Budget Showdown: Q & A – How Many Times in US History has the Government Shutdown Over the Budget?

HISTORY Q & A: How Many Times in US History Has the Government Shutdown Over the Budget?

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 Jewish history at Concordia University.

EPA USA BUDGET CONGRESS GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

Night falls on the Capitol on the eve of a government shutdown in Washington, D.C.(Photo: Michael Reynolds, EPA)

Days to the start of the 2014 fiscal year Congress cannot come to an agreement for a continuing resolution that would keep the government solvent. Adding to the issue this time is not just a budget that the administration could not agree, but also the debt ceiling is reaching its limit about 15 days after the budget expires.

This is second time in Barack Obama’s presidency that a major threat loomed with the pressure of government shutdown. There have been 17 shutdowns in American history concentrated between the 1970s to the 1990s. This will be the 18th shutdown to hit Washington, and by October 17, the government would not have enough funds to meet its international loan obligations.

The government’s budget has been at the center of all previous shutdowns, and the 2013 budget battle is only different that there is the added threat of hit the debt ceiling at the same time. A budget (annual appropriation bills) needs to be passed by Congress and signed by the President prior to the commence of the new fiscal year on October 1, or continuing resolutions also known as stopgap spending bills need to be passed to keep the government operating at the prior year’s fiscal spending limits. However, if Congress fails to pass the appropriation bills, a continuing resolution, or the President vetoes or does not sign the resolution; these results in a government shutdown as there are no funds allocations to operate government.

The last and longest government shutdown in American history was when Democrat Bill Clinton was President and Newt Gingrich was the Speaker of the Republican Congress in November 1995 and in December 1995 through to January 1996. The clash over the 1996 budget caused a government shutdown for six days in the first shutdown and for 21 days during the second shutdown. High partisanship affected the budget negotiation process resulting in the shutdown. According to Charles Tien writing on continuing resolutions in Robert E. Dewhirst, John David Rausch Encyclopedia of the United States Congress, “The government has shut down (partially) a total of 11 times since 1980; the fiscal year 1996 budget battle included two lengthy shutdowns. To avoid or end a government shutdown, the president or Congress must pass either the regular appropriation bill or a continuing resolution.” (149)


JIMMY CARTER

  • September 30 to October 11, 1976 (10 days)
  • September 30 to October 13, 1977 (12 days)
  • October 31 to November 9, 1977 (8 days)
  • November 30 to December 9, 1977 (8 days)
  • September 30 to October 18, 1978 (18 days
  • September 30 to October 12, 1979 (11 days)

Throughout the 1970s, various agencies have had to shutdown because of budget issues. As economic problems increased throughout the 1970s, Democratic President Jimmy Carter became the first president to face the issue of budget fights in Congress leading to the threat of government shutdowns. Lowell Barrington, Michael J. Bosia, Kathleen Bruhn Comparative Politics: Structures and Choices explain Despite being a Democratic President with a Democratic Congress “As Jimmy Carter found out during his four years as president of the United States, even having a legislature controlled by your own party is no guarantee that your policies will pass quickly, or resemble the original initiatives once they do.” (240)

The whole concept of shutting down the government if a budget, appropriation bills, or continuing resolution, started with President Jimmy Carter. Charles Tien writing on continuing resolutions in Robert E. Dewhirst, John David Rausch Encyclopedia of the United States Congress explains, “Since 1980, failure to pass a CR or an appropriations bill has led to a government shutdown. In 1980 President Jimmy Carter’s administration, in reevaluating a law passed in 1870, the Anti-deficiency Act ruled that agencies without appropriations had to close operations. The 1870 law said that “[I]t shall not lawful for any department of the government to expend in any one fiscal year any sum in excess of appropriations made by Congress for that fiscal year, or to involve the government in any contract for the future payment of money in a excess of appropriations.” The Carter administrations ruling of the 1870 Anti-deficiency Act required Agencies without appropriations to shut down immediately.”(149)

Congress used the law to shut down operations at the FTC in 1980. Tien explains; “The first agency to ever shut down for a lapse in appropriations was the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC shutdown for one day in 1980 because Congress refused to pass a full-year appropriation for the agency until it had authorizing legislation.” (149)

RONALD REAGAN

  • November 20 to November 23, 1981 (2 days)
  • September 30 to October 2, 1982 (1 day)
  • December 17 to December 21, 1982 (3 days)
  • November 10 to November 14, 1983 (3 days)
  • September 30 to October 3, 1984 (2 days)
  • October 3 to October 5, 1984 (1 day)
  • October 16 to October 18, 1986 (1 day)
  • December 18 to December 20, 1987 (1 day)

The trend of government showdowns and shutdowns over the budget did not slow with the election of Republican President Ronald Reagan. The introduction of Keynesian supply-side economics to the Federal government, differing economic philosophies regarding spending, and an increase of partisanship between Democrats and Republicans accounted for the succession of government shutdowns throughout the 1980s.

During the Reagan administration, the government spent the most time on the brink of government closures. Steven Hayward writes in The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counterrevolution 1980-1989; “Unable to agree on a budget, Congress passed a “continuing resolution” in November to keep the government running at current levels. Reagan cast his first veto and brieftly shut down the government, in a pattern that would repeat itself much of the next six years (and which was repeated most dramatically during Bill Clinton’s presidency in 1995).” (188)

It was a battle that began from the onset of the administration and spanning the administration’s two terms. Reagan and David Stockman worked to implement and impose his economic policies on Congress from the very start of his administration, causing friction.

The most remembered government shutdown in the Reagan Administration was in 1981. Tien explains that “President Ronald Reagan’s administration used the shutdown guidelines the following year when Reagan vetoed a continuing resolution that resulted in a three-day broader government shutdown.” (149) After short closures in 1981, 1984, 1985, and 1986, the government again faced similar situation in 1987 a closures were averted.

The Reagan administration in presenting and pursuing the passing of their first federal budget in 1981 looked to cut taxes, and cut spending in order to reduce the deficit and balance the budget. Reagan’s economic solution was a program entitled “America’s New Beginning”; a expansive program that would cut taxes, and spending across the board including social programs in order to reduce the swelling deficit, and infuse the lagging economic situation with life. The 1982 deficit was estimated to reach $109 billion.

Reagan in presenting his 1982 budget pleaded with the American people in a televised address; “Our immediate challenge is to hold down the deficit in the fiscal year that begins next week. A number of threats are now appearing that will drive the deficit upward if we fail to act… And without further cuts, we can’t achieve our goal of a balance budget by 1984…. I’m asking all of you who joined in this crusade to save our economy to help again, to let your representatives know that you will support them in making the hard decisions to further reduce the cost and size of government.” (187) Senator Ted Kennedy gave the Democratic response, “This is the government of the rich, by the rich for the rich.” Summing up that the Democratic Congress was not interested in cutting the deficit or spending especially when it came to social programs.

