OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:
IN FOCUS: STATS
- Poll: Majority lacks trust in government Can you trust Washington?: Nearly 80 percent of Americans say they can’t and they have little faith that the massive federal bureaucracy can solve the nation’s ills, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center that shows public confidence in the federal government at one of the lowest points in a half-century.
The poll released Sunday illustrates the ominous situation facing President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party as they struggle to maintain their comfortable congressional majorities in this fall’s elections. Midterm prospects are typically tough for the party in power. Add a toxic environment like this and lots of incumbent Democrats could be out of work.
The survey found that just 22 percent of those questioned say they can trust Washington almost always or most of the time and just 19 percent say they are basically content with it. Nearly half say the government negatively effects their daily lives, a sentiment that’s grown over the past dozen years. This anti-government feeling has driven the tea party movement, reflected in fierce protests this past week…. – AP, 4-18-10
- Polls paint murky picture for November: Two independent polls released today paint a different picture of which political party is in better shape heading into November’s congressional elections.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll today shows that 50% of Americans say they would support a Democratic congressional candidate if the election were held today, compared with 46% who say they’d vote for a Republican. That’s a reversal from CNN’s last poll, conducted in March, which showed the GOP with a 4 percentage point advantage.
Meanwhile, Republicans beat Democrats 48% to 44% in a generic ballot poll conducted by Gallup. The survey, also released today, marks the third week since President Obama’s health care proposal was approved by the House that Republicans have led or tied Democrats, according to Gallup.
In the CNN poll, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to enjoy a higher favorability rating (61%) than Obama (57%), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (38%) and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (39%)… – Today, 4-14-10
- Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated: Tea Party supporters are wealthier and more well-educated than the general public, and are no more or less afraid of falling into a lower socioeconomic class, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. The 18 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters tend to be Republican, white, male, married and older than 45. They hold more conservative views on a range of issues than Republicans generally. They are also more likely to describe themselves as “very conservative” and President Obama as “very liberal.”… – 4-14-10
- Is progressive Asheville Obama’s vision for America?: Hip, environmentally aware, self-reliant and undeniably quaint, Asheville, N.C is a progressive’s vision of what America could be. But mountain liberalism comes at a price…. – CS Monitor, 4-24-10
- Obama lauds auto industry rebound and pushes for financial regulations: The president says the auto bailout will cost taxpayers ‘a fraction’ of what had been feared. In his weekly address, he also urges Congress to pass his regulatory package to help avert new economic crises…. – LAT, 4-25-10
- Analysis: GOP, Dems compete for populist title: Republicans and Democrats are furiously casting each other as the handmaidens of Wall Street, playing to election-year anger surging on Main Street. Neither party has clean hands when it comes to the financial industry. Both parties have accepted huge amounts of campaign cash from companies like Goldman Sachs. Both welcomed big business’ chief executives to the White House when in power. Both share the blame for deregulating the industry in the 1990s and bailing out Wall Street when the financial sector was on the brink of collapse. Not that either side will acknowledge it. Instead, Republicans and Democrats are using President Barack Obama’s push for tighter controls on the industry to try to gain the political advantage with the proverbial Joe Six-Pack — the voters — ahead of critical midterm congressional elections, when the balance of power in Washington is at stake. “We need to enact a set of updated, commonsense rules to ensure accountability on Wall Street and to protect consumers in our financial system,” Obama said Thursday in New York, tapping into public outrage over excesses that led to the economic meltdown…. – AP, 4-24-10
- Biden to visit Belgium, Spain May 5-8: Vice President Joe Biden plans to travel to Belgium and Spain next month for meetings with European Union representatives and to address the European parliament. The White House announced the trip on Friday… – AP, 4-23-10
- Scott Brown: No presidential run in 2012: U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is ruling out a presidential run in 2012 and spurning Tea Partiers by throwing his support – for now, anyway – behind former Bay State Gov. Mitt Romney over conservative darling Sarah Palin. “Absolutely 2012, I’m ruling that out,” Brown said yesterday on NBCs “Today” show. Brown said former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is qualified for the presidency, but said he’s sticking with Romney – while keeping his options open. “I’m going to support Gov. Romney,” he said. “I’m going to see who’s out there in the field and then, you know, make my decision.”…. NBC reporter Jamie Gangel pressed Brown on whether he’s ruling out a presidential run altogether. “I’m not even going to jump at that,” Brown said. “Nice try.” – Boston Herald, 4-24-10
- Brown: Backs Romney now, thinks Palin qualified: Sen. Scott Brown says he thinks former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is qualified to be president but right now he’s supporting former Gov. Mitt Romney for the 2012 Republican nomination. As for his own ambitions, he say “absolutely in 2012″ he’s ruling out any run for the presidency. And in an NBC interview Friday, Brown said “I’m not even going to jump” at a question about whether he would seek the presidency later on. Brown said, “I’ve been here three months … and I’m very focused on doing my job.” Asked if he regretted bolting the Republican caucus recently to support Democrats on a jobs bill, he said, “I don’t really care. .. I’m going to be the independent person I have always been.”… – AP, 4-23-10
- Obama to Wall St.: ‘Join Us, Instead of Fighting Us’: President Obama talked of Wall Street’s “reckless practices” in his address to the top bankers on Thursday in New York. Addressing leaders of New York’s financial giants, including Goldman Sachs, Mr. Obama described himself as a champion of change battling “battalions of financial industry lobbyists” and the “withering forces” of the economic elite. With his poll numbers sagging, the choreographed confrontation seemed aimed at tapping the nation’s antiestablishment mood as well as muscling financial regulation legislation through Congress. But the president also struck a note of conciliation with an industry that has contributed generously to his party, beseeching bankers to work with him to forge a new regulatory structure. While he spoke, his Democratic allies in Washington moved to force a showdown in the Senate on Monday, scheduling a procedural vote that will test the prospects for bipartisan compromise and Republican resolve to block the president’s plans.
