Political Highlights February 7, 2010: Obama Addresses on Egypt, Prayer & Commerce

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama Addresses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

President Barack Obama addresses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., February 7, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

STATS & POLLS

  • Obama or George W Bush — who is more polarizing?: Is President Obama or predecessor George W. Bush the more polarizing president? It depends on how you look at the numbers from Gallup. Over the past year, Obama had an 81% approval rating from Democrats and a 13% approval rating from Republicans — a 68-point gap that is easily the largest of any second-year president in the modern year.
    This gap comes 12 months after Obama’s 65% gap set a record for first year presidents. But Bush — whose approval ratings from both parties went up in the aftermath of 9/11 during his first year in office — had polarizing gaps of 70% or more in three different years: 2004, 2005 and 2006.
    In fact, four of the five most polarized modern presidential years, according to Gallup, were led by George W. Bush; Obama had the other one…. – USA Today, 2-4-11

CRISIS IN EGYPT & MIDDLE EAST

The President Discusses the Situation in Egypt
White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 2/1/11
  • Egypt News— The ProtestsNYT
  • Hosni MubarakNYT
  • Latest Updates on Day 10 of Egypt ProtestsNYT
  • White House, Egypt Discuss Plan for Mubarak’s Exit: The Obama administration is discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for President Hosni Mubarak to resign immediately, turning over power to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military, administration officials and Arab diplomats said Thursday.
    Even though Mr. Mubarak has balked, so far, at leaving now, officials from both governments are continuing talks about a plan in which Mr. Suleiman, backed by Lt. Gen. Sami Enan, chief of the Egyptian armed forces, and Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, the defense minister, would immediately begin a process of constitutional reform.
    The proposal also calls for the transitional government to invite members from a broad range of opposition groups, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, to begin work to open up the country’s electoral system in an effort to bring about free and fair elections in September, the officials said.
    Senior administration officials said that the proposal was one of several options under discussion with high-level Egyptian officials around Mr. Mubarak in an effort to persuade the president to step down now…. – NYT, 2-3-11
  • Kerry-McCain resolution calls on Mubarak to step down: Senator John F. Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican Senator John McCain are calling on embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to immediately begin a peaceful transition to a new democratic government. The two former presidential candidates, Kerry in 2004 and McCain in 2008, have been among the leading voices of their parties on international affairs in general and the violent unraveling of Egypt’s power structure specifically. The two co-wrote a resolution, passed by the Senate on a voice vote tonight, that calls on Mubarak to hand over power to a caretaker government…. – Boston Globe, 2-3-11Resolution Copy
  • Obama Continues to Monitor Tense Egypt Situation: President Obama returned to the White House after a brief trip to Pennsylvania on Thursday, and has been holding more consultations with his advisers on the situation in Egypt. The United States pressed harder on the Egyptian government and military to stop a wave of violence.
    The president moved quickly past members of the press corps without comment, and into the Oval Office where over the past few days of the Egyptian crisis he has met with advisers and spoken twice by telephone with President Hosni Mubarak.
    In an interview with ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, Mr. Mubarak referred to those conversations and said, according to excerpts, while he is a “very good man” Mr. Obama didn’t understand the culture of Egypt. In the same interview, Mr. Mubarak said he was “very unhappy” with violence in Egypt, which he blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood, but said he could not step down and risk the chaos he says would ensue…. – VOA, 2-3-11
  • US, UK condemn attacks on journalists in Egypt: The United States and Britain condemned the intimidation of foreign reporters covering protests against President Hosni Mubarak on Thursday and said the Egyptian government must not target journalists.
    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned assaults on American journalists in Cairo as concern rose about the possibility of an intensified round of rioting on Friday.
    “This is a violation of international norms that guarantee freedom of the press and it is unacceptable under any circumstances,” she said, reading a statement…. – Reuters, 2-3-11
  • GOP divided over Obama response to Egypt: As chaos roils Egypt, Republican lawmakers and the GOP’s potential presidential candidates are divided over President Barack Obama’s response though united in concern that an Islamic regime could rise to power in a nation that is an important U.S. ally in the precarious Middle East.
