Political Highlights February 28, 2011: Governors & Tea Party Meet — Obama Congress Budget Showdown; Threat of Government Shutdown — Wisconsin’s Gov. Walker & Union Wars — Unrest in the Middle East & Libya

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 Obama and a bipartisan group of governors in the State Dining Room
The President tells Governors that from infrastructure to the health reform law, he wants to give them “the flexibility that you need to find your own innovative ways forward.”

STATS & POLLS

  • Almost Six in Ten Americans Give President Obama Negative Job Rating Almost nine in ten give Congress negative ratings: Going into these battles, almost three in five Americans (58%) have a negative opinion of the job the President is doing while 42% have a positive opinion of it. This is slightly down from last month when 44% of U.S. adults gave the job the President was doing positive marks and 56% gave it negative ratings…. – PRNewswire, 2-28-11
  • Gallup poll: Obama’s approval ratings fell across U.S. in 2010: The Gallup survey says President Obama’s approval rating is above 50% in a dozen states, and in 10 states his approval rating is lower than 40%…. – LAT, 2-23-11

REVOLUTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST: LIBYA IN TURMOIL

Ed Ou for The New York Times

Egyptian protesters taped a flag on the front doors of the Libyan Embassy in Cairo on Sunday.

  • Gaddafi opponents spread control deeper into west Libya: The popular revolt that has already seen opponents of Col. Moammar Gaddafi’s 41-year-rule claim the eastern half of the country spread deeper into the west on Sunday, with rock-wielding residents…. – WaPo, 2-27-11
  • Libya rebels set up first political leadership: Politicians in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi said Sunday they are setting up a council to run day-to-day affairs in the eastern half of the country under their control, the first attempt to create a leadership body that could eventually form an alternative to Moammar Gadhafi’s regime. A day after a high-ranking minister who defected from the government said he was setting up a provisional government, a prominent human rights lawyer, Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga, held a news conference in Benghazi to shoot down the claim. Instead, he said politicians in the east were establishing a transitional council to manage daily life in the rebel-controlled areas until Gadhafi falls…. – AP, 2-27-11
  • Tunisian interim prime minister resigns: The premier, who served in the same post under deposed President Zine el Abidine ben Ali, bows to public pressure and street protests demanding that all traces of the old regime be removed…. – LAT, 2-27-11
  • UN, world further isolate Libya’s Gadhafi: Armed with tough Security Council sanctions, the U.N. and many nations began moving to isolate Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from the international community in hopes of halting his deadly crackdown on protesters. The council voted 15-0 late Saturday to impose an arms embargo and urged U.N. member countries to freeze the assets of Gadhafi, four of his sons and a daughter. The council also backed a travel ban on the Gadhafi family and close associates, including leaders of the revolutionary committees accused of much of the violence against regime opponents…. – AP, 2-26-11
  • British military discreetly evacuates 150 nationals from Libya: In a hush-hush rescue mission, British planes land in the desert to take 150 oil workers and their families to Malta. A Royal Navy frigate is expected to arrive in Benghazi on Sunday to pick up some of the 300 Britons believed to still be in Libya…. – LAT, 2-26-11
  • Foreigners in Libya report being beaten, robbed: Guest workers from Egypt, Tunisia and other nations tell of being attacked by Libyan security forces, robbed and accused of being traitors and inciting the uprising against Moammar Kadafi…. – LAT, 2-26-11
  • Security Council Calls for War Crimes Inquiry in Libya: The UN Security Council called for an international war crimes investigation into “widespread and systemic attacks” against Libyan citizens. NYT, 2-26-11
  • Obama says Gadhafi must leave Libya ‘now’: President Barack Obama says Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi must leave now. Obama made the comments to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a private telephone conversation Saturday as they discussed the violence in Libya. The White House says Obama told Merkel that when a leader’s only means of holding power is to use violence against his people, then he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what’s right for his country by “leaving now.”… – AP, 2-26-11
  • Libya’s Gaddafi vows to “triumph over the enemy”: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on Friday vowed defiantly to triumph over his enemies, urging his supporters in Tripoli’s Green Square to protect Libya and its petroleum interests.
    “Get ready to fight for Libya, get ready to fight for dignity, get ready to fight for petroleum.” The Libyan leader, who has lost swathes of his country to rebels, said: “Respond to them, put them to shame” and “we can triumph over the enemies.”
    Blowing kisses to his supporters and then shaking his fist in the air, Gaddafi said: “This nation, we are the nation of dignity and integrity, this nation has triumphed over (former colonial power) Italy.”
    Gaddafi shouted: “You must dance, sing, and prepare yourself … this spirit you have is stronger than any other attempt by the foreigners and the enemies to destroy us.”… – Reuters, 2-25-11
  • White House: Libyans have lost faith in Gadhafi: Obama spokesman Jay Carney stopped short of calling for Gadhafi to step down. But he says it’s clear that Gadhafi’s legitimacy has been “reduced to zero.”… – AP, 2-25-11
  • Obama discusses Libya options with Turkish leader: President Barack Obama is consulting with world leaders on possible steps to deal with the violence in Libya, speaking Friday morning with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan… – AP, 2-25-11
  • Gadhafi says he’s only a ‘symbolic leader,’ blames unrest on al-QaedaUSA Today, 2-24-11
  • International Pressure Mounts on Libyan Leader to Step Down: International pressure is mounting on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, whose violent crackdown on opposition protesters has drawn widespread condemnation…. – Voice of America, 2-25-11
  • Libya: Gaddafi Rages As World Talks Continue: Forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi hit back at rebel-held towns near the Libyan capital, as world leaders struggled to coordinate action against the dictator…. – Sky News, 2-25-11
  • Obama reaching out to Britain, France on Libya: President Barack Obama is stepping up diplomatic efforts to address the violent crackdown in Libya…. – AP, 2-24-11
  • UN to meet on further options against Libya: The U.N. Security Council will meet Friday to consider actions against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s regime that could include sanctions aimed at deterring his violent crackdown on anti-government protesters…. – AP, 2-24-11
  • Obama dispatches Clinton for talks on Libya: President Barack Obama on Wednesday condemned the violence in Libya as “outrageous … and unacceptable” and said he was dispatching Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Geneva for international talks aimed at stopping the violence.
    Obama said he was studying a “full range of options” to pressure Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s regime to halt attacks against Libyans as violent clashes spread throughout the North African country. He said the options included possible sanctions that the U.S. could take with its allies as well as steps it might take by itself.
    “We are doing everything we can to protect American citizens,” Obama said in brief remarks at the White House, his first public comments after days of violence in Libya. He appeared with Clinton after the two conferred on the situation at the White House. Clinton is traveling to Geneva on Monday for talks on Libya.
    “We strongly condemn the use of violence in Libya,” Obama said. “The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous, and it is unacceptable. So are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya.”… – AP, 2-23-11
  • Newspaper review: Events in Libya remain the focus: A row of dominos is collapsing on top of Colonel Gaddafi, who holds, in one hand, a machine gun and, in the other, an umbrella. Most offer their opinion on the dictator’s latest televised speech – at once comic and disturbing, they say…. – BBC News, 2-23-11
  • US to evacuate Americans from Libya by ferry: The State Department said late Tuesday it has chartered a ferry boat to evacuate Americans from Libya by sea amid increasingly violent unrest in the North African state as Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi vowed further crackdowns on opponents seeking his ouster.
    In a notice sent to U.S. citizens in Libya, the department said Americans wishing to leave Libya should report to the As-shahab port in the capital of Tripoli with their passports starting at 9 a.m. local time on Wednesday. The ferry will depart for the Mediterranean island of Malta no later than 3 p.m. local time…. – AP, 2-23-11
  • Gadhafi forces strike back at revolt near Tripoli: Army units and militiamen loyal to Moammar Gadhafi struck back against rebellious protesters who have risen up in cities close to the capital Thursday, attacking a mosque where many had taken refuge and battling with others who had seized control of a local airport.
    The assaults aimed to push back a revolt that has moved closer to Gadhafi’s bastion in the capital, Tripoli. The uprising has already broken away nearly the eastern half of Libya and unraveled parts of Gadhafi’s regime…. – AP, 2-23-11
  • Jackson Diehl: Is the Obama administration soft on Gaddafi?: For the Obama administration, Libya ought to be the easy case in the Middle East’s turmoil. Dictator Moammar Gaddafi, aptly labeled a “mad dog” by Ronald Reagan 25 years ago, is no friend of the United States, unlike Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak… – WaPo, 2-22-11
  • US condemns ‘appalling’ violence in Libya: The Obama administration on Tuesday condemned “appalling” violence in Libya, where security forces unleashed a bloody crackdown on protesters demanding the ouster of longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi. “This violence is completely unacceptable,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said. “We believe that the government of Libya bears responsibility for what is occurring and must take actions to end the violence.”… – AP, 2-22-11

THE HEADLINES….

The President on Libya
White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 2/23/11
  • Obama lends support to states’ health alternative: In a concession over his divisive health care overhaul, President Barack Obama offered Monday to let unhappy states design alternative plans as long as they fulfill the goals of his landmark law.
    Addressing the nation’s governors, Obama also challenged state chiefs who have sought to balance their budgets through weakening unions and curbing employees’ benefits, telling them that they should not demonize workers.
    “I don’t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon. We need to attract the best and the brightest to public service,” the president said…. – AP, 2-27-11
  • Tea party members vow to hold GOP accountable: Antsy for results, tea party supporters gathered for a weekend strategy summit say they’re intent on making sure the Republicans they helped return to power last fall live up to promises to dramatically change course in Washington. That idea emerged as an apparent consensus among the more than 2,000 people attending the Tea Party Patriots event, which wrapped up Sunday in Arizona. The meeting of the conservative-libertarian coalition was filled with warnings to the GOP not to squander their new base of support, at the risk of diminished help or challenges from the right.
    Among the messages from attendees: Congress is too timid when it comes to slashing spending, Republican leaders seem too willing to compromise with President Barack Obama to avoid a government shutdown, and the newly empowered GOP won’t take a firm enough stand to tamp down the nation’s debt…. – AP, 2-27-11
  • NJ gov compliments first lady’s health efforts: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who says he’s struggled with a weight problem most of his life, he thinks first lady Michelle Obama is doing well to speak in favor of healthy eating and exercise…. – AP, 2-27-11
  • Tea Party Group Issues Warning to the G.O.P.: While heaping scorn on President Obama and the Democrats for overspending, more than 2,000 members of the Tea Party Patriots gathered here for a national conference also had strong words on Saturday for Congressional Republicans and vowed to vote them out of office next year if they did not move aggressively to cut the budget.
    They offered up Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, locked in a standoff with his state’s public-sector unions, as a model of budget-cutting fervor. Mr. Walker remained in Wisconsin, but the mere mention of his name led to a standing ovation. It was Washington, not Wisconsin, though, that seemed the source of the most ire…. – NYT, 2-26-11
  • Governors Look for Means to Cope With Budgets: Democratic governors warned Saturday that federal budget cuts could crimp a fragile economic recovery, and governors of both major parties asked the Obama administration to give them more flexibility in running education and health care programs so that they could cope…. NYT, 2-26-11
  • Anxiety on all sides of upcoming House hearing on radicalization of US MuslimsWaPo, 2-26-11
  • US Economy Grew 2.8% in Fourth Quarter; Revised From 3.2%: The US economy grew at a 2.8 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter, slower than previously calculated and less than forecast as state and local governments made deeper cuts in spending…. – Bloomberg, 2-25-11
  • Tea party uses Ariz. summit to scope out 2012 role: A couple of thousand tea party members convening a weekend summit in Phoenix are determined to have a say in choosing the next Republican nominee for president. The populist, conservative movement poses an enticing but complicated challenge for potential GOP candidates because it’s comprised of engaged voters who are generally skeptical of the political establishment…. – AP, 2-26-11
  • Tea Party at second anniversary: What happens next?: “It’s time to get serious about … a long-term policy,” Tea Party Patriots co-founder says Phoenix (CNN) — The Tea Party has already stitched together a colorful history made of success and failure, anger and optimism and lots of controversy…. – CNN International, 2-26-11
  • Govs to feds: Avoid causing states any more pain: Their states on the brink of financial catastrophe, governors pleaded Saturday for the divided federal government to avoid doing anything that would hamper the tenuous economic recovery back home.
    Their message to Washington: prevent a government shutdown, abstain from spending cuts that dramatically will affect states and end even preliminary discussions about allowing states to declare bankruptcy.
    “Anything that Congress does that will undermine our recovery is quite troublesome to us,” said Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, head of the National Governors Association, as she opened the bipartisan group’s winter meeting. “We’re asking for cooperation.” “We don’t need a hiccup now in our recovery,” she added. “We are fragile.”… – AP, 2-26-11
  • Daley tells activists to keep fighting, keep faith: White House chief of staff Bill Daley told Democratic activists Saturday to “keep up the fight” and not lose faith despite continued hard economic times. Daley recalled the days after the November elections, when Republicans won the House and increased their ranks in the Senate…. – AP, 2-26-11
  • Signs of progress in averting government shutdown: Lawmakers appear to be moving closer to a compromise that would prevent a government shutdown, at least for now. Democrats say they’re encouraged by efforts to narrow the gap on possible spending cuts, but are pushing back against Republican efforts to force their position on Congress. House Republicans on Friday detailed a proposal to cut $4 billion in federal spending as part of legislation to keep the government operating for two weeks past a March 4 deadline. They urged Senate Democrats to accept their approach and avoid a government shutdown…. – AP, 2-26-11
  • Obama says government shutdown imperils economy: President Barack Obama says the economic recovery will stall if Congress can’t agree on spending cuts and avoid a government shutdown. The current budget expires next Friday. That means lawmakers must OK a new spending plan before the March 4 deadline to keep much of the government from running out of money and closing. The Republican-run House and Democratic-controlled Senate are bickering over how much to cut.
    “For the sake of our people and our economy, we cannot allow gridlock to prevail,” Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address. “I urge and expect them to find common ground so we can accelerate, not impede, economic growth.”… – AP, 2-26-11
  • Obama says Gadhafi’s time is up as Libya’s leader: President Barack Obama dropped the careful condemnation, threats of consequences and the reminders to Moammar Gadhafi’s regime about its responsibility to avoid violence. In their place he delivered a more forceful message to the Libyan leader: Leave.
    The president called on Gadhafi to step down for the first time Saturday, saying that the Libyan government must be held accountable for its brutal crackdown on dissenters. The administration also announced new sanctions against Libya, but that was overshadowed by the sharp demand for Gadhafi’s immediate ouster…. – AP, 2-26-11
  • Republicans Urge Democrats to Accept Budget Cut, Avoid Shutdown: House Republicans demanded that Senate Democrats accept their plan to cut $4 billion in federal spending while keeping the government open until mid-March or bear responsibility for “actively engineering” a shutdown. Each party has offered a short-term extension of the government’s spending authority that expires March 4. Without agreement by then, agencies will close.
    House Republican leaders said their proposed two-week extension, to be released later today, would cut $4 billion from programs President Barack Obama has already targeted for reductions in his 2012 budget proposal. Their plan also would eliminate lawmakers’ special projects, known as earmarks, which Obama has pledged to veto. “If Senate Democrats walk away from this offer” then “they are actively engineering a government shutdown,” Deputy Republican Whip Pete Roskam of Illinois told reporters on a conference call…. – Bloomberg, 2-25-11
  • State conservatives pledge to uphold Defense of Marriage Act: A Bay State conservative group yesterday promised to take up the legal fight against gay marriage in the wake of the historic decision by the Obama administration to abandon its defense of the 15-year-old Defense of Marriage Act… – Boston Herald, 2-24-11
  • Jeremy Bernard: A historic choice for White House social secretary: The White House is set to make news and history this afternoon when it announces the new social secretary. Jeremy Bernard, currently the chief of staff to the U.S. ambassador to France, will become the third person to hold the job in the Obama administration. But he will be the first man and the first openly gay person to be the first family’s and the executive mansion’s chief event planner and host…. – WaPo, 2-25-11
  • Tea Party at second anniversary: What happens next?: “It’s time to get serious about … a long-term policy,” Tea Party Patriots co-founder says Phoenix (CNN) — The Tea Party has already stitched together a colorful history made of success and failure, anger and optimism and lots of controversy. CNN International, 2-25-11
  • Obama rejects Defense of Marriage Act: The Obama administration delivered an unexpected victory to gay-rights activists yesterday, declaring that a law prohibiting federal recognition of same-sex marriages is unconstitutional and discriminatory and that Department of Justice lawyers will no longer defend it in court…. – Boston Globe, 2-25-11
  • White House meets lobbyists off campus: Caught between their boss’ anti-lobbyist rhetoric and the reality of governing, President Barack Obama’s aides often steer meetings with lobbyists to a complex just off the White House grounds — and several of the lobbyists involved say they believe the choice of venue is no accident. It allows the Obama administration to keep these lobbyist meetings shielded from public view — and out of Secret Service logs kept on visitors to the White House and later released to the public.
    “They’re doing it on the side. It’s better than nothing,” said immigration reform lobbyist Tamar Jacoby, who has attended meetings at the nearby Jackson Place complex and believes the undisclosed gatherings are better than none…. – Politico, 2-24-11
  • White House reverberates with Motown sound, moves: The White House reverberated like a long-ago basement sound studio in Detroit on Thursday as the likes of John Legend, Seal, Jamie Foxx, Nick Jonas and Sheryl Crow channeled their inner Motown before Michelle and Barack Obama. Musical pioneers Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder joined in for the celebration of all things Motown.
    Obama called it “the soundtrack of the civil rights era,” and credited Motown’s tight lyrics, catchy melodies and deep soul with helping to “blur the line between music that was considered either black or white.”
    Foxx, Seal, Legend and Jonas launched the East Room concert celebrating the Motown sound with a high-energy medley in which the four took turns as backup dancers, complete with some smooth dance moves to the likes of “Get Ready,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “Can’t Get Next to You” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.”… – AP, 2-24-11
  • Conservatives vow to make gay marriage an issue in 2012: Angered conservatives are vowing to make same-sex marriage a front-burner election issue, nationally and in the states, following the Obama administration’s announcement that it will no longer defend the federal law denying recognition to gay married couples…. – WaPo, 2-24-11
  • Conservatives vow to make gay marriage 2012 issue: Angered conservatives are vowing to make same-sex marriage a front-burner election issue, nationally and in the states, following the Obama administration’s announcement that it will no longer defend the federal law denying recognition to gay married couples.
    “The ripple effect nationwide will be to galvanize supporters of marriage,” said staff counsel Jim Campbell of Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal group… – AP, 2-24-11
  • Obama confident oil prices will stabilize: President Barack Obama said Thursday he’s confident that markets will be able to ride out the situation in Libya and the price of oil will stabilize. Obama made the brief comments during a discussion with a new council of business and labor leaders he’s appointed to work on economic competitiveness. He said that energy costs are generally a source of uncertainty for businesses. But as for the spike in oil prices, the president said: “We think we’ll be able to ride out the situation in Libya and it will stabilize.”… – AP, 2-24-11
  • Obama: Unemployment the biggest economic challenge: Obama told his newly created competitiveness council Thursday that its top priority must be creating jobs during a period of fiscal restraint… AP, 2-24-11
  • Saudi man charged with plotting terrorist attack: A college student from Saudi Arabia who studied chemical engineering in Texas bought explosive chemicals online as part of a plan to hide bomb materials inside dolls and baby carriages to blow up dams, nuclear plants or the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush, the Justice Department said Thursday. “After mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for jihad,” or holy war, Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari wrote in his private journal, according to court documents…. – AP, 2-24-11
  • Obama sharpens critique of Libya amid wider unrest: The Obama administration on Wednesday sharpened its condemnation of a bloody crackdown on Libyan opposition demonstrators as it broadened its outreach to government officials, dissidents, rights activists and youth in other Arab nations across a Middle East that is seething with unrest. Amid the tumult rocking the region, Obama condemned the violence in Libya in the sharpest terms Washington has yet used and directed his administration to prepare a full range of options, including possible sanctions that could freeze the assets and ban travel to the U.S. by Libyan officials. He said he was sending Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Geneva for international talks aimed at stopping the bloodshed and formulating a unified global message to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
    “The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable,” Obama told reporters after meeting with Clinton at the White House. “So are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya. These actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency. This violence must stop.”… – AP, 2-23-11
  • Obama denounces Cuba’s treatment of dissidents: Obama said Zapata’s “selfless and tragic death” had “galvanized the world’s attention to the ongoing mistreatment of those unjustly held by Cuban authorities.” “The Cuban people must know that their suffering does not go unnoticed and that the United States remains unwavering in our commitment to defend the inalienable right of the Cuban people to enjoy the freedoms that define the Americas and that are universal to all human beings,” he said…. – AP, 2-23-11
  • Government drops defense of anti-gay-marriage law: President Barack Obama ordered his administration on Wednesday to stop defending the constitutionality of a federal law that bans recognition of gay marriage, a policy reversal that could have major implications for the rights and benefits of gay couples and reignite an emotional debate for the 2012 presidential campaign. Obama still is “grappling” with his personal views on whether gays should be allowed to marry but has long opposed the federal law as unnecessary and unfair, said spokesman Jay Carney. First word of the change came not from the White House but from the Justice Department. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Obama had concluded the 15-year-old Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, was legally indefensible…. – AP, 2-23-11
  • WH: Obama still ‘grappling’ with gay marriage: The White House says President Barack Obama is “grappling” with his personal views on gay marriage even as he’s ordered the Justice Department to stop defending the constitutionality of a law that bans it. Spokesman Jay Carney said Obama has always opposed the Defense of Marriage Act as “unnecessary and unfair.” But Carney said there’s no change to how Obama views gay marriage itself…. – AP, 2-23-11
  • Judge tosses suit against Obama health care plan: A federal judge on Tuesday threw out a lawsuit claiming that President Barack Obama’s requirement that all Americans have health insurance violates the religious freedom of those who rely on God to protect them. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler in Washington dismissed a lawsuit filed by the American Center for Law and Justice, a Christian legal group founded by evangelist Pat Robertson, on behalf of five Americans who can afford health insurance but have chosen for years not to buy it…. – AP, 2-23-11
  • Obama pitches economic message one state at a time: Twenty months ahead of the 2012 election, President Barack Obama is traveling the nation, vying for the public’s attention one state at a time, while international crises and budget fights compete with his plans for economic revival. On Tuesday, Obama curried favor with small businesses in politically important Ohio, pushing his plans to boost American competitiveness by increasing spending on sectors like education and infrastructure. That agenda, however, is running up against opposition from some Republican governors in cash-strapped states, and GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill, whose demands for deep spending cuts raise the prospect of a federal government shutdown…. – AP, 2-22-11
  • Qaddafi’s Grip on Power Appears to WeakenNYT, 2-21-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • Boehner signals reluctance about shutdown: ‘Americans want the government to stay open,’ the House speaker says. Meanwhile, a Democratic senator indicates that a Republican spending plan could lead to a temporary agreement…. – LAT, 2-28-11
  • A New Discussion About a Profession That Isn’t: Brooke Taylor voted for Harry Reid in his battle for re-election to the Senate last fall. But now she is incensed…. Now Mr. Reid’s comments are reopening the oldest debate about the oldest profession. And Ms. Taylor is rallying her army of fans and clients to fight back.
    Prostitution never emerged as an issue during the Reid campaign. But then Mr. Reid, a Democrat and the Senate majority leader, returned to his home state last week for his address to the Legislature. “When the nation thinks about Nevada, it should think about the world’s newest ideas and newest careers, not about its oldest profession,” Mr. Reid said. “If we want to attract business to Nevada that puts people back to work, the time has come to outlaw prostitution.”… – NYT, 2-27-11
  • Boehner makes budget case at religious convention: House Speaker John Boehner in a speech to religious broadcasters on Sunday called it a “moral responsibility” to rein in the federal debt. Boehner said Republicans will work to prevent a shutdown of the federal government, but not without spending cuts.
    “Perhaps the activists of unrestrained government think there’s some compromise to be had that allows their spending binge to survive,” the Ohio Republican said in a 25-minute speech at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville. “Ladies and gentlemen, know this: We will do no such thing.” “We have a moral responsibility to address the problems we face,” Boehner said. “That means working together to cut spending and rein in government — not shutting it down.”…. – AP, 2-27-11
  • GOP House freshmen draw mixed response at home: Newly elected Republican Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, like dozens of other freshman members, was sent to Congress on a promise to slash government spending. And slash it she did, voting last weekend to cut $61 billion from the current federal budget and to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care reform plan.
    Buerkle, who defeated first-term Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei by less than 600 votes in a district that favored Obama in 2008, is one of 87 House GOP freshmen — six from New York alone — swept into office by voters demanding greater fiscal discipline in Washington. But at town halls and other constituent meetings during this week’s Congressional recess, GOP lawmakers — particularly from swing districts like Buerkle’s — were grilled for making good on that promise.
    But others, like Florida Rep. Allen West, won standing ovations from huge crowds. Others, like Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold and Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan, drew parents pushing baby strollers protesting potential cuts to Head Start, the federal school readiness program for young children…. – AP, 2-25-11
  • House GOP says shutdown would be irresponsible: House Republicans on Friday detailed a proposal to slash $4 billion in federal spending as part of legislation to keep the government operating for two weeks past a March 4 deadline. They urged Senate Democrats to accept their approach and avoid a government shutdown.
    “A government shutdown is not an acceptable or responsible option for Republicans,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia said in a conference call where he and other Republicans promoted their plan for avoiding the first government shutdown since 1996…. – AP, 2-25-11
  • Reid proposes 30-day bill to avert shutdown: The top Democrat in the Senate said Tuesday that he’ll bring legislation to the floor next week to keep the government running at current spending levels for 30 days to avoid a shutdown in March.
    The move by Majority Leader Harry Reid is in keeping with longstanding tradition, but it was immediately rejected by GOP leaders who assailed the Nevada Democrat for freezing spending at levels inflated by generous budget increases provided under President Barack Obama.
    A short-term bill is required because the House on Saturday passed a $1.2 trillion omnibus spending bill to finance the government through Sept. 30. That measure would slash domestic agency budgets by more than $60 billion over the last seven months of the budget year, which would lead to widespread furloughs of federal workers and dismantle a host of environmental regulations…. – AP, 2-22-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

