Political Highlights February 14, 2011: Budget Battles: Obama Unveils Valentine’s Day 2012 Budget

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:

The President Discusses the Situation in Egypt

 

White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 2/11/11

 

STATS & POLLS

  • New poll shows Obama ahead of four major potential GOP candidates: A new poll commissioned by the NHJournal.com web site shows that President Barack Obama would defeat Republicans Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich in head-to-head matchups in New Hampshire if the election were held today. The poll also shows Granite Staters have a generally favorable view of Obama, are split on Romney and Huckabee, but have unfavorable views of Palin and Gingrich. The poll also shows Granite Staters oppose repeal of the state’s same-sex marriage law but support repeal of “Obamacare.”
    For details of the poll, click here. – Union Leader, 2-11-11
  • Most Americans say Obama is handling Egypt about right, Pew poll says: According to the poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 57% say the Obama administration is handling the situation in Egypt about right. Republicans are less likely than Democrats or independents to give the president high marks…. – LAT, 2-8-11

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama’s Valentine’s Day budget: No roses or bon-bons for the GOP: President Obama’s FY 2012 budget lands on congressional desks Monday. Republicans are unimpressed, which sets the scene for a long fight over spending, taxing, and deficit reduction….
    It’s only by coincidence that President Obama’s federal budget for FY 2012 arrives on congressional desks on Valentine’s Day – a weighty tome far heavier than a box of chocolates.
    It’s more challenge than gift, though, especially now that the tea party-tinged House is run by Republicans. They’re already ripping through the contents, pronouncing them unacceptable.
    Obama’s budget, House Speaker John Boehner said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, “will continue to destroy jobs by spending too much, borrowing too much, and taxing too much.” – CS Monitor, 2-13-11
  • Budget Forecasts Bigger 2011 Deficit: President Barack Obama’s 2012 budget proposal projects this year’s deficit will reach $1.6 trillion, the largest on record, as December’s tax-cut deal begins to reduce federal revenues, a senior Democrat said Sunday. The new forecast is larger than the $1.48 trillion deficit projected last month by the Congressional Budget Office, Congress’s nonpartisan scorekeeper, and up from last year’s $1.3 trillion shortfall. The tax deal extended tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration while adding others, such as a temporary cut to the payroll tax. The prospect of a record deficit is likely to intensify the debate over federal spending and cost controls, which has gripped Washington in recent weeks. Conservative Republicans, many elected with tea-party support, are demanding deep budget cuts for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30…. – WSJ, 2-14-11
  • Republicans, White House Brace for Twin Budget Battles: Republicans looking to make deep spending cuts are girding for twin budget battles in Washington starting this week — a fiscal fight one lawmaker said will define the rest of President Obama’s term. The president plans to unveil his 2012 spending plan Monday, a $3.5 trillion-plus budget which, according to officials, will outline $1.1 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade. At the same time, Republicans are still trying to cut back this year’s spending. They want to bring a bill to the floor Tuesday that they claim would cut $100 billion out of the budget for the seven months remaining in the 2011 fiscal year.
    Top GOP lawmakers said Sunday they were hopeful the Obama administration would play along, and endorse a plan to sharply reduce short- and long-term spending. But they said the snippets of information out about the upcoming budget plan suggest the president’s not being ambitious enough in tackling what they describe as a fiscal “crisis.” They said the proposals on the table so far will not reverse the “unsustainable” rise in the national debt…. – Fox News, 2-13-11
  • Obama spending plan criticized for avoiding deficit commission’s major proposals: President Obama drew fire Sunday from congressional Republicans and independent budget experts for his reluctance to advance a plan that would tackle the nation’s biggest budget problems in the spending blueprint he will submit to Congress on Monday.
    In the first statement of his budget priorities since Republicans regained control of the House, Obama will avoid politically dangerous recommendations to wipe out cherished tax breaks and to restrain safety-net programs for the elderly, put forward last year by his own bipartisan fiscal commission as a strategy for reining in a soaring national debt.
    White House budget director Jacob J. Lew has told advocates of reform that the White House thinks any significant plan offered by the president would simply become a target for partisan attack. Key Democrats, including Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (N.D.), said they accept that rationale. Republicans argued that Obama was abdicating a responsibility to chart a path to solvency.
    “The country’s biggest challenge, domestically speaking, no doubt about it, is a debt crisis. . . . It looks like the debt is going to continue rising under this budget,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Presidents are elected to lead, not to punt. And this president has been punting.”… – WaPo, 2-13-11
