Full Text December 31, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address on Working Together to Create Jobs & Grow the Economy in the New Year

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

WH, 12-31-11
President Obama tells the American people that, by joining together, we can move past the tough debates and help to create jobs and grow the economy in the new year.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Working Together in the New Year to Move America Forward

In his weekly address, President Obama told the American people that although there will be tough debates to come in the new year, by joining together, we can continue to help grow the economy and create jobs across the country.  President Obama will keep working to ensure that everyone has a fair shot and does their fair share, and as we enter into 2012, all Americans should remind Washington of what is at stake for the middle class.  By adding their voices to the debate, Americans have already proven that they can make a difference, and in the new year, we can continue to work together to put the country first and help every American find the opportunities they deserve.

The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at www.whitehouse.gov at 6:00 a.m. ET, Saturday, December 31, 2011.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Honolulu, HI
Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hello, everybody.  As 2011 comes to an end and we look ahead to 2012, I want to wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year.

The last year has been a time of great challenge and great progress for our country.  We ended one war and began to wind down another.  We dealt a crippling blow to al-Qaeda and made America more secure.  We stood by our friends and allies around the world through natural disasters and revolutions.  And we began to see signs of economic recovery here at home, even as too many Americans are still struggling to get ahead.

There’s no doubt that 2012 will bring even more change.  And as we head into the New Year, I’m hopeful that we have what it takes to face that change and come out even stronger – to grow our economy, create more jobs, and strengthen the middle class.

I’m hopeful because of what we saw right before Christmas, when Members of Congress came together to prevent a tax hike for 160 million Americans – saving a typical family about $40 in every paycheck.  They also made sure Americans looking for work won’t see their unemployment insurance cut off.  And I expect Congress to finish the job by extending these provisions through the end of 2012.

It was good to see Members of Congress do the right thing for millions of working Americans.  But it was only possible because you added your voices to the debate.  Through email and Twitter and over the phone, you let your representatives know what was at stake.  Your lives.  Your families.  Your well-being.  You had the courage to believe that your voices could make a difference.  And at the end of the day, they made all the difference.

More than anything else, you are the ones who make me hopeful about 2012.  Because we’ve got some difficult debates and some tough fights to come.  As I’ve said before, we are at a make-or-break moment for the middle class.  And in many ways, the actions we take in the months ahead will help determine what kind of country we want to be, and what kind of world we want our children and grandchildren to grow up in.

As President, I promise to do everything I can to make America a place where hard work and responsibility are rewarded – one where everyone has a fair shot and everyone does their fair share.  That’s the America I believe in.  That’s the America we’ve always known.  And I’m confident that if we work together, and if you keep reminding folks in Washington what’s at stake, then we will move this country forward and guarantee every American the opportunities they deserve.

Thanks for watching, and from Michelle, Malia, Sasha, Bo and myself, Happy New Year.

###

White House Recap December 30, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s 2011 Year in Review

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: 2011

West Wing Week

Source: WH, 12-30-11

Come take a look back at the President’s third year in office as we highlight behind-the-scenes footage and some of our favorite presidential moments. That’s January 1st to December 31st or, “Best of the West (Wing Week).”

Watch the Video

West Wing Week

Political Recap: 2011 Year in Review

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

2011 was a year of lowlights in Washington politics

Source: National Post, 12-26-11

Let’s just W say it – 2011 was an ugly year in U.S. politics. It began in tragedy and ended in farce.

The assassination attempt on Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in January prompted a national discussion about political civility that began with good intentions but lasted, well, until the State of the Union Address.

After that, the divided government Americans voted for in 2010 became dysfunctional government. Here, in no particular order, the highlights and (mostly) lowlights of Washington’s annus horribilis…..

The ‘What Were You Thinking’ Award to a Member of Congress: Anthony Weiner, for tweeting photos of his genitals to a woman, then denying he did it, then admitting he did it, then resigning in disgrace.

Worst Use of Social Media by a Member of Congress: Anthony Weiner. See above.

Most (sadly) entertaining political event: The three-ring circus campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Without Sarah Palin, Chris Christie or Jeb Bush in the race, GOP voters got a parade of flavourof-the-month front-runners. Mitt Romney is the most unloved potential GOP nominee since, um, John McCain.

Most Embarrassing GOP Candidate Blooper: When Rick ‘Oops’ Perry forgot which three federal departments he would eliminate.

Most Unlikely Rise of a Republican Presidential Candidate: Herman Cain/ Newt Gingrich.

Most Predictable Fall: Herman Cain/Newt Gingrich.

Most Incoherent Quote from a Member of Congress: Democrat Emanuel Cleaver, via Twitter, after the U.S. debt-ceiling agreement. “This deal is a sugar-coated Satan sandwich. If you lift the bun, you will not like what you see.”

Biggest Political Tease: Sarah Palin spent 10 months fuelling speculation about whether she was going to run for president before finally saying no in October. By then, no one was paying attention.

Gutsiest Obama Decision: The raid on Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani compound. If it goes wrong, there’s a lot of dead Navy Seals, and Obama looks like Jimmy Carter after the botched Iran hostage rescue attempt in April 1980. It didn’t.

Saddest Political Trend: Congressional paralysis. Congress brought the government to the brink of shutdown in April. Then, for a second act, lawmakers ignited a global market meltdown with a self-induced debt crisis. In December, small-minded bickering produced one of the worst pieces of kitchen-sink legislation – the two-month payroll tax cut/Keystone XL compromise – Washington has seen in years.