“I want to urge you to join us, instead of fighting us in this effort,” Mr. Obama said in his address at Cooper Union in Manhattan. “I’m here because I believe that these reforms are, in the end, not only in the best interest of our country, but in the best interest of the financial sector.” NYT, 4-23-10
- Obama’s NASA Blueprint Is Challenged in Congress: President Obama may have hoped that a speech a week ago at the Kennedy Space Center would sway skeptics to his proposed space policy, but a Congressional hearing on Thursday gave little signs that the lines of contention have shifted yet.
Opponents like Richard C. Shelby, the Republican senator from Alabama where NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has been leading the design of the Ares I rocket that the Obama administration would like to cancel, continued to denounce Mr. Obama’s plans. Those plans call for ending NASA’s current Constellation program that was to send astronauts back to the moon and turning to private companies for transportation into orbit. At a hearing of an appropriations subcommittee, Mr. Shelby said that the proposal would abdicate the United States’ leadership in space.
“Future generations will learn how the Chinese, the Russians, and even the Indians took the reins of space exploration away from the United States,” said Mr. Shelby, the ranking minority member of the commerce, justice and science subcommittee…. – NYT, 4-23-10
- Aide to Kennedy, Kerry will help Obama pitch health care law Bay State native to assist projects and initiatives: President Obama has chosen Stephanie Cutter, who served as a top aide to Senator Edward M. Kennedy and communications director for Senator John F. Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004, to be in charge of getting out the word about the benefits of the new health care insurance overhaul. “Stephanie is one of the most respected professionals in public affairs and has an innate understanding of the nexus between policy and communications,” Obama said yesterday in a statement. Cutter will begin her post as assistant to the president for special projects next month. In addition to improving communications on the health care law, she is to assist in other presidential initiatives…. – Boston Globe, 4-22-10
- Biden explains open mic health care gaffe: “I realized there was a microphone, but I had no idea it was that sensitive,” Biden explained to the hostesses of ABC’s “The View,” who queried him about the incident in an appearance Thursday. “I was whispering in his ear, and after it was over we walked out, and we got in the limo to go over to another event, and he was laughing like the devil,” Biden continued. “I said, ‘What’s so funny, I don’t see what’s funny about this.’ And he said, ‘Well,’ he said, ‘Katie, my secretary, told me that when you said that to me everybody could hear it.’”… – AP, 4-22-10
- Obamas head to North Carolina for quick vacation: The last time Barack Obama was in Asheville, N.C., he complained he was too busy to play golf. The president plans to fix that this weekend. Obama and his family were to leave the White House at midday Friday and fly to Asheville, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. On his previous visit, Obama prepared for a debate and rallied supporters during the final month of his presidential campaign…. – AP, 4-23-10
- Arizona Enacts Stringent Law on Immigration: Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed the nation’s toughest bill on illegal immigration into law on Friday. Its aim is to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants. The move unleashed immediate protests and reignited the divisive battle over immigration reform nationally. Even before she signed the bill at an afternoon news conference here, President Obama strongly criticized it.
Speaking at a naturalization ceremony for 24 active-duty service members in the Rose Garden, he called for a federal overhaul of immigration laws, which Congressional leaders signaled they were preparing to take up soon, to avoid “irresponsibility by others.” The Arizona law, he added, threatened “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”… – NYT, 4-23-10
- GOP ramps up attacks on SEC over porn surfing: Republicans are stepping up their criticism of the Securities and Exchange Commission following reports that senior agency staffers spent hours surfing pornographic websites on government-issued computers while they were supposed to be policing the nation’s financial system.
California Rep. Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said it was “disturbing that high-ranking officials within the SEC were spending more time looking at porn than taking action to help stave off the events that put our nation’s economy on the brink of collapse.” He said in a statement Thursday that SEC officials “were preoccupied with other distractions” when they should have been overseeing the growing problems in the financial system. The SEC’s inspector general conducted 33 probes of employees looking at explicit images in the past five years, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press. The memo says 31 of those probes occurred in the 2 1/2 years since the financial system teetered and nearly crashed…. – AP, 4-23-10
- Financial District workers can’t bear to watch President Obama take Wall Street to task – NY Daily News, 4-23-10
- Obama Looks to Close Sale on Financial Reform: …It is an approach that he is likely to outline again on Thursday, as the president speaks near Wall Street in a bid to make the closing argument for the regulatory overhaul now before the Senate.
