July 1, 2009: Are the Democrats too Liberal? Obama’s Climate and Health Care Reforms

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • More Americans See Democratic Party as “Too Liberal” More believe Democratic Party’s, rather than Republican Party’s, views are about right: A Gallup Poll finds a statistically significant increase since last year in the percentage of Americans who describe the Democratic Party’s views as being “too liberal,” from 39% to 46%. This is the largest percentage saying so since November 1994, after the party’s losses in that year’s midterm elections.
    Notably, there has been no change over the past year in the percentage of Americans who say the Republican Party is “too conservative,” though the 43% who say the party leans too far to the right matches the historical high mark set last year. – Gallop, 6-30-09
  • Poll: Crist has big lead in Fla. Senate race: A new poll shows Republican Gov. Charlie Crist has a sizable lead in his campaign for Senate. A Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. telephone survey taken June 24-26 shows Crist leading primary opponent Marco Rubio by a 51-23 margin. In a general election matchup with Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, Crist leads 48-26. – AP, 6-29-09
  • Healthcare Town Hall Tanked on the Tube: “The one-hour ABC News special ‘Primetime: Questions for the President: Prescription for America’ (4.7 million viewers, 1.1 preliminary adults 18-49 rating) had the fewest viewers in the 10 p.m. hour. The special tied some 8 p.m. comedy repeats as the lowest-rated program on a major broadcast network,” the Reporter noted.
    NBC’s “Inside the Obama White House” special on June 2, in contrast, won viewers ages 18-49 during its 9 p.m. airing, garnering 9.1 million viewers over all and making NBC the ratings winner for the evening.
    One possible explanation for the discrepancy comes from recent polls that show the president is more popular personally than his policies are…. – WaPo, 6-25-09
  • Palin popular among Republicans but polarizing according to poll: Nearly as many of the people surveyed said they have an unfavorable impression of Palin (44 percent) as have a favorable view of her (45 percent).
    But Palin had an overall higher favorability rating than any of the other three, with Romney in second at 40 percent. Romney’s unfavorables, though, were only at 28 percent and 32 percent said they didn’t know. – AP, 6-25-09
  • Poll: Specter’s numbers sink with party switch: The Franklin & Marshall College Poll released Thursday morning shows that the Republican Specter had 52% of voters’ approval in March, while that number was down to 34% for the Democratic Specter this month — a drop that pollsters called “startling.” Twenty-eight percent of voters say Specter deserves to be re-elected, compared with 40% who said that in March.
    In a matchup against possible primary challenger Joe Sestak, Specter beats the Democratic congressman 33%-13% among likely Democratic voters, but nearly half of those voters are undecided, according to the poll. Pollsters surveyed 580 Pennsylvania voters from June 16 to 21.
    Of course, poll results vary. Last week, we told you about a Rasmussen Reports poll that showed Specter defeating Sestak 51% to 32% in a Democratic primary and Specter beating likely Republican nominee Pat Toomey 50% to 39% in a general election. – USA Today, 6-25-09
  • Poll of Polls: Obama more popular than his policies: According to a CNN Poll of Polls compiled Tuesday, 60 percent say they’re happy with how Obama’s handling his duties as president. Thirty-one percent disapprove of his performance.
    While Obama’s overall approval rating remains basically unchanged, his marks on some specific issues have dropped over the past few months. “President Obama is more popular than his policies. Three-quarters of Americans like President Obama. But just over half approve of his policies,” says CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider. – CNN, 6-23-09

THE HEADLINES….