Year in Quotes: White House and Congress

Source: WoodTV, 12-22-11

‘The world is safer’

“It’s like lighting the match that could burn down the house.”–Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., describing a scenario in which a debt ceiling agreement was not met by May. April, 2011

“It’s not going to get easier, it’s going to get harder. So we might as well do it now. Pull off the Band-Aid. Eat our peas.”–President Obama, in a press conference urging House and Senate leadership to come together to pass a debt ceiling bill. July, 2011

“Get your ass in line. I can’t do this job unless you’re behind me.”–House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to fellow Republicans who were holding out against his debt ceiling deal for one with more spending cuts. July, 2011

“I strongly believe that crossing the aisle for the good of the American people is more important than party politics. I had to be here for this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy.” –Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., after returning to the House chamber to cast her vote for the debt ceiling bill. It was her first appearance to Congress since she was shot in the head in Jan. 8, 2011. August, 2011

“At a time when spending is out of control, giving the federal government more money would be like giving a cocaine addict more cocaine.” –Speaker Boehner, in response to the president’s proposed deficit reduction plan. September, 2011

“After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline.”–Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., co-chairs of the debt “supercommittee,” a congressional group tasked with identifying $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. November, 2011

“The world is safer. It is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden.”–President Barack Obama, hours after U.S. forces killed the al-Qaida leader in the middle-of-the-night raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. May, 2011

“All I will say is that for three years the president has been harvesting the successes of the very strategy that he consistently dismissed as a failure. I imagine that this irony was not lost on a few of our troops at Fort Bragg today, most of whom deployed and fought as part of the surge.”–Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., after President Obama marked the end of the Iraq War at Fort Bragg, N.C. December, 2011

“I’m not sure I want to put national, federal resources into trying to figure out who posted a picture on Weiner’s website, uh, whatever. I’m not really sure it rises, no pun intended, to that level.”–Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., as a media storm continued to swirl surrounding a lewd photo sent from his Twitter account to a female college student in Seattle. June, 2011

“There isn’t anything that I can imagine doing after this that would be as demanding, as challenging or rewarding.”–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after indicating she would step down in 2012. March, 2011

A year of oops: five big political gaffes of 2011

Source: CS Monitor, 12-29-11

There’s nothing like a presidential campaign cycle to bring out big political gaffes – at times injecting doubt about candidates, but also offering some much-needed comic relief and glimpses of humanity. 2011 had some doozies, and some of the most memorable actually weren’t on the campaign trail.

GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, who said the “shot heard round the world” was fired in New Hampshire (correct answer: Massachusetts), nailed the politicians’ dilemma perfectly: “People can make mistakes, and I wish I could be perfect every time I say something, but I can’t.”

Here are five of the biggest political “uh-ohs” of 2011:

1. Anthony Weiner’s bizarre Twitter lesson

In the digital age, sexual missteps no longer even have to be in person, as former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) of New York proved with “Weinergate” – the tale of a suggestive Twitter photo that led to revelations of other indiscretions….READ MORE

2. Rick Perry: cutting bureaucracy straight out of memory

Don’t you hate that tip-of-the-tongue moment, when that obvious thing you just meant to say vanishes from thought? Now imagine standing on a lit stage in front of millions of your potential voters, bloodthirsty journalists, and a group of people who have vowed to defeat you: This is Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s epic brain freeze at the GOP presidential debate on Nov. 9….READ MORE

3. How Joe Biden sums up the tea party

Vice President Joe Biden denied it to the nth degree, but Politico said it had five sources to confirm its story – that during an offline discussion with House Democrats on Aug. 1, the loquacious Mr. Biden not only agreed with a characterization of tea party voters as “terrorists,” but actually chimed in, saying, “They have acted like terrorists.”…READ MORE

4. Mitt Romney’s hefty bet

“Rick, I’ll tell you what – 10,000 bucks, $10,000 bet,” GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said to Texas Gov. Rick Perry during a Dec. 10 presidential debate. Mr. Romney was arguing that he most surely hadn’t supported an individual mandate as part of national health-care reform – and in the process he wagered enough money to buy a solid gold iPhone case….READ MORE

5. Herman Cain takes a twirl

Book tours, bigwig fundraisers, endless bus rides – when does a candidate just have time to let his mind rest? Preferably not while meeting with a group of newspaper editors who are peppering him with foreign-policy questions….READ MORE

Political Buzz December 20, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Hanukkah Statement & History of 2011 Hanukkah Party Menorah

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Hanukkah at the White House: History of the 2011 Menorah

Source: WH, 12-26-11
A  very special menorah was the centerpiece of this year’s Hanukkah celebration at the White House. It was created in a displaced persons’ camp after World War II and is dedicated to General Joseph T. McNarney, who served as the Commander in Chief of United States Forces in the European theatre from November 1945 to March 1947.

The Hebrew inscription on the lamp, “A great miracle happened there,” is found on the dreidls (or tops)  that children play with on Hanukkah and refers to the miracle of Hanukkah, but may in this instance also poignantly signify the liberation and salvation of the Jews in the displaced persons’ camp.

Related:
Watch how the White House “kosherized” the kitchen before the Hanukkah celebration
Menorah that survived Katrina is a source of inspiration

Statement by the President on Hanukkah

Source: WH, 12-20-11

Michelle and I send our warmest wishes to all those celebrating Hanukkah around the world.

This Hanukkah season we remember the powerful story of a band of believers who rose up and freed their people, only to discover that the oil left in their desecrated temple – which should have been enough for only one night – ended up lasting for eight.

It’s a timeless story of right over might and faith over doubt – one that has given hope to Jewish people everywhere for over 2,000 years.  And tonight, as families and friends come together to light the menorah, it is a story that reminds us to count our blessings, to honor the sacrifices of our ancestors, and to believe that through faith and determination, we can work together to build a brighter, better world for generations to come.

From our family to the Jewish Community around the world, Chag Sameach.

Full Text December 24, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address with First Lady Michelle Obama Thanking the Troops for their Services and Christmas & Holiday Greetings

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama tape a holiday message

The President and First Lady tape a holiday message in the Roosevelt Room, White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 12/16/11

Weekly Address: The President and First Lady Thank our Troops for their Service as we Celebrate the Holiday Season

Source: WH, 12-24-11
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama offer a special holiday tribute to some of the strongest, bravest, and most resilient members of our American family – the men and women who wear our country’s uniform and the families who support them:

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: The President and First Lady Thank our Troops for their Service as we Celebrate the Holiday Season

In this week’s address, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama came together to wish the American people a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and thanked our troops, military families, and veterans for their service and sacrifice. President Obama and Michelle Obama encouraged everyone to visit JoiningForces.gov to find ways to give back to our brave men and women in uniform and their families during the holiday season as we work together in the spirit of service.

