Full Text Political Headlines March 17, 2013: Speaker of the House John Boehner’s Interview on ABC News’ This Week with Martha Raddatz Transcript





John Boehner: The ‘Talk About Raising Revenue Is Over’

Source: ABC New Radio, 3-17-13


House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz during an exclusive interview for This Week that talk of including revenue as part of an effort to strike a so-called “grand bargain” to address the $16 trillion debt of the United States was “over,” leaving Democrats and Republicans where they have been for months – at loggerheads….READ MORE

This Week’ Transcript: Speaker of the House John Boehner

Source: ABC News, 3-17-13

SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Good to be with you, Martha.

MARTHA RADDATZ: It’s great to have you here. I call it the so-called charm offensive because you don’t seem particularly charmed. You wrote that outreach is always positive, but then you wrote you had heard it all before, saying it’s going to take more than dinner dates and phone calls from the president. So, were those dinners and meetings a good thing, or did it make no difference at all?

SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Well, it’s always a good thing to– engage in more conversation– engage more members in the conversation that– have not been involved up to this point. But when you get down the– the– the bottom line, if the president believes that we have to have more taxes from the American people, we’re not gonna get very far.

If the president– doesn’t believe that the goal oughta be to balance the budget over the next ten years– I don’t– not sure we’re gonna get very far. And this is the whole issue. We have a spending problem here in Washington and it’s time to solve the problem.

MARTHA RADDATZ: Well, when you talk about that he has to get beyond the Democratic dogma, but the Republicans have taken a very hard line as well.

SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Hard line? The president– you got $650 billion worth of tax hikes on January the 1st. When are we gonna deal with the spending problem? It’s as simple as that….READ MORE — 1 | 2 | 3 4 5 6 Next Page

Political Headlines March 5, 2013: Speaker John Boehner GOP Hunts for Cuts not Government Shutdown: ‘Spending is the Problem’





GOP Hunts for Cuts: ‘Spending is the Problem’ — Is Medicare Solution?

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-5-13

Alex Wong/Getty Images

After a weekend absorbing the reality that sequestration has begun to slash spending, House Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team emerged from a conference meeting Tuesday emboldened and ardent for more spending cuts.

“Spending is the problem here in Washington,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said as a banner covering the back wall mirrored the speaker’s latest axiom. “Our goal is to cut spending, not to shut the government down.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines March 4, 2013: President Barack Obama Faces Political Risks in Emphasizing Effects of Spending Cuts





Obama Faces Political Risks in Emphasizing Effects of Spending Cuts

Source: NYT, 3-4-13

President Obama is trying to strike a balance between ratcheting up pressure on Republicans to undo the cuts and minimizing the damage for Americans….READ MORE

Political Headlines March 1, 2013: Without Budget Deal, Sequester Spending Cuts to Take Effect





Without Budget Deal, Cuts to Take Effect

Source: NYT, 3-1-13

Speaker John A. Boehner spoke to reporters outside the White House after meeting with President Obama on Friday.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Speaker John A. Boehner spoke to reporters outside the White House after meeting with President Obama on Friday.

After an Oval Office meeting, Speaker John A. Boehner reported little progress, saying the discussion about new revenue “is over.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines March 1, 2013: President Barack Obama, Congressional Leaders Fail to Avert Sequester Spending Cuts





Obama, Congressional Leaders Fail to Avert Sequester Cuts

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-1-13

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama and congressional leaders failed to reach a breakthrough to avert a sweeping package of automatic spending cuts, setting into motion $85 billion of across-the-board belt-tightening that neither had wanted to see.

Obama met for just over an hour at the White House on Friday with Republican leaders House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Democratic allies, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Vice President Joe Biden….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 1, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Statement & Press Conference on the Sequester & White House Talks with Congressional Leaders on the Spending Cuts



Statement by the President on the Sequester

Source: WH, 3-1-13 

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

11:39 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  As you know, I just met with leaders of both parties to discuss a way forward in light of the severe budget cuts that start to take effect today.  I told them these cuts will hurt our economy.  They will cost us jobs.  And to set it right, both sides need to be willing to compromise.

The good news is the American people are strong and they’re resilient.  They fought hard to recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and we will get through this as well.  Even with these cuts in place, folks all across this country will work hard to make sure that we keep the recovery going.  But Washington sure isn’t making it easy.  At a time when our businesses have finally begun to get some traction — hiring new workers, bringing jobs back to America — we shouldn’t be making a series of dumb, arbitrary cuts to things that businesses depend on and workers depend on, like education, and research, and infrastructure and defense.  It’s unnecessary.  And at a time when too many Americans are still looking for work, it’s inexcusable.

Now, what’s important to understand is that not everyone will feel the pain of these cuts right away.  The pain, though, will be real.  Beginning this week, many middle-class families will have their lives disrupted in significant ways.  Businesses that work with the military, like the Virginia shipbuilder that I visited on Tuesday, may have to lay folks off.  Communities near military bases will take a serious blow.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans who serve their country — Border Patrol agents, FBI agents, civilians who work at the Pentagon — all will suffer significant pay cuts and furloughs.

All of this will cause a ripple effect throughout our economy.  Layoffs and pay cuts means that people have less money in their pockets, and that means that they have less money to spend at local businesses.  That means lower profits.  That means fewer hires.  The longer these cuts remain in place, the greater the damage to our economy — a slow grind that will intensify with each passing day.

So economists are estimating that as a consequence of this sequester, that we could see growth cut by over one-half of 1 percent.  It will cost about 750,000 jobs at a time when we should be growing jobs more quickly.  So every time that we get a piece of economic news, over the next month, next two months, next six months, as long as the sequester is in place, we’ll know that that economic news could have been better if Congress had not failed to act.

And let’s be clear.  None of this is necessary.  It’s happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made.  They’ve allowed these cuts to happen because they refuse to budge on closing a single wasteful loophole to help reduce the deficit.  As recently as yesterday, they decided to protect special interest tax breaks for the well-off and well-connected, and they think that that’s apparently more important than protecting our military or middle-class families from the pain of these cuts.

I do believe that we can and must replace these cuts with a more balanced approach that asks something from everybody:  Smart spending cuts; entitlement reform; tax reform that makes the tax code more fair for families and businesses without raising tax rates —  all so that we can responsibly lower the deficit without laying off workers, or forcing parents to scramble for childcare, or slashing financial aid for college students.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask.  I don’t think that is partisan.  It’s the kind of approach that I’ve proposed for two years.  It’s what I ran on last year.  And the majority of the American people agree with me in this approach, including, by the way, a majority of Republicans.  We just need Republicans in Congress to catch up with their own party and their country on this.  And if they did so, we could make a lot of progress.

I do know that there are Republicans in Congress who privately, at least, say that they would rather close tax loopholes than let these cuts go through.  I know that there are Democrats who’d rather do smart entitlement reform than let these cuts go through.  So there is a caucus of common sense up on Capitol Hill.  It’s just — it’s a silent group right now, and we want to make sure that their voices start getting heard.

In the coming days and in the coming weeks I’m going to keep on reaching out to them, both individually and as groups of senators or members of the House, and say to them, let’s fix this — not just for a month or two, but for years to come.  Because the greatest nation on Earth does not conduct its business in month-to-month increments, or by careening from crisis to crisis.  And America has got a lot more work to do.

In the meantime, we can’t let political gridlock around the budget stand in the way of other areas where we can make progress.  I was pleased to see that the House passed the Violence Against Women Act yesterday.  That is a big win for not just women but for families and for the American people.  It’s a law that’s going to save lives and help more Americans live free from fear.  It’s something that we’ve been pushing on for a long time.  I was glad to see that done.  And it’s an example of how we can still get some important bipartisan legislation through this Congress even though there is still these fiscal arguments taking place.

And I think there are other areas where we can make progress even with the sequester unresolved.  I will continue to push for those initiatives.  I’m going to keep pushing for high-quality preschool for every family that wants it.  I’m going to keep pushing to make sure that we raise the minimum wage so that it’s one that families can live on.  I’m going to keep on pushing for immigration reform, and reform our voting system, and improvements on our transportation sector.  And I’m going to keep pushing for sensible gun reforms because I still think they deserve a vote.

This is the agenda that the American people voted for.  These are America’s priorities.  They are too important to go  unaddressed.  And I’m going to keep pushing to make sure that we see them through.

So with that, I’m going to take some questions.  I’m going to start with Julie.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  How much responsibility do you feel like you bear for these cuts taking effect?  And is the only way to offset them at this point for Republicans to bend on revenue, or do you see any alternatives?

THE PRESIDENT:  Look, we’ve already cut $2.5 trillion in our deficit.  Everybody says we need to cut $4 trillion, which means we have to come up with another trillion and a half.  The vast majority of economists agree that the problem when it comes to deficits is not discretionary spending.  It’s not that we’re spending too much money on education.  It’s not that we’re spending too much money on job training, or that we’re spending too much money rebuilding our roads and our bridges.  We’re not.