“Throughout our history there have been times where the financial sector swung way out of balance,” Mr. Obama said on Wednesday in an interview with CNBC and The New York Times, citing the period that led to the Depression as the primary example. “We have gotten into one of those places where we need to update those rules of the road,” he said. “And if we do so, not only is that good for the economy, not only does it protect consumers and investors, it’s also good for the financial sector, because it will rebuild trust.”… – NYT, 4-22-10
- Bill would shun Obama birth certificate requests: Hawaii lawmakers are moving closer to passing a measure allowing the state to ignore repeated requests for President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. A conference committee unanimously voted Tuesday to advance the bill to final votes in the House and Senate… – AP, 4-21-10
- Familiar rain sends Olympians indoors to see Obama: The weather problems of the Vancouver Games followed the U.S. Olympians to the White House. Steady rain forced the pleasantries indoors when the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams visited President Barack Obama on Wednesday. Instead of hanging out on the South Portico for the customary public words of support from the president, the 225 or so athletes clustered about in several rooms in the executive mansion to hobnob privately with the first family and Vice President Joe Biden. “It never gets old coming to the White House,” said short-track speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno, whose three medals in Vancouver gave him a U.S.-record eight career Winter Olympic medals. “We get to see something new every time. We actually got to see Obama’s dog today.”… – AP, 4-21-10
- Justice John Paul Stevens: Justice John Paul Stevens wore a bright red bow tie Tuesday and celebrated his 90th birthday in a way only one other American ever has: as a member of the Supreme Court. There was no mention of the milestone during the court’s public appearance, as the justices issued an opinion and heard an argument. But President Obama took note of the occasion, as Stevens joined Oliver Wendell Holmes as the only men who started their 10th decades on the court.
Obama said President Herbert Hoover sent Holmes a note that day. “And so do I, on the occasion of your 90th birthday, congratulate both you and our country for your long and esteemed tenure in public service. “For the last 35 years of your remarkable 90, the nation has benefited from the rigor, courage and integrity that have marked your service. . . . With the thoughtfulness and humility of your questions from the bench, and the independence and wisdom you have brought to the judgments the court has rendered, you have stood guardian of the Constitution and the rule of law and helped move this nation towards that more perfect union,” Obama wrote…. – WaPo, 4-20-10
- President Obama Talking With Possible Court Picks Conversations underway with potential Supreme Court nominees: According to the Associated Press, President Barack Obama has begun conversations with potential Supreme Court nominees, a senior administration official said Tuesday, signaling an upswing in the president’s consideration of an already coalescing list of candidates. Obama’s review will throttle ahead on Wednesday morning when he meets privately with the top Democrat and Republican in the Senate along with the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the panel that will hold confirmation hearings on Obama’s nominee. The president’s nomination is expected over the next few weeks…. – WCTV, 4-20-10
- House abandons vote bill for US capital: The people of the nation’s capital have waited more than two centuries to get a vote in Congress, and now it looks like Washington’s roughly 600,000 residents will have to wait even longer. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced Tuesday that lawmakers will not take up legislation this week giving District of Columbia citizens a vote in the House of Representatives, and said he was “profoundly disappointed.” The Democrat also said it was unlikely the enfranchisement bill, which became embroiled in a gun rights dispute and other issues, would be considered in the House later this year…. – AP, 4-20-10
- Senate Takes Steps on Backlog of Nominations: The Senate showed signs on Tuesday of breaking a logjam of nominations being blocked by Republicans over growing objections from the White House and Democrats in Congress. The Senate voted to confirm Lael Brainard on Tuesday to be Treasury under secretary for international affairs, nine months after she was nominated. The vote was 78 to 19. The Senate then moved on to consider four other nominees who have been held up…. – NYT, 4-20-10
- Wall Street, governments are targets in congressional election: It’s the Democrats versus Wall Street and Republicans against Big Government in the latest battle on the road to November’s congressional elections. Both sides have found easy targets as they try to solidify their support base and also appeal to independent voters who are likely to be the deciding factor in dozens of races for seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
“One of the main reasons our economy faltered was because some on Wall Street made irresponsible bets, with no accountability,” said President Barack Obama.
“On every front, they want to raise taxes, spend more, have politicians become more powerful, and citizens become less powerful,” said Newt Gingrich, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012…. – Reuters, 4-21-10
- Obama falters on immigration reform promises: Advocates for illegal immigrants fear the White House is doing the bare minimum to appease Latino voters before midterm elections as it focuses on other issues…. – LAT, 4-21-10
- White House: Obama to return to Calif. for Boxer: A White House official says President Barack Obama will return to California next month to help raise money for Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and other candidates…. – AP, 4-20-10
- Obama says Boxer could lose if Dems don’t work: President Barack Obama delivered Democrat-friendly California a stark message Monday: Liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer might lose her re-election race if her supporters don’t work hard. The president’s stern words in a state where he remains popular and Boxer won her last re-election race in a rout underscored the perilous political environment confronting all Democrats in this midterm election year — and showed Obama is all too aware of the dangers.
