in the tank for Obama, shouldn’t critics be happy they didn’t kneel?)… – Slate, 5-4-09
  • Palin To Be Part of National Council: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be part of the National Council for a New America, an attempt by leaders in Congress and potential 2012 presidential candidates to rebrand the struggling party. “I am pleased to announce that Governor Palin has joined the National Council for a New America’s panel of experts,” said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) today. “When NCNA was announced last week, we spoke about a dynamic organization that worked to constantly bring in new people and innovative ideas.”… – WaPo, 5-4-09
  • Senators to Obama: Look beyond the federal bench: Wanted: Supreme Court justice. Judicial experience not required. Not only is experience as a judge not a requirement under the Constitution, some of the senators who will conduct confirmation hearings for Justice David Souter’s replacement think it’s time for a nominee who hasn’t served on the federal appeals court. For all nine of the current justices, the appeals court was a final stepping stone to the Supreme Court. “I would like to see more people from outside the judicial monastery, somebody who has had some real-life experience, not just as a judge,” said Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee…. – AP, 5-4-09
  • Obama calls senators about high court pick: President Barack Obama, eager to have his Supreme Court nominee seated by early October, has begun calling senators who will play key roles in the confirmation process. While it is unclear when Obama will name a nominee, aides said he wants the process to move rapidly enough so that the Senate can confirm the person shortly after Congress returns from its August recess, if not sooner…. – AP, 5-4-09
  • Vanity, Karma Continue to Take Toll on Edwards: Feds are combing through John Edwards’ 2008 presidential campaign checkbook to see if there’s more to the story of his payments to his former mistress Reille Hunter, a probe that some observers say couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy…. – FOX News, 5-4-09
  • Ridge May Run for Specter’s Senate Seat: Former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge (R) is seriously considering a 2010 bid for the Senate seat held by Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter and will make his decision in the next two weeks, according to several sources familiar with his thinking…. – WaPo, 5-4-09
  • Obama to meet Afghan and Pakistan leaders: President Barack Obama presents his strategy for defeating al Qaeda to the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan on Wednesday amid growing U.S. concern it is losing the war and neither is a reliable ally. The White House meetings with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai are likely to be cagey affairs — both visitors have been heavily criticized by Obama’s administration and are also wary of each other…. – Reuters, 5-4-09


The President gives his Weekly Address on credit card reform

Political Quotes

  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON REFORMING THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM TO REDUCE COSTS: And that’s what makes today’s meeting so remarkable — because it’s a meeting that might not have been held just a few years ago. The groups who are here today represent different constituencies with different sets of interests. They’ve not always seen eye to eye with each other or with our government on what needs to be done to reform health care in this country. In fact, some of these groups were among the strongest critics of past plans for comprehensive reform.
    But what’s brought us all together today is a recognition that we can’t continue down the same dangerous road we’ve been traveling for so many years; that costs are out of control; and that reform is not a luxury that can be postponed, but a necessity that cannot wait. It’s a recognition that the fictional television couple, Harry and Louise, who became the iconic faces of those who opposed health care reform in the ’90s, desperately need health care reform in 2009. And so does America….
    Ultimately, the debate about reducing costs — and the larger debate about health care reform itself — is not just about numbers; it’s not just about forms or systems; it’s about our own lives and the lives of our loved ones. And I understand that. As I’ve mentioned before during the course of the campaign, my mother passed away from ovarian cancer a little over a decade ago. And in the last weeks of her life, when she was coming to grips with her own mortality and showing extraordinary courage just to get through each day, she was spending too much time worrying about whether her health insurance would cover her bills. So I know what it’s like to see a loved one who is suffering, but also having to deal with a broken health care system. I know that pain is shared by millions of Americans all across this country. WH Blog, 5-11-09
  • Obama does turn as comedian in chief: “I must confess I really did not want to be here tonight,” Obama told guests at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner — an annual black-tie gathering of journalists, politicians and Hollywood celebrities. “But I knew I had to come. That’s one more problem that I inherited from George W. Bush.”…. “The last thing Tim Geithner needs is someone else treating him like a fire hydrant,” he said…. “Finally, I believe that my next 100 days will be so successful that I will be able to complete them in 72 days. And on the 73rd day, I will rest,” he joshed…. In a dig at the press, Obama said: “We look for you for truth — even if it’s always an approximation.” Reuters, 5-10-09