    Trying to set the tone for their party, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the country’s two top elected Republicans, have deferred to the Democratic president. They are signaling an unwillingness among the GOP leadership in Congress to pick a fight, in line, at least on this issue, with the tradition that politics stops at the waters’ edge in the midst of foreign crises. “America ought to speak with one voice,” said McConnell…. –
  • The Pentagon View of Egypt: What the Uprising Means for the U.S. MilitaryABC News, 2-3-1
  • Why Obama’s position on Egypt’s Mubarak was too little, too late: The images that have come out of Egypt over the past week are stunning: tens of thousands of largely unarmed protestors facing tanks, teargas, and live ammunition and who are still demanding that President Hosni Mubarak step down. But throughout the upheaval, the United States response has been guarded, if not inadequate. After days of tepid statements and measured acknowledgements of the Egyptian people’s “legitimate grievances,” even an eventual call for “free and fair elections,” the Obama administration would still not publicly call for Mr. Mubarak’s departure…. – CS Monitor, 2-2-11
  • Uprising in Egypt Splits U.S Conservatives: Glenn Beck blasts the uprising in Cairo as a threat to our way of life. Michelle Goldberg on how the rebellion is splitting U.S. conservatives—and the fallout for the 2012 presidential campaign. Plus, full coverage of Egypt’s protests…. – The Daily Beast, 2-1-11
  • Obama Urges Quick Transition in Egypt: President Obama declared on Tuesday night that an “orderly transition” in Egypt “must begin now,” but he stopped short of demanding that President Hosni Mubarak leave office immediately. Mr. Obama used his four-and-a-half minute speech from the Cross Hall of the White House to embrace the cause of the protestors in Egypt far more fully than he has at any previous moment since the uprising against Mr. Mubarak’s 30-year-rule began.
    He praised the Egyptian military for refusing to fire on the protestors. And by declaring that Mr. Mubarak had to begin the process of transition immediately, he seemed to be signaling that the United States would not stand by if Mr. Mubarak tried to slow-walk the process, or manipulate its results.
    But if he pushed Mr. Mubarak, he did not shove him. Mr. Obama said there would be “difficult days ahead,” a clear signal of recognition that the transition period could be messy. Only a few hours before, Mr. Mubarak had declared he would not run for re-election, but planned to stay in office through September. Mr. Obama never discussed that timetable in his public response, and he did not declare exactly what steps he wants the Egyptian leader to take to start the process of transition.
    But he made clear that the process started by the protestors could not be reversed. “We’ve born witness to the beginning of a new chapter in the history of a great country,” Mr. Obama said, casting it as a natural successor to other moments of transition in a society that goes back thousands of years…. – NYT, 2-1-11
  • Clinton Calls for ‘Orderly Transition’ in Egypt: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Sunday for “an orderly transition” to a more politically open Egypt, stopping short of telling its embattled president, Hosni Mubarak, to step down but clearly laying the groundwork for his departure. Mrs. Clinton, making a round of Sunday talk shows, insisted that Mr. Mubarak’s future was up to the Egyptian people. But she said on “State of the Union” on CNN that the United States stood “ready to help with the kind of transition that will lead to greater political and economic freedom.” And she emphasized that elections scheduled for this fall must be free and fair. President Obama reinforced that message in phone calls on Saturday and Sunday to other leaders in the region, including King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, as the administration tried to contain the regional reverberations…. – NYT, 1-30-11
  • U.S. cautiously prepares for post-Mubarak era: Mindful of other allies in the region, U.S. officials have been careful not to abandon the Egyptian leader, urging him to implement a transition to democracy. But they are also preparing for the possibility of his ouster…. – LAT, 1-30-11

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama Addresses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Pete Souza, 2/7/11
  • Obama and business community seek to ease tensions: When President Barack Obama named Gene Sperling as his chief economic adviser, two of Sperling’s early calls went to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue. Known for his pugilistic style, Donohue wasted no time. Come on over, he said. When Sperling crossed Lafayette Square, the park that separates the White House from the business lobby’s headquarters, Donohue welcomed him with characteristic bluntness:
    “Glad to have someone over there I’m comfortable sparring with at 10 a.m. and sitting down with at 2 p.m. to work on policy.” The story, confirmed by White House and Chamber officials, helps illustrate the 2011 version of this relationship.