The problem that we have is a long-term problem in terms of our health care costs and programs like Medicare.  And what I’ve said very specifically, very detailed is that I’m prepared to take on the problem where it exists — on entitlements — and do some things that my own party really doesn’t like — if it’s part of a broader package of sensible deficit reduction.  So the deal that I’ve put forward over the last two years, the deal that I put forward as recently as December is still on the table.  I am prepared to do hard things and to push my Democratic friends to do hard things.

But what I can’t do is ask middle-class families, ask seniors, ask students to bear the entire burden of deficit reduction when we know we’ve got a bunch of tax loopholes that are benefiting the well-off and the well-connected, aren’t contributing to growth, aren’t contributing to our economy.  It’s not fair.  It’s not right.  The American people don’t think it’s fair and don’t think it’s right.

So I recognize that Speaker Boehner has got challenges in his caucus.  I recognize that it’s very hard for Republican leaders to be perceived as making concessions to me.  Sometimes, I reflect is there something else I could do to make these guys — I’m not talking about the leaders now, but maybe some of the House Republican caucus members — not paint horns on my head.  And I genuinely believe that there’s an opportunity for us to cooperate.

But what doesn’t make sense — and the only thing that we’ve seen from Republicans so far in terms of proposals — is to replace this set of arbitrary cuts with even worse arbitrary cuts.  That’s not going to help the economy.  That’s not going to help growth.  That’s not going to create jobs.  And as a number of economists have noted, ironically, it doesn’t even reduce our deficit in the smartest way possible or the fastest way possible.

So in terms of going forward, my hope is that after some reflection — as members of Congress start hearing from constituents who are being negatively impacted, as we start seeing the impact that the sequester is having — that they step back and say, all right, is there a way for us to move forward on a package of entitlement reforms, tax reform, not raising tax rates, identifying programs that don’t work, coming up with a plan that’s comprehensive and that makes sense.  And it may take a couple of weeks.  It may take a couple of months, but I’m just going to keep on pushing on it.  And my view is that, ultimately, common sense prevails.

But what is true right now is that the Republicans have made a choice that maintaining an ironclad rule that we will not accept an extra dime’s worth of revenue makes it very difficult for us to get any larger comprehensive deal.  And that’s a choice they’re making.  They’re saying that it’s more important to preserve these tax loopholes than it is to prevent these arbitrary cuts.

And what’s interesting is Speaker Boehner, just a couple months ago, identified these tax loopholes and tax breaks and said we should close them and raise revenue.  So it’s not as if it’s not possible to do.  They themselves have suggested that it’s possible to do.  And if they believe that in fact these tax loopholes and these tax breaks for the well-off and the well-connected aren’t contributing to growth, aren’t good for our economy, aren’t particularly fair and can raise revenue, well, why don’t we get started?  Why don’t we do that?

It may be that because of the politics within the Republican Party, they can’t do it right now.  I understand that.  My hope is, is that they can do it later.

And I just want to repeat, Julie, because I think it’s very important to understand, it’s not as if Democrats aren’t being asked to do anything, either, to compromise.  There are members of my party who violently disagree with the notion that we should do anything on Medicare.  And I’m willing to say to them, I disagree with you, because I want to preserve Medicare for the long haul.  And we’re going to have some tough politics within my party to get this done.

This is not a situation where I’m only asking for concessions from Republicans and asking nothing from Democrats.  I’m saying that everybody is going to have to do something.  And the one key to this whole thing is trying to make sure we keep in mind who we’re here for.  We are not here for ourselves, we’re not here for our parties, we’re not here to advance our electoral prospects.  We’re here for American families who have been getting battered pretty good over the last four years, are just starting to see the economy improve; businesses are just starting to see some confidence coming back.  And this is not a win for anybody, this is a loss for the American people.

And, again, if we step back and just remind ourselves what it is we’re supposed to be doing here, then hopefully common sense will out in the end.

Q    It sounds like you’re saying that this is a Republican problem and not one that you bear any responsibility for.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, Julie, give me an example of what I might do.

Q    I’m just trying to clarify your statement.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, no, but I’m trying to clarify the question.  What I’m suggesting is, I’ve put forward a plan that calls for serious spending cuts, serious entitlement reforms, goes right at the problem that is at the heart of our long-term deficit problem.  I’ve offered negotiations around that kind of balanced approach.  And so far, we’ve gotten rebuffed because what Speaker Boehner and the Republicans have said is, we cannot do any revenue, we can’t do a dime’s worth of revenue.

So what more do you think I should do?  Okay, I just wanted to clarify.  (Laughter.)  Because if people have a suggestion, I’m happy to — this is a room full of smart folks.

All right — Zach Goldfarb.

Q    Mr. President, the next focal point seems to be the continuing resolution that’s funding the government at the end of the month, that expires at the end of the month.  Would you sign a CR that continues the sequester but continues to fund the government?  And in a related point, how do you truly reach the limits of your persuasive power?  Is there any other leverage you have to convince the Republicans, to convince folks that this isn’t the way to go?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’d like to think I’ve still got some persuasive power left.  Let me check.  (Laughter.)  Look, the issue is not my persuasive power.  The American people agree with my approach.  They agree that we should have a balanced approach to deficit reduction.

The question is can the American people help persuade their members of Congress to do the right thing, and I have a lot of confidence that over time, if the American people express their displeasure about how something is working, that eventually Congress responds.  Sometimes there is a little gap between what the American people think and what Congress thinks.  But eventually Congress catches up.

With respect to the budget and keeping the government open — I’ll try for our viewing audience to make sure that we’re not talking in Washington gobbledygook.  What’s called the continuing resolution, which is essentially just an extension of last year’s budget into this year’s budget to make sure that basic government functions continue, I think it’s the right thing to do to make sure that we don’t have a government shutdown.  And that’s preventable.

We have a Budget Control Act, right?  We agreed to a certain amount of money that was going to be spent each year, and certain funding levels for our military, our education system, and so forth.  If we stick to that deal, then I will be supportive of us sticking to that deal.  It’s a deal that I made.

The sequester are additional cuts on top of that.  And by law, until Congress takes the sequester away, we’d have to abide by those additional cuts.  But there’s no reason why we should have another crisis by shutting the government down in addition to these arbitrary spending cuts.

Q    Just to make it 100 percent clear, you’d sign a budget that continues to fund the government even at the lower levels of the sequester, even if you don’t prefer to do that?

THE PRESIDENT:  Zach, I’m not going to — I never want to make myself 100 percent clear with you guys.  (Laughter.)  But I think it’s fair to say that I made a deal for a certain budget, certain numbers.  There’s no reason why that deal needs to be reopened.  It was a deal that Speaker Boehner made as well, and all the leadership made.  And if the bill that arrives on my desk is reflective of the commitments that we’ve previously made, then obviously I would sign it because I want to make sure that we keep on doing what we need to do for the American people.


Q    Mr. President, to your question, what could you do — first of all, couldn’t you just have them down here and refuse to let them leave the room until you have a deal?  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I mean, Jessica, I am not a dictator.  I’m the President.  So, ultimately, if Mitch McConnell or John Boehner say, we need to go to catch a plane, I can’t have Secret Service block the doorway, right?  So —

Q    But isn’t that part of leadership?  I’m sorry to interrupt, but isn’t —

THE PRESIDENT:  I understand.  And I know that this has been some of the conventional wisdom that’s been floating around Washington that somehow, even though most people agree that I’m being reasonable, that most people agree I’m presenting a fair deal, the fact that they don’t take it means that I should somehow do a Jedi mind-meld with these folks and convince them to do what’s right.  Well, they’re elected.  We have a constitutional system of government.  The Speaker of the House and the leader of the Senate and all those folks have responsibilities.

What I can do is I can make the best possible case for why we need to do the right thing.  I can speak to the American people about the consequences of the decisions that Congress is making or the lack of decision-making by Congress.  But, ultimately, it’s a choice they make.

And this idea that somehow there’s a secret formula or secret sauce to get Speaker Boehner or Mitch McConnell to say, you know what, Mr. President, you’re right, we should close some tax loopholes for the well-off and well-connected in exchange for some serious entitlement reform and spending cuts of programs we don’t need.  I think if there was a secret way to do that, I would have tried it.  I would have done it.

What I can do is I can make the best possible argument.  And I can offer concessions, and I can offer compromise.  I can negotiate.  I can make sure that my party is willing to compromise and is not being ideological or thinking about these just in terms of political terms.  And I think I’ve done that and I will continue to do that.

But what I can’t do is force Congress to do the right thing.  The American people may have the capacity to do that.  And in the absence of a decision on the part of the Speaker of the House and others to put middle-class families ahead of whatever political imperatives he might have right now, we’re going to have these cuts in place.  But, again, I’m hopeful about human nature.  I think that over time people do the right thing.  And I will keep on reaching out and seeing if there are other formulas or other ways to jigger this thing into place so that we get a better result.

