Political Musings October 29, 2013: HealthCare.gov website problems leads to bipartisan calls for Obamacare delays





HealthCare.gov website problems leads to bipartisan calls for Obamacare delays

By Bonnie K. Goodman

This past week the insurance exchange website HealthCare.gov referred to as the Marketplace has been in the spotlight over major glitches; the website is part of the rollout of President Barack Obama’s new health care law, the…READ MORE

Political Headlines January 10, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Cabinet Shuffle: Who Is Leaving, Who Was Asked to Stay





Obama’s Cabinet Shuffle: Who Is Leaving, Who Was Asked to Stay

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-10-13


With the departure of Hilda Solis at the Labor Department, we have now seen five members of the President Obama’s Cabinet announcing their intention to leave since the election: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and now, Secretary of Labor Solis.

Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood has also long suggested he would not stay for a second term.

At least three other cabinet secretaries have been asked to stay as the Obama begins his second term:

  • Attorney General Eric Holder
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
  • Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki


Full Text Legal Buzz March 28, 2012: Day 3 Supreme Court Hears Arguments on the Health Care Law — National Federation of Independent Business v. Kathleen Sebelius — Argument Transcripts, Audio Mp3 Download



Day Three: Supreme Court Hearings on Health Care


This artist rendering shows Attorney Bartow Farr speaking before the Supreme Court in Washington on Wednesday.

National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius
Docket Number: 11-393
Date Argued: 03/28/12
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Full Text February 10, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech Announces New Policy Compromise on Contraception Health Plan Coverage Rule



President Obama Announces New Policy to Improve Access to Contraception

Source: WH, 2-10-12

President Obama Announces Contraception Policy
President Barack Obama, with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius behind him, announces a new health care policy that requires a woman’s insurance company to offer contraceptive care free of charge if the woman’s religious employer objects to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan coverage. The announcement was made in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Jan. 12, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today, President Obama announced a policy that will accommodate religious freedom while making sure that women have access to preventive health care, including contraception, at no additional cost, no matter where they work.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most health insurance companies will cover women’s preventive care — services like well-woman visits, mammograms, immunizations, as well as contraception — without charging a co-pay or deductible beginning in August 2012.

Churches had already been exempted from providing employees with health care that covered contraception. The new policy announced today ensures that if a woman works for other types of religious employers with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide, pay for or refer for contraception coverage.

Instead her insurance company will be required to directly offer her contraceptive care at no additional charge, as President Obama explained:

Under the rule, women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive services — no matter where they work.  So that core principle remains.  But if a woman’s employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company — not the hospital, not the charity — will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge, without co-pays and without hassles.

Covering contraception is cost neutral for insurance companies since it saves money by keeping women healthy and preventing spending on other health services. The President said that nearly 99 percent of all women have relied on contraception at some point in their lives, but more than half of women between the ages of 18 and 34 have struggled to afford it.

Neither cost nor employer should dictate a woman’s ability to make choices about her own health, the President said:

Whether you’re a teacher, or a small businesswoman, or a nurse, or a janitor, no woman’s health should depend on who she is or where she works or how much money she makes.  Every woman should be in control of the decisions that affect her own health. Period.

Read more about the policy announced today here.


Remarks by the President on Preventive Care

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

12:15 P.M. EST

Q    Here we go.

THE PRESIDENT:  Here we go.

Q    Here he is.


Q    “Hello, everybody.”

THE PRESIDENT:  That was pretty good.

Q    I’ve been working on that.

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  (Laughter.)  I was actually going to say good morning.  But I guess it’s afternoon by now.

As part of the health care reform law that I signed last year, all insurance plans are required to cover preventive care at no cost.  That means free check-ups, free mammograms, immunizations and other basic services.  We fought for this because it saves lives and it saves money –- for families, for businesses, for government, for everybody.  That’s because it’s a lot cheaper to prevent an illness than to treat one.

We also accepted a recommendation from the experts at the Institute of Medicine that when it comes to women, preventive care should include coverage of contraceptive services such as birth control.  In addition to family planning, doctors often prescribe contraception as a way to reduce the risks of ovarian and other cancers, and treat a variety of different ailments.  And we know that the overall cost of health care is lower when women have access to contraceptive services.

Nearly 99 percent of all women have relied on contraception at some point in their lives –- 99 percent.  And yet, more than half of all women between the ages of 18 and 34 have struggled to afford it.  So for all these reasons, we decided to follow the judgment of the nation’s leading medical experts and make sure that free preventive care includes access to free contraceptive care.

Whether you’re a teacher, or a small businesswoman, or a nurse, or a janitor, no woman’s health should depend on who she is or where she works or how much money she makes.  Every woman should be in control of the decisions that affect her own health. Period.  This basic principle is already the law in 28 states across the country.

Now, as we move to implement this rule, however, we’ve been mindful that there’s another principle at stake here –- and that’s the principle of religious liberty, an inalienable right that is enshrined in our Constitution.  As a citizen and as a Christian, I cherish this right.

In fact, my first job in Chicago was working with Catholic parishes in poor neighborhoods, and my salary was funded by a grant from an arm of the Catholic Church.  And I saw that local churches often did more good for a community than a government program ever could, so I know how important the work that faith-based organizations do and how much impact they can have in their communities.

I also know that some religious institutions -– particularly those affiliated with the Catholic Church -– have a religious objection to directly providing insurance that covers contraceptive services for their employees.  And that’s why we originally exempted all churches from this requirement -– an exemption, by the way, that eight states didn’t already have.

And that’s why, from the very beginning of this process, I spoke directly to various Catholic officials, and I promised that before finalizing the rule as it applied to them, we would spend the next year working with institutions like Catholic hospitals and Catholic universities to find an equitable solution that protects religious liberty and ensures that every woman has access to the care that she needs.