Laura Segall/Getty Images

Like many addressing the Tea Party Patriots, Tim Pawlenty got in a dig at President Obama.

  • Poll: Americans oppose weaker unions: Americans strongly oppose laws taking away the collective bargaining power of public employee unions, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. The poll found 61% would oppose a law in their state similar to such a proposal in Wisconsin, compared with 33% who would favor such a law…. – USA Today, 2-22-11
  • The Wisconsin Lie Exposed – Taxpayers Actually Contribute Nothing To Public Employee Pensions: Pulitzer Prize winning tax reporter, David Cay Johnston, has written a brilliant piece for tax.com exposing the truth about who really pays for the pension and benefits for public employees in Wisconsin…. Gov. Scott Walker says he wants state workers covered by collective bargaining agreements to “contribute more” to their pension and health insurance plans. Accepting Gov. Walker’ s assertions as fact, and failing to check, creates the impression that somehow the workers are getting something extra, a gift from taxpayers. They are not. Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin’ s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers…. – Forbes, 2-25-11
  • Hundreds defy order to vacate Wisconsin CapitolMSNBC, 2-27-11
  • Governors meld minds on mending budget ills: A national governors meeting focused on closing huge state budget gaps showed chief executives deeply divided Sunday over whether a Wisconsin plan that has sparked weeks of protests by public employees is the way to go…. – USA Today, 2-27-11
  • Rallies in 50 states support Wis. protesters: Demonstrations against Gov. Walker’s anti-labor bill spread as other states consider rolling back rights of union workers…. – CBS News, 2-26-11
  • Deadline nears to clear Wisconsin Capitol: The hundreds of people who have called the Capitol home these past two weeks last week have formed a village, demonstrating a common determination to sleep on marble, fight for a common cause and make a heck of a lot of noise…. – USA Today, 2-26-11
  • Governors head to D.C., minds set on economy: Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin, probably won’t come. He’s at home battling absentee Democratic lawmakers, unions and protesters over proposed changes to collective bargaining…. – USA Today, 2-25-11
  • Wisconsin GOP wins Round 1 over unions, but final victory still eludes: The Wisconsin GOP-led Assembly approved a bill Friday to sharply curtail the power of public employee unions. But the battle for public opinion, in Wisconsin and the nation, goes on, with the state Senate yet to vote…. – CS Monitor, 2-25-11
  • Gov. Christie says trade not a partisan issue: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Friday that trade shouldn’t be a partisan issue if America wants to get a leg up in the global economy.
    “Trade is not a partisan issue when President Obama nominates Governor Christie to be on anything,” Christie joked. “America has to reach out around the world to grow our economy,” he said…. – AP, 2-26-11
  • State budget crisis looms over governors meeting: Confronting crushing budget woes, many of the nation’s governors are calling for painful spending cuts. But beyond that, their approaches are diverging drastically, from union-cramping proposals in Wisconsin and other states to higher taxes in Illinois and elsewhere. Most states’ chief executives are struggling to plug massive budget holes without pushing unemployment higher and hampering a fragile post-recession recovery, and that’s setting a worrisome atmosphere as they gather in Washington for their winter meeting. Not all are coming; some are choosing to stay at home to wage budget battles with their legislatures…. – AP, 2-25-11
  • Workers expand budget wars to more states: The standoff in Wisconsin over budget cuts spread to other states Tuesday as union leaders began to organize protests in other capitals… – Seattle Times, 2-23-11
  • Rahm to Obama: I couldn’t have done it without you: Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel turned President Obama’s glowing send-off into a near-endorsement that helped Emanuel claim a majority of the black vote…. – Chicago Sun-Times, 2-23-11
  • Emanuel faces big money woes as next Chicago mayor: Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel won’t have much time to celebrate his victory as Chicago’s new mayor. Emanuel, who overwhelmed the race with truckloads of money and friends in high places from Washington to Hollywood, will take control of a city in deep financial trouble with problems ranging from an understaffed police department to underperforming schools.
    On Tuesday, Emanuel won 55 percent of the vote, easily outdistancing former Chicago schools president Gery Chico, who had 24 percent, and former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun and City Clerk Miguel del Valle, who each had 9 percent. He succeeds Mayor Richard M. Daley, who is retiring after 22 years in office as the longest-serving mayor in Chicago’s history…. – AP, 2-23-11
  • Daley leaves legacy for next mayor: Chicago mayoral candidate Carol Moseley Braun smiled at US Representative Danny Davis (right) at a rally yesterday. Braun, a former US senator, is one of six people on today’s ballot…. – Boston Globe, 2-22-11
  • New Jersey mayors hold their breath over state budget: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has built a national reputation as a fiscal conservative, but New Jersey mayors say they worry a $10.5 billion budget gap will be closed at their expense…. – Reuters, 2-21-11

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • Gingrich closer to presidential run: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich intends to take a formal step toward entering the 2012 presidential race within the next two weeks, Republican officials said Sunday, after months spent traveling to important primary and caucus states.
    These officials declined to say precisely what type of announcement the 67-year-old former Georgia lawmaker would make, but added they expect him to make clear his determination to run. If so, he would be the first Republican to do so in a slow-to-develop field of potential challengers to President Barack Obama…. – AP, 2-27-11
  • Gallup Poll: Mike Huckabee climbs to top of GOP 2012 fieldUSA Today, 2-26-11
  • Factbox: Possible Republican White House candidates in 2012: Big-name Republicans have begun maneuvering to seek their party’s nomination to run for the White House in 2012 to try to deny President Barack Obama a second four-year term…. – Reuters, 2-25-11
  • Gallup: A three-way GOP horserace: A Gallup poll out Wednesday found Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin locked in a close contest for the Republican presidential nomination.
    18 percent of Republicans and R-leaning independents support Mike Huckabee for president.
    16 percent back Mitt Romney, and 16 percent are behind Sarah Palin.
    14 percent have no opinion. No other potential candidate breaks single-digits…. – Politico, 2-25-11
  • Politico says Pawlenty is relevant: Politico’s Mike Allen, in his daily “playbook” column, catalogues the latest evidence that Sarah Palin isn’t doing any of the things she would need to do (court the big donors, lock up the established Iowa and New Hampshire operatives) if she was seriously thinking of running for president.
    Then, switching gears, Allen gives his list of “The likely GOP field, in order of relevance: 1) Mitt Romney, 2) Tim Pawlenty, 3) Haley Barbour, 4) Jon Huntsman, 5) Newt Gingrich, 6) Rick Santorum.”… – MinnPost, 2-25-11
  • Gingrich: We won in government shutdown, not Clinton: The dominant political narrative of the 1995 government shutdown is this: President Bill Clinton stared down Republicans, led by House Speaker Newt Gingrich – and he won… – Politico, 2-25-11
  • Why Mike Huckabee probably won’t run for president in 2012 (video): Mike Huckabee has an Achilles’ heel that nags at him: money. The possible 2012 GOP presidential candidate isn’t good at raising it, and he worries about having an empty bank account – again…. – CS Monitor, 2-24-11
  • Huckabee: Romney should apologize for health plan: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Wednesday that potential White House rival Mitt Romney should offer an apology for the health care overhaul he oversaw as Massachusetts governor.
    “I think it’s not a killer for him. But he has to say either ‘I love it,’ ‘I hate it,’ or, ‘Hey I tried it, it didn’t work and that’s why I would say to you, let’s not do it nationally,'” Huckabee said. “He’s got to figure out how he wants to deal with it. It’s the 800-pound elephant in the room for him,” said Huckabee, who is on tour to promote his latest book, “A Simple Government: Twelve Things We Really Need from Washington (and a Trillion That We Don’t).”… – AP, 2-23-11
  • With Thune out, Senate contenders for White House seem unlikely in 2012: Now that the 2010 midterm elections are over, lips have already started wagging over who the potential Republican presidential candidates may be in 2012…. – WaPo, 2-23-11
  • US Sen. John Thune won’t run against Obama in 2012: U.S. Sen. John Thune said Tuesday that he won’t join what’s expected to be a crowded GOP field of presidential hopefuls next year, concluding he would have a difficult time fundraising and that President Barack Obama would be tough to beat. Thune was seen as one of several potential challengers to Obama in 2012. His exit is the first clear signal of who will — and who will not — compete for the Republicans’ nomination… – AP, 2-22-11
  • Joe Courtney Won’t Seek Senate Seat: A prominent potential candidate for the Connecticut Senate seat being vacated by Joe Lieberman said Monday he won’t run, setting up a two-way Democratic primary between a congressman and a former Connecticut secretary of state…. – WSJ, 2-22-11
  • Insight into a President Mike Huckabee: Today I had the opportunity to be part of a blogger conference call with Mike Huckabee for his new book, A Simple Government… – Politicons, 2-22-11
  • Mike Huckabee in no hurry to decide on presidentialLAT, 2-22-11
  • Ind. treasurer to take on Sen. Lugar for GOP nod: Indiana’s state treasurer, who became a tea party favorite for challenging aspects of the government’s auto industry bailout, said Tuesday he will challenge six-term U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar for the Republican nomination in next year’s primary.
    At a news conference attended by some 200 supporters, Richard Mourdock said he respects Lugar’s decades of public service but thinks his challenge to the moderate senator will ultimately benefit Indiana Republicans.
    “As a party, we are made better when we have a contest for our ideas and ideals,” Mourdock told those gathered at the Indianapolis Artsgarden…. – AP, 2-22-11