The Reagan administration looked to cut spending in the upcoming 1982 budget. However, as the economy became increasingly worse by September and the Democratic Congress inability to find areas to cut that would have limited impact to rely upon social programs, there was an impass. Reagan reduced the numbers to 13 billion and then again by late October to half that amount, 7-8 billion, without any tax raises, and finally to meet Congress halfway at 4 billion and no less.

Nov 23, 1981: The spending feud between the Republican President Reagan and the Democratic Congress led to a shutdown. The November 20 deadline for a stop gap spending bill was on a Friday, however the House-Senate Conference delayed it to the following Monday to finalize a bill. The compromise bill consisted of 4 billion in spending savings/cuts, by reducing 2 percent of government spending. The White House in reviewing the numbers claimed there would only be 2 billion in savings from the proposed cuts. When presented with the bill in the morning, Reagan refused to sign Congress’s continuing resolution.

Reporting in the New York Times stated; “President Reagan vetoed the measure as “budget-busting.” Faced with the “difficult choice” of either signing the bill or disrupting Government services, the President said, “I have chosen the latter.”  Reagan’s veto led to a shutdown in the government for the afternoon, forcing 400,000 of the 2.1 million federal employees home. Congress approved a stop gap spending bill which later the same day Reagan signed, ending the shutdown with work resuming the next morning. Only on December 12, 1981, did the Congress and and President Reagan approve an Omnibus spending bill, “setting the spending ceilings for the entire year, except in foreign aid. Thus, although the continuing resolution will be superseded by enactment of individual appropriation bills.” (NYT, 12-13-1981, pg. 80)

The one day shutdown cost the government $65 million with a total of 670,000 workers furloughed. A worker who came to work as part of the essential government workers described it as a “snow day without snow…. People come to work sit around confused worry about their car pools, then maybe get interviewed on television.” (NYT, 12-15-1985, pg. D23)

Oct. 4 1984: Congress failed to pass a stopgap money bill, when a new budget was not passed for the new fiscal year. On October 4th500,000 civil servants out of the 2.9 million civil servants where sent home from their jobs; leading to a partial shutdown. An emergency spending bill passed, which Reagan signed, and normal government operations continued the next morning. Both times the shutdowns were limited in their implications and impacts.

Nov 11, 1985: In Reagan’s second term the government again faced a shutdown. Congress could not agree over a budget agreement, and the need to extend the federal borrowing limit, beyond the limit which was 1,823 trillion, which contradicted plans to balance the budget by 1991.

Oct. 17, 1986: The Democratic Congress and the Presidency’s inability to agree on a new fiscal budget led to another half day furlough. Congress had also failed to come to an agreement and pass a spending bill. At Midday 500,000 non-essential federal employees were forced home. An emergency spending bill passed, returning employees the next day to work.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH

  • October 5 to October 9, 1990 (3 days)

All previous government shutdowns lasted only short periods of time, in 1990 that changed under Reagan’s successor and former Vice President, and then President George H.W. Bush when the government experienced its longest shutdown. In October 1990 the government was shut down a total of three days, because of Democratic Congress and the Republican President could not agree on a budget for 1991. As signs of economic problems were visible on the horizon, the battle was centered on the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act to balance the budget.

Democrats wanted to increase taxes on the nation’s richest to reduce the ballooning deficit, but in the 1988 campaign Bush had promise he would not increase any taxes across the board. Bush threatened to veto any budget that Congress presented to him that included a tax increase.
Oct. 6, 1990: President Bush made good on his veto threat; with the budget vetoed and without a continuing resolution agreed upon, the government was shut down throughout the three day Columbus Day weekend. Both the President and Congress wanted to limit the negative impact of a shutdown, and they agreed the new budget would not include any surtax or tax increases. Over the weekend President Bush then signed a continuance, and government opened on Tuesday morning.

The closure during the holiday weekend, limited the impact a three day closure would had on running the government, had it been closed for three days during the week. Bush was however, was forced to agree to tax increases, going against his main campaign pledge. The President signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 on November 5, 1990 securing a budget for the fiscal year.


BILL CLINTON

  • November 13  to November 19, 1995 (5 days)
  • December 5, 1995 to January 6, 1996 (21 days)

The 1995-1996 shutdowns were the longest amid the most heated battle over the budget between Congress and the President. President Clinton chose to veto several appropriation bills in the 1996 budget, at issue was funding amounts for social programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, public health, education, and the environment, all programs Clinton pledged to maintain to the public, however, the Republicans wanted Clinton to submit a seven year plan for a balanced budget. The Republican Congress could have voted on a continuance to keep the government operating on the previous fiscal years spending limits. However, the Republican controlled Congress looked to shut down the government hoping the public would blame the Democratic President, leading to a Republican victory in the next year’s Presidential election.

Many believed Gingrich was motivated by revenge as opposed to policy when allowed the shutdown to occur, Senator Tom Delay in his memoirNo Retreat, No Surrender wrote, “He told a room full of reporters that he forced the shutdown because Clinton had rudely made him and Bob Dole sit at the back of Air Force One… (After Yizhak Rabin’s funeral, where Clinton refused to discuss the budget as well on the flight) Newt had been careless to say such a thing, and now the whole moral tone of the shutdown had been lost. What had been a noble battle for fiscal sanity began to look like the tirade of a spoiled child. The revolution, I can tell you, was never the same.” Throughout the shutdown Clinton suffered in the polls, but in the end the backlash was against the Republicans instead, whose popularity waned after the shutdowns, and in the 1996 election they actually lost 5 seats in the Congress to Democrats.

Nov 13, 1995: The first shutdown commenced at midnight on November 13, 2005, after a last minute attempt to avert the shut down; Clinton, Gingrich, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, and Senator Bob Dole met, but failed to reach a compromise. Clinton described the negotiations in his memoirs, My Life; “Armey replied gruffly that if I didn’t give in to them, they would shut the government down and my presidency would be over. I shot back, saying I would never allow their budget to become law, “even if I drop to 5 percent in the polls. If you want your budget, you’ll have to get someone else to sit in this chair!” Not surprisingly, we didn’t make a deal.” At the midnight, a partial shutdown led to 800,000 “nonessential employees” being sent home or told not to come into to work, with only emergency government services remained open. This represented 42 percent of the civil servants employed. The shutdown only ceased with an agreement on a temporary spending bill.