Remarks of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
December 24, 2011

THE PRESIDENT: Hi everyone. As you gather with family and friends this weekend, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and I – and of course Bo – want to wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

THE FIRST LADY:  This is such a wonderful time of year.

It’s a time to honor the story of love and redemption that began 2,000 years ago … a time to see the world through a child’s eyes and rediscover the magic all around us … and a time to give thanks for the gifts that bless us every single day.

This holiday season at the White House, we wanted to show our thanks with a special holiday tribute to some of the strongest, bravest, and most resilient members of our American family – the men and women who wear our country’s uniform and the families who support them.

THE PRESIDENT: For many military families, the best gift this year is a simple one – welcoming a loved one back for the holidays. You see, after nearly nine years, our war in Iraq is over.  Our troops are coming home.  And across America, military families are being reunited.

So let’s take a moment to give thanks for their service; for their families’ service; for our veterans’ service.  And let’s say a prayer for all our troops standing post all over the world, especially our brave men and women in Afghanistan who are serving, even as we speak, in harm’s way to protect the freedoms and security we hold dear.

THE FIRST LADY: Our veterans, troops, and military families sacrifice so much for us.

So this holiday season, let’s make sure that all of them know just how much we appreciate everything they do.

Let’s ask ourselves, “How can I give back? How can my family serve them as well as they’ve served us”

One way you can get started is to visit JoiningForces.gov to find out how you can get involved in your community.

THE PRESIDENT: Giving of ourselves; service to others – that’s what this season is all about. For my family and millions of Americans, that’s what Christmas is all about. It reminds us that part of what it means to love God is to love one another, to be our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper. But that belief is not just at the center of our Christian faith, it’s shared by Americans of all faiths and backgrounds. It’s why so many of us, every year, volunteer our time to help those most in need; especially our hungry and our homeless.

So whatever you believe, wherever you’re from, let’s remember the spirit of service that connects us all this season – as Americans.  Each of us can do our part to serve our communities and our country, not just today, but every day.

THE FIRST LADY: So from our family to yours, Merry Christmas.

THE PRESIDENT:  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everybody.

White House Recap December 17-23, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama, House, Senate & Passing 2 Month Payroll Tax Cut Extension

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: DECEMBER 17-23, 2011

12/23/11 or #40dollars

Source: WH, 12-23-11
With the holidays in full swing and the countdown clock ticking away, President Obama continued to press for the extension of the payroll tax cut for 160 million working Americans and unemployment insurance benefits for those looking for work. The President urged House Republicans to put aside their political games and pass a bill that garnered overwhelming, bipartisan support in the US Senate.

West Wing Week

Political Highlights: Best Political Quotes of 2011

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Year in Quotes: White House and Congress

Source: WoodTV, 12-22-11

‘The world is safer’

“It’s like lighting the match that could burn down the house.”–Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., describing a scenario in which a debt ceiling agreement was not met by May. April, 2011

“It’s not going to get easier, it’s going to get harder. So we might as well do it now. Pull off the Band-Aid. Eat our peas.”–President Obama, in a press conference urging House and Senate leadership to come together to pass a debt ceiling bill. July, 2011

“Get your ass in line. I can’t do this job unless you’re behind me.”–House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to fellow Republicans who were holding out against his debt ceiling deal for one with more spending cuts. July, 2011

“I strongly believe that crossing the aisle for the good of the American people is more important than party politics. I had to be here for this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy.” –Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., after returning to the House chamber to cast her vote for the debt ceiling bill. It was her first appearance to Congress since she was shot in the head in Jan. 8, 2011. August, 2011

“At a time when spending is out of control, giving the federal government more money would be like giving a cocaine addict more cocaine.” –Speaker Boehner, in response to the president’s proposed deficit reduction plan. September, 2011

“After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline.”–Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., co-chairs of the debt “supercommittee,” a congressional group tasked with identifying $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. November, 2011

“The world is safer. It is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden.”–President Barack Obama, hours after U.S. forces killed the al-Qaida leader in the middle-of-the-night raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. May, 2011

“All I will say is that for three years the president has been harvesting the successes of the very strategy that he consistently dismissed as a failure. I imagine that this irony was not lost on a few of our troops at Fort Bragg today, most of whom deployed and fought as part of the surge.”–Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., after President Obama marked the end of the Iraq War at Fort Bragg, N.C. December, 2011

“I’m not sure I want to put national, federal resources into trying to figure out who posted a picture on Weiner’s website, uh, whatever. I’m not really sure it rises, no pun intended, to that level.”–Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., as a media storm continued to swirl surrounding a lewd photo sent from his Twitter account to a female college student in Seattle. June, 2011

“There isn’t anything that I can imagine doing after this that would be as demanding, as challenging or rewarding.”–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after indicating she would step down in 2012. March, 2011

Political Buzz December 22, 2011: Speaker John Boehner & House Leaders Agree to Senate Payroll Tax Cut Extension — President Obama Pleased at End of “Partisan Stalemate”

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

John A. Boehner, the speaker of the House, announced on Thursday that Republicans had reached an agreement on the payroll tax cut.
Philip Scott Andrews/The New York Times

John A. Boehner, the speaker of the House, announced on Thursday that Republicans had reached an agreement on the payroll tax cut.

IN FOCUS: HOUSE LEADERS AGREE TO THE SENATE’S PAYROLL TAX EXTENSION PLAN

Deal reached on payroll tax cut extension, sources say: A tentative deal has been reached under which House Republicans would accept the Senate’s two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, Senate sources say.
A conference call of House members is scheduled Thursday evening to finalize the arrangement.

