Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown Recap July 18-24, 2011: 2 Plans, 8 Days No Debt Deal in Sight — Will the US Default on August 2, 2011?

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.

THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS: JULY 18-24, 2011

  • Factbox: How the Obama/Boehner debt talks unraveled: President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner had agreed on the rough outlines of a far-reaching budget deal that would allow the United States to avert an imminent default before Boehner broke off talks on Friday.
    Here is a summary of what the two sides had agreed upon, where they had differed, and how things fell apart… – Reuters, 7-24-11
  • Timeline: How the debt talks spiraled into crisis: With financial markets on edge, White House officials and Republican leaders scrambled to reassure them that the United States will avert default and lift its $14.3 trillion borrowing limit before August 2. Following is a timeline of the U.S. debt debate…. – Reuters, 7-24-11
  • Debt Ceiling for Dummies: Why Compromise Is so NecessaryHuff Post, 7-24-11
  • SCENARIOS-Options for raising the U.S. debt limit: Democrats and Republicans in Congress, unable to compromise on how to cut budget deficits and raise U.S. borrowing authority, are now working on their own, competing bills. With nine days’ left until the United States runs out of money to pay all its bills after Aug. 2, the two parties were rushing to get their respective bills moving through Congress this week.
    Here are some scenarios for raising the debt limit by the early August deadline to avoid a potentially crippling government default:
    AN ALL SPENDING CUTS, NO REVENUES PLAN…
    A SHORT-TERM DEBT LIMIT INCREASE…
    BLEND THE TWO IDEAS?…
    MCCONNELL “FALLBACK” PLAN…
    TALKS RESUME…
    OBAMA INVOKES THE CONSTITUTION… – Reuters, 7-24-11
  • Timeline: Debt debate, 7-11-11: President Barack Obama and top lawmakers will meet again Monday in search of a deal on slashing the U.S. budget deficit and raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling before the United States defaults.
    Obama wants to strike a deal well before August 2, when the Treasury Department says it will no longer be able to honor its obligations and issue new bonds without breaching the limit that Congress set on how much the United States can borrow.
    Republican and Democratic lawmakers say any increase must include measures to ensure the country’s debt remains at a sustainable level. The debt-reduction debate is a sharp shift for Washington, which less than a year ago was focused on additional deficit spending to lower the unemployment rate.
    Following is a timeline of the debate…. – Reuters, 7-11-11
  • Factbox: What’s on the table in debt talks: President Barack Obama and congressional leaders resume their White House talks on Monday to see if they have the makings of a deal to trim budget deficits and avert a looming default.
    The Treasury Department has warned it will run out of money to cover the country’s bills if Congress does not raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by August 2.
    Although Democrats and Republicans agree on the need for trillions of dollars in budget savings, they remain sharply divided about how to get there.
    Following is a summary of the debate… – Reuters, 7-11-11

JULY 25, 2011: NO DEAL YET — BOEHNER & REID EACH DEVISING PLANS — BOEHNER WILL REVEAL UNLIATERAL PLAN IN THE PM FOR WEDNESDAY VOTE

  • Two Deals, No Time: It’s crunch time. Congressional leaders have at most two days to days to reach an agreement to raise the debt limit, and lawmakers have made little progress on preventing the unthinkable.
    On Sunday talks “broke down,” according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), a particularly troubling development at a point where every hour counts. While August 2nd may be the deadline, a deal must be reached no less than 5 days sooner to guarantee passage in time.
    The House of Representatives requires that bill be made available online for three calendar days before a vote. In the Senate, rules require that a cloture motion to end debate “ripen” for over a day, and even then 30 hours of debate are required.
    Democratic and Republican legislators are now set out to go it alone, with competing plans to cut the deficit and raise the debt limit, beginning a high-stakes game of chicken to see which side blinks first.
    Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) is expected to lay out a two-stage deficit reduction and debt limit package to GOP lawmakers at 2 p.m. today, and release make it available publicly this afternoon to allow for a Wednesday vote.
    The Republican plan would raise the debt limit in two tranches, requiring a second vote early next year after a deficit reduction commission exacts steep spending cuts…. – Business Insider, 7-25-11
  • Three GOP leaders with three ideas on the debt: For Republicans, the debt talks have shown three leaders calling three different plays, each trying to push and pull congressional Republicans in his direction. So far, all three have failed to find a plan that all of them can support.
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared on June 19 that there wasn’t enough time to approve any of the plans to raise the government’s debt ceiling by the Aug. 2 deadline. He proposed a short-term hike to buy more time.
    Two days later, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) declared short-term deals a non-starter and said “there are no votes” for any grand bargain including higher tax revenue.
    The next night, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) snuck into a secret meeting with President Obama to launch an effort for a “big deal” including hundreds of billions of dollars in new revenue.
    McConnell, Boehner and Cantor say they are on the same side and never publicly criticize one another. But for the past five weeks, each has appeared to play to different audiences inside the Grand Old Party, with different motivations, according to aides and Republican lawmakers…. – WaPo, 7-25-11

JULY 24, 2011: SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER PROMISES DEBT CEILING PLAN BY ENDS OF DAY — FORGES AHEAD ON TWO STAGE PROCESS PLAN

Boehner tells House GOP he will press ahead with his own plan for reducing the deficit: Speaker John Boehner said in a conference call with House Republicans that he would continue to pursue a two-stage strategy that would give the Treasury only about $1 trillion in additional borrowing authority, forcing another debt-limit battle early next year.
Hours before Asian financial markets were set to open Sunday evening, House and Senate leaders are now threatening to pursue two different approaches to averting a government default.

“There will be a two-stage process; it’s just not physically possible to do all of this in one step. I know the president is worried about his next election. But my God, shouldn’t he be worried about the country? We have got a budget deficit of $1.5 trillion. We’re borrowing 42 cents on every dollar we spend, we have $14.5 trillion national debt. It is time to get serious about stopping the spending here in Washington, D.C.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner on Fox News

Obama cannot raise debt ceiling on his own: Timothy Geithner on the ABC program “This Week”: “It is not a workable option. This is not a workable option to limit the damage to the American people that would come from Congress not acting to raise the — to avoid a default crisis.”

“If you’re the leader of the free world, would you please come to microphone and quit hiding in the basement about your proposals, and come on up and address the American people? Is he chicken?
Where’s the president of the United States on the most pressing financial challenges of our country on entitlement reform? Where is his specific Medicaid reform proposal? Where is his specific Medicare reform proposal? Where is his Social Security reform proposal?
The answer is he doesn’t have one. You can’t find him publicly talking about that. He’s ducking, he’s bobbing, he’s weaving. He’s not leading, and that’s not the kind of president we need, and that’s why he needs to be removed from office.” — GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“Now the President is outraged because the GOP House leadership called his bluff and ended discussions with him because they deemed him an obstruction to any real solution to the debt crisis. He has been deemed a lame duck president. And he is angry now because he is being treated as such.
His foreign policy strategy has been described as “leading from behind.” Well, that’s his domestic policy strategy as well. Why should he be surprised that he’s been left behind in the negotiations when he’s been leading from behind on this debt crisis? Thank you, GOP House leaders. Please don’t get wobbly on us now.” 2012 can’t come soon enough. — Sarah Palin on her Facebook Page