Q    What do you say to the people like Mayor Bloomberg — who is no critic of yours in general; he endorsed you — who argues that there is some what he calls “posturing” in these claims that there are going to be big layoffs and a lot of people out of work, and thinks that the effects of the spending cuts are being overstated by the administration?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well Jessica, look, I’ll just give you an example.  The Department of Defense right now has to figure out how the children of military families are going to continue with their schooling over the next several months, because teachers at these Army bases are typically civilians.  They are therefore subject to furlough, which means that they may not be able to teach one day a week.

Now, I expect that we’ll be able to manage around it.  But if I’m a man or woman in uniform in Afghanistan right now, the notion that my spouse back home is having to worry about whether or not our kids are getting the best education possible, the notion that my school for my children on an Army base might be disrupted because Congress didn’t act, that’s an impact.  Now, Mayor Bloomberg and others may not feel that impact.  I suspect they won’t.  But that family will.

The Border Patrol agents who are out there in the hot sun, doing what Congress said they’re supposed to be doing, finding out suddenly that they’re getting a 10-percent pay cut and having to go home and explain that to their families, I don’t think they feel like this is an exaggerated impact.  So I guess it depends on where you sit.

Now, what is absolutely true is that not everybody is going to feel it.  Not everybody is going to feel it all at once.  What is true is that the accumulation of those stories all across this country, folks who suddenly — might have been working all their lives to get an education, just so that they can get that job and get out of welfare and they’ve got their kid in Head Start, and now, suddenly, that Head Start slot is gone and they’re trying to figure out how am I going to keep my job, because I can’t afford child care for my kid; some of the suppliers for those shipbuilders down in Virginia, where you’ve got some suppliers who are small businesses, this is all they do, and they may shut down those companies, and their employees are going to be laid off — the accumulation of all of those stories of impact is going to make our economy weaker.  It’s going to mean less growth.  It’s going to mean hundreds of thousands of jobs lost.

That is real.  That’s not — we’re not making that up.  That’s not a scare tactic, that’s a fact.

Starting tomorrow, everybody here, all the folks who are cleaning the floors at the Capitol — now that Congress has left, somebody is going to be vacuuming and cleaning those floors and throwing out the garbage — they’re going to have less pay.  The janitors, the security guards, they just got a pay cut, and they’ve got to figure out how to manage that.  That’s real.

So I want to be very clear here.  It is absolutely true that this is not going to precipitate the kind of crisis we talked about with America defaulting and some of the problems around the debt ceiling.  I don’t anticipate a huge financial crisis, but people are going to be hurt.  The economy will not grow as quickly as it would have.  Unemployment will not go down as quickly as it would have — and there are lives behind that.  And that’s real.  And it’s not necessary — that’s the problem.

Christi Parsons.

Q    Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Hey, Christi.

Q    Mr. President, your administration weighed in yesterday on the Proposition 8 case.  A few months ago it looked like you might be averse to doing that, and I just wondered if you could talk a little bit about your deliberations and how your thinking evolved on that.  Were there conversations that were important to you?  Were there things that you read that influenced your thinking?

THE PRESIDENT:  As everybody here knows, last year, upon a long period of reflection, I concluded that we cannot discriminate against same-sex couples when it comes to marriage; that the basic principle that America is founded on — the idea that we’re all created equal — applies to everybody, regardless of sexual orientation, as well as race or gender or religion or ethnicity.

And I think that the same evolution that I’ve gone through is an evolution that the country as a whole has gone through.  And I think it is a profoundly positive thing.  So that when the Supreme Court essentially called the question by taking this case about California’s law, I didn’t feel like that was something that this administration could avoid.  I felt it was important for us to articulate what I believe and what this administration stands for.

And although I do think that we’re seeing, on a state-by-state basis, progress being made — more and more states recognizing same-sex couples and giving them the opportunity to marry and maintain all the benefits of marriage that heterosexual couples do — when the Supreme Court asks, do you think that the California law, which doesn’t provide any rationale for discriminating against same-sex couples other than just the notion that, well, they’re same-sex couples, if the Supreme Court asks me or my Attorney General or Solicitor General, do we think that meets constitutional muster, I felt it was important for us to answer that question honestly — and the answer is no.

Q    And given the fact that you do hold that position about gay marriage, I wonder if you thought about just — once you made the decision to weigh in, why not just argue that marriage is a right that should be available to all people of this country?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, that’s an argument that I’ve made personally.  The Solicitor General in his institutional role going before the Supreme Court is obliged to answer the specific question before them.  And the specific question presented before the Court right now is whether Prop 8 and the California law is unconstitutional.

And what we’ve done is we’ve put forward a basic principle, which is — which applies to all equal protection cases.  Whenever a particular group is being discriminated against, the Court asks the question, what’s the rationale for this — and it better be a good reason.  And if you don’t have a good reason, we’re going to strike it down.

And what we’ve said is, is that same-sex couples are a group, a class that deserves heightened scrutiny, that the Supreme Court needs to ask the state why it’s doing it.  And if the state doesn’t have a good reason, it should be struck down.  That’s the core principle as applied to this case.

Now, the Court may decide that if it doesn’t apply in this case, it probably can’t apply in any case.  There’s no good reason for it.  If I were on the Court, that would probably be the view that I’d put forward.  But I’m not a judge, I’m the President.  So the basic principle, though, is let’s treat everybody fairly and let’s treat everybody equally.  And I think that the brief that’s been presented accurately reflects our views.

Ari Shapiro.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  You said a few minutes ago and you’ve said repeatedly that the country has to stop careening from crisis to crisis.


Q    So with a few crises behind us and a few more crises ahead of us, taking a step back from this specific debate over the sequester, how, as the leader of this country, do you plan to stop the country from careening from crisis to crisis?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, a couple of things.  Number one is to make sure that we keep making progress wherever we can on things that are important to middle-class Americans and those who are fighting to get into the middle class.  So if you set aside budget fights for a second, we’ve been able to get now the Violence Against Women Act done.  The conversations that are taking place on a bipartisan basis around immigration reform are moving forward.  We’ve seen great interest in a bipartisan fashion around how we can continue to improve our education system, including around early childhood education.  There have been constructive discussions around how do we reduce gun violence.

And what I’m going to keep on trying to do is to make sure that we push on those things that are important to families.  And we won’t get everything done all at once, but we can get a lot done.  So that’s point number one.

With respect to the budget, what I’ve done is to make a case to the American people that we have to make sure that we have a balanced approach to deficit reduction, but that deficit reduction alone is not an economic policy.  And part of the challenge that we’ve had here is that not only Congress, but I think Washington generally spends all its time together about deficits and doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about how do we create jobs.  So I want to make sure that we’re talking about both.

I think that, for example, we could put a lot of people back to work right now rebuilding our roads and bridges.  And this is deferred maintenance.  We know we’re going to have to do it.  And I went to a bridge that connects Mitch McConnell’s state to John Boehner’s state, and it was a rotten bridge and everybody knows it.  And I’ll bet they really want to see that improved.  Well, how do we do it?  Let’s have a conversation about it.  That will create jobs.  It will be good for businesses, reduce commuter times, improve commuter safety.  That has to be part of this conversation, not just this constant argument about cutting and spending.

So I guess my point is, Ari, that what I want to try to do is to make sure that we’re constantly focused, that our true north is on how are we helping American families succeed.  Deficit reduction is part of that agenda and an important part.  But it’s not the only part.  And I don’t want us to be paralyzed on everything just because we disagree on this one thing.

And as I already said to Jessica, what I’m also hoping is, is that, over time — perhaps after Republicans step back and maybe they can say, you know what, we stuck tough on the sequester, and this makes us feel good, and the Republican caucus is in a better mood when they come back — maybe then we can have a more serious discussion about what the real problems on deficit and deficit reduction are.

And the good thing about America is that sometimes we get to these bottlenecks and we get stuck, and you have these sharp, partisan fights, but the American people pretty steadily are common sense and practical, and eventually, that common-sense, practical approach wins out.  And I think that’s what will happen here as well.

And, in the meantime, just to make the final point about the sequester, we will get through this.  This is not going to be a apocalypse, I think as some people have said.  It’s just dumb.  And it’s going to hurt.  It’s going to hurt individual people and it’s going to hurt the economy overall.

But if Congress comes to its senses a week from now, a month from now, three months from now, then there’s a lot of open running room there for us to grow our economy much more quickly and to advance the agenda of the American people dramatically.  So this is a temporary stop on what I believe is the long-term, outstanding prospect for American growth and greatness.

Thank you very much.