House Republican Leaders Agree to Payroll Tax Deal: Bowing under intense pressure from members of their own party to end the politically damaging impasse over a payroll tax holiday, House Republican leaders on Thursday agreed to accept a temporary extension of the tax cut, beating a a hasty retreat from a showdown that Republicans increasingly saw as a threat to their election opportunities next year.
Under a deal reached between House and Senate leaders — which Speaker John A. Boehner was presenting to the rank and file in an evening conference call — House members would accept the two-month extension of a payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits approved by the Senate last Saturday while the Senate would appoint members of a House-Senate conference committee to negotiate legislation to extend both benefits through 2012…. – NYT, 12-22-11

Statement by Speaker Boehner on Efforts to Enact a Full-Year Extension of Payroll Tax Relief — Washington (Dec 22)
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today issued the following statement:
“Senator Reid and I have reached an agreement that will ensure taxes do not increase for working families on January 1 while ensuring that a complex new reporting burden is not unintentionally imposed on small business job creators. Under the terms of our agreement, a new bill will be approved by the House that reflects the bipartisan agreement in the Senate along with new language that allows job creators to process and withhold payroll taxation under the same accounting structure that is currently in place. The Senate will join the House in immediately appointing conferees, with instructions to reach agreement in the weeks ahead on a full-year payroll tax extension. We will ask the House and Senate to approve this agreement by unanimous consent before Christmas. I thank our Members – particularly those who have remained here in the Capitol with the holidays approaching – for their efforts to enact a full-year extension of the payroll tax cut for working families.”

President Obama: “This is Good News”: For weeks, President Obama has pressed Congress to come to an agreement to extend the payroll tax cut into 2012. This afternoon, that’s exactly what happened.
In a statement, the President praised the good news:

For the past several weeks, I’ve stated consistently that it was critical that Congress not go home without preventing a tax increase on 160 million working Americans. Today, I congratulate members of Congress for ending the partisan stalemate by reaching an agreement that meets that test.
Because of this agreement, every working American will keep his or her tax cut – about $1,000 for the average family. That’s about $40 in every paycheck. Vital unemployment insurance will continue for millions of Americans who are looking for work. And when Congress returns, I urge them to keep working to reach an agreement that will extend this tax cut and unemployment insurance for all of 2012 without drama or delay.
This is good news, just in time for the holidays. This is the right thing to do to strengthen our families, grow our economy, and create new jobs. This is real money that will make a real difference in people’s lives. And I want to thank every American who raised your voice to remind folks in this town what this debate was all about. It was about you. And today, your voices made all the difference.

 

  • New payroll tax cut: Hard on the rich: The Senate’s revised version of the payroll tax cut prevents a handful of very high wage earners from potentially enjoying a huge windfall from the two-month tax break… – CS Monitor, 12-22-11
  • It’s over! Dueling statements from the speaker and the president: House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday announced an agreement with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid to extend the payroll tax cut for two months. Afterwards both Speaker Boehner and President Obama released statements. … – CNN, 12-22-11
  • Boehner: House leaders accept Senate tax terms: House Speaker John Boehner says he has reached agreement with the Senate to renew the payroll tax cut before it expires Dec. 31. The Ohio Republican said in a statement Thursday that he expects to pass a new bill by Christmas that … – AP, 12-22-11
  • House could be called back for vote on payroll tax deal: US House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday said he would call the vacationing House of Representatives back into session next week if he fails to get unanimous consent on Friday for a payroll tax cut deal with the Senate. … – Reuters, 12-22-11
  • Congressional Leaders Announce Payroll Tax Cut Deal: Congressional leaders announced Thursday that they’ve struck a deal to ensure the payroll tax rate does not rise at the beginning of next year, potentially ending a stalemate that had put House Speaker John Boehner in a politically uncomfortable … – Fox News
  • Obama welcomes payroll tax deal, congratulates Congress for ending ‘partisan stalemate’: President Barack Obama is welcoming a deal on extending a payroll tax cut and congratulating Congress for ending its “partisan stalemate.” The president issued a statement Thursday evening moments after House Speaker John Boehner announced … – WaPo, 12-22-11
  • Boehner announces deal on payroll tax cut: House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday announced an agreement with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid to extend the payroll tax cut for two months. The deal amounted to a reversal of the … – CNN, 12-22-11
  • Cornered, House GOP Nears Capitulation on Short-Term Payroll Tax Cut Extension: On the fifth day since rank-and-file Republicans bucked a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, the House GOP finally seemed to give way under pressure…. – TIME, 12-22-11
  • Lawmakers reach tentative deal on payroll tax cut; House action Friday: Congressional negotiators have reached a tentative deal to extend the payroll tax holiday for two months, with the House set to act on Friday. A subdued House Speaker John Boehner announced the accord … – LAT, 12-22-11McConnell urges House to pass short-term extension of payroll tax cut: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said for the first time Thursday that the GOP- held House should pass a short extension of the payroll tax cut while the Senate appoints negotiators to discuss how to pay for the tax cut for the full year, putting him at odds with House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) who has insisted negotiations must take first.

Full Text December 22, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech / Statement on the House & Senate Agreeing to a 2 Month Payroll Tax Cut & Unemployment Benefits Extension

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

IN FOCUS: HOUSE LEADERS AGREE TO THE SENATE’S PAYROLL TAX EXTENSION PLAN

Deal reached on payroll tax cut extension, sources say: A tentative deal has been reached under which House Republicans would accept the Senate’s two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, Senate sources say.
A conference call of House members is scheduled Thursday evening to finalize the arrangement.