Now, after the many genuine concerns that have been raised over the last few weeks, as well as, frankly, the more cynical desire on the part of some to make this into a political football, it became clear that spending months hammering out a solution was not going to be an option, that we needed to move this faster.  So last week, I directed the Department of Health and Human Services to speed up the process that had already been envisioned.  We weren’t going to spend a year doing this; we’re going to spend a week or two doing this.

Today, we’ve reached a decision on how to move forward.  Under the rule, women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive services -– no matter where they work.  So that core principle remains.  But if a woman’s employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company -– not the hospital, not the charity -– will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge, without co-pays and without hassles.

The result will be that religious organizations won’t have to pay for these services, and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly.  Let me repeat:  These employers will not have to pay for, or provide, contraceptive services.  But women who work at these institutions will have access to free contraceptive services, just like other women, and they’ll no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars a year that could go towards paying the rent or buying groceries.

Now, I’ve been confident from the start that we could work out a sensible approach here, just as I promised.  I understand some folks in Washington may want to treat this as another political wedge issue, but it shouldn’t be.  I certainly never saw it that way.  This is an issue where people of goodwill on both sides of the debate have been sorting through some very complicated questions to find a solution that works for everyone. With today’s announcement, we’ve done that.  Religious liberty will be protected, and a law that requires free preventive care will not discriminate against women.

We live in a pluralistic society where we’re not going to agree on every single issue, or share every belief.  That doesn’t mean that we have to choose between individual liberty and basic fairness for all Americans.  We are unique among nations for having been founded upon both these principles, and our obligation as citizens is to carry them forward.  I have complete faith that we can do that.

Thank you very much, everybody.

White House Recap October 1-7, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Gives a News Conference Urging Congressional Passage of the American Jobs Acts



Weekly Wrap Up: Keeping Teachers in the Classroom

Source: WH, 10-7-11

This week, the President continued to call on Congress to pass the American Jobs Act, welcomed a new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hosted a Cabinet meeting, traveled to Texas, and convened a televised news conference.

West Wing Week
Equality for All Americans  President Obama spoke at the 15th Annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., stressing his continuing commitment to the cause of equality for all Americans. He also talked about the most recent progress made for human rights, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Putting America Back to Work President Obama held a press conference in the East Room to discuss the American Jobs Act, which would put thousands of teachers back to work, rebuild our nation’s old and broken infrastructure and provide tax cuts that will benefit hard-working Americans. He also traveled to Texas to meet with students and teachers at Eastfield College in Mesquite, where he explained how the Jobs Act will prevent up to 280,000 teachers from losing their jobs. The President met with the members of his cabinet to emphasize the importance of  all agencies doing everything possible to help pass the American Jobs Act and put thousands of people back to work.

Fall Harvest Students from two local elementary schools joined First Lady Michelle Obama for the 3rd Annual Fall Harvest of the White House kitchen garden. Mrs. Obama designed the garden as a way to connect children with the food they eat — an essential component to her Let’s Move! initiative. The students joined Mrs. Obama for grilled garden pizzas made from the produce they picked.

Girl Power The president hosted the three winners of the first Google Global Science Fair. The impressive young women—all American high school students — made remarkable scientific discoveries and beat out over 10,000 students from 91 countries.

Fun on the Field It was a week of celebrating athletic achievements as several major sports figures visited the White House, including the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team, who participated in a Let’s Move soccer clinic, the Texas A&M  women’s basketball team, who won  the 2011 NCAA championship and the 1985 Chicago Bears, who were recognized 25 years after winning the Super Bowl.

Pretty in Pink In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the White House illuminated the exterior of the White House in a glowing pink. Actress Jennifer Aniston, who recently directed a new Lifetime Original movie exploring a family affected by breast cancer, joined Dr. Jill Biden, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and a group of breast cancer survivors to discuss lessons learned from those who have been treated for breast cancer.

May 4, 2009: President Obama’s Second 100 Days Begins & Dealing with H1N1

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.


The President at his press conference

The President speaks on tax havens and unfair tax breaks

White House Photo, 5/4/09, Pete Souza

Tax Reform for Jobs at Home

The President unveils plans to curb tax havens and end tax incentives for companies shifting jobs overseas.Watch the Video

The President discusses H1N1 Flu

White House Photo, 5/1/09, Samantha Appleton

H1N1 Flu

The President discusses the government’s response to the 2009 H1N1 flu virus, from school closings to activating online social networks. He urges Americans to be calm but cautious.Watch the Video

The President speaks on tax havens and unfair tax breaks

White House Photo, 5/4/09, Pete Souza

Tax Reform for Jobs at Home

The President unveils plans to curb tax havens and end tax incentives for companies shifting jobs overseas.Watch the Video

The President discusses H1N1 Flu

White House Photo, 5/1/09, Samantha Appleton

H1N1 Flu

The President discusses the government’s response to the 2009 H1N1 flu virus, from school closings to activating online social networks. He urges Americans to be calm but cautious.Watch the Video

The President speaks on tax havens and unfair tax breaks

White House Photo, 5/4/09, Pete Souza

Tax Reform for Jobs at Home

The President unveils plans to curb tax havens and end tax incentives for companies shifting jobs overseas.Watch the Video


In Focus: Stats

  • RCP Poll: President Obama Job Approval: RCP Average: +30.7% Approve 61.6% Disapprove 30.9%
    Congressional Job Approval: RCP Average: -28.7% Approve 31.8% Disapprove 60.5%
    Direction of Country RCP Average: -7.4% Right Direction 42.6% Wrong Track 50.0%
  • Guests for the Sunday TV news showsAP, 5-2-09
  • White House joins Facebook, MySpace, Twitter: The official White House Blog calls it “WhiteHouse 2.0.” The administration is unveiling its membership in a trio of the social-networking leaders today: Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
  • WhiteHouse 2.0WH Blog, 5-1-09
  • Blacks match whites in voting rates in 2008: Nearly one-fourth of voters in last November’s election were minorities, the most diverse election ever, fueled by high turnout from black women and a growing Hispanic population, an independent research group found. The study by the Pew Research Center, released Thursday, also showed that for the first time blacks had the highest voter turnout rate of any racial or ethnic group among people ages 18 to 29. In 2008, about 65 percent of blacks went to the polls, nearly matching the 66 percent voting rate for whites. Black women had the highest rates of participation among all voters at 69 percent; they were followed by white women (68 percent), white men (64 percent) and black men (61 percent)…. – AP, 4-30-09

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gets to  work[Download High Resolution]

(The new Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, is briefed on the H1N1 flu by John Brennan, assistant to the President for Homeland Security, in the Situation Room of the White House on April 28, 2009.

Sebelius was sworn in moments earlier in the Oval Office.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The Headlines…

  • TIME: Bush Library raises $100 million in 100 days: George W. Bush often has said that historians will vindicate his presidency. And since he left office, he’s moving fast to give them the tools. Longtime financial backers of the 43rd president have raised more than $100 million for a presidential library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas that will house his official papers, sources close to Bush told TIME. Much of the money was collected in the 100 days or so since Bush left the White House, a pace much faster than that of his recent predecessors. At least so far, none of it has come from overseas, the sources said… – CNN, 5-4-09
  • It’s all on Obama now: In the span of a single week — from the day Arlen Specter turned Democratic to the moment Congress passed the White House’s budget blueprint and on through the opening of a spot on the Supreme Court — President Obama crossed a fateful line: From now on, it’s his country…. – LAT, 5-3-09
  • A President Goes Friending: President Obama will not twit, I have been authoritatively informed. Or should that be tweet? Unsure about the correct verb form for sending Twitter messages, I turned for guidance to my authoritative informer, Macon Phillips, the affable young Internet specialist in charge of the White House’s new-media office. He seemed unsure as well. “But I don’t think the president is the right person for this. There are better ways to engage the micro-blogging community,” he told me, explaining at another point: “We try to find the audiences where they are, and deliver the president’s message to them at the best delivery point.” That now includes Twitter, where the White House established an institutional presence last week…. – WaPo, 5-3-09
  • Is Obama president yet?: BARACK OBAMA was elected in November and inaugurated in January, and summer is coming into view. And yet some key posts in the new administration remain open. Vacancies at Treasury hinder the oversight of the vast government bailout of Wall Street. Meanwhile, as public health officials contemplate how to handle a swine flu outbreak, Obama’s choice for health and human services secretary, Kansas Governor Katherine Sebelius, was only confirmed Tuesday, and other top health jobs still need to be filled. One cause of such delays is the Obama team’s much-vaunted vetting process. Another is the maneuvering of conservative interest groups. Both are part of a larger problem: the reluctance of the American political system to end the campaign season and get on with governing…. – The Boston Globe, 5-3-09
  • John Edwards acknowledges federal probe: His once-prominent political career is buried and the turmoil of his marriage is playing out in public. Now, John Edwards is facing a federal inquiry. The two-time Democratic presidential candidate acknowledged Sunday that investigators are assessing how he spent his campaign funds — a subject that could carry his extramarital affair from the tabloids to the courtroom. Edwards’ political action committee paid more than $100,000 for video production to the firm of the woman with whom Edwards had an affair. – AP, 5-3-09
  • Feds investigating whether John Edwards used campaign cash to hush affair – AJC, 5-3-09
  • As a Professor, a Pragmatist About the Supreme Court: Many American presidents have been lawyers, but almost none have come to office with Barack Obama’s knowledge of the Supreme Court. Before he was 30, he was editing articles by eminent legal scholars on the court’s decisions. Later, as a law professor, he led students through landmark cases from Plessy v. Ferguson to Bush v. Gore. (He sometimes shared his own copies, marked with emphatic underlines and notes in bold, all-caps script.) Now Mr. Obama is preparing to select his first Supreme Court nominee to replace retiring Justice David H. Souter. In interviews, former colleagues and students say they have a fairly strong sense of the kind of justice he will favor: not a larger-than-life liberal to counter the conservative pyrotechnics of Justice Antonin Scalia, but a careful pragmatist with a limited view of the role of courts…. – NYT, 5-3-09
  • Specter the Defector to appear on two enchanting Sunday shows: Senator Arlen Specter will appear on Meet the Press and Face the Nation tomorrow morning to discuss his decision to change party affiliation. Vice President Joe Biden is not scheduled on any of the programs to discuss the flu…. – CS Monitor, 5-2-09
  • Jack Kemp, Dole’s Running Mate in 1996, Dies at 73: Jack Kemp, the former football star turned congressman who with an evangelist’s fervor moved the Republican Party to a commitment to tax cuts as the central focus of economic policy, died Saturday evening at his home in Bethesda, Md. He was 73…. – NYT, 5-2-09
  • Kidding aside, Biden plays key role for administration: Of his No. 2, Vice President Joe Biden, President Barack Obama has famously said, “Nobody messes with Joe.” That may be — except for Saturday Night Live, David Letterman, Jay Leno and Craig Ferguson…. But seriously, folks, despite the court-jester portrayals, Biden’s first months as vice president have hardly been a comic strip. Dubbed “the sheriff” by Obama, Biden, 66, is overseeing distribution of billions in stimulus money. He’s leading a White House task force on the middle class, whose success is a top priority for the administration. And he delivered the administration’s first major foreign policy speech in Munich, Germany, making headlines with his call to press “the reset button” with Russia…. – Deseret News, 5-2-09
  • GOP group launches listening tour to rebrand image: With its party struggling to define itself, a group of prominent Republicans launched a listening tour Saturday in a bid to boost the GOP’s sagging image and regroup for future elections. Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., held a town-hall style meeting at a pizza restaurant in the Democratic suburb of Arlington, Va., to hear about people’s concerns on issues from the economy and health care to the rising costs of college tuition…. – AP, 5-2-09
  • Resistance to Obama high court pick may be modest: Awaiting President Barack Obama’s first Supreme Court pick, activists expect a less-spirited nomination battle than would have been anticipated if a conservative justice had stepped down or Democrats held a slimmer edge in the Senate. Retiring Justice David H. Souter is part of the court’s liberal wing, and his replacement by a Democratic administration probably won’t change the ideological balance…. – AP, 5-2-09
  • US Sen Reid: Health Bill Easier To Pass Than Climate Change: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., expressed optimism Friday that the Senate could pass health care legislation, but sounded more cautious notes about writing legislation intended to address global climate change…. – WSJ, 5-2-09
  • Critics Say Obama’s Torture Ban Undermines Vow to Protect America: Obama has argued that any intelligence gained by methods his administration deems torture could have been obtained instead by methods that don’t violate American principles ideals…. President Obama’s vow to keep Americans safe is in conflict with his decision to limit interrogation techniques to the Army Field Manual, opponents of his anti-terror policies say. The Army Field Manual, which includes interrogation methods intended for captured soldiers rather than hardened terrorists, is “not useful at all,” David Rivkin, a former official in the Bush Justice Department, told FOX News. “In fact, the Army Field Manual is, let’s say, so anemic, that it goes below the level of coercion associated with police station level of interrogation.”…. – Fox News, 5-1-09
  • Clinton brags on 100-day accomplishments: She marks 100 days in office on Friday, and on Wednesday, Obama’s 100th day, the State Department posted on its website a lengthy recitation of her accomplishments so far…. State Dept. 100 Days Report, 5-1-09
  • Cue the fanfare: State trumpets Clinton’s 100 days: Friday marks Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 100th day as the top U.S. diplomat and the State Department is commemorating the occasion with a 13-page list praising what it considers her early achievements. The lengthy document posted on the department’s Web site this week extols the secretary of state’s hectic travel abroad and the appointments of four high-profile special envoys to deal with trouble spots and climate change…. – AP, 4-30-09
  • U.S. Republicans enlist Jeb Bush in party’s bid to rebuild: When national Republican leaders brainstormed about repairing their party’s image after the setbacks of the last two elections, it was only natural that they would turn to Jeb Bush…. “He’s really the perfect person to do it because he governed successfully for eight years in a swing state, a purple state, as a conservative and left office very popular,” said Justin Sayfie, a former Bush aide who last year started his own group called “Rebuild the Party.”… – Miami Herald, 5-1-09
  • Skepticism at the Court on Validity of Vote Law: A central provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, designed to protect minorities in states with a history of discrimination, is at substantial risk of being struck down as unconstitutional, judging from the questioning on Wednesday at the Supreme Court…. – NYT, 5-1-09
  • After his flu warning, Biden takes the train home: One day after saying he wouldn’t travel in tight quarters because of the swine flu scare, Vice President Joe Biden rode a train Friday from Washington to Delaware… – AP, 5-1-09
  • Analysis: Obama’s fate largely in Congress’ hands: As he starts his second 100 days as president, Barack Obama must yield much of his agenda’s fate to Congress. His biggest proposals, such as revising health care, energy and education policies, are in the hands of lawmakers who will debate, change and possibly reject them in the coming months. Obama obviously can influence lawmakers, but he has less control over his destiny than when he was unveiling new initiatives almost daily and filling out his Cabinet. In his news conference Wednesday night, Obama acknowledged the prod-and-wait role he now plays on many issues. For all his powers, he said, a president cannot “turn on a switch and suddenly, you know, Congress falls in line.” – AP, 4-30-09
  • Obama, post-100 days: Good morning from The Oval. At last, the 101st day of Barack Obama’s presidency has arrived. This is also a special day for the presidency itself; 220 years ago, George Washington took the oath of office as the nation’s first president…. – USA Today, 4-30-09
  • Analysis: What’s ahead for Obama in the next 100 days: President Obama’s next 100 days will be put under the microscope…. Democratic control of Congress will likely help Obama get his policies passed…. Foreign policy in war-torn areas and relations with Latin America will likely be critical
    After passing the 100 days benchmark, President Obama pushes on with a daunting task ahead of him: Tackling foreign and domestic issues while dealing with a Republican Party opposed to nearly all his major economic initiatives. The second 100 days will be a critical test of Obama’s power in getting key legislative priorities — such as economic recovery, health care, energy and immigration — passed…. – CNN, 4-30-09
  • Source: Justice Souter retiring: Justice David Souter has told the White House that he will retire from the Supreme Court at the end of the court’s term in June, a source familiar with his plans said Thursday night. Speculation that the 69-year-old justice will be stepping down has been fueled by his failure to appoint law clerks from the fall term…. – AP, 4-30-09
  • Ominous ad shows GOP still thinks security a winning issue: House Minority Leader Boehner releases Web ad attacking Obama on security…. The issue of national security is typically a strong point for Republicans…. Ad shows Obama hugging the Saudi king, an image of the Pentagon burning on 9/11…. Boehner’s spokeswoman defends using the 9/11 image. – CNN, 4-30-09
  • Official: White House communications chief named: A senior adviser on Barack Obama’s campaign has been named the president’s interim communications director, a White House official said Thursday. Anita Dunn, a veteran Democratic media consultant, is to take over duties from Ellen Moran, according to the official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the position had not been announced. Moran is leaving the post to become chief of staff to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke…. – AP, 4-30-09
  • Senate Democrats Balk at Specter Deal: Some Senate Democrats are upset over the deal Majority Leader Harry Reid made with Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter, allowing Specter to keep the seniority he earned as a Republican and bypass other Democrats on some of the most powerful committees…. – Fox News, 4-30-09
  • Senate defeats anti-foreclosure proposal: The Democratic-controlled Senate on Thursday defeated a plan to spare hundreds of thousands of homeowners from foreclosure through bankruptcy, a proposal that President Barack Obama embraced but did little to see through. A dozen Democrats joined Republicans in the 45-51 vote to scuttle the measure, which Obama had said was important to saving the economy and promised to push through Congress. But facing stiff opposition from banks, Obama did little to pressure lawmakers who worried it would encourage bankruptcy filings and spike interest rates…. – AP, 4-30-09
  • Obama pivots from first 100 days to rest of agenda: His first 100 days behind him, President Barack Obama expressed confidence about the next hundred and accelerated his drive toward contentious goals — sweeping health care overhaul, new rules to curb global warming and financial sector reform — even while working to end a recession and two wars…. – AP, 4-29-09
  • Bipartisanship didn’t last long in Obama’s first 100 days: There’s little debate that Democrats who run Congress mark President Obama’s 100-day milestone with some significant victories…. Slew of legislative achievements have come at the cost of bipartisanship…. Democrats: GOP making a political calculation to be the party of “no”…. Republicans say Democrats have shut them out…. Real reason for partisan divide may be genuine philosophical differences – CNN, 5-2-09
  • G.O.P. Debate: A Broader Party or a Purer One?: A fundamental debate broke out among Republicans on Wednesday over how to rebuild the party in the wake of Senator Arlen Specter’s departure: Should it purge moderate voices like Mr. Specter and embrace its conservative roots or seek to broaden its appeal to regain a competitive position against Democrats?… – NYT, 4-29-09
  • Live Blogging the President’s News ConferenceNYT, 4-29-09
  • Where Specter’s Big Switch Leaves the Senate: Senate associate historian Donald Ritchie says you have to go all the way back to the dawn of F.D.R.’s second term in 1937 to find a President aligned with a filibuster-proof Senate majority that has comparable cohesion and potential to pass significant legislation…. – Time, 4-29-09
  • Obama Welcomes Specter to the Party: President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. welcomed Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania to the Democratic fold at the White House on Wednesday morning, praising Mr. Specter warmly and telling him he can count on their support for re-election in 2010…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • White House Welcomes Specter: Senator Arlen Specter, the Republican-turned-Democrat, received a hearty welcome at the White House on Wednesday morning, flanked by President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in a high-level show of unity for the newest member of their caucus. In an unexpected calendar moment on the 100th day of Mr. Obama’s administration, the three officials all reminisced about their work together in the Senate just a short while ago. The vice president opened the embrace, noting that he and Mr. Specter had long talked over issues while riding the Amtrak trains together in their commutes to and from their respective homes in Delaware and Pennsylvania…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • House bill would provide gays new protections: Gay victims of violence would gain new federal protections under a revived and expanded hate crimes bill passed by the House on Wednesday over conservatives’ objections. Hate crimes — as defined by the bill — are those motivated by prejudice and based someone’s race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
    The bill, which passed 249-175, could provide a financial bonanza to state and local authorities, with grants for investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. The federal government could step in and prosecute if states requested it or declined to exercise their authority…. – AP, 4-29-09
  • Voting rights case at high court Wednesday: Congress’ decision to extend a key provision of the Voting Rights Act for 25 years is at the core of a case being argued before the Supreme Court. The justices are hearing the final arguments of their term Wednesday in a dispute from Texas. At issue is a requirement that all or parts of 16 states with a history of discrimination in voting get approval from the Justice Department before they implement even the smallest changes in the way elections are held… – AP, 4-29-09
  • Specter’s defection to Democrats roils Republicans: Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter is a Democrat again following a decades-long turn among Republicans, a defection that has the GOP warning about the perils of unchecked power only a few years after it controlled both the White House and Congress.
    “The threat to the country presented … by this defection really relates to the issue of whether or not in the United States or America our people want the majority party to have whatever it wants without restraint, without a check or balance,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Tuesday after Specter made his startling switch.
    The move left Democrats with 59 votes in the Senate, and hoping that Al Franken can finally win a marathon recount in Minnesota and become their 60th. That’s the number needed to overcome any Republican filibuster aimed at blocking President Barack Obama’s ambitious agenda. AP, 4-29-09
  • Senate Confirms Kansas Governor as Health Secretary: The Senate confirmed the nomination of Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of health and human services on Tuesday, allowing President Obama to fill the last vacancy in his cabinet with a seasoned politician who will take charge of the fight against swine flu. The vote was 65 to 31. Among the nine Republicans who voted for Ms. Sebelius was Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who announced on Tuesday that he was becoming a Democrat…. – NYT, 4-28-09
  • Kan. gets new gov after Sebelius goes to HHS: Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson, wooed from the Republican Party three years ago by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to become her running mate, became governor Tuesday when Sebelius resigned upon her confirmation as U.S. health and human services secretary. Parkinson, a 51-year-old former Republican legislator and party chairman, has said previously he did not expect to make major policy or staff changes, and that he won’t run for a full four-year term next year…. – AP, 4-28-09
  • Democrats pushing through compromise budget plan: With unusual speed, President Barack Obama’s allies in Congress are pushing through a compromise budget plan endorsing much of his ambitious agenda but falling short of his hopes for tax cuts and curbs on global warming….. – AP, 4-28-09


The President at a press conference
(President Barack Obama speaks at a press conference in the White House on April 29, 2009.
White House Photo/ Chuck Kennedy)

Political Quotes

  • Clinton returns to Oklahoma bombing site for tour: Bill Clinton recalled the profound impact of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing on the nation and his presidency during a private tour of a memorial and museum honoring the 168 people killed. “My life has been indelibly marked by the people I met here,” Clinton said Saturday in addressing about 200 museum supporters, bombing survivors and former rescue workers. “I came here, more than anything else, to say ‘Thank You.’” He added: “The memories I have here … have changed my life, and I think, fundamentally changed the lives of the nation.” – AP, 5-3-09
  • Weekly Address: Government Actions to Address the H1N1 Flu Virus: In his Weekly Address, the President discusses the government’s response to the 2009 H1N1 flu virus, from school closings to activating online social networks. He urges Americans to be calm but cautious.
    “This is also why the Centers for Disease Control has recommended that schools and child care facilities with confirmed cases of the virus close for up to fourteen days. It is why we urge employers to allow infected employees to take as many sick days as necessary. If more schools are forced to close, we’ve also recommended that both parents and businesses think about contingency plans if children do have to stay home. We have asked every American to take the same steps you would take to prevent any other flu: keep your hands washed; cover your mouth when you cough; stay home from work if you’re sick; and keep your children home from school if they’re sick. And the White House has launched pages in Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to support the ongoing efforts by the CDC to update the public as quickly and effectively as possible.” – WH Blog, 5-2-09
    Transcript: WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Outlines Government Actions to Address the 2009 H1N1 Flu
  • CQ Transcript: Sen. Specter on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ – CQ, 5-3-09
  • GOP, Rep. Lynn Jenkins: Obama’s first 100 days all spending, taxing: Republicans say President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office can be summed up in three words: spending, taxing, borrowing.
    “The plans they’ve passed in the first 100 days will add more to our nation’s public debt than all previous presidents combined in 200-plus years/ They’ve taken away President Obama’s promised middle-class tax cut and paved the way for a new national energy tax to be paid by every American who dares to flip on a light switch.”…
    “This bill was supposed to be about jobs, but it’s gone off the rails in practically no time at all. It’s quickly turning into a symbol of everything wrong with Washington, D.C. — unchecked spending, no accountability and oversight.”…
    “Middle-class families and small businesses across America are tightening their belts and making sacrifices each and every day during this recession, and Republicans believe that it’s time for Washington to do the same.” “We offered a budget that curbs spending, creates jobs by cutting taxes, and controls the debt. We’ve also offered proposals to help rebuild your savings, revitalize the housing market, and create twice as many jobs as the Democrats ‘stimulus’ at half the cost.” – AP, 5-2-09
  • Jeb Bush GOP group launches listening tour to rebrand image: “You can’t beat something with nothing, and the other side has something,” Bush told a group of about 100 people at the Pie-Tanza pizza parlor. “I don’t like it, but they have it and we have to be respectful and mindful of that.” “I hope across the country people will be excited about the prospect of sharing their ideas to bring about a better America,” he said….. – AP, 5-2-09
  • Eric Cantor GOP group launches listening tour to rebrand image: Cantor said he wanted to focus the meeting on “bread and butter” issues such as the rising costs of education and health care, which resonate the most with Americans right now. “These are discussions that need to occur with the American people of any political stripe,” he said. “We need to make sure, the discussions, I believe, should be focused on the principles that have made America great — the principles of freedom and opportunity.” – AP, 5-2-09
  • Obama Pushes for ‘Empathetic’ Supreme Court Justices Conservatives and liberals are sharply divided on Obama’s pledge to tout empathy in selection of Supreme Court justices: “I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook; it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives, whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation,” Obama said. “I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.” – Fox News, 5-1-09
  • The President’s Remarks on Justice Souter: ….Now, the process of selecting someone to replace Justice Souter is among my most serious responsibilities as President. So I will seek somebody with a sharp and independent mind and a record of excellence and integrity. I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book. It is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives — whether they can make a living and care for their families; whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation.
    I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving as just decisions and outcomes. I will seek somebody who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role. I will seek somebody who shares my respect for constitutional values on which this nation was founded, and who brings a thoughtful understanding of how to apply them in our time.
    As I make this decision, I intend to consult with members of both parties across the political spectrum. And it is my hope that we can swear in our new Supreme Court Justice in time for him or her to be seated by the first Monday in October when the Court’s new term begins. – WH Blog, 5-1-09
  • Clinton brags on 100-day accomplishments: In the first 100 Days of the Obama administration, Secretary Clinton and the State Department have made significant progress in advancing America’s national security goals and promoting America’s values around the world.
    Secretary Clinton is already the most traveled Secretary of State in a new administration. The Secretary’s trips have included her inaugural trip to Asia, the Middle East and Europe, Mexico and across the border to Texas, the Hague in the Netherlands, Europe with President Obama, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago with President Obama, and to Iraq and Kuwait.
    The work undertaken on these trips, the many bilateral and trilateral meetings hosted by Secretary Clinton, and the tireless efforts of others throughout the State Department have contributed to early and significant progress on the following priorities: Afghanistan/Pakistan policy, the Middle East, Iraq, Asia, Russia, North Korea, the Western Hemisphere, the climate crisis, engaging in public diplomacy, and other core issues…. – State Department 100-Day Report, 5-1-09
  • Chrysler succumbs to bankruptcy after struggle: After months of living on government loans, Chrysler finally succumbed to bankruptcy Thursday, pinning its future on a top-to-bottom reorganization and plans to build cleaner cars through an alliance with Italian automaker Fiat…. “It’s a partnership that will give Chrysler a chance not only to survive, but to thrive in a global auto industry,” President Barack Obama said from the White House…. – AP, 4-30-09
  • Biden’s swine flu remarks put White House on defensive: The day after President Barack Obama urged the flu-worried masses to stay calm, Vice President Joe Biden went off the rails, saying he has urged family members to avoid airplanes and subways. Biden, told NBC’s “Today” show Thursday that he’d tell family members to avoid traveling in “confined spaces.” “It’s not just going to Mexico, if you’re any place in a confined aircraft and one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft,” he told Matt Lauer. “That’s me. I would not be at this point, if they had another way of transportation, suggesting they ride the subway.” Biden’s statement sent federal officials into damage-control mode. Biden’s staff, along with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs, tried to clarify his remark by saying he meant only people who are sick should avoid traveling on planes and trains…. – Newsday, 4-30-09
  • Obama says abortion rights law not a top priority: President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he favored abortion rights for women but that passing a law guaranteeing those rights was not his top priority, trying to avoid inflaming divisions over the issue. “I believe that women should have the right to choose,” Obama told a news conference marking his first 100 days in office. “But I think that the most important thing we can do to tamp down some of the anger surrounding this issue is to focus on those areas that we can agree on…. I would like to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies that result in women feeling compelled to get an abortion, or at least considering getting an abortion, particularly if we can reduce the number of teen pregnancies,” Obama said…. Asked about the Freedom of Choice Act at Wednesday’s news conference, Obama said it “is not the highest legislative priority…. My view on … abortion, I think, has been very consistent. I think abortion is a moral issue and an ethical issue.” – Reuters, 4-30-09
  • Michael Reagan “G.O.P. Debate: A Broader Party or a Purer One? “: “I’m not hurt by Arlen Specter walking away,” said Michael Reagan, the son of former President Ronald Reagan and a conservative talk show host. “At least now the party doesn’t waste money supporting someone who does not support the party….It’s interesting that people say the right has taken over the Republican Party — but no one can say what we’ve done. We’ve been closeted for the last eight years; it’s time for the right to come out of the closet.” – NYT, 4-30-09
  • Jill Biden: Celebrating our Teachers: It’s been a really inspiring week in Washington– because the teachers are in town! This week I had the true honor of welcoming some very special guests to Washington DC: the 2009 Teachers of the Year. 55 of them traveled to DC representing all of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense, American Samoa, the Marianna Islands, and the Virgin Islands. I’ve been a teacher for 28 years, so I know how hard these teachers work and was thrilled to meet them and welcome them to our home, the Vice President’s Residence…. – WH Blog, 4-30-09
  • Transcript President Obama’s 100th-Day Press Briefing: Following is a transcript of President Obama’s press briefing as he marks his 100th day in office, as transcribed by Federal News Service…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • Obama addresses town hall meeting on 100th day: “I’ve come back to report to you, the American people, that we have begun to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off, and we’ve begun the work of remaking America…. I’m confident in the future, but not I’m not content with the present. You know the progress comes from hard choices and hard work, not miracles. I’m not a miracle worker.”
    Obama acknowledged challenges of “unprecedented size and scope,” including the recession. These challenges, he said, could not be met with “half measures.” “They demand action that is bold and sustained. They call on us to clear away the wreckage of a painful recession, But also, at the same time, lay the building blocks for a new prosperity. And that’s the work that we’ve begun over these first 100 days…. There’s no mystery to what we’ve done; the priorities that we’ve acted upon were the things that we said we’d do during the campaign.” – CNN, 4-29-09
  • Day 99: Obama Offers Encouragement To FBI: On his ninety-ninth day in office, President Obama told FBI employees Americans “are counting on you.” He offered plaudits to the bureau and urged employees to stay “one step ahead of all who step outside of the law.” “With the attacks of 9/11, your mission became focused more than ever before on prevention, so that we have the capacity to uncover terrorist plots before they take hold,” he said. “With the spread of new technologies you increasingly confronted adversaries in unconventional areas, from transnational networks to cybercrimes and espionage.” In a letter, the president also asked Congress for $1.5 billion to fight swine flu as concerns about domestic infection rates grew. And he honored Teacher Of The Year Anthony Mullen in his first Rose Garden ceremony. “I’m a big fan of teachers because every single day in classrooms all across America, you are making a difference,” he said. “You don’t always get the recognition that you deserve. We don’t always value the teaching profession like we should.”… – CBS News, 4-28-09
  • Patrick Leahy: Voting Rights Act still has work to do for states Today the U.S. Supreme Court will consider a case challenging the constitutional authority of Congress to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Three years ago, the Senate and House of Representatives overwhelmingly reauthorized expiring provisions of this critical civil rights law. The challenge brought today before the nation’s highest court threatens to undermine one of the nation’s premier laws protecting the right to vote…. – AJC, 4-29-09
  • Clinton tells nations US acting on climate change: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that any agreement to combat global warming should require developing countries like India and China to reduce emissions, a position that prevented former President George W. Bush from signing an international pact.
    “There is no sense in negotiating an agreement if it will have no practical impact in reducing emissions to safer levels,” Clinton told the participants at the start of the two-day meeting. “So we all have to do our part, and we need to be creative and think hard about what will work in order for us to achieve the outcomes we hope for.”… – AP, 4-27-09
  • Clinton lends political clout to McAuliffe’s bid for governor: “Look, everyone knows he’s one of my closest friends,” the 42nd president said at a rally at a downtown farmer’s market. “So look, I’d be here regardless. Everyone knows that. “The press says, ‘Oh well, Terry McAuliffe has raised millions of dollars for Bill Clinton. He has to show up.’ And that’s absolutely true,” Clinton told the crowd. “… But here’s what I really want to tell you,” he said. “I am here today for reasons that go way, way beyond that.” “He was made for this moment,” Clinton said. “He’s been a great businessman. He’s been a tremendously effective political leader. He has energy, he’s creative, and he cares.”… – The Virginian-Pilot, 4-28-09
  • Reid says Obama told him, ‘I have a gift’: Everyone knows President Barack Obama can deliver a great speech, including the president himself, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The paperback version of Reid’s book, “The Good Fight,” is coming out May 5 with an epilogue called “The Obama Era.” Reid said he was impressed when Obama, then a freshman senator from Illinois, delivered a speech about President George W. Bush’s war policy. Reid, D-Nev., writes: “‘That speech was phenomenal, Barack,’ I told him. And I will never forget his response. Without the barest hint of braggadocio or conceit, and with what I would describe as deep humility, he said quietly: ‘I have a gift, Harry.’”… – AP, 4-27-09


The President discusses H1N1 Flu

Historians’ Comments

  • Paul Light “It’s all on Obama now”: “It is now absolutely his economy,” said Paul Light, a New York University professor who specializes in presidential transitions. “I don’t think that the public will continue to believe that this was all George W. Bush’s doing. And every day that goes by, it becomes more Obama’s than Bush’s.” – LAT, 5-3-09
  • SAM TANENHAUS: 100 Days in the Footsteps of F.D.R. and L.B.J.: In American politics, the symbolic and the concrete are seldom far apart. Consider the fanfare surrounding President Barack Obama’s 100th day in office…. For now, Mr. Obama seems tobe holding the New Deal and the Great Society models in careful balance. At his news conference on Wednesday, he struck a decidedly Rooseveltian note. When asked what he would do to help racial minorities, he replied, “Keep in mind that every step we’re taking is designed to help all people.” Although blacks and Latinos would benefit from his programs, it was only because they were the “most vulnerable” in bad economic times. But in an interview in The New York Times Magazine, published today, Mr. Obama sounded more like Johnson when he talked of making sure that “prosperity is spread across the spectrum of regions and occupations and genders and races.” These strains of liberalism are not incompatible. But they are not identical. The question is whether Mr. Obama will be forced to choose between them in the days ahead or be able to fuse them into a single vision. NYT, 5-3-09
  • Debbie Walsh “First 100 Days: Michelle Obama Has Big Shoes to Fill, But So Far is Walking in Stride” In her first 100 days as first lady, Michelle Obama has stayed busy, reaching out to military families, serving in soup kitchens, visiting Washington public schools and health care facilities and inviting children to the White House. But she has yet to decide her niche: “She has the potential to be a powerful voice for the issues that working families confront and the juggling that working parents have to do,” said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “There are a whole host of issues that go with working families. We have to see where that goes.” Walsh said Obama epitomizes how the role of first lady is evolving. “I think first ladies 50 or 60 years ago were lifelong helpmates,” she said, explaining that it was a reflection of the times when women traditionally stayed at home…. “I personally am willing to cut her slack if she hasn’t transformed the world for working families yet,” Walsh said. “She’s carving out a focus.” “It’s a let’s-wait-and-see mode, and every indication is she is planning to use her position as first lady to advocate for these positions.” – Fox News, 4-28-09
  • Myra Gutin “First 100 Days: Michelle Obama Has Big Shoes to Fill, But So Far is Walking in Stride” In her first 100 days as first lady, Michelle Obama has stayed busy, reaching out to military families, serving in soup kitchens, visiting Washington public schools and health care facilities and inviting children to the White House. But she has yet to decide her niche: “Hillary Clinton is kind of a special case,” said Myra Gutin, a first lady historian and professor of communications at Rider University. “She was the only first lady to have an office in the West Wing,” where she had 600 employees under her…. “Some of them have a long history,” Gutin said. “That’s not the case with Mrs. Obama.” Gutin said she believes Obama can achieve a lot by working with military families, a focus that will allow her to avoid more controversial subjects. “It would seem not to carry a lot of political risk for her husband,” she said…. Gutin said regardless of what Obama chooses, she thinks she is doing a “great” job so far. “I think she came from a place a year ago where we didn’t think she was going to do quite as well,” she said, referring to comments last year in which Mrs. Obama said she had not as an adult been proud of her country until she saw the public’s reaction to her husband’s candidacy. – Fox News, 4-28-09
  • Carl Anthony “First 100 Days: Michelle Obama Has Big Shoes to Fill, But So Far is Walking in Stride” In her first 100 days as first lady, Michelle Obama has stayed busy, reaching out to military families, serving in soup kitchens, visiting Washington public schools and health care facilities and inviting children to the White House. But she has yet to decide her niche: “It offends me, to tell you the truth,” said Carl Anthony, a historian at the National First Ladies’ Library. “I think it’s more endemic of a problem in our culture. It’s eating dessert and thinking it’s dinner.” Anthony said one of Obama’s biggest challenges may be to draw more attention to her substance “She’s a very powerful public speaker,” he said. “If she were to get out and speak with heart and get behind a particular issue, I think the media will focus on her substantive elements, other than the style.”… Some attribute her performance so far to her awareness of the significance of being the first black first lady. “I think as a result of that, she wanted to be very cautious,” said Anthony, of the first ladies library. “I think she’s wanted to really make sure she didn’t have one misstep.” – Fox News, 4-28-09
  • OLYMPIA SNOWE: We Didn’t Have to Lose Arlen Specter: IT is disheartening and disconcerting, at the very least, that here we are today — almost exactly eight years after Senator Jim Jeffords left the Republican Party — witnessing the departure of my good friend and fellow moderate Republican, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, for the Democratic Party. And the announcement of his switch was all the more painful because I believe it didn’t have to be this way…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Give Obama an ‘incomplete’”: When President Obama moved into the White House, press speculation immediately began about what his first 100 days would look like. Journalists as well as scholars looked to history to speculate about which models of presidential leadership he might follow. As we reach the end of the first 100 days this week, Obama remains much of a mystery. If we are talking grades, the best we can give him at this point is an “incomplete.”…
    We’ll have to see what happens in the second and third 100 days, which are perhaps more instructive in evaluating a presidency as the shine from the election fades and political tensions over the details of an administration’s agenda harden. It is then that we’ll gain a better sense of whether Obama will be able to sustain the momentum of the first 100 days as did FDR, culminating in the 1936 election landslide, or whether he will lose the political strength from these early days, as was the case with Carter. – CNN, 4-27-09
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