QUOTES

The President records the Weekly Address
White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 2/25/11
  • Weekly Address: “Investments in Education, Innovation, and Infrastructure are an Essential Down Payment on our Future”: Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery February 26, 2011 Washington, DC: Over the last month, I’ve been traveling the country, talking to Americans about how we can out-educate, out-innovate, and out-build the rest of the world. Doing that will require a government that lives within its means, and cuts whatever spending we can afford to do without. But it will also require investing in our nation’s future – training and educating our workers; increasing our commitment to research and technology; building new roads and bridges, high-speed rail and high-speed internet.
    In cities and towns throughout America, I’ve seen the benefits of these investments. The schools and colleges of Oregon are providing Intel – the state’s largest private employer – with a steady stream of highly-educated workers and engineers. At Parkville Middle School outside of Baltimore, engineering is the most popular subject, thanks to outstanding teachers who are inspiring students to focus on their math and science skills.
    In Wisconsin, a company called Orion is putting hundreds of people to work manufacturing energy-efficient lights in a once-shuttered plant. And in the small community of Marquette, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, widely accessible high-speed internet has allowed students and entrepreneurs to connect to the global economy. One small business, a third-generation, family-owned clothing shop called Getz’s is now selling their products online, which has helped them double their workforce and make them one of America’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies in a recent listing.
    Each of these places reminds us that investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure are an essential down payment on our future. But they also remind us that the only way we can afford these investments is by getting our fiscal house in order. Just like any family, we have to live within our means to make room for things we absolutely need.
    That’s why I’ve called for a freeze on annual domestic spending over the next five years – a freeze that would cut the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, bringing this kind of spending to its lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was President. Just to be clear, that’s lower than it was under the past three administrations, and lower than it was under Ronald Reagan.
    Now, putting this budget freeze in place will require tough choices. That’s why I’ve frozen salaries for hardworking civil servants for three years, and proposed cutting programs I care about deeply, like community action programs in low-income neighborhoods. I’m not taking these steps lightly – but I’m taking them because our economic future demands it.
    Still, a freeze in annual domestic spending is just a start. If we’re serious about tackling our long-run fiscal challenges, we also need to cut excessive spending wherever we find it – in defense spending, spending in Medicare and Medicaid, and spending through tax breaks and loopholes.
    I’m willing to consider any serious ideas to help us reduce the deficit – no matter what party is proposing them. But instead of cutting the investments in education and innovation we need to out-compete the rest of the world, we need a balanced approach to deficit reduction. We all need to be willing to sacrifice, but we can’t sacrifice our future.
    Next week, Congress will focus on a short-term budget. For the sake of our people and our economy, we cannot allow gridlock to prevail. Both Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate have said they believe it’s important to keep the government running while we work together on a plan to reduce our long-term deficit.
    Given that, I urge and expect them to find common ground so we can accelerate, not impede, economic growth. It won’t be easy. There will be plenty of debates and disagreements, and neither party will get everything it wants. Both sides will have to compromise.
    That’s what it will take to do what’s right for our country. And I look forward to working with members of both parties to produce a responsible budget that cuts what we can’t afford, sharpens America’s competitive edge in the world, and helps us win the future. Thanks everyone, and have a nice weekend. – WH, 2-26-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Eric Cantor: We have a choice to make about the future of our country. In order to protect our way of life, the choice we must make is about changing course, and renewing our commitment to what makes America unique: Innovation. Creative thinking. Problem solving. Entrepreneurship. Individual liberty and economic freedom. – 2-25-11
  • John McCain: Senator Lieberman and I met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today. We contiunue to stand with Israel at a time of historic change in the region. — 2-25-11
  • Barack Obama President Obama on the Situation in Libya: The U.S. strongly supports the universal rights of the Libyan people. That includes the rights of peaceful assembly, free speech, and the ability of the Libyan people to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. They are not negotiable. And they cannot be denied through violence or suppression. — 2-24-11
  • Remarks by the President at “In Performance At The White House: The Motown Sound”: No one knows exactly when jazz began. Nobody knows who the first person was to sing a freedom song. But we know where Motown came from. We know it was born in the basement of a house on West Grand Boulevard in the Motor City — Detroit. (Applause.) And we know it started with a man named Berry Gordy, who is here with us tonight. Stand up, Berry. (Applause.)? ?
    Now, apparently Berry tried a lot of things before following his heart into music. A high school dropout, he failed as a record store owner, competed as an amateur boxer, finally took a job earning $85 a week on the assembly line at the local Lincoln-Mercury plant. And it was there, watching the bare metal frames transformed into gleaming automobiles, that Berry wondered why he couldn’t do the same thing with musicians, and help turn new talent into stars.? ?
    And before long, he quit his job at the plant, borrowed $800, and set up shop in a little house with a banner across the front that read “Hitsville, U.S.A.” His family thought he was delusional. (Laughter.) But as Berry said, “People thought the Wright Brothers had a stupid idea, so I say, ‘Bring on the stupid ideas.’”? ?
    As it turned out, Berry could recognize talent and potential better than anybody else in the business. It began with Smokey Robinson, who stopped by the Motown house with a group of friends calling themselves the Miracles. Then came one of Smokey’s neighbors -– a high school senior named Diana Ross, who started out working as a secretary. One of the Miracles brought along his little brother, who invited a 10-year-old blind kid named Stephen Hardaway Judkins to tag along. (Laughter.) And then there was a group called the Jackson Five, fresh from amateur night at the Apollo, that Gladys Knight told Berry he just had to see.? ?
    Pretty soon, the basement studio was turning out hits faster than Detroit was turning out cars. From 1961 to 1971, Motown produced 110 Top 10 hits from artists like Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops and The Supremes. In the process, Motown’s blend of tight lyrics, catchy melodies and deep soul began to blur the line between music that was considered either “black” or “white.” As Smokey Robinson said, “I recognized the bridges that were crossed, the racial problems and the barriers that we broke down with music. I recognized that because I lived it.”? ?
    Along the way, songs like “Dancing in the Streets” and “What’s Going On” became the soundtrack of the civil rights era. Black artists began soaring to the top of the pop charts for the first time. And at concerts in the South, Motown groups literally brought people together –- insisting that the ropes traditionally used to separate black and white audience members be taken down.? ?
    So, today, more than 50 years later, that’s the Motown legacy. Born at a time of so much struggle, so much strife, it taught us that what unites us will always be stronger than what divides us. And in the decades since, those catchy beats and simple chords have influenced generations of musicians, from Sheryl Crow to the Jonas Brothers. – WH, 2-24-11
  • President Obama on Libya: “These Sanctions Therefore Target the Qaddafi Government, While Protecting the Assets that Belong to the People of Libya”: The Libyan government’s continued violation of human rights, brutalization of its people, and outrageous threats have rightly drawn the strong and broad condemnation of the international community. By any measure, Muammar el-Qaddafi’s government has violated international norms and common decency and must be held accountable. These sanctions therefore target the Qaddafi government, while protecting the assets that belong to the people of Libya.
    Going forward, the United States will continue to closely coordinate our actions with the international community, including our friends and allies, and the United Nations. We will stand steadfastly with the Libyan people in their demand for universal rights, and a government that is responsive to their aspirations. Their human dignity cannot be denied. WH, 2-25-11Executive OrderLetter to Congress
  • Statement of the Attorney General on Litigation Involving the Defense of Marriage Act: The Attorney General made the following statement today about the Department’s course of action in two lawsuits, Pedersen v. OPM and Windsor v. United States, challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage for federal purposes as only between a man and a woman:
    In the two years since this Administration took office, the Department of Justice has defended Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act on several occasions in federal court. Each of those cases evaluating Section 3 was considered in jurisdictions in which binding circuit court precedents hold that laws singling out people based on sexual orientation, as DOMA does, are constitutional if there is a rational basis for their enactment. While the President opposes DOMA and believes it should be repealed, the Department has defended it in court because we were able to advance reasonable arguments under that rational basis standard…. – DOJ, 2-23-11

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

The President in Cleveland
White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 2/22/11
  • Obama rejects Defense of Marriage Act In victory for gay-rights advocates, US won’t defend law in court: “For the Republican leadership, that is the last thing they want to deal with right now,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “I think a lot of Republicans feel that President Obama is quite vulnerable, and they see a real opportunity to do well in 2012, so the last thing you want is to inject an issue that creates dissention and creates divisions. They want to be focused on the deficit, a lot of Republicans — not on this.” — Boston Globe, 2-24-11
  • Right now sees Michelle Obama as fair game: “There’s so much anger in the criticism surrounding Michelle Obama,” said Myra Gutin, a Rider University professor and author of a biography of Barbara Bush and a book on 20th century first ladies. “It seems almost personal to me.”
    Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, said Obama “became an easier target” by becoming more political recently with the DNC announcement. “She made herself more political and thus fed these kinds of attacks,” he said…. – Politico, 2-24-11
  • LLOYD M. KRIEGER: ObamaCare Is Already Damaging Health Care: Many of its changes don’t kick in until 2014. But the law is forcing dramatic consolidation and reducing choice in the industry.
    The Republicans who now control the House of Representatives hope to repeal or defund ObamaCare, but the law has already yielded profound, destructive changes that will not be undone by repeal or defunding alone. Active steps and new laws will be needed to repair the damage.
    The most significant change is a wave of frantic consolidation in the health industry. Because the law mandates that insurers accept all patients regardless of pre-existing conditions, insurers will not make money with their current premium and provider-payment structures. As a result, they have already started to raise premiums and cut payments to doctors and hospitals. Smaller and weaker insurers are being forced to sell themselves to larger entities.
    Doctors and hospitals, meanwhile, have decided that they cannot survive unless they achieve massive size—and fast. Six years ago, doctors owned more than two-thirds of U.S. medical practices, according to the Medical Group Management Association. By next year, nearly two-thirds will be salaried employees of larger institutions…. – WSJ, 2-25-11
  • Paul Kengor: Bush’s Middle East ‘March of Freedom’: As we watch the growing demand that Middle East autocrats and dictators step down, from Iran in June 2009 to Egypt and Libya this February, on the heels of repeated elections in post-Taliban Afghanistan and post-Saddam Iraq, the wisdom of two presidents keeps coming to mind.
    First is Ronald Reagan, who warned dictators that freedom is “contagious.” As he noted in May 1982, the Soviets feared the “infectiousness” of the freedom posed by groups like Solidarity in Poland. Eight years later, with elections held in Poland and the wall down in Berlin, Reagan, no longer president, observed: “As is always the case, once people who have been deprived of basic freedom taste a little of it, they want all of it.” Looking back at the impact of Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms, he remarked: “It was as if Gorbachev had uncorked a magic bottle and a genie floated out, never to be put back in again.”
    As president, Reagan had spoken of a “march of freedom” that would leave Marxism-Leninism on the “ash-heap of history.” He said this often, but most memorably in his June 1982 Westminster speech, which also founded the National Endowment for Democracy.
    That brings me to the other president. The president who picked up Reagan’s mantle from Westminster was George W. Bush. Speaking to the National Endowment for Democracy in November 2003, Bush gave the most important address of his presidency, promising to extend Reagan’s “march” into the Middle East, the place most resistant to the freedom tide. What Bush said cannot be reiterated enough, and couldn’t be more appropriate than right now, as the next target by the people of the Middle East is the hideous Muammar Gaddafi; from the Taliban, to Saddam, to Ahmadinejad, to Mubarak, to Gaddafi…. – Spectator, 2-25-11
  • Niall Ferguson: Wanted: A Grand Strategy for America NEWSWEEK’s new columnist on Obama’s Egypt debacle and the vacuum it exposes: The statesman can only wait and listen until he hears the footsteps of God resounding through events; then he must jump up and grasp the hem of His coat, that is all.” Thus Otto von Bismarck, the great Prussian statesman who united Germany and thereby reshaped Europe’s balance of power nearly a century and a half ago.
    Last week, for the second time in his presidency, Barack Obama heard those footsteps, jumped up to grasp a historic opportunity … and missed it completely…. – Newsweek, 2-13-11
  • How Obama’s Legacy Will Generate Big Bucks….: Though several years off, President Obama’s next gig is already shaping up to be a sweet deal. He may be deep in the groove of his Presidency. But we do know he has given thought to what happens next. Before he even sat at the Resolute Desk, he inked a deal to deliver a post-presidency book, raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars. Millions will follow, no doubt, because after you’ve pulled the nation back from the brink of economic disaster, and perhaps even a second Great Depression, what you do for an encore will be worth paying for. He’ll rack up on the speakers’ circuit. He’s one of the world’s most gifted orators, so money won’t be an issue. Neither will his age. When he leaves the White House — in either 2013, or 2017, at the age of 52 or 56, depending on the outcome of the next election — he will still have a dangerous jump-shot and a bop in his walk, and his children will still be youngsters.
    “He’ll be a relatively young ex-President, so he’ll have a long career,” said Alan Brinkley, a historian at Columbia University. “I think we’ve had somewhat younger Presidents fairly recently, and also people are living longer now, so ex-Presidents seem to be around for a longer time. Some of them are very active, like Clinton and Carter, and others seem to just disappear. I doubt that Obama will disappear.”… – ThyBlackMan.com, 2-11-11
  • Debate swirls over Mubarak legacy: “He pretty much wiped them out,” University of Michigan Professor of History Juan Cole said. “It’s not an accident that they were in Afghanistan instead of Egypt.” The government penetrated opposition movements so thoroughly that “if five people (sat) down to plot something, the fifth person (wrote) a report to Hosni Mubarak about it,” he said…. – CNN.com, 2-11-11
  • Timing of Mubarak speech was no accident, says expert: The timing of Hosni Mubarak’s speech Thursday night to the nation was no accident, said Prof. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a sociologist and visiting scholar at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, who was imprisoned three times by Mubarak. “He’s trying to preempt a call for a general strike tomorrow,” Ibrahim told CNN Thursday in a telephone interview, noting that workers began joining the demonstrations early this week and were calling for demonstrations throughout Egypt on Friday. “Usually, after the Friday prayer, people congregate, so he was trying to preempt that.”…
    James Gelvin, a professor of history at UCLA, said Mubarak had little choice but to act on Thursday. “He had to do something,” Gelvin said in a telephone interview. “Today followed on the biggest demonstrations in Egypt’s recent history. It’s not just in Tahrir Square, it’s up and down the country, and it’s labor unrest as well. You’ve got a perfect storm of economic grievances and political grievances at the same time.” The timing of the next move is up to the military, which both supports the protesters and wants order, he said. “They can’t have it both ways.”… – CNN.com, 2-10-11
  • Douglas Brinkley: What Reagan Would Do in Egypt: Egypt’s brutal crackdown on demonstrators and the media would have “angered and goaded” the late, great President Ronald Reagan, who would have sided with the people trying to throw off a dictator, best-selling historian Douglas Brinkley tells Newsmax.
    “One of the things I learned in editing ‘The Reagan Diaries’ is to never say what Reagan would do, because he surprised people,” Brinkley told Newsmax in an exclusive interview Thursday night. However, there’s little doubt how Reagan would have reacted to the mayhem in the streets of Cairo, “The Reagan Diaries” author said.
    “If Reagan had intelligence information that showed that the upheaval in Egypt is actually Democratic in spirit, then he would have, I believe, turned his back on Mubarak, even though there’s a long friendship between the United States and Egypt,” Brinkley said. “And [he would have] supported the Democratic movement.”… – NewsMax, 2-4-11
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Political Highlights February 21, 2011: Obama Unveils Budget, Wisconsin Budget Crisis & Unions — Unrest in the Middle East Erupts

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:

West Wing Week

STATS & POLLS

  • Ratings on Obama’s handling of the deficit: In a new Gallup poll – taken before the president released his budget this week – fully 68 percent of Americans said they disapprove of the way the president is handling the federal budget deficit, by far his worst rating of the eight specific issues in the survey. Pitted against the GOP, however, there’s a roughly even split: in a January Washington Post-ABC News poll, 44 percent of Americans said they put more faith in Obama to handle the deficit; about as many said they trust the GOP on the issue. (CBS-NYT and CNN polls in January showed similar divide.)… – WaPo, 2-15-11
  • Obama Ratings Continue to Rise in Approval: President Obama’s ratings of approval continue to rise according to a new poll released this week. The approval rating for Obama increase to 51 percent from 50 percent in January, and his disapproval rating similarly slid to 46 percent from 47 percent — part of an upward trend since October’s 43 percent low.
    Contributing to Obama’s positive rating is the fact that the jobless rate dipped to 9 percent in January from 9.4 percent the month before, completing a 0.8 percentage point drop since November that was the biggest two-month decline since 1958…. – Third Age, 2-11-11
  • Obama’s 2012 Budget Proposal: How $3.7 Trillion is Spent: Explore every nook and cranny of President Obama’s budget proposal. – NYT
  • The Budget: Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2012 contains the Budget Message of the President, information on the President’s priorities, budget overviews organized by agency, and summary tables.
    To download “Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2012” as a single PDF click here (216 pages, 4.1 MB)
  • Breakdown of budget’s big numbers: There are a lot of big numbers being tossed around in Washington these days: a $3.7 trillion budget proposal, $61 billion in cuts, a $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. Below is a breakdown of what they represent…. – WaPo, 2-15-11
  • Office of Management and Budget: Budget 2012:

REVOLUTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Raouf Mohseni/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Members of Iran’s Parliament clamored on Tuesday for two leaders of the opposition movement, Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, to be hanged.

  • Qaddafi’s Son Warns of Civil War as Libyan Protests Widen: A five-day-old uprising in Libya took control of its second-largest city of Benghazi and spread for the first time to the capital of Tripoli late on Sunday as the heir-apparent son of its strongman, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, warned Libyans in a televised speech that their oil-rich country would fall into civil war and even renewed Western “colonization” if they threw off his father’s 40-year-long rule…. – NYT, 2-21-11
  • Clinton: Gadhafi must stop bloodshed: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton condemned the violence against anti-government protesters in Libya on Monday and called on the government of Moammar Gadhafi to “stop this unacceptable bloodshed.” Clinton said the world is watching event unfold in Libya “with alarm.”… At least 233 people have been killed so far, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.
    “Now is the time to stop this unacceptable bloodshed,” Clinton said in what amounted to the toughest denunciation of the crackdown in Libya by the Obama administration yet…. – AP, 2-21-11
  • Libya Death Toll Surges in Crackdown: Libya Regime Fires on Protesters in Capital; Nation Fractures; Diplomats Break Ties… Violent clashes between protesters and security forces snowballed in cities throughout eastern Libya Sunday, as the country’s leader, Moammar Gadhafi, struggled to crush an uprising aimed at ending … WSJ, 2-20-11
  • US condemns crackdowns on Mideast protests: A senior U.S. diplomat on Sunday condemned the brutal crackdown on opposition protesters in Libya, saying Arab leaders facing pro-democracy protests need to lead the way rather than resist reform. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the Obama administration was “very concerned” about reported armed attacks by Libyan security forces on peaceful protesters in the eastern city of Benghazi.
    “We’ve condemned that violence,” Rice told “Meet the Press” on NBC. “Our view is that in Libya as throughout the region peaceful protests need to be respected.”… – AP, 2-20-11
  • 1 killed as Yemeni police fire on marchers: Antigovernment protesters shouted slogans and raised their shoes in Sana, Yemen, yesterday. It was the 10th day of protests….. – Boston Globe, 2-20-11
  • Bahrain’s gov’t says dialogue begins with opposition: Bahrain’s government says it has begun what it calls a dialogue, with opposition groups demanding reform…. – Xinhuanet, 2-20-11
  • Cycle of Suppression Rises in Libya and Elsewhere: Libyan security forces moved against protesters Saturday in Benghazi, the country’s second-largest city and the epicenter of the most serious challenge to four decades of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s rule, opposition leaders and residents said. The death toll rose to at least 104 people, most of them in Benghazi, Human Rights Watch reported…. – NYT, 2-19-11
  • After 42 years, Libya’s controversial ruler faces new threats: Moammar Gadhafi’s first grab at power occurred 42 years ago in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, when he led a crew of fellow military officers in taking over key government institutions…. – CNN International, 2-19-11
  • Egypt women stand for equality in the square: Women think as differently as they dress here, but they have emerged from the barricades agreeing on one thing: This is their moment in history, and they cannot afford to lose it. During 18 days of demonstrating for freedom and democracy, Egyptian men and women walked into Tahrir Square separate and unequal, divided by gender as they passed through checkpoints. Men were scrutinized by men, and women had their bags and person searched by other women. There were several lines of men to every one for the fewer numbers of women…. – WaPO, 2-19-11
  • Libya, Yemen crack down; Bahrain pulls back tanks: Security forces in Libya and Yemen fired on pro-democracy demonstrators Saturday as the two hard-line regimes struck back against the wave of protests that has already toppled autocrats in Egypt and Tunisia. At least 15 died when police shot into crowds of mourners in Libya’s second-largest city, a hospital official said.
    Even as Bahrain’s king bowed to international pressure and withdrew tanks to allow demonstrators to retake a symbolic square in the capital, Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh made clear they plan to stamp out opposition and not be dragged down by the reform movements that have grown in nations from Algeria to Djibouti to Jordan.
    Libyans returned to the street for a fifth straight day of protests against Gadhafi, the most serious uprising in his 42-year reign, despite estimates by human rights groups of 84 deaths in the North African country — with 35 on Friday alone…. – AP, 2-19-11
  • Police kill 4 during protests on Yemen’s ‘Friday of Rage’: Antigovernment demonstrators clashed with supporters of Yemen’s longtime ruler and riot police, who fired guns and tear gas to disperse the crowd on what organizers called a nationwide “Friday of rage”…. – Boston Globe, 2-19-11
  • Over 50 injured as troops open fire in Bahrain: Bahraini troops have fired on anti-government demonstrators, just a day after several people were killed when a protest camp was forcibly removed in the capital, Manama…. – Xinhuanet, 2-19-11
  • Bahrain’s king seeks dialogue after another crackdown on protesters: The widened unrest in the Middle East took a more violent turn Friday as US-allied governments in Yemen and Bahrain opened fire on their citizens, prompting Britain and France to announce a halt in arms sales. WaPo, 2-19-11
  • Rights group estimates 84 killed in Libya protests: Libyan security forces have killed 84 people in a harsh crackdown on three days of protests, said the New York- based Human Rights Watch, even as the government shut off Internet in the North African country early on Saturday…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • Bahrain opposition plots strategy before talks: Bahrain’s opposition wants the nation’s rulers to guarantee they will back up their conciliatory words with actions, a Shiite leader said Sunday as he and other activists weighed the regime’s offer for talks after nearly a week of protests and deadly clashes that have divided the Gulf nation. The streets in the tiny but strategically important island kingdom were calmer as efforts shifted toward political haggling over demands the monarchy give up its near-absolute control over key policies and positions…. – AP, 2-19-11
  • Egypt to allow Iranian vessels through Suez Canal: Egypt has agreed to allow two Iranian naval vessels to transit the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean, a military official said Friday, ending several days of confusion over their planned passage, which Israel’s foreign minister has labeled a provocation.
    The movement of Iranian naval ships past Israeli shores is of concern there because Israel considers Iran an existential threat. Those fears stem from Iran’s disputed nuclear program, ballistic missile development, support for militants in the region and its threats to destroy Israel.
    The White House said the U.S. was also closely monitoring the progress of the ships, now in the Red Sea. Their passage comes as the region is being swept by anti-government unrest, including the protests that toppled Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak a week ago and left the military in charge of the country…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • Obama condemns violence in Middle East: President Barack Obama on Friday condemned reports of violent reprisals against protesters in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen, and called for government restraint as unrest swept the volatile Middle East in the wake of Egypt’s uprising.
    “I am deeply concerned about reports of violence in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen. The United States condemns the use of violence by governments against peaceful protesters in those countries and wherever else it may occur,” Obama said. “The United States urges the governments of Bahrain, Libya and Yemen to show restraint in responding to peaceful protests and to respect the rights of their people.”… – 2-18-11
  • Opposition figure says Libya uprisings ignored: TANYA NOLAN: As we’ve mentioned media bans and intermittent phone and internet connections have made it very difficult to verify events unfolding in Libya…. – ABC Online, 2-18-11
  • In Yemen, Arab unrest takes a violent turn: Several thousand Yemeni protesters defied appeals for calm and marched through the capital on Thursday, pressing on with their campaign to oust the country’s president… – WaPo, 2-18-11
  • Bahrain’s Crackdown Wins Neighbors’ Support: WSJ’s Joe Parkinson reports from the midst of ongoing protests in Bahrain in which at least three people have died.
    Bahrain’s military sent tanks and armored personnel carriers into the streets Thursday to extend its control after a government crackdown on protests, while neighboring monarchies of the Persian Gulf endorsed the country’s violent response…. – WSJ, 2-18-11
  • Bahrain Turmoil Poses Fresh Test for White House: Hundreds gathered outside a hospital emergency room in Manama, Bahrain’s capital, on Thursday afternoon to wait for news about the injured…. – NYT, 2-17-11
  • Bahrain Main Opposition Group says 2 Dead in Crackdown: Bahrain’s leading opposition party says at least two protesters were killed early Thursday when riot police stormed the main square of the capital, Manama, driving out thousands of demonstrators who had set up camp, demanding sweeping political change…. – Voice of America, 2-17-11
  • Libya protests: Activists call for ‘day of anger’: Anti-government activists in Libya have been using social networking sites to rally support for protests on what they are describing as a “day of anger”…. – BBC News, 2-17-11
  • Protests Spread to Libya as Unrest Roils Bahrain, Yemen: A Bahraini anti-government protester waves his national flag during a protest calling for regime change at Pearl Square in Manama…. – Bloomberg, 2-16-11
  • Bahrain Takes the Stage With a Raucous ProtestNYT, 2-16-11
  • Obama careful in criticism of Iranian crackdown on protestsWaPo, 2-15-11
  • Iran’s Leader Derides Protests; Lawmakers Urge Death for Opposition Leaders: A day after the largest antigovernment protests in Iran in more than a year, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday dismissed opposition attempts to revive mass demonstrations as certain to fail, while members of the Iranian Parliament clamored for the two most prominent leaders of the protest movement to be executed…. – NYT, 2-15-11
  • Tehran Beats Back New Protests: Iranian police used tear gas and electric prods to crack down on the country’s biggest antigovernment protests in at least a year, as demonstrators buoyed by activism across the Middle East returned to the country’s streets… – WSJ, 2-15-11
  • CBS News’ Lara Logan Assaulted During Egypt Protests: CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Separated From Her Crew And Brutally Assaulted on Day Mubarak Stepped Down… – CBS News, 2-15-11
  • ‘Egypt is free’ after Mubarak quits; celebrations continue into the nightCNN, 2-11-11
  • Egypt unrest: Mubarak’s speech leaves nation, world wondering who’s in chargeCNN, 2-10-11