House Republican Leaders Agree to Payroll Tax Deal: Bowing under intense pressure from members of their own party to end the politically damaging impasse over a payroll tax holiday, House Republican leaders on Thursday agreed to accept a temporary extension of the tax cut, beating a a hasty retreat from a showdown that Republicans increasingly saw as a threat to their election opportunities next year.
Under a deal reached between House and Senate leaders — which Speaker John A. Boehner was presenting to the rank and file in an evening conference call — House members would accept the two-month extension of a payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits approved by the Senate last Saturday while the Senate would appoint members of a House-Senate conference committee to negotiate legislation to extend both benefits through 2012…. – NYT, 12-22-11

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama: “This is Good News”

Source: WH, 12-22-11
For weeks, President Obama has pressed Congress to come to an agreement to extend the payroll tax cut into 2012. This afternoon, that’s exactly what happened.

In a statement, the President praised the good news:

For the past several weeks, I’ve stated consistently that it was critical that Congress not go home without preventing a tax increase on 160 million working Americans. Today, I congratulate members of Congress for ending the partisan stalemate by reaching an agreement that meets that test.

Because of this agreement, every working American will keep his or her tax cut – about $1,000 for the average family. That’s about $40 in every paycheck. Vital unemployment insurance will continue for millions of Americans who are looking for work.  And when Congress returns, I urge them to keep working to reach an agreement that will extend this tax cut and unemployment insurance for all of 2012 without drama or delay.

This is good news, just in time for the holidays. This is the right thing to do to strengthen our families, grow our economy, and create new jobs.  This is real money that will make a real difference in people’s lives. And I want to thank every American who raised your voice to remind folks in this town what this debate was all about. It was about you. And today, your voices made all the difference.

Full Text December 22, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech Discusses What The Payroll Tax Cut’s $40 Dollars Means for American Families Each Week

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Discusses What $40 Means for Americans Families

Source: WH, 12-22-11
20111222 President Obama Discusses the Payroll Tax Cut

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the impasse in Congress over the payroll tax cut extension during a statement in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Dec. 22, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today, President Obama gave an update about the status of the payroll tax cut.

When the spoke, the people standing behind him were all Americans who would see their taxes increase if the House of Representatives doesn’t take action.

Each of them was at the White House because they wrote in to tell us what they would have to give up if they lost $40 with every paycheck.

The President said:

[On] Tuesday, we asked folks to tell us what would it be like to lose $40 out of your paycheck every week. And I have to tell you that the response has been overwhelming.  We haven’t seen anything like this before.  Over 30,000 people have written in so far — as many as 2,000 every hour. We’re still hearing from folks — and I want to encourage everybody who’s been paying attention to this to keep sending your stories to WhiteHouse.gov and share them on Twitter and share them on Facebook.

The responses we’ve gotten so far have come from Americans of all ages and Americans of all backgrounds, from every corner of the country. Some of the folks who responded are on stage with me here today, and they should remind every single member of Congress what’s at stake in this debate. Let me just give you a few samples.

Read the full statement here.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on the Payroll Tax Cut

South Court Auditorium

1:00 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)  Please have a seat.  Good afternoon to all of you.  Merry Christmas.  Happy holidays.

We’ve been doing everything we can over the last few weeks to make sure that 160 million working Americans aren’t hit with a holiday tax increase on January 1st.  We’ve also been doing everything we can to make sure that millions of people who are out there looking for work in a very tough environment don’t start losing their unemployment insurance on January 1st.

Now, on Saturday, we reached a bipartisan compromise that would do just that — make sure that people aren’t seeing a tax cut the first of the year; make sure that they still have unemployment insurance the first of the year.  Nearly every Democrat in the Senate voted for that compromise.  Nearly every Republican in the Senate voted for that compromise.  Democrats and even some Republicans in the House voted for that compromise. I am ready to sign that compromise into law the second it lands on my desk.

So far, the only reason it hasn’t landed on my desk — the only reason — is because a faction of House Republicans have refused to support this compromise.

Now, if you’re a family making about $50,000 a year, this is a tax cut that amounts to about $1,000 a year.  That’s about 40 bucks out of every paycheck.  It may be that there’s some folks in the House who refuse to vote for this compromise because they don’t think that 40 bucks is a lot of money.  But anyone who knows what it’s like to stretch a budget knows that at the end of the week, or the end of the month, $40 can make all the difference in the world.

And that’s why we thought we’d bring your voices into this debate.  So many of these debates in Washington end up being portrayed as which party is winning, which party is losing.  But what we have to remind ourselves of is this is about people.  This is about the American people and whether they win.  It’s not about a contest between politicians.

So on Tuesday, we asked folks to tell us what would it be like to lose $40 out of your paycheck every week.  And I have to tell you that the response has been overwhelming.  We haven’t seen anything like this before.  Over 30,000 people have written in so far — as many as 2,000 every hour.  We’re still hearing from folks — and I want to encourage everybody who’s been paying attention to this to keep sending your stories to WhiteHouse.gov and share them on Twitter and share them on Facebook.

The responses we’ve gotten so far have come from Americans of all ages and Americans of all backgrounds, from every corner of the country.  Some of the folks who responded are on stage with me here today, and they should remind every single member of Congress what’s at stake in this debate.  Let me just give you a few samples.

Joseph from New Jersey talked about how he would have to sacrifice the occasional pizza night with his daughters.  He said — and I’m quoting — “My 16-year-old twins will be out of the house soon.  I’ll miss this.”

Richard from Rhode Island wrote to tell us that having an extra $40 in his check buys enough heating oil to keep his family warm for three nights.  In his words — I’m quoting — “If someone doesn’t think that 12 gallons of heating oil is important, I invite them to spend three nights in an unheated home.  Or you can believe me when I say that it makes a difference.”

Pete from Wisconsin told us about driving more than 200 miles each week to keep his father-in-law company in a nursing home — $40 out of his paycheck would mean he’d only be able to make three trips instead of four.

We heard from a teacher named Claire from here in D.C. who goes to the thrift store every week and uses her own money to buy pencils and books for her fourth grade class.  Once in a while she splurges on science or art supplies.  Losing $40, she says, would mean she couldn’t do that anymore.