  • Factbox: How the Obama/Boehner debt talks unraveled: President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner had agreed on the rough outlines of a far-reaching budget deal that would allow the United States to avert an imminent default before Boehner broke off talks on Friday.
    Here is a summary of what the two sides had agreed upon, where they had differed, and how things fell apart… – Reuters, 7-24-11
  • No deal yet on debt crisis. How will Asian markets and Wall Street react?: Washington’s self-imposed deadline to do something credible on the debt crisis before the Asian financial markets opened on Sunday passed in silence. “There could be extreme turmoil in markets,” says one expert…. – CS Monitor, 7-24-11
  • Boehner, Reid seek own debt proposals: With just eight days left to raise the nation’s $14.2 trillion debt ceiling, President Obama and Republican congressional leaders failed Sunday to reach a bipartisan deal, leaving both sides to devise their own solutions.
    Democratic and Republican congressional leaders were working on separate plans to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion and avoid default. Both sides said they believed a compromise was still possible.
    Obama met for 66 minutes Sunday afternoon with Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the two Democratic congressional leaders, but they emerged with no plan or public comment….
    Without an agreement, Reid and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, are working on two, still hazily defined, proposals… – USA Today, 7-24-11
  • Boehner Moving Ahead With Short-Term Debt Plan: House Speaker John Boehner plans to press ahead with a shorter-term increase in the U.S. debt limit than President Barack Obama has requested, he told lawmakers today, defying a veto threat and signaling continued stalemate in the U.S. Congress as time runs short for a deal.
    Boehner told rank-and-file Republicans during a conference call this afternoon that they needed to pull together as a team to block Obama, who has asked for a $2.4 trillion borrowing boost in the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, from obtaining the money all at once, without any guarantees of spending cuts. His remarks were described on condition of anonymity by a person familiar with the discussion.
    The speaker said that no one is willing to default on the full faith and credit of the U.S., according to the person.
    The comments indicated that Boehner plans to force action on his plan to provide only a temporary borrowing boost of about $1 trillion accompanied by spending cuts of at least as much, tying the remainder of the debt-ceiling increase Obama has requested to further cuts in the future. The White House says Obama would veto such a measure…. – Bloomberg, 7-24-11
  • House GOP and Senate Democrats each prepare new debt plans: With world financial markets watching nervously, top Democrats and Republicans in Congress each scrambled Sunday to put together new proposals to avert a looming government debt default and a potential global financial crisis.
    Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada drafted a new plan that would allow a multi-year increase in the nation’s debt ceiling, offset by an equal or greater amount of spending cuts spread over the coming decade. Significantly, it would not include tax increases.
    House Speaker John Boehner planned to outline a new blueprint on Monday amid warnings from their leader that they must find a solution that can get through the Democratic Senate.
    They all failed to meet their own deadline for a bipartisan agreement before markets opened in Asia on Sunday evening U.S. time, the first markets to open since talks broke down at the White House Friday evening.
    Financial markets appeared to be watching cautiously, but initial trading made it clear that they were unshaken as yet.
    Market jitters are expected to rise each day from now on that the United States government fails to raise its $14.3 trillion legal limit for borrowing before its Aug. 2 deadline. If the ceiling isn’t lifted by then, that could force the government to stop paying paychecks or benefit checks — or to default for the first time in history by failing to pay bond holders debt already owed. That could panic financial markets and kick the weak U.S. economy back into recession…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 7-24-11
  • Obama, Congress fail to break debt deadlock: Lawmakers failed to achieve a budget breakthrough and instead worked on rival plans Sunday in a impasse that heightened prospects for a catastrophic debt fault.
    With time running out, Republican and Democratic lawmakers split into opposite camps and held talks among themselves. There were no signs of a deal emerging to head off a default in nine days that could trigger global economic calamity and downgrade America’s Triple-A credit rating.
    Lawmakers missed a self-imposed deadline of producing a deficit-reduction deal by the time Asian markets opened on Sunday, but planned to outline a proposal Monday. A deficit deal is needed to permit a vote to increase the $14.3 trillion U.S. debt ceiling by August 2.
    President Barack Obama heard details of a Senate Democratic plan that would rely on spending cuts, not new tax revenue, which would violate one of his key demands…. – Reuters, 7-24-11
  • No deal on debt ceiling: The day started with congressional leaders trying to resolve the dangerous impasse over the debt ceiling — and calm any anxiety markets may have when they reopened Monday.
    It ended in a continuing impasse, with each party sketching out their own plans and showing little common ground.
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he is preparing a proposal to raise the ceiling through the end of 2012 and cut $2.7 trillion in debt. The measure would not call for any tax revenue increases.
    On the other side, House Speaker John Boehner told GOP lawmakers Sunday in a conference call that he wants a deal that sticks to the principles of the Cut, Cap and Balance bill that the House passed and Senate rejected last week, sources familiar with the call told CNN.
    A key sticking point remains how much to raise the debt ceiling: Democrats want it raised enough so the issue won’t come up again until after the November 2012 election. Boehner has said that is impossible; he wants it raised in two, smaller increments.
    It remains to be seen if the two sides can resolve their conflicts soon…. – CNN Money, 7-24-11
  • ‘World News’ Political Insights: Washington Dysfunction Hits New Low: The only problem with talk of compromise is that it doesn’t have a natural constituency. Until and unless, of course, it has a huge one.
    The stand-off on debt negotiations declared late Friday begins to have real repercussions this week, as a new political player with even crasser motivations than Democrats or Republicans emerges: financial markets.
    The market reaction injects an unpredictable element into a drama that’s actually been quite predictable. Neither side is willing to move off of core principles because both sides are convinced that they’re right and that the public backs them up on it.
    Three consecutive “change” elections — two favoring Democrats, one Republicans — has created divided government. It’s also exacerbated the divide in perceptions around public sentiment, making any middle ground even more elusive.
    It isn’t that politicians don’t know that voters are angry. It’s that both sides are convinced that they’re only angry with the other side…. – ABC News, 7-24-11
  • Boehner Said to Tell Republicans No Deal Yet as Obama to Meet Pelosi, Reid: House Speaker John Boehner is telling rank-and-file Republicans that there’s no agreement on a plan for raising the debt ceiling before a default threatened for Aug. 2, a sign of continuing stalemate in the U.S. Congress as time runs short for a deal.
    A Republican congressional official said Boehner, speaking by conference call to lawmakers, is reporting that discussions are continuing on such a plan.
    Boehner told his members yesterday that he wanted to send markets a positive sign by the time Asian markets began opening this afternoon that Congress would strike a deal to break the impasse over raising the $14.3 trillion borrowing limit.
    With no evidence that such compromise has been reached, President Barack Obama will meet at 6 p.m. at the White House with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi…. – Bloomberg, 7-24-11
  • Boehner presses ahead with unilateral debt plan: Hours before Asian financial markets were set to open Sunday evening, talks over the federal debt limit were at a standstill, and House and Senate leaders were threatening to pursue two different approaches to averting a government default in a messy legislative showdown.
    In a conference call with House Republicans, Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said he would press ahead with a two-stage strategy that would give the Treasury only about $1 trillion in additional borrowing authority, forcing another debt-limit battle early next year with the political parties in the heat of the 2012 presidential campaign.
    “If we stick together, we can win this for the American people,” Boehner told his troops, participants said.
    Boehner promoted that strategy on Fox News Sunday, telling host Chris Wallace that “there’s going to be a two-stage process. It’s not physically possible to do all of this in one step.” In a barbed aside, he added: “I know the president’s worried about his next election. But my God, shouldn’t we be worried about the country?”… – WaPo, 7-24-11
  • Boehner tells Republicans to stay united on debt deal: House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Sunday told his fellow Republicans that “there is a path” to cut U.S. spending and raise the debt ceiling, but it will require his party to accept sacrifices, according to two sources who heard his message.
    On a conference call, Boehner said he does not think it is possible to negotiate a large spending-cut deal directly with the White House, the sources said.
    He told Republicans he is drafting legislation that reflects the principles of a strict spending-cut bill that failed in the Democratic-controlled Senate last week, the sources said. – Reuters, 7-24-11
  • Reid Working on Backup Plan to Lift Ceiling, Cut Spending: Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid is working on a backup plan to increase the debt ceiling by $2.5 trillion and cut spending by the same amount in the event there is no further progress in talks between Democratic and Republican congressional leaders, a Senate Democratic aide said Sunday.
    The plan would have no new tax increases, the aide said. The $2.5 trillion increase in the debt limit would be enough to support federal spending through 2012, avoiding the need to revisit the issue next year.
    The Senate Democratic leader could brief some members of his caucus on the plan later Sunday evening, the aide said. More details of what would constitute the spending reductions would not be available until after that briefing occurred…. – WSJ, 7-24-11
  • John Boehner, GOP prepared to ‘move on their own’ to unveil debt ceiling plan Sunday: House Speaker John Boehner said Sunday he’s prepared to go it alone and unveil a plan to raise the nation’s debt ceiling timed to calm the opening of the Asian markets.
    “I would prefer to have a bipartisan approach to solve this problem. If that’s not possible, I and my Republican colleagues in the House are prepared to move on their own…today,” Boehner told Fox News Sunday.
    The move comes amid a weekend of emergency meetings on Capitol Hill as lawmakers try to cut a path out of deadlock to calm investors before the Asian markets open later this afternoon.
    Boehner’s latest proposal is a two-phase plan that would raise the debt ceiling about $1 trillion through 2011 and be offset by an equal amount of savings.
    A second debt boost would be pegged to upwards of $3 trillion more in savings in 2012, with a bipartisan committee charged with coming up with a mix of spending cuts, revamped programs and tax overhauls. Such a plan – which would mean another debt debate in the middle of the 2012 election season – was a non-starter with Democrats and the administration…. – NY Daily News, 7-24-11
  • Developments in U.S. debt talks: U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner tells Fox News Sunday that House Republicans are prepared to push through their own deficit reduction package if congressional leaders fail to produce a bipartisan plan by Sunday afternoon. That would be just hours before financial markets open in Asia. With time running out, the Democratic-led Senate might have no choice but to accept what the Republican-led House passes this week.
    White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” that any short-term deal to raise the debt limit would harm the economy because financial markets and business leaders would not have the certainty they need to make investment decisions. Democrats want a debt limit extension through the 2012 presidential election year…. – Reuters, 7-24-11
  • Boehner Writes a House Plan in Case Debt Deal Stalls: Speaker John A. Boehner said Sunday that the House would prepare its own deficit reduction package if Congress and the White House failed to agree on a bipartisan plan by Sunday afternoon, as lawmakers forged ahead in an increasingly grim standoff over whether to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.
    Leaders of both parties continued to negotiate over the telephone, racing toward the opening of the Asian markets, which happens later on Sunday. That opening is widely feared to be the first real test of tangible financial market fallout from the impasse over the debt limit. It was far from clear that such a deal would or could be reached by that hour…. – NYT, 7-24-11
  • Boehner asks GOP lawmakers to embrace new plan: House Speaker John Boehner implored fellow House Republicans Sunday to get behind a measure to resolve the debt crisis that can pass both the House and Senate.
    In a conference call, Boehner told the House Republicans that some of them will have to make sacrifices as part of the deal. A person familiar with Boehner’s remarks said the speaker told lawmakers that both the House and Senate are ready to embrace significant spending reductions.
    Boehner, however, said he does not believe President Barack Obama will ever embrace a big package that does not include tax increases…. – AP, 7-24-11
  • US Republicans may present a proposal to Obama tonight: US Republicans may present a proposal to Obama tonight The impasse on Capitol Hill over how to reduce the United States´ budget deficit continues this weekend. Although it would seem that some progress has been made there is still, at least, and in the best of cases, some posturing coming from both sides and, at worst, the risk of miscalculations on either part.
    Thus, the House speaker, John Boehner, has told Republican lawmakers in a conference call that they need to provide a positive signal on a plan to avert default before Asian markets open, Republican congressional aides have said, according to Bloomberg News…. – Share Cast, 7-24-11
  • As deadline looms, Congress scrambles for debt limit deal: Despite ongoing efforts by congressional leaders to hammer out a deal on Sunday for raising the debt ceiling, all indications suggest that the two parties remain far apart on a viable bipartisan agreement just hours before the opening of the Asian financial markets.
    House Speaker John Boehner, who abandoned debt negotiations with the president on Friday, says he is working on the framework for a new deficit reduction proposal, which he hopes to unveil on Sunday. But his proposal is expected to include a two-part plan, with two debt limit increases – and Democrats have repeatedly vowed to fight a short-term package.
    Nevertheless, Boehner pledged on Sunday to move forward with a his proposal regardless of Democratic opposition. “The preferable path would be a bipartisan plan that involves all the leaders, but it is too early to decide whether that’s possible,” he said in an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.” “If that’s not possible, I and my Republican colleagues in the House are prepared to move on our own.”
    Boehner’s $3-4 trillion proposal is expected to include a short-term increase in the debt limit paired with cuts of equal or greater size, along with an agreement to increase the limit again later on – on that occasion paired with spending reforms. Entitlements and mandatory spending would be targeted for reforms and savings, which would be identified either by a commission or by congressional committees…. – BS News, 7-24-11
  • Geithner Calls Two-Stage Rise of Debt Ceiling ‘Nonstarter’: U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the latest “two-stage” proposal being considered by Republicans to lift the federal debt ceiling is a non-starter because it can’t garner enough Democratic support to pass Congress.
    Mr. Geithner, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said the GOP idea would be just a short-term solution to the current budget impasse and that President Barack Obama’s “preference, still” is to reach a bigger agreement to reduce the budget deficit and raise the government’s $14.29 trillion borrowing limit through 2012.
    The president is still in talks with House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) over how to lift the debt cap in time to avoid a government default, Mr. Geithner said.
    The latest Republican proposal would raise the debt limit in two phases, with a smaller increase of about $1 trillion immediately, which would carry the government through the end of this year, matched by a similar amount of spending cuts. The second increase would depend on a deficit-reduction commission’s recommendations.
    The commission would recommend a set of changes to safety-net programs and a tax overhaul in hopes of closing the deficit by as much as another $3 trillion. Once that package was adopted, the debt ceiling would be raised again in January 2012…. – WSJ, 7-24-11
  • The 14th Amendment, the Debt Ceiling and a Way Out: A few days ago, former President Bill Clinton identified a constitutional escape hatch should President Obama and Congress fail to come to terms on a deficit reduction plan before the government hits its borrowing ceiling. He pointed to an obscure provision in the 14th Amendment, saying he would unilaterally invoke it “without hesitation” to raise the debt ceiling “and force the courts to stop me.”
    On Friday, Mr. Obama rejected the idea, though not in categorical terms. “I have talked to my lawyers,” Mr. Obama said. “They are not persuaded that that is a winning argument.”
    Another element of uncertainty and possible court battles do not seem to appeal to the White House, and it is, in any event, not clear that the nation’s creditors would continue to lend it money were the president to take unilateral action. The provision in question, Section 4 of the amendment, was meant to ensure the payment of Union debts after the Civil War and to disavow Confederate ones. But it was written in broader terms.
    “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payments of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion,” the critical sentence says, “shall not be questioned.”
    The Supreme Court has said in passing that those words have outlived the historical moment that gave rise to them….. – NYT, 7-24-11
  • US House Speaker Boehner: last offer still on table: “The preferable path would be a bipartisan plan that involves all the leaders, but it is too early to decide whether that’s possible,” Boehner said on Fox News Sunday. “If that’s not possible, I and my Republican colleagues in the House are prepared to move on our own…. There is going to be a two-stage process. It is not physically possible to do all of this in one step.”
    Boehner said his offer that included some $800 billion in new tax revenue and massive spending cuts was never withdrawn. That plan was dubbed the “grand bargain” despite his decision to walk away from negotiations with Obama last week.
    “I don’t know, it may be pretty hard to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. My last offer is still out there. I’ve never taken my last offer off the table,” Boehner said, noting that the White House never has agreed to it. At the moment, however, Boehner said that the better path was working with his congressional colleagues “to put together a process” that is do-able…. – Reuters, 7-24-11
  • Democrats cool to Boehner’s two-step debt-ceiling plan: House Speaker John Boehner said he is still trying to unveil a bipartisan debt limit deal this afternoon, but acknowledged he doesn’t have Democrats onboard with a two-step proposal he has offered. “We’re not there yet,” the Republican said in a morning interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
    Boehner and Democrats in Congress are stuck on the structure of the deficit reduction plan needed to persuade rank-and-file Republicans to raise the debt limit.
    If the limit isn’t raised by Aug. 2 the government will not be able to pay its bills. Boehner said Saturday that he wanted to announce a breakthrough in talks before the financial markets opened in Asia on Sunday.
    As talks with congressional Democrats appeared stalled, both Boehner and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appeared to open the door to resuming direct discussions with the WH. The speaker pulled out those talks on Friday. Asked if that so-called “grand bargain” was dead, Boehner said, “It may be pretty hard to put Humpty Dumpty back together again,” he said. “My last offer is still out there.”
    The comments came as congressional Democrats appear to have drawn a hard line against two-step process Republicans are pushing…. – LAT, 7-24-11
  • Obama, lawmakers scramble to salvage US debt deal:

    Congress drafting legislation, wants plan by Monday
    Treasury out of money on Aug. 2; AAA rating at risk
    Default would raise interest rates, hit global growth
    Congress aims to show progress before Asian markets open

    Scolded by President Barack Obama, Congress scrambled on Saturday to produce a deficit plan within 48 hours that keeps the United States from a catastrophic debt default now days away.
    A day after talks collapsed in acrimony, Obama held an emergency meeting with congressional leaders at the White House and told them to find areas of agreement.
    Their goal: Seal a deficit-reduction package of spending cuts and perhaps tax increases that will allow a vote by the Aug. 2 deadline to raise the U.S. debt ceiling beyond $14.3 trillion and avoid economic calamity.
    A Republican leadership aide said lawmakers are working on a plan for $3 trillion to $4 trillion in savings over 10 years, but another high-ranking Republican official said no numbers had been settled. Republican leaders want “to show progress” by 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT) on Sunday, the aide said…. – Reuters, 7-24-11

