Political Headlines March 13, 2013: A First? President Barack Obama Gets Standing Ovations from House Republicans at Capitol Meeting





A First? President Obama Gets Standing Ovations from House Republicans

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-13-13


President Obama got standing ovations at the beginning and end of his meeting Wednesday with House Republicans on Capitol Hill — his first such meeting in four years….

The biggest laugh line: The president informed the group that there was white smoke at the Vatican, and Rep. Billy Long of Missouri yelled out, “Does that mean the White House is open for tours?” Obama responded: “No, but the Vatican is.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 13, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Organizing for Action Event



Remarks by the President at Organizing for Action Event

Source: WH, 3-13-13 

Adour Restaurant
Washington D.C.

6:44 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  (Applause.)  Hello, hello.  Thank you.  Everybody have a seat.

Well, it’s good to see all of you.  I missed you.  (Laughter.)  Let me first of all thank Jim and Jon for organizing this.  I want to thank all of you.  I’ve got a bunch of friends in this room, people who have supported me even before I ran for President — new friends, old friends, everybody here in it for the right reasons, folks who care deeply about this country and want to see us continue to move forward.

I said in 2008 — and I’m pretty sure I repeated in 2012 — that you run elections not simply to get elected.  You run elections to have an opportunity to deliver on behalf of the American people.  And the central premise of our campaign was always that this great country of ours is built on some foundational ideas, the most important of which is that anybody, anywhere, if they’re willing to work hard and take responsibility, can succeed, and that if we’ve got a growing, thriving middle class and ladders of opportunity into the middle class, then nobody can beat us.  That’s the reason why we attracted immigrants from every corner of the world.  That’s the reason why our culture has always been viewed as dynamic and forward-looking — not looking backwards, but consistently looking at that next horizon.

And the good news is that America in 2013 is poised, as it always has been, to succeed in ways that will make us the envy of the world if we make good policy decisions.

Since the election, since I saw many of you, we’ve made some progress on some fronts.  We have seen that there’s actually a bipartisan commitment — at least in the Senate — to potentially overhaul our immigration system so that we can continue to attract the best and brightest from around the world.

We are having terrific conversations around issues like cybersecurity and how we make sure that people’s privacy and civil liberties are protected, but how we also protect our critical infrastructure and we make sure that the power of the Internet isn’t used for ill as well as good.

We’ve seen some progress after the heartbreaking tragedy of Newtown, where people finally say we can do something about gun violence in a way that’s respectful of the Second Amendment, but insists that no society should tolerate our children being gunned down, whether it’s on the streets or in their classrooms.

And when it comes to issues of the budget, we’ve made progress in making sure that those at the very top are paying a greater share of what is required to run a government and fund basic research, move education forward.

And so we’ve seen some progress.  And I laid out in both the inauguration and in the State of the Union a vision that doesn’t require massive expansion of government, but does require us to do certain things that we can’t do as well by ourselves — whether it’s providing early childhood education; whether it’s investing in infrastructure so that our businesses can move goods and services more rapidly around the world; whether it’s continuing to expand our manufacturing base and encouraging insourcing and not just outsourcing; whether it’s making sure that we continue to be at the cutting edge of science and technology and research; or whether we are going to choose an energy future that doesn’t just look at the energy sources of the past, but also looks at the energy sources of tomorrow and addresses climate change in a serious way.

And some people remarked that I looked — I had a little more pep in my step in the inauguration and in the State of the Union.  And I have to tell you it wasn’t because I was off the campaign trail, because actually nothing energizes me like interacting with the American people day in and day out.  The reason was I felt like this is a vision that, if we can get it implemented, really would allow America to take off.

Our economy is recovering.  It is resilient.  But it is not yet where it needs to be.  We’ve got millions of people who are still out of work or underemployed.  We’ve still got businesses that could be thriving if we were able to make sure that Washington doesn’t engage in self-induced crises.

And so, we’re going to have a lot of work to do.  And let’s face it — there are still a lot of divisions and arguments here in Washington.  And although we are doing our very best to reach out to the other side, and I think there’s a genuine desire on the part of Republicans and Democrats to try to get something done, I think there is a weariness among membership in the Senate and in the House about this constant grind, day in, day out of argument and crises instead of productivity and movement forward.