For others, $40 means dinner out with a child who’s home for Christmas, a new pair of shoes, a tank of gas, a charitable donation.  These are the things at stake for millions of Americans.  They matter to people.  A lot.

And keep in mind that those are just the individual stories. That doesn’t account for the overall impact that a failure to extend the payroll tax cut and a failure to extend unemployment insurance would have on the economy as a whole.  We’ve seen the economy do better over the last couple of months, but there’s still a lot of sources of uncertainty out there — what’s going on in Europe, what’s going on around the world.  And so this is insurance to make sure that our recovery continues.

So it’s time for the House to listen to the voices who are up here, the voices all across the country, and reconsider.  What’s happening right now is exactly why people just get so frustrated with Washington.  This is it; this is exactly why people get so frustrated with Washington.  This isn’t a typical Democratic-versus-Republican issue.  This is an issue where an overwhelming number of people in both parties agree.  How can we not get that done?  I mean, has this place become so dysfunctional that even when people agree to things we can’t do it?  (Applause.)  It doesn’t make any sense.

So, enough is enough.  The people standing with me today can’t afford any more games.  They can’t afford to lose $1,000 because of some ridiculous Washington standoff.  The House needs to pass a short-term version of this compromise, and then we should negotiate an agreement as quickly as possible to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance for the rest of 2012.  It’s the right thing to do for the economy, and it’s, most importantly, the right thing to do for American families all across the country.

This is not just my view.  Just a few hours ago, this is exactly what the Republican Leader of the Senate said we should do.  Democrats agree with the Republican Leader of the Senate.  We should go ahead and get this done.  This should not be hard.  We all agree it should happen.  I believe it’s going to happen sooner or later.  Why not make it sooner, rather than later?  Let’s give the American people — the people who sent us here — the kind of leadership they deserve.

Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
1:08 P.M. EST

Political Buzz December 22, 2011: President Obama Goes Christmas Shopping with Bo

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Goes Christmas Shopping

Source: WH, 12-22-11

Just in time for the holiday, President Obama found a little time this week to get some Christmas shopping done. First Dog Bo went along for the ride – presumably to supervise the President’s stop at a PetSmart just outside Washington, where the two picked up a couple items and mingled with other shoppers, both human and canine.

President Obama and Bo go shoppingPresident Barack Obama reacts as Bo, the Obama family dog, meets a poodle named Cinnamon while shopping at a PetSmart store in Alexandria, Va., Dec. 21, 2011. (by Chuck Kennedy)

  • Obama goes Christmas shopping: Home alone at the White House, President Barack Obama headed on an impromptu Christmas shopping trip Wednesday with first dog Bo, searching for some holiday cheer despite the latest stalemate with Congress…. – AP, 12-21-11
  • Obama and Bo go Christmas shopping: President Barack Obama took a break from wrangling with House Republicans on Wednesday afternoon for a quick pre-Christmas shopping trip to buy gifts for his daughters and Bo the dog.
    After calling congressional leaders to reaffirm his support for the Senate-passed two-month extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, Obama exited the Oval Office with Bo in tow and headed to a shopping strip in Alexandria, Va. — a man alone with his dog as his family vacations in Hawaii…. – Politico, 12-21-11

After leaving the pet store, President Obama continued on (companionless) to Best Buy to pick out some games and gift cards for his daughters before heading to a local restaurant for a few pizzas to take back to the White House.

Need more Bo? Watch this video about his role in this year’s White House Holiday decorations

Full Text December 20, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech / Remarks on the Republican Congress’ Vote on the Payroll Tax Cut Extension at Press Briefing with Jay Carney

Political Buzz December 20, 2011: Congress Votes Against 2 Month Payroll Tax Cut Extension – House Rejects Senate Passed Plan by a Vote of 229-193

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

House Republicans, led by Speaker John A. Boehner, asked President Obama to call the Senate back to Washington after the House voted down a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut.

IN FOCUS: HOUSE REJECTS THE SENATE’S PAYROLL TAX EXTENSION PLAN BY A VOTE OF 229-193

House rejects Senate’s payroll tax plan: The House Tuesday rejected a bipartisan Senate compromise on extending a payroll tax holiday for two months along with extensions of unemployment benefits and Medicare payments to doctors.
In a 229-193 procedural vote that set aside the Senate bill and requested a formal conference with the Senate, House Republicans set up a showdown with the Democratic-controlled Senate and President Obama, who are demanding that the House approve the short-term plan now to avoid a tax hike on workers Jan. 1 and then negotiate a longer-term deal for the rest of 2012…. – WaPo, 12-20-11