  • Obama’s ‘White Paper’ and Reforming Housing Finance: The Obama administration came out on Friday afternoon with its highly anticipated ‘white paper’ proposing solutions to revamping the nation’s broken mortgage system. The plan entitled “Reforming America’s Housing Finance Market” addresses the adverse incentives created by the pre-2008 mortgage institutions. As anticipated on Monday, the Wall Street Journal’s prediction that the Obama administration would advocate gradually eliminating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was confirmed in this report. However, now the question becomes: what is going to replace these lending institutions?… – Financial Advisory, 2-12-11
  • Republicans take a $100 billion whack at Obama budget: Bending to party conservatives – notably tea partiers – House GOP leaders propose steep cuts in many popular programs for the rest of the fiscal year. Will it lead to a government shut-down?
    In a move that has “tea party” written all over it, Republicans in the House of Representative propose to cut spending for the rest of this fiscal year by what they claim is “the largest single discretionary spending reduction in the history of Congress.”
    Will it pass? That’s unlikely, given Democratic control of the Senate and President Obama’s authority to veto what’s called a “continuing resolution.”
    Still, the action sets the scene for what could be a knock-down-drag-out political fight. And while the amount in question is just a fraction of overall government spending, it wallops many popular programs – including some highly favored by the Obama administration….. – CS Monitor, 2-12-11
  • The Donald and Sarah Palin hair: a CPAC carnival of conservatism: Day 1 of the Conservative Political Action Conference – or CPAC – included Donald Trump touting himself, Michele Bachmann slamming ‘Obamacare,’ and Rand Paul talking about massive budget cuts. In other words, a classic CPAC day…. – CS Monitor, 2-11-11
  • Obama bids farewell to faithful press flack: President Barack Obama bade farewell to his spokesman Robert Gibbs Friday, joking that after President Hosni Mubarak’s exit, his flack’s departure was not the most important exit of the day.
    Gibbs is stepping down from the high-pressure role as White House press secretary after more than 250 on-camera briefings, but is expected to play a big role in Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.
    “Gibbs’ departure is not the biggest one today,” Obama said in the White House briefing room.
    A sometimes acerbic former college goalkeeper from Alabama, has been with Obama since the beginning of his big- time political career, when he made an unlikely run for Senate in 2004 that turned into a presidency.
    “Robert started very early with me on this wild ride that I’ve been on,” Obama said. “When I won the Democratic primary in Illinois, I realized that I was going to have to start staffing up a little bit.” “I still didn’t have a lot of money, so all I could afford was Gibbs,” Obama joked, then turned serious, saying that Gibbs had been an “extraordinary” spokesman and a great friend.
    “You could not ask for somebody better in the foxhole with you during all the twists and turns of my candidacy, and then the incredible challenges that we faced over the last two years.”… – AFP, 2-11-11
  • Obama to Gibbs on last day: Here’s your tie back: White House press secretary Robert Gibbs got a gift from his boss Friday before giving his last press briefing. President Obama gave him his tie back.
    It was Gibbs’ light blue tie that Obama wore to give his famous keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston — the speech that ignited his career. On Friday, Obama presented it in a glass frame with photos and a note reading, in part: “I thought that I could finally give your tie back.”
    There were hugs from the president and congratulations from the press corps for Gibbs, who is resigning after more than two years in one of the toughest jobs in Washington; six years with Obama; and 17 in the political communications business…. – USA Today, 2-10-11
  • CPAC gets underway on wave of 2010 midterm momentum: The largest conservative gathering of the year began in Washington on Thursday with a parade of possible Republican presidential candidates determined to show that they have what it takes to defeat President Obama in 2012. More than 11,000 activists and politicians convened for the 38th annual Conservative Political Action Conference to take stock of the contenders and of the conservative movement after Republicans’ major gains in the 2010 midterm elections. The three-day meeting is part celebration of those victories and part an effort to remind the party’s new leaders to live up to the promises of last year’s campaign.
    The opening-day roster of potential presidential hopefuls included former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.). Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty will speak on Friday, and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour will appear on Saturday. Two prominent potential candidates, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, decided not to attend…. – WaPo, 2-10-11
  • Arizona sues US government over illegal immigrants: Arizona is counter-suing the US government, charging that Washington has failed to protect it from an invasion of illegal immigrants and related violent crime, its governor has said. The lawsuit, which seeks federal compensation, is in response to a federal lawsuit filed by President Barack Obama’s administration last year challenging Arizona’s enforcement of a new immigration law along the US-Mexican border.
    “Our citizens have lived with this dark cloud for too long .. It’s time for the federal government to do its job and secure the border,” said Governor Jan Brewer, announcing the lawsuit outside the federal courthouse in Phoenix…. – AFP, 2-10-11