  • Obama Delivers the Zingers at Journalists’ Dinner: Not Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton: “The minute she got back from Mexico, she pulled me into a hug and said I should go down there myself.”… Not Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel: “This is a tough holiday for Rahm. He’s not used to saying the word ‘day’ after ‘mother.’ “… Not even, it turned out, himself: “During the second 100 days, we will design, build and open a library dedicated to my first 100 days.”… And: “My next 100 days will be so successful, I will complete them in 72 days. And on the 73rd day, I will rest.”… The routine brought mostly guffaws from the 2,500 journalists, politicians and celebrities jammed into the Washington Hilton ballroom for the press corps’ annual celebration of itself. The president acknowledged perceptions that he’s a media darling: “Most of you covered me; all of you voted for me. Apologies to the Fox table.” – WaPo, 5-10-09
  • Biden to grads: You have chance to shape history: “There is a much greater risk in accepting a situation we know we cannot sustain than in steeling our spine and embracing the challenge of change,” Biden said to students from Syracuse University and the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry…. “It is totally within your power to shape history. … This has been the journey of America since its inception,” said Biden, a 1968 graduate of Syracuse’s law school, speaking to more than 19,000 people in the Carrier Dome…. “All over this great country, a sense of hopelessness and helplessness began to take hold,” Biden said. “But as I walked across that stage, I never doubted for one instant that we could change that history, that we could rewrite the outcome we were careening toward, and we did,” he said. “It’s 2009. Now it’s your turn. You are graduating into a world of anxiety and uncertainty … ,” said Biden, pointing to a troubled economy, two wars and a planet in environmental peril. “These are the challenges you face. But these are the moments you can embrace. Throughout the span of history, only a handful of us ever get a chance to actually shape the course of history,” said the vice president, who received several standing ovations…. – AP, 5-10-09
  • Latino Town Hall: Full Video and Transcript: REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT LATINO TOWN HALL: ….So I’m very proud of this first White House town hall meeting conducted entirely in Spanish. I am grateful — except for my part. (Laughter.) You know, I’m kind of messing up the whole thing. (Laughter.) I’m grateful for Univision for hosting us, and I’m happy to see that we’ve got officials from many different departments, including my Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis.
    So I want to let you continue with your conversation. I hope you learn something. Please ask questions — these folks are extraordinarily well informed — and then distribute the information that you learn from this town hall throughout your communities. And this is just the first of many, I hope, mechanisms for outreach that will improve the quality of service that the White House provides to the American people. – WH Blog, 5-9-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Calls on Congress to Pass Credit Card Reform Bill: Good morning. I want to briefly share some news about our economy, and talk about the work that we’re doing both to protect American consumers, and to put our economy back on a path to growth and prosperity.
    This week, we saw some signs that the gears of America’s economic engine are slowly beginning to turn. Consumer spending and home sales are stabilizing. Unemployment claims are dropping and job losses are beginning to slow. But these trends are far from satisfactory. The unemployment rate is at its highest point in twenty-five years. We are still in the midst of a deep recession that was years in the making, and it will take time to fully turn this economy around. We cannot rest until our work is done. Not when Americans continue to lose their jobs and struggle to pay their bills. Not when we are wrestling with record deficits and an over-burdened middle class. That is why every action that my Administration is taking is focused on clearing away the wreckage of this recession, and building a new foundation for job-creation and long-term growth…. – WH Blog, 5-9-09
  • Obama: Send me credit card legislation this month: “Americans know that they have a responsibility to live within their means and pay what they owe,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday. “But they also have a right to not get ripped off by the sudden rate hikes, unfair penalties and hidden fees that have become all too common.” “You shouldn’t have to fear that any new credit card is going to come with strings attached, nor should you need a magnifying glass and a reference book to read a credit card application. And the abuses in our credit card industry have only multiplied in the midst of this recession, when Americans can least afford to bear an extra burden,” the president said. Obama wants to sign the legislation by Memorial Day. “There is no time for delay. We need a durable and successful flow of credit in our economy, but we can’t tolerate profits that depend upon misleading working families. Those days are over,” he said. Railing against what he said was “abuse that goes unpunished,” the president stressed the need “to strengthen monitoring, enforcement and penalties for credit card companies that take advantage of ordinary Americans.” “Instead of fine print that hides the truth, we need credit card forms and statements that have plain language in plain sight, and we need to give people the tools they need to find a credit card that meets their needs,” he said. – AP, 5-9-09