The President answers an online video question

The Headlines…

  • Emotion, few details, in Obama’s health care pitch: “We are going to try to find ways to help you immediately,” he told Smith as hundreds looked on at a community college forum — and countless others watched on television. But the nation’s long-term needs require a greater emphasis on preventive care and “cost-effective care,” he said… The health care changes that Obama called for Wednesday would reshape the nation’s medical landscape. He says he wants to cover nearly 50 million uninsured Americans, to persuade doctors to stress quality over quantity of care, to squeeze billions of dollars from spending. But details on exactly how to do those things were generally lacking in his hour-long town hall forum before a friendly, hand-picked audience in a Washington suburb. The lingering questions underscore the tough negotiations awaiting Congress, the administration and dozens of special interest groups in the coming months. Lawmakers will return to debating the issue when they return from a one-week recess on Monday…. – AP, 7-1-09
  • Sarah Palin: An “unholy amalgam”?: The latest issue of Vanity Fair isn’t even on newsstands yet and it’s already making headlines for a not-so-politely titled article, “It Came from Wasilla,” about Gov. Sarah Palin. William Kristol at the Weekly Standard is calling it a “hit piece,” taking writer Todd Purdum to task for his “dubious claims.” A blogger at the Atlantic writes that the article “paints a gruesome picture” of the governor. Politico’s Ben Smith mulls the “political fallout from the very tough piece.” Early in the almost 10,000-word article, Purdum describes Palin’s life as an “unholy amalgam of ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ‘Northern Exposure.'” Purdum has plenty of juicy quotes, but not a single source was willing to go on record…. – AP, 7-1-09
  • Schwarzenegger declares Calif. fiscal emergency: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a fiscal emergency to address California’s deficit and has ordered state offices closed three days a month to save cash. The Legislature will have 45 days to send him a plan to balance the state’s budget, which ended the fiscal year with a $24.3 billion deficit. The shortfall is expected to grow by $7 billion because the Legislature did not enact several stopgap measures Tuesday. If lawmakers fail to act within the 45 days, they cannot adjourn or act on other bills until they solve the crisis…. – AP, 7-1-09
  • Brown, Whitman raise most in Calif. governor race: State Attorney General Jerry Brown and former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman have raised the most campaign money this year for the 2010 California governor’s race, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday. Brown, a Democrat and former California governor, has collected $7.3 million through Tuesday, the end of the current reporting period. Whitman, a Republican, said her campaign brought in $6.5 million, on top of $4 million she contributed from her personal fortune…. – AP, 7-1-09
  • Obama pledges support for social innovators: President Barack Obama on Tuesday promised that the White House will do its part to support grassroots organizations that are successful in their efforts to improve communities. “Solutions to America’s challenges are being developed every day at the grassroots. And government shouldn’t be supplanting those efforts, it should be supporting those efforts,” Obama told representatives of nonprofit programs during a White House gathering…. – AP, 7-1-09
  • Adviser: Gillibrand gets Maloney primary challenge: New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney has decided to challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in the state’s Democratic primary, setting the stage for a potentially costly and contentious fight that other congressional Democrats have avoided. The nine-term congresswoman believes New Yorkers need a “strong, experienced and independent leader,” according to a statement Wednesday by Paul Blank, director of Trippi & Associates, hired by Maloney to serve as a chief strategist. Blank said Maloney is putting together a campaign team and will make her announcement in two weeks…. – AP, 7-1-09
  • Democrat Franken wins protracted Minn. Senate race: Democrat Al Franken with his wife Franni at his side, speak with the media outside their home in Minneapolis, Tuesday June 30, 2009. Republican Norm Coleman conceded to Franken in Minnesota’s contested Senate race Tuesday, hours after a unanimous state Supreme Court ruled the former ‘Saturday Night Live’ comedian should be certified the winner.