    After two years of vociferous conflict over health care and financial regulations, the two have entered into something of a détente. President Barack Obama has scheduled a speech Monday at the Chamber, a first for him. Not four months ago, he had attacked the huge, Republican-leaning trade organization for failing to disclose donors to its $32 million congressional political campaign, “Their lips are sealed,” Obama said at the time, “but the floodgates are open.”… – AP, 2-6-11
  • Obama to address U.S. Chamber of Commerce: When President Obama addresses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for the first time today, he will face hundreds of business leaders happier about his recent rhetoric but still dissatisfied with his record. The business community that felt burned during Obama’s first two years in office is now divided over several policy and personnel changes, from tax cuts and a major trade agreement to the appointments of business leaders to key posts. Big business is warming to the president; small business, not so much…. – USA Today, 2-6-11
  • Palin & the press: Learn from Reagan’s playbook: Sarah Palin offered an extended tribute to Ronald Reagan in Santa Barbara Friday night, praising him specifically for not being bothered by criticism. Then, in an interview the CBN’s David Brody following the speech, she said that if she ran for president she’d follow the same course of ignoring the naysayers.
    But she couldn’t help but get in a jab at the press in the same interview, telling Brody that “much of the mainstream media is already becoming irrelevant.”
    Such shots have, of course, become staples of Palin’s repertoire. They illustrate that, despite her claims, criticism plainly does get to her…. – Politico, 2-6-11
  • Obama’s jobs plan: On a collision course with GOP budget cuts?: The Obama administration outlined an ‘innovation strategy’ Friday. But GOP plans for budget cuts would fall in some of the same general categories that Obama hopes to target for investment…. – CS Monitor, 2-4-11
  • White House pushes innovation agenda: President Obama has five basic ideas for spurring a new American revolution in innovation, according to a new White House report: Following up on proposals Obama made in last month’s State of the Union address and trips he made since then to Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to promote green energy initiatives, the report promotes… – USA Today, 2-4-11
  • Rites for Gen. Vang Pao a crossroads of Hmong tradition and modern U.S.: Hmong who immigrated to the Central Valley give leader a somber funeral that recalls his days heading forces that gave clandestine aid to the U.S. during the Vietnam War…. – LAT, 2-4-11
  • Loughner to be tried first in federal court: State and federal prosecutors agreed that the suspect in the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others will be tried first in federal court before any prosecution begins on state charges. The agreement reached in the case of suspect Jared Loughner was announced Friday by Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall and Dennis Burke, the U.S. Attorney for Arizona. In a written statement, the prosecutors say federal law requires all state prosecutions to be suspended while a federal case is pending…. – AP, 2-4-11
  • Obama provides insights into his faith at National Prayer Breakfast: President Obama tells lawmakers and religious leaders gathered at the National Prayer Breakfast that his faith sustains him during the trials of his job. He also offers prayers for the nation and the people of Egypt…. – LAT, 2-3-11
  • Leaders pray for nation’s, Giffords’ recovery: Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, closed the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday and offered a few words about the Arizona lawmaker’s recovery from a gunshot wound…. – USA Today, 2-3-11
  • Obama tells prayer breakfast of deeper faith — Washington Times, 2-3-11
  • Obama’s prayers: charity, humility, and longer skirts for Malia: At the National Prayer Breakfast, he admitted that his ‘faith journey has had its twists and turns,’ but he also said a frequent prayer is that he ‘might walk closer with God.’
    Obama said the call of civil rights leaders “to fix what was broken in our world, a call rooted in faith, is what led me just a few years out of college to sign up as a community organizer for a group of churches on the south side of Chicago.” He went on, “It was through that experience – working with pastors and lay people, trying to heal the wounds of hurting neighborhoods – that I came to know Jesus Christ for myself and embrace him as my lord and savior.”
    There was fatherly humor when Obama said that one subject for prayer was his 12-year-old daughter Malia. “Lord, give me patience as I watch Malia go to her first dance. Where there will be boys. Lord, have that skirt get longer as she travels – to that dance,” he said to widespread audience laughter… – CS Monitor, 2-3-11
  • Bernanke warns of catastrophe if debt limit not raised: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Thursday issued a stern warning to Republican lawmakers that delays in raising the United States’ $14.3 trillion debt limit could have “catastrophic” consequences.