12:14 P.M. EST

Political Headlines February 28, 2013: Lanny Davis former Clinton aide & columnist joins Bob Woodward in claiming White House threat





Former Clinton aide, columnist joins Woodward in claiming White House threat

Source: FoxNews.com, 2-28-13

Shown here are journalist Bob Woodward, left, and former Clinton adviser Lanny Davis. (AP)

The latest claim comes from Lanny Davis, who served as counsel to former President Bill Clinton and later went on to write a column for The Washington Times. In a radio interview on WMAL, Davis said that a “senior Obama White House official” once called his editor at the Times and said that if the paper continued to run his columns, “his reporters would lose their credentials.”…READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines February 28, 2013: White House’s Gene Sperling’s Threatening Emails to Bob Woodward over Sequester Report Washington Post Op-ed





Journalist Clashes with White House over Sequester Report

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-28-13

ABC/ Ida Mae Astute

Veteran journalist Bob Woodward is embroiled in a public clash with the White House over his reporting on the sequester….READ MORE

From: Sperling, Gene
Date: February 22, 2013 11:52:34 PM EST
To: Bob Woodward


I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. My bad. I do understand your problems with a couple of our statements in the fall — but feel on the other hand that you focus on a few specific trees that gives a very wrong perception of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here.

But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim. The idea that the sequester was to force both sides to go back to try at a big or grand barain with a mix of entitlements and revenues (even if there were serious disagreements on composition) was part of the DNA of the thing from the start. It was an accepted part of the understanding — from the start. Really. It was assumed by the Rs on the Supercommittee that came right after: it was assumed in the November-December 2012 negotiations. There may have been big disagreements over rates and ratios — but that it was supposed to be replaced by entitlements and revenues of some form is not controversial. (Indeed, the discretionary savings amount from the Boehner-Obama negotiations were locked in in BCA: the sequester was just designed to force all back to table on entitlements and revenues.)

I agree there are more than one side to our first disagreement, but again think this latter issue is diffferent. Not out to argue and argue on this latter point. Just my sincere advice. Your call obviously.

My apologies again for raising my voice on the call with you. Feel bad about that and truly apologize.


From: Bob Woodward
Subject: Re:
Date: February 23, 2013 7:23:37 AM EST
To: Sperling, Gene

Gene: You do not ever have to apologize to me. You get wound up because you are making your points and you believe them. This is all part of a serious discussion. I for one welcome a little heat; there should more given the importance. I also welcome your personal advice. I am listening. I know you lived all this. My partial advantage is that I talked extensively with all involved. I am traveling and will try to reach you after 3 pm today. Best, Bob

Political Headlines February 27, 2013: President Barack Obama Backs Off Warnings About Sequester





Obama Backs Off Warnings About Sequester

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-27-13

Alex Wong/Getty Images

After weeks of outlining the dire consequences of the looming across-the-board spending cuts, President Obama on Wednesday night softened his warnings, saying the sequester is “not a cliff, but it is a tumble downward.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines February 27, 2013: Bob Woodward: A ‘Very Senior’ White House Person Warned Me I’d ‘Regret’ What I’m Doing





BOB WOODWARD: A ‘Very Senior’ White House Person Warned Me I’d ‘Regret’ What I’m Doing

Source: Business Insider, 2-27-13

Bob Woodward said this evening on CNN that a “very senior person” at the White House warned him in an email that he would “regret doing this,” the same day he has continued to slam President Barack Obama over the looming forced cuts known as the sequester….”It makes me very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters, ‘You’re going to regret doing something that you believe in,'” Woodward said….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 27, 2013: Bob Woodward says he was threatened by White House in CNN Interview





Bob Woodward says he was threatened by White House

Source: CNN, 2-27-13

Bob Woodward claimed the White House threatened him about his coverage on the budget cuts, but the White House has pushed back. (Source: CNN)
Bob Woodward claimed the White House threatened him about his coverage on the budget cuts, but the White House has pushed back. (Source: CNN)

Veteran journalist Bob Woodward said Wednesday he was threatened by a senior Obama administration official following his reporting on the White House’s handling of the forced federal spending cuts set to take effect on Friday.

“They’re not happy at all,” he said on CNN’s “The Situation Room”….”It was said very clearly, you will regret doing this,” he said….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 27, 2013: Bob Woodward at war with Obama White House





Woodward at war

Source: Politico, 2-27-13

Bob Woodward called a senior White House official last week to tell him that in a piece in that weekend’s Washington Post, he was going to question President Barack Obama’s account of how sequestration came about – and got a major-league brushback….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 27, 2013: Bob Woodward blasts President Obama’s madness on the sequester





Bob Woodward blasts President Obama madness

Source: Politico, 2-27-13

The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward attacked President Barack Obama on Wednesday, saying the commander-in-chief’s decision not to deploy an aircraft carrier because of budget cuts is “a kind of madness….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 26, 2013: Speaker John Boehner Pressures Senate Democrats on Bill to Avert the Sequester





Boehner Pressures Democrats to Get ‘Off Their…’

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-26-13

Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker John Boehner used some choice words to pressure Senate Democrats to avert the looming sequester — $85 billion of arbitrary across-the-board cuts — insisting that “the House has done its job” and the President’s party.

“We have moved the bill in the House twice,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their a** and begins to do something.”…READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines February 26, 2013: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Remarks on the Senate Floor on the Sequester — Smarter Cuts, Not Tax Hikes





Smarter Cuts, Not Tax Hikes

Source: McConnell.Senate.gov, 2-26-13

“I’d like to say a word about the sequester.

“The President’s top aides proposed the sequester as a way of helping the White House avoid a debt-limit debate during last-year’s campaign.

“In essence, the deal we struck was that, in exchange for avoiding a second vote before the election, the debt limit would be paired with spending cuts only, and would not involve a tax increase.

“The President had more than a year and a half to revisit his proposal and work with us to prevent it. He obviously thought his time and energies would be better spent elsewhere.

“In fact, I note that today he’s off campaigning again in Virginia instead of working with us to resolve the issue.

“So here we are.

“The President’s been running around acting like the world’s going to end because Congress might actually follow through on an idea he proposed and signed into law – all the while pretending he’s somehow powerless to stop it.

“Well, it’s time to put the record straight. And as someone who was personally involved in the 2011 budget talks, I think I’m uniquely qualified to do it.

“On the question of who came up with the idea in the first place, it originated, as I just noted, in the White House. I was less than 100 yards from this very spot when Vice President Biden called me at my desk to lay it out. He explained the sequester in exquisite detail, and then, as has been reported, the administration stubbornly stuck by those details throughout the negotiations, refusing any effort by Republicans to adjust its design in any way.

“More important than who came up with the idea of the sequester, however, is the fact that the bipartisan agreement that included it and that brought us to this point envisioned $2.1 trillion in spending cuts. Let me say that again: Democrats and Republicans agreed to $2.1 trillion in cuts as part of the 2011 Budget Control Act.

“So we can all go back and talk about what might have been, or what the President wanted or now wants. But let’s be clear about the facts.

“Those cuts were to come in two steps.

“First, through an immediate $900 billion spending reduction in the form of budget caps, and then by an additional $1.2 trillion in cut to be achieved one of two ways: either by the so-called Supercommittee or, if that failed, through the President’s sequester proposal – meaning automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense programs.

“And while the President tried repeatedly to make tax hikes a part of the backup plan, he ultimately gave up on that in exchange for avoiding a second vote on the debt limit before the election. The President made a deliberate decision, in other words, to give up on getting any tax hikes – or revenue enhancements, or whatever the White House wants to call it – as part of the negotiations over the sequester mechanism.

“He made the calculation that avoiding a second vote on the debt limit before the election was more important. So any effort to bring taxes into the picture now is just a ploy to move the goal posts, as the primary chronicler of this whole episode, Bob Woodward, has noted.

“Of course, the White House has tried to refute these historical facts, but it hasn’t gotten anywhere.

“As the Chairman of the Finance Committee helpfully reminded us last week, ‘The President is part of the sequester’ because ‘the White House recommended it … and so now we’re feeling the effects of it.’

“So it’s time for the administration to at least accept reality so we can all move forward and focus on what the White House is actually doing right now. It’s asking the American people for permission to break its own word on spending.

“We reached an agreement to cut $2.1 trillion in government spending over 10 years, and we intend to keep our word.

“Should these cuts be implemented in a smarter way? Absolutely. But the President and his cabinet secretaries had a year and a half to think about that. They can’t just show up now at the last minute and expect the American people to bail them out of their own lack of responsibility.

“We can either secure those reductions more intelligently, or we can do it the President’s way with across-the board cuts. But one thing Americans simply will not accept is another tax increase to replace spending reductions we already agreed to.

“It was my hope that the Supercommittee would have succeeded. The Senators I appointed took that assignment very seriously. They put real skin in the game, because they wanted it to work. They didn’t like the sequester idea. And had the President engaged in a serious and supportive way at that time, the Supercommittee may very well have succeeded. He chose to campaign, and I’d argue, undermine the process instead.