    Franken’s victory over Republican Norm Coleman gives Democrats 60 Senate seats, the critical number needed to overcome Republican filibusters. When Franken is seated, which could come as early as next week, his party will have a majority not reached on either side of the aisle in some three decades…. – AP, 6-30-09
  • Court rulings loom on campaign funds, civil rights: The Supreme Court will have a new look — and perhaps a new member — but the same right-of-center tilt when the justices return in late summer to deal with unfinished business about money in campaigns. Some justices will change seats with the retirement of Justice David Souter, with the more senior justices closer to the center of the bench. But the conservatives still should be able to muster majorities in the areas of civil rights and campaign cash…. – AP, 6-30-09
  • Foes of Sotomayor emboldened by discimination case: Foes of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor celebrated the high court’s reversal of her decision in a reverse discrimination case. The 5-4 ruling Monday, backing of reverse discrimination claims by white firefighters, is unlikely to derail Sotomayor’s nomination — and it may not even sway a vote. Reaction to the decision fell almost purely along partisan lines, with Republicans cheering the decision and saying it raises serious concerns about the judge, and Democrats condemning the opinion and arguing that Sotomayor had acted appropriately. Still, the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Ricci v. DeStefano highlighted the competing ideological strains that will shape the debate over confirming Sotomayor…. – AP, 6-30-09
  • Obama team members to fan out on summer rural tour: President Barack Obama is dispatching top administration officials and Cabinet members on a “rural tour” this summer to explore ways to strengthen rural America…. – AP, 6-30-09
  • Obama pats his fundraisers on the back: Whether you’re working Chicago’s South Side or Beverly Hills, a good organizer knows that a pat on the back will coax another mile — or maybe another few thousand — out of the troops. Even so, local Democratic activists were pretty impressed when the president invited them to Washington on Monday for a dinner at the Mandarin Oriental hotel designed to thank members of the Obama National Finance Committee and other supporters, like the ones who helped make his recent national fundraising tour on behalf of the Democratic National Committee such a success. The star-studded evening last month at the Beverly Hilton was the tour’s crown jewel, so it was no surprise that a large contingent of longtime Obama supporters in Hollywood were invited back to Washington to accept the chief executive’s personal expression of gratitude…. – LAT, 6-30-09
  • Conservative Ire Rains on 8 Republicans Who Voted for House Climate Bill: In the wake of last week’s landmark passage of the House climate bill, conservatives have focused their fury on the handful of Republicans who voted in favor of the sweeping legislation. Conservative commentators are blasting the eight Republican “aye” votes as betrayers of GOP principles and, perhaps more important, holding them accountable for the bill’s seven-vote margin of passage, 219-212. The eight Republicans are Mark Kirk of Illinois; Mike Castle of Delaware; Mary Bono Mack of California; Dave Reichert of Washington; John McHugh of New York; and Frank LoBiondo, Leonard Lance and Chris Smith of New Jersey…. – NYT, 6-30-09
  • Administration sends Congress consumer legislation: President Barack Obama asked Congress on Tuesday to create a new agency to police the fine print on consumer products like credit cards and mortgages and determine what fees, penalties and interest rates are fair. The Consumer Financial Protection Agency would be in charge of regulating those products in the same way other government agencies regulate the safety of drugs, food and toys. Obama said Americans are demanding it. “Those ridiculous contracts with pages of fine print that no one can figure out — those things will be a thing of the past,” the president said in a statement accompanying the 152-page draft bill. “And enforcement will be the rule, not the exception.” – AP, 6-30-09
  • Iraqis celebrate US pullback but bombing kills 27: Not a single American soldier was in sight. Gone, too, were the American helicopters whose buzz has for years defined Baghdad’s background track. Left alone to protect the capital Tuesday were thousands of Iraqi troops and police manning checkpoints, with army tanks deployed at potential trouble spots and convoys of pickup trucks with machine guns roaming the streets. But it was elsewhere, 180 miles to the north, that militants delivered their first deadly challenge to Iraq’s security forces on a highly symbolic day after the formal withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from cities at midnight…. – AP, 6-30-09
  • Will the Republicans or the Democrats be the ‘Party of Growth’?: The single most-profitable franchise for the Republican Party is growth, the kind of growth that sustains the relative competitiveness of the U.S. Instead of being the GOP, the Republicans should become the POG, the Party of Growth. This growth franchise is Republicans’ for the taking because the Democratic Party leadership is in hot pursuit of other franchises — the green biz, civil rights and their dearest goal, more government health care. – Bloomberg, 6-30-09Business Week, 6-30-09
  • Reverse discrimination ruling leaves confusion: The Supreme Court ruling in favor of white New Haven firefighters who said they were victims of reverse discrimination will probably leave employers confused, civil rights advocates and labor attorneys say. The court ruled 5-4 Monday that the white firefighters were denied promotions unfairly because of their race, reversing a decision that high court nominee Sonia Sotomayor endorsed as a federal appeals court judge…. – AP, 6-29-09
  • Decision Reflects Court’s Deep Division: Sonia Sotomayor, the New York appellate judge President Barack Obama has nominated to the Supreme Court, has credited her success in part to postwar America’s efforts to correct centuries of racial discrimination. If, as expected, her nomination is confirmed, the self-described “affirmative-action baby” will join a court divided on that very topic…. – WSJ, 6-29-09
  • Obama Toughens Rules for Some Lighting: President Obama announced tougher energy efficiency requirements for certain types of fluorescent and incandescent lighting on Monday, the latest step in the administration’s push to cut the country’s energy use. “Now I know light bulbs may not seem sexy,” Mr. Obama said, “but this simple action holds enormous promise because 7 percent of all the energy consumed in America is used to light our homes and our businesses.”