    “Beyond a certain point … the United States would be forced into a position of defaulting on its debt. And the implications of that on our financial system, our fiscal policy and our economy would be catastrophic,” he told the National Press Club…. – Reuters, 2-3-11
  • Did bill try to redefine rape? GOP backs down after public outcry: A GOP-backed House bill aimed at limiting federal funding of abortions used the phrase ‘forcible rape,’ suggesting that abortions for other kinds of rape would not be covered… – CS Monitor, 2-3-11
  • Virginia to seek expedited Supreme Court review of suit over health-care law: Virginia will ask that the U.S. Supreme Court immediately review the state’s constitutional challenge to the federal health-care overhaul, a rare legal request to bypass appeals and ask for early intervention from the nation’s highest court, Attorney General Ken T. Cuccinelli II said Thursday.
    Cuccinelli (R) said that conflicting court decisions about the law’s constitutionality have created sufficient uncertainty about implementation of the sweeping law to justify speeding Supreme Court review.
    The Justice Department will oppose the motion, saying that the case should be fully heard by lower courts before the Supreme Court takes action.
    The high court has granted such requests infrequently, and many experts said they think Cuccinelli’s filing is a longshot. Supporters of the law said that the provision at the heart of the legal dispute – a requirement that individuals buy health insurance – will not go into effect until 2014…. – WaPo, 2-3-11
  • Senators criticize FBI and Pentagon in Ft. Hood shooting case: Senators say the agencies failed to act on warning signs about Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, accused of killing 13 in the Ft. Hood shooting rampage…. – LAT, 2-3-11
  • The long (and rocky) relationship of Barack Obama and John McCain: President Obama will meet with Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain at the White House today, their first one-on-one summit since the immediate aftermath of the 2008 election. Obama reached out to McCain after the senator penned an editorial praising the president for his speech in Arizona, which came in the wake of the shootings in Tucson.
    The stated topics of discussion will be the Egypt uprising, trade, earmark reform, the economy and immigration, according to a source familiar with the agenda.
    But, the real focus of the meeting will almost certainly be repairing a relationship between the two men that has fallen on hard times in the wake of the 2008 presidential campaign. That relationship has never been easy and its rockiness has often played out in public — before, during, and after the 2008 election. A brief history of the highlights — and lowlights — of Obama/McCain (or McCain/Obama)… – WaPo, 2-2-11
  • US judge: oil claims official not independent of BP: The administrator of BP’s $20 billion oil spill compensation fund has been influenced by the British oil giant and must stop telling victims he is independent, a US federal judge said. US District Judge Carl Barbier of New Orleans ordered BP to refrain from referring to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) — a fund set up by the oil firm at the White House’s urging — or its administrator Ken Feinberg as independent.
    The firm must also inform those filing claims for compensation from the disastrous spill that they have the right to consult with an attorney of their choice and can join some of the hundreds of lawsuits pending against BP if they do not accept a final payment, according to the ruling. “After reviewing the facts and submissions by the parties, the court finds that BP has created a hybrid entity, rather than one that is fully independent of BP,” Barbier wrote in his ruling… – AFP, 2-2-11 AFP, 2-2-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • Meant to Be Broken? Maybe Not This Time: The mechanics of legislating should be simple: bring a bill to the floor, fight over amendments, vote the measure up or down and move on to the next one. But that by-the-civics-book approach has been largely nonexistent in the Senate as Democrats and Republicans instead engaged in partisan procedural brawls that tied the place in knots and left lawmakers in both parties frustrated and fuming. Now, though, it appears the Senate may be turning over a new leaf by going back to the basics, an approach that a very preliminary review indicates might have merit. NYT, 2-5-11
  • House Republicans move to slash domestic programs: Republicans now controlling the House promised Thursday to slash domestic agencies’ budgets by almost 20 percent for the coming year, the first salvo in what’s sure to be a bruising battle over their drive to cut spending to where it was before President Barack Obama took office.
    “Washington’s spending spree is over,” declared Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman who announced the plan. “The spending limits will restore sanity to a broken budget process,” he said, returning “to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels.”