“I don’t want anyone here taking this for granted,” he said at a reception at the California Science Center, the first of a trio of fundraisers Monday night for Boxer and the Democratic National Committee. “Unless she’s got that support she might not win this thing, and I don’t think that’s an acceptable outcome. So I want everyone to work hard,” the president said. All incumbents face an uphill battle because of the economy, Obama said, though he insisted it’s turning around…. – AP, 4-20-10
- Mayor Emanuel? White House chief of staff says he’d like the post if Daley doesn’t run for re-election: He has been equivocal on the subject in the past, but on Monday night White House chief of staff and native Chicagoan Rahm Emanuel made no bones about it: He wants to be the mayor of Chicago. “I hope Mayor [Richard] Daley seeks re-election. I will work and support him if he seeks re-election,” Emanuel told Charlie Rose on the host’s PBS talk show, in an interview broadcast Monday night. “But if Mayor Daley doesn’t, one day I would like to run for mayor of the city of Chicago. That’s always been an aspiration of mine, even when I was in the House of Representatives.”… – Chicago Tribune, 4-19-10
- Obama Will Eulogize Miners: President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will travel to West Virginia this weekend to mourn the 29 miners killed in an explosion this month in the worst mining accident in the United States in four decades, the White House announced Monday. Mr. Obama “will deliver a eulogy honoring the lives of those who perished and offering his deepest condolences” to loved ones, Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said. – AP, 4-19-10
- Obama taps Harvard professor to head Medicare: President Barack Obama has nominated Harvard medical professor Donald Berwick to oversee Medicare and Medicaid…. – AP, 4-19-10
- Senate committee subpoenas Fort Hood documents: In a rare public dispute between a Democratic-led Congress and the White House, a Senate committee on Monday subpoenaed the Obama administration for secret documents and access to witnesses in last year’s mass shooting at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas.
Congress has been largely supportive of President Barack Obama’s policies and the White House prides itself on increased government transparency. Nonetheless, the chairman and ranking Republican of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee have alleged that the administration is covering up critical details on the case, including whether the government had access to information that could have prevented the shooting.
“Unfortunately, it is impossible for us to avoid reaching the conclusion that the departments simply do not want to cooperate with our investigation,” wrote Sens. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, in a letter accompanying the subpoena… – AP, 4-19-10
- Clinton: Look beyond judges for high court pick: Bill Clinton says someone who hasn’t been a judge should be considered for the Supreme Court. But scratch the idea of the ex-president or his wife as a justice.
Clinton, who has not been a judge, said that at 63, told ABC’s “This Week” that he’s too old to be considered, much as he might enjoy serving on the Supreme Court. He said his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, also might have been interested in past years, but not now…. – AP, 4-18-10
- Obama’s asteroid goal: tougher, riskier than moon: Landing a man on the moon was a towering achievement. Now the president has given NASA an even harder job, one with a certain Hollywood quality: sending astronauts to an asteroid, a giant speeding rock, just 15 years from now.
President Barack Obama outlined NASA’s new path during a visit to the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday. “By 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the moon into deep space,” he said. “We’ll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history.”… – AP, 4-16-10
- Report: Gates sent White House memo on Iran policy: A memo from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to the White House warned that the United States lacks a nimble long-term plan for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, according to a published report. Gates wrote the three-page memo in January and it set off efforts in the Pentagon, White House and intelligence agencies to come up with new options, including the use of the military, The New York Times said in its Sunday editions, quoting unnamed government officials. White House officials Saturday night strongly disagreed with the comments that the memo caused a reconsideration of the administration’s approach to Iran…. – AP, 4-18-10
- Palin taken aback by Obama ‘superpower’ remark: Sarah Palin criticized President Barack Obama on Saturday for saying America is a military superpower “whether we like it or not,” saying she was taken aback by his comment. “I would hope that our leaders in Washington, D.C., understand we like to be a dominant superpower,” the former Alaska governor said. “I don’t understand a world view where we have to question whether we like it or not that America is powerful.” Obama said earlier this week that the United States must do its best to resolve conflicts around the world before they grow too serious. “It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them,” Obama said. “And that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure.”… – 4-18-10
- All 41 GOP Senators United in Opposition to Financial Reform Bill: All 41 Republican senators have signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying they are opposed to the financial regulation bill put forward by Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s office announced today. The letter calls for further negotiations, but it does not go as far as to say all 41 senators would support a filibuster of the legislation.
“Inaction is not an option. However, it is imperative that what we do does not worsen the current economic climate or codify the circumstances that led to the last financial crisis,” the letter says. “As currently constructed, this bill allows for endless taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street and establishes new and unlimited regulatory powers that will stifle small businesses and community banks.” The letter calls for a “bipartisan and inclusive approach” and asks Reid to support bipartisan negotiations in the Banking and Agriculture Committees…. – CBS News, 4-17-10
- Bank bill in peril, WH urges part be dropped: In the face of stiff GOP opposition, Obama administration officials want Senate Democrats to purge a $50 billion fund for dismantling “too big to fail” banks from legislation that aims to protect against a new financial crisis. Republicans contend the provision would simply continue government bailouts of Wall Street. The sweeping bill aims to prevent a recurrence of the crisis that nearly caused a Wall Street meltdown in 2008. Beside creating a mechanism for liquidating large firms, House and Senate bills would govern previously unregulated derivatives, create a council to detect systemwide financial threats and establish a consumer protection agency to police lending, credit cards and other bank-customer transactions. President Barack Obama declared Friday that he would veto the bill if it doesn’t regulate the freewheeling derivatives market. “We can’t afford another AIG,” the president said, referring to the giant insurance conglomerate that relied heavily on the complex, sometimes exotic investment instruments. AP, 4-16-10
- Obama makes hospitals allow gay visitation rights: President Barack Obama issued a memo on Thursday that would require hospitals accepting Medicare or Medicaid funds to allow visitation rights to gay and lesbian partners.
“It should be made clear that designated visitors … should enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy,” the memo said.