  • High-speed wireless access for entire US will spark innovation, Obama says: President Obama aims for 98 percent of Americans to be able to go online using high-speed wireless access within five years….. – CS Monitor, 2-10-11
  • Swedish minister to Assange: turn yourself in: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should turn himself in for questioning in a Swedish rape investigation and has no reason to worry about not getting a fair trial, Sweden’s justice minister said Thursday. Beatrice Ask’s comments to The Associated Press reveal the irritation among senior Swedish officials at the arguments used by Assange’s lawyers in fighting his extradition in a British court, where closing arguments are set for Friday. The lawyers defending Assange, who is accused of sexual misconduct against two Swedish women, say a closed-door trial in Sweden would represent “a flagrant denial of justice.”… – AP, 2-10-11
  • U.S. terrorism threat at ‘heightened’ state: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the terrorism threat is the highest it has been since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
    Senior Homeland Security Department officials warned Wednesday that the threat to the United States is the highest it has been since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, citing the emergence of more foreign terrorist groups, a sharp increase in extremists in this country and the “lone wolf” operator whom authorities worry they may not be able to stop.
    “The terrorist threat facing our country has evolved significantly,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. “In some ways, the threat facing us is at its most heightened state since those attacks.”… – LAT, 2-9-11
  • Why Michelle Obama is talking about her husband’s gray hair: As First Lady Michelle Obama publicizes her chosen issue, childhood obesity, she keeps dropping in humanizing details about her husband. Yes, he has gray hair. And boring fashion sense…. – CS Monitor, 2-9-11
  • Obama says businesses must hire, invest to grow economy: President Obama on Monday pledged to make government an ally of companies as they emerge from the bleak downturn of recent years, even as he challenged executives to do their part to help resurrect the economy.
    “We can, and we must, work together,” Obama told an audience at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, his most overt effort yet to mend ties with the nation’s business community. “Whatever differences we may have, I know that all of us share a deep, abiding belief in this country, a belief in our people, a belief in the principles that have made America’s economy the envy of the world.”
    His administration will “help lay the foundation for you to grow and innovate,” Obama said, vowing new investment in infrastructure and education and a focus on removing “barriers that make it harder for you to compete – from the tax code to the regulatory system.”… – WaPo, 2-7-11
  • Terrorism sponsor no more? Obama hints at taking Sudan from the list: US says it holds the door open for Sudan to be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism if it meets its ‘obligations,’ including recognition of an independent South Sudan… – CS Monitor, 2-7-11
  • Health-care law supporters tap Democratic strategist to defend it: Supporters of the new health-care law have tapped a top Democratic strategist to help defend it against Republican criticism as they settle in for what many expect will be a protracted battle to shape the public’s view of the law through the 2012 elections and beyond.
    “There’s a growing recognition that with respect to this big health-care reform legislation there’s no such thing as a final victory or a final defeat,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of the consumer lobby Families USA, one of the groups behind the effort. “The Republicans are intent on making this a multi-year effort and those of us who strongly support the legislation must meet that challenge. . . . We feel we’ve got to come together in a much more systematic fashion.”
    The initiative is being headed by Paul Tewes, a political consultant who directed field operations in key states for President Obama’s campaign…. – WaPo, 2-7-11
  • Word and Lyric, Giffords Labors to Speak Again: Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an eloquent speaker before she was shot in the head last month, is relearning the skill — progressing from mouthing words and lip syncing songs to talking briefly by telephone to her brother-in- law in space. With a group of friends and family members acting as a backup chorus, Ms. Giffords has been mouthing the lyrics to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” and “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love, Baby.” And as a surprise for her husband, who is celebrating his birthday this month, a longtime friend who has been helping her through her rehabilitation videotaped her mouthing the words to “Happy Birthday to You.”… – NYT, 2-13-11
  • Rep. Giffords speaks for first time since shooting: Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords spoke for the first time since she was shot in the forehead, her spokesman said Wednesday, yet another significant milestone in her recovery from a traumatic brain injury. Giffords spoke first several days ago and is speaking “more and more,” spokesman C.J. Karamargin said Wednesday. He didn’t know what her first words were, but said at breakfast one morning she asked for toast.