The politics of a lot of these issues are tough, and members sometimes are scared about making the right decisions.  And they’re particularly scared because they’re subject to pressure from special interest groups and well-financed organizations that may be pushing in a different direction.

And so, I think the idea here, the concept is, we’ve got 20 million people who got involved in the campaign or close to it.  We have 4 million people who actively contributed to the campaign in five-dollar and ten-dollar and 25-dollar increments.  Now, a sizable portion of those just wanted dinner with George Clooney — (laughter) — but I think there was a large number of them that believed in our vision for the future as well.

And part of what Jim and Jon and I have spoken about is just how do we make sure that people stay involved?  How do we make sure all those neighborhood groups are engaged, feel a sense of connection?  We did not do as good of a job in 2008 as I would have hoped in making sure they still felt a part of the process.

And it’s not just a matter of lobbying Congress.  It’s a matter of them taking ownership so that if we’re setting up health care exchanges in their states, maybe they want to contact some friends in their — or neighbors who don’t have health care and say, here’s something that might help you.  If we’ve got a disaster like we had during Sandy, is that community built in that allows us to go out and immediately help relief efforts.  Can we sustain and maintain the sense of citizenship that arose during the course of the campaign outside of a campaign structure, outside of the immediate, okay, we’re trying to win this many votes in this many states, but can, instead, we activate people around an agenda.

I think here in Washington, this idea has been viewed with puzzle — some both suspicion and people have been puzzled about what it is that we’re trying to do.  Because the usual idea is, well, this must just be a mechanism to try to win the next election in 2014.  And what we’ve tried to explain to people is, is that, no, I actually just want to govern — at least for a couple of years — (laughter) — but I also want to make sure that the voices of ordinary people are heard in the debates that are going to be taking place.

If you have a senator or a congressman in a swing district who is prepared to take a tough vote — or what they consider to be a tough vote — on immigration reform, or legislation around background checks for guns, I want to make sure that they feel supported and that they know that there are constituencies of theirs who agree with them, even if they may be getting a lot of pushback in that district.  If we move aggressively on an issue like climate change — that’s not an easy issue for a lot of folks, because the benefits may be out in the future.  And I want to make sure that a congressman, senator feels as if they’ve got the information and the grassroots network that’s going to support them in that effort.

And so, that more than anything is what inspired this idea.  What we want is to make sure that the voices of the people who put me here continue to be heard — that they’re not just heard during election time, that they’re not just heard in terms of dollar solicitations, that we are helping to build or sustain a network of citizens who have a voice in the most critical debates that are going to be taking place over the next year, year and a half, and if it works, potentially beyond.

So that’s part of the reason why I’m excited about this and why I’m so grateful that all of you are participating.  One of the things I’m proudest of during the course of two campaigns where we raised an awful lot of money is that the people who got involved didn’t ask me for stuff except to be true to my vision and true to our agenda.

And all of you represent, like it or not, a bunch of true believers who got involved and are still here after all the ups and downs of the campaign.  Well, there are going to be ups and downs in terms of governing, as well.  But if we do it well, then I’m confident that we can move strong immigration legislation through Congress.  I’m confident that we can get common-sense gun safety legislation through Congress.  I am confident that we can craft a budget that is responsible and reduces our deficit but also makes sure that we’re investing in those things that we need to grow and that our basic social safety net is preserved.  But I can’t do that by myself.

So I’ll just close with this comment.  You remember during the campaign, at one point I was asked about gridlock in Washington, and I said one of the lessons I’ve learned in my first four years is that you can’t change Washington from the inside.  And some people took that as saying, oh, Obama’s giving up — no.  That’s what I’ve always claimed.

I’ve always said that I am representing people, and that change comes about because people are activated, people are involved.  People shape the agenda.  People determine the framework for debate.  People let their members of Congress know what is that they believe.  And when those voices are heard, you can’t stop it.  That’s when change happens.

Well, what was true back in 2008 is just as true today.  And what we don’t want to do is repeat the mistake I think that I believe in 2008 we made where some of that energy just kind of dissipated and we were only playing an inside game, and I’m sitting in a room with a bunch of folks negotiating all the time, but those voices are no longer heard.