THE HEADLINES….

  • Arrested US official is actually CIA contractor: An American jailed in Pakistan for the fatal shooting of two armed men was secretly working for the CIA and scouting a neighborhood when he was arrested, a disclosure likely to further frustrate U.S. government efforts to free the man and strain relations between two countries partnered in a fragile alliance in the war on terror.
    Raymond Allen Davis, 36, had been working as a CIA security contractor and living in a Lahore safe house, according to former and current U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk publicly about the incident…. – AP, 2-21-11
  • G-20 Deal Reached, but Outcome Open to Interpretation: Negotiators from the world’s leading economies haggled all night over seemingly technical details regarding how to measure global economic imbalances. WSJ, 2-20-11
  • National Institute for Civil Discourse to open at University of Arizona: Colleagues pay tribute to wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords during the president’s address as the Arizona lawmaker is set to begin the next phase of her recovery at a rehab facility in Houston…. – WaPo, 2-20-11
  • Hot air on both sides in budget deficit debate: When Shakespeare’s Macbeth mentions a tale “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” he could be talking about the US budget process…. – St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2-20-11
  • Obama wades into budget battle in US states: The budget battle embroiling Washington is heating up in US states as newly elected Republican lawmakers move to bust public workers unions and slash services in the face of big deficits. President Barack Obama, who earlier this week threatened to veto the Republican federal budget plan, has also stepped into the fray at the state level as his Democratic party engages in a deeply ideological fight over budget priorities…. – AFP, 2-18-11
  • Obama coaches Sasha’s team, but without Sasha: President Barack Obama stepped in to help coach his younger daughter’s basketball team even when she wasn’t there. White House officials said Obama helped coach 9-year-old Sasha’s team Saturday in suburban Maryland because a regular parent-coach was unable to attend…. – AP, 2-19-11
  • Obama: US needs better math, science education: President Barack Obama says improving math and science education is essential to helping the U.S. compete globally, and he wants the private sector to get involved in making it happen. Obama recorded his weekly radio and Internet address during a visit this past week to Intel Corp. outside of Portland, Ore. He praised the company for making a 10-year, $200 million commitment to promote math and science education — and held it up as an example of how corporate America can make money at the same time it builds the country.
    “Companies like Intel are proving that we can compete — that instead of just being a nation that buys what’s made overseas, we can make things in America and sell them around the globe,” Obama said. “Winning this competition depends on the ingenuity and creativity of our private sector. . But it’s also going to depend on what we do as a nation to make America the best place on earth to do business.”… – AP, 2-19-11
  • Obama urges Bahrain’s king to show restraint: President Barack Obama condemned the violence in Bahrain and urged the country’s king in a phone call Friday night to show restraint after a series of bloody protests. Obama discussed the situation with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain, asking the king to hold those responsible for the violence accountable. Obama says Bahrain must respect the “universal rights” of its people and embrace “meaningful reform.”… – AP, 2-19-11
  • Obama says companies can help bottom line & nation: Pushing his jobs agenda, President Barack Obama made the case Friday that companies can make money and build up the country at the same time, citing the giant Intel Corp. chip maker as his model of smart investing in education.
    “We know what works. We know how to succeed,” the president told employees here after getting an eye-opening tour of Intel’s manufacturing facility. “We know how to do big things. And all across this nation, in places just like this one, we have students and teachers, local leaders and companies who are working together to make it happen.”… – AP, 2-18-11
  • US vetoes UN resolution on Israeli settlements: The United States vetoed a U.N. resolution that would have condemned Israeli settlements as “illegal” and called for an immediate halt to all settlement building.
    The 14 other Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution in Friday’s vote. The Obama administration’s veto is certain to anger Arab countries and Palestinian supporters around the world…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • HI lawmaker: Obama birth certificate bill tabled: A proposal to sell copies of President Barack Obama’s birth records to anyone for $100 is going nowhere in the Hawaii Legislature…. – AP, 2-17-11
  • Obama seeks support from GOP on schools: President Obama is hoping the GOP will help him overhaul the No Child Left Behind law in time for the new school year this fall, but it may prove a tall order for a divided Congress that’s preoccupied with talk of cutting spending…. – Washington Times, 2-17-11
  • New White House press secretary takes stage: Jay Carney the journalist once commented that it’s a “tricky job” to be White House press secretary. “I’m sure I wouldn’t be any good at it,” he told C-SPAN in 2006 when he was Washington bureau … – USA Today, 2-17-11
  • California Supreme Court reenters Proposition 8 fray: The California Supreme Court’s decision Wednesday to take up a key question in the fight over Proposition 8 places the court once again at the forefront of the legal battle over same-sex marriage…. – LAT, 2-17-11
  • Obama awards Medal of Freedom to George H.W. Bush, Maya Angelou and 13 others: Presenting the nation’s highest civilian honor is ‘one of the things I most look forward to every year,’ President Obama says…. – LAT, 2-16-11
  • Clinton: How the Internet can save the world: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the Internet can allow people to achieve great things, but also do great harm. She says now is the time to discuss what if any rules should be in place concerning the Web…. – WaPo, 2-15-11
  • Obama sends Congress $3.73 trillion budget: President Barack Obama sent Congress a $3.73 trillion budget Monday that holds out the prospect of eventually bringing deficits under control through spending cuts and tax increases. But the fiscal blueprint largely ignores his own deficit commission’s plea to slash huge entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.
    Obama called his new budget one of “tough choices and sacrifices,” but most of those cuts would be held off until after the end of his first term…. – AP, 2-14-11
  • Obama calls for investments in education, r&d: President Barack Obama says the U.S. must invest in research and development, science, and especially education — or risk seeing the technological breakthroughs of the future happen in some other country. Obama says he wants to focus “like a laser” on improving education. He said the quality of a nation’s education is one of the biggest predictors of a nation’s success…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • Madoff: Banks ‘Had to Know’ of Multi-Billion Dollar Fraud: Convicted fraudster Bernard L. Madoff believes banks and hedge funds were complicit in his elaborate multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme, The New York Times reported Tuesday…. – AP, 2-16-11
  • Obama budget fails to curb entitlements, GOP says: Republicans yesterday accused President Obama and Democrats in Congress of failing to rein in entitlement programs that make up the bulk of federal spending – but said they weren’t ready to lay out their own proposed cuts to the budget… – Boston Globe, 2-16-11
  • Obama’s Budget Focuses on Path to Rein in Deficit: With President Obama’s release on Monday of a budget for next year and House action this week on a Republican plan for immediate deep spending cuts, the nation is getting its clearest view since the president took office of the parties’ competing visions of the role of government, the urgency of addressing the deficit and the best path to long-term economic success.
    Mr. Obama used his budget for the fiscal year 2012 and beyond to make the case for selectively cutting spending while increasing resources in areas like education and clean energy initiatives that hold the potential for long- term payoffs in economic growth. With this year’s deficit projected to hit a record, $1.6 trillion, he laid out a path for bringing down annual deficits to more sustainable levels over the rest of the decade…. – NYT, 2-15-11
  • Obama budget: Some cuts, not the slashes GOP asks: Putting on the brakes after two years of big spending increases, President Barack Obama unveiled a $3.7 trillion budget plan Monday that would freeze or reduce some safety-net programs for the nation’s poor but turn aside Republican demands for more drastic cuts to shrink the government to where it was before he took office….. – AP, 2-15-11
  • Highlights of Obama’s 2012 spending plan: Obama sends plan to Capitol Hill; goal is to get funding in place by start of 2012 fiscal year… Plan includes a significant increase in education funding… Plan decreases discretionary resources for the Department of Transportation…. It trims funding for African Development and Inter-American Foundations by nearly 20%
    President Obama’s spending plan is just the first step in a process that will involve no less than 40 congressional committees, 24 subcommittees, countless hearings and a number of floor votes in the House and Senate, with the aim of getting funding in place for the federal government by the beginning of the 2012 fiscal year October 1.
    Congress never passed a budget for the current fiscal year, and the government has been running on a “continuing resolution,” which expires March 4. House Republicans have thrown down the gauntlet over cuts to current programs and threaten to shut down the government if they don’t get their way.
    After Obama sends his 2012 plan to Capitol Hill, House and Senate budget committees each pass their own budget resolutions, which set caps on spending and establish revenue targets and generally serve as five- to 10-year blueprints for congressional priorities…. – CNN, 2-14-19
  • Obama budget resurrects rejected tax increases: President Barack Obama’s budget proposal resurrects a series of tax increases on certain corporations and the wealthy that were largely ignored by Congress when Democrats controlled both chambers. Republicans, who now control the House, are signaling they will be even less receptive.
    The plan unveiled Monday includes tax increases for oil, gas and coal producers, investment managers and U.S.- based multinational corporations. The plan would allow Bush-era tax cuts to expire at the end of 2012 for individuals making more than $200,000 and married couples making more than $250,000. Wealthy taxpayers would have their itemized deductions limited starting in 2012, including deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes…. – AP, 2-14-11
  • Showtime for House Republican spending cuts: One day after President Barack Obama presented Congress with his $3.7 trillion budget, the focus shifts on Tuesday to Washington’s more immediate spending needs and a controversial spending-cut bill that Republicans hope to pass in the House of Representatives.
    The House legislation, cobbled together by Republicans after weeks of intraparty fighting, would cut about $61 billion from current spending in a bill to fund government activities through the rest of this fiscal year that ends on September 30.
    The spending being proposed would be equal to a 14 percent cut from last year…. – Reuters, 2-15-10
  • House Republicans counter Obama budget plan with much deeper cuts: On Monday, President Obama made his statement about how the government ought to change its spending habits: a gradual plan that minimizes immediate pain by phasing in cuts over a decade.
    Starting Tuesday, House Republicans will move forward with a very different approach, one intended to be viewed as radical and painful. Their proposal deals not with theoretical deficit targets set far in the future but with the final seven months of this year’s budget, a period left in flux by congressional inaction.
    House Republicans want to cut $61 billion from the budget, which would amount to the most significant government contraction since the end of World War II. Decried as “dire” and “disturbing” by Democrats, the plan has become a test for how far Republicans are willing to go in order to deliver on the promise of fiscal austerity that GOP candidates pledged to voters last year.
    “It’s big, and it’s real and it can impact people’s lives,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Monday of the House legislation. “But we have a budget deficit right now of nearly $1.5 trillion. We have a lot of work to do.”… – WaPo, 2-15-11
  • Obama budget: $3.7 trillion FY ‘12 blueprint calls for key ‘investments’; red ink surges: Trying to balance the need to rein in deficits with his belief that spending now on education and other priorities will pay off in the long term, President Obama on Monday sent Congress a $3.7 trillion budget blueprint for 2012 that makes some short-term fixes but puts off heavy lifting on Social Security and Medicare.
    The budget acts as an update on the current fiscal year, as well as a plan for the future, and it shows the federal government will run a record $1.645 trillion deficit in 2011, slimming down to $1.101 trillion in 2012 and continuing the red ink for the foreseeable future, though at lower levels.
    After massive spending during his first two years in office, Mr. Obama proposed some tax increases and strategic spending cuts for 2012, such as in low-income energy assistance and student aid. But he also called for boosting spending on transportation and education – needs the president said cannot be sacrificed even in the face of the deficit…. – Washington Times, 2-14-11
  • Obama budget sets up spending fight Proposed cuts too small for GOP’s fiscal hawks: President Barack Obama sent Congress a $3.73 trillion 2012 budget that would boost spending in Michigan on items like education and energy, while cutting things like heating assistance for the poor and Great Lakes cleanup in an effort to bring the federal deficit under control. White House officials said Obama’s budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins in October would trim the federal deficit by $1.1 trillion over a decade, and produce about a $1.6 trillion budget hole for this year. The plan now goes to Congress, where it’s likely to encounter stiff opposition from Republicans who have said they want deeper cuts and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who will fight for programs and tax breaks benefiting their districts… – The Detroit News, 2-15-11
  • Editorial: The Obama Budget: On paper, President Obama’s new $3.7 trillion budget is encouraging. It makes a number of tough choices to cut the deficit by a projected $1.1 trillion over 10 years, which is enough to prevent an uncontrolled explosion of debt in the next decade and, as a result, reduce the risk of a fiscal crisis.
    The questions are whether its tough choices are also wise choices and whether it stands a chance in a Congress in which Republicans, who now dominate the House, are obsessed with making indiscriminate short-term cuts in programs they never liked anyway. The Republican cuts would eviscerate vital government functions while not having any lasting impact on the deficit.
    What Mr. Obama’s budget is most definitely not is a blueprint for dealing with the real long-term problems that feed the budget deficit: rising health care costs, an aging population and a refusal by lawmakers to face the inescapable need to raise taxes at some point. Rather, it defers those critical issues, in hopes, we assume, that both the economy and the political environment will improve in the future…. – NYT, 2-15-11
  • President Obama’s budget kicks the hard choices further down the road: THE PRESIDENT PUNTED. Having been given the chance, the cover and the push by the fiscal commission he created to take bold steps to raise revenue and curb entitlement spending, President Obama, in his fiscal 2012 budget proposal, chose instead to duck. To duck, and to mask some of the ducking with the sort of budgetary gimmicks he once derided. “The fiscal realities we face require hard choices,” the president said in his budget message. “A decade of deficits, compounded by the effects of the recession and the steps we had to take to break it, as well as the chronic failure to confront difficult decisions, has put us on an unsustainable course.” His budget would keep the country on that course…. – WaPo, 2-15-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • As Republicans See a Mandate on Budget Cuts, Others See Risk: In Congress and in statehouses, Republican lawmakers and governors are claiming a broad mandate from last year’s elections as they embark on an aggressive campaign of cutting government spending taking on public unions. Their agenda echoes in its ambition what President Obama and Democrats tried after winning office in their own electoral wave in 2008…. – NYT, 2-21-11
  • Schumer: In recess, Senate working on budget issue: A leading Democrat says Senate officials are working behind the scenes on a budget proposal to keep the government running. Even with the budget crisis looming, both houses of Congress are in recess this week. But Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York says that lawmakers and aides are poring over the massive budget document passed by the House in the wee hours of Saturday morning. It proposes cutting $61 billion from hundreds of federal programs…. – AP, 2-20-11
  • Memories of 1995 haunt GOP as shutdown talk grows: Few memories haunt Republicans more deeply than the 1995-96 partial shutdown of the federal government, which helped President Bill Clinton reverse his falling fortunes and recast House Republicans as stubborn partisans, not savvy insurgents.
    Now, as Congress careens toward a budget impasse, government insiders wonder if another shutdown is imminent — and whether Republicans again would suffer the most blame. Leaders of both parties say they are determined to avoid a shutdown. But they have not yielded on the amount of spending cuts they will demand or accept. Meanwhile, shutdown talk is rippling through Washington and beyond…. – AP, 2-20-11
  • The Fix: Sen. Jeff Bingaman to retire: New Mexico Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman is expected to announce his retirement today, according to a source close to the decision, a move that further complicates his party’s efforts to hold their Senate majority in 2012…. – WaPo, 2-18-11
  • NM’s Bingaman becomes 3rd Dem senator to retire: As U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman shook hands of those congratulating him on his years of service, he turned to the crowd and said: “Sure seems like a wake in here, doesn’t it?” The 67-year-old Democrat announced Friday that he would retire after the end of his current term, which ends in two years. The decision was the latest in a string of departures to hit congressional Democrats as they head to the 2012 elections…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • House passes sweeping cuts to domestic programs: Jolted to action by deficit-conscious newcomers, the Republican-controlled House passed sweeping legislation early Saturday to cut $61 billion from hundreds of federal programs and shelter coal companies, oil refiners and farmers from new government regulations. The 235-189 vote to send the bill to the Senate was largely along party lines and defied a veto threat from President Barack Obama. It marked the most striking victory to date for the 87-member class of freshmen Republicans elected last fall on a promise to attack the deficit and reduce the reach of government. Three Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the measure…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • GOP bill pairs budget cuts, regulatory rollbacks: The GOP-controlled House is using a catchall spending bill not just to cut President Barack Obama’s budget but to assault his health care overhaul, global warming policy and efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • House effort to restrict labor wage law fails: The House early Saturday turned back an effort to suspend a Depression-era law that requires federal contractors to pay locally prevailing wage rates. The vote came amid heightened clashes between the two parties over labor rights.
    Lawmakers voted 233-189 against barring spending on Davis-Bacon wage requirements on federal work projects for the remainder of this budget year. The measure was offered by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, as an amendment to a massive spending bill to keep the government running through Sept. 30…. – AP, 2-19-11
  • GOP newcomers test mandate to shrink government: Asked how long the House would need to finish legislation cutting $61 billion in government spending, the most powerful Republican in the land responded wryly. “I don’t know, I’m only the speaker.” It was a candid acknowledgement from Ohio Rep. John Boehner that the 87 Republican first-term lawmakers who swept the party into power in the House are moving on a path — and at a pace — of their own choosing…. – AP, 2-19-11
  • Freshmen spur GOP-run House on big spending cuts: Jolted to action by deficit-conscious newcomers, the Republican-controlled House agreed early Saturday to cut $61 billion from hundreds of federal programs and shelter coal companies, oil refiners and farmers from new government regulations.
    By a 235-189 vote, largely along party lines, the House sent the bill to the Senate, where it faces longer odds, and defied a veto threat from President Barack Obama. Passage of the legislation was the most striking victory to date for the 87 freshman Republicans elected last fall on a promise to attack the deficit and reduce the reach of government. Three Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the measure…. – AP, 2-19-11
  • House votes to block EPA’s global warming power: The Republican-controlled House has voted to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases that scientists say cause global warming. The 249-177 vote added the regulation ban to a sweeping spending bill that would fund the government through Sept. 30. The restriction is opposed by the Obama administration, which is using its regulatory powers to curb greenhouse gases after global warming legislation collapsed last year. The administration also says the ban would cost thousands of construction jobs…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • US House poised to pass Republican spending cuts: The Republican-controlled US House of Representatives on Thursday was poised to approve deep spending cuts for this year, setting the stage for a battle with the Democratic-run Senate…. – Reuters, 2-18-11
  • House votes to curb regulators, cut spending: The Republican-controlled House voted to shield greenhouse-gas polluters and privately owned colleges from federal regulators on Friday, strengthening the pro-business emphasis of legislation that also would chop $61 billion from government spending. But as a final vote neared on the sweeping measure, newly elected conservatives suffered a rare setback when a split among rank-and-file Republicans sank a move to cut an additional $22 billion.
    “The American people have spoken. They demand that Washington stop its out-of-control spending now, not some time in the future,” declared Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., one of the 87 newly elected Republicans who have moved aggressively to attack federal deficits and reduce government’s reach. In a victory for social conservatives, the House voted 240-185 to block federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., who proposed the move, said, “It is morally wrong to take the taxpayer dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use them to fund organizations that provide and promote abortion.”… – AP, 2-18-11
  • Deficit Plan Details Emerge: A bipartisan group of senators is considering legislation that would trigger new taxes and budget cuts if Congress fails to meet a set of mandatory spending targets and other fiscal goals aimed at reducing federal deficits…. – WSJ, 2-17-11
  • House axes funds for jet engine to be built in Lynn: The House rejected funding for a second engine for the Pentagon’s new jet fighter yesterday, dealing a major blow to a program that had promised to create more than 400 jobs at a General Electric plant in Lynn…. – Boston Globe, 2-17-11
  • Brown describes beatings, sexual abuse in childhood: Senator Scott Brown, describing a childhood of family violence and strife, reveals in his new autobiography that he was sexually assaulted as a 10-year-old by a summer camp counselor on Cape Cod…. – Boston Globe, 2-17-11
  • Senate to vote on patent reform after breakReuters, 2-16-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