  • Republicans Weigh Short-Term Debt Deal, Risking Obama Veto: Republicans prepared to force action on a shorter-term extension of the U.S. debt limit than President Barack Obama has requested, defying a veto threat amid warnings that continued stalemate risks roiling financial markets as soon as tonight.
    The president would veto a measure to raise the debt ceiling if it doesn’t extend the limit into 2013, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Daley warned that “markets around the world” would react negatively to a short-term measure offering less than $2.4 trillion in borrowing authority. “We’ve got to get past this debt-ceiling vote,” Daley said. “It’s time to get some certainty.”
    House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said while he’d prefer a compromise package, his party was “prepared to move on our own” if that proved impossible. He aims to announce a framework — bipartisan or not — later today to try to minimize uncertainty before Asian markets open, he said on Fox News. Boehner scheduled a 4:30 p.m. conference call with Republicans…. – Bloomberg, 7-24-11
  • Boehner tells GOP he will unveil new debt strategy: Congressional leaders raced Saturday to develop a new strategy for raising the federal debt limit that House Speaker John A. Boehner told his troops would include an ambitious plan to reduce future borrowing by as much as $4 trillion.
    Although his talks with President Obama over a “grand bargain” to restrain the national debt collapsed in acrimony Friday, Boehner (Ohio) said he is confident lawmakers will avert a historic U.S. default — a possibility just 10 days off.
    “Over this weekend, Congress will forge a responsible path forward,” Boehner said in a statement.
    The speaker and other leaders started their day at the White House, where Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner warned of possible trouble in the markets if policymakers don’t announce a viable plan for raising the debt limit before Asian exchanges open Sunday evening, according to people familiar with the meeting. Aides said Geithner’s warning lent fresh urgency to the negotiations, which continued throughout the day on Capitol Hill.
    By early evening, the outlines of a two-stage strategy were emerging. First, lawmakers would vote on a package to cut agency spending by as much as $1 trillion over the next decade and raise the debt limit, currently set at $14.3 trillion, by the same amount. That would give Geithner enough borrowing authority to cover the nation’s bills through the end of this year…. – WaPo, 7-23-11

JULY 23, 2011: OBAMA MEETS WITH CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS AT THE WHITE HOUSE — NO DEAL IN SIGHT

Boehner tells GOP he plans to unveil new debt strategy within 24 hours: House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told his troops Saturday that he hopes to roll out a two-step strategy within the next 24 hours for raising the federal debt limit and restraining the national debt to avoid roiling Asian financial markets when they open Sunday, according to a participant in the conference call.
In the call with his House GOP colleagues, Boehner said he still hopes to slice as much as $4 trillion out of the federal budget over the next decade, despite the collapse of talks with President Obama on Friday over a bipartisan “grand bargain” to reduce the government’s spiraling debt…. –

  • President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address: A Bipartisan Approach to Strengthening the EconomyWH, 7-23-11
  • Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) Delivers the Weekly Republican Address (VIDEO)GOP, 7-23-11“I’ve been left at the altar now a couple of times. And I think that one of the questions that the Republican Party is going to have to ask itself is, Can they say yes to anything?” — President Barack Obama“The President wanted to know that there was a plan for preventing national default. The bipartisan leadership in Congress is committed to working on new legislation that will prevent default while substantially reducing Washington spending.” — Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell“Congress should refrain from playing reckless political games with our economy. Instead, it should be responsible and do its job, avoiding default and cutting the deficit.” — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney

    “This debate boils down to a simple choice. We can come together for the good of the country and reach a compromise or we can issue insults and demands and ultimatums at each other, withdraw to partisan corners, and achieve nothing. We know the right thing to do, and we know what the American people expect us to do.” — President Barack Obama in the July 23, 2011 Weekly Address

    “Our government has gotten so big, so expensive, it’s keeping our economy from recovering as it should. If we’re going to avoid any type of default and downgrade, if we’re going to resume job creation in America, the president and his allies need to listen to the people and work with Republicans to cut up the credit cards once and for all.” — House GOP Conference Chair Jeb Hensarling

    Obama/Boehner Talk Kicks Off With Light Banter: “I think everybody agrees it’s too hot to play golf today,” Obama told Boehner….
    Boehner responded to the president saying, “Yeah, I took a walk there this morning.” — ABC News, 7-23-11

    Giuliani: Obama Is Afraid to Lead on Budget: “If we default, 90 percent of the responsibility is on the president of the United States,” Giuliani told Sean Hannity on Fox News after a visit to New Hampshire that fueled speculation the he would seek the GOP nomination for president. “He is yet to outline a plan because he’s too darn afraid that he’s going to have to pay political [consequences]. And he’s pretending he wants to do all these big cuts; we know he doesn’t want to do cuts . . . He wants to do the minimum number of cuts and the maximum tax increases.”
    “I don’t want to do this just to run, I want to do it only because I have the best chance of winning,” he said. “And if I think someone else has a better chance of winning, I don’t want to spoil their chances.”
    “My objective is we cannot have President Obama after the next year,” he said. “I mean, look at what he’s put us through with this whole debt thing, and this because a president doesn’t lead. I mean, Republicans, Democrats fight with each other in the House, and the president has never outlined how he would do it . . . This is outrageous!”… – Newsmax, 7-23-11

  • Obama and congressional leaders hold grim Saturday meeting on debt crisis: President Obama convened an unusual Saturday meeting with Congressional leaders on the looming government default. The session lasted less than an hour, and the atmospherics appeared grim…. – CS Monitor, 7-23-11
  • Debt crisis: Deal sought to head off stock plunge: Precariously short of time, congressional leaders struggled in urgent, weekend-long talks to avert an unprecedented government default, desperate to show enough progress to head off a plunge in stock prices when Asian markets open ahead of the U.S. workweek.
    President Barack Obama met Saturday with Republican and Democratic leaders — but only briefly— the day after House Speaker John Boehner abruptly broke off his own once-promising compromise talks with the White House. Staff members kept up detailed efforts.
    The goal now is to produce at least a framework agreement to raise the nation’s debt limit by Monday, congressional officials said. Even that would allow scarcely enough time for the House and Senate to clear legislation in time for Obama’s signature by the Aug. 2 deadline, a week from Tuesday.
    House Speaker John Boehner told rank-and-file Republicans in a conference call after Saturday’s meeting that he hoped to be able to announce a “viable framework for progress” by 4 p.m. EDT on Sunday, before the stock markets open in Japan and elsewhere in Asia, according to two participants.
    Lawmakers fear a big drop in investor confidence in U.S. stocks and bonds could start in Asia and sweep toward Europe and the Americas, causing U.S. stock values to plunge on Monday…. – AP, 7-23-11
  • Congress Looks For New Debt Deal To Prevent Monday Panic: Lawmakers and President Barack Obama met at the White House Saturday, once again looking to renew talks to raise the debt limit and lower the deficit after a highly public breakdown.
    The tense scene in the Cabinet Room was described by the pool reporter as “a school principal’s office with a handful of sullen suspects sitting grimly downcast as the boss says: ‘OK, we’re going to sit here all day until I find out who shot that spitball.'”
    But a marathon session to iron out a deal before the end of the weekend it wasn’t — lasting just 50 minutes — and all signs point to a continued stalemate after Friday’s surprising events.
    An agreement that seemed within reach to Obama on Thursday was left on the table Friday by Speaker of the House John Boehner, spurring hours of recriminations over who killed the deal.
    In an hastily called press conference, Obama angrily claimed he had been “left at the altar” by Boehner for the second time in as many weeks. Boehner responded, accusing Obama of demanding new taxes at the last minute and saying “the White House moved the goalposts.”
    Both leaders made themselves vulnerable in the negotiations — Obama accepting cuts to entitlements that already were inflaming his base, and Boehner agreeing to $800 billion in revenue increases — and moved quickly to blame the other for failing to agree to a historic deficit reduction package.
    Obama appeared to be holding out hope Friday night that his deal with Boehner could be resurrected in some form, with an administration official saying “this offer is still available.”
    But according to congressional aides, Boehner insists negotiations resume anew in Congress on a plan with spending cuts and few, if any, revenue increases — and without Obama. Additionally, they are drafting the so-called “last ditch” plan put forth by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to allow Obama to unilaterally raise the debt limit, to be taken up if all else fails….. – Business Insider, 7-23-11
  • Debt crisis and market worries: Quick deficit-deal framework sought to head off stock sell-off: Precariously short of time, congressional leaders struggled in urgent, weekend-long talks to avert an unprecedented government default, desperate to show enough progress to head off a plunge in stock prices when Asian markets open ahead of the U.S. workweek. With the White House consigned to the periphery of negotiations, Republicans sought as much as $4 trillion in deficit cuts over a decade as a condition for raising the nation’s debt limit.
    But after hours of staff negotiations followed by a meeting of Congress’ top four leaders, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused GOP leaders of intransigence, adding he would not accept anything less than a deal that raised the debt limit through 2012. “Their unwillingness to compromise is pushing us to the brink of a default on the full faith and credit of the United States. We have run out of time for politics. Now is the time for cooperation,” he said in a sharply worded statement.
    A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, Michael Steel, responded mildly. “Like the President and the entire bipartisan, bicameral Congressional leadership, we continue to believe that defaulting on the full faith and credit of the United States is not an option,” he said in a written statement.
    Obama met earlier in the day with the Republican and Democratic leaders — but only briefly— the day after Boehner abruptly broke off his own once-promising compromise talks with the White House…. – WaPo, 7-23-11
  • White House says Obama wants long-term debt solution to protect US economy: The White House says President Barack Obama won’t accept a short-term extension of the nation’s debt limit because it would do more harm than good.
    Obama met with congressional leaders at the White House on Saturday for about an hour. In a written statement afterward, his spokesman said a temporary extension could hurt the U.S. credit rating and force Americans to pay higher interest rates on credit cards and other consumer debt. The White House said Congress shouldn’t be playing “reckless political games” with the economy.
    Obama wants a debt-ceiling extension that will last through the end of 2012. Republicans have talked of a shorter extension…. – AP, 7-23-11
  • Obama, congressional leaders gather at White House to try to save debt deal: Ahead of the Saturday talks, a House GOP aide signaled that the speaker’s most likely position would be to push for a shorter-term deal. Both sides have identified more than $1 trillion in cuts, and Boehner’s camp suggested that some of those reductions could be used to meet the Republican demand of lifting the debt ceiling by cutting more than the dollar value of that increase in borrowing authority.
    The president has repeatedly objected to any short-term deal, calling it “kicking the can down the road,” because there is a likelihood that the two sides would reach the same gridlock next year once such an extension was set to expire, and he did so again on Friday. But on Saturday morning, the GOP aide said Obama was just trying to avoid dealing with the issue next year, when he will face reelection.
    “Now, we do not know what size or shape a final package will take, but it would be terribly unfortunate if the president was willing to veto a debt-limit increase simply because its timing would not be ideal for his reelection campaign. “We want the most significant deficit-reduction possible, but linking the full faith and credit of the United States to presidential campaign politics is not a defensible position,” the aide added, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss Boehner’s strategy…. – WaPo, 7-23-11
  • Fight over raising the debt ceiling almost sure to lead to bad policy: It’s quite likely that any deal reached by lawmakers to stave off default is going to involve compromises that were unthinkable even a few short weeks ago…. – LAT, 7-23-11
  • Obama Calls For Leaders To Work Together On Debt ‘Neither Party Is Blameless,’ President Says: President Barack Obama called on Democratic and Republican leaders to come together and do “the right thing” to resolve the nation’s debt crisis Saturday in his weekly address.
    He warned that unless an agreement is reached to raise the amount of money the federal government is allowed to borrow, debt will “weaken our economy, cause higher interest rates for families, and force us to scale back things like education and Medicare.”
    The president summoned congressional leaders to the White House Saturday after House Speaker John Boehner announced Friday night he was pulling out of the debt-ceiling negotiations with the Obama administration.
    “Neither party is blameless,” Obama said of the nation’s debt. “Both parties have a responsibility to do something about it.” Envisioning a way forward, the president said, “We need to put aside our differences to do what’s right for the country. Everyone is going to have to be willing to compromise. Otherwise, we’ll never get anything done.” Obama advocated a “balanced approach” to cutting the deficit that “goes after waste” and “makes some serious cuts to worthy programs” that wouldn’t be made “under normal circumstances.”… – CNN, 7-23-11
  • Obama’s Weekly Address: There’s Still Time to Compromise on the Deficit: In a message that may be too little too late, President Obama used his weekly address to issue an urgent plea to Congress to compromise on a deal to raise the debt ceiling and reduce the deficit.
    The morning after a deal to reduce the deficit broke down, Obama outlined his case for “a balanced approach to cutting the deficit” through spending cuts and revenue increases.
    “We need an approach that goes after waste in the budget and gets rid of pet projects that cost billions of dollars,” Obama said. “We need an approach that makes some serious cuts to worthy programs – cuts I wouldn’t make under normal circumstances. And we need an approach that asks everybody to do their part.”
    “There will be plenty of haggling over the details in the days ahead. But this debate boils down to a simple choice,” he said. “We can come together for the good of the country and reach a compromise; we can strengthen our economy and leave for our children a more secure future.
    “Or we can issue insults and demands and ultimatums at each another, withdraw to our partisan corners, and achieve nothing,” he said. “Well, we know the right thing to do. And we know what the American people expect us to do.”… – ABC News, 7-23-11
  • Debt Ceiling Talks Collapse as Boehner Walks Out: ….Republicans, though, said that the White House pushed for more revenue midway through the talks. “The White House moved the goal posts,” Mr. Boehner said in a news conference.
    In his weekly radio address on Saturday, Mr. Obama continued to press the idea that it was “not right to ask middle class families to pay more for college before we ask the biggest corporations to pay their fair share of taxes.” “This debate boils down to a simple choice,” the president said. We can come together for the good of the country and reach a compromise; we can strengthen our economy and leave for our children a more secure future. Or we can issue insults and demands and ultimatums at each another, withdraw to our partisan corners, and achieve nothing.”
    Representative Jeb Hensarling, Republican of Texas, pressed the idea that the deficit and government spending need to come down to help create jobs and bolster the economy. “If we’re going to avoid any type of default and downgrade — if we’re going to resume job creation in America _ the president and his allies need to listen to the people and work with Republicans to cut up the credit cards once and for all,” Mr. Hensarling said.
    This time, however, Mr. Obama had also faced a firestorm from within his party, because of the spending cuts he was considering with Mr. Boehner. NYT, 7-23-11
  • What Obama said in his 30-minute primal scream at the GOP: President Obama, clearly angry, let loose on House Republicans in what was, for him, an extraordinary fit of pique Friday night after talks with Speaker John Boehner broke down…. – CS Monitor, 7-23-11
  • Failure to reach a ‘grand bargain’ on debt makes 2012 harder for Obama: Sometime this spring, President Barack Obama shifted course on the budget and started pursuing a “Big Deal” to dramatically curb runaway deficits. On Friday chances for that deal disappeared, and with it perhaps his last chance to fundamentally change the course of the 2012 elections.
    Even a multitrillion-dollar package of spending cuts and tax increases would not have stopped the red ink. At best, the grand bargain being sought would have shaved about $4 trillion from deficits expected to total at least $8 trillion over the next 10 years. But it could have changed the storyline of the nation’s politics, if not its government. Obama would have been able to run for a second term claiming bipartisan success at fiscal restraint, a boast he hoped would help erase or at least blur the image of him as a tax-and-spend liberal.
    Instead, the apparent failure of Obama and congressional leaders to reach a big deal likely means the stage is largely set for the pivotal 2012 elections. The two major parties are unable to agree on how much government people want and who should pay for it. Voters – who went for Obama and the Democrats in 2008 and for the Republicans in 2010 – will have to decide between two rival visions of government.
    For Obama, who as the incumbent will be the centerpiece of the campaign, the big deal was something he came to cherish after first ignoring it…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 7-23-11
  • Deficit negotiations: Myths and realities: For the better part of 2011, President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have been talking hypothetically — each from his own ideological perspective — about the potential fallout of their inability to reach a debt ceiling, deficit-cutting plan. The implications of their inability to get some deal done are about to become terrifyingly concrete — in the form of Monday’s skittish market opening and a potentially costly credit downgrade that will hike the price of everything from government borrowing to home mortgages. But that hasn’t stopped the spinning and posturing as each side seeks the most advantageous deal possible while selling the American public on the argument that it’s the other guy who is pushing the country over the abyss.
    With that in mind, here’s a guide to the reality behind the spin in the debt ceiling battle:
    Myth: Obama wins politically, no matter what happens…. Reality: That may have been true a week ago, but it’s less of a sure thing now.
    Myth: The talks collapsed over Obama’s demand for $400 billion more in revenue over 10 years…. Reality: Boehner didn’t have the votes.
    Myth: Obama could sell his end of the bargain to Democrats…. Reality: He probably could have.
    Myth: The GOP owns the deficit-reduction debate…. Reality: Bye-bye high ground.
    Myth: There are three branches of government…. Reality: Grover Norquist seems to have opened a fourth. And he says the McConnell-Reid compromise is the way to go, so don’t bet against everybody’s least favorite fallback. – Politico, 7-23-11
  • What’s Happened to Obama?: Scarcely a week goes by without one of the big three liberal economists — Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, and Joseph Stiglitz — lambasting the president. Recently New York Times columnist Krugman lamented that Obama’s campaign slogan “Yes, we can” had become “No, we won’t.”…
    What happened? Frank Rich complains about Obama’s “passivity.” Others grumble the supposedly great communicator has failed to control the political narrative — as is currently the case where the discussion in Washington centers on the Republican theme, “reduce the deficit,” when it should be on “increase the number of good jobs.” Writing in the New York Review, Yale Professor David Bromwich observed, “Obama has always preferred the symbolic authority of the grand utterance to the actual authority of a directed policy… protracted moods of extreme abstraction seem to alternate with spasmodic engagement.”
    Not surprisingly, there’s recently been a spate of articles “psychoanalyzing” the president. Writing in the New Yorker, George Packer observed that Obama “takes responsibility as an end in itself.” In his blog, Packer explained, “there something in Obama’s character that needs to be seen as reasonable — as the one grown-up — in the room — and that is deeper than any partisan policy views he might hold.”…. – Huff Post, 7-23-11

JULY 22, 2011: DEBT TALKS BREAK DOWN, BOEHNER WALKS AWAY FROM OBAMA AND WHITE HOUSE NEGOTIATIONS

Boehner blames Obama for collapse of debt talks: House Speaker John Boehner said the White House “moved the goal posts” by demanding an additional $400 billion in revenue during talks over a deal to avoid default. He said he was confident the U.S. will not default but said the White House has “refused to get serious” about spending cuts. “Dealing with the White House is like dealing with a bowl of Jell-O,” Boehner said.

Obama says Boehner “walked away” from debt talks: President Obama said House Speaker John A. Boehner broke off talks over crafting a “big deal” that would avert a federal default. He called the deal the White House was offering “extraordinarily fair” and said that “if it was unbalanced it was unbalanced in the direction of not enough revenue.”
The president said he was summoning congressional leaders to the White House Saturday morning at 11 a.m. “We have run out of time and they are going to have to explain to me how it is that we are going to avoid default,” he said.

Talks in the effort to avert a government default have collapsed, GOP aides say: Negotiations between the White House and House Speaker John Boehner over an agreement to cut spending, overhaul the tax code and avert a government default have broken down, according to senior House Republican aides. Boehner planned to notify his caucus Friday night.

“In the end, we couldn’t connect. Not because of different personalities, but because of different visions for our country.” — House Speaker John Boehner

“This was an extraordinarily fair deal. If it was unbalanced, it was unbalanced in the direction of not enough revenue. It is hard to understand why Speaker Boehner would walk away from this kind of deal.” — President Barack Obama

McConnell Statement on Debt Talks: U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement Friday regarding the announcement that Speaker Boehner will work with the Senate Leadership on deficit reduction legislation:
“It’s disappointing that the talks with the White House did not reach a favorable conclusion, and I appreciate the Speaker insisting on reduced spending and opposing the President’s call for higher taxes on American families and job creators. It is similarly disappointing that the White House has refused to join Republicans in our effort to cut Washington spending now, cap runaway spending in the future and save our entitlement programs and our country from bankruptcy by requiring the nation to balance its budget. Speaker Boehner has informed us that he will work on a new path forward with Leader Reid to develop a solution that will prevent default, without job killing tax hikes, while substantially reducing Washington spending.
“As I’ve said before, it’s time now for the debate to move out of a room in the White House and on to the House and Senate floors where we can debate the best approach to reducing the nation’s unsustainable debt.”

  • Boehner confident government won’t default: Speaking Friday evening after withdrawing from talks on a “grand bargain” for $4 trillion or so in deficit cuts over the coming decade, Boehner said Congress will have to step in to forge an agreement to lift the government’s borrowing cap.
    “We can work together here on Capitol Hill to forge an agreement and I’m hopeful the president will work with us,” Boehner said.
    Boehner accused Obama of “moving the goal posts” by demanding $400 billion in tax increases on top of about $800 billion in revenues that would have been reaped through a comprehensive rewrite of the tax code.
    “There was an agreement with the White House at $800 billion in revenue. It’s the president who walked away from his agreement and demanded more money at the last minute,” Boehner said. “And the only way to get that extra revenue was to raise taxes.” AP, 7-22-11
  • Debt talks break down; “We have run out of time”: “We have run out of time,” Mr. Obama said in acknowledging the breakdown.
    “It is hard to understand why Speaker Boehner would walk away from this kind of deal and frankly, if you look at the commentary out there, there are a lot of Republicans that are puzzled as to why it couldn’t get done,” he said. “In fact, there are a lot of Republican voters out there who are puzzled as to why it couldn’t get done.”
    Mr. Obama at one point suggested he “couldn’t get a phone call returned” from Boehner earlier in the day, and said that when it comes to a deal, “I’ve been left at the altar now a couple of times.” He said he was unable to guarantee that Social Security checks and other obligations would go out after the August 2 deadline, and said the blame falls on House Republicans who have been unwilling to compromise to get a deal done.
    Mr. Obama said he was calling Congressional leaders to the White House Saturday morning at 11:00 “to explain to me how we are going to avoid default,” acknowledging that discussions were basically back to square one.
    “What this came down to is there doesn’t seem to be a capacity for them to say yes,” Mr. Obama said.
    “I think the challenge really has to do with the seeming inability, particularly in the House of Representatives, to arrive at any kind of position that compromises any of their ideological preferences,” he said. “None. And you’ve heard it. I’m not making this up. I think there are a number of members of that caucus that have been very clear about that.”
    Asked what he would say to calm skittish markets, Mr. Obama said, “I remain confident that we will get an extension of the debt limit and we will not default,” but he was less confident that the GOP will step up and deal with underlying debt and deficits “in a way that is fair.” He said he would be willing to sign a debt limit increase that did not include deficit reduction measures if presented such a bill by Congress.
    The president acknowledged that the Democratic leadership in Congress had not signed off on the proposed deal. He said, however, that both he and the leadership “were willing to engage in serious negotiations despite a lot of heat from a lot of interest groups around the country in order to make sure that we actually dealt with this problem.”
    The proposed cuts to entitlements had angered many Democrats and interest groups, and in announcing that he had offered $650 million in cuts on that front over ten years, Mr. Obama said, “We believed that it was possible to shape those in a way that preserved the integrity of the system, made them available for the next generation and did not affect current beneficiaries in an adverse way.”
    “I was willing to try to persuade Democratic leadership as well as Democratic members of Congress that even a deal that is not as balanced as I think it should be, is better than no deal at all,” he said. “And I was willing to persuade Democrats that getting a handle on debt and deficit reduction is important to Democrats just as much as it’s important to Republicans. And frankly a lot of Democrats were persuaded by that.”… – CBS News, 7-22-11
  • Boehner abruptly withdraws from talks with Obama: House Speaker John Boehner abruptly broke off talks with President Barack Obama Friday night on a deal to cut federal spending and avert a threatened government default, sending compromise efforts into an instant crisis.
    Within minutes, an obviously peeved Obama virtually ordered congressional leaders to the White House for a Saturday meeting on raising the nation’s debt limit. “We’ve got to get it done. It is not an option not to do it,” he declared.
    For the first time since negotiations began, he declined to offer assurances, when asked, that default would be avoided. Moments later, however, he said he was confident of that outcome.
    At a news conference of his own a short while later, Boehner said, “I want to be entirely clear. No one wants default.”
    In a letter circulated earlier to the House Republican rank and file, said he had withdrawn from the talks with Obama because “in the end, we couldn’t connect.”
    He said the president wanted to raise taxes, and was reluctant to agree to cuts in benefit programs…. – AP, 7-22-11
  • Debt Ceiling Talks Collapse as Boehner Walks Out: An angry and frustrated President Obama accused Republican leaders on Friday night of walking away from “an extraordinarily fair deal” to raise the nation’s debt limit.
    In a hastily called news conference at the White house, a grim-faced Mr. Obama demanded that congressional leaders appear at the White House on Saturday.
    “I want them here at 11 a.m. tomorrow,” Mr. Obama told reporters. “They are going to have to explain to me how it is that we are going to avoid default.”
    The president spoke moments after House Speaker John A. Boehner, the Republican from Ohio, released a letter that he had sent to House colleagues, saying he was breaking off the budget negotiations because of differences over revenues and would instead try to strike an agreement with Senate leaders to raise the debt limit by Aug 2 and avoid sending the government into a potential default.
    “In the end, we couldn’t connect,” Mr. Boehner said. “Not because of different personalities, but because of different visions for our country.”
    In his comments, Mr. Obama described a deal of spending cuts that he said was more generous than what the so-called Gang of Six had offered and said it was “hard to understand” why Mr. Boehner would walk away…. – NYT, 7-22-11
  • Boehner calls off debt talks with Obama: House Speaker John Boehner told President Obama tonight he is pulling out of debt negotiations to work directly with the Senate about a fall-back plan to lift the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by the Aug. 2 deadline.
    In response, Obama said he is summoning House and Senate leaders to the White House Saturday morning “to explain to me how we are going to avoid default.” “We are running out of time,” Obama said.
    The Treasury Department has said that if the debt ceiling is not lifted by Aug. 2 — a week from Tuesday — it will lose borrowing authority to pay the government’s bills and face default…. – USA Today, 7-22-11
  • Obama scolds GOP as debt talks break down: ‘Where’s the leadership?’: In an unusual display of emotion, President Obama angrily responded to House Speaker John A. Boehner’s abrupt withdrawal from talks on a debt ceiling increase, and summoned congressional leaders to the White House on Saturday for emergency talks to plot a new course before the Aug. 2 deadline.
    “We have run out of time,” the president said in a hastily-called news briefing, just moments after Boehner informed him of his decision.
    On Thursday, Obama and Boehner appeared to be closing in on a deal that would have raised the debt ceiling through 2013, combined with spending cuts and entitlement reforms to achieve $3 trillion in deficit reduction.
    But talks apparently broke down in a dispute over taxes. Obama, prodded by Democrats, insisted that any deal include new revenues in addition to spending cuts…. – LAT, 7-22-11
  • Boehner Pulls Out of Debt Talks: House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) has decided to no longer pursue a major deficit-reduction deal with the White House and informed President Barack Obama of his decision Friday night, House Republican leadership aides said late Friday.
    “In the end we couldn’t connect. Not because of different personalities, but because of different visions for our country,” Mr. Boehner wrote in a letter to his colleagues. “I have decided to end discussions with the White House and begin conversations with the Senate in an effort to find a path forward.”
    The speaker’s office reached out to Senate leaders Friday to begin to figure out what the path forward is, Republican officials said. House and Senate negotiators will hold talks through the weekend to try to determine what kind of agreement they could reach to raise the government’s debt ceiling by Aug. 2 and prevent a government default.
    Senior Republican aides said they didn’t know what shape a deal would ultimately take, but they said they needed to present House members with an agreement by Monday to have time to pass legislation in both chambers by Aug. 2.
    “We know we have a short window of time here,” a senior Republican aide said.
    After a series of discussions between administration officials and the House leadership, it became clear, the GOP aides said, that the White House and Congress’s interests were not aligned…. – WSJ, 7-22-11
  • John Boehner walks away from debt talks: House Speaker John Boehner has walked away from negotiations with President Obama over a deal to raise the debt limit.
    “In the end, we couldn’t connect. Not because of different personalities, but because of different visions for our country,” Boehner said in a letter to colleagues. He said Mr. Obama ” is emphatic that taxes have to be raised” and “adamant that we cannot make fundamental changes to our entitlement programs.”
    “For these reasons, I have decided to end discussions with the White House and begin conversations with the leaders of the Senate in an effort to find a path forward,” he said. (Read the letter here)
    House Republican leadership aides told CBS News that Boehner will work with the Senate leadership in an attempt to reach a deal that meets the GOP’s two central requirements: That spending cuts are equal to or greater than debt limit increase and that there are no new taxes…. – CBS New, 7-22-11
  • Obama-Boehner talks collapse; each side blames the other: Debt-reduction negotiations between President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner collapsed Friday, derailing an effort to reach a landmark agreement to cut spending, overhaul the tax code and avert a government default.
    In subsequent statements, both sides blamed the other for an impasse that threatens to plunge the nation into a fiscal crisis if the government fails to meet a looming deadline to raise the federal debt ceiling.
    Announcing the collapse, Boehner (R-Ohio) said he could not overcome disputes with Obama on taxes and entitlements.
    Appearing before reporters at the White House, Obama said he had been willing to agree to a deal that was more generous to Republican interests than to those of his fellow Democrats. “It’s hard to understand why Speaker Boehner would walk away from this kind of deal,” he said. “The vast majority of the American people believe we should have a balanced approach” between revenues and cuts.
    Saying that “we have now run out of time,” Obama summoned Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to the White House at 11 a.m. Saturday.
    “They’re going to have to explain to me how it is that we are going to avoid a default,” he said. He later said he was confident that a default could be avoided…. – WSJ, 7-22-11
  • Obama allows for possibility of default, saying ‘if’ instead of expressing confidence US won’t: President Barack Obama for the first time has allowed for the possibility that the U.S. may default on its financial obligations.
    At a hastily arranged White House appearance on Friday, Obama said: “If we default, then we’re going to have to make adjustments.”
    But minutes later, the president said he remained confident that the debt limit will be extended. Said Obama: “We will not default. I am confident of that.”… – Washingtn Post, 7-22-11
  • Debt talks break down; Volatility ahead: Shortly before the latest bust up in Washington, Kathy Lien Director, Global Research & Analysis at GFT wrote:

    Barack Obama’s Presidency and his chance of reelection could very well be defined by what happens over the next week. If the Senate fails to raise the debt ceiling either temporarily or permanently, panic selling of U.S. dollars could drive the greenback to fresh lows against all of the major currencies. The weakness of USD/JPY and USD/CHF confirms that investors are worried about the developments or the lack thereof in the coming week.

    Ultimately there are three scenarios, according to Lien:

    Scenario 1 – Watered Down Debt Deal Passed – Very Dollar Bullish Scenario 2 – Temporary Increase to Debt Ceiling – Mildly Dollar Bullish Scenario 3 – Throw Up their Hands and Let the U.S. Default – Very Dollar Bearish

    For not it appears we’ve moved closer to scenario 2…. – CBS Market Watch, 7-22-11

JULY 22, 2011: DEBT DEAL DEADLINE — OBAMA HOLDS TOWN HALL ON DEBT CRISIS — SENATE VOTES DOWN CUT, CAP, AND BALANCE

“Frankly, we are not close to an agreement. I would just suggest it is going to be a hot weekend here in Washington, D.C.” — House Speaker John Boehner

“I have talked to my lawyers. They are not persuaded that that is a winning argument. So, the challenge for me is to make sure that we do not default, but to do so in a way that is as balanced as possible and gets us at least a down payment on solving this problem.” President Obama said in response to a question about the Constitutional argument at a townhall at the University of Maryland.

“We’re going to dispose of this legislation as it needs to be, so that President Obama and the speaker can move forward on a [plan] that will have some revenue in it.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

“It’s a great opportunity for him to talk to young people, to students, about how this is really a debate about the economy and jobs and the need to stabilize the foundation of the economy and creating jobs and lessening the economic anxiety out there, felt by students.” — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Thursday aboutr President Obama’s Town Hall at the University of Maryland

  • President Obama Discusses Debt Crisis at University of Maryland Town Hall – Transcript — WH, 7-22-11
  • Obama stresses need for more tax revenue; Senate rejects House debt plan: President Obama insisted Friday that any broad deficit-reduction plan must include new tax revenue in addition to large spending cuts, and the Senate rejected a bill from the Republican-controlled House that would have required a balanced budget amendment and massive cuts, but no tax hikes.
    Speaking at a town hall meeting at the University of Maryland in College Park, Obama told a largely supportive audience, “We can’t just close our deficit with spending cuts alone.” That would mean senior citizens would have to “pay a lot more for Medicare,” students would have trouble getting education loans, job training programs would be trimmed and there were be “devastating cuts” in medical and clean-energy research, he said.
    “If we only did it with cuts, if we did not get any revenue to help close this gap . . . then a lot of ordinary people would be hurt, and the country as a whole would be hurt,” Obama said. “And that doesn’t make any sense. It’s not fair. And that’s why I’ve said, if we’re going to reduce our deficit, then the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations should do their part as well.”
    “This idea of balance, this idea of shared sacrifice, of a deficit plan that includes tough spending cuts but also includes tax reform that raises more revenue, this isn’t just my position,” he said. “This isn’t just a Democratic position. This isn’t some wild-eyed socialist position.” Rather, it argued, it is a position taken in the past by presidents from both parties who have signed major deficit-reduction deals.
    “So we can pass a balanced plan like this,” Obama said. “The only people we have left to convince are some folks in the House of Representatives. We’re going to keep working on that.”… – WaPO, 7-22-11
  • Obama again presses GOP to move on taxes in debt deal: If President Obama is indeed pursuing a deal with House Speaker John Boehner that would lack an ironclad agreement to boost government receipts, he didn’t show his hand Friday.
    At a town-hall-style event at the University of Maryland, Obama again restated his long-standing position that any accord to raise the federal debt ceiling must combine spending cuts with revenue generators stemming from a rewrite of the tax code.
    “We can’t just close our deficit with spending cuts alone,” Obama said before a crowd in College Park, Md. “If we only do it with cuts … a lot of ordinary people would be hurt and the country as whole would be hurt.”… – LAT, 7-22-11
  • Senate Rejects House Budget Plan; Obama Calls for Deal: The Senate on Friday rejected a House plan to substantially cut government spending and raise the federal debt limit contingent on a balanced budget proposal, leaving Congress up in the air about how to resolve its impasse over the federal debt ceiling and avoid a government default.
    Senators voted 51 to 46 along party lines to set aside the measure, known as the “cut, cap and balance” bill, which was sent to the Senate by the House this week and seen by conservative House members as their preferred option for increasing the debt ceiling. For many House Republicans, the legislation was their best offer in the continuing standoff with President Obama and Congressional Democrats.
    After the vote, Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat and majority leader, said the Senate was for the moment abandoning its fallback plan and would not immediately move ahead with a procedural maneuver proposed by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to increase the debt limit. He said the Senate would instead await the results of negotiations between Mr. Obama and the House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, over a broad deficit reduction package.
    “The path to avert default now runs through the House of Representatives,” Mr. Reid said after Democrats voted against the House plan. He said that he was canceling plans to keep the Senate in session over the weekend and that lawmakers would instead reconvene Monday, just more than a week before the Aug. 2 deadline set by the Treasury Department for increasing the $14.3 trillion limit.
    Mr. Obama said at a town hall meeting where he was taking questions Friday morning that he was willing to agree to “historic” spending cuts in an effort to trim the nation’s budget deficit, and urged Congressional factions to come together and reach a deal. He said it was not conceivable that the United States would default on its debt.
    “This is a rare opportunity for both parties to come together and choose a path where we stop putting so much debt on our credit card,” Mr. Obama said…. – NYT, 7-22-11
  • Senate votes down GOP debt ceiling plan: The Senate on Friday defeated the Republican “Cut, Cap and Balance” proposal, a move that puts the onus on President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner to present a plan soon to raise the debt ceiling or risk a potentially catastrophic default.
    The procedural vote to kill the measure that was approved by the Republican-controlled House on Tuesday was along party lines in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
    “We’re going to dispose of this legislation as it needs to be, so that President Obama and the speaker can move forward on a [plan] that will have some revenue in it,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said just before the roll call began.
    Friday had been seen as a potentially critical date in the weeks-long budget debate. According to the Treasury Department, lawmakers must agree to a plan that raises the debt limit before Aug. 2 or the federal government could default on its obligations for the first time in the nation’s history…. – LAT, 7-22-11
  • John Boehner: Debt talks will make for a “hot weekend here in Washington”: “It’s going to be a hot weekend here in Washington, D.C.,” House Speaker John Boehner said today.
    Nevermind that the heat index for the District on Friday is 120 degrees — lawmakers will be sweating in their Washington offices as the clock ticks down toward a possible U.S. default.
    The Senate on Friday rejected a Republican plan that would have made raising the debt ceiling contingent on passing a balanced budget amendment. Democratic leaders blasted the plan as bad policy and hardly worthy of consideration. But Boehner said today it’s still the only plan to raise the debt ceiling that he supports.
    Calling himself a “happy warrior” on behalf of the GOP plan — dubbed “cut, cap and balance” — Boehner said, “The House has done its job.” The speaker refused to acknowledge the need for an alternative plan. “If [members of the Senate] don’t like our version of ‘cut, cap and balance’… then what’s their plan?” he asked. “They can make amendments and send it back over.”… – CBS News, 7-22-11
  • Boehner: ‘We are not close’ to reaching a debt deal with Obama: Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Friday assured House Republicans that he is not on the verge of striking a deal with the White House to raise the debt ceiling.
    “Frankly, we are not close to an agreement,” Boehner said. “I would just suggest it is going to be a hot weekend here in Washington, D.C.”
    Boehner told reporters there “never was an agreement” with the White House on a grand bargain.
    But he told the GOP conference that the House needs to be prepared to pass something related to the debt ceiling by next Wednesday, according to Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) Others in the meeting said Boehner was talking about fall-back options because it would be irresponsible not to.
    GOP members on Friday insisted the Senate should amend “Cut, Cap and Balance” and send an alternative back to the House. Boehner claimed two-thirds of the pubic supports the plan, which would cut at least $6 trillion in spending over a decade without revenue increases.
    “The House has done its job, and I hope the Senate will do theirs. And if they don’t our version of ‘Cut, Cap and Balance,’ guess what?
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Political Buzz May 24, 2011: Democrat Kathy Hochul Wins Upstate New York Congressional Race Over Republican Jane Corwin — Medicare Biggest Issue

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.

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS — ELECTIONS

Michael Appleton for The New York Times

Kathy Hochul delivered her victory speech in Amherst on Tuesday evening.

Democrat Wins G.O.P. Seat in Closely Watched Upstate New York Race: The Associated Press has declared Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, the winner in a closely watched Congressional race in upstate New York that is being seen as a test of a Republican plan to overhaul Medicare.
On Tuesday, she captured 47 percent of the vote to Ms. Corwin’s 43 percent, according to unofficial results. A Tea Party candidate, Jack Davis, had 9 percent

  • Democrat Wins G.O.P. Seat; Rebuke Seen to Medicare Plan: Democrats scored an upset in one of New York’s most conservative Congressional districts on Tuesday, dealing a blow to the national Republican Party in a race that largely turned on the party’s plan to overhaul Medicare.
    The results set off elation among Democrats and soul-searching among Republicans, who questioned whether they should rethink their party’s commitment to the Medicare plan, which appears to have become a liability heading into the 2012 elections.
    Two months ago, the Democrat, Kathy Hochul, was considered an all-but-certain loser in the race against the Republican, Jane Corwin. But Ms. Hochul seized on the Republican’s embrace of the proposal from Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, to overhaul Medicare, and she never let up…. – NYT, 5-25-11
  • Democrat Wins Upstate New York Congressional Race: Democrats scored an upset in one of New York’s most conservative congressional districts on Tuesday, dealing a blow to the national Republican Party in a race that largely turned on the party’s plan to overhaul Medicare.
    The results set off elation among Democrats and soul-searching among Republicans, who questioned whether the party should rethink its commitment to the Medicare plan, which appears to have become a liability as 2012 elections loom.
    Two months ago, the Democrat, Kathy Hochul, was considered an all-but-certain loser. But Ms. Hochul seized on her Republican rival’s embrace of the proposal from Representative Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, to overhaul Medicare, and she never let up.
    With 66 percent of the precincts reporting, Ms. Hochul led with 48 percent of the vote, to 43 percent for the Republican candidate, Jane L. Corwin…. – NYT, 5-24-11
  • Democrat Wins G.O.P. Seat; Rebuke Seen to Medicare Plan: Democrats scored an upset in one of New York’s most conservative Congressional districts on Tuesday, dealing a blow to the national Republican Party in a race that largely turned on the party’s plan to overhaul Medicare.
    The results set off elation among Democrats and soul-searching among Republicans, who questioned whether the party should rethink its commitment to the Medicare plan, which appears to have become a liability as 2012 elections loom.
    Two months ago, the Democrat, Kathy Hochul, was considered an all-but-certain loser in the race against Jane Corwin. But Ms. Hochul seized on her Republican rival’s embrace of the proposal from Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, to overhaul Medicare, and she never let up.
    Voters, who turned out in strikingly large numbers for a special election, said they trusted Ms. Hochul, the county clerk of Erie County, to protect Medicare…. – NYT, 5-24-11
  • GOP loss a Medicare message?: Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul won a House special election in western New York on Tuesday, a Democratic triumph in a conservative district that many consider a referendum on House Republicans’ efforts to reform Medicare.
    With 91 percent of precincts reporting, Hochul had 48 percent of the vote. State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, a Republican, had 42 percent, while independent candidate Jack Davis ran a distant third with 9 percent.
    The seat in New York’s 26th District became vacant when Rep. Christopher Lee, R-N.Y., resigned after revelations that he had sent shirtless pictures of himself to a woman with whom he had been corresponding on Craigslist. Seattle Times, 5-25-11
  • Democrat Wins U.S. House Race That Focused on Medicare, AP Says: Kathy Hochul was elected to a vacant U.S. House seat in western New York, the Associated Press said, following a campaign that became a referendum on a Republican plan to privatize Medicare.
    With 84 percent of the vote counted in the special election, the AP tally showed Hochul with 48 percent to 42 percent for Republican Jane Corwin and 8 percent for Buffalo- area industrialist Jack Davis, running on the Tea Party ballot line.
    The race was closely watched for its implications on national politics, including the 2012 presidential campaign. The campaign provided the first electoral test on the Medicare issue and, in a sign of its potential importance, national party groups and their independent allies helped finance a barrage of local television ads and automated telephone calls to households…. – Bloomberg, 5-24-11
  • Democrat Kathy Hochul wins upstate New York race: Democrat Kathy Hochul drew on voter discontent over Republican plans to revamp Medicare to score an upset win on Tuesday in a special election to represent a conservative upstate New York congressional district.
    Hochul defeated Republican Jane Corwin in a three-way race that also included self-described Tea Party candidate Jack Davis. The outcome did not affect Republican control of the House of Representatives.
    “Tonight the voters were willing to look beyond the political labels and vote for a person, and vote for message that they believe in,” Hochul told cheering supporters minutes after taking a phone call from Corwin, a state assemblywoman. “We can balance the budget the right way, and not on the backs of our seniors,” said Hochul, the Erie County clerk. “We had the issues on our side.”
    President Barack Obama, who is visiting Britain, issued a statement congratulating Hochul on her victory. “Kathy and I both believe that we need to create jobs, grow our economy, and reduce the deficit in order to outcompete other nations and win the future,” Obama said…. – Reuters, 5-24-11
  • Democrat Wins House Seat Third Candidate Roils New York Race in Traditionally GOP Area; Medicare Issue Studied as Factor:A Democrat on Tuesday won election to a congressional seat from a traditionally Republican district in western New York, according to Associated Press tallies, an outcome that will be studied for clues to how voters are viewing the budget battles in Washington.
    Republican candidate Jane Corwin had endorsed a plan passed by House Republicans last month to overhaul Medicare, drawing sharp criticism from her Democratic rival, Kathy Hochul.
    Ms. Hochul was leading Ms. Corwin, 48% to 43%, with 66% of the vote tallied shortly after 10 p.m. eastern time, AP reported.
    The news service declared the winner to be Ms. Hochul. She is currently the Erie County clerk.
    Republicans outnumber Democrats in the district, and voters gave former Rep. Chris Lee, a Republican, 68% of the vote in November.
    The district also supported Republicans John McCain for president in 2008 and President George W. Bush in 2004.
    While the outcome was complicated by a third-party candidate, members of Congress are sure to study the results for the role that the Medicare proposal may have played in the race…. – WSJ, 5-24-11
  • Democrat Hochul wins N.Y. special election: Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul won a House special election in western New York on Tuesday night, a Democratic triumph in a conservative district that many consider a referendum on House Republicans’ efforts to reform Medicare.
    With three-quarters of precincts reporting, Hochul had 48 percent of the vote. State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin (R) had 42 percent, with independent candidate Jack Davis running a distant third with 8 percent.
    Democrats contended that the race in New York’s 26th Congressional District — which the GOP had held since the 1960s — became competitive through their efforts linking Corwin to the House Republican plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program.
    That plan, spearheaded by Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.), has already been the subject of plenty of debate in Washington, where Republicans seek deep cuts and debt-reduction measures…. – WaPo, 5-24-11
  • Kathy Hochul wins NY congressional race: Democrat Kathy Hochul scored an upset and won a special election to represent New York’s 26th congressional district on Tuesday, defeating Republican Jane Corwin.
    Hochul, the Erie County clerk, declared victory in the conservative upstate district with just over 70 percent of the vote tallied.
    The election was held to fill the seat vacated in February by Republican Chris Lee, who resigned after shirtless photos he sent to a woman he met on Craigslist were published on the Internet…. – Reuters, 5-24-11
  • Julian E. Zelizer: N.Y. race for House seat a preview of 2012?: Next week voters in New York’s 26th Congressional District will go to the ballot box to replace Rep. Christopher Lee, who resigned after a scandal involving a photo of himself shirtless that he sent to a woman he met online.
    Like other special elections in the last two years, the rumble in the 26th has drawn the attention and resources of both national political parties. What would have ordinarily been a local race is seen as having big implications for 2012.
    Until April, few Democrats thought this race was worth contesting. The 26th is one of the most conservative districts in New York, presumably a safe Republican seat. But then something happened. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin released his budget plan, which included a drastic overhaul of Medicare and Medicaid. Many of his GOP colleagues, fearing trouble on the campaign trail, distanced themselves from the plan as soon as the details were released.
    In New York, Democrats pounced. The party has been able to generate substantial support for its candidate, Kathy Hochul, by connecting the dots between New York, Washington, and Wisconsin. Her ads have hammered away at her Republican opponent, Jane Corwin, for endorsing Ryan’s proposal and supporting “a budget that essentially ends Medicare.” She also supports, they add, reductions in Social Security benefits.
    The National Republican Congressional Committee has responded with a familiar refrain, calling Hochul a champion of the kind of big government liberalism that it says has run rampant in Washington. A recent television spot argued that Hochul, as well as independent Jack Davis, was on the same page as former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
    The race is allowing both parties to test their arguments for 2012. Republicans are counting on Americans to share the party’s antipathy to the federal government and support proposals to lower the federal deficit. This anti-government ethos has been a guiding ideal for GOP candidates since Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter in 1980….
    The results in the special election may help the parties determine what their strategy should be in the 2012 elections. If Hochul wins, we can expect Democrats to focus on specifics in the upcoming months, telling voters what Democrats’ programs provide them and what Republicans hope to take away.
    If Republicans can hold this seat, they may be emboldened to continue calling for radical cuts in the federal budget and warning of the dangerous road on which Democrats have embarked. Which argument sticks in this special election will give both parties some sense of where voters stand after the heated budget battles of the past few months…. – CNN, 5-23-11

Budget Showdown 2011: Obama, Boehner, and Reid’s WH Meeting, Republican Stop-Gap Measure Attempt to Avert Government Shutdown Friday

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:

Boehner and Reid

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) walk out to speak to reporters after their meeting at the White House with President Obama regarding the budget and possible government shutdown. (Charles Dharapak / Associated Press / April 6, 2011)

IN FOCUS

 

  • Republican Fiscal Year 2012 Budget
  • From Reagan to Obama 30 years of spending prioritiesWaPo

    THE HEADLINES….

    • GOP prepares 1-week extension as shutdown looms: Republicans battling with President Barack Obama over budget cuts plan to hold a House vote Thursday on one-week legislation to avoid a government shutdown, despite opposition from the White House and Senate Democrats pressing for a longer-term solution.
      The party leaders debated as the clock ticked toward a midnight Friday deadline. Even a brief shutdown could affect a wide range of Americans, from troops fighting abroad to tourists planning trips to national parks.
      The move by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to advance the interim budget measure angered his Democratic negotiating counterparts and came after slower-than-hoped White House talks Wednesday night. The president said Republicans need to display more urgency, while Boehner said honest differences remain…. – AP, 4-7-11
    • Obama Meeting Fails to End Stalemate Over Federal Budget: President Obama and Congressional leaders said Wednesday that a late-night White House bargaining session produced no budget breakthrough that would avert a government shutdown this weekend but agreed the two sides had narrowed the issues in efforts to strike a deal.
      Emerging from a 90-minute meeting with Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, and Speaker John A. Boehner, the president said aides would work through the night and he and Mr. Reid expressed optimism that a compromise could be reached.
      “I remain confident that if we’re serious about getting something done, we should be able to complete a deal and get it passed and avert a shutdown,” Mr. Obama said. NYT, 4-7-11
    • Some progress cited in federal budget talks: Republican House Speaker John Boehner won’t acknowledge compromising with Democrats, but he and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid both cite movement in White House negotiations to avoid a government shutdown…. – LAT, 4-7-11
    • Rifts Within Both Parties Test Leaders in Budget Fight: On one level, the budget showdown that continued to play out here on Wednesday is all about the balance of power between the two parties, a question of whether President Obama has regained his footing and can still control the direction of the country or whether Speaker John A. Boehner and the Republicans are now calling the shots.
      But on another, it is a test of each man’s ability to weather challenges inside his own party. The outcome will help determine whether Mr. Boehner is leading his party or following the demands of the Tea Party movement. For Mr. Obama, it is the biggest test yet of whether he can reposition himself as a pragmatic leader who can recapture the political center and keep liberals sufficiently energized to help him win re-election…. – NYT, 4-7-11
    • Obama Presses for Budget Issues ‘Narrowed’; Parties Asked to Work Through Night as Shutdown Looms: “What [the talks] did was narrow the issues and clarify the issues that are still outstanding,” Mr. Obama said. He was confident a deal could be reached to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year, he said, but “it’s going to require a sufficient sense of urgency from all parties involved.”
      Staffers from the White House and the offices of Messrs. Boehner and Reid were set to work through night, and Mr. Obama said he would check in with them Thursday morning—a day and a half before the deadline—and summon the parties back to the White House if necessary.
      “We’re going to keep pounding away at this thing,” Mr. Obama said…. – WSJ, 4-7-11
    • President Obama talks with reporters about the 2011 budget negotiations. He said he should not have to be a referee for Congress: Racing a Friday deadline to avert a government shutdown, President Obama met late Wednesday with top congressional negotiators and said afterward that he is “confident” a spending deal can be finalized in time.
      House Speaker John A. Boehner, the top Republican who met with Mr. Obama, said there is still no agreement on an overall dollar amount for spending cuts, or on what legislative add-ons will be included in any final spending deal. But all sides agreed their staffs would continue working after the high-level White House meeting.
      “What they did was narrow the issues and clarify the issues that are still outstanding,” Mr. Obama told reporters afterward. “I remain confident that if we’re serious about getting something done, we should be able to complete a deal and get it passed and avert a shutdown.”…. – Washington Times, 4-7-11
    • In Washington, squabbling over who’s an adult: Suddenly everyone in Washington wants to be an adult. President Barack Obama says he wants to have an adult dialogue on the budget. Republican lawmakers contend they’re the ones trying to have a grown-up talk. Both sides are pointing fingers yet both have agreed to repeated delays in completing a budget to keep the government open for the last six months of the fiscal year.
      The bickering might seem, well, childish, but the stakes are high as each side tries to win public opinion and display the leadership qualities to attract voters at the ballot box through 2012 and beyond…. – AP, 4-7-11
    • Administration: Shutdown would furlough 800,000 federal workers: Officials began warning Wednesday of significant cutbacks in government services as the threat of a federal government shutdown lurched one day closer to reality.
      Failure to reach a budget deal would mean furloughing about 800,000 federal employees nationwide — many of whom are expected to surrender their Blackberrys, according to senior administration officials familiar with shutdown planning…. – WaPo, 4-6-11
    • White House says shutdown will delay pay to troops: The Obama administration warned Wednesday that a federal shutdown would undermine the economic recovery, delay pay to U.S. troops fighting in three wars, slow the processing of tax returns and limit small business loans and government-backed mortgages during peak home buying season.
      The dire message, delivered two days before the federal government’s spending authority expires, appeared aimed at jolting congressional Republicans into a budget compromise. Billions of dollars apart, congressional negotiators were working to strike a deal by Friday to avert a shutdown by setting spending limits through the end of September. The last such shutdown took place 15 years ago and lasted 21 days…. – AP, 4-6-11

    QUOTES

    • President Obama on the Ongoing Budget Negotiations: We just had a productive meeting with Speaker Boehner, as well as Majority Leader Reid. We discussed the impasse that we’re currently at with respect to the budget, and I thought the meetings were frank, they were constructive, and what they did was narrow the issues and clarify the issues that are still outstanding.
      I remain confident that if we’re serious about getting something done we should be able to complete a deal and get it passed and avert a shutdown. But it’s going to require a sufficient sense of urgency from all parties involved. It means that people have to recognize that a government shutdown has real consequences for real people.
      There was a interview that was done tonight on one of the nightly news networks — a man from Kentucky named J.T. Henderson. He said he’s counting on his tax rebate because his family has been scraping by, and he might not get it if the government shuts down. So J.T. said if he could speak directly to all of us in Washington he’d tell us that all of this political grandstanding has effects as it trickles down to normal, everyday Americans.
      I could not have said it better myself. A shutdown could have real effects on everyday Americans. That means that small business owners who are counting on that loan to open their business, to make payroll, to expand, suddenly they can’t do it. It means folks who are potentially processing a mortgage, they may not be able to get it. It means that hundreds of thousands of workers across the country suddenly are without a paycheck. Their families are counting on them being able to go to work and do a good job.
      There are ramifications all across this economy. And at a time when the economy is still coming out of an extraordinarily deep recession, it would be inexcusable, given the relatively narrow differences when it comes to numbers between the two parties, that we can’t get this done.
      So my expectation is that folks are going to work through the night. In the morning I will check in with the respective staffs of the Speaker and the Majority Leader, as well as my team here. If we haven’t made progress, we’re going to go back at it again. And we’re going to keep on pounding away at this thing because I’m absolutely convinced that we can get this done.
      There’s no reason why we should not be able to complete a deal. There’s no reason why we should have a government shutdown — unless we’ve made a decision that politics is more important than folks like J.T. Henderson.
      That’s not why we we’re elected. That’s not why we were sent here. And I want to meet the expectations of the American people in terms of delivering for them. – WH, 4-6-11
    • Obama: ‘Inexcusable’ not to reach budget deal: Obama’s guests at last night’s budget session — House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada — also expressed hope that a shutdown can be avoided.
      “We had a productive conversation and made good progress toward an agreement,” Reid said. “I am hopeful that we will be able to announce a compromise agreement soon.”
      Boehner, standing beside Reid in the White House driveway, said: “There’s an intent on both sides to continue to work together to try to resolve this … no one wants the government to shut down.”
      In the White House press room last night, Obama said, “I remain confident that if we’re serious about getting something done we should be able to complete a deal and get it passed and avert a shutdown.” “But,” he added, “it’s going to require a sufficient sense of urgency from all parties involved.”… – USA Today, 4-7-11
    • John Boehner: ‘No daylight’ between tea party and me: “Listen, there’s no daylight between the tea party and me,” the Ohio Republican said in an interview with ABC News conducted Wednesday. “None,” he said, when questioner George Stephanopoulos pushed back. “What they want is, they want us to cut spending. They want us to deal with this crushing debt that’s going to crush the future for our kids and grandkids. There’s no daylight there.”
      “Listen … my job is to do what I can do in the House,” Boehner said of the proposed one-week funding bill. “And I do believe that … it’s a reasonable chance of keeping the government open and funding our troops— at the critical time when we’ve got troops in two wars overseas.”… “The president— I’ve been begging the president for months, ‘Mr. President, let’s lock arms,’” Boehner said…. – Politico, 4-7-11

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

    • Julian Zelizer: Government shutdown: How it came to this: “This is just an eyeball-to-eyeball moment where Republicans want to exercise their power,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “And Obama is trying to defend his reputation with Democrats.”… – CNN, 4-6-11
    • Steven F. Hayward: The Ryan Express One part FDR, one part Gipper: The liberal reaction to Paul Ryan’s budget plan makes it evident that liberals are more terrified than they’ve been since Jack Kemp (one of Ryan’s mentors) advanced supply-side economics back in the late 1970s. And although Ryan may not run for president next year, it is clear that just as Ronald Reagan had to embrace the Kemp-Roth tax-cut plan in his 1980 campaign, the eventual GOP nominee will have to embrace Ryan’s budget plan if he or she is going to be taken seriously by the party, and especially the Tea Party.
      As Kemp’s understanding of supply-side economics was about more than just tax rates and revenues, Ryan’s budget architecture is about much more than just fiscal balances, and this is what terrifies liberals the most. The most interesting twist on the whole matter, though, is whether Ryan’s plan would eviscerate the welfare state (cue Nancy Pelosi, et al.), or rescue it within reasonable limits… – National Review, 4-6-11
    • DANIEL HENNINGER: A Ronald Reagan Budget Paul Ryan’s budget offers much more than deficit-reduction brimstone: Nothing like Paul Ryan’s budget, “The Path to Prosperity: Restoring America’s Promise,” has been heard from a Republican since February 1981, when Ronald Reagan issued his presidency’s first budget message, “America’s New Beginning: A Program for Economic Recovery.” The echoes reach beyond the titles.
      Both budgets announced a clear break with the Washington status quo. Reagan reversed the policies of the Carter presidency and the infamous stagflation years of weak economic growth, 18% interest rates and 14% inflation. Reagan’s 1981 message posited four reversals: “a substantial reduction” in spending; “a significant reduction in federal tax rates”; relief from federal regulation; and “a monetary policy consistent with those policies.”… – WSJ, 4-7-11
  • Political Highlights March 20, 2011: US & UN Launch Airstrikes Against Libya Leader Moammar Gaddafi

    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.

    US & UN LAUNCH AIRSTRIKES AGAINST LIBYA LEADER  MOAMMAR GADDAFI

    IN FOCUS

    The President on Libya
    White House Photo, Pete Souza, 3/18/11

     

     

    • Attacks begin on Libyan air defense sites: An international coalition launched its first strikes on Libya Saturday to destroy the country’s air and missile defense systems and prevent further attacks by the Libyan government on its citizens and rebels in and around the rebel held city of Benghazi, a senior U.S. military official said.
      More than two dozen warships and a large number of war planes from several countries made up the initial strike force, which was led by the U.S. military’s Africa command, the official said, speaking in an embargoed briefing a few hours before the operation began.
      “The key first strikes would be on the coast because that is where the integrated air and missile defense systems,” the official added.
      The first wave included sea-launched U.S. cruise missiles and the deployment of U.S. electronic warfare aircraft. — WaPo, 3-19-11
    • Obama: Gaddafi must comply with U.N. resolution or face military action: President Obama said an international coalition, including the U.S., will take military action against Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi if he does not comply with a U.N. resolution aimed at protecting Libyan civilians. Obama said Gaddafi has been given “ample warning” and laid out a series of actions Libya must take, saying “these terms are not negotiable.” — WaPo, 3-18-11
    • U.N. approves ‘all necessary measures’ to protect Libya’s civilians: On a 10 to 0 vote with five abstentions, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution authorizing the international community to take “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya.
      The resolution demands an “immediate cease-fire in Libya, the complete end of violence and all attacks against and abuse of civilians,” and unspecified action to protect “civilians and civilian population areas under threat of attack.” It also establishes a ban on all flights in the airspace of Libya except for humanitarian and evacuation flights. — WaPo, 3-17-11
    • Poll: Public narrowly approves of Obama’s handling of Libya: A poll released Monday shows that a slight plurality of the American public approves of President Obama’s handling of the ongoing civil strife in Libya. Forty-five percent of respondents in CNN/Opinion Research poll said they approve of the president’s handling of the conflict compared to 40 percent who said they disapprove. Fifteen percent said they have no opinion…. – The Hill, 3-14-11

    REVOLUTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST: LIBYA IN TURMOIL

    • West backs off calls for Libya regime change as Qaddafi warns of ‘long war’: French, US, and British airstrikes have crippled Libyan coastal defenses and air abilities as the largest coalition of military force since the Iraq war enters its second day…. – CS Monitor, 3-20-11
    • With Libya, is ‘Obama doctrine’ on war emerging?: Barack Obama entered the White House responsible for two wars he had inherited. Now, as Iraq winds down and Afghanistan drags on, he finds himself at the outset of possible US combat in Libya.
      As a result, while any “Obama doctrine” regarding the use of US military force has yet to be declared, one seems to be emerging.
      Obama’s actions in this case have been deliberate, indicating a clear hesitance to be out front in yet another war in a Muslim country…. – CS Monitor, 3-19-11
    • Defiant Libyan Leader Vows ‘Long War’ As Coalition Air Strikes Pound Libya: Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s compound was hit by a missile strike late today,as a barrage of airstrikes by US and European militaries destroyed Libyan defenses, rocked the capitol of Tripoli…. – ABC News, 3-20-11
    • With no-fly zone in Libya now, US-led coalition freer to attack: Missile attacks on Libyan air defenses have freed US jets to attack ground targets. But questions remain, including the use of human shields and the chance that Qaddafi might remain in power…. – CS Monitor, 3-20-11
    • First wave of allied assault: 112 cruise missiles: U.S. and British ships and submarines launched the first phase of a missile assault on Libyan air defenses Saturday and a senior American defense official said it was believed substantial damage was inflicted. In the strikes, 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired at more than 20 coastal targets to clear the way for air patrols to ground Libya’s air force. While U.S. defense officials cautioned that it was too early to fully gauge the impact of the onslaught, the official said that given the precision targeting of the Navy’s cruise missiles, they felt that Libya’s air defenses suffered a good deal of damage…. – AP, 3-19-11
    • First wave of allied assault: 112 cruise missiles: U.S. and British ships and submarines launched the first phase of a missile assault on Libyan air defenses, firing 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles Saturday at more than 20 coastal targets to clear the way for air patrols to ground Libya’s air force. In announcing the mission during a visit to Brazil, President Barack Obama said he was reluctant to resort to force but was convinced it was necessary to save the lives of civilians. He reiterated that he would not send American ground troops to Libya.
      “We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy,” he said in Brasilia…. – AP, 3-19-11
    • Allies launch Libya force as Gadhafi hits rebels: French fighter jets fired the first shots at Moammar Gadhafi’s troops on Saturday, launching the broadest international military effort since the Iraq war in support of an uprising that had seemed on the verge of defeat.
      In the hours before the no-fly zone over Libya went into effect, Gadhafi sent warplanes, tanks and troops into Benghazi, the rebel capital and first city to fall to the rebellion that began Feb. 15. Then the government attacks appeared to go silent…. – AP, 3-19-11
    • Gadhafi vows ‘long war’ after US, allies strike: A defiant Moammar Gadhafi vowed a “long war” after the U.S. and European militaries blasted his forces with airstrikes and over 100 cruise missiles, hitting air defenses and at least two major air bases early Sunday, shaking the Libyan capital with explosions and anti-aircraft fire. Despite the strikes, Gadhafi’s troops lashed back, bombarding the rebel-held city of Misrata with artillery and tanks on Sunday, the opposition reported…. – AP, 3-19-11
    • Paris hosts world leaders in critical Libya talks: Leaders from the Arab world, Africa, the United States and other Western powers are holding urgent talks in Paris Saturday over possible military action against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces…. – AP, 3-19-11
    • Obama to Gadhafi: Stop or face military action: President Barack Obama demanded Friday that Moammar Gadhafi halt all military attacks against civilians and said that if the Libyan leader did not stand down the United States would join in military action against him. Still, Obama also said the United States “is not going to deploy ground troops into Libya.”… – AP, 3-18-11
    • Giuliani mocks Obama as foreign policy weakling: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose drive-by approach to campaigning in New Hampshire drove his 2008 presidential campaign into the ground, is setting the stage for a do-over. Giuliani, who says he hasn’t decided whether he’s running again, sounded a lot like a candidate when he spoke at a GOP fundraiser in Manchester on Friday night…. – AP, 3-18-11
    • Obama to Gadhafi: Stop or face military action: President Barack Obama demanded Friday that Moammar Gadhafi halt all military attacks on civilians and said that if the Libyan leader did not stand down the United States would join other nations in launching military action against him. However, Obama also said the United States “is not going to deploy ground troops into Libya.” In a brief appearance at the White House, Obama said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would travel to Paris on Saturday to join allies in discussing next steps in Libya, where Gadhafi has pressed a brutal crackdown against rebels trying to end his 42-year reign…. – AP, 3-18-11
    • Amid uncertainty, allies prepare for no-fly zone: The United States, France and Britain told Libya’s leader Moammar Gadhafi to withdraw his troops from formerly rebel-held areas and halt any attacks on civilians there, as warplanes that could strike this north African country moved into the Mediterranean region.
      President Barack Obama went even further, saying that if the Libyan leader did not stand down the United States would join other nations in launching military action against him…. – AP, 3-18-11
    • Obama endorses military action to stop Gadhafi: After weeks of hesitation and divisions among his advisers, President Barack Obama on Friday endorsed military action against Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, saying U.S. values and credibility are at stake to stop “the potential for mass murder” of innocents.
      The U.S. military, which is already stretched thin by two wars and an expanding effort to assist disaster victims in Japan, would take a supporting role, Obama said, with European and Arab partners in the lead. He explicitly ruled out sending American ground forces into the North African nation…. – AP, 3-18-11
    • Officials say US readying for no fly Zone in Libya: Congressional officials say the Obama administration is readying plans to participate in a no-fly zone in Libya with the help of Arab countries in anticipation of a United Nations Security Council resolution. These officials said Thursday they expected the effort to enforce a no-fly zone and ground Moammar Gadhafi’s air force could begin within a few days if the UN takes action by day’s end…. – AP, 3-17-11
    • US readying plans to enforce Libya no-fly zone: The Obama administration was readying plans to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya with the help of Arab countries, officials said Thursday as the United Nations Security Council voted to authorize the move. These officials, who spoke after a closed-door briefing in Congress, said they expected the attempt to ground Moammar Gadhafi’s air force could begin by Sunday or Monday. The effort likely would involve jet fighters, bombers and surveillance aircraft…. – AP, 3-17-11
    • Diplomacy Stalls as Libya Rebels Face Pro-Qaddafi Forces: Military forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi cranked up military and psychological pressure on the rebels on Monday, offering amnesty to those who surrendered their weapons but bombing a strategic linchpin in the east and invading a rebel-held town in the west…. – NYT, 3-15-11
    • US eyes Libyan opposition, allies call for action: Under pressure from allies and growing calls for military intervention in Libya, the Obama administration held its first high-level talks with the Libyan opposition on Monday but remained undecided about exactly how much support to lend a group it still knows little about while turmoil and uncertainty increase across the Arab world…. – AP, 3-14-11

    THE HEADLINES….

    • Sarah Palin touches down in Israel; set to meet with Prime Minister on Monday: Israel got its first official glimpse of Sarah Palin. The former Vice Presidential candidate arrived in Jerusalem on Sunday as part of her whirlwind trip that many think is meant to bolster her foreign policy credentials leading up to a possible 2012 presidential run.
      She visited India earlier this week. Sporting what appears to be a necklace with the Jewish symbol of a Star of David, the Alaska resident visited the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray.
      She also toured Jerusalem’s Old City and is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.
      “Israel is absolutely beautiful and it is overwhelming to see and touch the cornerstone of our faith and I am so grateful to be here,” the devout Christian told reporters. “I’m very thankful to know that the Israeli and American link will grow in strength as we seek peace along with you.”
      Despite meeting with the country’s leader, she is technically traveling as a private citizen and has been coy about whether she hopes to be traveling as something other than that come 2012.
      “I don’t think there needs to be a rush to get out there as a declared candidate,” she said earlier this week. “It’s a life-changing decision.”… – NY Daily News, 3-20-11
    • Obama takes in Rio with Libya on his mind: President Barack Obama played grand tourist to Rio de Janeiro’s vivid extremes on Sunday, traveling from brilliant beaches to a notorious slum even as he monitored U.S. military strikes in faraway Libya.
      With his whole family in tow on the second day of a Latin American tour meant to knit economic and cultural ties, the president visited the City of God shantytown that gained fame after a movie by the same name won Oscar nominations. At a community center in the heart of the jostling slum of 40,000 the president plunged into the lives of children there, playing soccer with kids and watching enthralled at a dazzling martial arts display. The president shed his coat and tie, rolled up his sleeves and dribbled one-on-one soccer with one surprised boy. Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia got involved, too, kicking a ball around with the kids…. – AP, 3-20-11
    • Obama’s juggle: Libya war and Latin America: As American missiles struck Libya, President Barack Obama doggedly promoted his Latin American agenda Saturday, praising Brazil as a soaring economic force and brimming market for trade. Back home, his message was all but lost in the roar over the Libyan conflict.
      “The United States doesn’t simply recognize Brazil’s rise; we support it enthusiastically,” Obama said from this capital city as he launched a five-day outreach mission that will also take him to Chile and El Salvador. He began in Brazil as a sign of solidary between the two largest democracies and economies in the Americas, and he sought to break through here with his themes of bold cooperation on energy, education and trade…. – AP, 3-19-11
    • Obama arrives in Brazil, begins Latin America tour: President Barack Obama has landed in Brasilia, the highland capital of Brazil, for the start of a three-country, five-day tour of Latin America to promote greater economic ties and improved regional security…. – AP, 3-19-11

    QUOTES

    • Watch Live: President Obama Speaks on Human Rights in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: The President’s trip to Latin America this weekend focuses on the importance of strengthening our economic partnership with the region to create good jobs at home, as he discussed in his weekly address. This afternoon, President Obama will deliver a speech at Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janiero, Brazil to discuss the deeply held values and interests that bind our countries together — a relationship that is particularly important because of Brazil’s role as a rapidly emerging power on the global stage. – Watch the President’s remarks live at 1:30 PM EDT on WhiteHouse.gov/live.
    • John McCain: Obama should have acted faster: Earlier action, the senator said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” would have been more effective in weakening the grip of the controversial leader, who’s deployed his forces against rebelling civilians. “He waited too long, there is no doubt in my mind about it,” McCain said of the president. “But now, it is what it is. And we need, now, to support him and the efforts that our military are going to make. And I regret that it didn’t – we didn’t act much more quickly, and we could have.” “If we had taken these — this step a couple of weeks ago, a no-fly zone would probably have been enough,” he said. “Now, a no-fly zone is not enough. There needs to be other efforts made.” “There’s a lot of things we can do besides just the air power component of it,” McCain said. Politico, 3-20-11
    • Remarks by the President on Libya: “Today We are Part of a Broad Coalition. We are Answering the Calls of a Threatened People. And We are Acting in the Interests of the United States and the World”: Good afternoon, everybody. Today I authorized the Armed Forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians. That action has now begun.
      In this effort, the United States is acting with a broad coalition that is committed to enforcing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which calls for the protection of the Libyan people. That coalition met in Paris today to send a unified message, and it brings together many of our European and Arab partners.
      This is not an outcome that the United States or any of our partners sought. Even yesterday, the international community offered Muammar Qaddafi the opportunity to pursue an immediate cease-fire, one that stopped the violence against civilians and the advances of Qaddafi’s forces. But despite the hollow words of his government, he has ignored that opportunity. His attacks on his own people have continued. His forces have been on the move. And the danger faced by the people of Libya has grown.
      I am deeply aware of the risks of any military action, no matter what limits we place on it. I want the American people to know that the use of force is not our first choice and it’s not a choice that I make lightly. But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy, and his forces step up their assaults on cities like Benghazi and Misurata, where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government.
      So we must be clear: Actions have consequences, and the writ of the international community must be enforced. That is the cause of this coalition.
      As a part of this effort, the United States will contribute our unique capabilities at the front end of the mission to protect Libyan civilians, and enable the enforcement of a no-fly zone that will be led by our international partners. And as I said yesterday, we will not — I repeat — we will not deploy any U.S. troops on the ground.
      As Commander-in-Chief, I have great confidence in the men and women of our military who will carry out this mission. They carry with them the respect of a grateful nation.
      I’m also proud that we are acting as part of a coalition that includes close allies and partners who are prepared to meet their responsibility to protect the people of Libya and uphold the mandate of the international community.
      I’ve acted after consulting with my national security team, and Republican and Democratic leaders of Congress. And in the coming hours and days, my administration will keep the American people fully informed. But make no mistake: Today we are part of a broad coalition. We are answering the calls of a threatened people. And we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world. WH. 3-19-11

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

    • Robert Hunter: Success of Libya air strikes depends on Middle East perception, ISU history professor says: Last weekend’s coalition effort to stop Libyan leader Muammar Ghaddafi’s clampdown on his opposition will only succeed if the Middle East perceives it as beneficial to government protestors, said Robert Hunter, professor of history. “This means that Obama and the other leaders must not authorize ‘boots on the ground,’ that is, no U.S. or other Western troops in Tripoli or anywhere else,” said Hunter, who has lived in and written extensively about the Middle East.
      Hunter said the operation would not have happened at all without initial support of the Arab League, a group of Middle Eastern countries sharing common diplomatic interests. Originally formed in 1945, the league now consists of 22 countries, including Egypt, Iraq and Jordan.
      “Otherwise, this operation might have been perceived as yet another Western imperialist intervention in the Middle East,” he said. “The Arab League, some of whose states are as autocratic as Ghaddafi’s government, supported it because they are all under pressure from their peoples and did [not] want to be seen as out of line with the ‘street’.”
      Hunter said big questions loomed for U.S. involvement in the coalition. “If we degrade Ghaddafi’s military but he is able to hold onto power in the western part of Libya, what then?” he said. “The temptation may be to remove him by use of special forces or strikes… Something like this might change perceptions in the region.” — Indiana Statesman, 3-20-11
    • Kenneth Levin: Self-Reflection and Self-Blame; Israel and Obama: Much has been written about President Obama’s reported statement to a Jewish group earlier this month that Israelis should search their souls concerning the quest for peace. In this offensive comment and related remarks, Obama once more put the onus on Israel for the absence of movement towards a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while he characterized Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas as eager for a fair deal.
      In fact, Abbas has used the mosques, media and schools under his control to militate against any genuine peace. The message conveyed by all three is that Jews have no historical connection to any part of Palestine, that they are mere usurpers whose presence must be expunged, and that it is the duty of every Palestinian to pursue that goal. In addition, Abbas has personally praised terrorists who have killed Israelis as the ideal all Palestinians should strive to emulate and has explicitly endorsed efforts to delegitimize Israel and its right to exist within any borders.
      But Obama’s hostility to Israel appears impervious to all such realities. Perhaps this should not be surprising, as his jaundiced view of America’s traditional role in world affairs is hardly more responsive to counter-evidence. Thus, he pursues the reining in of American leadership, and the reaching out to those who wish America ill, even as his doing so entails, among other travesties, allowing Muammar Gaddafi to slaughter most of his way back to full control of Libya; promising carrots to Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir despite the continuing genocide in Darfur; and doing nothing meaningful to help the bloodied people of Iran throw off the totalitarian yoke of their nation’s theocracy…. – American Thinker, 3-20-11
    • BENYAMIN KORN: Palin Doctrine Emerges as Arab League Echoes Her Demarche on Libya: The call by the Arab League for Western military intervention in an Arab state — in this case asking that a UN “no-fly zone” be imposed over Libya – is not only without precedent but it puts in formal terms what Governor Palin stated three weeks ago should have been America’s response to the political and humanitarian crisis now unfolding there.
      The former GOP vice presidential candidate was being interviewed on February 23rd on national television by Sean Hannity on a range of issues. On the Libya crisis, she proposed a no-fly zone to protect the armed and un-armed opposition to the Qaddafi regime. Mrs. Palin’s formulation had been blogged about for nearly a week when it was echoed by the man who, before the Iraq war, had led the Iraq democratic movement in exile, Ahmed Chalabi…. – NY Sun, 3-16-11

    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.

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