“Every day across America, patients are denied the kindness and caring of a loved one at their sides — whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay,” Obama wrote. “Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives — unable to be there for the person they love and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated,” he said…. – Reuters, 4-15-10
- Obama blames owner for West Virginia mine disaster: U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday put primary blame for last week’s deadly West Virginia coal mine disaster on owner Massey Energy and called for better mine oversight nationwide to prevent more accidents.
“The people of West Virginia are in our prayers. But we owe them more than prayers. We owe them action,” Obama told reporters in the White House Rose Garden. “This tragedy was triggered by a failure at the Upper Big Branch mine, a failure first and foremost of management, but also a failure of oversight and a failure of laws so riddled with loopholes that they allow unsafe conditions to continue.” “Owners responsible for conditions in the Upper Big Branch mine should be held accountable for decisions they made and preventive measures they failed to take,” he said… – Reuters, 4-15-10
- Florida Governor Splits With G.O.P. on Teacher Pay: Gov. Charlie Crist has been jawboned and buttonholed as he has traveled around the state in recent days, and his office was deluged with 120,000 messages. Passions have not run so high in Florida, the governor said, since the controversy over ending the life of Terri Schiavo in 2005. This time, the point of contention was eliminating tenure for Florida public school teachers and tying their pay and job security to how well their students were learning. On Thursday, Mr. Crist picked a side, vetoing a bill passed last week by the Florida Legislature that would have introduced the most sweeping teacher pay changes in the nation. The veto puts Mr. Crist, a moderate Republican, at odds with his party base in the Republican-controlled Legislature. His decision has also renewed speculation that he might drop out of the Republican primary for a United States Senate seat and run in the general election as an independent. For months, he has been trailing the more conservative Republican candidate, Marco Rubio, a Tea Party favorite, in polls…. – NYT, 4-15-10
- Finance Bill Consensus on a Point: No Bailouts: As the Obama administration and Senate Republicans clash over the future of the nation’s financial regulatory system, there is one principle on which they agree: Taxpayers should never again have to bail out giant financial institutions. President Obama says his legislation would let the Treasury Department, with court approval, take over and dismantle failing companies without costing the public a dime. It would resemble the process used since the Depression to take over failing commercial banks… – NYT, 4-15-10
- Obama makes light of anti-tax protests: President Barack Obama said Thursday he’s amused by the anti-tax tea party protests that have been taking place around Tax Day. Obama told a fundraiser in Miami that he’s cut taxes, contrary to the claims of protesters. “You would think they’d be saying thank you,” he said. At that, many in the crowd at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts stood and yelled, “Thank you!” The fundraiser was one of two Obama held after a speech at Cape Canaveral on his administration’s space policy. The other was hosted by Gloria and Emilio Estefan, a $30,400-per-couple fete that stirred some controversy in the traditionally Republican Cuban-American community. Together, the events raised $2.5 million for the Democratic National Committee…. – AP, 4-16-10
- Obama Reports $5.5 Million In Income: Brisk book sales lifted President Obama’s income to $5.5 million in his first year in office, an amount that dwarfs that of his recent predecessors while in power and reflects the public’s continued willingness to pay to read his autobiographies. On tax day, the White House released 2009 returns showing that Obama’s income more than doubled from the year before. He collected $2.7 million in 2008, and $4.2 million in ’07. The returns show Obama paid nearly $1.8 million in federal taxes and another $163,000 in Illinois state taxes. A total of 40 charities received $329,100 from the Obama family in 2009, with the biggest chunk of that ($100,000) going to the United Negro College Fund and to CARE, an organization that combats world poverty…. – LAT, 4-15-10
- Discarded Palin contract sparks investigation: A document fished out of a California state university trash bin last week has prompted a state investigation into the university’s foundation arm and its refusal to disclose details related to Sarah Palin’s upcoming speech at the school. On Tuesday, California Attorney General Jerry Brown said his office would look into the finances of the California State University, Stanislaus Foundation, as well as allegations that the nonprofit organization violated public disclosure laws by keeping details of Palin’s contract secret. Palin is scheduled to speak at a June 25 gala hosted by the foundation to mark the university’s 50th anniversary… – AP, 4-14-10
- White House to host Olympic athletes next week: America’s Olympic athletes are preparing for another honor — a visit to the White House. Members of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams will be the guests next week of President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama… – AP, 4-14-10
- Obama’s nuclear summit yields early dividends: President Barack Obama’s nuclear summit has paid early dividends: China’s agreement to work with the U.S. on possible sanctions against Iran and Ukraine’s decision to rid itself of nuclear bomb-making materials. Obama opened the global security summit Monday night after two days of meetings with selected presidents and prime ministers of the 47 countries assembled to recharge efforts to keep nuclear material out of terrorist hands. It ends Tuesday with a joint declaration to guide future work toward locking away and cleansing the globe of materials still too easily accessible to terrorists…. – AP, 4-13-10
- In Appeal for Diplomacy, Obama Invokes the Mushroom Cloud: Nearly a decade ago, a President of the United States used the specter of a nuclear blast to argue his case for invading a foreign country. “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud,” President Bush’s then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told CNN in 2002, a sound bite that came to define the rationale for a pre-emptive war in Iraq despite the lack of proof that it presented a WMD threat.