  • Cheney: Mistake for GOP to ‘moderate’: “This is about fundamental beliefs and values and ideas … what the role of government should be in our society, and our commitment to the Constitution and constitutional principles,” Cheney said in an interview with North Dakota radio host Scott Hennen Thursday, according to a transcript. “You know, when you add all those things up, the idea that we ought to moderate basically means we ought to fundamentally change our philosophy,” Cheney also said. “I for one am not prepared to do that, and I think most of us aren’t. Most Republicans have a pretty good idea of values, and aren’t eager to have someone come along and say, ‘Well, the only way you can win is if you start to act more like a Democrat.'” “I think periodically we have to go through one these sessions. It helps clear away some of the underbrush … some of the older folks who’ve been around a long time — like yours truly — need to move on and make room for that young talent that’s coming along,” he said. “We resorted … to waterboarding, which is the source of much of the controversy, with only three individuals. In those cases, it was only after we’d gone through all the other steps of the process,” he said. “The way the whole program was set up was very careful, to use other methods and only to resort to the enhanced techniques in those special circumstances.” “If anybody takes a look at the record, they’ll find that we had significant success as a result of these policies,” he said. “One way to nail that down is that there are two documents in particular that I personally have read and know about that are still classified in that National Archives,” he said. – CNN, 5-7-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON REDUCING SPENDING IN THE BUDGET: We’re doing everything that we can to create jobs and to get our economy moving while building a new foundation for lasting prosperity — a foundation that invests in quality education, lowers health care costs, and develops new sources of energy powered by new jobs and industries.
    But one of the pillars of this foundation is fiscal responsibility. We can no longer afford to spend as if deficits don’t matter and waste is not our problem. We can no longer afford to leave the hard choices for the next budget, the next administration — or the next generation.
    That’s why I’ve charged the Office of Management and Budget, led by Peter Orszag and Rob Nabors who are standing behind me today, with going through the budget — program by program, item by item, line by line — looking for areas where we can save taxpayer dollars….
    In addition, we’re going to save money by eliminating unnecessary defense programs that do nothing to keep us safe, but rather prevent us from spending money on what does keep us safe. One example is a $465 million program to build an alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter. The Defense Department is already pleased with the engine it has. The engine it has works. The Pentagon does not want and does not plan to use the alternative version. That’s why the Pentagon stopped requesting this funding two years ago. Yet it’s still being funded.
    These are just a few examples. But the point to remember is that there are consequences for this kind of spending. It makes the development of new tools for our military, like the Joint Strike Fighter, more expensive — even prohibitively so — and crowds out money that we could be using, for example, to improve our troops’ quality of life and their safety and security. It makes government less effective. It makes our nation less resilient and less able to address immediate concerns and long-term challenges. And it leaves behind a massive burden for our children and grandchildren. – WH Blog, 5-7-09
  • Obama applauds Afghan and Pakistan cooperation: President Barack Obama is applauding Pakistan and Afghanistan for their commitment to helping the U.S. fight terrorists holed up in their territory, but he also is cautioning that the path to success is slow and unsure. “The road ahead will be difficult,” Obama said Wednesday after a series of meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari that yielded few announced new commitments. “There will be more violence, and there will be setbacks.” Obama added, “The United States has made a lasting commitment to defeat al-Qaida, but also to support the democratically elected sovereign governments of both Pakistan and Afghanistan. That commitment will not waver, and that support will be sustained.”… – AP, 5-7-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AFTER THE TRILATERAL MEETING WITH PRESIDENT KARZAI OF AFGHANISTAN AND PRESIDENT ZARDARI OF PAKISTAN: We meet today as three sovereign nations joined by a common goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their ability to operate in either country in the future. And to achieve that goal, we must deny them the space to threaten the Pakistani, Afghan, or American people. And we must also advance security and opportunity, so that Pakistanis and Afghans can pursue the promise of a better life.
    There is much to be done. Along the border where insurgents often move freely, we must work together with a renewed sense of partnership to share intelligence, and to coordinate our efforts to isolate, target and take out our common enemy. But, we must also meet the threat of extremism with a positive program of growth and opportunity. That is why my Administration is working with members of Congress to create opportunity zones to spark development. And that is why I’m proud that we’ve helped advance negotiations toward a landmark transit-trade agreement to open the Afghanistan and Pakistan border to more commerce.
    Within Afghanistan, we must help grow the economy, while developing alternatives to the drug trade by tapping the resilience and ingenuity of the Afghan people. We must support free and open national elections later this fall, while helping to protect the hard-earned rights of all Afghans. And we must support the capacity of local governments and stand up to corruption that blocks progress. I also made it clear that the United States will work with our Afghan and international partners to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties as we help the Afghan government combat our common enemy.
    Within Pakistan, we must provide lasting support to democratic institutions, while helping the government confront the insurgents who are the single greatest threat to the Pakistani state. And we must do more than stand against those who would destroy Pakistan – we must stand with those who want to build. That is why I have asked Congress for sustained funding for schools, roads, and hospitals. I want the Pakistani people to understand that America is not simply against terrorism – we are on the side of their hopes, and their aspirations. Because we know that the future of Pakistan must be determined by the talent, innovation and intelligence of its people…. – WH Blog, 5-6-09
  • Specter: Reid Promised Seniority, Eventual Judiciary Chairmanship: “When I talked to Senator Reid he assured me that my seniority would be as if I came in (as a Democrat) in 1980, and I relied . . . on his representation, and that’s the long and short of it,” Specter said in an interview in his Capitol “hideaway” office…. “There was no mention of the caucus when we talked. We talked more particularly about if Leahy became chairman of Appropriations, I would become chairman of the Judiciary. Ask him about that. That was the arrangement,” Specter said…. Assuming he wins that reelection, Specter is confident Reid will convince the Democrats to stand down from their concerns and give him his seniority back. “I think Senator Reid speaks for the caucus, he’s a very strong leader,” Specter said. – WaPo, 5-6-09
  • REMARKS OF FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA AT TIME 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE AWARDS: The idea is simple: to find the most effective programs out there and then provide the capital needed to replicate their success in communities around the country that are facing similar challenges. By focusing on high-impact, result-oriented non-profits, we will ensure that government dollars are spent in a way that is effective, accountable and worthy of the public trust….
    Careers focused on lifting up our communities – whether helping transform troubled schools or training workers for green jobs or helping low-income families access health care – are not always obvious. But, at a time when our nation is facing unprecedented challenges, encouraging careers in public service and social innovation are more important than ever…. – WH, 5-5-09
  • Good Jobs Here at Home REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON INTERNATIONAL TAX POLICY REFORM: So the steps I am announcing today will help us deal with some of the most egregious examples of what’s wrong with our tax code and will help us strengthen some of these other efforts. It’s a down payment on the larger tax reform we need to make our tax system simpler and fairer and more efficient for individuals and corporations.
    Now, it will take time to undo the damage of distorted provisions that were slipped into our tax code by lobbyists and special interests, but with the steps I’m announcing today we are beginning to crack down on Americans who are bending or breaking the rules, and we’re helping to ensure that all Americans are contributing their fair share.
    In other words, we’re beginning to restore fairness and balance to our tax code. That’s what I promised I would do during the campaign, that’s what I’m committed to doing as President, and that is what I will work with members of my administration and members of Congress to accomplish in the months and years to come…. – WH Blog, 5-4-09
  • Vanity, Karma Continue to Take Toll on Edwards: “I think the biggest problem we’re hearing from people when they talk about this case, aside from the criminal possibilities, is how angry a lot of people still are at John Edwards, not for his infidelity but for claiming the mantle of his wife’s illness as part of the reason for his running for president, and then while he was running for president engaging in this kind of conduct,” said Washington Examiner political editor Chris Stirewalt. “I think there’s going to be very little sympathy for the former senator as this goes forward. I mean, people are mad,” Stirewalt said. – FOX News, 5-4-09
  • Vanity, Karma Continue to Take Toll on Edwards: In a carefully worded statement issued Sunday, Edwards said none of the money Hunter received was wrongly paid. “I am confident that no funds from my campaign were used improperly. However, I know that it is the role of government to ensure that this is true. We have made available to the United States both the people and the information necessary to help them get the issue resolved efficiently and in a timely matter,” he said. – FOX News, 5-4-09


The President and the Russian Foreign Minister
(President Barack Obama meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office of the
White House May 7, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Historians’ Comments

  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: News can outlast newspapers”: Last week, Sen. John Kerry convened a discussion of the troubled state of journalism in America by way of a hearing by the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet.
    In Kerry’s home state of Massachusetts, the Boston Globe is barely surviving. Several major metro papers have closed down, and there are indications that many more could soon follow. Experts have been warning in recent months that much of the newspaper industry may not survive.
    While the end of the metro newspaper would constitute a huge blow to journalism and the political system, realistically there might be nothing that we can do. The popularity of news on the Web and the potential of mobile devices such as the Kindle makes it difficult to see how we can sustain news in print — unless electronic delivery can produce enough revenue to support the cost of newspaper staffs.
    Sometimes technological innovations and consumer preferences cause changes that are irreversible. The industry has seen other important shifts in the way that Americans receive their news, such as the advent of television news in the 1950s and 1960s.
    But the real issue is not whether we can save the newspapers, but how we can create the best Internet news system possible. As Kerry said in his opening statement: “There also is the important question of whether online journalism will sustain the values of professional journalism, the way the newspaper industry has.”…
    The Internet can also combine written news with video and audio sources, as well as disseminate stories through social networking sites. Readers have the opportunities to interact with reporters and comment on stories.
    The death of the metro newspaper would be a huge loss. But rather than only focusing on lament, our best response would be to make the new medium of Internet news as strong as it can possibly be.
    We must address the major challenges by developing sites with the resources to edit, insisting on venues where the pursuit of objectivity remains a goal, and cultivating sites that help bring together different subject matter. If we do, the technological transition that we are living through can turn into a positive moment of advance for the media rather than a moment of decline. – CNN, 5-11-09
  • Conservative Historian Andrew Bacevich Warns Against Obama’s Escalation of War in Afghanistan and Intensifying Use of Air Power in Region: Well, I was invited to testify by Senator Kerry and thought it was appropriate for me to accept the invitation. I have been deeply disappointed by the direction of US policy in AfPak, as the Obama administration chooses to call it, ever since President Obama was inaugurated. I know, as do others, that when he was running for the office, he promised to reorient the US military effort from Iraq to Afghanistan. I had hoped that that was simply campaign talk to protect himself from the charge of being weak on national security. And therefore, I regret that it turns out that he’s serious on doubling down in Afghanistan and expanding US military efforts in Pakistan. I think both of those are mistaken…. – Democracy Now, 5-11-09
  • Robert Dallek “Obama Faces Mounting Challenges in His Next 100 Days With Iraq, Afghanistan, and the struggling economy, Obama is just getting started”: “He comes across as self-confident but not arrogant,” says historian Robert Dallek. “It reminds me of what Oliver Wendell Holmes said about Franklin Roosevelt—that he had a first-class temperament but a second-class intellect. Only with Obama, you have both a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect.” But Dallek adds that those personal traits will take him only so far. “The economy has to start coming back,” he says. “Patience will only last so long.” US News & World Report, 5-5-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Grateful Dead on health care”: All the stars seem to have aligned for the passage of national health care reform. Victory, supporters say, is inevitable. During the past week, two important developments excited health care proponents. First, President Obama and Senate Democrats included reconciliation instructions in the budget for health care. If a deal is not reached by October, congressional Democrats can use a process that prohibits a filibuster and allows passage of the bill with 51 rather than 60 votes in the Senate. And even if opponents of the bill attempted to stage a filibuster, the switch of Sen. Arlen Specter to the Democratic Party, combined with the likely victory of Al Franken as a senator from Minnesota, would provide Democrats with 60 votes to fight it off. Yet, as the Grateful Dead sang in one of their most famous songs, “When life looks like Easy Street, there is danger at your door.”…
    But some of the older pitfalls remain. The administration and congressional Democrats need to reach an agreement sooner rather than later about how these benefits will be financed, or they will be bogged down by the same kinds of internal conflicts over taxes. Once they have a plan in place, Democrats also need to think of an effective way to package it to the public in order to counteract attacks from Republicans who may characterize it as socialized medicine. If Democrats are able to achieve national health care reform, they will go into the 2010 and 2012 election with a major, concrete political achievement. If they fail, as Clinton’s experience reminds us, they might give Republicans the kind of issue that they have been looking for to recover from 2008. – CNN, 5-4-09
  • Allan Lichtman “Measuring Obama by FDR’s yardstick If the first 100 days mean anything, the president is looking a lot like Franklin Roosevelt. But recent history shows a lot can change after the early days of a presidency”: “He’s not a revolutionary; he’s a liberal,” said historian Allan Lichtman of American University. “Obama’s made big changes, but within the normal liberal-conservative arc. Yes, the pendulum has swung, but it’s swung from mainstream conservatism to mainstream liberalism.” One more thing, Lichtman noted: Obama is a fox, not a hedgehog. The phrase comes from British philosopher Isaiah Berlin, who quoted an ancient Greek poet: “The fox knows many things; the hedgehog knows one big thing.”… – LAT, 4-21-09

1 Comment

  1. very good information,thank in advance

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