Over the last several weeks, the press here in Washington has been reporting about Obama’s charm offensive.  Well, the truth of the matter is all I’ve been doing is just calling up folks and trying to see if we can break through some of the gobbledygook of our politics here.  And I do believe that — at this juncture, one of the things I believe is that we’ve got to get members of Congress involved in these discussions, not just leadership.  Because I think a lot of them feel as if they don’t have the opportunity to break out of some of this partisan gridlock.  And ironically, I actually think some of the leadership want their membership to create a permission structure.  They don’t like getting too far ahead of their leadership, so we’re reaching out to these individual members so that they create a space where things can get done.

But the same principle applies doubly when it comes to the American people.  And the only idea here that we’re promoting is the notion that if the American people are speaking out, organized, activated, that may give space here in Washington to do the kind of work — hopefully bipartisan work — that’s required.  But in order to do that I’m going to need all your help.

I used to say that being friends with a politician is like perpetually having a kid in college, because you’re writing checks all the time and it doesn’t seem like the kid ever graduates.  Well, I’ve graduated.  (Laughter.)  I’ve run my last campaign.  But we’re not done with the work that led me to run in the first place.  And I’m hopeful that with your continued ideas and support, your voices, that we can continue to make progress over the next several years.

Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)

7:00 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines March 13, 2013: President Barack Obama Meets with House Republicans in Capital Conclave: Discuss Stalemate But Budget Deal Still Elusive





Obama, House GOP Discuss Stalemate But Budget Deal Still Elusive

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-13-13

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama said his meeting Wednesday with House Republicans was “useful,” closely matching the assessment of House Speaker John Boehner, who called the meeting “productive.” “It was good, I enjoyed it,” Obama said of the closed-door meeting, which ran 30 minutes longer than planned. “It was useful.”
“We had a very frank and candid exchange of ideas and, frankly, I think it was productive,” said Boehner, R-Ohio. “However…there are some very real differences between our two parties.”…READ MORE

Full Text History Headlines March 13, 2013: Pope Francis’s First Blessing / Speech After Election to Crowds in St Peter’s Square — Transcript


History Buzz


New Pope Francis’s first words after election

Source: Reuters, 3-13-13

Here is a transcript of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio’s first words as pope as translated by Reuters from the Italian.

Brothers and sisters, good evening. You know that the duty of the conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother cardinals went almost to the end of the world to get him. But here we are.

I thank you for this welcome by the diocesan community of Rome to its bishop. Thank you.

First of all, I would like to say a prayer for our bishop emeritus, Benedict XVI.Let us all pray together for him, let us all pray together for him so that the Lord my bless him and that the Madonna may protect him.

(The new pope then prayed the “Lord’s Prayer”, the “Hail Mary” and the “Glory Be” with the crowd in Italian).

He then continued:

And now, let us start this journey, bishop and people, bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which leads all the Churches in charity, a journey of fraternity, of love, of trust among us.

Let us always pray for us, one for the other, let us pray for the whole world, so that there may be a great fraternity. I hope that this journey of the Church that we begin today and which my cardinal vicar, who is here with me, will help me with, may be fruitful for the evangelisation of this beautiful city.

Now, I would like to give you a blessing, but first I want to ask you for a favour.Before the bishop blesses the people, I ask that you pray to the Lord so that he blesses me. This is the prayer of the people who are asking for the blessing of their bishop.

In silence, let us say this prayer of you for me.

(After a few seconds of silent prayer, he then delivered his blessing).

He then concluded:

Tomorrow I want to go to pray to the Madonna so that she protects all of Rome. Good night and have a good rest.

History Headlines March 13, 2013: Pope Francis: A pope of many historical firsts


History Buzz


Francis: A pope of many firsts

Source: USA Today, 3-13-13


When Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was named as the new pope at the Vatican on Wednesday, he kicked off a series of firsts:

— First pontiff from the Americas

— First South American pope, representing the largest Catholic population in the world

— First Jesuit pope

— First pope to pick the name Francis

— First pope to be elected after a papal resignation (in the modern era)….READ MORE

Key facts about the new pope

Source: USA Today, 3-10-13

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the 76-year-old cardinal and archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina was named Benedict XVI’s successor on Wednesday….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 13, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Statement on His Holiness Pope Francis



Statement from the President on His Holiness Pope Francis

Source: WH, 3-13-13 

On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis as he ascends to the Chair of Saint Peter and begins his papacy.  As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than two thousand years—that in each other we see the face of God.  As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day.  Just as I appreciated our work with Pope Benedict XVI, I look forward to working with His Holiness to advance peace, security and dignity for our fellow human beings, regardless of their faith.  We join with people around the world in offering our prayers for the Holy Father as he begins the sacred work of leading the Catholic Church in our modern world.

History Headlines March 13, 2013: Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina is elected pope becomes first Pope Francis I


History Buzz


Argentina’s Bergoglio becomes Pope Francis

Source: CNN, 3-13-13

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina has become Pope Francis.

  • New pope is Argentina’s Cardinal Bergoglio, who takes the name Pope Francis.
  • Francis, 76, is the first non-European pope in the modern era and the first South American pope.
  • He’s also the first Pope Francis, and the third straight non-Italian pope.
  • Election comes on first full day of the cardinals’ conclave in the Sistine Chapel. It appears to have come on the fifth ballot; at least 77 of the 115 cardinal votes were needed for a pope to be chosen.
  • New pope succeeds Pope Benedict XVI, who was the first pope to resign in hundreds of years. He stepped down February 28, citing advanced age.
  • Updates below; full story here; what’s in a pope’s name?….READ MORE

History Headlines March 13, 2013: White smoke: Catholic cardinals choose new pope


History Buzz


White smoke: Catholic cardinals choose new pope

Source: USA Today, 3-13-13

AFP 518134685
White smoke rises from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel meaning that cardinals elected a new pope on the second day of their secret conclave on March 13, 2013 at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLIALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: 176 ORIG FILE ID: 518134685(Photo: ALBERTO PIZZOLI AFP/Getty Images)

Story Highlights

  • First vote was held Tuesday
  • Thousands crowd St. Peter’s Square
  • Pope Benedict XVI resigned effective Feb. 28

White smoke poured out of the Sistine Chapel chimney Wednesday to roars of joy from the throngs jamming St. Peter’s Square.

The new pope, his name not yet revealed, is expected to greet the masses from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basillica shortly….READ MORE

Political Headlines March 13, 2013: Press Secretary Jay Carney: White House endorses Senate Democrats budget





White House endorses Senate Dem budget

Source: Politico, 3-13-13

White House press secretary Jay Carney praised the budget proposed by Senate Democrats on Wednesday, saying it represents a balanced approach to deficit reduction that won’t place an undue burden on the middle class.

“The Senate Democratic budget is a concrete plan that will grow our economy and shrink our deficits in a balanced way, consistent with the President’s belief that our economy grows best from the middle-out, not the top-down, while reducing the debt as a share of the economy,” Carney said in a statement….READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines March 13, 2013: Senate Democrats’ Fiscal Year 2014 Budget





READ: The Senate Democrats’ 2014 budget

Source: WaPo, 3-13-13

The Senate Democrats have just released their proposed budget for 2014, which you can read below.

See here for a top-line comparison of the Senate Democratic budget and Paul Ryan’s GOP budget in the House….READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines March 13, 2013: Senate Budget Chairman Patty Murray’s Opening Statement at the Mark-Up of the Concurrent Resolution on the Democrats Budget for FY 2014





Chairman Murray Opening Statement at the Mark-Up of the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for FY 2014

Source: Budget.Senate.gov/Democratic, 3-13-13

“The Committee will come to order.

“I want to thank my colleagues on this Committee for all of your hard work as we’ve written this budget resolution. I want to thank the Committee’s Ranking Member, Senator Sessions. As well as all of the members of the public who have weighed in with your ideas, told your stories, and shared your priorities with us over the past few months.

“Here in Washington, D.C., the budget debate is often discussed in terms of abstract numbers and political winners and losers. But the truth is that budgets are about far more than that. They are about our values and our priorities. They are about our visions for how government should be serving its citizens today and for generations to come.  And most of all, they are about the people across the country whose lives are impacted by the decisions we make.

“So today we are going to discuss some very different approaches to tackling our budget challenges. Tomorrow, we will continue this discussion and vote on a plan. Then we will move this debate to the Senate floor, and then hopefully work toward a balanced and bipartisan agreement with the House of Representatives while the American people have a chance to weigh in.

“But before we can talk about where we are headed, I think it is very important for us all to remember where we came from. Because our fiscal and economic challenges didn’t start today. And this debate cannot happen in a vacuum.

“The truth matters and context is very important.

“Despite some of the rhetoric you may hear from my Republican colleagues, the Great Recession didn’t start the day President Obama was elected, and the federal budget didn’t tip into deficit the day he was sworn in.

“I have served on this committee since I was first sworn in to the United States Senate in 1993.  And over the past twenty years, this country has taken two very different approaches to our budget, each of which led to very different outcomes.

“I went over this history in this Committee’s first hearing of the year, but I think that as we move toward making some critical decisions tomorrow, it is important to highlight this history one more time.

“In 1992, the year I was running for office, the federal government was running a deficit of just under 5%.  President Clinton ran that year on a promise of tackling the deficit and debt responsibly while continuing to invest in jobs and the middle class, and I was very excited when I was elected to the Senate to have a chance to help make that vision a reality.

“But as we all remember, not everyone was on board with President Clinton’s balanced and responsible approach. When he proposed raising tax rates on the wealthiest Americans alongside responsible spending cuts, Republicans jumped up and told anyone who would listen just how devastating that would be for the economy.

“When his budget bill passed the Senate and House, without a single Republican vote, one Senate Republican said, ‘I believe this program is going to make the economy weak. I believe hundreds of thousands of people are going to lose their jobs. I believe Bill Clinton will be one of those people.’

“Of course, none of those three predictions came to pass. The economy grew by an average rate of 4% for the next eight years. 22 million jobs were created while unemployment plummeted from 7.3% in 1993, to 3.9% in 2000. And President Clinton was easily reelected.

“Now I don’t think it was the tax increase on the rich on its own that caused the economy to grow. But I do think that the responsible and balanced fiscal approach played a critical role.

“Our businesses saw government taking a credible and sustainable approach to our federal budget, and it gave them the confidence to hire new workers and invest in their growth.

“Middle class workers were getting better jobs, spending their money, and building prosperity.

“This economic growth, built from the middle out, along with the balanced and responsible fiscal stewardship, turned our deficit and debt challenges around.

“Federal revenue increased from 17.5% of GDP to 20.6%. Responsible spending cuts brought federal spending down from 22.1% of GDP to 18.2%. A 4.7% deficit was turned into a 2.4% surplus in eight years. And our nation was on track to completely eliminate the federal debt by 2010.

“The work we did in the 90s should have made it clear that calling on the wealthy to pay their fair share is not incompatible with strong economic growth.  It should have made it clear that a balanced, responsible approach to deficit reduction, that includes spending cuts and new revenue from those who can afford it most, is the best path forward.

“But unfortunately, when President Bush came into office in 2001, he had very different ideas.

“Many of us saw the surplus as an opportunity for our country to erase the debt, and also to invest in middle class priorities like education, health care, and infrastructure. We wanted to build on what was working.

“But others saw it as a blank check to cut taxes for the rich and increase government spending irresponsibly. President Bush and Republicans in Congress quickly passed two sets of tax cuts that were heavily skewed toward the wealthiest Americans.

“The costs of two new wars were simply added to the national debt, as was Medicare Part D, a program estimated to cost taxpayer $60 billion this year alone.

“Middle class families struggled as workers lost their jobs and the economy stagnated and then finally collapsed.

“By 2008, federal revenues had dropped down to 17.6% of GDP, spending was back up to 20.8%, our surplus had become a deficit, and instead of eliminating the debt, we had sunk even deeper.

“When President Obama came into office the economy was losing over 700,000 jobs a month.  We were deep into a recession, and we were teetering on the edge of a full-blown depression.

“The President and Congress acted quickly to support economic growth, create jobs, and put more money in the pockets of the middle class and most vulnerable families who needed it the most.  By 2009, positive growth had returned, and the unemployment rate began to decline shortly after.

“But the recovery isn’t as strong or as fast as it needs to be, millions of workers continue struggling to get back on the job, middle class families are still having trouble keeping their heads above water, and we have some very serious challenges when it comes to our medium and long-term deficit and debt challenges.

“That brings us here to today, and the choices the members of this Committee will be asked to make in the coming days, weeks, and months, as we work to tackle our economic and fiscal challenges responsibly.

“This process is not going to be easy.

“Despite what I believe are the clear lessons from the last twenty years of fiscal and economic policy, there is a serious difference of opinion about what our government should be doing to keep our economy and our national finances moving in the right direction.

“One approach is to follow a path back to the economic policies of the last administration. This is the path to more tax cuts for the rich, and fewer regulations for Wall Street. It’s the path to more uncertainty for workers and less stability for families….To higher health care costs for patients and even higher profits for insurance companies.

“It is a path not to prosperity, which can only truly be built from the middle out, but to: the deterioration of our national infrastructure, the decline of our schools, and the dismantling of the Medicare promise we’ve made to our seniors.

“This approach was on the ballot last November, and voters across the country rejected it.  Instead, the American people say they want us to move forward, not backwards.

“They want an approach that puts the middle class first. That returns our nation to the fiscal and economic policies that have worked for this country before by focusing on jobs and the economy, cutting spending responsibly, and calling on the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.

“An approach that maintains that government can’t solve every problem, that it shouldn’t solve every problem, but that it can and must work to create jobs, support the middle class, and offer a hand up to families that need some support while they work to get back on their feet.

“This is the approach taken by the budget that twelve of us on this committee worked very hard to put together, and that we will be voting on tomorrow.

“Our budget reflects the pro-growth, pro-middle class agenda that the American people went to the polls in support of last election.  And I believe it is a strong and responsible vision for building a foundation for growth and restoring the promise of American opportunity.

“Our budget is built on three principles: Number one, we need to protect our fragile economic recovery, create jobs, and invest in long-term growth. Number two, we need to tackle our deficit and debt fairly and responsibly. And number three, we need to keep the promises we’ve made as a nation to our seniors, our families, and our communities.

“The highest priority of our budget is to create the conditions for job creation, economic growth, and prosperity built from the middle out, not the top down.

“We believe that with an unemployment rate that remains stubbornly high, and a middle class that has seen their wages stagnate for far too long, we simply cannot afford any threats to our fragile recovery.

“So this budget fully replaces the cuts from sequestration that threaten 750,000 jobs this year alone, economic growth for years to come, as well as our national security and the programs families and communities depend on.

“It replaces these automatic cuts in a fair, responsible way, following the precedent set in the year-end deal.

“Half of the new deficit reduction to replace sequestration comes from responsible spending cuts across the federal budget, and half comes from new savings found through closing loopholes and cutting wasteful spending in the tax code for the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations.

“In addition to replacing sequestration with deficit reduction that is far more responsible, our budget follows the advice of experts and economists across the political spectrum who say it makes sense to invest in job-creation in the short term, while putting ourselves on a strong path to responsible and sustainable deficit and debt reduction over the medium and long-term.

“We believe that in order to truly tackle our economic and fiscal challenges in the real world, and not just make them disappear on paper, we need a strong foundation for growth built from the middle out.

“So this budget invests in a $100 billion economic recovery protection plan to put workers back on the job repairing our nation’s highest priority deteriorating infrastructure, and fixing crumbling schools and installing critical educational technology, like broadband, that our students need to succeed.

“This plan creates an infrastructure bank to leverage public funds with private investment. It invests in our workers by making sure they have the skills and training they need to move into the 3.6 million jobs businesses across the country are trying to fill.

“And it is fully paid for by closing loopholes and cutting unfair spending in the tax code that mainly benefits the well-off and well-connected.

“Our budget also makes sure we aren’t reducing our budget deficit while increasing our deficits in education, skills, infrastructure, and innovation.

“While cutting spending responsibly overall, this budget protects investments in national middle class and economic priorities like our schools, our roads and bridges, and our clean energy and manufacturing industries.

“This budget puts jobs and the economy first and foremost, but it also builds on the work we’ve done over the last two years to tackle our deficit and debt responsibly.

“In 2010, President Obama established the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, commonly referred to as ‘Simpson-Bowles.’ This bipartisan group came back with a report recommending approximately $4 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years from a balanced combination of spending cuts and new revenue.  The report points out that this level of deficit reduction is ‘more than any effort in the nation’s history.’

“Other bipartisan groups including Domenici-Rivlin and the Senate’s Gang of Six, as well as economists from across the political spectrum, agreed that $4 trillion over ten years was a reasonable and responsible goal.

“Since that time, Congress and the administration have worked together to reduce the deficit by $2.4 trillion, with $1.8 trillion coming from spending cuts, and $600 billion from allowing tax rates to rise on the wealthiest Americans in the year-end deal.

“The Senate Budget takes us the rest of the way to the $4 trillion goal, and beyond.

“It builds on the $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction already done with an additional $1.85 trillion in new deficit reduction, for a total of $4.25 trillion in deficit reduction since the Simpson-Bowles report.

“It reduces the deficit to below three percent of GDP by 2015 and keeps it well below that level for the rest of the ten-year window in a responsible way, and it pushes our debt as a percentage of the economy down and moving in the right direction.

“Our budget tackles this issue the way the American people have consistently said they want it done, with an equal mix of responsible spending cuts made across the federal budget, and new revenue raised by closing loopholes and cutting wasteful breaks that primarily benefit the rich.

“This budget cuts spending responsibly by $975 billion, and we make some tough choices to get there.  We think every program, including the ones we know are important, need to be wringing out waste, trimming fat, and reducing costs to taxpayers.

“So $500 billion of our deficit reduction comes from responsible savings on the domestic spending side, including $275 billion in health care savings that doesn’t harm seniors or families.

“There are no sacred cows, we put everything we can on the table, but we do it in a responsible way that preserves, protects, and strengthens the programs like Medicare and Medicaid that the American people strongly support.

“Our budget saves $240 billion by carefully and responsibly reducing defense spending while giving the Pentagon enough time to plan and align the reductions to time with the drawdown of troops from overseas.

“This will involve some tough decisions, but it is a responsible path that is nothing like the across-the-board cuts from sequestration that would be devastating to defense programs and jobs if they weren’t replaced.

“The remainder of the savings, $242 billion, comes from the savings on interest payments due to the lower debt.

“Taking the balanced approach the American people have consistently called for, the Senate Budget matches these responsible spending cuts with $975 billion in new revenue, which is raised by closing loopholes and cutting unfair spending in the tax code for those who need it the least, while locking in tax cuts for the middle class and low-income working families, and protecting them from paying a penny more.

“For perspective, $975 billion is less than one-tenth of the total spent on tax expenditures over the next ten years, much of which ends up going to the wealthiest Americans who need them the least.

“There is bipartisan support for reducing the deficit by making the tax code more fair and efficient.

“During the recent fiscal cliff negotiations, Speaker Boehner proposed that we reduce the deficit by $800 billion by closing what he called ‘special-interest loopholes and deductions.’ And this budget would take him up one that.

“Every bipartisan group that has tackled this issue in a serious way recommended much more revenue than the $600 billion raised from the wealthiest Americans in the year-end deal.

“If this budget passes, the total deficit reduction since the Simpson-Bowles report will consist of 64% spending cuts, 14% tax rate increases on the rich, and 22% new revenue by closing loopholes and cutting wasteful spending in the tax code for the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations.

“That is a responsible approach. It’s a balanced and fair approach. It’s the one endorsed by bipartisan groups and experts, and it’s the one supported by the vast majority of the American people.

“In addition to investing in jobs and economic growth and tackling our deficit and debt responsibly, this budget also keeps the promises we’ve made to our seniors, our families, our veterans, and our communities.

“We reject calls to dismantle or privatize Medicare by voucherizing it. We think this critical program that seniors and families strongly support, paid into, and depend on should be protected and preserved for our children and grandchildren, and this budget is focused on doing exactly that.

“We also think we should be building on what is working in our health care system, not rolling back the clock.

“The House budget that was just released would repeal the health care law and would: increase the cost of care for seniors, throw students off their parents’ plans, cause tens of millions more Americans to be uninsured, and put the insurance companies back in charge of patients’ care.