This week, another U.S. President, Barack Obama, invoked mushroom-cloud imagery to argue for a major diplomatic initiative. “If there was ever a detonation in New York City, or London, or Johannesburg, the ramifications economically, politically and from a security perspective would be devastating,” Obama said Sunday. He was speaking just hours before the start of the Nuclear Security Summit, arguably the largest diplomatic gathering on U.S. soil since the U.N.’s founding conference in San Francisco in 1945…. – Time, 4-13-10
ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….
- Potential clouds over Fla. Senate front-runner: Now that Republicans have made him the U.S. Senate front-runner, Marco Rubio is trying to weather potentially damaging revelations about his credit card use, double billing for airfare and murky finances. A few months ago, the former Florida House speaker seemed an unlikely bet to beat Gov. Charlie Crist in the party’s Senate primary. And in those months, Rubio’s lavish spending has come under scrutiny of federal investigators. In that same stretch, his poll numbers have soared, carrying him well ahead of Crist and forcing the once seemingly unbeatable governor to consider running as an independent for Senate. Crist has until Friday to decide…. – AP, 4-25-10
- Candidate for Obama’s old US Senate seat undaunted: Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias appears undaunted by the shuttering of his family’s bank, saying his bid to keep President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat in Democratic hands will move forward with renewed purpose. Regulators shut down Broadway Bank on Friday when it became clear that the failing institution would not raise about $85 million in new capital by a Monday deadline…. – AP, 4-24-10
- GOP calls on members to oppose Charlie Crist if he runs as independent: Florida’s Republican Party says its members would have to oppose Gov. Charlie Crist’s campaign for U.S. Senate if he jumps from the GOP to an independent bid for the office…. – Miami Herald, 4-23-10
- Possible GOP tide drawing has-beens into campaigns: Republicans once saddled with the burden of President George W. Bush’s unpopularity are now experiencing a boon from another struggling president: Barack Obama…. The time seems ripe for Republicans, who largely remain unified against Obama’s domestic agenda, including health care overhaul. Both the president and his signature legislative achievement remain unpopular at this point in a midterm election year, according to a recent AP-GfK poll. Voters’ opinions also have turned against Democrats and their stewardship of the economy; Obama’s approval rating is at a new low. That bodes well for — and feels familiar to — some Republicans….
Just 49 percent of people now approve of the job Obama’s doing overall, and less than that — 44 percent — like the way he’s handled health care and the economy, according to an AP-GfK poll. The news is worse for other Democrats. For the first time this year, about as many Americans approve of congressional Republicans as Democrats — 38 percent to 41 percent — and neither has an edge when it comes to the party voters want controlling Congress. AP, 4-20-10
- California Democrats close convention with eye on tough races ahead: The party, which has dominated most state elections for a generation, is facing stiff challenges from wealthy Republicans and strong GOP momentum across the nation…. – LAT, 4-19-10
- McCain and Brewer Continue Lead in Arizona: The latest poll out of Arizona show Republicans continuing to make inroads in the state’s upcoming election contest. The poll, released Friday, shows U.S. Senate challenger J.D. Hayworth continuing to eat into incumbent Senator John McCain’s lead. A Rasmussen Reports polls released Friday says McCain is leading his primary challenger 47 percent to 42 percent. The polling organization had McCain with a seven-point lead last month, down from a 22-point lead in January…. – State Column, 4-18-10
- Romney Endorses Rubio Over Crist in Florida Race: Two years after he was shunned by Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida during the state’s Republican presidential primary, former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts endorsed Marco Rubio, Mr. Crist’s opponent in Florida’s Republican Senate primary, on Saturday. The Rubio campaign announced the endorsement on its Web site.
“While I respect Governor Crist, Marco Rubio’s proven record of conservative, principled and idea-driven leadership is what Florida needs now,” Mr. Romney said in a statement posted on the Web site. “Marco Rubio will be a reliable spokesman against the Washington culture of higher spending, higher taxes and higher debt.”
Mr. Romney also said that his Free and Strong America political action committee would make the maximum $5,000 contribution to Mr. Rubio’s primary election campaign…. – AP, 4-17-10
- Jerry Brown calls for debate with GOP rivals: The candidate for governor issues the challenge at the California Democratic convention as the party looks to counter the national GOP tide.