    “She’s working very hard and it’s paying off,” he told The Associated Press. “We’re elated at this. We always knew Gabby is a fighter and that she’s not going to let this thing win. And you know, every day is proof of that.”… – AP, 2-9-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • Freshmen Republicans claim victory on spending: First-term Republican conservatives claimed victory Friday after forcing their own leadership to expand a package of spending cuts headed for debate on the House floor next week. “$100 billion is $100 billion is $100 billion,” said Rep. Tim Scott R-S.C., referring to amount the revised package would cut from President Barack Obama’s budget request of a year ago.
    That was the amount contained in the Republican “Pledge to America” in last fall’s campaign, and when party leaders initially suggested a smaller package of cuts this week, many of the 87-member freshman class who have links to the tea party rebelled. In fact, even some Republicans acknowledged privately the legislation will cut about $61 billion from current spending on domestic spending…. – AP, 2-11-11
  • Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl won’t run for reelection: The minority whip, who has been a vocal critic of Obama’s agenda on immigration and healthcare, says it is time for him to do something else. Republicans are confident they can hold on to his seat…. – LAT, 2-10-11
  • House GOP fumbles on Patriot Act renewal: Conservative and ‘tea party’ Republicans join many Democrats to vote against renewal of the terrorist surveillance law, key provisions of which are to expire Feb. 28…. – LAT, 2-9-11
  • Patriot Act extension fails in the House by seven votes: More than two-dozen House Republicans bucked their party to oppose the measure that would extend three key provisions in the counterterrorism law.
    House Republicans suffered an embarrassing setback Tuesday when they fell seven votes short of extending provisions of the Patriot Act, a vote that served as the first small uprising of the party’s tea-party bloc.
    The bill to reauthorize key parts of the counter-terrorism surveillance law, which expire at the end of the month, required a super-majority to pass under special rules reserved for non-controversial measures.
    But it fell short of the required two-thirds after 26 Republicans bucked their leadership, eight of them freshman lawmakers elected in November’s midterm elections. With most Democrats opposing the extension, the final tally was 277 members in favor of extension, and 148 opposed…. –
  • New York Congressman Resigns Over E-Mails: Representative Christopher Lee of New York abruptly resigned on Wednesday night after a shirtless photo of himself, which he had e-mailed to a woman, was published on the Internet. Mr. Lee, a two-term Republican from western New York, notified the House speaker, John A. Boehner, of his decision in a letter on Wednesday afternoon, after the scandal had erupted, according to senior Congressional officials.
    Mr. Lee’s office released a statement in which he asked for forgiveness. “I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents,” he wrote. “I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness.”… – NYT, 2-9-11
  • NY Rep. Lee resigns after shirtless photo story: A married New York congressman accused of sending a shirtless photo of himself to a woman abruptly resigned his seat Wednesday, saying he was quitting because he regretted actions that had hurt his family and others. The gossip website Gawker reported Wednesday that Rep. Christopher Lee, a two-term Republican, had e-mailed the photo to a woman he met on the Craigslist classified-ads website.
    Lee said in an e-mailed statement that his resignation was effective immediately. The statement offered no confirmation or details of a Craigslist posting. “I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents,” Lee said in a statement posted on his congressional website. “I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness.”… – AP, 2-9-11
  • With Jim Webb retiring, 2012 Senate prospects get harder for Democrats Sen. Jim Webb (D) of Virginia won’t seek reelection next year. But Virginia’s Democratic bench isn’t very deep: The freshman senator surprised few people Wednesday with his announcement that he will not seek reelection next year. Senator Webb had not raised much money and was not an enthusiastic campaigner. But it’s usually easier for an incumbent to win than a newcomer – especially in a state where the Republicans rebounded in 2009 and 2010. Plus, Virginia Democrats don’t have a big bench. Their best hope – former Gov. Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee – has said in the past he’s not interested in running for the Senate. Now that the seat is open, there’s speculation President Obama may twist his arm. For Mr. Obama to win Virginia again in 2012, it will be less difficult if a strong Democrat is on the Senate line…. – CS Monitor, 2-9-11
  • Harman resignation reduces ranks of House Democratic centrists: Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) said Monday that she will resign from Congress, a announcement that came as a surprise to many in her party and served as the latest blow to the diminished ranks of the centrist wing of the Democratic caucus.
    Harman added in an e-mail sent to supporters that she was “in discussions” to take over the presidency of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The think tank is currently run by former representative Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), who like Harman believes in a muscular foreign policy that has at times run afoul of the liberal wing of the Democratic party. The center is expected to name a new president Tuesday.
    “This is an excruciating decision because the distinction of representing the smartest constituents on earth will never be surpassed – nor will my relationships with my exceptional staff and colleagues in Congress,” Harman wrote…. – WaPo, 2-7-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