“This budget rejects that approach, and it builds on the heath care law to continue reducing costs responsibly, increasing efficiencies, and improving care.

“Our budget also maintains the key principle that every other bipartisan group has maintained, but that has been rejected by House Republicans: we don’t think the burden of deficit reduction should be unfairly borne by the most vulnerable children and families who have already sacrificed so much.

“Everyone needs to be a part of this solution, but the House Republican approach would shred the safety net that has offered a hand up to millions of families across America, including my own, and we reject that approach.

“Our budget also makes the investments we need to keep our military strong, protect our communities and environment, and uphold the sacred commitment we’ve made to our veterans.

“I know that I am hearing the same thing from my constituents that all of you around this table are hearing. They are sick and tired of the gridlock that has paralyzed the budget process in Washington, D.C. They are looking to us to end the constant artificial crises and political brinksmanship that is threatening our fragile economic recovery, and to work together to responsibly tackle the serious economic and fiscal challenges we face as a nation.

“I believe the Senate Budget offers a path forward to accomplish this. I am proud of the work so many of you have done to put this budget together with a lot of input from our colleagues outside the Committee and members of the public across the country.

“Our budget reflects the values of a diverse Senate serving a diverse nation, and it is guided by the principles and priorities that are strongly supported by the constituents we were elected to represent. I am confident our country can move beyond this division and work together to tackle our fiscal and economic problems fairly and responsibly.

“Our nation has faced far greater challenges in our history, and time and again the American people have come together with our unique brand of ingenuity, diversity, and compassion to do the right thing.

“The House of Representatives is working on their budget resolution today, and I know there are going to be serious differences between the visions, values, and priorities within the budgets that will emerge from each chamber.

“But the American people are going to have an opportunity to examine these budgets side by side. They are going to be able to decide which approach is best for our economy, best for jobs and best for the middle class.

“They will let us know whether they want to go back down the path of the trickle-down policies that decimated the middle class and threw our economy into a tailspin. Or if they would prefer the approach we’ve seen work before, to tackle our deficit responsibly, reinvest in the middle class, build a strong foundation for growth, and restore the promise of American opportunity.

“The Senate Budget is a balanced and responsible approach to taking us down that second path. And I am hopeful that the House of Representatives will join us at the bargaining table and we can work together toward the responsible and bipartisan budget deal the American people expect and deserve.

“I will now turn this over to Ranking Member Sessions for his opening statement.”


Full Text Political Headlines March 13, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Interview with George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America Excerpts





Obama: Gap Between Parties ‘Too Wide’ for Grand Bargain on Budget

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-13-13

ABC News

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, President Obama spoke on a range of high-profile issues, including his outlook for the on-going budget negotiations, whether the Chinese government is behind the recent spate of cyber attacks against U.S. companies, North Korea’s nuclear threats, same-sex marriage, and the conclave to select the next pope….READ MORE

Political Headlines March 13, 2013: Senate Democrats Present Their Budget Plan Wednesday





Democrats Present Their Budget Plan Wednesday

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-13-13

The proposal being unveiled by Senate Democrats on Wednesday to balance the nation’s books will be markedly different from what Republican Congressman Paul Ryan presented on Tuesday in that it offers both significant spending cuts and tax revenue increases.

Specifically, Washington Democrat Patty Murray, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, will propose $1 trillion in tax hikes through 2013 that would largely be paid for by closing tax breaks and loopholes enjoyed by wealthy Americans and corporations….READ MORE

Political Headlines March 13, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Approval Rating Drops to 50 Percent in New ABC News / Washington Post Poll Post-Election Honeymoon Over





Drop in Approval Ends Obama’s Post-Election Honeymoon

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-13-13

Win McNamee/Getty Images

PDF with full results, charts and tables here

The post-election party is over for Barack Obama, with the president slipping in overall approval and relinquishing his advantage over congressional Republicans in trust to handle the economy.  But it looks not so much like a gain for the GOP as a sequester-inspired pox on both houses.

The automatic budget cuts now in effect are unpopular, if not overwhelmingly so — Americans in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll disapprove by 53-39 percent.  But concerns about their impact are broad, and, by a 14-point margin, more put responsibility on the Republicans in Congress than on Obama for the sequester taking place….READ MORE

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