“Campaigning and democracy is not about buying hundreds of millions of dollars of 30-second TV ads,” Brown told the delegates, vastly exaggerating her spending. “When we live in a democracy, we’re not consumers of advertising. We’re agents of democratic choice. We’re actors in a historical drama.”… – LAT, 4-18-10
- GOP Hits Stride in Campaign Funding: Republicans are turning their political momentum into money in the bank. GOP candidates are starting to catch up to their Democratic opponents in fund-raising efforts and have pulled ahead in some key races, finance reports for the first three months of the election year show. The reports, filed with the Federal Election Commission before a Thursday deadline, offer evidence the GOP is heading into election season with the tools to make big gains in Congress. Republican voters are far more enthusiastic about going to the polls this fall than are Democrats, and the GOP recently took a rare lead in Gallup’s so called generic ballot, which asks voters which party should win in their district. In the nine most competitive Senate races, the reports show Republican candidates, as a group, ahead of Democrats during the January-to-March period, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. That marks a reversal from 2009, when Democrats held the financial advantage in those races…. – WSJ, 4-17-10
- DNC to put up $50M for midterms: The Democratic National Committee plans to put up $50 million for House, Senate and gubernatorial races in November, a top party official says. The official told Politico in a story published Friday aides are deciding how to target the contribution and what the split will be between cash and services. The money is to start flowing in June. The DNC plans both record amounts of cash and field staff “with a special emphasis on base turnout — youth, African-Americans, Latinos and first-time voters,” the official said. President Barack Obama, who got heavy support from those groups in 2008, will help energize his base, he added…. – UPI, 4-16-10
- Romney’s fund-raising outpaces potential rivals: Mitt Romney, Harvard Business School grad and ace venture capitalist, has put a greenback spin on Sarah Palin’s signature call of “Don’t retreat, reload.” Romney, a former GOP presidential candidate who is said to be considering another run in 2012, has loaded the coffers of his political action committee with $1,447,228.70 in the first quarter of the year, according to a news release from his Free and Strong America PAC. That fund-raising far outpaces the efforts of two potential opponents in 2012: Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, at $566,000, and Palin, at about $400,000. Since leaving her post as governor of Alaska eight months ago, Palin has made millions of dollars in speeches and television deals, but most of that money was not funneled to her PAC, SarahPac. Palin spoke at a tea party rally on Boston Common yesterday…. – 4-15-10
- Weekly Address: Good News from the Auto Industry: As the auto industry and financial markets begin to stabilize, the President says the government’s emergency interventions are now winding down. He pledges that real reform, particularly on Wall Street, must now begin. WH, 4-24-10
- Text Obama’s Speech on Overhauling Financial Regulation: Following is a transcript of President Obama’s speech in New York City on Thursday promoting the need to overhaul financial regulation in the United States, as released by the White House…
…In the end, our system only works — our markets are only free — when there are basic safeguards that prevent abuse, that check excesses, that ensure that it is more profitable to play by the rules than to game the system. And that is what the reforms we’ve been proposing are designed to achieve — no more, no less. And because that is how we will ensure that our economy works for consumers, that it works for investors, and that it works for financial institutions — in other words, that it works for all of us — that’s why we’re working so hard to get this stuff passed.
This is the central lesson not only of this crisis but of our history. It’s what I said when I spoke here two years ago. Because ultimately, there is no dividing line between Main Street and Wall Street. We will rise or we will fall together as one nation. (Applause.) And that is why I urge all of you to join me. I urge all of you to join me, to join those who are seeking to pass these commonsense reforms. And for those of you in the financial industry, I urge you to join me not only because it is in the interest of your industry, but also because it’s in the interest of your country. NYT, 4-22-10
- Transcript: “This Week” with Former President Bill Clinton: TAPPER: You’ve made some news over this weekend. You gave a speech on Friday talking about — on the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing which is coming up. How public officials have a responsibility to be careful with their words. This prompted a response from — from Rush Limbaugh
Rush Limbaugh: “With this comment you have just set the stage for violence in this country. Any future acts of violence are on your shoulders, Mr. Clinton.”
TAPPER: Do you have any response?
CLINTON: Doesn’t make any sense. The only point I tried to make is that when I went back and started preparing for the 15th anniversary of Oklahoma City, I realized that there were a lot of parallels between the early ’90s and now, both in the feeling of economic dislocation, and the level of uncertainty people felt. The rise of kind of identity politics. The rise of the militia movements and the right wing talk radio with a lot of what’s going on in the blogosphere now.
And in the right wing media, and with Oath Keepers, the 3 percenters, the — all these people, you know, who are saying things like, “If Idaho wants to succeed from the union,” the militia group out there says, you know, “We’ll back them.” One leader of one of these groups said that all politics was just a prelude to civil war. And then the politicians of course have not been that serious, but a lot of the things that have been said, they — they create a climate in which people who are vulnerable to violence because they are disoriented like Timothy McVeigh was are more likely to act.
And the only point I tried to make was that we ought to have a lot of political dissent — a lot of political argument. Nobody is right all the time. But we also have to take responsibility for the possible consequences of what we say. And we shouldn’t demonize the government or its public employees or its elected officials. We can disagree with them. We can harshly criticize them. But when we turn them into an object of demonization, you know, you — you increase the number of threats.
But I worry about these threats against the president and the Congress. And I worry about more careless language even against — some of which we’ve seen against the Republican governor in New Jersey, Governor Christie.
I just think we all have to be careful. We ought to remember after Oklahoma City. We learned something about the difference in disagreement and demonization…. – ABC News, 4-18-10
- WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Says We Must Move Forward on Wall Street Reform: Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery The White House April 17, 2010
…So my hope is that we can put this kind of politics aside. My hope is that Democrats and Republicans can find common ground and move forward together. But this is certain: one way or another, we will move forward. This issue is too important. The costs of inaction are too great. We will hold Wall Street accountable. We will protect and empower consumers in our financial system. That’s what reform is all about. That’s what we’re fighting for. And that’s exactly what we’re going to achieve. – WH, 4-17-10
- Transcript: Scott Brown remarks at Republican State Convention: …People are yearning for candidates who believe in our free enterprise system, who want a government that is accountable and transparent, who will make job creation their main focus and who understand that a competitive America is one where taxes are low and government does not overspend and does not try to dominate or interfere in our everyday lives.
That’s the message the voters of Massachusetts sent when the elected me to the U.S. Senate.
For months now, the American people have been telling this White House and this Congress exactly what they want…. but Washington still hasn’t been listening!