“But even after the Supercommittee failed, Republicans continued to work to find another way to achieve these cuts. We repeatedly called for replacing the sequester with smarter cuts, rather than tax hikes, according to the original pact. House Republicans passed two bills to do just that. But again, instead of engaging with us, the President just set up more roadblocks.

“For more than a year, he resisted and dismissed every Republican attempt at a compromise. He refused to offer any kind of reasonable alternative, and he even threatened to veto other proposals aimed at averting the sequester. And now, here we are, with the President presenting the country with two options: Armageddon or a tax hike.

“Well, it’s a false choice, and he knows it. But then, the President’s a master at creating the impression of chaos as an excuse for government action. Do nothing. Fan the flames of catastrophe. Then claim the only way out is more government, in the form of higher taxes.

“Look: the choice we face isn’t between the sequester and tax hikes. Remember, we’re only talking about cutting 2 to 3 percent of the budget. Any business owner or middle-class parent will tell you it’s completely ridiculous to think Washington can’t find a better way to cut 2 to 3 percent of the federal budget at a time when we’re $16 trillion in debt.

“Every single working American had to figure out how to make ends meet with 2 percent less in their paychecks last month when the payroll tax holiday expired. Are you telling me Washington can’t do the same? It’s absurd.

“There’s no reason in the world these cuts need to fall on essential services or emergency responders. After all, even with the sequester, Washington will be spending more than when President Obama got here. We’re only talking about cutting a tenth of what the President spent on the stimulus bill.


“Step one in this process of getting to a serious solution is to end the White House’s denial of historical reality. We’re starting to get there, slowly but surely.

“More important, though, is the next step: that’s when the President and his Democrat allies actually come to the table and negotiate in a serious way, without gimmicks and without games on how best to reduce Washington spending. So let’s please shelve the tax hikes and the endless campaigning.

“Finally, I think there’s an even larger point to be made here. The President’s been going around warning of utter chaos if the sequester takes effect. And while I agree that those cuts could be made in a smarter way, and don’t like the fact that they fall disproportionately on defense, what does it say about the size of government that we can’t cut it by 2 to 3 percent without inviting disaster? Doesn’t that make our point? Hasn’t government gotten too big if just cutting the overall budget by a couple percentage points could have that kind of impact?

“Personally, I don’t believe the world will end if the President’s sequester takes effect. But our country would be much better served if the Democrats who run Washington would get off the campaign trail and work with us to trim the budget in a more rational way.

“Americans are tired of the manufactured crises. I know my constituents in Kentucky are. They’re just tired of it. They want us to work together, and Republicans are ready to do just that.”

Full Text Obama Presidency February 26, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the Impact of the Sequester & Defense Spending Cuts in Newport News, Virginia



President Obama Calls for a Responsible Approach to Deficit Reduction

Source: WH, 2-26-13

President Barack Obama at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., Feb. 26, 2013President Barack Obama delivers remarks to highlight the devastating impact the sequester will have on jobs and middle class families, at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., Feb. 26, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Remarks by the President on the Impact of the Sequester – Newport News, VA

Source: WH, 2-26-13 

Newport News Shipbuilding
Newport News, Virginia

1:23 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Newport News!  (Applause.)  Well, it is good to see all of you here today.

I want to thank your CEO, Mike Petters, for showing me around.  I usually don’t get a chance to hang out with nuclear submarines, especially submarines that my wife has sponsored.  (Applause.)  So right there, that was worth the trip.

But most importantly, it’s a great chance to see the incredible men and women who, every single day, are helping to keep America safe and are just the bedrock of this country’s manufacturing base.  Thank you to all of you.  (Applause.)

I want to thank our outstanding Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, who’s here.  (Applause.)  There he is right there — the good-looking guy over at the end.  (Laughter.)  I want to thank your Mayor, McKinley Price, who served this nation bravely in the U.S. Army.  (Applause.)  I want to thank two outstanding Congressmen who care about this facility, care about Virginia and care about the country — Congressman Bobby Scott is here — (applause) — and Congressman Scott Rigell is here as well.  (Applause.)

Now, the reason I came here today, in addition to seeing just some incredible stuff — it’s true, every time I come to these places, I don’t know how you all do it.  It is just amazing work.  But the main reason I’m here is to call attention to the important work that you’re doing on behalf of the nation’s defense, and to let the American people know that this work, along with hundreds of thousands of jobs, are currently in jeopardy because of politics in Washington.

In a few days, Congress might allow a series of immediate, painful, arbitrary budget cuts to take place — known in Washington as the sequester.  Now, that’s a pretty bad name — sequester.  But the effects are even worse than the name.  Instead of cutting out the government spending we don’t need — wasteful programs that don’t work, special interest tax loopholes and tax breaks — what the sequester does is it uses a meat cleaver approach to gut critical investments in things like education and national security and lifesaving medical research.

And the impact of this policy won’t be felt overnight, but it will be real.  The sequester will weaken America’s economic recovery.  It will weaken our military readiness.  And it will weaken the basic services that the American people depend on every single day.

Already, the uncertainty around these cuts is having an effect.  Companies are starting to prepare for layoff notices.  Families are preparing to cut back on expenses.  And the longer these cuts are in place, the greater the damage.

So here at Newport News Shipbuilding, you guys have made an enormous investment, because we’ve said in order to maintain the finest Navy that the world has ever known we’ve got to make sure that there is an orderly process whereby we are continually upgrading our ships, building new ships, maintaining our ships properly.  And these are some big ships.  So it’s expensive, and it’s complicated.  And you’ve got 5,000 suppliers all across the country, and you’ve got to have some certainty and some knowledge about how things are going to proceed over the long term for Mike and others to plan properly.

So you’re rightly concerned.  Mike is properly concerned about the impact that these cuts will have on not just this company, but companies and small businesses from all 50 states that supply you with parts and equipment.

Mike was telling me that you guys have already made a billion dollars’ worth of capital investment.  You’ve got half a billion dollars in training costs as you recruit and hire new people.  Well, those aren’t commitments that you make lightly.  You’ve got to have the capacity to plan and have some certainty in terms of what it is that we’re going to be doing.  And you know that if Congress can’t get together and plan our nation’s finances for the long term, that over time some of your jobs and businesses could be at risk.

Over at the Norfolk Naval Station, the threat of these cuts has already forced the Navy to cancel the deployment, or delay the repair of certain aircraft carriers.  One that’s currently being built might not get finished.  Another carrier might not get started at all.  And that hurts your bottom line.  That hurts this community.

Because of these automatic cuts, about 90,000 Virginians who work for the Department of Defense would be forced to take unpaid leave from their jobs.  So that’s money out of their pockets, money out of their paychecks.  And then that means there’s going to be a ripple effect on thousands of other jobs and businesses and services throughout the Commonwealth, because if they don’t have money in their pockets or less money in their pockets, that means they’re less able to afford to buy goods and services from other businesses.  So it’s not just restricted to the defense industry.

All told, the sequester could cost tens of thousands of jobs right here in Virginia.  But it doesn’t just stop there.  If the sequester goes into effect, more than 2,000 college students would lose their financial aid.  Early education like Head Start and Early Start would be eliminated for nearly 1,000 children, and around 18,000 fewer Virginians would get the skills and training they need to find a job.

Across the country, these cuts will force federal prosecutors to close cases and potentially let criminals go.  Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, and that could cause delays at airports across the country.  Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find child care for their kids.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings, including more than 3,500 children right here in Virginia.

So these cuts are wrong.  They’re not smart.  They’re not fair.  They’re a self-inflicted wound that doesn’t have to happen.

Now, the reason that we’re even thinking about the sequester is because people are rightly concerned about the deficit and the debt.  But there is a sensible way of doing things and there is a dumb way of doing things.  I mean, think about your own family.  Let’s say that suddenly you’ve got a little less money coming in. Are you going to say, well, we’ll cut out college tuition for the kid, we’ll stop feeding the little guy over here, we won’t pay our car note even though that means we can’t get to work — that’s not what you do, right?

You step back and you say, what is it that’s important — our child’s education, making sure they’re healthy, making sure we can get to the job, keeping our house repaired?  And then you say, here are the things that aren’t so important and you cut those out.  You prioritize, and you make smart decisions.  Well, we should be doing the same thing.

Now, I’ve laid out a plan that details how we can pay down our deficit in a way that’s balanced and responsible.  We have the plan right on a website, the White House website.  Everybody can go see it.  It details exactly how we can cut programs that don’t work, how we can raise money by closing loopholes that are only serving a few, as opposed to the average American.

We detailed $930 billion in sensible spending cuts that we’re willing to make and $580 billion in wasteful tax loopholes and deductions that we’re willing to eliminate through tax reform.