Dec 16, 1995-Jan 5, 1996: When the temporary funding measures expired, and no continuance was yet again signed, the government shut down this time for 14 days from December 16, 1995 and finally ending on January 5, 1996; the longest shutdown period in US history. Although Congress enacted resolutions to end the shutdown and another temporary spending bill was signed ending the 21 day partial government shut down, the government did not go back to fully functioning until April. Clinton agreed to submit a seven year balanced budget plan approved by the Congressional Budget Office to ensure the government would keep running after the January 26, 1996 spending extension end date. With the agreement, Clinton declared ‘The era of big government is over.’

In 1990 and in 1995, 1996, the budget battles and their subsequent shutdowns forced compromises, especially on the side of the President more than Congress. In 1990 Bush had to agree to tax increases, while in 1996, Clinton had to agree to a seven year balanced budget plan. Bush going against his campaign pledge lost his 1992 bid for re-election, Clinton however, escaped with a higher approval rating for his handling of the 1996 budget showdown, and was re-elected later that same year, while Republicans heavily shouldered the blame for the shutdowns.

BARACK OBAMA

  • April 2011

President Obama and Congress were able to avert a shutdown during the last battle in April 2011, when at issue was the 7 million difference between the Democrats proposed 33 million and the Republicans 40 million in spending cuts. The President was willing to negotiate with Congress; discussions and reasoning averted a crisis at the last moment.

  • October 1, 2013

The U.S. began shutting down the government on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 at midnight after the battling Republican controlled House of Representatives and the Democratic controlled Senate could not agree on a continuing resolution, a stop-gap spending bill to keep the government funded for the new fiscal year. At the core of the conflict is the Senate and President Barack Obama wanting a “clean bill” without out any provisions, while the House has been insisting on some provisions to delays aspects of Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, the new healthcare law which is beginning to be formally implemented and ready for individuals and families to start enrolling in also on Oct. 1, 2013.

With time run out and negotiations played out by Congress, the Office of Management and Budget’s Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell formally sent out a memo late Monday evening for all government agencies to begin the first government shut down in 17 years, stating that “agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations.” Approximately 800,000 federal employees will be furloughed as a result of the shutdown.

One aspect is almost certain, 2013 will be added to the list of recent government shutdowns over a budget battle, while only time will tell the long term political ramifications such a shutdown at a time when the economy is slowly recovering.

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October 2009: President Obama, Health Care Bill Passes Senate, Troop Surge in Afghanistan?

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

Jewel Samad/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Hillary Clinton beats Obama in new Gallup poll: Barack Obama may have beaten Hillary Rodham Clinton in the presidential primaries last year, but she’s ahead of him in a new popularity poll. The Gallup survey conducted Oct. 1-4, and released Thursday, shows Clinton’s favorable ratings at 62 percent and Obama’s at 56 percent.
    Gallup said the juxtaposition is due more to Obama’s declining popularity than any rise in Clinton’s favorable numbers, which have changed little since January. Then, 78 percent saw Obama favorably, compared with 65 percent for Clinton. Gallup noted Obama’s decline has come after nearly nine months in office in which he’s confronted such issues as the auto industry bailout and the economic crisis. As Obama’s secretary of state, Clinton “has helped advance Obama’s foreign policy around the world, but in a far less prominent role than the president’s,” Gallup said. “Now operating in a much less bright spotlight than Obama does,” the former first lady and U.S. senator from New York has been able to retain her “strong” favorable rating…. – Newsday, 10-15-09
  • Off the Charts The Divided States of Health Care: The Census Bureau sought to find that out, for the first time, in a survey taken last year and released in September. Over all, it found that 9.9 percent of children lack any health insurance, half the rate for adults under 65.
    Those who lack health insurance now are far more likely to live in states that usually vote Republican — the states whose senators and representatives are least likely to support a law to extend coverage…. – NYT, 10-10-09

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama Lifts Ban on Visitors With H.I.V.: President Obama said on Friday that the United States would do away with a government ban prohibiting foreign nationals who are H.I.V. positive from entering the country, lifting a 22-year-old “decision rooted in fear rather than fact” that he said had added to a stigma of the disease.
    “If we want to be the global leader in combating H.I.V./AIDS, we need to act like it,” Mr. Obama said, speaking in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House…. “We talk about reducing the stigma of this disease, yet we’ve treated a visitor living with it as a threat,” Mr. Obama said. “We lead the world when it comes to helping stem the AIDS pandemic, yet we are one of only a dozen countries that still bar people with H.I.V. from entering our own country…. Congress and President Bush began this process last year, and they ought to be commended for it. We are finishing the job. It’s a step that will encourage people to get tested and get treatment, it’s a step that will keep families together, and it’s a step that will save lives.” – NYT, 10-30-09
  • Stimulus saved, created 650,000 jobs, gov’t claims: Nearly 650,000 jobs have been saved or created under President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan, the government said Friday, and the White House declared the nation on track to meet the president’s goal of 3.5 million by the end of next year.
    New job numbers from businesses, contractors, state and local governments, nonprofit groups and universities were released, showing 640,329 positions credited to the stimulus, according to the independent federal board monitoring the program’s progress…. – AP, 10-30-09
  • Path clearing for House to pass health bill: They may not like it, but many House liberals look ready to accept a compromise health care bill, putting Democratic leaders well on the way to delivering on President Barack Obama’s call for overhaul. After claiming for months they couldn’t vote for a bill without the strongest possible government-run insurance option, liberals are putting aside their disappointment over the weaker version in the legislation for a historic chance to remake America’s medical system.
    “The current language is far weaker than what I would have preferred, and I think that is also true of the Progressive Caucus,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Friday. “But because I did not come up here to participate in gridlock and acrimony, I have told leadership that I am willing to compromise.” – AP, 10-30-09
  • Obama inks defense bill with hate crimes provision: Trumpeting a victory against careless spending, President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed a defense bill that kills some costly weapons projects and expands war efforts. In a major civil rights change, the law also makes it a federal hate crime to assault people based on sexual orientation.
    The $680 billion bill authorizes spending but doesn’t provide any actual dollars. Rather, it sets guidance that is typically followed by congressional committees that decide appropriations. Obama hailed it as a step toward ending needless military spending that he called “an affront to the American people and to our troops.”
    “When Secretary Gates and I first proposed going after some of these wasteful projects, there were a lot of people who didn’t think it was possible, who were certain we were going to lose, who were certain that we were going to get steamrolled,” Obama said. “Today, we have proven them wrong.” – AP, 10-29-09
  • Obama seeks new powers to dismantle nonbank firms: A year after Lehman Brothers collapsed, helping to trigger the worst financial crisis in seven decades, the Obama administration is pressing Congress for the power to dismantle other nonbank firms considered so large and influential that they could bring down the entire economy. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was asking a House panel on Thursday to pass legislation that would enable federal regulators to identify and monitor big financial firms and step in to wind them down before they collapse… – AP, 10-29-09
  • Pelosi hopes new health plan is poised to pass: After months of contentious negotiating, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi prepared to unveil a retooled health care overhaul plan intended to bridge differences among Democrats and open a history-making floor debate on extending health insurance to nearly all Americans.
    Pelosi, D-Calif., wants to have the legislation on the floor next week, with a final vote before Veterans Day, Nov. 11, that would give President Barack Obama a bill to sign by year’s end, numerous Democratic officials said. She planned a formal announcement of the bill Thursday in front of the Capitol.
    The bill would require nearly everyone by 2013 to sign up through their employer, a government program or a new kind of purchasing pool called an exchange. Tax credits would be available for most of those buying coverage through the exchange. They would have the option of picking a new government plan or private insurance…. – AP, 10-29-09
  • Senate Leader Blasts Holdup on Obama’s Nominees: Senator Harry Reid denounces the slow pace of reaching a consensus on some critical Obama nominees…. – NYT, 10-29-09
  • Obama Signs Hate Crimes Bill: The expansion protects people who are victims of crime because of their sexual orientation… – NYT, 10-28-09
  • Tracking the White House Energy Forum: The White House energy and climate team held a forum Wednesday morning on rebuilding the economy around non-polluting energy technologies…. – NYT, 10-28-09
  • Next Up, a Classical White House Night: The Obamas continue their series of musical events, with award-winning artists holding a workshop for students in the afternoon and performing in the evening…. – NYT, 10-28-09
  • House Democrats prepare to unveil health bill: House Democrats reached agreement Wednesday on key elements of a health care bill that would vastly alter America’s medical landscape, requiring virtually universal sign-ups and establishing a new government-run insurance option for millions. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi planned a formal announcement Thursday morning in front of the Capitol. Lawmakers said the legislation could be up for a vote on the House floor next week. The rollout will cap months of arduous negotiations to bridge differences between liberal and moderate Democrats and blend health care overhaul bills passed by three separate committees over the summer. The developments in the House came as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., tried to round up support among moderate Democrats for his bill, which includes a modified government insurance option that states could opt out of…. – AP, 10-28-09
  • Long-term care insurance program gains in House: House health care legislation expected within days is likely to include a new long-term care insurance program to help seniors and disabled people stay out of nursing homes, senior Democrats say. The voluntary program would begin to close a gap in the social safety net overlooked in the broader health care debate, but it must overcome objections from insurance companies that sell long-term care coverage and from fiscal conservatives. “I’m pretty confident that it will be in there,” Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., a leading sponsor, said of the provision…. – AP, 10-27-09
  • Gov’t may say recession over but not job losses: It’s about to become official: The recession is over — but not the pain. The government will release figures this week expected to show that the economy has awakened from its deepest slump since the 1930s and is in the early stages of a recovery. But the following week, the government will issue another set of figures expected to show unemployment continuing to rise toward and possibly above a clearly recessionary 10 percent. How can both be possible? The government releases third-quarter Gross Domestic Product figures on Thursday. Many forecasters say they will show GDP growing at an annual rate of about 3 percent, validating a widely held belief among economists that the recession ended in June or July. But try telling that to the more than 15 million still unemployed, the small businesses and individuals who can’t get loans and the people whose homes are worth less than their mortgages…. – AP, 10-27-09
  • Obama says he will not rush Afghanistan decision: President Barack Obama mourned 14 Americans killed Monday in helicopter crashes in Afghanistan and told a military audience he will not be hurried as he evaluates whether to alter U.S. strategy in the war. “I will never rush the solemn decision of sending you into harm’s way. I won’t risk your lives unless it is absolutely necessary,” Obama said during a visit to Naval Air Station Jacksonville…. – AP, 10-26-09
  • AP sources: Health bill may cut employer mandate: Businesses would not be required to provide health insurance under legislation being readied for Senate debate, but large firms would owe significant penalties if any worker needed government subsidies to buy coverage on their own, according to Democratic officials familiar with talks on the bill… – AP, 10-25-09
  • Obama declares swine flu a national emergency: President Barack Obama declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency, giving his health chief the power to let hospitals move emergency rooms offsite to speed treatment and protect noninfected patients…. – AP, 10-24-09
  • Obama Plans Speech to Jewish Group: With his unpopular insistence that Israelis freeze settlements in the West Bank, the president will address a Jewish organization in Boston for the first time in his presidency…. – NYT, 10-23-09
  • Senate bill may have public insurance plan: The Senate has long been seen as opposed to the federal government selling health insurance in competition with private industry, but now senior Senate Democrats and White House officials are strongly considering including such a measure in health care overhaul legislation, officials say…. – AP, 10-23-09
  • Negotiators mull public option in health care bill: Senior Senate Democrats at work with White House officials on health care legislation are strongly considering a requirement for the federal government to sell insurance in direct competition with private industry, officials said Thursday, with individual states permitted to drop out of the system. – AP, 10-23-09
  • White House rejects Cheney’s Afghanistan criticismAP, 10-23-09
  • The Early Word: The Public Option Rises: The Senate majority leader considers including the public insurance option into health care legislation. NYT, 10-23-09
  • Key senators may rebuff Obama on health care: The Democrats’ control of a hefty majority in the Senate — plus the House — would suggest that President Barack Obama is within reach of overhauling the nation’s health care system this fall. Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., is interviewed by the Associated Press in his Capitol Hill office in Washington. Obama and other top Democrats sharply criticized his appointment to the Senate in December by an ethically tainted governor, Illinois’ Rod Blagojevich, and they forced Burris to abandon hopes of winning electionin 2010 by making it clear they would not back him. Burris, 72, has virtually nothing to lose by defying his party’s leaders and voting as he pleases on overhauling the nation’s health care system this fall… – AP, 10-22-09
  • US signals Afghan coalition government is possible: The United States built pressure on Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday, signaling that a troop increase could hinge on a successful runoff election and that the Obama administration would be receptive to a power-sharing deal between Karzai and his chief rival… – AP, 10-22-09
  • Afghan president’s rival accepts Nov. 7 runoff: Afghanistan’s election commission Tuesday ordered a Nov. 7 runoff in the disputed presidential poll after a fraud investigation dropped incumbent Hamid Karzai’s votes below 50 percent of the total. Karzai accepted the finding and agreed to a second round vote. President Hamid Karzai’s chief political rival agreed Wednesday to take part in the Nov. 7 runoff election, cementing the stage for a high-stakes showdown in the face of Taliban threats and approaching winter snows. AP, 10-21-09
  • Obama cites higher hope for Afghanistan democracy AP, 10-21-09
  • Senate OKs transfer of Gitmo prisoners for trialsAP, 10-21-09
  • Plans to Slash Pay of Bailout Executives: The administration is said to have plans that would cut by 95 percent over last year the cash compensation of top executives heading companies receiving the largest bailouts…. – NYT, 10-21-09
  • AP sources: House Dems trim health bill to $871B: House Democrats are aiming to scale back the cost of their health care bill to well below President Barack Obama’s preferred price tag by giving the government a strong hand in selling insurance in competition with the private market… – AP, 10-21-09
  • Reuters Summit-McCain says Republicans need positive agenda: Republican Senator John McCain said on Wednesday his party needed a positive agenda to better attract those Americans who are disenchanted with Democratic policies.
    McCain said he sensed “a lot of anger and a lot of frustration” among Americans over taxpayer-backed bailouts of banks and auto companies while they cope with a persistently high U.S. jobless rate of 9.8 percent and see bank executives get “obscene” bonuses.
    “There’s something going on out there. And I’d love to sit here and tell you that we Republicans are attracting all of those unhappy people, but we’re not. They’re out there kind of in the middle and they haven’t found a home. And in fact they haven’t even channeled their anger yet,” he said…. – Reuters, 10-21-09
  • Kerry Becomes All-Around Adviser To Obama: He’s not president, a Cabinet member or ambassador, but Senator John Kerry has ascended to the unofficial role of President Barack Obama’s global adviser on key issues that could reshape the nation’s image around the world. Mediating Afghanistan’s presidential election vaulted Kerry from the already prominent chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee into the most exclusive circle around a new president who is juggling but has not resolved a variety of domestic and foreign policy matters. Beyond policy, Kerry knows how Washington works. “Obviously, Sen. Kerry is somebody who has a broad range of experience and an in-depth knowledge of issues, ranging form energy and climate change to health care to foreign policy,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. “I think it’s that experience and insight that (Obama) certainly greatly values.”…. – AP, 10-21-09
  • Obama to meet with Iraqi leader, honor vetsAP, 10-20-09
  • Gates: War strategy shouldn’t depend on result of Afghan election: Afghan election commission orders runoff: Afghanistan’s election commission has ordered a runoff election for Nov. 7 after a fraud investigation dropped President Hamid Karzai’s votes below 50 percent of the total. – AP, 10-20-09
  • U.S. to end war on medical marijuana in legal states: A new Obama administration policy loosening guidelines on federal prosecution of medical marijuana on Monday signaled to users that they had less to fear from federal agents but still left their suppliers to contend with a tangled mesh of state laws and regulations…. – AP, 10-20-09
  • Adviser: Obama awaiting finished health care billAP, 10-19-09
  • Obama looking at all options for creating jobsAP, 10-19-09
  • School Day for Obama: President Obama popped in on third and fourth-graders at a Silver Spring, Md. elementary school Monday, to tout the benefits of reading for youngsters, just as they were having lunch. The First Reader stopped by the cafeteria at Viers Mill School, where Mr. Obama admitted to having read Harry Potter books (with his daughter, Malia), but not the Goosebumps series of children’s horror books that are apparently a favorite of many of the kids at the school… – NYT, 10-19-09
  • White House pushes to shape health bill: Proponents of revamping the nation’s health care system will hold phone-bank events in 50 states today. Here in the nation’s capital, a coalition of more than 100 liberal interest groups will convene its weekly meeting, with health care atop the agenda. Congressional leaders will seek to meld five health care bills into two for House and Senate votes. Beyond the topic, all the public and private meetings will have one other thing in common: White House involvement. President Obama will speak from New York City by video hookup to hundreds of small gatherings sponsored by Organizing for America, a spinoff of his 2008 campaign. Top White House aides will attend the regular strategy session of the Common Purpose Project, a coalition headed by former Obama campaign officials to advance his agenda. And when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gather committee leaders to write the legislation, Obama’s chief of staff and other aides are at the table…. – USA Today, 10-19-09
  • Kerry: too soon to send more troops to Afghanistan – AP, 10-18-09
  • Artist admits using key AP photo for ‘HOPE’ poster AP, 10-18-09
  • Obama administration shifting policy on SudanAP, 10-17-09
  • Bipartisan Spirit, at Least for a Moment, in Bush Country: President Obama ventured deep into Bush territory, joining the first President George Bush to promote volunteerism, a favorite theme of both men…. NYT, 10-17-09
  • Obama honors Bush’s service; At an event in Texas, the president also calls for cooperation between Republicans and Democrats. In a glowing tribute to a Republican predecessor, President Obama on Friday praised President George H.W. Bush as an example of someone who eschewed “a life of comfort and privilege” and instead devoted himself to public service — inside government and out. LAT, 10-17-09
  • Obama praises Senate committee’s health care vote – AP, 10-17-09
  • Job Program Found to Miss Many States That Need It Most: Businesses with federal stimulus contracts have created few jobs in states with the worst unemployment rates, according to data released Thursday by the federal government. The new jobs reported Thursday come from a small slice of a sliver of the $787 billion stimulus program: the roughly $16 billion worth of stimulus contracts that were awarded directly by federal agencies, of which about $2.2 billion has been spent so far. But the preliminary data represented the first time that the federal government has reported actual job figures, and not just job estimates, and they provided the most complete snapshot yet of how one component of the sprawling program — direct federal contracts — was shaping up…. – NYT, 10-16-09
  • In Saying No, G.O.P. Sees More Pros Than Cons: The numbers are striking: Of the 217 Republicans in the House and the Senate, only one, Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, has publicly supported a health care overhaul along the lines President Obama seeks.
    The Republicans’ opposition is a remarkable display of the unity emerging against the broader Obama agenda as a dangerous expansion of government. That stance is popular with, even demanded by, the party’s narrowed conservative base.
    But it also exposes Republicans to criticism that they have become political obstructionists with no policy agenda of their own. And that could keep them from extending their appeal to the centrist voters who are essential to rebuilding the party’s strength nationally….. – NYT, 10-16-09
  • Obama and elder Bush team up on call to service 10-16-09
  • Baucus: All Senate Dems will support health billAP, 10-16-09
  • Obama defends himself against New Orleans critics AP, 10-16-09
  • President Obama makes first trip to New OrleansAP, 10-15-09
  • Obama calls for $250 payments to seniors AP, 10-15-09
  • Health care legislation back behind closed doors: Health care talks slip back behind closed doors Wednesday as Senate leaders start trying to merge two very different bills into a new version that can get the 60 votes needed to guarantee its passage… – AP, 10-14-09
  • House panel to begin push on financial overhaul – AP, 10-14-09
  • Health bill clears hurdle with support from Snowe: Historic legislation to expand U.S. health care and control costs won its first Republican supporter Tuesday and cleared a key Senate hurdle, a double-barreled triumph that propelled President Barack Obama’s signature issue toward votes this fall in both houses of Congress. Senate Finance Committee member Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, smiles as she looks towards the Democratic side of the dais on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009, after she spoke at the committee’s hearing on health care reform. Snowe says she will vote for a Democratic health care bill, breaking with her party on President Barack Obama’s top legislative priority. AP, 10-14-09
  • AP IMPACT: Obama’s travels carry a touch of blue – AP, 10-13-09
  • Vote set for health overhaul in Senate committee: President Barack Obama’s plan to remake the nation’s health care system is about to take its biggest step yet toward becoming reality. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. enters an elevator on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. announced that the Finance Committee will vote next week on the health care bill. AP, 10-13-09
  • Dems scramble after warning from health insurers: Insurance companies aren’t playing nice any more. Their dire message that health care legislation will drive up premiums for people who already have coverage comes as a warning shot at a crucial point in the debate, and threatens President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority… – AP, 10-12-09
  • McCain says Palin remains strong force in the GOP: Sen. John McCain says Sarah Palin remains a formidable force in the Republican Party despite widespread criticisms of his 2008 running mate. McCain says he still has great affection for the former Alaska governor…. – AP, 10-11-09
  • Gay rights advocates march on DC, divided on Obama: AP, 10-11-09
  • As Pressure Grows, Obama Addresses Gay Rights Group; He Promises to End ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ President Obama, struggling to keep promises he made during last year’s campaign, renewed his pledge to end the military’s ban on openly gay service members as he appeared at a fundraising dinner for the nation’s largest gay advocacy group on Saturday night. “I will end ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ ” Obama said at the Human Rights Campaign dinner. Recounting the ongoing effort to bring full civil rights to gays and lesbians, the president said: “I’m here with a simple message: I’m here with you in that fight. Obama did not offer specifics on how he would advance the cause of allowing gays to serve openly in the military, or of same-sex marriage, two areas where his inaction as president have disappointed many gay supporters. – WaPo, 10-11-09
  • Gays question Obama ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ pledge: President Barack Obama restated his campaign pledge to allow homosexual men and women to serve openly in the military, but left many in his audience of gay activists wondering when he would make good on the promise. AP, 10-11-09
  • DNC pulls health care ad after Dole objects: The Democratic National Committee is canceling a television ad touting GOP support for health care reform after protests from one of the Republicans mentioned, former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole. The ad quotes a series of Republicans — including California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson — saying the health care system needs to be reformed. Dole is quoted saying: “I want this to pass. … We’ve got to do something.” The ad then accuses current GOP congressional leaders as “siding with the insurance companies” to fight health care reform…. – AP, 10-11-09
  • If health care passes, subsidies will come later: Sixty years is how long Democrats say they’ve been pushing for legislation that provides health care access for all Americans. They’ll have to wait another three if President Barack Obama gets a bill to sign this year. Under the Democratic bills, federal tax credits to help make health insurance affordable for millions of low- and middle-income households won’t start flowing until 2013 — after the next presidential election. But Medicare cuts and a sizable chunk of the tax increases to pay for the overhaul kick in immediately…. – AP, 10-10-09
  • AP source: Obama focusing on al-Qaida, not Taliban: President Barack Obama is prepared to accept some Taliban involvement in Afghanistan’s political future and will determine how many more U.S. troops to send to the war based only on keeping al-Qaida at bay, a senior administration official said Thursday…. – AP, 10-9-09
  • Axelrod: Afghanistan plan deeper than troop surge: A senior White House adviser said Friday that President Barack Obama’s talks on Afghanistan with top national security advisers earlier in the day ran much deeper than the question of sending more troops into the war.
    Presidential adviser David Axelrod, in a speech at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said “a lot of different factors” are being considered in the internal discussions, including allegations of fraud in Afghanistan’s recent presidential election and America’s strained relationship with Pakistan.
    “Fundamentally, what we need to think through is what is the best way to achieve our goals, which is to disrupt and dismantle al-Qaida, so they can’t stage operations against the U.S. and our allies,” Axelrod said…. – AP, 10-9-09
  • Obama, advisers weigh Afghanistan shift, Pakistan – AP, 10-8-09
  • Health bill would cost $829B, cover 94 percent: Health care legislation drafted by a key Senate committee would expand coverage to 94 percent of all eligible Americans at a 10-year cost of $829 billion, congressional budget experts said Wednesday, a preliminary estimate trumpeted by the White House and likely to power the measure past a major hurdle within days…. – AP, 10-8-09
  • AP Poll: Health care overhaul has a pulse: The fever has broken. The patient is out of intensive care. But if you’re President Barack Obama, you can’t stop pacing the waiting room. Health care overhaul is still in guarded condition… – AP, 10-7-09
  • Clinton, Gates say US goals steady in Afghanistan: AP, 10-6-09
  • Obama pitches health care plan in front of doctors: AP, 10-6-09
  • WH says Obama won’t pull US out of Afghanistan: President Barack Obama won’t walk away from the flagging war in Afghanistan, the White House declared Monday as Obama faced tough decisions — and intense administration debate — over choices that could help define his presidency in his first year as commander in chief…. – AP, 10-5-09
  • Congress readies Iran sanctions if diplomacy fails: Congress is ready to act swiftly to impose tough new sanctions on Iran if international talks on Tehran’s nuclear program show signs of faltering. Already, some lawmakers are demanding that the United States strike immediately with new penalties rather than wait for an uncertain multinational consensus…. – AP, 10-3-09
  • Dems ease impact of health bill, big advance nears: Capping months of struggle, Democrats pushed health care legislation atop President Barack Obama’s agenda to the brink of a major Senate advance early Friday after last-minute changes to ease the impact on working-class families. The most far-reaching overhaul in decades aims to protect millions who have unreliable insurance coverage or none at all…. – AP, 10-2-09
  • Obama: Iran must follow through on nuke promises: President Barack Obama on Thursday called landmark nuclear talks with Iran a constructive beginning, then challenged Tehran to match words with deeds by giving international inspectors “unfettered access” to a previously secret uranium enrichment plant within two weeks…. AP, 10-1-09

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Obama Stumps for Deeds in Va.: The president makes a rare campaign appearance for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, in a very close race under very close scrutiny because Virginia went Democratic in the presidential campaign last year. NYT, 10-27-09
  • NY House race seen as test for GOP, Obama – AP, 10-18-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

resident Obama appeared with former President George H.W. Bush, center, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates at an event promoting community service at Texas A&M University on Friday.

Doug Mills/The New York Times President Obama appeared with former President George H.W. Bush, center, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates at an event promoting community service at Texas A&M University on Friday.

  • Weekly Address: “President Obama Says Recovery Act Creating Jobs and Strengthening Economy”: Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address Saturday, October 31, 2009: Each week, I’ve spoken with you about the challenges we face as a nation and the path we must take to meet them. And the truth is, over the past ten months, I’ve often had to report distressing news during what has been a difficult time for our country. But today, I am pleased to offer some better news that – while not cause for celebration – is certainly reason to believe that we are moving in the right direction…
    Finally, the Recovery Act is saving and creating jobs all across the country. Just this week, we reached an important milestone. Based on reports coming in from across America – as shovels break ground, as needed public servants are rehired, and as factories whir to life – it is clear that the Recovery Act has now created and saved more than one million jobs. That’s more than a million people who might otherwise be out of work today – folks who can wake up each day knowing that they’ll be able to provide for themselves and their families…. – WH, 10-31-09
  • Obama honors fallen Americans at Dover: Standing in the pre-dawn darkness, President Barack Obama saw the real cost of the war in Afghanistan: The Americans who return in flag-covered cases while much of the nation sleeps in peace. In a surprise midnight dash to this Delaware base where U.S. forces killed overseas come home, Obama honored the return of 18 fallen Americans Thursday. All were killed in Afghanistan this week, a brutal stretch that turned October into the most deadly month for U.S. troops since the war began.
    “It was a sobering reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices that our young men and women in uniform are engaging in every single day, not only our troops but their families as well,” Obama said later Thursday, hours after his return to the White House. “The burden that both our troops and their families bear in any wartime situation is going to bear on how I see these conflicts, and it is something that I think about each and every day.”… – AP, 10-29-09
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Says Small Business Must be at the Forefront of the Recovery: Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address October 24, 2009 Washington, DC: Small businesses have always been the engine of our economy – creating 65 percent of all new jobs over the past decade and a half – and they must be at the forefront of our recovery. That’s why the Recovery Act was designed to help small businesses expand and create jobs. It’s provided $5 billion worth of tax relief, as well as temporarily reducing or eliminating fees on SBA loans and guaranteeing some of these loans up to 90 percent, which has supported nearly $13 billion in new lending to more than 33,000 businesses.
    In addition, our health reform plan will allow small businesses to buy insurance for their employees through an insurance exchange, which may offer better coverage at lower costs – and we’ll provide tax credits for those that choose to do so.
    And this past week, I called on Congress to increase the maximum size of various SBA loans, so that more small business owners can set up shop and grow their operations. I also announced that we’ll be taking additional steps through our Financial Stability plan to make more credit available to the small local and community banks that so many small businesses depend on – the banks who know their borrowers, who gave them their first loan and watched them grow…. – WH, 10-24-09
  • Cheney Slams Obama on Afghanistan Policy: The former vice president accused President Obama of “dithering” on strategies for the war in Afghanistan….
    “In the fall of 2008, fully aware of the need to meet new challenges being posed by the Taliban, we dug into every aspect of Afghanistan policy, assembling a team that repeatedly went into the country, reviewing options and recommendations, and briefing President-elect Obama’s team. They asked us not to announce our findings publicly, and we agreed, giving them the benefit of our work and the benefit of the doubt.”
    But on Sunday, Mr. Emanuel told CNN that “when you go though all the analysis, it’s clear that basically we had a war for eight years that was going on, that’s adrift, that we’re beginning at scratch, and just from the starting point, after eight years.” – NYT, 10-23-09
  • President Recognizes Vietnam Vets as Heroes: “We have an obligation to all who served in the jungles of Vietnam. Our Vietnam vets answered their country’s call and served with honor. But one of the saddest episodes in American history was the fact that these vets were often shunned and neglected, even demonized, when they came home. That was a national disgrace. And on days such as this, we resolve to never let it happen again.” NYT, 10-20-09
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Calls Hails Progress on Health Insurance Reform Despite Defenders of the Status Quo: Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address October 17, 2009: Now, as the debate draws to a close, we can point to a broad and growing coalition of doctors and nurses, workers and businesses, hospitals and even drug companies – folks who represent different parties and perspectives, including leading Democrats and many leading Republicans – who recognize the urgency of action. Just this week, the Senate Finance Committee approved a reform proposal that has both Democratic and Republican support. For the first time ever, all five committees in Congress responsible for health reform have passed a version of legislation. As I speak to you today, we are closer to reforming the health care system than we have ever been in history…. – WH, 10-16-09
  • The Saturday Word: Health Care Battles: “They’re filling the airwaves with deceptive and dishonest ads. They’re flooding Capitol Hill with lobbyists and campaign contributions. And they’re funding studies designed to mislead the American people,” Mr. Obama said adding firepower to Congressional Democrats’ already hostile responses. “It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s bogus. And it’s all too familiar. Every time we get close to passing reform, the insurance companies produce these phony studies as a prescription and say, “Take one of these, and call us in a decade.” NYT, 10-17-09
  • The Saturday Word: Health Care Battles: “There are three big myths hurtling around Washington these days: no jobs equals an economic recovery, government-run health care will make it more affordable, and deficits don’t matter,” Representative Kevin Brady of Texas said in his party’s weekly address. “Liberal policies that will keep people out of work longer will only make the deficit worse. Americans know that deficits matter to our dollar, to our economy, to our future,” Mr. Brady said. – NYT, 10-17-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE’S VOTE TO APPROVE HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM Rose Garden: Today we reached a critical milestone in our effort to reform our health care system. After many months of thoughtful deliberation, the fifth and final committee responsible for health care reform has passed a proposal that has both Democratic and Republican support. This effort was made possible by the tireless efforts of Chairman Max Baucus and the other members of the Senate Finance Committee. It’s a product of vigorous debate and difficult negotiations.
    After the consideration of hundreds of amendments, it includes ideas from both Democrats and Republicans, which is why it enjoys the support of people from both parties. And I want to particularly thank Senator Olympia Snowe for both the political courage and the seriousness of purpose that she’s demonstrated throughout this process….. – WH, 10-13-09
  • Weekly Address: New Momentum for Health Reform:
    WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Praises Emerging Consensus on Health Insurance Reform East Room:
    The historic movement to bring real, meaningful health insurance reform to the American people gathered momentum this week as we approach the final days of this debate. Having worked on this issue for the better part of a year, the Senate Finance Committee is finishing deliberations on their version of a health insurance reform bill that will soon be merged with other reform bills produced by other Congressional committees….
    In fact, what’s remarkable is not that we’ve had a spirited debate about health insurance reform, but the unprecedented consensus that has come together behind it. This consensus encompasses everyone from doctors and nurses to hospitals and drug manufacturers…. – WH, 10-11-09 Transcript
  • Obama: One more push for health care cooperation: President Barack Obama sees both “unprecedented consensus” from outside Congress on his drive to remake the nation’s health care system and obstructionism by some on Capitol Hill. “The historic movement to bring real, meaningful health insurance reform to the American people gathered momentum this week as we approach the final days of this debate,” Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet video address.
    The consensus “includes everyone from doctors and nurses to hospitals and drug manufacturers” — even Republican governors and former GOP lawmakers, Obama said.
    “These distinguished leaders understand that health insurance reform isn’t a Democratic issue or a Republican issue, but an American issue that demands a solution,” Obama said. AP, 10-10-09
  • Weekly Address: Health Reform Urgent for the Economy: WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Explains How Health Insurance Reform Will Strengthen America’s Small Businesses: When I took office eight months ago, our nation was in the midst of an economic crisis unlike any we’d seen in generations. While I was confident that our economy would recover, we know that employment is often the last thing to come back after a recession. Our task is to do everything we possibly can to accelerate that process.
    And we’ve certainly made progress on this front since the period last winter when we were losing an average of 700,000 jobs each month. But yesterday’s report on September job losses was a sobering reminder that progress comes in fits and starts, and that we will need to grind out this recovery step by step…. – 10-3-09 Transcript
  • McCain admits problems with Palin: John McCain admitted the obvious Sunday: His staff clashed with the staff of VP running mate Sarah Palin during their 2008 presidential campaign. Much of the tension involved McCain top aide Steve Schmidt — who recently said it would be “catastrophic” if Palin were the GOP’s 2012 presidential candidate. But McCain certainly wasn’t going to criticize Palin herself; she remains very popular with the ultra-conservative part of the Republican Party. Said McCain: “She still is a formidable force in the Republican Party….”And I have great affection for her.” – Kansas City Star, 10-11-09
  • DNC pulls health care ad after Dole objects: Dole told ABC News on Sunday that he objected to the ad’s criticism of the current Republican leadership. “I just didn’t think it was fair, when I’ve tried to be helpful in encouraging a bipartisan solution, for the DNC to run an ad that I interpreted and I know others did as a backhanded comment about Republicans,” Dole said…. – AP, 10-11-09

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Editorial: The Baucus Bill: The Senate Finance Committee may finally be ready to vote on its version of a health care reform bill. For months, its chairman, Max Baucus, and other members have struggled to produce legislation that could win significant Republican support. Fat chance. Only one Republican on the committee seems open to voting for the bill, and the entire Republican Congressional leadership seems determined — for ideological and partisan reasons — to torpedo the entire reform effort…. – NYT, 10-11-09
  • KARL ROVE: The GOP Is Winning the Health-Care Debate: Passing health-care reform could be harmful to the health of congressional Democrats. Just look at how President Barack Obama’s standing has fallen as he has pushed for reform. According to Fox News surveys, the number of independents who oppose health-care reform hit 57% at the end of September, up from 33% in July. Independents are generally a quarter of the vote in off-year congressional elections. Among college graduates, opposition to health-care reform is now 50%, while only 33% support it, according to Gallup’s Sept. 24 poll. College graduates are slightly more than a quarter of the off-year electorate…. – WSJ, 10-10-09
  • Richard Kohn: How Obama Compares To Other Wartime President : As President Obama weighs his military options in Afghanistan, how does his relationship to the military and his leadership style compare to other wartime presidents? Richard Kohn, a military historian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says President Obama’s frequency of contacts with Gen. Stanley McChrystal are typical. – NPR (All Things Considered) (10-5-09)
  • Robert Dallek tells Obama “war kills off great reform movements”: At a White House dinner with a group of historians at the beginning of the summer, Robert Dallek, a shrewd student of both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, offered a chilling comment to President Obama. “In my judgment,” he recalls saying, “war kills off great reform movements.” The American record is pretty clear: World War I brought the Progressive Era to a close. When Franklin D. Roosevelt was waging World War II, he was candid in saying that “Dr. New Deal” had given way to “Dr. Win the War.” Korea ended Harry Truman’s Fair Deal, and Vietnam brought Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society to an abrupt halt…. – The Washington Post (10-5-09)
  • Julian Zelizer: Commentary: Obama’s mistakes are a warning sign: During the past few months, two events have revealed a side of President Obama that we knew little about. First came his remark in July when he said at a press conference that the police who arrested Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates had acted “stupidly.”
    The unrehearsed remark triggered controversy right at a time when Democrats needed to focus public attention on health care.
    And last week, at a climactic moment for the health care debate in the Senate, Obama suddenly went to make a personal pitch for holding the 2016 Summer Olympics in Chicago, Illinois.
    When the International Olympic Committee said no to the president’s hometown in the first round of voting, and then gave the event to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Obama suffered an embarrassing defeat. The late-night comedians and his political foes were predictably chomping at the bit.
    These events contrast sharply with the other Barack Obama that most of us have come to know since 2007, a study in cool and deliberative decision-making. During the Democratic primaries, nothing seemed to shake Obama….
    In the end, two issues will shape this presidency much more than the Olympics: the outcome of the health care debate and the decision over whether to send troops to Afghanistan.
    Nonetheless, the incident should serve as a warning to the president and his staff. This is the kind of action they should not repeat. While Obama has thus far avoided making mistakes on the big issues of the day, this kind of slip-up would be devastating in a different context. And over time, too many of them, on issues large and small, will undermine the positive impression most Americans still have of his leadership abilities. – CNN, 10-5-09
  • Obama Researcher Reveals How She Found President’s Irish Roots: Chief Family Historian for Ancestry.com Megan Smolenyak got the assignment of a lifetime when it was discovered in 2007 that future President of the U.S. Barack Obama had Irish roots. Smolenyak’s job? To find out where in Ireland Obama’s family came from. Ancestry.com had established that Obama was part Irish, and that his third great-grandfather on his mother’s side, Fulmoth Kearney, is his most recent connection to the Emerald Isle…. – ABC News (10-3-09)
  • Obama and McChrystal Don’t Talk? Good, Says Army Historian: President Obama is about to convene his war cabinet, to discuss the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. It’ll be only the second time Obama has spoken directly with Gen. Stanley McChrystal since he became the top commander for coalition forces there – a fact that’s earning Obama a lot of grief in national security circles. But a leading Army War College historian says the critics are off-base… – Wired (9-30-09)

The Obama family portrait, released by the White House.

Annie Leibovitz, via the White House The Obama family portrait, released by the White House.

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