  • PAUL KRUGMAN: Wisconsin Power Play: Last week, in the face of protest demonstrations against Wisconsin’s new union-busting governor, Scott Walker — demonstrations that continued through the weekend, with huge crowds on Saturday — Representative Paul Ryan made an unintentionally apt comparison: “It’s like Cairo has moved to Madison.”
    It wasn’t the smartest thing for Mr. Ryan to say, since he probably didn’t mean to compare Mr. Walker, a fellow Republican, to Hosni Mubarak. Or maybe he did — after all, quite a few prominent conservatives, including Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santorum, denounced the uprising in Egypt and insist that President Obama should have helped the Mubarak regime suppress it…. – NYT, 2-20-11
  • Wis. governor predicts Democrats will return to debate union rights: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whose bid to reduce public employees’ collective-bargaining power has triggered public protests, said Sunday that he expects Democrats who oppose his plan to return to the state and debate…. – WaPO, 2-20-11
  • Bachmann defends Wisconsin moves on collective bargaining: US Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) at the 38th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) meeting at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, February 10, 2011. Tea Party activist and Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann on Saturday defended moves by fellow Republicans in Wisconsin to reduce state union bargaining power…. – Reuters, 2-19-11
  • Thousands surround Capitol in Wisconsin: A state Capitol thrown into chaos swelled for a fifth day Saturday with thousands of protesters, as supporters of Republican efforts to scrap the union rights of state workers added their voices to the debate…. – NewsOK.com, 2-19-11
  • Protests Continue In Wisconsin As Budget Fight Rages: Protests continued Friday at the Wisconsin state Capitol building, as several missing Democratic state senators hold up action on a plan to reduce union bargaining rights of government employees…. – NPR, 2-18-11
  • Wisconsin in near-chaos over anti-union bill: Protestors swarm Wisconsin’s Capitol and Democratic lawmakers flee the state to stall the new Republican governor’s anti-union bill…. – LAT, 2-18-11
  • Wisconsin Public Workers Protest Governor’s ProposalWSJ, 2-17-11
  • Gov. Brown freezes statewide hiring: Before the announcement, he quietly drops a suit to lower California state workers’ checks to the federal minimum wage during a budget impasse…. – LAT, 2-15-11
  • Flake 1st candidate to run for Kyl’s seat: U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake wasted no time Monday in becoming the first official candidate for the U.S. Senate seat that will open in 2012, moving fast to get a jump-start on campaign fundraising and to discourage potential Republican rivals from entering the GOP race.
    Flake, 49, the libertarian-leaning senior Republican member of Arizona’s U.S. House delegation, launched his campaign four days after three-term U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said he would not seek re-election next year.
    The speed of Flake’s entry into the 2012 competition could crowd out some of the other Republicans whose names have been floated, although Flake said he looks forward to “a spirited campaign.”… – The Arizona Republic, 2-14-11

CHICAGO MAYORAL CAMPAIGN

  • Emanuel beats rivals to become next Chicago mayor: Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was elected mayor of Chicago on Tuesday, easily overwhelming five rivals to take the helm of the nation’s third-largest city as it prepares to chart a new course without the retiring Richard M. Daley. Emanuel trounced all opponents with 55 percent of the vote — a margin that allowed him to avoid an April runoff. He needed more than 50 percent to win outright.
    It was the city’s first mayoral race in more than 60 years without an incumbent on the ballot and the first in more than two decades without Daley among the candidates. Daley and his father have led Chicago for more than 43 out of the last 56 years.
    Emanuel called the victory “humbling” and said the outgoing mayor had “earned a special place in our hearts and our history.” But he added: “We have not won anything until a kid can go to school thinking of their studies and not their safety. Until the parent of that child is thinking about their work and not where they are going to find work, we have not won anything.”… – AP, 2-22-11

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • GOP 2012: Do Early Polls Matter?: A look at when potential GOP candidates may announce their candidacy… – Neon Tommy, 2-17-11
  • The idea of President Palin hits a granite wallWaPo, 2-17-11
  • Obama wants to know Kaine’s intentions on Senate race: President Barack Obama told a television interviewer Wednesday that he wants to hear former Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s intentions regarding a possible run for Jim Webb’s US Senate seat…. – Richmond Times Dispatch, 2-16-11
  • Twelve for ’12: A Dozen Republicans Who Could Be the Next President: With the GOP’s presidential primary fight fast approaching, TIME takes a look at the prospective contenders to take on Barack Obama…
    Candidates of the Conservatives: Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, Haley Barbour, Mike Huckabee, John Thune, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, Jim DeMint… – Time
  • Romney reaches out to business, but isn’t ready to show hand: Mitt Romney sought yesterday to distinguish himself from President Obama, his potential 2012 election opponent, by casting himself as a friend to the nation’s business community…. – Boston Globe, 2-14-11
  • Romney tops Obama in NH poll: In a WMUR Granite State Poll released today, Mitt Romney garnered 49 percent of the vote to 41 percent for the president, who took the state in his 2008 win over Republican John McCain…. – Boston Globe, 2-14-11

QUOTES

The President records the Weekly Address
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 2/18/11
  • Weekly Address: To Win the Future, America Must Win the Global Competition in Education: Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery February 19, 2011 Hillsboro, Oregon: I’m speaking to you from just outside Portland, Oregon where I’m visiting Intel, a company that helped pioneer the digital age. I just came from a tour of an assembly line where highly-skilled technicians are building microprocessors that run everything from desktop computers to smartphones.
    But these workers aren’t just manufacturing high-tech computer chips. They’re showing us how America will win the future….
    If we want to win the global competition for new jobs and industries, we’ve got to win the global competition to educate our people. We’ve got to have the best trained, best skilled workforce in the world. That’s how we’ll ensure that the next Intel, the next Google, or the next Microsoft is created in America, and hires American workers.
    This is why, over the past two years, my administration has made education a top priority. We’ve launched a competition called “Race to the Top” – a reform that is lifting academic standards and getting results; not because Washington dictated the answers, but because states and local schools pursued innovative solutions. We’re also making college more affordable for millions of students, and revitalizing our community colleges, so that folks can get the training they need for the careers they want. And as part of this effort, we’ve launched a nationwide initiative to connect graduates that need jobs with businesses that need their skills.
    Intel understands how important these partnerships can be – recognizing that their company’s success depends on a pipeline of skilled people ready to fill high-wage, high-tech jobs. Intel often pays for workers to continue their education at nearby Portland State University. As a result, one out of every fifteen of Intel’s Oregon employees has a degree from Portland State.
    In fact, Intel’s commitment to education begins at an even younger age. The company is providing training to help 100,000 math and science teachers improve their skills in the classroom. And today, I’m also meeting a few students from Oregon who impressed the judges in the high school science and engineering competitions that Intel sponsors across America….
    So these have been a tough few years for our country. And in tough times, it’s natural to question what the future holds. But when you meet young people like Laurie and Yushi, it’s hard not to be inspired. And it’s impossible not to be confident about America.
    We are poised to lead in this new century – and not just because of the good work that large companies like Intel are doing. All across America, there are innovators and entrepreneurs who are trying to start the next Intel, or just get a small business of their own off the ground. I’ll be meeting with some of these men and women next week in Cleveland, to get ideas about what we can do to help their companies grow and create jobs.
    The truth is, we have everything we need to compete: bold entrepreneurs, bright new ideas, and world-class colleges and universities. And, most of all, we have young people just brimming with promise and ready to help us succeed. All we have to do is tap that potential.
    That’s the lesson on display at Intel. And that’s how America will win the future. – WH, 2-19-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • The President Unveils a Budget to Win the Future for Our Kids: And I just came to Parkville on a day where we are unveiling our budget, and I’m doing so for a reason. But before I do that I just want to thank Principal Buddy Parker, who is showing us around, as well as Susan Yoder, the eighth grade science teacher who we just visited with in her classroom.
    Over the last few weeks I’ve traveled the country, talking about what we need to do to win the future; talked about the need to invest in innovation, so that the next big idea is discovered here in the United States of America. I’ve talked about the need to invest in high-speed rail and high-speed Internet, so that companies can move goods and information faster than ever. And this week, I’ll be talking about the need to invest in education -– in places like Parkville -– so that every American is equipped to compete with any worker, anywhere in the world.
    These investments are an essential part of the budget my administration is sending to Congress. Because I’m convinced that if we out-build and out-innovate and out-educate, as well as out-hustle the rest of the world, the jobs and industries of our time will take root here in the United States. Our people will prosper and our country will succeed.
    But I’m also convinced that the only way we can make these investments in our future is if our government starts living within its means, if we start taking responsibility for our deficits. That’s why, when I was sworn in as President, I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term. The budget I’m proposing today meets that pledge -– and puts us on a path to pay for what we spend by the middle of the decade. We do this in part by eliminating waste and cutting whatever spending we can do without.
    As I start — as a start, I’ve called for a freeze on annual domestic spending over the next five years. This freeze would cut the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, bringing this kind of spending — domestic discretionary spending — to its lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was President. Let me repeat that. Because of our budget, this share of spending will be at its lowest level since Dwight Eisenhower was President. That level of spending is lower than it was under the last three administrations, and it will be lower than it was under Ronald Reagan.
    Now, some of the savings will come through less waste and more efficiency. To take just one example, by getting rid of 14,000 office buildings, lots and government-owned properties we no longer need, we can save taxpayers billions of dollars. And when it comes to programs we do need, we’re making them work better by demanding accountability. Instead of spending first, and asking questions later, we’re rewarding folks inside and outside government who deliver results. And to make sure that special interests aren’t larding up legislation with pet projects, I’ve pledged to veto any bill that contains earmarks.
    Still, even as we cut waste and inefficiency, this budget freeze will require some tough choices. It will mean cutting things that I care deeply about — for example, community action programs in low-income neighborhoods and towns, and community development block grants that so many of our cities and states rely on. But if we’re going to walk the walk when it comes to fiscal discipline, these kinds of cuts will be necessary…. – WH, 2-14-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Jack Lew: The 2012 Budget: Today, the President sent to Congress his budget for the 2012 fiscal year. This document is built around the simple idea that we have to live within our means so we can invest in the future. Only by making tough choices to both cut spending and deficits and invest in what we need to win the future can we out-educate, out-build, and out-innovate the rest of the world.
    This is the seventh Budget that I have worked on at OMB, and it may be the most difficult. It includes more than $1 trillion in deficit reduction – two-thirds from spending cuts — and puts the nation on a path toward fiscal sustainability so that by the middle of the decade, the government will no longer be adding to our national debt as a share of the economy and will be paying for what it spends – and will be able to sustain that for many years afterwards.
    The President has called this budget a down payment because we will still have work to do to pay down the debt and address our long-term challenges. But it is a necessary and critical step for we cannot start to move toward balance and to cutting into the size of our debt until we first stop adding to it – and that is what this Budget does…. – WH, 2-14-11
  • Barack Obama: “The fiscal realities we face require hard choices. A decade of deficits, compounded by the effects of the recession and the steps we had to take to break it, as well as the chronic failure to confront difficult decisions, has put us on an unsustainable course.”
  • Barack Obama: “As we move to rein in our deficits, we must do so in a way that does not cut back on those investments that have the biggest impact on our economic growth, because the best antidote to a growing deficit is a growing economy. So even as we pursue cuts and savings in the months ahead, we must fund those investments that will help America win the race for the jobs and industries of the future – investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure.”
  • Eric Cantor: This week, the House will consider H.R. 1 – historic legislation that will reduce spending by at least $100 billion over the next seven months. This is the largest spending cut in modern history. These are not easy cuts, but we are finally doing what every American has to do both at home and at work – begin a path towards living within our means.
  • John Boehner: President Obama’s latest budget will destroy jobs by spending too much, borrowing too much, & taxing too much. The American people have made it clear they want Washington’s job-crushing spending binge to end. To help our economy get back to creating jobs, we need to liberate it from the shackles of Big Government and out-of-control spending. H.R. 1, on the House floor this week, will help do this.
  • Mitch McConnell: Senator McConnell comments on the President’s Budget: After two years of failed Stimulus programs and Democrats in Washington competing to outspend each other, we just can’t afford to do all the things the administration wants to do. The President has said he wants us to ‘Win the Future.’ But this budget abdicates the future. It simply spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much.
  • Sarah Palin: The Truth Behind the White House’s Budget Spin: Today the White House finally produced its proposal for the 2012 budget. Beware of the left’s attempt to sell this as “getting tough on the deficit,” because as an analysis from Americans for Tax Reform shows, the White House’s plans are more about raising taxes and growing more government than reducing budget shortfalls.
    The fine print reveals a White House proposal to increase taxes by at least $1.5 trillion over the next decade. If you want to know how minuscule their proposed $775 million-a-year budget “cuts” really are, please look at this chart. The proposed cuts are so insignificant – less than 1/10 of 1% of this year’s $1.65 trillion budget deficit – that they are essentially invisible on the pie chart. That speaks volumes about today’s budget.
    UPDATE: As J.D. Foster of the Heritage Foundation points out: “…the President proposes a budget that keeps the federal government on a thoroughly irresponsible and unsustainable course.” Please read the Heritage Foundation article and understand the $775 million in proposed cuts noted above are what the White House’s budget director Jacob Lew identified as reflecting what they perceive as some “tough calls.” Yet, as noted, they are a drop in the bucket; and the White House’s total proposed cuts for this year are still not at all enough to make us solvent.

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

Political Highlights, January 10, 2011: 112th Congress Sworn-in — Obama Chooses Bill Daley as Chief of Staff — Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Shot in Assassination Attempt

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 & 112TH CONGRESS:


The President talks with AZ Gov. Jan Brewer on the shootings, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 1/8/11

STATS & POLLS

  • Gallup Poll: U.S. split on health care law repeal: Forty-six percent of those surveyed Tuesday and Wednesday say they want their representative to vote for repeal; 40% want the law to stand. Nearly eight of 10 Republicans support repeal. In contrast, about two-thirds of Democrats want the law to stay in effect. Independents are inclined to support repeal, but by a margin too small to be statistically significant…. – USA Today, 1-7-11
  • Factbox: Basic provisions and timeline for health law: More parts of the sweeping healthcare law passed in March 2010 take effect this month just as Republicans take over the House of Representatives vowing to dismantle the bill. Any changes would require support from both the House and the Democrat-controlled Senate as well as President Barack Obama, who made the healthcare law a top domestic goal. The law aims to expand healthcare insurance to roughly 30 million Americans and imposes a host of new industry rules and taxes…. – Reuters, 1-7-11
  • Obama Gets Modest Lame-Duck Poll Bump: Did President Obama get a bump in the polls after the successes of the congressional lame-duck session? While only a handful of pollsters have updated their job-approval numbers since the holidays, those who have seem to be showing movement in Obama’s favor, though the change is slight and may be fleeting. The question came up earlier this week when Obama’s approval percentage in Gallup’s daily tracking rose to 50 percent for the first time since June. His approval ratings have been “in the mid-40% range” since last Summer, as Gallup reported on Monday. Over the last three days, Obama’s approval rating has fallen slightly back to 48 percent. However, the average of the three non-overlapping samples released by Gallup since Dec. 22 give Obama an average rating of 47.3 percent, roughly two points higher than earlier in December (45.4 percent), and slightly better still than in November (45.0 percent) and October (44.8 percent). While a two-point difference is small, given the large numbers of interviews available from the pooled sample (roughly 4,500 since Dec. 22, more than 10,000 earlier in the month), these small differences are statistically meaningful…. – Huff Post, 1-6-11
  • Boehner pledges an open ‘people’s House’, 112th Congress Commences — Minute by Minute Analysis: Speaker John Boehner today ushered in a new era for the House of Representatives, pledging his Republican Party will lead with humility and be “honest, accountable and responsive” to the American people.
    Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi transferred power and the speaker’s gavel to Boehner, who leads a House with 242 Republicans aiming to overturn some of President Obama’s domestic achievements, including the nation’s sweeping health care law.
    “This is the people’s House. This is their Congress. It’s about them, not us,” Boehner said. “What they want is a government that is honest, accountable and responsive to their needs — a government that respects individual liberty, honors our heritage, and bows before the public it serves.”
    Boehner gave a nod to the partisanship that has divided the House, noting “a great deal of scar tissue” has been built up. He urged lawmakers to “disagree without being disagreeable” and to keep their eyes on common goals…. – USA Today, 1-5-11

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama welcomes vote on Southern Sudan independence: US President Barack Obama has hailed the start of a landmark referendum on independence in Southern Sudan. He said the week-long vote – which is expected to result in Africa’s largest country being split in two – represented a “new chapter in history”. The poll was agreed as part of the 2005 deal that ended a two-decade civil war. The mainly Muslim north has promised to allow the potential new country, where most people are Christian or animists, to secede peacefully.
    Mr Obama said in a statement: “After 50 years of civil wars that have killed two million people and turned millions more into refugees this is the opportunity before the people of Southern Sudan.” He added that the action of Sudanese leaders would help determine whether Sudanese people move “toward peace and prosperity, or slide backward into bloodshed”…. – BBC, 1-10-11
  • Obama Orders U.S. Flags Lowered, Moment Of Silence For Tucson: President Obama ordered all U.S. flags on government buildings and properties lowered to half mast out of respect for the victims of Saturday’s shootings in Tucson.
    The White House also called for the observance of a moment of silence at 11 am EST Monday, “to honor the innocent victims of the senseless tragedy in Tucson, Arizona, including those still fighting for their lives.”
    The White House also postponed a planned trip to Schenectady, NY Tuesday in which the president was to highlight his administration’s efforts to create the enhance the climate for job creation. White House officials hoped to reschedule the trip.
    The move by Obama and his aides to place on hold some of their plans for the week followed the announcement by the House leadership that they were postponing a vote to repeal the health care law and other business in response to the shootings…. – AP, 1-9-11
  • U.S. sees evidence of assassination plot: Federal authorities filed murder charges Sunday against 22-year-old Jared Loughner, as new evidence suggested the alleged gunman in Saturday’s rampage had fixated on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) while his mental health deteriorated…. – WaPo, 1-9-11
  • Clinton Tries to Keep Gulf From Easing Iran Sanctions: The Obama administration is working to keep up the pressure on Iran from its neighbors in the Persian Gulf, despite new reports suggesting that a combination of sanctions and sabotage may have delayed by several years Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear bomb.
    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, arriving in this Arab emirate Sunday for a four-day visit to the region, urged Iran’s neighbors to stay focused on enforcing sanctions. Many Persian Gulf states have curtailed their commercial ties with Iran, and Mrs. Clinton said she did not want these reports to be used as a justification for them to backtrack.
    “We don’t want anyone to be misled by anyone’s intelligence analysis — this remains a serious concern,” Mrs. Clinton said to reporters traveling with her. “We expect all of our partners who share that concern, as these countries certainly do, to stay as focused as they can, and to do everything within reason that will help to implement these sanctions.”… – NYT, 1-9-11
  • ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska’: Will Palin be a one-termer on TLC?: Sarah Palin and Todd Palin on Sarah Palin’s Alaska The finale of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” on Sunday might be the former governor’s last episode. Unless, of course, it isn’t. That Palin’s show would be a one-termer was reported by Entertainment Weekly on Friday, the day before a mass shooting at a Rep. Gabrielle Giffords event in Arizona. The shooting claimed six lives, including those of a federal judge and a little girl born on Sept. 11, 2001, and left the Democratic congresswoman recovering from brain surgery after a bullet passed through her brain. Various bloggers and news outlets on Saturday linked Palin and a 10-month-old “crosshairs” campaign graphic to the shooting, despite no immediate indications that suspect Jared Loughner had any connection with Palin, the “tea party,” the GOP or the crosshairs map. Loughner, who had attended another Giffords event in 2007, left an envelope at his home with the words “I planned ahead,” “my assassination” and “Giffords,” according to the FBI’s criminal complaint. Fellow students’ concerns about Loughner being a disjointed, disturbing presence in a junior college algebra class went public Sunday.
    “On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice,” Palin said Saturday via Facebook, offering condolences to those hurt and killed in the shooting.
    “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” was “always planned as a special event and beyond that there have been no discussions or decisions,” a source told People on Sunday…. – LAT, 1-9-11
  • House to Vote on Bill to Repeal Health-Care Law: Health-Care Debate: The Republican-controlled House is expected to vote Wednesday on a bill to repeal the health-care law. But the measure is unlikely to be taken up by the Senate, where Democrats have a majority. WSJ, 1-8-11
  • Obama White House battles GOP health care bill repeal plan: It’s back to the future on the health care debate. Just as they did a year ago, the Obama White House and congressional Republicans are going at it over the health care bill — using speeches, interviews, blogs, and commissioned reports to argue over whether it produces or kills jobs, and increases or reduces the federal debt. The difference is that last year Obama prevailed and signed the bill into the law March 23; now the new House Republican is trying to repeal it, setting a vote for Wednesday.
    “At a time when we need to do everything in our power to encourage job creation, the health care law hangs around the necks of businesses small and large,” said House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, R-Va., in today’s Republican radio address.
    At this point, however, the debate is largely academic — while the Republican-run House is likely to vote for repeal, the Democratic Senate is unlikely to follow suit.
    But the health care debate will likely follow Obama for the rest of his presidency…. – USA Today, 1-8-11
  • Obama draws fighting critic of health care: President Obama has another fierce health care critic, and he’s quite an aggressive one: Mixed martial artist Jacob Volkmann. After winning a recent Ultimate Fighting Championship bout, Volkmann joked — we think — that he might like to fight Obama next.
    “He’s not too bright,” said Volkmann, a licensed chiropractor who is particularly critical of Obama’s health care bill. “Someone needs to knock some sense into that idiot.” Volkmann also said he’s not a fan of Republican stalwart Sarah Palin, it’s only that “I just don’t like what Barack is doing.” Joke or not, the Secret Service is obliged to take any physical threat to the president seriously — and Volkmann later reported he did receive a visit from an agent. USA Today, 1-8-11
  • Arizona Rep. Giffords shot, at least 5 killed: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head Saturday when an assailant opened fire outside a grocery store during a meeting with constituents, killing at least five people and wounding several others in a rampage that rattled the nation.
    Giffords was among at least 10 people wounded, and the hospital said her outlook was “optimistic” and that she was responding to commands from doctors despite having a bullet go through her head. The hospital said a 9-year-old child was among the dead, and a U.S. Marshal said a federal judge was also fatally shot in the attack.
    Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said an unspecified number of her staff members were injured in the shooting. Congressional officials said an aide to the Democrat was killed, and President Barack Obama said five people died in all. The reaction to the shooting was swift and rippled across the globe. Obama held a nationally televised news conference to express his condolences. The shooting cast a pall over Capitol as politicians of all stripes denounced the shooting as a horrific act of violence. Capitol police asked members of Congress to step up security in the wake of the shooting, and some politicians expressed hope that the killing spree serves as a wakeup call at a time when the political climate has become so emotionally charged.
    Police say the shooter was in custody, and was identified by people familiar with the investigation as Jared Loughner, 22. Pima County Sheriff’s officials said he used a pistol to carry out the shooting spree. U.S. officials who provided his name to the AP spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release it publicly…. – AP, 1-8-11
  • Fiery package in DC triggers memories of anthrax: Postal workers who returned to work Saturday said a package that ignited at a government mail facility conjured painful memories of the anthrax attacks that killed two of their colleagues in 2001. The fiery package found Friday, which was addressed to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, followed two packages that ignited Thursday in Maryland state government mailrooms. It halted government mail until bomb-sniffing dogs could sweep the D.C. facility. Mail processing resumed Saturday morning after a meeting with workers, the local postmaster and the workers’ union…. – AP, 1-8-11
  • How do you follow Gibbs’s show?: With the departure of Robert Gibbs, senior administration officials are expanding their search for a new White House press secretary to include a dangerous breed: working journalists. Advisers have been compiling a fairly predictable list of Democratic spokesmen who could assume the “podium job,” as it’s known. There are internal front-runners – Vice President Biden’s communications director, Jay Carney, and deputy press secretary Bill Burton are at the top of the list – and other candidates, including another deputy, Josh Earnest, whom Gibbs asked to be added for consideration. A more senior White House adviser, Stephanie Cutter, had been asked to apply but declined, and she is now involved in the search process. There are a number of external contenders, as well, including Democratic operative Karen Finney, a frequent paid television commentator.
    But further down the wish list that officials have compiled so far are some reporters, mainly ones who appear on television, people involved in the process said. Officials acknowledge it is a long shot that one of them will make the final cut: There are logistical considerations, such as contracts, and the all-important question of trust. But the mere fact that working journalists are being discussed for a job so visible is a sign of change within a White House that has typically been allergic to it…. – WaPo, 1-7-11
  • U.S. to offer more support to Pakistan: The Obama administration has decided to offer Pakistan more military, intelligence and economic support, and to intensify U.S. efforts to forge a regional peace, despite ongoing frustration that Pakistani officials are not doing enough to combat terrorist groups in the country’s tribal areas, officials said. The decision to double down on Pakistan represents the administration’s attempt to call the bluff of Pakistani officials who have long complained that the United States has failed to understand their security priorities or provide adequate support. That message will be delivered by Vice President Biden, who plans to travel to Pakistan next week for meetings with its military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, and top government leaders. Biden will challenge the Pakistanis to articulate their long-term strategy for the region and indicate exactly what assistance is needed for them to move against Taliban sanctuaries in areas bordering Afghanistan…. – WaPo, 1-7-11
  • Defense chief aims on China trip to build trust: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates heads to China next week looking to soothe strained ties with the People’s Liberation Army, but long-held policies feeding deep suspicion on both sides may undermine that goal. The visit from Sunday to Wednesday comes a week before Chinese President Hu Jintao’s state visit to Washington, creating diplomatic momentum that U.S. officials hope will allow Gates to make headway on sticky security issues….
    In some ways, Gates’ visit to China may be a result of that momentum. U.S. and Chinese military ties were suspended through most of 2010, as Beijing protested President Barack Obama’s proposed arms sale to Taiwan. His trip to China is the most visible demonstration that relations have normalized…. – Reuters, 1-7-11
  • Bernanke Sees Slow Drop in Unemployment Amid Recovery: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the unemployment rate will probably fall slowly even with a pickup in U.S. growth this year, signaling no change in the central bank’s monetary stimulus. At the pace of improvement projected by Fed officials, “it could take four to five more years for the job market to normalize fully,” Bernanke said today in testimony to the Senate Budget Committee. Bernanke also stepped up the urgency of his call for a plan to reduce the federal budget deficit, saying “prompt adoption” of one could have economic benefits in the long and short run.
    “It’s about what we expected,” Bernanke said of the jobs report during a question-and-answer period. “If we continue at this pace, we’re not going to see sustained declines in the unemployment rate.” His prepared testimony was submitted before the government data were released Bloomberg, 1-7-11
  • At Obama White House, Back to the Future: The president hailed William M. Daley first, describing him as a “man of rare effectiveness,” one who “embodies the values of hard work and fair play.”
    A bit later, the president heaped praise on Gene B. Sperling for his economic knowledge and his penchant for working all hours, with little sleep. “I rely on him heavily — on his knowledge and skill, his mind and his heart,” the president told reporters as he nominated Mr. Sperling to head the National Economic Council. “He certainly shows that the work ethic is alive and well in America.”
    It was December 1996. And the president was Bill Clinton, who was appointing both men to prominent posts in his administration. The back-to-the-future moment was caught by the C-Span cameras (see video below) to be watched almost 15 years later as history repeated itself. On Thursday, President Obama stood on a stage and introduced Mr. Daley as the new White House chief of staff. Mr. Obama hailed his “tremendous experience, his strong values and his forward-looking vision.”… – NYT, 1-8-11
  • Obama chooses William Daley as chief of staff: President Barack Obama named veteran political manager William Daley to be his new chief of staff Thursday, selecting a centrist with Wall Street ties to help navigate a newly divided Congress and a looming re-election.
    “Few Americans can boast the breadth of experience that Bill brings to this job,” Obama told reporters in the East Room as Daley, 62, stood at his side.
    “But most of all, I know Bill to be somebody who cares deeply about this country, believes in its promise, and considers no calling higher and more important than serving the American people,” the president said.
    The appointment represented the most significant move in a far-reaching and ongoing staff shakeup that included the departure of Obama’s press secretary and several key deputies and economic advisers. It came the day after Republicans officially assumed control of the House and increased their numbers in the Senate…. – AP, 1-6-11
  • Business Background Defines Chief of Staff: He is a top executive at JPMorgan Chase, where he is paid as much as $5 million a year and supervises the Washington lobbying efforts for the nation’s second-largest bank. William M. Daley also serves on the board of directors at Boeing, the giant defense contractor, and Abbott Laboratories, the global drug company, which has billions of dollars at stake in the overhaul of the health care system. And now, Mr. Daley, a longtime Illinois political operative, will hold one of the most powerful jobs in Washington: chief of staff in the White House, where he will help decide who gets access to the Oval Office and what President Obama’s Capitol Hill agenda should be. The recruitment of Mr. Daley to Pennsylvania Avenue from the corporate board room is seen as a savvy step by some in Washington, who argue that Mr. Obama has long needed a White House confidant who has the ear of the business community and a record of bipartisanship that might help the president negotiate with Republicans on Capitol Hill…. – NYT, 1-6-11
  • In Daley, Obama gets change, not continuity President Obama has selected former Commerce Secretary William Daley as his new Chief of Staff: By all outward appearances, the appointment of William Daley on Thursday as White House chief of staff is a total inside job. In reality, it’s anything but, signaling another significant step in the post-election evolution of President Obama.
    The chain of events reads like this: Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley announces he will not run for reelection. Rahm Emanuel resigns as White House chief of staff to run for Daley’s job. Obama picks Daley’s younger brother, Bill, to succeed Emanuel. Neat and tidy. One Chicagoan for another. All in the family.
    In fact, in tapping Daley, Obama has begun to reach outside his comfort zone. Although he and Daley have known each other for years, they have not had a close relationship. Daley may have been an occasional resource for advice but hardly the kind of confidant that Obama’s other Chicago advisers – Emanuel, David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett – have been. Daley has had a far longer relationship with Vice President Biden than with the president.
    In a White House where most of the top jobs have been held by people who went through the fires of the election with Obama, Daley’s arrival can provide a circuit breaker to normal operations. All White Houses are insular, and Obama’s has been no exception. Although the president and Daley share a Chicago connection, Daley is clearly an outsider to Obama’s world and therefore someone who can see the presidency and the operation with fresh eyes…. – WaPo, 1-6-11
  • Obama names new chief of staff, drawing outcries from the left: Overhauling his team at the top, President Obama named banker and seasoned political fighter William Daley as his new chief of staff yesterday, hoping to rejuvenate both a White House storming into reelection mode and an economy trying to maintain growth. The choice of Daley immediately brought protest from the left flank of the Democratic Party, where advocates questioned his insider ties to Wall Street. Centrists and business leaders rallied around the move, one that underscored just how much and how fast the face of the White House is changing. Obama, whose hopes for a second term will be shaped largely by how the economy does, immediately linked Daley’s appointment to that task. For the most influential staff job in American politics, Obama chose a fellow Chicagoan and former Cabinet secretary who has run both companies and campaigns. “I’m convinced that he’ll help us in our mission of growing our economy,” an upbeat Obama said in a White House ceremony as Daley stood to one side. On the other side of the president was Pete Rouse, the interim chief of staff who oversaw a busy three months but did not want to stay in the job. Said Daley to his new boss: “This team will not let you down, nor the nation.”… – AP, 1-6-11
  • Daley choice puts a moderate in play: President Obama’s choice of Chicago business executive William Daley to run his White House operation is the clearest sign yet that he intends to move toward the political center as he approaches a likely 2012 re-election campaign, members of both parties say. Daley’s appointment Thursday follows several other efforts by Obama to work with Republicans after what the president described as a “shellacking” in the November midterm elections. He agreed to continue all of George W. Bush’s tax cuts for two years and helped persuade 13 Republicans to back a new strategic arms agreement with Russia. Obama also made clear he intends to woo Republican leaders personally, perhaps with an invitation to Camp David. His State of the Union address this month is likely to call for budget austerity and free trade agreements.
    “I’ve always thought Obama had moderate instincts. I hope Daley will bring them out,” says Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., a leader among centrist “Blue Dog” Democrats in Congress. “Daley knows business, he understands business, he lives business. And those qualities have been sorely lacking in this administration.”
    The direction Obama took with his choice was clear from the reaction: Republicans were pleasantly surprised. Liberal Democrats were disappointed…. – USA Today, 1-7-11
  • Gates Proposes Troop Cuts, $78 Billion Budget Reduction by 2016: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates today laid out a $553 billion budget for fiscal 2012, along with a five-year military spending plan that will cut the number of troops, cancel programs and move money saved from those measures into current and new weapons.
    “We must come to realize that not every defense program is necessary, not every defense dollar is sacred and well- spent,” Gates said at a Pentagon news conference. “And that more of nearly everything is simply not sustainable.”… – Bloomberg, 1-6-11
  • Ex-CIA officer charged with giving reporter secrets: A former CIA officer was arrested on Thursday on charges of illegally disclosing national defense information about Iran to a New York Times reporter who wrote a book. The U.S. Justice Department said Jeffrey Sterling, 43, was charged with six counts of unauthorized disclosure of national defense information and one count of unlawfully keeping national defense information, mail fraud, unauthorized conveyance of government property and obstructing justice. The arrest marked the latest case brought by the Obama administration charging current or former U.S. officials with leaking classified information to the news media…. – Reuters, 1-6-11
  • Boehner Takes Gavel in House With Pledge to Bring Change: The new speaker of the House, John Boehner, promised a new era of transparency in lawmaking on Wednesday, but he also pledged to aggressively push forward the conservative agenda that swept his party into power. A roll-call vote of the chamber’s 435 members ended the way the results of November’s election determined that it would: with more votes for Mr. Boehner than for the Democratic leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, making him speaker.
    In remarks after taking the gavel from Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Boehner described himself as humbled, and said that the changes he envisions would restore trust to “the people’s House.”
    “We will honor our Pledge to America, built through a process of listening to the people, and we will stand firm on our Constitutional principles that built our party, and built a great nation,” said Mr. Boehner, now second in line of succession to the presidency. “We will do these things, however, in a manner that restores and respects the time-honored right of the minority to an honest debate — a fair and open process.”… – NYT, 1-5-11
  • Gibbs Leaving Post as Obama’s Press Secretary to Help With Re-Election Bid: White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said he is stepping down to become an outside political adviser to President Barack Obama and help with his re-election campaign. Gibbs, 39, who has worked with Obama since 2004, said today he intends to leave sometime next month. The choice of a successor hasn’t been made, he said.
    “There’s no doubt this is a tough place to work,” Gibbs said. “It’s time to take a little break.”
    Obama called Gibbs “a close friend, one of my closest advisers and an effective advocate” for the administration. In a statement, he said Gibbs will continue to play an important role as part of his team of advisers.
    Among the candidates Obama is considering to be the next press secretary are Jay Carney, a spokesman for Vice President Joe Biden, as well as Bill Burton and Josh Earnest, who have served as deputies to Gibbs since the campaign, according to an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because no decision has been made…. – Bloomberg, 1-5-11
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo talks ‘change’ but not budget cuts: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told state leaders simply that it was ‘time for New York to change’ in his first State of the State speech. He faces daunting budget, education, and oversight issues…. – CS Monitor, 1-5-11
  • House GOP challenges Obama to join them: On the brink of power, House Republicans challenged President Barack Obama on Tuesday to join them in a drive to cut federal spending, ban earmarks for favored projects and overhaul the nation’s tax code. At the same time, incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., conceded the new GOP majority intends to bypass its own new rules when it votes next week to wipe out the health care law approved by Democrats in 2010. “We just need to repeal it,” Cantor said of the effort to fulfill one of the party’s main campaign promises from last fall. Republicans, their ranks expanded by tea party-backed freshmen, take control of the House when the 112th Congress convenes at noon on Wednesday. One of the first orders of business will be the election of Ohio Republican John Boehner as speaker, replacing Democrat Nancy Pelosi…. – AP, 1-4-11
  • Obama’s shave ice order: A sign of bipartisanship?: Does the president’s flexibility on shave ice flavors show an openness to compromise as the Republicans take control of the House?… – CS Monitor, 1-4-11
  • Both sides prepare to battle over repeal of health-care law: As Congress members prepare to fight anew over the federal law overhauling the health-care system, activists on both sides of the issue are gearing up for a sequel to last year’s raucous debate. Supporters of the law have begun planning protests, petitions and phone calls to block repeal. Its opponents are cheering efforts to dismantle the measure, which House GOP leaders have said they will put up for a vote on Jan. 12.
    The strategies that are emerging could set up a grass-roots battle that rivals the shouting town halls and Capitol Hill marches that made headlines before the law was passed…. – WaPo, 1-4-11
  • NYC officials to probe response to last week’s blizzard: Officials in New York said Tuesday they are looking into what happened to cleanup efforts during last week’s monster blizzard. The New York City Department of Sanitation has drawn sharp criticism since the storm that blanketed much of the Northeast. Workers there have been accused of deliberately slowing down the response in retaliation for the city’s belt-tightening measures…. – CNN, 1-4-11
  • Prop. 8 gay marriage case takes detour to California Supreme Court: Do gay couples have a constitutional right to marry? A US appeals court withholds judgment, instead asking California’s Supreme Court to resolve whether Prop. 8 backers have legal standing to defend the gay marriage ban…. – CS Monitor, 1-4-11
  • Sacked Navy captain once had a bright future: Navy Capt. Owen Honors was an officer with a bright future, a hotshot fighter jock who rose to become commander of one of the most storied ships in the fleet, the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. His undoing was a sense of humor that seemed a throwback to the Navy’s raucous, macho Tailhook days nearly two decades ago.
    Honors, 49, was sacked as commander of the Enterprise on Tuesday for what the Navy called a “profound lack of good judgment and professionalism” in making and showing to his crew raunchy comic videos three or four years ago. In the videos, Honors used gay slurs and pantomimed masturbation. Once on track to be an admiral, Honors has been reassigned to administrative duties. Military experts said his career is probably over…. – AP, 1-4-11
  • Democrats Hunting for Vulnerable Republicans to Shoot Down in 2012: Democrats are sharpening their swords ahead of the next congressional session, looking to target vulnerable Republicans who could either be picked off in 2012 or at least caricatured so that they become liabilities for their party. Basically, it’s payback time.
    After Republicans routed Democrats in November by ousting moderates in GOP-friendly territory and turning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi into political kryptonite for her caucus, the election losers are mapping a strategy to reverse the tide in two years. They want to halt in their tracks GOP ambitions to build an absolute majority on Capitol Hill over the course of two elections…. – Fox News, 1-3-11
  • Democrats Plan Push to Curtail Use of Filibusters: A band of Senate Democrats signaled on Monday that it would press forward when Congress convenes this week with a proposal to curtail filibusters and other methods of slowing the chamber’s work, but a bit of procedural sleight-of- hand could delay any floor fight over the contentious rules changes until later in January.
    Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, said that he intended to call for new limits on filibusters that would require senators to be on the floor if they seek to derail legislation. He and other Democrats, frustrated at Republicans’ ability to tie up the Senate, want to make it harder to erect other procedural obstacles as well.
    Citing the Constitution and prior Senate rulings, Mr. Udall has argued that senators have the ability to change the chamber’s rules by a majority vote on the first day of the new Congress, which for the 112th Congress begins at noon Wednesday.
    “I am intending on offering my constitutional option on the first day,” Mr. Udall said in a telephone interview as he prepared to return to Capitol Hill…. – NYT, 1-3-11
  • Steele pleads for new term; challengers say no way: GOP Chairman Michael Steele defended his rocky two-year tenure anew Monday and asked for another term, boiling his re-election pitch down to this: “My record stands for itself. We won.” The embattled Republican National Committee chief was referring to coast-to-coast GOP victories that included winning control of the House. Still, as he debated four challengers ahead of next week’s balloting by the 168-member panel, Steele added: “We can do more and we will do it better” and “the opportunity for all of us now is to go forward to continue to build on the successes that we’ve had.”
    Pressing for change and claiming fiscal mismanagement, Steele’s opponents were unified in saying that fundraising ahead of the 2012 presidential election must be the primary focus of the next chairman in the wake of debt as high as $20 million. They also said the party leader must lure back to the RNC deep-pocketed donors who supported independent organizations out of a concern that Steele would misappropriate their money.
    It was the second debate of the race, though the first that Steele attended. The brash former lieutenant governor of Maryland who won the chairmanship two years ago shocked many in Washington last month, including some of his closest aides, when he announced that he would seek a second two-year term after a first riddled with financial woes and verbal missteps that irked many GOP veterans…. – WSJ, 1-3-11
  • Jerry Brown’s California: Five big changes from 1975 to 2011: Once California’s youngest governor, Jerry Brown reprises his role as the state’s chief executive starting Monday, now as the oldest person elected to that office. Then, as now, Brown replaced a Hollywood actor-gone-governor – Ronald Reagan in 1975 and Arnold Schwarzenegger now – and the top issue was high unemployment amid a sagging economy. Here’s a look at California and Brown then and now…. – CS Monitor, 1-3-11
  • Obama signs health bill for 9/11 responders: US President Barack Obama signed into law Sunday a bill to compensate emergency responders sickened in the rubble of the September 11 attacks, the White House said in a statement. The president is currently in Hawaii, where he spent the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, and was expected back in Washington on Tuesday. He had been due to sign the bill at the Kaneohe Marine base near his vacation home.
    The US Congress on December 22 approved a 10-year, four-billion-dollar program to help police, firefighters and other workers made ill by the fumes left in the wake of the worst terrorist attack on US soil. The Senate and then the House of Representatives passed the measure after a last-minute compromise ended a Republican blockade in one of the final acts of the Democrat-led US Congress…. – AFP, 1-2-11
  • Obama Signs Bill to Help 9/11 Workers: President Obama took time out of his Hawaiian vacation on Sunday to sign into law one of the surprise accomplishments of the lame-duck Congress: a measure covering the cost of medical care for rescue workers and others sickened by toxic fumes and dust after the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
    To become law, the bill required Mr. Obama’s signature before he returned to Washington on Tuesday, so he signed it at his rented vacation home in the town of Kailua, near Honolulu. There was no signing ceremony, as there would probably have been had the president been at the White House. Instead, Mr. Obama’s official photographer recorded the moment, and the White House said it would release a picture.
    The $4.3 billion bill became a major point of contention in the waning days of the Congressional session. Republican senators blocked a more expensive House version, and as it appeared that the measure was going to die, the comedian Jon Stewart took up the cause, using his Comedy Central television program to advocate passage. Ultimately, the Senate approved the less expensive measure; the House quickly followed suit and sent the bill to the president…. – NYT, 1-2-11
  • Obama aide: Don’t ‘play chicken’ with debt ceiling: Some Republican lawmakers said Sunday opposed raising the ceiling on the nation’s debt without tackling government spending, and President Barack Obama’s top economic adviser warned against “playing chicken” on the issue….
    Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said that refusing to raise the debt ceiling would essentially push the country into defaulting on its financial obligations for the first time in its history.
    “The impact on the economy would be catastrophic,” Goolsbee told “This Week” on ABC. “That would be a worse financial economic crisis than anything we saw in 2008.” Goolsbee added: “I don’t see why anybody’s talking about playing chicken with the debt ceiling.”… – AP, 1-2-11
  • Vincent Gray inaugurated as D.C. mayor: Vincent Gray is sworn in as the District’s mayor, becoming the sixth person to hold the position. Vincent C. Gray, who won election on a pledge to unite the city and to usher in a more collaborative District government, was sworn in as mayor Sunday in a ceremony at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center that drew more than 70 dignitaries and hundreds of other guests.
    In an inaugural speech that quoted four presidents, Gray, a 68-year-old widowed grandfather, tried to motivate the city’s residents to work with him over the next four years to reform public education, lower the unemployment and crime rates, bring transparency to city finances and achieve statehood for the nation’s capital. He put a twist on his campaign theme of “One City” and repeatedly called the District “Our City.”… – WaPo, 1-2-11
  • Arizona town buzzing over Palin’s purchase: Bristol Palin buys a five-bedroom house on the edge of Maricopa, Ariz. Locals wonder whether it’s a sign of a housing market rebound in the sleepy Phoenix suburb.
    No one here really knows why she bought a five-bedroom house in a sprawling subdivision, or if she even intends to live in it. But, already, Bristol Palin’s real estate acquisition has residents in one hard-hit desert neighborhood chatting about their hopes for a housing market rebound…. – LAT, 1-2-11
  • US Navy to probe lewd videos shown to carrier crew: A top officer aboard a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier broadcast to his crew a series of profanity-laced comedy sketches in which he uses gay slurs, mimics masturbation and opens the shower curtain on women pretending to bathe together, a newspaper reported.
    The Virginian-Pilot reported in its Sunday editions that Capt. Owen Honors appeared in the videos in 2006 and 2007 while he was the USS Enterprise’s second-ranking officer, and showed them across the ship on closed-circuit television. He took over as the ship’s commander in May. The Navy said it plans to investigate the videos, which it called “clearly inappropriate.”
    “The videos were intended to be humorous skits focusing the crew’s attention on specific issues such as port visits, traffic safety, water conservation, ship cleanliness, etc.,” the Navy said in a statement to the newspaper…. – AP, 1-2-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • House hearing Thursday over ousting NH lawmaker: Republicans will attempt to show Thursday why a New Hampshire lawmaker should forfeit his seat because he works for the Democratic Party. A House Legislative Administration elections subcommittee is holding a hearing into a complaint that Manchester Rep. Mike Brunelle violated the constitution by filing legislation that furthers his party’s agenda. Brunelle denies the allegation and says he has filed no bills that benefit his party…. – Boston Globe, 1-9-11
  • Reid doubts McConnell is focused on Obama’s defeat: Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid says he doesn’t think top Republican Mitch McConnell is serious when he says his No. 1 goal is to make Barack Obama a one-term president. Reid, D-Nev., says he believes McConnell, R-Ky., is more concerned with the economy, immigration and other problems facing the country…. – AP, 1-9-11
  • McConnell Assumes Kennedy’s Old Suite At Capitol Rand Paul Housed In Temporary Office: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is moving into the office suites of his longtime office neighbor and political opposite, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. The Kentucky Republican’s offices are moving into Kennedy’s old suite in the Russell Senate Office Building by spring…. – WLKY, 1-9-11
  • House Democrats Rapidly Unleash Sharp Attacks: After four years of harassment by an aggressive Republican minority, House Democrats evidently absorbed a lesson along with all those political blows: the route back to Congressional power is paved with frontal assaults on the practices and policies of the majority.
    In the opening days of the 112th Congress, members of the new Democratic minority have been unrelenting in their attacks on the way Republicans have begun their reign. Via news conferences, Web videos, floor speeches, media appearances and a steady stream of critical statements and e-mails, Democrats have accused the new regime of ignoring the deficit implications of repealing the new health care law, breaking promises to run a more open House and, for good measure, letting lawmakers who were not sworn in cast votes.
    House Democrats would obviously prefer to still be in charge. But falling from power — and relinquishing the responsibility of running the House — has freed them to unleash the same kind of attacks that Republicans and their allies so effectively employed against Democrats, particularly over the last two years…. – NYT, 1-8-11
  • House Clears Way for Floor Vote on Health Care Law Repeal: The House of Representatives has cleared the way to hold a vote next week on repealing the health care overhaul, while at the same time dealing with a parliamentary snag over the credentials of two GOP lawmakers. In a test vote Friday, the House formally approved the rules for debate on the health law repeal. The procedural measure passed largely along party lines on a 236-181 vote.
    “Today we are taking the first step in fulfilling a key promise to the American people,” said Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., who led the GOP side in the debate. “We are setting in motion a process to repeal President Obama’s job- killing health care bill and replace it with real solutions.”
    The move sets up a rhetorical battle ahead of a full vote in the House Wednesday. That vote is seen as largely symbolic, since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has vowed to block it in the Senate — and President Obama would surely veto anything of the sort that clears Congress…. – Fox News, 1-7-11
  • Health care law repeal: Why would it increase the deficit?: Health care reform, which the new Republican House leadership is pushing to repeal, includes cuts to government Medicare payments and increased taxes and fees.
    Why might that be the case? First off, it must be noted that Republicans think this is hooey. Getting rid of big government programs doesn’t cost money, they say. Five ways Republicans will change the House
    “I do not believe that repealing the job-killing health care law will increase the deficit,” said House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio on Thursday…. – CS Monitor, 1-7-11
  • U.S. Republican bid to scrap healthcare hits snag: Republican efforts to scrap President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform took a hit on Thursday when budget analysts said repeal would add billions of dollars to the federal budget deficit. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated overturning the reform signed by Obama last year would add about $230 billion to the deficit by 2021 and result in 32 million fewer people having health insurance. That was a blow to Republican campaign promises to slash the federal budget deficit…. – Reuters, 1-7-11
  • Democrats’ defection from Pelosi is historic: How divided are Democrats’ right now? With 19 Democrats withholding support from Nancy Pelosi for House speaker on Wednesday, it represented the largest defection from a party’s speaker nominee in nearly a century. The resistance in the Democratic Party to back now-former Speaker Pelosi (D-Calif.) in the ceremonial first vote of the 112th Congress registered higher than at any point since 1913, according to data from the Congressional Research Service. That year, which happens to be the last year for which records are available, featured 23 votes for Republicans other than that party’s speaker nominee. Of the 19 Democrats who didn’t support Pelosi on Wednesday, 18 voted for other Democrats and one voted “present.”… – WaPo, 1-6-11
  • Notable passages of Constitution left out of reading in the House: And on the second day of Republican rule, the House reads the Constitution. Volunteers gave voice to the seven articles and 27 amendments that make up the nation’s governing document on Thursday. Notable passages left out: (Text taken from the National Archives’ official Constitution site)…. – WaPo, 1-6-11
  • Historic Constitution reading comes with glitches: In a symbolic move by a new Republican majority, the people who make our laws read the document that is the foundation for our laws in its entirety in Congress. But like lawmaking itself, Thursday’s unprecedented reading of the U.S. Constitution by members of the House didn’t come without glitches — including some involving Georgians. Shortly after new Republican House Speaker John Boehner read the preamble and ousted speaker Nancy Pelosi read its first section, members were called up one by one to read parts of the government’s most important document…. – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1-6-11
  • House cuts its own budget by 5 percent: The Republican-controlled House voted Thursday to trim members’ office budgets by $35 million, a symbolic down payment on a promise to bring the budget deficit under control. That 5 percent cut is enough to keep the government running for about five minutes. With the bipartisan 410-13 vote, lawmakers said they were leading by example as they work to fulfill a promise to return most domestic accounts to the levels in effect before President Barack Obama took office…. – AP, 1-6-11
  • Analysis: Budget antics more theater than reality show: Hours after taking control of the House of Representatives, Republican lawmakers were already rolling back pledges to slash spending — a rollback that may actually be the best thing they can do for the economy. One giant-but-remote risk remains that the newly empowered Republicans, channeling voter angst over debt, will make good on threats to block the Treasury Department from issuing any more bonds once it hits a debt ceiling this spring.
    Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Thursday if Congress refused to lift the $14.3 trillion debt limit, it would be akin to default and “catastrophic” for the economy. But so far, in their first few hours of power, Republicans have eased concerns that their attempts to shrink the government — and a $1.3 trillion deficit — will inadvertently derail a still-vulnerable economic recovery….n- Reuters, 1-6-11
  • Geithner urges Congress to raise debt limit: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner warned congressional leaders Thursday that the government could reach its borrowing limit by spring and failure to raise it could affect millions of American jobs. Geithner’s warning is directed chiefly at Republicans, who are vowing to block an increase in the debt limit and use the fight to restrain government spending.
    House Speaker John Boehner said spending cuts and reforming a broken budget process must come first. Those are the top priorities for the new Republican majority in the House. “While America cannot default on its debt, we also cannot continue to borrow recklessly, dig ourselves deeper into this hole and mortgage the future of our children and grandchildren,” Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said in a statement…. – AP, 1-6-11

ELECTIONS 2012….

  • Chicago mayoral candidates open campaign offices: The race for Chicago’s next mayor is heating up across the city. Two candidates vying to replace retiring Mayor Richard Daley are opening more campaign offices this weekend. Former Chicago School Board president Gery Chico opened five field offices on Saturday. His campaign’s headquarters are downtown. The new locations include offices in the city’s heavily Latino Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods. City Clerk Miguel del Valle opened an office on the city’s South Side on Saturday. His campaign’s headquarters are on the city’s West Side…. – Chicago Tribune, 1-9-11
  • Republican Pawlenty hints at 2012 presidential run: U.S. Republican Tim Pawlenty denounces “runaway spending” in Washington and blames the Obama administration for a mountain of debt in a new book that lays out his case for possibly running for president in 2012. Pawlenty’s “Courage to Stand” hits bookstores next week and comes as he gets closer to deciding whether to launch a bid for the Republican presidential nomination and the right to battle Democratic President Barack Obama in 2012.
    Pawlenty, just ending eight years as Minnesota governor, said some Republicans shared the blame for violating their conservative principles of fiscal responsibility. “But the fact is, the current administration, through the smoke-and-mirror effect of bailouts and big-government spending, has taken America’s future and leveraged it into a mountain of debt so large it’s nearly impossible for anyone to wrap their heads around,” he writes…. – Reuters, 1-7-11
  • Judge: Rahm Emanuel remains on Feb. 22 Chicago mayoral ballot: Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel meets the residency requirement to run for mayor of Chicago and will remain on the Feb. 22 ballot, a Cook County judge ruled Tuesday. In a ruling issued early Tuesday afternoon, Cook County Circuit Judge Mark Ballard upheld an earlier ruling by the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners that Emanuel — despite having lived in Washington, D.C. for the past two years — is eligible to run. Emanuel doesn’t need to prove he had a “place to sleep” in Chicago to prove he “resided” here, Ballard wrote. Burt Odelson, the attorney who went to court seeking to oust Emanuel from the ballot, argued that because Emanuel rented his house out to Rob and Lori Halpin — unlike President Obama and senior advisor David Axelrod — he had no place to sleep in the city. Therefore, he fails to meet a state requirement that candidates for mayor “reside” in the city for a year prior to Election Day, Odelson said. Odelson even quoted Obama, who on his first trip back to Chicago said, “It’s good to be back home and to be able to sleep in my own bed.” “Mr. Emanuel couldn’t say that because Mr. Halpin was sleeping in his bed,” Odelson said. Chicago Sun-Times, 1-4-11
  • Obama to face challenge from his ambassador to China?: When President Obama tapped Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman in 2009 to be his ambassador to China, many of us figured that was the end of whatever plans Huntsman might have to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. We may have figured too soon. Huntsman, who recently bought a house in Washington, made comments to Newsweek magazine that suggest the political bug hasn’t been suppressed by his diplomatic work in Beijing.
    “You know, I’m really focused on what we’re doing in our current position,” Huntsman told Newsweek. “But we won’t do this forever, and I think we may have one final run left in our bones.”… – USA Today, 1-3-11
  • Gentry Collins: Critic of Steele Drops Bid to Replace Him: Gentry Collins, a former political director of the Republican National Committee who resigned in November after delivering a scathing condemnation of the party’s fund-raising practices, said Sunday that he was withdrawing his candidacy to succeed Michael Steele as chairman of the Republican Party.
    Mr. Collins announced his decision on Sunday evening in an e-mail to members of the Republican National Committee. He did not offer an endorsement of any of the five remaining candidates, who are scheduled to appear at a debate on Monday afternoon in Washington.
    “It is after much consideration and thought that I announce my withdrawal from the race for chairman of the R.N.C.,” Mr. Collins said in a statement. “I believe that there are several qualified candidates in the race for chairman, each of whom would do a fine job leading the committee through the 2012 election cycle.”…. – NYT, 1-2-11
  • No challenge to Obama in 2012 race: party leader: US President Barack Obama is unlikely to face a serious challenge in the 2012 White House race from within his party, the Democratic Party leader said Sunday. Obama, who became the first black president of the United States after defeating Republican rival John McCain in the November 2008 presidential election, is expected to run for a second term in office next year.
    “I think it’s very unlikely that the president is going to face any kind of a serious primary challenge within the Democratic Party,” party leader Tim Kaine said on CNN.
    “You can always get a fringe candidate or somebody to run. So, you know, could somebody throw in their name? Yes, it’s possible. But I think the likelihood of any serious challenge to the president is virtually nil.”… – AFP, 1-2-11
  • African-American leaders unite around Carol Moseley Braun for mayor ‘Ain’t no stopping us now,’ says former rival, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis: African-American political leaders rallied around former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun on Saturday as a unity candidate best qualified to be Chicago mayor, capping a holiday week of private negotiations that left her the only major black politician in the campaign. Flanked by prominent black elected officials who dropped out and endorsed her bid, Braun told a crowd at the weekly Rainbow/PUSH Coalition meeting on the South Side that she has “the most credentials and the most qualifications and experience of all of the candidates running” to replace retiring Mayor Richard Daley.
    “And so they just chose the most qualified candidate for the job,” said Braun, who made history as the nation’s first black female senator but dropped out of elected politics after losing her re-election bid in 1998…. – Chicago Tribune, 1-1-11