And what I’ve said is if the Republicans in Congress don’t like every detail of my proposal, which I don’t expect them to, I’ve told them my door is open.  I am more than willing to negotiate.  I want to compromise.  There’s no reason why we can’t come together and find a sensible way to reduce the deficit over the long term without affecting vital services, without hurting families, without impacting outstanding facilities like this one and our national defense.  There’s a way of doing this.

And the fact is there are leaders in both parties throughout this country who want to do the same.  I’ve got to give Scott Rigell credit.  He is one of your Republican congressmen who’s with us here today — and that’s not always healthy for a Republican, being with me.  But the reason he’s doing it is because he knows it’s important to you.  And he’s asked his colleagues in the House to consider closing tax loopholes instead of letting these automatic cuts go through.  He’s concerned about the deficit, and he’s more than prepared to make some really tough cuts, but he wants to do it in a smart way.

Bobby Scott — same thing.  Some of the cuts we’ve proposed, Bobby might not think are perfect, but he knows that we’ve got to make some tough decisions.  He just wants to make sure that you aren’t the ones who are adversely impacted and that we’re sharing the sacrifice in bringing down our deficit; we’re not just dumping it on a few people and we’re not doing it in a dumb way.

Senators like John McCain have made similar statements to what Scott said.  Your Republican Governor along with other governors around the country have said they want Congress to stop the sequester, to stop these cuts.

But I just have to be honest with you.  There are too many Republicans in Congress right now who refuse to compromise even an inch when it comes to closing tax loopholes and special interest tax breaks.  And that’s what’s holding things up right now.

Keep in mind, nobody is asking them to raise income tax rates.  All we’re asking is to consider closing tax loopholes and deductions that the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, said he was willing to do just a few months ago.  He said there were a bunch of loopholes and deductions you could close.  He said you could raise $800 billion, a trillion dollars by closing loopholes.

Well, we’re not even asking for that much.  All we’re asking is that they close loopholes for the well-off and the well-connected — for hedge fund managers, or oil companies, or corporate jet owners who are all doing very well and don’t need these tax loopholes — so we can avoid laying off workers, or kicking kids off Head Start, or reducing financial aid for college students.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask.  I do not think that is partisan.  (Applause.)  The majority of the American people agree with me.  The majority of Newport News agrees with me.  We need to get this done.  (Applause.)

But the choice is up to Congress.  Only Congress has the power to pass a law that stops these damaging cuts and replaces them with smart savings and tax reform.  And the second I get that bill on my desk, I will sign it into law.  But I’ve got to get Congress to pass it.

None of us will get 100 percent of what we want.  Democrats, they’ve got to make some tough choices too. Democrats like me, we’ve said we’re prepared to make some tough cuts and reforms, including to programs like Medicare.  But if we’re willing to compromise, then Republicans in the House have to compromise as well.  That’s what democracy is about.  That’s what this country needs right now.  (Applause.)

So let me just make one last point, by the way, for those of you who are following this.  Now, lately, some people have been saying, well, maybe we’ll just give the President some flexibility.  He could make the cuts the way he wants and that way it won’t be as damaging.  The problem is when you’re cutting $85 billion in seven months, which represents over a 10-percent cut in the defense budget in seven months, there’s no smart way to do that.  There’s no smart way to do that.  You don’t want to have to choose between, let’s see, do I close funding for the disabled kid, or the poor kid?  Do I close this Navy shipyard or some other one?  When you’re doing things in a way that’s not smart, you can’t gloss over the pain and the impact it’s going to have on the economy.

And the broader point is, Virginia, we can’t just cut our way to prosperity.  We can’t just cut our way to prosperity.  We can’t ask seniors and working families like yours to shoulder the entire burden of deficit reduction while asking nothing more from the wealthiest and the most powerful.  We’re not going to grow the middle class just by shifting the cost of health care or college onto families that are already struggling, or forcing communities to lay off more teachers or cops or firefighters or shipbuilders, and then folks who are doing really well don’t have to do anything more.  That’s not fair, and it’s not good for the economy.

And the other thing we’ve got to do is to stop having these crises manufactured every month.  It seems like — I know you guys must get tired of it.  (Applause.)  Didn’t we just solve this thing?  Now we’ve got another thing coming up?  (Applause.) I mean, think about if Mike Petters ran his business this way — once every month or two there would be some crisis, and you wouldn’t be sure whether or not you were working or not.  Even if it got solved eventually or ultimately, it would be pretty discouraging on people.  You would be less productive.  Ships wouldn’t get built as fast.  You would waste money because you don’t know exactly what to expect.  Folks aren’t sure, am I showing up to work today, or not?

If it’s not a good way to run a business, it’s sure not a good way to run a country.  (Applause.)

Now, all of you, the American people, you’ve worked too hard for too long rebuilding and digging our way out of the financial crisis back in 2007 and 2008 just to see Congress cause another one.  The greatest nation on Earth can’t keep on conducting its business drifting from one crisis to the next.

We’ve got to have a plan.  We’ve got to invest in our common future.  Our true north is a growing economy that creates good middle-class jobs; a country that provides its people with the skills they need to get those jobs and make sure that you’re getting paid a decent wage for working hard so you can support your families.  That’s what we should be focused on right now.  Not weakening the economy.  Not laying people off.  (Applause.)

That’s what we should be talking about in Washington.  And if you agree with me, I need you to make sure your voices are heard.  Let your leaders know what you expect of them.  Let them know what you believe.  Let them know that what this country was built on was a sense of obligation to not just each other but to future generations; that we’ve got to shoulder those obligations as one nation, and as one people.

I was in a conversation with some of the governors from across the country yesterday and I told them, I said, I’ve run my last election.  Michelle is very happy about that.  (Laughter.)  I’m not interested in spin; I’m not interested in playing a blame game.  At this point, all I’m interested in is just solving problems.  (Applause.)  All I’m interested in is making sure that when you get up early in the morning, and get to this ship at 5:30 in the morning, that you know if you do a good job and if you work hard and if you’re making sure that all the parts to this incredible ship that you’re building are where they need to be — if you’re doing what you do, then you can go home feeling satisfied, I did my job, I did my part, I can support my family, I can take pride in what I’ve done for this country.

That’s all I want.  I want us to be able to look back five years from now, 10 years from now, and say we took care of our business and we put an end to some of these games that maybe, I guess, are entertaining for some but are hurting too many people.

But in order for us to make that happen I’m going to need you.  The one thing about being President is, after four years you get pretty humble.  (Laughter.)  You’d think maybe you wouldn’t, but actually you become more humble.  You realize what you don’t know.  You realize all the mistakes you’ve made.  But you also realize you can’t do things by yourself.  That’s not how our system works.  You’ve got to have the help and the goodwill of Congress, and what that means is you’ve got to make sure that constituents of members of Congress are putting some pressure on them, making sure they’re doing the right thing, putting an end to some of these political games.

So I need you, Virginia, to keep up the pressure.  I need you to keep up the effort.  I need you to keep up the fight.  (Applause.)  If you do, Congress will listen.  If you stand up and speak out, Congress will listen.  And together, we will unleash our true potential, and we’ll remind the world just why it is the United States builds the greatest ships on Earth and is the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

1:44 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Headlines February 26, 2013: Speaker John Boehner’s Press Conference on the Sequester — President Obama Using Military as a Campaign Prop to Demand Tax Hikes





Speaker Boehner: President Obama Using Military as a Campaign Prop to Demand Tax Hikes

Source: Speaker Boehner Press Office, 2-26-13

February 26, 2013

“You know, Republicans have voted twice to replace the sequester.  The president, as you’re all aware, insisted that he not have to deal with the debt ceiling twice and insisted that the backstop for the work of the super committee be the sequester. 

“But I don’t think the president’s focused on trying to find a solution to the sequester.  The president has been traveling all over the country and today going down to Newport News in order to use our military men and women as a prop in yet another campaign rally to support his tax hikes. 

“Now the American people know if the president gets more money they’re just going to spend it.  The fact is is that he’s gotten his tax hikes.   It’s time to focus on the real problem here in Washington and that is spending. 

“The president has known for 16 months that the sequester was looming out there when the super committee failed to come to an agreement.  And so for 16 months the president’s been traveling all over the country holding rallies instead of sitting down with Senate leaders in order to try to forge an agreement over there in order to move a bill.  We have moved a bill in the House twice, we should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something.”     

Political Headlines February 26, 2013: Sequester Timeline: When Will Cuts Be Felt?





Sequester Timeline: When Will Cuts Be Felt?

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-26-13

Little is known about when, exactly, the “sequester” will wreak its expected havoc on the nation, but the process begins on Friday.

Basic Timeline:

March 1 — Sequestration goes into effect.

March 4 — Furlough notices issued. 

March 27 — The government runs out of money, or a new funding measure is passed.

April 4 — Furloughs can begin, consequences are felt.