While many families in Massachusetts and across are America hurting and struggling to make ends meet, cutting costs and tightening their belts, Washington is doing the exact opposite – they are continuing their reckless spending spree, raising taxes driving up our national debt to an astronomical level to almost 13 trillion. And what is their answer? Their answer is to print more money.
Well, will you tell me how your kids, grandkids and great grandkids are going to repay that debt?
And on Beacon Hill, the political machine that runs this state is making the same mistakes. Higher and higher taxes, rising unemployment, chronic budget deficits, corruption, cronyism and patronage . . . this is the sad legacy of the one-party political monopoly in Massachusetts.
There’s one way to put a quick end to it, and that’s to elect Charlie Baker as our next Governor and give him some foot soldiers to help him sustain a veto. We need more state representatives and senators to help. We need balance and THAT is REAL change… – Boston Herald, 4-17-10
- Sarah Palin: Where Is Obama’s ‘Faith In American Exceptionalism?’: “The truth is this: by his actions we see a president who seems to be much more comfortable with an American military that isn’t quite so dominant and who feels the need to apologize for America when he travels overseas,” Palin wrote. “Could it be a lack of faith in American exceptionalism? The fact is that America and our allies are safer when we are a dominant military superpower – whether President Obama likes it or not.” – Huff Post, 4-15-10
- Obama: America a Superpower ‘Whether We Like It or Not’: In a little-noticed remark at the close of the two-day nuclear security summit in Washington, D.C., this week, President Obama suggested the United States was somehow burdened by its military might.
“Given the progress you have cited in recent days on your foreign policy agenda, to what extent do you feel like you have gained political capital with which to take further to the international stage for the rest of this year, to perhaps rejuvenate some initiatives in trouble spots such as the Middle East and elsewhere?”
“What we can make sure of is, is that we are constantly present, constantly engaged, and setting out very clearly to both sides our belief that not only is it in the interests of each party to resolve these conflicts but it’s also in the interest of the United States. It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them. And that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure.”… – Fox News, 4-15-10
- O’Connor expects tough road for high court nominee: Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said Monday a fight is inevitable over whoever becomes President Barack Obama’s choice to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. O’Connor chatted with an audience of about 300 law students, faculty and community at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas. She is spending two days on the campus sharing her experiences with students.
She spoke with fondness of Stevens as “a remarkable man.” “He’s still so active physically and mentally,” O’Connor said. “I hope we don’t end up at odds in the selection of a new justice. I don’t know how that can be avoided.”… – AP, 4-12-10
HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS
- Julian Zelizer “Inaction on immigration reform a travesty”: Republicans and Democrats in Congress seem to have found one issue on which they agree. Neither party wants to get near immigration reform, the new “third rail” in American politics — an issue so politically charged that politicians risk their careers by touching it.
Although President Obama has repeatedly stated his support for immigration reform, there is still little evidence that the Democratic Party or the GOP is prepared to join colleagues like Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, to fight for legislation.
If Congress is unable to pass immigration reform, it will create more opportunities for states to move forward with the kind of harsh restrictionist measures passed by the Arizona Senate on Monday. The failure of Congress to pass immigration reform has been a national travesty…
President Obama has stated his support for liberalized immigration reform, but thus far his party has not taken action. We will have to see whether Obama is willing to demonstrate the same kind of political courage he did with health care, when he took on another issue that everyone thought to be a third rail in politics. – CNN, 4-21-10
- Douglas Brinkley “Race issues still haunt Obama”: With an African-American in the Oval Office, is this a good time to honour the 19th century soldiers who fought for slavery? “It’s idiocy,” says historian Douglas Brinkley. “I don’t think you can understand the Confederacy or the Civil War unless you understand slavery. And so I think that was an unacceptable omission. I think the governor’s now acknowledged that.” Historian Brinkley says in fact, Republicans are hoping that a few kind words about the Confederacy will help them rally white voters in South who supported Mr Obama but can be roused by an appeal to regional pride. “Barack Obama won North Carolina and Virginia. The Republicans have no formula to regaining power in 2012 without those two states.” The Republicans, according to Brinkley, “are trying to make a play for those two states.” But the former head of the Republican Party, Governor Haley Barbour of the southern state of Mississippi, says the controversy “is trying to make a big deal out of something that doesn’t matter for diddly” (a colorful way of saying it doesn’t matter at all)…. – Next, 4-19-10
- Julian E. Zelizer “Why controlling nukes is good politics”: In the week leading up to the meeting of world leaders in Washington, President Obama has been demonstrating a strong commitment to nuclear arms control.
Last week, he signed the first major agreement with the Russians since 2002, which reduces the number of nuclear warheads and long-range missiles.
Obama released the Nuclear Posture Review, saying the United States would not use nuclear weapons against countries that complied with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, even if they attacked with conventional weapons. At the same time, the president said the countries that refused to abide by the treaty could be subject to nuclear reprisal….
The president must remind fellow Democrats, as well as Republicans, that historically the public has tended to strongly support nuclear weapons treaties, and the presidents who pursue them.
When national security is on the table, Democrats tend to get nervous politically, particularly if they support a position that can be characterized as too dovish. But when it comes to nuclear weapons, President Obama is on a path that is politically sustainable.
During the Cold War, presidents from both parties learned that the American public tends to prefer politicians who are willing to take risks to reduce nuclear stockpiles rather than those who beat the drums of war. CNN, 4-13-10