    Republicans won’t get everything they want. Democrats are in charge of the White House and the Senate, and even House Republicans may have second thoughts when the magnitude of the cuts sinks in… – AP, 2-3-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

  • It’s official Rehberg tells crowd he’ll better represent state of Montana 2012 US senate race is on: Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg made it official Saturday night, telling a packed GOP dinner he is running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Jon Tester in 2012. A crowd of 400 people stood and cheered loudly when Rehberg declared he would run for the Senate. Rehberg, a six-term congressman, said he is challenging Tester for several reasons, including the Montana Democrat’s steadfast support for President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
    “The truth is that Jon Tester has been a reliable ‘yes man’ for Barack Obama and Harry Reid – and he’s voted for the Obama administration 97 percent of the time,” Rehberg told a crowd at the Lewis and Clark County Republican Party Lincoln/Reagan Day dinner… – 2-6-11
  • Mont. Senate Race Could Ignite Debate Over Natural Resources: Montana Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg’s expected announcement tomorrow that he will run for Senate in 2012 promises to shine a spotlight on wilderness in a state known for fiery debates over natural resource policy. Rehberg, a six-term congressman, has firmly opposed a proposal by incumbent Sen. Jon Tester (D) to create new wilderness in the state while boosting the timber industry and promoting motorized recreation…. – NYT, 2-4-11
  • Alaska House GOP wants to ditch ‘uneconomic’ AGIA: House GOP leaders submitted a measure this morning placing the state’s contract with TransCanada, the firm preparing plans for a long-discussed natural gas pipeline, under a tough microscope. The proposed pipeline would, as envisioned, be the largest construction project ever in North America. But many say it faces severe hurdles. The bill, from House Speaker Mike Chenault and three colleagues, suggests it is “uneconomic” unless the developers prove otherwise by mid-July. The state is nonetheless locked into reimbursing TransCanada for 90 percent of its preparatory work. The contract places a $500 million ceiling on those reimbursements and the House Republicans’ bill could serve as a vehicle to halt the flow of money…. – Fairbanks Daily News Miner, 2-4-11

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • A crowded (but empty) 2012 Republican presidential field: The Iowa caucuses are 364 days away. (But who’s counting?) And yet there is only one candidate – pizza magnate Herman Cain – who has gone so far as to even form an exploratory committee to begin raising money for the Republican primary race.
    While there is considerable agreement among the Republican professional class that the 2012 race is late-starting, there’s little consensus on why things are slow to form or who the first candidate to break the silence will be. In conversations with a number of Republican operatives – those working for would-be candidates and those staying on the sidelines (for now) – a few major reasons emerge for the slow start…. – WaPo, 2-6-11
  • Democratic National Committee: No corporate cash at Charlotte convention: For the first time ever, the Democratic National Convention will not accept donations from corporations, PACs or federal lobbyists in 2012. Individual contributions also will be capped — another first — at $100,000, according to the contract governing the convention.
    Democrats say the policy is in keeping with the fundraising focus that powered President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. “From the very beginning, President Obama has placed a high priority on increasing the influence of grassroots and individual donors, and this convention will go further in that direction than any convention ever,” Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse said…. – Politico, 2-5-11
  • George Will serenades Santorum: George Will sprinkles some fairy dust on Rick Santorum in his Thursday Washington Post column. The influential conservative pundit says that there’s a big opening in the field for someone who can appeal to social conservatives, especially after Mike Pence opted not to run and if Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin don’t jump in. “Social conservatives are much of that base, are feeling neglected and are looking for someone like Santorum,” Will writes….. – Politico, 2-2-11
  • George Will: Rick Santorum’s appeal to the GOP base: In 1994, when Rick Santorum was a second-term Pennsylvania congressman seeking a U.S. Senate seat, a columnist asked him how he was going to win. “Guns,” he replied serenely. Pennsylvania’s legions of deer hunters do not use assault weapons, which President Bill Clinton was trying to ban, but the hunters suspected that this, like Clinton’s wife’s health-care plan, reflected a pattern of assaults on liberty. Santorum, then 36, won by 87,210 votes – 87,210 hunters? – out of 3,384,172 cast, becoming the first conservative elected senator from Pennsylvania since 1952. “Never,” he says today, “underestimate the power of the social issues.” He probably will test that power – and the theory, which he rejects, that economic anxieties have marginalized those issues – by seeking the Republicans’ 2012 presidential nomination…. – WaPo, 2-2-11
  • 2012 Convention Pick Charlotte Gave Obama $1.4 Million Charlotte locals gave Obama $2 for $1 they gave John McCain in 2008: So was it just Charlotte, N.C.’s barbecue, sweet people, friendly mayor, and status as the nation’s emerging big city that won the Democrats over in the competition to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention? Or did the area’s generosity to Barack Obama in 2008 donations push it over the line?….
    But there are no guarantees that Obama will even win the state in which he’ll almost assuredly be renominated: he barely won North Carolina in 2008, and the state has generally trended Republican in recent election cycles…. – US News, 2-2-11

QUOTES

The President records the Weekly Address
White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 2/4/11
  • President Obama to Business: “Now is the Time to Invest in America”: So if I’ve got one message, my message is now is the time to invest in America. Now is the time to invest in America. (Applause.) Today, American companies have nearly $2 trillion sitting on their balance sheets. And I know that many of you have told me that you’re waiting for demand to rise before you get off the sidelines and expand, and that with millions of Americans out of work, demand has risen more slowly than any of us would like.
    We’re in this together, but many of your own economists and salespeople are now forecasting a healthy increase in demand. So I just want to encourage you to get in the game. As part of the bipartisan tax deal we negotiated, with the support of the Chamber, businesses can immediately expense 100 percent of their capital investments. And as all of you know, it’s investments made now that will pay off as the economy rebounds. And as you hire, you know that more Americans working will mean more sales for your companies. It will mean more demand for your products and services. It will mean higher profits for your companies. We can create a virtuous circle…. – WH, 2-7-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Weekly Address: If Business and Government Fulfill Their Responsibilities, America Will Win the Future Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address, Washington DC, Saturday, February 5, 2011: This week, we received a report on jobs and unemployment that told us we’re continuing to move in the right direction. But we need to get there faster. In the short-term, the bipartisan tax cut we passed in December will give an added boost to job creation and economic growth. This is a tax cut that is already making Americans’ paychecks a little bigger and giving businesses more incentive to invest and hire.
    But ultimately, our true measure of progress has to be whether every American who wants a job can find one; whether the jobs available pay well and offer good benefits; whether people in this country can still achieve the American Dream for themselves and their children. That’s the progress we’re after.
    To get there, we have to realize that in today’s global, competitive economy, the best jobs and newest industries will take root in the countries with the most skilled workers, the strongest commitment to research and technology, and the fastest ways to move people, goods, and information. To win the future, America needs to out-educate, out-innovate, and out-build the rest of the world.
    On Thursday, I went to Penn State University, whose students and researchers are poised to lead the way on innovation and job creation. They’re taking up the challenge we’ve issued to scientists and engineers all across the country: if you assemble teams of the best minds in your field, and focus on tackling the biggest obstacles to providing America with clean, affordable energy, we’ll get behind your work. Your government will support your research.
    The folks in Pennsylvania have decided to focus on designing buildings that save more energy – everything from more efficient lighting and windows to heating and cooling. This won’t just cut down on energy pollution, it can save us billions of dollars on our energy bills.
    Most of all, discovering new ways to make buildings more energy-efficient will lead to new jobs and new businesses. Over the last two years, we’ve seen a window manufacturer in Maryland boost business by 55%. A lighting company in North Carolina hired hundreds of workers. A manufacturer in Pennsylvania saw business increase by $1 million.
    All we did for these companies was provide some tax credits and financing opportunities. And that’s what we want to do going forward, so that it’s profitable for American businesses to sell the discoveries made by the scientists at Penn State and other hubs of innovation. If businesses sell these discoveries – if they start making windows and insulation and buildings that save more energy – they will hire more workers. And that’s how Americans will prosper. That’s how we’ll win the future.
    Our government has an obligation to make sure that America is the best place on Earth to do business – that we have the best schools, the best incentives to innovate, and the best infrastructure. Next week, I’ll see that kind of infrastructure when I visit Marquette, Michigan – a place where high-speed broadband is connecting a small town to the larger world.
    Supporting businesses with this kind of 21st century infrastructure and cutting-edge innovation is our responsibility. But businesses have a responsibility, too. If we make America the best place to do business, businesses should make their mark in America. They should set up shop here, and hire our workers, and pay decent wages, and invest in the future of this nation. That’s their obligation. And that’s the message I’ll be bringing to American business leaders at the Chamber of Commerce on Monday – that government and businesses have mutual responsibilities; and that if we fulfill these obligations together, it benefits us all. Our workers will succeed. Our nation will prosper. And America will win the future in this century just like we did in the last. – WH, 2-5-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • White House Releases New Report on American Innovation Report outlines importance of investing in innovation to promote growth, create jobs and win the future: Today, the White House released “A Strategy for American Innovation: Securing Our Economic Growth and Prosperity,” an update to the administration’s innovation report from September 2009. The report outlines the importance of investing in innovation to grow our economy, create jobs and win the future. The full report onlineA fact sheet on the report’s findingsWH, 2-4-11
  • Remarks by the President on the Situation in Egypt: Good evening, everybody. Over the past few days, the American people have watched the situation unfolding in Egypt. We’ve seen enormous demonstrations by the Egyptian people. We’ve borne witness to the beginning of a new chapter in the history of a great country, and a long-time partner of the United States.
    And my administration has been in close contact with our Egyptian counterparts and a broad range of the Egyptian people, as well as others across the region and across the globe. And throughout this period, we’ve stood for a set of core principles.
    First, we oppose violence. And I want to commend the Egyptian military for the professionalism and patriotism that it has shown thus far in allowing peaceful protests while protecting the Egyptian people. We’ve seen tanks covered with banners, and soldiers and protesters embracing in the streets. And going forward, I urge the military to continue its efforts to help ensure that this time of change is peaceful.
    Second, we stand for universal values, including the rights of the Egyptian people to freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and the freedom to access information. Once more, we’ve seen the incredible potential for technology to empower citizens and the dignity of those who stand up for a better future. And going forward, the United States will continue to stand up for democracy and the universal rights that all human beings deserve, in Egypt and around the world.
    Third, we have spoken out on behalf of the need for change. After his speech tonight, I spoke directly to President Mubarak. He recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place. Indeed, all of us who are privileged to serve in positions of political power do so at the will of our people. Through thousands of years, Egypt has known many moments of transformation. The voices of the Egyptian people tell us that this is one of those moments; this is one of those times.
    Now, it is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt’s leaders. Only the Egyptian people can do that. What is clear — and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak — is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now.
    Furthermore, the process must include a broad spectrum of Egyptian voices and opposition parties. It should lead to elections that are free and fair. And it should result in a government that’s not only grounded in democratic principles, but is also responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.
    Throughout this process, the United States will continue to extend the hand of partnership and friendship to Egypt. And we stand ready to provide any assistance that is necessary to help the Egyptian people as they manage the aftermath of these protests.
    Over the last few days, the passion and the dignity that has been demonstrated by the people of Egypt has been an inspiration to people around the world, including here in the United States, and to all those who believe in the inevitability of human freedom.
    To the people of Egypt, particularly the young people of Egypt, I want to be clear: We hear your voices. I have an unyielding belief that you will determine your own destiny and seize the promise of a better future for your children and your grandchildren. And I say that as someone who is committed to a partnership between the United States and Egypt.