QUOTES

The President records the Weekly Address

hite House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 1/7/11

  • Statement by the President on Sudan: I am extremely pleased that polling has started for the Southern Sudan Referendum, and congratulate the people of Southern Sudan who are determining their own destiny. This is an historic step in the years-long process to fully implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the civil war between north and south. The international community is united and determined to ensure that all parties in Sudan live up to their obligations. We know that there are those who may try to disrupt the voting. Voters must be allowed access to polling stations, and must be able to cast their ballots free from intimidation and coercion. All sides should refrain from inflammatory rhetoric or provocative actions that could raise tensions or prevent voters from expressing their will. Violence in the Abyei region should cease. And while a successful vote will be cause for celebration, an enormous amount of work remains to ensure the people of Sudan can live with security and dignity. The world will be watching in the coming days, and the United States will remain fully committed to helping the parties solve critical post-referendum issues regardless of the outcome of the vote. – WH, 1-9-11
  • Presidential Proclamation–Honoring the Victims of the Tragedy in Tucson, Arizona: As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on Saturday, January 8, 2011, in Tucson, Arizona, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half- staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, January 14, 2011. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
    IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
    ninth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth. – WH, 1-9-11
  • Gabrielle Giffords shooting stirs outpouring of concern and support: Leaders react to the shooting of the Arizona congresswoman. Obama: ‘We are going to get to the bottom of this, and we’re going to get through this.’…. – LAT, 1-8-11
  • President Obama: The President Speaks on the Shootings in Tucson: “We Are Going to Get to the Bottom of This, and We’re Going to Get Through This”: As many of you are aware, earlier today a number of people were shot in Tucson, Arizona, including several who were meeting at a supermarket with their congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords. We are still assembling all the facts, but we know that Representative Giffords was one of the victims. She is currently at a hospital in the area, and she is battling for her life.
    We also know that at least five people lost their lives in this tragedy. Among them were a federal judge, John Roll, who has served America’s legal system for almost 40 years; and a young girl who was barely nine years old.
    I’ve spoken to Arizona governor Jan Brewer and offered the full resources of the federal government. A suspect is currently in custody, but we don’t yet know what provoked this unspeakable act. A comprehensive investigation is currently underway, and at my direction, Director Bob Mueller is en route to Arizona to help coordinate these efforts. I’ve also spoken to the Democratic and Republican leaders in the House.
    Gabby Giffords was a friend of mine. She is not only an extraordinary public servant, but she is also somebody who is warm and caring. She is well liked by her colleagues and well liked by her constituents. Her husband, Mark Kelly, is a Navy captain and one of America’s valiant astronauts.
    It’s not surprising that today Gabby was doing what she always does — listening to the hopes and concerns of her neighbors. That is the essence of what our democracy is all about. That is why this is more than a tragedy for those involved. It is a tragedy for Arizona and a tragedy for our entire country.
    What Americans do at times of tragedy is to come together and support each other. So at this time I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping all the victims and their families, including Gabby, in our thoughts and prayers. Those who have been injured, we are rooting for them. And I know Gabby is as tough as they come, and I am hopeful that she’s going to pull through.
    Obviously our hearts go out to the family members of those who have been slain. We are going to get to the bottom of this, and we’re going to get through this. But in the meantime, I think all of us need to make sure that we’re offering our thoughts and prayers to those concerned. WH, 1-8-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Sarah Palin, On the tragedy in Arizona: My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s tragic shooting in Arizona. On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice. –
  • Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz): “I am horrified by the violent attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and many other innocent people by a wicked person who has no sense of justice or compassion. I pray for Gabby and the other victims, and for the repose of the souls of the dead and comfort for their families. I beg our loving Creator to spare the lives of those who are still alive, heal them in body and spirit, and return them to their loved ones.
    Whoever did this; whatever their reason, they are a disgrace to Arizona, this country and the human race, and they deserve and will receive the contempt of all decent people and the strongest punishment of the law. – McCain Senate, 1-8-11
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Touts Benefits of Tax Cut Package to Take Place in the New Year Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery The White House January 08, 2011:
    …This incentive is part of the economic package I signed into law last month – a package that also includes a payroll tax cut that will mean $1,000 more this year for a typical family. In fact, 155 million workers will see larger paychecks this month as a result of this tax cut.
    Twelve million families will benefit from a $1,000 child tax credit and an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit. Eight million students and families will continue to benefit from a $2,500 tuition tax credit to make college more affordable.
    And millions of entrepreneurs in big cities and small towns across the country will benefit not only from the business expensing plan I mentioned, but from additional tax cuts that will spur research and development.
    Independent experts have concluded that, taken together, this package of tax cuts will significantly accelerate the pace of our economic recovery, spurring additional jobs and growth.
    And that is our mission. That should be the focus, day in and day out, of our work in Washington in the coming months, as we wrestle with a challenging budget and long-term deficits. And I’m determined to work with everyone, Republicans and Democrats, to achieve that goal. What we can’t do is refight the battles of the past two years that distract us from the hard work of moving our economy forward. What we can’t do is engage in the kinds of symbolic battles that so often consume Washington while the rest of America waits for us to solve problems.
    The tax cuts and other progress we made in December were a much-needed departure from that pattern. Let’s build on that admirable example and do our part, here in Washington, so the doers, builders, and innovators in America can do their best in 2011 and beyond. – WH, 1-8-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Text Obama’s Remarks Introducing His New Chief of Staff: Following is a text of the remarks made on Thursday by President Obama and his newly selected chief of staff, William M. Daley, as released by the White House…. – NYT, 1-6-11
  • President Obama Announces Bill Daley as Chief of Staff: As part of that process, today I am proud to announce the appointment of an experienced public servant, a devoted patriot, my friend, fellow Chicagoan Bill Daley, to serve as my Chief of Staff. (Applause.)
    Few Americans can boast the breadth of experience that Bill brings to this job. He served as a member of President Clinton’s Cabinet as Commerce Secretary. He took on several other important duties over the years on behalf of our country. He’s led major corporations. He possesses a deep understanding of how jobs are created and how to grow our economy. And needless to say, Bill also has a smidgen of awareness of how our system of government and politics works. You might say it is a genetic trait. (Laughter.)
    But most of all, I know Bill to be somebody who cares deeply about this country, believes in its promise and considers no calling higher and more important than serving the American people. He will bring his tremendous experience, his strong values and forward-looking vision to this White House. I’m convinced that he’ll help us in our mission of growing our economy and moving America forward. And I very much look forward to working with Bill in the years to come…. – WH, 1-6-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Scalia: Women Don’t Have Constitutional Protection Against Discrimination: The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not protect against discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, according to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. In a newly published interview in the legal magazine California Lawyer, Scalia said that while the Constitution does not disallow the passage of legislation outlawing such discrimination, it doesn’t itself outlaw that behavior…. – Huff Post, 1-3-11
  • Tim Kaine, DNC chair: Obama won’t ‘play mother may I?’ with GOP: “What we saw at the end of the 2010 in that lame duck session was dramatic accomplishments, the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell, the approval of the START Treaty, tax compromise going forward with additional stimulus, all those were done with some Republican votes,” said Kaine. “So if there are going to be members of the Republican party who are willing to reach out and work as the president reaches toward them, we’ll see some strong accomplishments. We’re also going to see this president not being afraid to be the chief executive of the American public asked him to be. He’s not going to play “mother may I?” with the Republicans. He’s going to govern, but if the Republicans are willing to work as they did at the end of that lame duck session, I think we will see productive efforts in a number of ways. There will be disagreements, surely, that’s part of the process, but there are many more areas where we can continue to agree and move forward.” – NECN, 1-2-11
  • Sarah Palin ‘some months’ away from any decision to seek presidency: But former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says in an ABC interview she would be ‘in it to win it’ if she decides to enter the 2012 primary. Palin says polls showing she not may be the best Republican choice to beat Obama would not deter her. Sarah Palin says she’s still “some months” away from a decision about whether to seek the presidency in 2012, and that she won’t be deterred by polls showing that she may not be the Republican Party’s best candidate to beat President Obama.”We don’t need a fundamental transformation. We need a renewal and a restoration of what is good about America,” she “You know, other folks can jump in, and that kind of helps you get that lay of the land. But my decision won’t be made for some months still,” she said.
    “If I were to participate in that contested primary, I would be in it to win it,” she said.said. “That’s strong national defense. That’s free-market principles being allowed to be applied so that our private sector grows and prospers.”
    She accused Obama of “flip flopping” by embracing a compromise plan that would extend the George W. Bush-era tax rates. “He realized that, oh, yeah, the rich – 70% of the job creators are considered, I guess, the rich in this country — they will see an extension of the Bush tax cuts,” she said.
    “You can term it ‘compromise.’ I term it ‘flip-flop.’ I was thankful that he did, but it’s still not good enough.”
    In the last year Palin has limited her exposure to what she often derides as the “lamestream” media — traditional outlets like ABC — preferring to interact with the public through Facebook and Twitter, or in her capacity as a paid contributor to Fox News. Friday, she used Facebook to state her opposition to the new START treaty, another priority for Obama in the lame duck session of Congress.
    “Every word that I speak is scrutinized and ultimately, in some corners of the world, it gets mocked and ridiculed and spun into something that it is not,” she said. “There has been the temptation to kind of pull back a little bit and maybe not be as candid.” – LAT, 12-18-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • FRANK RICH: Let Obama’s Reagan Revolution Begin: …The present-day radicals donning Reagan drag, led by Sarah Palin, seem not to know, as Cannon writes, that their hero lurched “from excessive tax cuts to corrective tax increases disguised as tax reform” and “submitted eight unbalanced budgets to Congress in succession.” Reagan made no promise whatsoever of a balanced budget in the document that codified Reaganomics, his White House’s 281-page message to Congress in February 1981. The historian Gil Troy has calculated that spending on entitlement programs more than doubled on Reagan’s watch. America slid into debtor-nation status, and Americans “went from owing 16 cents for every dollar in national income in 1981” to owing 44 cents per dollar in 1988….
    At this point the speed of our own halting recovery is not in the president’s hands. The ability to remake his style of leadership still is. But that makeover can come only from him, not from old Clinton hands in a reshuffled West Wing. Without it, the miracle of his Christmas resurrection could be over by Easter. – NYT, 1-8-11
  • Obama’s Choice Of Daley Fits Mold For Embattled Presidents Bringing in an outside critic to run his operation might help change the narrative of the presidency: “He reflected the more moderate wing of the GOP that felt Reagan had gone too far in his budgetary policies that were busting the deficit,” Julian Zelizer, an expert on American political history and professor at Princeton University, wrote in an email. “In this case, the criticism [Baker had made of Reagan’s policies] was in some ways a positive for his later appointment as chief of staff since it signaled that Reagan had moderated his views by bringing in someone who held different perspectives into his inner circle.”
    “Clinton was turning to someone who was corporate, pragmatic, centrist—to signal his move to the center, and actually get there effectively,” says Gil Troy, an expert on the American presidency who teaches history at McGill University.
    “Daley is a Democratic centrist who believes that the center is where his party can thrive and win,” says Chester Pach, a history professor at Ohio University who has written histories of the Nixon, Reagan, and Lyndon Johnson presidencies. “It seems as if Obama has similar views. Maybe he’s come to that conclusion only since Nov. 2.” – Newsweek, 1-6-11
  • Gil Troy: Internal rivals could be Barack Obama’s downfall: While much of the discussion since U.S. President Barack Obama’s “shellacking” in the 2010 congressional midterm elections has focused on the Republican surge, Obama also should worry about his base. In the last 50 years, the only incumbent presidents who have lost their re-election bids first faced primary challenges for renomination. In short, Obama better worry about his own party before dealing with the Tea Party.
    Although in the age of modern communications the power of any incumbent is considerable, the American president’s powers are particularly formidable. By being both the head of state and head of government, in effect the king and the prime minister, the president can tap all kinds of non-partisan patriotic emotions while monopolizing the airwaves and using political muscle. During the Christmas season, for example, as the president hosts thousands of influential Americans in the White House, as he lights the national Christmas tree and calls for national unity, he serves as the high priest of America’s civic religion, transcending mundane partisan concerns.
    So it is difficult — and has always been wrenching — to fire a president. In the 20th century, only five incumbents lost re-election bids, and in the last half century, it occurred only three times. Each time it required a major crisis and a serious insurgency, whereby someone with purer ideological credentials from the president’s own party first weakened the incumbent before the general election….
    History is instructive not predictive. Still, it is hard to see how Obama could lose if the economy is booming and his party is united. And it is hard to see Obama winning if the economy remains depressed, Democrats are deeply divided, and Republicans find a candidate who is popular, credible and effective. – Toronto Star, 1-4-11

January 6, 2011: Obama Names Bill Daley his New Chief of Staff

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 Welcomes New White House Chief of Staff William DaleyPresident Barack Obama welcomes new White House Chief of Staff William Daley, left, during a statement in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 6, 2011. Pete Rouse, who served as interim Chief of Staff, is at right. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama chooses William Daley as chief of staff: President Barack Obama named veteran political manager William Daley to be his new chief of staff Thursday, selecting a centrist with Wall Street ties to help navigate a newly divided Congress and a looming re-election.
    “Few Americans can boast the breadth of experience that Bill brings to this job,” Obama told reporters in the East Room as Daley, 62, stood at his side.
    “But most of all, I know Bill to be somebody who cares deeply about this country, believes in its promise, and considers no calling higher and more important than serving the American people,” the president said.
    The appointment represented the most significant move in a far-reaching and ongoing staff shakeup that included the departure of Obama’s press secretary and several key deputies and economic advisers. It came the day after Republicans officially assumed control of the House and increased their numbers in the Senate…. – AP, 1-6-11
  • Business Background Defines Chief of Staff: He is a top executive at JPMorgan Chase, where he is paid as much as $5 million a year and supervises the Washington lobbying efforts for the nation’s second-largest bank. William M. Daley also serves on the board of directors at Boeing, the giant defense contractor, and Abbott Laboratories, the global drug company, which has billions of dollars at stake in the overhaul of the health care system. And now, Mr. Daley, a longtime Illinois political operative, will hold one of the most powerful jobs in Washington: chief of staff in the White House, where he will help decide who gets access to the Oval Office and what President Obama’s Capitol Hill agenda should be. The recruitment of Mr. Daley to Pennsylvania Avenue from the corporate board room is seen as a savvy step by some in Washington, who argue that Mr. Obama has long needed a White House confidant who has the ear of the business community and a record of bipartisanship that might help the president negotiate with Republicans on Capitol Hill…. – NYT, 1-6-11
  • In Daley, Obama gets change, not continuity President Obama has selected former Commerce Secretary William Daley as his new Chief of Staff: By all outward appearances, the appointment of William Daley on Thursday as White House chief of staff is a total inside job. In reality, it’s anything but, signaling another significant step in the post-election evolution of President Obama.
    The chain of events reads like this: Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley announces he will not run for reelection. Rahm Emanuel resigns as White House chief of staff to run for Daley’s job. Obama picks Daley’s younger brother, Bill, to succeed Emanuel. Neat and tidy. One Chicagoan for another. All in the family.
    In fact, in tapping Daley, Obama has begun to reach outside his comfort zone. Although he and Daley have known each other for years, they have not had a close relationship. Daley may have been an occasional resource for advice but hardly the kind of confidant that Obama’s other Chicago advisers – Emanuel, David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett – have been. Daley has had a far longer relationship with Vice President Biden than with the president.
    In a White House where most of the top jobs have been held by people who went through the fires of the election with Obama, Daley’s arrival can provide a circuit breaker to normal operations. All White Houses are insular, and Obama’s has been no exception. Although the president and Daley share a Chicago connection, Daley is clearly an outsider to Obama’s world and therefore someone who can see the presidency and the operation with fresh eyes…. – WaPo, 1-6-11

QUOTES

  • Text Obama’s Remarks Introducing His New Chief of Staff: Following is a text of the remarks made on Thursday by President Obama and his newly selected chief of staff, William M. Daley, as released by the White House…. – NYT, 1-6-11
  • President Obama Announces Bill Daley as Chief of Staff: As part of that process, today I am proud to announce the appointment of an experienced public servant, a devoted patriot, my friend, fellow Chicagoan Bill Daley, to serve as my Chief of Staff. (Applause.)
    Few Americans can boast the breadth of experience that Bill brings to this job. He served as a member of President Clinton’s Cabinet as Commerce Secretary. He took on several other important duties over the years on behalf of our country. He’s led major corporations. He possesses a deep understanding of how jobs are created and how to grow our economy. And needless to say, Bill also has a smidgen of awareness of how our system of government and politics works. You might say it is a genetic trait. (Laughter.)
    But most of all, I know Bill to be somebody who cares deeply about this country, believes in its promise and considers no calling higher and more important than serving the American people. He will bring his tremendous experience, his strong values and forward-looking vision to this White House. I’m convinced that he’ll help us in our mission of growing our economy and moving America forward. And I very much look forward to working with Bill in the years to come…. – WH, 1-6-11TranscriptMp4Mp3

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Obama’s Choice Of Daley Fits Mold For Embattled Presidents Bringing in an outside critic to run his operation might help change the narrative of the presidency: “He reflected the more moderate wing of the GOP that felt Reagan had gone too far in his budgetary policies that were busting the deficit,” Julian Zelizer, an expert on American political history and professor at Princeton University, wrote in an email. “In this case, the criticism [Baker had made of Reagan’s policies] was in some ways a positive for his later appointment as chief of staff since it signaled that Reagan had moderated his views by bringing in someone who held different perspectives into his inner circle.”
    “Clinton was turning to someone who was corporate, pragmatic, centrist—to signal his move to the center, and actually get there effectively,” says Gil Troy, an expert on the American presidency who teaches history at McGill University.
    “Daley is a Democratic centrist who believes that the center is where his party can thrive and win,” says Chester Pach, a history professor at Ohio University who has written histories of the Nixon, Reagan, and Lyndon Johnson presidencies. “It seems as if Obama has similar views. Maybe he’s come to that conclusion only since Nov. 2.” – Newsweek, 1-6-11
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