    Of the two types of lighting covered by Monday’s announcement, the most important is “general service fluorescent lamps,” which commonly take the form of tubular office lights (but do not include the squiggly compact fluorescents commonly found in home lamps). The other type of lighting covered by the new rule is incandescent reflector lamps; these cone-shaped fixtures can often be found in track lighting. – NYT, 6-29-09
  • Obama Backs Zelaya as Honduran President After Ouster: President Barack Obama said today that Manuel Zelaya remains the president of Honduras and his ouster by that nation’s military “was not legal.” “All of us have great concerns” about the situation in Honduras, Obama said after meeting at the White House with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe…. – Bloomberg, 6-29-09
  • SC governor resolves to stay put despite scandal: South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford says he’s not quitting — though he considered it — despite intense scrutiny and criticism over his affair with a woman from Argentina. That woman, 41-year-old former television reporter Maria Belen Chapur, acknowledged Sunday that she had a relationship with Sanford and that the matter has been “very painful to me, my two children, my entire family and close friends.”… “I want to apologize to you for letting you down,” he told the state’s top financial officers before tackling an agenda focused on the state’s budget woes…. – AP, 6-29-09
  • Ex-Edwards Aide to Write Tell-All: A man who was one of former Senator John Edwards’s closest aides has a deal to write a book claiming that Mr. Edwards said he “would be taken care of for life” in return for falsely claiming he was the father of the baby carried by Mr. Edwards’s mistress, Rielle Hunter…. “‘You know how much I love you,’ Edwards said. ‘You know I’d walk off a cliff for you, and I know you’d walk off a cliff for me,'” Mr. Young wrote in the book proposal. “‘I will never forget this. And I will always be there for you.'” The proposal was shared with The New York Times by a book publishing industry executive. Portions of it were reported over the weekend by The Daily News of New York. – NYT, 6-29-09
  • Ruling in firefighters case fuels critics of Sotomayor: The Supreme Court’s reversal of a discrimination ruling by an appeals panel that included Sotomayor is seen by conservatives as a rebuke of her handling of the case…. – LAT, 6-29-09
  • Obama reassures gay rights activists: President Barack Obama is reiterating his support for gay rights causes, telling activists that he’s a friend who will fight for them and with them while in the White House. The president and first lady Michelle Obama are holding an East Room reception Monday afternoon to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the birth of the modern gay rights movement. – AP, 6-29-09
  • Obama’s double sworn in at Paris wax museum: Barack Obama’s wax double joined the pantheon of world leaders and stars at the Grevin Museum in Paris on Monday, after being unveiled at the foot of the Eiffel Tower…. – AFP, 6-29-09
  • White House Not Ruling Out Health Benefits Tax: In an appearance on ABC’s This Week, presidential adviser David Axelrod would not rule out taxing health insurance benefits as a means to pay for the administration’s healthcare reform proposal. Axelrod said, “The President had said in the past he doesn’t believe taxing healthcare benefits at any level, is necessarily the best way to go here. He still believes that. But there’s a number of formulations. And we’ll wait and see.” The Washington Post notes this morning that “under repeated questioning…Axelrod said the White House is open to ‘a lot of different formulations’ for paying for healthcare reform.” The Washington Times reports that “during the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama called [Sen. John] McCain’s insurance-tax proposal ‘the largest middle-class tax increase in history.” The AP also reports that “if…Obama compromises on that point, it would reverse a campaign tax promise.” – US News, 6-29-09
  • Obama champions energy bill but not its tariffs: The president calls the measure ‘an extraordinary first step’ toward a halt to global warming but sounds a cautionary note about its provision to penalize countries that don’t similarly crack down.
    “What seems contentious now is going to seem like common sense in hindsight,” he told a small group of reporters in the Oval Office…. – LAT, 6-28-09
  • Obama scoffs at Ahmadinejad’s demand for apology: President Barack Obama’s criticism of Iran escalated Friday into an unusually personal war of words. To Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s demand he apologize for meddling, Obama shot back that the regime should “think carefully” about answers owed to protesters it has arrested, bludgeoned and killed. “The violence perpetrated against them is outrageous,” Obama said. “We see it and we condemn it.” “I don’t take Mr. Ahmadinejad’s statements seriously about apologies, particularly given the fact that the United States has gone out of its way not to interfere with the election process in Iran,” Obama responded sternly. “I would suggest that Mr. Ahmadinejad think carefully about the obligations he owes to his own people,” he added. “And he might want to consider looking at the families of those who’ve been beaten or shot or detained. And, you know, that’s where I think Mr. Ahmadinejad and others need to answer their questions.”… – AP, 6-27-09
  • AP sources: Obama eyeing order for Gitmo detainees: Stymied by Congress so far, the White House is considering issuing an executive order to indefinitely imprison a small number of Guantanamo Bay detainees considered too dangerous to prosecute or release, two administration officials said Friday. No final decisions have been made about the order, which would be the fourth major mandate by President Barack Obama to deal with how the United States treats and prosecutes terror suspects and foreign fighters…. – AP, 6-27-09
  • For Republicans, a Narrowing List of Presidential Prospects Nevada Sen. John Ensign’s and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s extramarital affairs are the latest blow to the GOP as the Republican presidential herd thins fast — leaving many to wonder who will lead the party in its attempt to reclaim the White House: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels are the names now being whispered in Republican circles as potential winners — although observers admit political speculations can change overnight. – Fox News, 6-27-09
  • Economic View The Pitfalls of the Public Option: IN the debate over health care reform, one issue looms large: whether to have a public option. Should all Americans have the opportunity to sign up for government-run health insurance? President Obama has made his own preferences clear. In a letter to Senators Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Max Baucus of Montana, the chairmen of two key Senate committees, he wrote: “I strongly believe that Americans should have the choice of a public health insurance option operating alongside private plans. This will give them a better range of choices, make the health care market more competitive, and keep insurance companies honest.” – NYT, 6-27-09
  • Climate Change Bill May Be Election-Year Issue: As Democrats strained to win over crucial holdouts on the way to narrow, party-line approval of global warming legislation, they were dogged by a critical question: Has the political climate changed since 1993? Veteran members of both parties vividly remember when many House Democrats, in the early months of the Clinton administration, reluctantly backed a proposed B.T.U. tax — a new levy on each unit of energy consumed — only to see it ignored by the Senate and seized as a campaign issue by Republicans, who took control of the House the next year…. – NYT, 6-27-09
  • Analysis: Obama shows flexibility on health care: The reversals, hints of concessions and politically dicey proposals on health care are piling up for President Barack Obama, whose appeal for bipartisan legislation carries risk with no guarantee of reward. By one definition, that’s called presidential leadership, flexibility first, meant to embolden others to do the same. By another, it’s political inconsistency that risks offending people on Medicare, liberals who favor government-run health care and union families with coverage negotiated by contract with employers…. – AP, 6-27-09
  • Obama and Congress Clash on How to Pay for Health Care: It has become the trillion-dollar question: can President Obama find that much in spending cuts and tax increases to keep his campaign promise to overhaul the health care system, without adding to already huge deficits? Mr. Obama and the Democrats running Congress are deeply split over the possibilities…. – NYT, 6-26-09
  • Senators claim $1 trillion health bill in reach: Senators working to give President Barack Obama a comprehensive health care overhaul said Thursday they had figured out how to pare back the complex legislation to keep costs from crashing through a $1 trillion, 10-year ceiling. The announcement from Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and other lawmakers amounted to a small, parting gift to Obama on his top domestic priority as Congress prepares to leave town for its weeklong July 4 recess. It moved Congress a bit closer to a deal on legislation to lower costs and provide coverage to nearly 50 million Americans who lack it…. – AP, 6-26-09
  • Climate-Change Legislation Clears U.S. House, Sent to Senate: The U.S. House passed legislation to impose the nation’s first-ever limits on greenhouse-gas emissions linked to global warming, handing President Barack Obama a win on one of his top policy priorities. The measure now faces what is expected to be a tough legislative battle in the Senate. Obama called yesterday’s House vote “a bold and necessary step that holds the promise of creating new industry and millions of new jobs.” The bill, he said, would usher in “a critical transition to a clean-energy economy without untenable burdens on the American people.” House Republicans, who formed the bulk of the opposition to the bill, disputed that characterization of it. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in a statement, called the measure “an unrealistic approach that could further harm the economy and shed American jobs.” The close 219-212 House vote on it signaled the fight that lies ahead for the plan, which would create a market for trading pollution permits to curb emissions…. – Bloomberg, 6-26-09
  • Questions and answers about the US climate bill: Cap-and-trade? Offsets? Pollution credits? The climate bill passed Friday by the U.S. House of Representatives tackles global warming with new limits on pollution and a market-based approach to encourage more environmentally friendly business practices. But what exactly do the proposed rules mean, and how would they work?… – AP, 6-26-09
  • How Obama Handled Jackson’s Death: Though President Obama regards Michael Jackson as a “spectacular performer” and “a music icon,” the White House did not issue a formal written statement on his passing. Not every celebrity, even one as talented and widely-known as Jackson, merits a presidential tribute…. – CBS News, 6-26-09
  • Alaska’s Murkowski moves up in Senate GOP leadership: Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski is moving into the Senate GOP’s inner circle. Her Senate Republican colleagues voted today to make her vice chairman of the Republican Conference. In that role, she’ll be in charge of spreading the Republican message, Murkowski said. “It’s not just an issue of pushing back, for instance, on a health care plan that doesn’t deliver what the president is seeking,” Murkowski said during a press conference announcing the election results. “We need to, as Republicans, be able to voice, be able to express what our solutions, what our plans, what our proposals are and how they truly fit in with the agenda, whether it is from Alaska to Maine or parts in between.”… – Miami Herald, 6-25-09
  • Obama’s Health Future Rationing, and not only withholding care from the elderly: President Obama’s TV health-care forum on Wednesday evening was useful, because revealing. Namely, Mr. Obama shared more than he probably intended about the kind of rationing that his health plan will inevitably impose…. – WSJ, 6-25-09
  • Obama and Congress Clash on How to Pay for Health Care: It has become the trillion-dollar question: can President Obama find that much in spending cuts and tax increases to keep his campaign promise to overhaul the health care system, without adding to already huge deficits? Mr. Obama and the Democrats running Congress are deeply split over the possibilities…. – NYT, 6-25-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

(President Barack Obama delivers remarks highlighting innovative non-profit programs from across the country, Tuesday, June 30, 2009, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Political Quotes

  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN AN ONLINE TOWN HALL ON HEALTH CARE: Northern Virginia Community College Annandale, Virginia – White House, 7-1-09
  • Emotion, few details, in Obama’s health care pitch: “We are going to try to find ways to help you immediately,” he told Smith as hundreds looked on at a community college forum — and countless others watched on television. But the nation’s long-term needs require a greater emphasis on preventive care and “cost-effective care,” he said… The president would bar insurance companies from turning down applicants because of their “pre-existing conditions.” He would establish health care exchanges that would spread the costs of treating patients such as Smith over a large number of people. Obama called for shifting huge sums of money from current health care spending to new goals. About two-thirds of the overall new costs “will come from reallocating money that is already being spent in the health care system but isn’t being spent wisely,” he said. “The biggest thing we can do to hold down costs is to change the incentives of a health care system that automatically equates expensive care with better care,” the president said. He said the formula system drives up costs “but doesn’t make you better.” – AP, 7-1-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON COMMUNITY SOLUTIONS AGENDA East Room: And finally, I want to thank all of you here today for everything you’re doing to find new solutions to some of our oldest, toughest problems. I know what you do is not easy. I know that for many of you, the hours are long, the pay could be better — let’s face it. But I also know the difference that each of you make. I know the lives that you change every single day. You teach us that there’s no such thing as a lost cause if you’re willing to be creative, and challenge the conventional wisdom, and take some risks — if you’re willing to try, and fail, and then try again until you find something that works. And today, I want to recognize that pioneering spirit and thank you all for the contributions that you’re making to our communities…. The bottom line is clear: Solutions to America’s challenges are being developed every day at the grass roots — and government shouldn’t be supplanting those efforts, it should be supporting those efforts. Instead of wasting taxpayer money on programs that are obsolete or ineffective, government should be seeking out creative, results- oriented programs like the ones here today and helping them replicate their efforts across America…. – White House, 6-30-09
  • White House announces new lighting standards: Aiming to keep the focus on climate change legislation, President Barack Obama put a plug in for administration efforts to make lamps and lighting equipment use less energy. “I know light bulbs may not seem sexy, but this simple action holds enormous promise because 7 percent of all the energy consumed in America is used to light our homes and businesses,” the president said, standing alongside Energy Secretary Steven Chu at the White House…. – AP, 6-29-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON ENERGY Grand Foyer: So we’ve gotten a lot done on the energy front over the last six months. But even as we’re changing the ways we’re producing energy, we’re also changing the ways we use energy. In fact, one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways to make our economy stronger and cleaner is to make our economy more energy efficient. And that’s something that Secretary Chu is working every single day to work through.
    The first step we’re taking sets new efficiency standards on fluorescent and incandescent lighting. Now I know light bulbs may not seem sexy, but this simple action holds enormous promise because 7 percent of all the energy consumed in America is used to light our homes and our businesses. Between 2012 and 2042, these new standards will save consumers up to $4 billion a year, conserve enough electricity to power every home in America for 10 months, reduce emissions equal to the amount produced by 166 million cars each year, and eliminate the need for as many as 14 coal-fired power plants…. – White House, 6-29-09
  • AP Interview: Snowe seeks bipartisan health bill: Sen. Olympia Snowe, a key figure in shaping federal health care legislation, said Monday that a government-run plan that would take effect if the private insurance market fails to deliver affordable coverage could bridge the partisan divide that threatens to derail President Barack Obama’s efforts to reform the system. Snowe, R-Maine, said she’s working with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to establish that kind of a framework in the bill expected to emerge next month from the Senate Finance Committee. In an Associated Press interview in Portland, Snowe said it would be unfair to include a government-run health insurance option that would take effect immediately…. – AP, 6-29-09
  • Rudy for Governor?: Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani appeared on CNN’s American Morning today and admitted, in a roundabout fashion, that he’s considering running for governor of New York in 2010. Giuliani said, “I don’t know if I am or if I’m not” entering the gubernatorial race, but disclosed that he’s been thinking about it. Incumbent Gov. David Paterson has been polling poorly for some time and would likely lose to Giuliani in a general election. But if Paterson doesn’t run, other Democratic contenders, such as Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, whose political heritage would serve him well, would be tougher competitors…. – Newsweek, 6-29-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Calls Energy Bill Passage Critical to Stronger American Economy: Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a historic piece of legislation that will open the door to a clean energy economy and a better future for America. For more than three decades, we have talked about our dependence on foreign oil. And for more than three decades, we have seen that dependence grow. We have seen our reliance on fossil fuels jeopardize our national security. We have seen it pollute the air we breathe and endanger our planet. And most of all, we have seen other countries realize a critical truth: the nation that leads in the creation of a clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy. Now is the time for the United States of America to realize this too. Now is the time for us to lead…. – White House, 6-27-09
  • Obama pressures Senate on climate change measure: Hailing the House, President Barack Obama put pressure on senators Saturday to follow its lead and pass legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions, helping usher the U.S. into a new age of energy efficiency. “Now my call to every senator, as well as to every American, is this: We cannot be afraid of the future. And we must not be prisoners of the past,” the president said in his weekly radio and Internet address. “Don’t believe the misinformation out there that suggests there is somehow a contradiction between investing in clean energy and economic growth. It’s just not true.” – AP, 6-27-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE IMPORTANCE OF PASSING A HISTORIC ENERGY BILL Rose Garden: Right now, the House of Representatives is moving towards a vote of historic proportions on a piece of legislation that will open the door to a new clean energy economy…. Now is the time for the United States of America to realize this, as well. Now is the time for us to lead. The energy bill before the House will finally create a set of incentives that will spark a clean energy transformation of our economy. It will spur the development of low-carbon sources of energy — everything from wind, solar, and geothermal power to safe nuclear energy and cleaner coal. It will spur new energy savings like the efficient windows and other materials that reduce heating costs in the winter and cooling costs in the summer…. – White House, 6-25-09
  • Quick-draw Sarah Palin takes long shot at John Kerry: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin didn’t wait long to jab back at U.S. Sen. John Kerry for his joke this week that it was too bad she hadn’t gone missing instead of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. Former GOP vice-presidential candidate Palin, in Kosovo visiting troops, said yesterday she wanted to reach out to the Bay State Democratic senator. “He looked quite frustrated and he looked so sad,” she told the troops in comments later posted on YouTube. “I just wanted to reach out to the TV and say: ‘John Kerry, why the long face?'” The soliders broke out in laughter at Palin poking fun at Kerry’s renowned lantern jaw. – Boston Herald, 6-26-09
  • Obama Tackles Health Care Concerns in ABC’s Questions for the President: President Barack Obama promoted what he called a “uniquely American” health care plan in a prime-time appearance devoted to questions about health-care reform….
    During the forum, which was moderated by ABC News’ Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson, the president said he understood apprehension about reforms. “[Americans] know they’re living with the devil. But the devil they know, they think may be better than the devil they don’t.” He also said government involvement would be essential to reform: “Unfortunately government, whether you like it or not, is going to already be involved,” he said. “We pay for Medicare, we pay for Medicaid. There are a whole host of rules, both at the state and federal level, governing how health care is administered,” Obama continued. “And so the key is for us to try to figure how to take that involvement … and to keep doing what works, and stop doing what doesn’t work.” He also said hurdles remain. “These things are going to be tough politically,” he said. “What’s lacking is political will. And that’s what I’m hoping the American people will provide.” – TV Guide, 6-25-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

Historians’ Comments

  • Julian Zelizer “Franken as 60th Senate Democrat: How big a prize?” It’s better for Democrats than 59. But a Senate supermajority didn’t much help the last president to have one: Jimmy Carter….
    “Given how frequently the filibuster is used as a tool in party battles, it’s obviously better to have 60 votes than 59,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. “But if you follow divisions that have emerged on healthcare and energy, there are a lot of intraparty tensions within the Democratic Party. If Democrats splinter come October on such legislation, being able to block a Republican filibuster won’t mean much.” – CS Monitor, 7-1-09
  • James A. Morone and Lou Cannon: “From FDR to Obama, a fight for health care” “For people who know the boring details of health care, the debate is really deja vu all over again, although I’m not sure the general public picks up on all the echoes from previous debates,” says James A. Morone, co-author of “The Heart of Power,” a newly released history of health care and the presidency….
    “That wasn’t unusual for conservatives in those days, including Reagan,” says Reagan biographer Lou Cannon. “They would make an exception for something catastrophic by saying, `That’s a special situation.'” What they didn’t want was a cradle to grave system for the general public.” – AP, 7-1-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Obama Criticized as Mr. Nice Guy Toward Iran, Congress Critics argue Obama is too conciliatory in dealing with Iran, Republicans, and other adversaries”: “There is part of America that wants an assertive president, a president who will be tough on adversaries and who can, at least in theory, be scary in dealing with threats from overseas,” says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. So far, Obama doesn’t match up with that tough-guy profile, either at home or abroad. But Zelizer points out that there is another slice of the country that has an entirely different outlook, more in keeping with Obama’s style. “There’s part of America that wants a tempered president,” someone who will reach out to adversaries, avoid seeing issues and people in absolute terms, and avoid confrontation, Zelizer says. “Both are part of the American psyche.”… – US News, 6-30-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Polls don’t make a president”: President Obama continues to enjoy high approval ratings. Despite spending months navigating through one of the most treacherous economic crises in recent history and struggling with a Congress that is as partisan as ever, the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, released Monday, found that his approval rating stands at 61 percent.
    But approval ratings have rarely been a good predictor of presidential success. Some presidents have exited Washington with the public loving them but without the legislative record of success they wanted. At other times, presidents have watched their high approval ratings plummet within weeks….
    If Obama can achieve the same popularity in Congress this summer as he has achieved in national opinion polls, he might be able to defy the high odds of passing sweeping legislation in an era of polarized politics and start building the foundation for the transformative presidency that he desires. CNN, 6-30-09

Celebrating Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week.

(President Barack Obama meets with a group from the Helen Keller National Center in the Oval Office June 26, 2009.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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2 Comments

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