Political Headlines February 25, 2013: Republicans urge President Barack Obama to ‘stop campaigning’ over budget cuts





Republicans urge Obama to ‘stop campaigning’ over budget cuts

Source: Fox News, 2-25-13

House Republican leaders on Monday urged President Obama to “stop campaigning” and hunker down with Congress to find an alternative to the bludgeon of spending cuts set to hit Friday, saying now is not the time “for a road-show president….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 25, 2013: President Barack Obama Enlists Governors to Help Get Sequester Deal





Obama Enlists Governors to Help Get Sequester Deal

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-25-13

With less than five days to prevent $85 billion in sweeping, automatic budget cuts, President Obama Monday asked the nation’s governors to help pressure Congress to compromise on a deal to avert the sequester.

“There are always going to be areas where we have some genuine disagreement,” the president told a meeting of the National Governors Association at the White House. “But there are more areas where we can do a lot more cooperating than I think we’ve seen over the last several years.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines February 25, 2013: President Barack Obama Urges Congress to Find Compromise on Budget Cuts





Obama Urges Congress to Find Compromise on Budget Cuts

Source: NYT, 2-25-13

“These cuts do not have to happen,” President Obama told a gathering of the nation’s governors. “Congress can turn them off at any time with just a little bit of compromise.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency February 25, 2013: President Barack Obama & Vice President Joe Biden’s Speeches at Meeting of the National Governors Association — Warns Governors About Sequester



President Obama: I Look Forward to Working with Governors to Reignite America’s Economic Engine

Source: WH, 2-24-13

President Barack Obama has a meeting with the National Governors Association in the White House, Feb. 25, 2013President Barack Obama delivers remarks and participates in a Q&A during a meeting with the National Governors Association (NGA) in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 25, 2013 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Remarks by the President and Vice President at Meeting of the National Governors Association

Source: WH, 2- 25-13

State Dining Room

11:18 A.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you all.  I tell you what, I didn’t know Jack was as good as he is until I heard that rhyme last night.  (Laughter.)  Jack, if you had done that, I’d be introducing you here.  (Laughter.)

Thank you all very, very much.  I’m sorry — you guys are much more disciplined than the place I lived for 36 years, up on the Hill, and you’re running ahead of schedule.  And so the President is with me, and I want to thank you all for being here.
We have a lot to work on.  There’s a lot from fixing a broken immigration system to rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, and this new word everybody in America is learning about — “sequester.”

This town, unlike many of your capitals, is I hope temporarily frozen in — not indifference but in sort of an intense partisanship, the likes of which in my career I’ve only see the last couple years.  But you know the American people have moved to a different place.  By the way, thanks for being so nice to my wife last night.  I like you a hell of better.  (Laughter.) We disagreed on some things.

But all kidding aside, I think the American people have moved — Democrats, Republicans, independents.  They know that the possibilities for this country are immense.  They’re no longer traumatized by what was a traumatizing event, the great collapse in 2008.  They’re no longer worried, I think, about our economy being overwhelmed either by Europe writ large, the EU, or China somehow swallowing up every bit of innovation that exists in the world.  They’re no longer, I think, worried about our economy being overwhelmed beyond our shores.

And I don’t think they’re any more — there’s no — there’s very little doubt in any circles out there about America’s ability to be in position to lead the world in the 21st century, not only in terms of our foreign policy, our incredible defense establishment, but economically.  I think the American people are ready to get up.  As a civil rights leader, when I was coming up as a kid, said, they’re just — the American people are tired of being tired.  I think they’re ready to get up and move.  And you guys know that because it’s happening in your states.  You probably feel it in your fingertips more than most of us do here in Washington.

And as I said, I think they know we’re better positioned than any nation in the world to lead the world.  And that’s why I think they’re so frustrated by what they see and don’t see happening here in Washington.  And I think their frustration is turning into a little bit of anger.

I found an interesting dynamic — without ruining any of your reputations and picking out any one of you — but whether it was a Democrat or Republican governor I had been talking to last night and over this past weekend, I heard from several of you, both parties, how do you deal with this going on up here?  How do you deal with the Congress?  No distinction, Democrat or Republican, depending who I was talking to, no distinction about who you’re dealing with — but how do you deal with this?  Because you guys deal and women deal with legislatures that are split.  Some of you represent a minority party as a governor, yet you get on very well with — you accomplish things in your home state.  And as I said, I’ve been here long enough — that’s the way it used to work, and I think we can make it work that way again.

But there’s a number of things we have to do immediately, and we may disagree on how to address them, but I don’t think anybody disagrees on the need for them to be addressed — from implementing the Affordable Care Act.  It’s the law.  You all are grappling with that.  Each of you are making different decisions, but you’re grappling with it.  You’re moving and you’re making your own judgments.

We also have to — I don’t think there’s much disagreement there’s a need for immigration reform.  I’ve not met a governor from the time of implementing the Recovery Act to now who doesn’t think that we have do something about our crumbling infrastructure in order to impact on our productivity here in this country — continue to attract, keep and bring back American business from abroad.

And there’s very little disagreement on the need to build an education system that has such immense possibilities for our people.

But on most of these issues we’re united by more than what divides us.  All these issues intersect at a place — the ones I just mentioned and others — they intersect at a place where both the state and federal governments engage.  So we’re going to have to work together.  They overlap in many cases.

We’ll have our differences, but we all should agree that the United States has to once again have the highest percentage of college graduates of any nation in the world.  I don’t think there’s any disagreement.  Everybody agrees and some of you governors have led the way on early education and the consequences for the prospects of success for our children not only of graduating, but avoiding the criminal justice system.  You’ve all led in knowing that we have to have reform of our high school system so that we — and not only finding a pathway for people who are going to four-year college and community college but go into the trades.

So there’s so much agreement that I think we ought to be able to get a fair amount done.  And we should all agree that to grow our economy we have to invest in manufacturing, clean energy, infrastructure, education.  The question is who invests and how much and how — we’re going to debate that.  But there’s not much disagreement about the need to invest.

And I think we’re all — I’ve never met a Democrat or Republican who’s been a governor who doesn’t think that the American people should have the sense that hard work is going to be rewarded, that there’s a chance that if you work hard, you got an opportunity.  I don’t know of any group of men or women who are a better living example of that than all of you sitting in front of me in your own experiences.

So the question is — we all use the phrase “move forward in a balanced way” — when one man’s balance is another man’s imbalance, but that’s what we got to talk about.  That’s what’s at stake.  But the one thing that I don’t think any of you lack is a vision about how great this country can be now that we’re coming back, that we ought to be able to reassert ourselves in a way that we own the 21st century.  And I know the guy I’m about to introduce believes that as strongly as all of you do.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the President — who’s back with the pastry chef and I’m wondering what he’s doing back there.  (Laughter.)  The President of the United States, my friend, Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)   Thank you.  Thank you, guys.  Please have a seat.  Well, welcome, everybody.  Thanks for being here.

We all have a lot on our plate, everything from our immigration system to our education system.  As Joe talked about, our goal is to make sure that we can be an effective partner with you.

I want to thank the members of my Cabinet who are here, and members of the administration.  I want to thank Jack and Mary for their leadership of the NGA.  And everybody else, I just want to say thanks to you for being on your best behavior last night.  (Laughter.)  I’m told nothing was broken.  No silverware is missing.  (Laughter.)  I didn’t get any calls from the neighbors about the noise — although I can’t speak for Joe’s after-party at the Observatory.  I hear that was wild.  (Laughter.)

Now, I always enjoy this weekend when I have a chance to see the governors.  As leaders, we share responsibility to do whatever we can to help grow our economy and create good middle-class jobs, and open up new doors of opportunity for all of our people.  That’s our true north, our highest priority.  And it’s got to guide every decision that we make at every level.

As I’ve said, we should be asking ourselves three questions every single day:  How do we make America a magnet for good jobs? How do we equip our people with the skills and the training to get those jobs?  And how do we make sure if they get those jobs that their hard work actually pays off?

As governors, you’re the ones who are on the ground, seeing firsthand every single day what works, what doesn’t work, and that’s what makes you so indispensable.  Whatever your party, you ran for office to do everything that you could to make our folks’ lives better.  And one thing I know unites all of us, and all of you — Democrats and Republicans — and that is the last thing you want to see is Washington get in the way of progress.

Unfortunately, in just four days, Congress is poised to allow a series of arbitrary, automatic budget cuts to kick in that will slow our economy, eliminate good jobs, and leave a lot of folks who are already pretty thinly stretched scrambling to figure out what to do.

This morning, you received a report outlining exactly how these cuts will harm middle-class families in your states.  Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off.  Tens of thousands of parents will have to deal with finding child care for their children.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings.  Tomorrow, for example, I’ll be in the Tidewater region of Virginia, where workers will sit idle when they should be repairing ships, and a carrier sits idle when it should be deploying to the Persian Gulf.

Now, these impacts will not all be felt on day one.  But rest assured the uncertainty is already having an effect.  Companies are preparing layoff notices.  Families are preparing to cut back on expenses.  And the longer these cuts are in place, the bigger the impact will become.

So while you are in town, I hope that you speak with your congressional delegation and remind them in no uncertain terms exactly what is at stake and exactly who is at risk.  Because here’s the thing — these cuts do not have to happen.  Congress can turn them off any time with just a little bit of compromise. To do so, Democrats like me need to acknowledge that we’re going to have to make modest reforms in Medicare if we want the program there for future generations and if we hope to maintain our ability to invest in critical things like education, research and infrastructure.

I’ve made that commitment.  It’s reflected in proposals I made last year and the year before that, and will be reflected in my budget, and I stand by those commitments to make the reforms for smart spending cuts.

But we also need Republicans to adopt the same approach to tax reform that Speaker Boehner championed just two months ago.  Under our concept of tax reform, nobody’s rates would go up, but we’d be able to reduce the deficit by making some tough, smart spending cuts and getting rid of wasteful tax loopholes that benefit the well-off and the well-connected.

I know that sometimes folks in Congress think that compromise is a bad word.  They figure they’ll pay a higher price at the polls for working with the other side than they will for standing pat or engaging in obstructionism.  But, as governors, some of you with legislators controlled by the other party, you know that compromise is essential to getting things done.  And so is prioritizing, making smart choices.

That’s how Governor O’Malley in Maryland put his state on track to all but eliminate his deficit while keeping tuition down and making Maryland’s public schools among the best in America five years running.  That’s how Governor Haslam balanced his budget last year in Tennessee while still investing in key areas like education for Tennessee’s kids.  Like the rest of us, they know we can’t just cut our way to prosperity.  Cutting alone is not an economic policy.  We’ve got to make the tough, smart choices to cut what we don’t need so that we can invest in the things that we do need.

Let me highlight two examples of what we do need.  The first is infrastructure.  This didn’t used to be a partisan issue. I don’t know when exactly that happened.  It should be a no-brainer.  Businesses are not going to set up shop in places where roads and bridges and ports and schools are falling apart.  They’re going to open their doors wherever they can connect the best transportation and communications networks to their businesses and to their customers.

And that’s why I proposed what we’re calling “fix-it-first” — I talked about this in my State of the Union address — to put people to work right now on urgent repairs like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country.  And to make sure taxpayers don’t shoulder the entire burden, I also proposed a partnership to rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most — modern ports to move our goods, modern pipelines to withstand a storm, modern schools that are worthy of our children.

I know that some people in Congress reflexively oppose any idea that I put forward, even if it’s an idea that they once supported, but rebuilding infrastructure is not my idea.  It’s everybody’s idea.  It’s what built this country.  Governor Kitzhaber, a Democrat in Oregon, has made clean-energy infrastructure a top priority.  Governor Brownback of Kansas, a Republican, has been fighting to upgrade water infrastructure there.

And folks who think spending really is our biggest problem should be more concerned than anybody about improving our infrastructure right now.  We’re talking about deferred maintenance here.  We know we’re going to have to spend the money.  And the longer we wait, the more it’s going to cost.  That is a fact.  I think Matt Mead, a Republican, put it pretty well in Wyoming’s state address.  He said failing to maintain our roads “is not a plan for being fiscally conservative.”  Well, what’s true in Wyoming is true all across the United States.

And we could be putting folks back to work right now.  We know contractors are begging for work.  They’ll come in on time, under budget, which never happens.   And we could make a whole lot of progress right now on things that we know we’re going to have to do at some point.  This is like fixing the roof or repairing a boiler that’s broken.  It will save us money in the long term.

I know that one of the biggest hurdles that you face when it comes to fixing infrastructure is red tape.  And oftentimes, that comes out of Washington with regulations.  In my first term, we started to take some steps to address that.  And we’ve shaved months — in some cases, even years — off the timeline of infrastructure projects across America.

So today, I’m accelerating that effort.  We’re setting up regional teams that will focus on some of the unique needs each of you have in various parts of the country.  We’re going to help the Pacific Northwest move faster on renewable energy projects.  We’re going to help the Northeast Corridor move faster on high-speed rail service.  We’re going to help the Midwest and other states, like Colorado, move faster on projects that help farmers deal with worsening drought.  We’re going to help states like North Dakota and South Dakota and Montana move faster on oil and gas production.  All of these projects will get more Americans back to work faster.  And we can do even more if we can get Congress to act.

The second priority that I want to talk about is education  — and in particular, education that starts at the earliest age. I want to partner with each of you to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America.

Now, this is an area where we’ve already seen great bipartisan work at the state level.  I was just in Governor Deal’s state to highlight this issue because Georgia has made it a priority to educate our youngest kids.  And in the school district where I visited in Decatur, Georgia, you’re already seeing closing of the achievement gap.  Kids who are poor are leveling up.  And everybody is seeing real improvement, because it’s high-quality, early childhood education.

Study after study shows that the sooner children begin to learn in these high-quality settings, the better he or she does down the road, and we all end up saving money.  Unfortunately, today fewer than three in 10 four-year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program.  Most middle-class parents can’t afford a few hundred bucks a week in additional income for these kinds of preschool programs.  And poor kids, who need it most, lack access.  And that lack of access can shadow them for the rest of their lives.  We all pay a price for that.

Every dollar we invest in early childhood education can save more than seven dollars later on — boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing incidents of violent crime.

And again, I’m not the first person to focus on this. Governor Bentley has made this a priority in Alabama.  Governor Snyder is making it a priority in Michigan.  Governor Tomblin has made this a priority in West Virginia.  Even in a time of tight budgets, Republicans and Democrats are focused on high-quality early childhood education.  We want to make sure that we can be an effective partner in that process.

We should be able to do that for every child, everywhere — Democrat, Republican, blue state, red state — it shouldn’t matter.  All of us want our kids to grow up more likely to read and write and do math at grade level, to graduate high school, hold a job, and form more stable families of their own.  That will be better for every state.  That will be better for this country.  That’s what high-quality early childhood education can deliver.  And I hope that you’re willing to partner with us to make that happen.

Let me just close with this.  There are always going to be areas where we have some genuine disagreement, here in Washington and in your respective states.  But there are more areas where we can do a lot more cooperating than I think we’ve seen over the last several years.  To do that, though, this town has to get past its obsession with focusing on the next election instead of the next generation.

All of us are elected officials.  All of us are concerned about our politics, both in our own party’s as well as the other party’s.  But at some point, we’ve got to do some governing.  And certainly what we can’t do is keep careening from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis.  As I said in the State of the Union, the American people have worked hard and long to dig themselves out of one crisis; they don’t need us creating another one.  And unfortunately, that’s what we’ve been seeing too much out there.

The American people are out there every single day, meeting their responsibilities, giving it their all to provide for their families and their communities.  A lot of you are doing the same things in your respective states.  Well, we need that same kind of attitude here in Washington.  At the very least, the American people have a right to expect that from their representatives.

And so I look forward to working with all of you not just to strengthen our economy for the short term, but also to reignite what has always been the central premise of America’s economic engine, and that is that we build a strong, growing, thriving middle class where if you work hard in this country, no matter who you are, what you look like, you can make it; you can succeed.  That’s our goal, and I know that’s the goal of all of you as well.

So I look forward to our partnering.  And with that, what I want to do is clear out the press so we can take some questions. (Applause.)

11:40 A.M. EST

Featured Historians February 25, 2013: Julian Zelizer: If spending is cut, GOP will get the blame




If spending is cut, GOP will get the blame

Source: Julian Zelizer, CNN, 2-25-13


  • Julian Zelizer: Washington’s budget fight will grab public’s attention if no deal reached
  • He says painful cuts will lead the public to blame Republicans for Washington’s dysfunction
  • Americans don’t like government spending in general but like specific programs, he says
  • Zelizer: GOP needs to rethink its reliance on deficit reduction as a prime strategy

Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of “Jimmy Carter” and “Governing America.”

Until now “sequestration” has been a word that only means something to people living inside the Beltway or to political junkies who depend on their daily dose of Politico and The Hill. But if Congress and the president do not reach a deal by March 1, which appears likely, Americans will quickly learn what it means — namely deep spending cuts….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 24, 2013: White House Previews State & Local Impacts of Sequester





White House Previews Local Impacts of Sequester

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-25-13

The National Governors Association’s winter meeting is under way in the nation’s capital, and while President Obama hosted the state executives for their annual black-tie dinner in the White House on Sunday, his administration is pushing a new angle over the partisan bickering around the sequester: how it relates to individual states.READ MORE


Political Headlines February 24, 2013: Democrats and Republicans Agree Sequester is Coming on March 1st





Sequester Is Coming, Democrats and Republicans Agree

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-25-13

Believe it or not, there is some bipartisan agreement in Washington, D.C.  The problem is Republicans and Democrats agree those automatic spending cuts known as the “sequester” will probably start on Friday, the deadline for a budget agreement….READ MORE

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