    There will be difficult days ahead. Many questions about Egypt’s future remain unanswered. But I am confident that the people of Egypt will find those answers. That truth can be seen in the sense of community in the streets. It can be seen in the mothers and fathers embracing soldiers. And it can be seen in the Egyptians who linked arms to protect the national museum — a new generation protecting the treasures of antiquity; a human chain connecting a great and ancient civilization to the promise of a new day. – WH, 2-1-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Time for Mubarak to ‘step down’: US Senator McCain: Top US Senator John McCain, shortly after talks with President Barack Obama, urged embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday to “step down and relinquish power.” “Regrettably the time has come 4 Pres Mubarak 2 step down (and) relinquish power,” McCain said in a post on the microblogging site Twitter roughly an hour after discussing the bloody political crisis in Egypt with Obama. “It’s in the best interest of Egypt, its people (and) its military,” said the lawmaker, Obama’s rival for the US presidency in 2008 and the top Republican on the US Senate Armed Services Committee…. – AFP, 2-2-11

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • The Role Model: What Obama Sees in Reagan: In May 2010, Barack Obama invited a small group of presidential historians to the White House for a working supper in the Family Dining Room. It was the second time he’d had the group in since taking office, and as he sat down across the table from his wife Michelle, the President pressed his guests for lessons from his predecessors. But as the conversation progressed, it became clear to several in the room that Obama seemed less interested in talking about Lincoln’s team of rivals or Kennedy’s Camelot than the accomplishments of an amiable conservative named Ronald Reagan, who had sparked a revolution three decades earlier when he arrived in the Oval Office. Obama and Reagan share a number of gifts but virtually no priorities. And yet Obama was clearly impressed by the way Reagan had transformed Americans’ attitude about government. The 44th President regarded the 40th, said one participant, as a vital “point of reference.” Douglas Brinkley, who edited Reagan’s diaries and attended the May dinner, left with a clear impression that Obama had found a role model. “There are policies, and there is persona, and a lot can be told by persona,” he says. “Obama is approaching the job in a Reaganesque fashion.”… – Time, 1-27-11
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Can Republicans cut defense spending?”: Republicans are divided over what to do about the defense budget. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wants to reduce it by $78 billion over the next five years.
    In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama reminded Congress that Gates had agreed to cut out billions that “he and his generals believe our military can do without.”
    Some Republicans have acted reflexively, insisting on no cuts to the military budget. Howard McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and an establishment Republican, said: “I cannot say it strongly enough: I will not support any measures that stress our forces and jeopardize the lives of our men and women in uniform.”…
    While Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson called Sputnik a disaster “comparable to Pearl Harbor,” Eisenhower insisted limits must be put on how much the country spent on weapons. A frustrated Eisenhower privately said to legislators that the nation could “choke itself to death with military force as well as protect itself.” He warned, “There is no defense of any country that busts its own economy.” The president feared that the United States faced the risk of “destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.” – CNN, 2-1-11
  • ObamaCare’s Repeal Has Begun This week’s Senate vote to scrap an IRS reporting requirement is the start of a piece by piece approach: Mark this date: On Feb. 2, 2011, a Democratic Senate killed the first piece of the health-care law it passed less than a year ago. Bowing (finally) to reality, 34 Democrats rushed to be among the 81 senators who axed the bill’s odious 1099 tax reporting requirement. Let the ObamaCare dismantling begin.
    The White House and Democrats have worked hard in recent weeks to suggest that this first casualty of their signature legislative achievement was no big deal. President Obama went so far as to make the idea his own in his State of the Union address, offering up the end of 1099 as an example of his willingness to “improve” his health legislation. And the death of 1099 was indeed overshadowed by this week’s headlines that the Senate GOP had failed to repeal the larger bill.
    It is nonetheless worth recalling the 1099 saga. The entire arc of this tale—from Democrats’ initial defense of the provision, to this week’s full-scale rout—is an example of how dramatically politics has shifted. It has also starkly laid out the real threat that the White House faces over ObamaCare in the coming year. It’s not full repeal. With 1099, Republicans have shown they intend to rip it up piece by piece…. – WSJ, 2-2-11
  • Bush daughter adds to Obama’s problems: Now, I’m not so cynical as to believe Barbara Bush does not believe in the words she said in her PSA supporting marriage equality in New York. Maybe George W. Bush’s daughter has always supported marriage equality and finally feels strong enough to say it; maybe she has gay friends; maybe she downloaded the first season of “Modern Family” and decided gay people are not as scary as she thought. Who knows? I’m just happy to see her use her platform to introduce civility and fairness. But I am also aware that her little revelation follows roughly 18 months of gay rights support coming from the mouths of some fairly surprising sources. People such as former Vice President Dick Cheney, former first lady Laura Bush and Cindy McCain, wife of Sen. John McCain. I also see that despite Obama doing more for the GLBT community than any other president in this country’s history, it only took a 22-second PSA to suggest he is still somehow behind the eight ball when it comes to gay rights. After all, if Bush’s daughter supports gay marriage, what’s Obama’s problem? If Cheney supports gay marriage, what’s Obama’s problem?… – CNN, 2-2-11
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