  • Republicans in House Reject Deal Extending Payroll Tax Cut: House Republicans on Tuesday soundly rejected a bill approved by the Senate that would have extended the payroll tax cut for most Americans beyond the end of the year and allowed millions of unemployed people to continue receiving jobless … – NYT, 12-20-11
  • House GOP rejects 2-month payroll tax cut: Congress lurched toward Grinch-like gridlock on Tuesday as the Republican-controlled House rejected a two-month extension of Social Security tax cuts that President Barack Obama said was “the only viable way” to prevent a drop in take-home pay for 160 million workers on Jan. 1.
    “The clock is ticking, time is running out,” Obama said shortly after House voted 229-193 to request negotiations with the Senate on renewing the payroll tax cuts for a year.
    House Speaker John Boehner, told that Obama had sought his help, replied, “I need the president to help out.” … – AP, 12-20-11
  • Obama blasts GOP after House Republicans defeat two-month payroll tax cut: The House on Tuesday rejected a bipartisan Senate compromise to extend a payroll tax cut for two months, along with unemployment benefits, plunging Washington into uncertainty just days before Christmas about the fate of the tax cut enjoyed by 160 … – WaPo, 12-20-11
  • 11 House members miss vote that rejected two-month extension of payroll tax: Eleven lawmakers missed the House vote that rejected Senate legislation to extend a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits for two months. Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Ron Paul of Texas were campaigning Tuesday for the … – WaPo, 12-20-11
  • Obama blasts House GOP for blocking payroll tax cut extension: By Christi Parsons While members of Congress point fingers at each other for gumming up the payroll tax cut, President Obama is watching the bickering from the White House–where he is apparently happy to spend the holiday season until a deal gets done…. – LAT, 12-20-11
  • Boehner says Obama should tell Senate to bargain on payroll tax cuts, break impasse: House Speaker John Boehner says it’s time for President Barack Obama to help end Congress’ impasse over renewing the payroll tax cut and jobless benefits. The Ohio Republican said Tuesday that he wants Obama to call on the Democratic-led … – WaPo, 12-20-11
  • Obama: Republicans are forcing payroll tax hike: President Obama blasted House Republicans today for rejecting a Senate plan to extend the payroll tax cut for two months, saying that “a faction” of the GOP is forcing a tax hike on Americans next year. … – USA Today, 12-20-11
  • Obama directly calls out Boehner: Stop the games: This afternoon, after House Republicans voted to “disagree” with the Senate compromise extending the payroll tax cut, the brinksmanship took a sudden and dramatic turn. Obama made a surprise appearance before reporters and called out…. – WaPo, 12-20-11
  • House in session ‘as necessary’ over holidays as payroll tax fight remains unresolved: By Felicia Sonmez With the final battle of the 112th Congress still unresolved, the House adjourned on Tuesday and will meet “as necessary” over the holidays. The adjournment leaves in limbo the fate of a bipartisan package that would prevent… – WaPo, 12-20-11
  • Payroll tax cut extension in doubt amid House Republican uproar: The fate of a payroll tax cut extension backed by the White House and overwhelmingly passed by the Senate is uncertain after a restive House Republican conference expressed displeasure with the two-month deal…. – WaPo, 12-18-11
  • McCain: Payroll tax cut showdown ‘harming’ the GOP: Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said Tuesday the battle on Capitol Hill between Democrats and Republicans over extending the payroll tax cut was causing damage to the GOP. “It is harming the Republican Party,” McCain said on CNN…. – CNN, 12-20-11
  • Obama, Boehner square off in payroll tax fight: The congressional impasse over extending the payroll tax cut became a showdown Tuesday between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner. After the Republican-controlled House passed a measure calling for more … – CNN, 12-20-11
  • Obama, Boehner lock horns in payroll tax fight: President Barack Obama demanded on Tuesday that Republicans in the House of Representatives pass a short-term extension of a payroll tax cut, showing an unwillingness to back down in a fight … – Reuters Canada, 12-20-11
  • Payroll tax cut down to who blinks first: Just 11 days before 160 million Americans face a payroll tax increase, the fight has become a matter of which side blinks first.
    Congressional Democrats and President Barack Obama are betting Republicans concede out of fear they’ll get blamed for a middle class tax increase. Speaker John Boehner and his rowdy GOP conference are pressuring Democrats to come back to the negotiating table — but right now they’re negotiating alone. And Senate Republicans are surprisingly silent on the whole thing, having washed their hands of this year-end mess by backing the two-month payroll tax extension and jetting town…. – Politico, 12-20-11
  • House Vote Coming on Payroll Tax Cut Extension: NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: House Republicans are expected to vote down a two- month extension of the payroll tax cut just hours from now. House Speaker John Boehner saying it would only create more uncertainty for job creators…. – Fox News, 12-20-11
  • House GOP to reject two-month Senate payroll tax cut Tuesday in end-of-year: With the Senate adjourned for the holidays, House Republicans are moving to shelve a bipartisan two-month extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut that cleared the Senate over the weekend and are demanding instead that their fellow … – WaPo, 12-20-11
  • House speaker foresees extension of payroll tax cuts: House Speaker John Boehner told USA TODAY on Monday that he was optimistic that payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits would be extended — despite a congressional stalemate that could result in millions of … – USA Today, 12-20-11
  • House conservatives end year as they spent it, revolting over a bipartisan bill on taxes: Sen. Mitch McConnell does not high-five easily or often. But a deal to keep American workers’ taxes from rising on Jan. 1 was reason enough for the coolest negotiator in the Senate to lift a hand on camera and slap — or pat — some skin. … – WaPo, 12-20-11
  • House Republicans, in turmoil, delay vote on payroll tax cut: Tempers grow short as hard-line conservatives remain opposed to a two-month extension that easily passed the Senate. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) holds a news conference on the payroll tax vote with fellow House Republican freshmen at the US Capitol. … – LAT, 12-20-11
  • Boehner’s brinksmanship: The House speaker objects to the Senate payroll tax compromise, but his complaints about it ring hollow. Speaker of the House John Boehner answers reporters’ questions during a news conference on the payroll tax vote outside his office at the Capitol. … – LAT, 12-20-11
  • House Republicans intent on killing Senate payroll tax cut deal: House Republicans were gearing up to ditch a bipartisan Senate bill on Tuesday that would extend a federal payroll tax holiday for two months, charging that the deal represented the old ways of doing business that they were elected to change. … – WaPo, 12-20-11
  • Has Boehner lost control: First, John Boehner wanted the Senate to pass a payroll tax cut bill. Then, he wanted to make a show of killing it. Now, he won’t hold a House vote on it at all. In the last and biggest political test of a wild year — Boehner’s final exam for 2012 … – Politico, 12-20-11
  • House Set to Vote Down Payroll Tax Cut Extension: Under fire from senators in their own party, House Republicans on Tuesday prepared to reject a Senate measure to extend a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits for millions of Americans for two months, and demanded that the Senate … – NYT, 12-20-11
  • House Republicans Refuse to Budge on Payroll Tax Cut: Despite fire from senators in their own party, House Republicans pushed for talks on a long-term bill…. – NYT, 12-19-11
  • Payroll Tax Cut Rejected by House Republicans: The House Republican leader’s rejection of a short-term, bipartisan Senate measure to extend a payroll tax break set the stage for a bitter year-end Congressional collision…. – NYT, 12-18-11
  • Extension of Payroll Tax Cut Passes Senate: A two-month extension of the payroll-tax holiday — should it get through the House — adds to a series of 11th-hour Congressional deals that simply pushed the issues involved forward…. – NYT, 12-17-11

Campaign Buzz December 20, 2011: Sarah Palin on Fox Business: Not Too Late to Jump into Republican Presidential Race

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Sarah Palin: Not Too Late to Jump into Republican Race

Source: AP, 12-20-11

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin says it’s not too late for someone to jump into the Republican presidential race.