  • Florida governor cuts spending and taxes in budget: Florida’s Tea Party-backed Governor Rick Scott proposed cutting more than $5 billion from state spending on Monday while also slashing taxes as he laid out his first budget proposal aimed at closing a deficit of nearly $4 billion.
    The Republican, a former healthcare executive, proposed saving nearly $4 billion over two years by reforming Medicaid, the health insurance program for poor people. He also saw savings of $2.8 billion over two years through an overhaul of Florida’s relatively healthy state pension system. Scott also proposed cutting taxes by more than $4 billion over two years. This would include a roll-back of corporate income taxes from 5 percent to 3.5 percent and reductions in property taxes…. – Reuters, 2-7-11

CHICAGO MAYORAL CAMPAIGN

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • Boehner sees wide-open field for GOP in 2012: House Speaker John Boehner says he doesn’t see a front-runner so far in the large field of potential GOP candidates for the White House in 2012. He says he’s never seen a more wide-open race for his party’s nomination. He tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Republicans need to find someone who can paint a vision of the future that includes a smaller, less costly and more accountable government…. – AP, 2-13-11
  • Ron Paul wins CPAC straw poll again: Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) won the always-anticipated, rarely predictive presidential straw poll Saturday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, but he did so with less than a third of the vote – a result that suggested the energy of conservative activists at the gathering has not coalesced behind a single candidate. Winning for the second year in a row, Paul carried about 30 percent of the 3,742 votes cast. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney came in second with about 23 percent. Beyond that the vote splintered, with no potential candidate rising above the single digits…. – WaPo, 2-12-11
  • T-Paw gets religion in Iowa: Pawlenty is working hard to court evangelical Christian voters. A devout evangelical himself, Pawlenty made three stops around Iowa Monday in an effort to win over the influential voting bloc that helped put Ronald Reagan in the White House and later gave George W. Bush two terms.
    “It’s important that we acknowledge and begin with the notion that this was a country and is a country that is founded under God,” he declared on the final stop on the Family Leader lecture series at Dordt College in Sioux City. “This not the rhetoric of a politician passing through town. This is a foundational concept for our nation.”

    But Pawlenty, who was the first would-be 2012 candidate to address the social conservative advocacy group, is just one of several prospective Republican presidential candidates vying for evangelicals’ support…. – Politico, 2-7-11

QUOTES

The President records the Weekly Address

 

White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 2/11/11

 

  • White House White Board: OMB Director Jack Lew on the President’s Budget: In this White House White Board, Jack Lew, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, explains how the President’s Budget will help then government live within its means, while still investing in America’s future. Look for much more detail here at WhiteHouse.gov Monday afternoon…. – WH, 2-13-11
  • McConnell: Obama Agenda Is ‘Over’: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared Saturday that President Obama’s legislative agenda is “over,” but said GOP lawmakers are willing to work with the White House to do what they “think is right for America.” In a speech Saturday night to a GOP crowd in his hometown, the Kentucky Republican derided Obama for performing “Clintonian back flips” to portray himself as a moderate, but said it’s yet to be seen whether the new tone is “rhetoric or reality.”…
    “And to the extent that the president wants to do what we think is right for America, we won’t say ‘no’ simply because there’s an election coming along,” said McConnell….
    Still, McConnell drew cheers from the partisan crowd when he declared: “The legislative agenda of Barack Obama is over.”
    McConnell also laid out the strategy of Senate Republicans, saying, “Whatever the House can get out of the House with a majority vote is the goal of the Senate.”
    “We’ll see how many of them come over and join us and begin to tackle our annual deficit,” he said…. – Fox News, 2-12-11
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: “It’s Time Washington Acted as Responsibly as Our Families Do” Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery, February 12, 2011, Washington, DC: A few months ago, I received a letter from a woman named Brenda Breece. I wanted to share her story because it speaks to what a lot of families are going through – and it offers a good example of the kind of responsibility that’s needed in Washington right now….
    Families across this country understand what it takes to manage a budget. They understand what it takes to make ends meet without forgoing important investments like education. Well, it’s time Washington acted as responsibly as our families do. And on Monday, I’m proposing a new budget that will help us live within our means while investing in our future.
    My budget freezes annual domestic spending for the next five years – even on programs I care deeply about – which will reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade. This freeze will bring this type of spending to its lowest level as a share of the economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president. We’ve stripped down the budget by getting rid of waste. For example, we’re getting rid of thousands of government-owned buildings that sit empty because they aren’t needed. I’ve also proposed freezing salaries for hardworking government employees, because everyone has to do their part. And I’m going to make sure politics doesn’t add to our deficit, by vetoing any bill that contains earmarks.
    And yet, just as the Breece family is making difficult sacrifices while still investing in the future – by helping their daughter pay her tuition – my budget does the same. I’m proposing that we invest in what will do the most to grow the economy in the years to come. This means job-creating investments in roads, high-speed speed trains, and broadband. This means cutting-edge research that holds the promise of creating countless jobs and whole new industries, like clean energy and biotechnology. And it means improving our schools and making college more affordable – to give every young person the chance to fulfill his or her potential, and receive the job training they need to succeed. Because it would be a mistake to balance the budget by sacrificing our children’s education.
    So, after a decade of rising deficits, this budget asks Washington to live within its means, while at the same time investing in our future. It cuts what we can’t afford to pay for what we cannot do without. That’s what families do in hard times. And that’s what our country has to do too. WH, 2-12-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Remarks by the President on Egypt: THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. There are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place. This is one of those moments. This is one of those times. The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard, and Egypt will never be the same.
    By stepping down, President Mubarak responded to the Egyptian people’s hunger for change. But this is not the end of Egypt’s transition. It’s a beginning. I’m sure there will be difficult days ahead, and many questions remain unanswered. But I am confident that the people of Egypt can find the answers, and do so peacefully, constructively, and in the spirit of unity that has defined these last few weeks. For Egyptians have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day.
    The military has served patriotically and responsibly as a caretaker to the state, and will now have to ensure a transition that is credible in the eyes of the Egyptian people. That means protecting the rights of Egypt’s citizens, lifting the emergency law, revising the constitution and other laws to make this change irreversible, and laying out a clear path to elections that are fair and free. Above all, this transition must bring all of Egypt’s voices to the table. For the spirit of peaceful protest and perseverance that the Egyptian people have shown can serve as a powerful wind at the back of this change.
    The United States will continue to be a friend and partner to Egypt. We stand ready to provide whatever assistance is necessary — and asked for — to pursue a credible transition to a democracy. I’m also confident that the same ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that the young people of Egypt have shown in recent days can be harnessed to create new opportunity — jobs and businesses that allow the extraordinary potential of this generation to take flight. And I know that a democratic Egypt can advance its role of responsible leadership not only in the region but around the world.
    Egypt has played a pivotal role in human history for over 6,000 years. But over the last few weeks, the wheel of history turned at a blinding pace as the Egyptian people demanded their universal rights.
    We saw mothers and fathers carrying their children on their shoulders to show them what true freedom might look like.
    We saw a young Egyptian say, “For the first time in my life, I really count. My voice is heard. Even though I’m only one person, this is the way real democracy works.”
    We saw protesters chant “Selmiyya, selmiyya” — “We are peaceful” — again and again.
    We saw a military that would not fire bullets at the people they were sworn to protect.
    And we saw doctors and nurses rushing into the streets to care for those who were wounded, volunteers checking protesters to ensure that they were unarmed.
    We saw people of faith praying together and chanting – “Muslims, Christians, We are one.” And though we know that the strains between faiths still divide too many in this world and no single event will close that chasm immediately, these scenes remind us that we need not be defined by our differences. We can be defined by the common humanity that we share.
    And above all, we saw a new generation emerge — a generation that uses their own creativity and talent and technology to call for a government that represented their hopes and not their fears; a government that is responsive to their boundless aspirations. One Egyptian put it simply: Most people have discovered in the last few days…that they are worth something, and this cannot be taken away from them anymore, ever.
    This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied. Egyptians have inspired us, and they’ve done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained through violence. For in Egypt, it was the moral force of nonviolence — not terrorism, not mindless killing — but nonviolence, moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice once more.
    And while the sights and sounds that we heard were entirely Egyptian, we can’t help but hear the echoes of history — echoes from Germans tearing down a wall, Indonesian students taking to the streets, Gandhi leading his people down the path of justice.
    As Martin Luther King said in celebrating the birth of a new nation in Ghana while trying to perfect his own, “There is something in the soul that cries out for freedom.” Those were the cries that came from Tahrir Square, and the entire world has taken note.
    Today belongs to the people of Egypt, and the American people are moved by these scenes in Cairo and across Egypt because of who we are as a people and the kind of world that we want our children to grow up in.
    The word Tahrir means liberation. It is a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom. And forevermore it will remind us of the Egyptian people — of what they did, of the things that they stood for, and how they changed their country, and in doing so changed the world. – WH, 2-11-11TranscriptMp4Mp3

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Gingrich: Obama is no Ronald Reagan: A recent Time magazine cover featuring an image of Ronald Reagan with his arm around President Obama has been the subject of much fodder at today’s Conservative Political Action Conference.
    “I knew Ronald Reagan,” former House speaker Newt Gingrich said. “… I hate to tell this to our friends at MSNBC: Barack Obama is no Ronald Reagan.” Reagan, the 40th president, is an icon in conservative GOP circles and addressed CPAC at the first conference in 1973…. – USA Today, 2-10-11
  • Ed Rollins: Can Obama be beaten in 2012?: And then of course we have the story of our president. Certainly he was never viewed as a serious threat until he won Iowa.
    One of the great things about American politics is that the early primaries and Iowa caucus are retail politics. Voters want to meet you, shake your hand and look you in the eye and hear what you’re all about. They take their politics very seriously. They have seen many presidential contenders — and they aren’t intimated by any of them.
    A year from now we will know the winner of the Iowa caucus, who will be a front-runner at least until the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries. If someone wins two out of those first three, he or she will be on their way to being the nominee. And before it’s over, we will know whether the Republicans will have a candidate who is up to the task of defeating Obama…. – CNN, 2-10-11
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