Asked by Fox Business Network’s “Follow the Money” about the likelihood that she’d become a candidate, the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee said it’s not too late for “folks” to jump in.

Said Palin: “Who knows what will happen in the future.”

The full interview is scheduled for broadcast Monday night.

Palin told Fox News Channel over the weekend that she felt no enthusiasm for anyone in the current GOP field and that she needed to feel something before she would offer an endorsement.

Palin said in October that she wouldn’t seek the GOP nomination. She said she could be more effective helping others get elected.

Full Text December 19, 2011: President Barack Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama Answer Personal Questions on 20/20 with Barbara Walters

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama, First Lady Tackle 10 Personal Questions

Source: ABC News, 12-19-11

President Obama, First Lady Tackle 10 Personal Questions<br /><br /> (ABC News)
President Obama, First Lady Tackle 10 Personal Questions (ABC News)

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama in an exclusive pre-Christmas interview with ABC News’ Barbara Walters revealed personal insights about themselves and their relationship as they approach their 20th wedding anniversary next fall.

The full interview can be seen during a “20/20” holiday special on Friday, Dec. 23, 10 p.m. ET on ABC stations.

Walters’ questions were drawn from the late-nineteenth century Proust Questionnaire, a series of personality questions made famous by French author Marcel Proust. They are regularly put to celebrities in interviews featured on the back page of Vanity Fair magazine.

The Obamas’ responses that follow have been lightly edited for brevity.

What’s the trait you most deplore in yourself, and the trait you most deplore in others?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Laziness. Nothing frustrates me more than when people aren’t doing their jobs. The thing actually that I most dislike is cruelty. I can’t stand cruel people. And if I see people doing something mean to somebody else, just to make themselves feel important it really gets me mad. But, with myself, since I tend not to be a mean person, you know, if I get lazy, then I get mad at myself.

MICHELLE OBAMA: When people are unwilling to compromise. I just think that particularly in a society with big views, big differences, that, you know, the truth is often somewhere right in the middle. And, a lot of times, we don’t want to give up anything. And I don’t like it when I see that in myself.

On what occasion do you lie?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Usually, the only time I lie is very personal interactions with family members, who you say, “You look great,” and they don’t. “Wonderful dress…” Uh, not so much.

MICHELLE OBAMA: Things where the truth would hurt other people.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Right, the things where truth would hurt other people. Not too many big things. I said during the campaign that I’ll always tell you what I think, and I will, always tell you where I stand. I’m not perfect, but you’ll know what I believe.

MICHELLE OBAMA: I think the same thing. When it would hurt somebody else’s feelings. When the truth isn’t helpful.

What do you think is the most overrated virtue?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Security. People naturally resist change in our personal lives. … Malia, actually, was the one who brought it up because she says, ‘You know, one of the things that happens is sometimes transitions are hard, and I really enjoy my life, and I like how things are going.’ And I said, ‘Get in the habit of being able to embrace change, and what’s new. Because you don’t want to live your life where, you are held back because you’ve gotten too comfortable, and you are afraid of what might be out there around the corner.’”

MICHELLE OBAMA: I take his [answer]. I agree with him.

What’s the biggest misconception about you?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Me being detached, or Spock-like, or very analytical. People who know me know that I am a softie. I mean, stuff can choke me up very easily. The challenge for me is that in this job I think a lot of times the press or how you come off on TV people want you to be very demonstrative in your emotions. And if you’re not sort of showing it in a very theatrical way, then somehow it doesn’t translate over the screen.

MICHELLE OBAMA: Someone said that there’s a perception out there that I feel confined or trapped in some way. To the extent that people have that perception, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I feel very blessed in this role.

What three words would you each use to describe the other?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Beautiful, smart and funny.

MICHELLE OBAMA: Smart, sportsman, and father.

Which historical figure do you most admire?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: [Abraham] Lincoln and [Mohandas] Gandhi are the two people, when I think about what they achieved, two very different men. … What I admire most about them is under huge pressure, monumental changes that they brought about but they never lost their moral bearings.

MICHELLE OBAMA: The first person that comes to mind is Coretta Scott King, because I think she’s somebody that I actually had a chance to meet as well, so she’s more real to me. Understanding the pressures, and the pain, and the ambiguity of the life she must have lived. And coming out on the other end of that, still hopeful and positive, and pushing for more for herself, for her family, for this nation. It’s impressive.

What is your biggest peeve about each other?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Oh, I don’t have one.

MICHELLE OBAMA: My list is too long.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: When I feel as if the people closest to me are happy and healthy and I’m connected with them, and when I feel as if I’m doing things that are making other people better and happy, then I feel real good. That’s when I’m at my peak.

MICHELLE OBAMA: Happiness is family — the health of family — just to keep it short. I could go on and on and on, but when my family’s good, I’m good.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

MICHELLE OBAMA: I’d be more patient. I think I’ve gotten more patient over the years. I’m constantly working on just being patient with myself and not letting my expectations get ahead of what’s happening now.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I deeply regret not having learned a musical instrument. And I regret not having focused more on Spanish when I was studying it in school. I would love to be able to speak Spanish fluently and play an instrument.

If you were to die and come back as a person as a thing, what would you want it to be?

MICHELLE OBAMA: I would want to be Bo. He’s got a great life. He’s got it good. Not a dog. But Bo.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, Barbara, I’m going to take a pass on this one.

%d bloggers like this: