Politics November 21, 2016: Trump takes on Hamilton on Twitter on disrespecting the vice president and why it matters




By Bonnie K. Goodman

BEDMINSTER TOWNSHIP, NJ - NOVEMBER 20: (L to R) President-elect Donald Trump and vice president-elect Mike Pence listen to a question from the press regarding the musical 'Hamilton' before their meeting with investor Wilbur Ross at Trump International Golf Club, November 20, 2016 in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Pence was booed when he attended the Broadway musical and a cast member read him a message after the show. Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration.  (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

BEDMINSTER TOWNSHIP, NJ – NOVEMBER 20: (L to R) President-elect Donald Trump and vice president-elect Mike Pence listen to a question from the press regarding the musical ‘Hamilton’ before their meeting with investor Wilbur Ross at Trump International Golf Club, November 20, 2016 in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Pence was booed when he attended the Broadway musical and a cast member read him a message after the show. Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President-elect Donald Trump has done a first in history directly engage in a Twitter exchange and rant that was so common during his presidential campaign. Trump took to Twitter on Saturday morning, Nov. 19, 2016, after Vice President-elect Mike Pence went to see the Broadway musical Hamilton at Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City the prior night, and he was met with boos. Hamilton Actor Brandon Victor Dixon, “who plays Vice President Aaron Burr,” acknowledged Pence’s presence at the end of the show. Dixon made a comment, a politically charged statement that Trump considered disrespectful; the president-elect demanded that the cast apologizes to Pence.

Pence attended the show “with his daughter, Charlotte, as well as his nieces and nephew” and he was “seated in the center orchestra section.” The video shows Pence entrance was met with loud boos and some cheers. Dixon said to Pence at the end of the show, “We hope you will hear us out.”  Pence was leaving as Dixon continued his statement, but stayed in the hallway to hear it.

Later Hamilton’s official Twitter account HamiltonMusical published the entire statement, saying, “Tonight, VP-Elect Mike Pence attended #HamiltonBway. After the show, @BrandonVDixon delivered the following statement on behalf of the show. pic.twitter.com/Jsg9Q1pMZs

The following is Dixon’s complete statement:
“I see you walking out but I hope you will hear us. Nothing to boo here, ladies and gentlemen, there’s nothing to boo here … We’re all sharing a story of love. We welcome you, and we truly thank you for joining us here at ‘Hamilton: An American Musical’ — we really do.We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values, and work on behalf of all of us. We truly thank you for sharing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds, and orientations.”

Trump saw the disrespect took to Twitter, his favorite platform to converse with his supporters and the public. On Saturday morning, Trump wrote, “The Theater must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!”  Dixon responded, writing on Twitter, “@realDonaldTrump conversation is not harassment sir. And I appreciate @mike_pence for stopping to listen.”  ‘Hamilton’ creator Lin-Manuel Miranda backed up Dixon and tweeted the President-elect, “Proud of @HamiltonMusical. Proud of @BrandonVDixon, for leading with love.  And proud to remind you that ALL are welcome at the theater.”

Still, Trump found their reaction and words unbecoming to a vice-president, and continued commenting on Twitter, writing early morning, Sunday, Nov. 20, “The cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior. Pence appeared later on Sunday morning on Fox News Sunday where he dismissed the events at the musical. Pence told his interviewers, “I really enjoyed watching Hamilton. It was a real joy to be there. I heard a few boos. I wasn’t offended by what was said.”

Although critics have a problem with Trump’s Twitter comments taking on a subject until he is proven right, in this instance he is correct. Even is Pence wants to dismiss this issue, the problem is greater than Trump or Pence, it is about respect for the office of the presidency and vice-presidency. Even if half of Americans are disappointed about the election outcome, afterward they have to respect the offices and the traditions that are 227 years old. Instead, they protest, harass, insult and even threaten on social media engaging in behavior far worse than anything Trump might have espoused on the campaign trail.

Entertainers have a platform, and they are overly political to the point that is insulting to those who do not agree with them, and they dismiss Trump because like them him has a background in the same industry, but used the celebrity to climb and become President. As the first citizen president, Trump’s exchanges on Twitter give the American public the unprecedented access to a president. Instead of constructively using the platform and the president-elect’s ears in a positive way, there is still too much disrespect. The country needs to deal with it whether they like it or not, Trump was elected president according to the Constitution with the support of a majority of the country’s states, they would expect the same if their candidate would have won.

Political Musings May 18, 2015: Obama finally joins Twitter as @POTUS




Obama finally joins Twitter as @POTUS

May 18, 2015

President Barack Obama now has his very own Twitter account as president, with the handle @POTUS, President of the United States. The account was verified almost instantly. The president’s personal Twitter account went live late Monday morning, May…

Political Musings January 26, 2015: Romney beats Hillary Clinton on Facebook if not in the 2016 campaign polls




Romney beats Hillary Clinton on Facebook if not in the 2016 campaign polls

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Although Democrats Hillary Clinton seems to be beating all her potential Republican presidential campaign opponents including frontrunner Mitt Romney, she loses according to Facebook. Clinton does not even have her own official page on the social networking site, only one…READ MORE

Political Headlines June 10, 2013: Hillary Clinton Joins Twitter, Posts First Tweet





Hillary Clinton Joins Twitter, Posts First Tweet

Source: ABC News Radio, 6-10-13

ABC / Martin H. Simon

Hillary Clinton has officially joined Twitter.

After years of holding out, @HillaryClinton is in fact the former first lady turned Secretary of State. Or in her own words: “Wife, mom, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD…”…READ MORE

Political Headlines April 9, 2013: Stephen Colbert introduces Bill Clinton to Twitter as @PrezBillyJeff





Stephen Colbert introduces Bill Clinton to Twitter as @PrezBillyJeff

Source: New York Daily News, 4-9-13

Stephen Colbert has signed former President Bill Clinton up for Twitter with a not-so-presidential handle: @PrezBillyJeff. Clinton joked that he had been reluctant to jump on the Twitter bandwagon during the interview that aired on “The Colbert Report”….READ MORE

Political Headlines March 6, 2013: Rand Paul’s filibuster causes ‘filiblizzard’ on Twitter with pols & press





Pols, press tweet Rand Paul ‘filiblizzard’

Source: Politico, 3-6-13

As Sen. Rand Paul took to the Senate floor for hours Wednesday for a filibuster, he sparked a separate lengthy conversation — on Twitter…. The senator’s Twitter account adopted the hash tag “filiblizzard,” a term that came on a day that the federal government shut down due to weather, and the phrase took off as lawmakers and political types weighed in on the filibuster via the Twitterverse. Here’s a look….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 17, 2013: Happy Birthday, First Lady Michelle Obama





Happy Birthday, Michelle Obama

Source: ABC News, 1-17-13

ht michelle obama kb 130117 wblog Happy Birthday, Michelle Obama@FLOTUS/Twitter

First Lady Michelle Obama is ringing in her 50th year with a bang. She debuted a new hairdo, and fresh set of bangs, in a photo posted on her new @FLOTUS Twitter account today.

Before the inaugural festivities get underway, the Obama family celebrates another important milestone: the first lady’s birthday.

Michelle Obama turns 49 today and, if previous years are any indication, President Obama will likely take his wife out to dinner in Washington tonight….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency December 3, 2012: President Obama Answers #My2k Questions on Twitter — Fiscal Cliff Twitter Interview Transcript



President Obama Answers #My2k Questions on Twitter

Source: WH, 12-3-12

President Obama participates in a live Twitter #My2k chat, Dec. 3, 2012. President Barack Obama participates in a Twitter #My2k live question and answer session in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Dec. 3, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


[View the story “President Obama Answers #My2k Questions on Twitter” on Storify]

If Congress doesn’t act, a typical middle-class family will see their taxes go up by about $2,000. Last week, President Obama began calling on Americans to make their voices heard and share what $2,000 means to families across the country.

And today, the President connected directly with the Americans who are speaking out about these tax cuts. During a live Twitter Q&A from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, President Obama explained why Congress must act and encouraged people around the country to continue to add their voices to the debate.

Those from whom we heard today are just a few of the people speaking out. Since last week, we’ve heard from over 300,000 people on this issue (with more than 200,000 #My2k tweets and over 100,000 stories submitted on whitehouse.gov). Make sure your voice is heard. Tell us what $2,000 means to you on WhiteHouse.gov/my2k and on Twitter with #My2k.

We know this kind of action has real power. A year ago, during another big fight to protect middle class families, tens of thousands of working Americans called and tweeted and emailed to make their voices heard. The same thing happened earlier this year when college students across the country stood up and demanded that Congress keep rates low on student loans. When the American people speak out they help get things done in Washington — and the President is once again asking the American people to add their voices to this effort.

Political Headlines December 3, 2012: President Barack Obama on Twitter Discusses Fiscal Cliff & Confronts Skeptics of Tax Hike for Rich





Obama on Twitter Confronts Skeptics of Tax Hike for Rich

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-3-12

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza


With talks to resolve the “fiscal cliff” at an impasse, President Obama on Monday used Twitter to respond directly to skeptics of his plan to hike income tax rates on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans at the end of the year.

Obama asserted — through a series of 144-character Tweets sent from his Apple MacBook inside the White House — that “high end tax cuts do least for economic growth” and sharply curtailing government spending hurts the middle class….READ MORE

Political Headlines November 28, 2012: President Barack Obama Launches #My2K Fiscal Cliff Campaign





Obama Launches #My2K Fiscal Cliff Campaign

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-28-12

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Kicking off his public relations campaign to build support for his plan to avert the looming “fiscal cliff,” President Obama on Wednesday said he is doing his part and urged Americans to pressure lawmakers to do theirs.

“Middle class families, folks who are working hard to get into the middle class, they’re watching what we do right now. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned, when the American people speak loudly enough, lo and behold, Congress listens,” the president told a crowd of middle class Americans at the White House Wednesday….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency November 28, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Extending Tax Cuts for the Middle Class



President Obama Wants Americans to Speak Out on Passing the Middle Class Tax Cuts

Source: WH, 11-28-12

President Barack Obama discusses the need for Congress to extend the middle class tax cuts (November 28, 2012)President Barack Obama delivers remarks regarding the need for Congress to extend the middle class tax cuts, in the South Court Auditorium of the White House, Nov. 28, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Surrounded by Americans who had written into the White House in support of his plan, President Obama today renewed his call to prevent a tax increase on the middle class.

“If Congress does nothing, every family in America will see their taxes automatically go up at the beginning of next year,” the President said. “A typical middle-class family of four would see its income taxes go up by $2,200. That’s $2,200 out of people’s pockets. That means less money for buying groceries, less money for filling prescriptions, less money for buying diapers. It means a tougher choice between paying the rent and paying tuition. And middle-class families just can’t afford that right now.”

To help find an agreement President Obama pledged to keep up the pressure — meeting with lawmakers, labor leaders, and business executives. And he called on the American people to speak up and add their own voices to the debate.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned, when the American people speak loudly enough, lo and behold, Congress listens,” he said.

You can share your story by visiting WH.gov/My2K, or help keep the conversation going online on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #My2K. Or, read what others are saying about what $2,000 means to them.

“I can only do it with the help of the American people,” President Obama said. “Do what it takes to communicate a sense of urgency. We don’t have a lot of time here. We’ve got a few weeks to get this thing done.”

Watch the President’s full remarks here

Remarks by the President on Extending Tax Cuts for the Middle Class

Source: WH, 11-28-12

South Court Auditorium

12:01 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much.
Thank you, everybody. Please have a seat. Thank you very much. Everybody, please have a seat — except you guys. Don’t sit down. (Laughter.)

Well, good morning, everybody.

AUDIENCE: Good morning.

THE PRESIDENT: There’s been a lot of talk here in Washington about the deadlines we’re facing on taxes and deficits — these deadlines are going to be coming up very soon, in the coming weeks. But today is important because I want to make sure everybody understands this debate is not just about numbers. It’s a set of major decisions that are going to affect millions of families all across this country in very significant ways. And their voices — the voices of the American people — have to be part of this debate. And so I asked some friends of mine here to join me, some folks from here in the area.

Our ultimate goal is an agreement that gets our long-term deficit under control in a way that is fair and balanced. That kind of agreement would be good for our businesses; it would be good for our economy; it would be good for our children’s future. And I believe that both parties can agree on a framework that does that in the coming weeks. In fact, my hope is to get this done before Christmas.

But the place where we already have, in theory at least, complete agreement right now is on middle-class taxes. And as I’ve said before, we’ve got two choices. If Congress does nothing, every family in America will see their taxes automatically go up at the beginning of next year. Starting January 1st, every family in America will see their taxes go up.

A typical middle-class family of four would see its income taxes go up by $2,200. That’s $2,200 out of people’s pockets. That means less money for buying groceries, less money for filling prescriptions, less money for buying diapers. (Laughter.) It means a tougher choice between paying the rent and paying tuition. And middle-class families just can’t afford that right now.

By the way, businesses can’t afford it either. Yesterday, I sat down with some small business owners who stressed this point. Economists predict that if taxes go up on the middle class next year, consumers will spend nearly $200 billion less on things like cars and clothes and furniture — and that obviously means fewer customers. That cuts into business profits. That makes businesses less likely to invest and hire, which means fewer jobs. And that can drag our entire economy down.

Now, the good news is there’s a better option. Right now, as we speak, Congress can pass a law that would prevent a tax hike on the first $250,000 of everybody’s income. Everybody’s. And that means that 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses wouldn’t see their income taxes go up by a single dime. Ninety-eight percent of Americans, 97 percent of small businesses would not see their income taxes go up by a single dime.

Even the wealthiest Americans would still get a tax cut on the first $250,000 of their income. So it’s not like folks who make more than $250,000 aren’t getting a tax break, too. They’re getting a tax break on the first $250,000 just like everybody else.

Families and small businesses would, therefore, be able to enjoy some peace of mind heading into Christmas and heading into the New Year. And it would give us more time then next year to work together on a comprehensive plan to bring down our deficits, to streamline our tax system, to do it in a balanced way — including asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more, so that we can still invest in things like education and training, and science and research.

Now, I know some of this may sound familiar to you because we talked a lot about this during the campaign. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. This was a major debate in the presidential campaign and in congressional campaigns all across the country. And a clear majority of Americans — not just Democrats, but also a lot of Republicans and a lot of independents — agreed we should have a balanced approach to deficit reduction that doesn’t hurt the economy and doesn’t hurt middle-class families. And I’m glad to see — if you’ve been reading the papers lately — that more and more Republicans in Congress seem to be agreeing with this idea that we should have a balanced approach.

So if both parties agree we should not raise taxes on middle-class families, let’s begin our work with where we agree. The Senate has already passed a bill that keeps income taxes from going up on middle-class families. Democrats in the House are ready to vote for that same bill today. And if we can get a few House Republicans to agree as well, I’ll sign this bill as soon as Congress sends it my way. I’ve got to repeat, I’ve got a pen. I’m ready to sign it. (Applause.)

So my point here today is to say let’s approach this problem with the middle class in mind — the folks who are behind me and the millions of people all across the country who they represent. The American people are watching what we do — middle-class families, folks who are working hard to get into the middle class — they’re watching what we do right now. And if there’s one thing that I’ve learned, when the American people speak loudly enough, lo and behold, Congress listens.

Some of you may remember that a year ago, during our last big fight to protect middle-class families, tens of thousands of working Americans called and tweeted and emailed their representatives, asking them to do the right thing. And sure enough, it worked. The same thing happened earlier this year when college students across the country stood up and demanded that Congress keep rates low on their student loans. Congress got the message loud and clear and they made sure that interest rates on student loans did not go up.

So the lesson is that when enough people get involved, we have a pretty good track record of actually making Congress work. And that’s important, because this is our biggest challenge yet — and it’s one that we can only meet together.

So in the interest of making sure that everybody makes their voices heard, last week we asked people to tell us what would a $2,000 tax hike mean to them. Some families told us it would make it more difficult for them to send their kids to college. Others said it would make it tougher for them to cover the cost of prescription drugs. Some said it would make it tough for them to make their mortgage.

Lyn Lyon, who’s here, from Newport News — where’s Lyn? There she is. She just wants to see some cooperation in Washington. She wrote, “Let’s show the rest of the world that we’re adults and, living in a democracy, we can solve our problems by working together.”

So that’s what this debate is all about. And that’s why it’s so important that as many Americans as possible send a message that we need to keep moving forward. So today, I’m asking Congress to listen to the people who sent us here to serve. I’m asking Americans all across the country to make your voice heard. Tell members of Congress what a $2,000 tax hike would mean to you. Call your members of Congress, write them an email, post it on their Facebook walls. You can tweet it using the hashtag “My2K.” Not “Y2K.” (Laughter.) “My2K.” We figured that would make it a little easier to remember.

And I want to assure the American people I’m doing my part
— I’m sitting down with CEOs; I’m sitting down with labor leaders; I’m talking to leaders in Congress. I am ready and able and willing and excited to go ahead and get this issue resolved in a bipartisan fashion so that American families, American businesses have some certainty going into next year. And we can do it in a balanced and fair way, but our first job is to make sure that taxes on middle-class families don’t go up. And since we all theoretically agree on that, we should go ahead and get that done. (Applause.) If we get that done, a lot of the other stuff is going to be a lot easier.

So in light of just sort of spreading this message, I’m going to be visiting Pennsylvania on Friday to talk with folks at a small business there that are trying to make sure that they’re filling their Christmas orders. And I’ll go anywhere and I’ll do whatever it takes to get this done. It’s too important for Washington to screw this up. Now is the time for us to work on what we all agree to, which is let’s keep middle-class taxes low. That’s what our economy needs. That’s what the American people deserve.

And if we get this part of it right, then a lot of the other issues surrounding deficit reduction in a fair and balanced and responsible way are going to be a whole lot easier. And if we get this wrong, the economy is going to go south. It’s going to be much more difficult for us to balance our budgets and deal with our deficits because if the economy is not strong, that means more money is going out in things like unemployment insurance, and less money is coming in, in terms of tax receipts. And it just actually makes our deficit worse.

So we really need to get this right. I can only do it with the help of the American people. So, tweet — what was that again — “My2K” — tweet using the hashtag “My2K,” or email, post it on a member of Congress’s Facebook wall. Do what it takes to communicate a sense of urgency. We don’t have a lot of time here. We’ve got a few weeks to get this thing done. We could get it done tomorrow. Now, optimistically, I don’t think we’re going to get it done tomorrow — (laughter) — but I tell you, if everybody here goes out of their way to make their voices heard, and spread the word to your friends and your family, your coworkers, your neighbors, then I am confident we will get it done. And we will put America on the right track not just for next year but for many years to come. All right?

Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.) Appreciate it.
12:12 P.M. EST

White House Recap January 21-27, 2012: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Delivers 2012 State of the Union Address & Presents the Blueprint for an America Built to Last



This week, the President prepared for and delivered his State of the Union Address, welcomed the Boston Bruins to the White House, and took his message West to Iowa, Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado.

West Wing Week

Weekly Wrap Up: An America Built to Last

Source: WH, 1-27-12

State of the Union: In his third State of the Union Address on Tuesday, the President outlined his vision for “an America that lasts”—one that will bring about a new era of American manufacturing, and promote homegrown and alternative energy sources—and presented a blueprint to achieve that vision. Check out this video that goes behind the scenes as President Obama prepared the speech.

Blueprint for Manufacturing: During his visit to New Hampshire following Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Vice President Biden highlighted the Administration’s plan to help businesses bring jobs back to America through manufacturing. He echoed the President’s message that we need to commit to train workers with the skills they will need to compete in the growing sectors of our economy.

Talking Energy in Las Vegas: From a UPS facility in Las Vegas, the President spoke about the future of American-made energy. “[Even] with all this oil production, we only have about 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves,” the President said, “So we’ve got to have an all-out, all-in, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every source of American energy—a strategy that is cleaner and cheaper and full of new jobs.”

#WHchat: Throughout the week, more than thirty administration officials have answered questions about President Obama’s State of the Union Address and issues Americans care about through a series of Office Hours on Twitter—addressing queries about everything from the economy to disability policy. Vice President Biden—known in the twitterverse as @VP—answered questions submitted by people across the country in his first-ever Twitter interview from an advanced manufacturing facility in Rochester, New Hampshire.

NHL Champs: On Monday, the President welcomed the Boston Bruins to the White House and congratulated them on their Stanley Cup victory in June—marking the team’s sixth Cup championship, and their first one in nearly forty years. Their triumph, the President said, “proved that teamwork is everything.” After their visit to the White House, the players led a hockey clinic—affirming that being a champion doesn’t end when you hang up your skates.

Full Text Debt Ceiling Showdown July 29, 2011: President Obama Addresses the Nation on Debt Crisis — Asks for White House Followers to #Compromise on Twitter



President Barack Obama makes a statement to the press
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 7/29/11

Time for Compromise

The President urges Democrats and Republicans to reach a bipartisan solution to avoid default and calls on the American people to make their voices heard in the ongoing debate on our national debt.

President Obama Calls on the American People to Make their Voices Heard

Source: WH, 7-29-11

This morning, President Obama spoke on the status of the debt ceiling negotiations from the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House. The President urged Republicans and Democrats in Congress to find a bipartisan solution to avoid default that he can sign by Tuesday. Though we are almost out of time, the President made it clear that there are multiple ways to resolve this problem:

Now, keep in mind, this is not a situation where the two parties are miles apart.  We’re in rough agreement about how much spending can be cut responsibly as a first step toward reducing our deficit.  We agree on a process where the next step is a debate in the coming months on tax reform and entitlement reform –- and I’m ready and willing to have that debate.  And if we need to put in place some kind of enforcement mechanism to hold us all accountable for making these reforms, I’ll support that too if it’s done in a smart and balanced way.

So there are plenty of ways out of this mess.  But we are almost out of time.  We need to reach a compromise by Tuesday so that our country will have the ability to pay its bills on time, as we always have — bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses.  Keep in mind, if we don’t do that, if we don’t come to an agreement, we could lose our country’s AAA credit rating, not because we didn’t have the capacity to pay our bills — we do — but because we didn’t have a AAA political system to match our AAA credit rating.

And make no mistake -– for those who say they oppose tax increases on anyone, a lower credit rating would result potentially in a tax increase on everyone in the form of higher interest rates on their mortgages, their car loans, their credit cards.  And that’s inexcusable.

President Obama reiterated that the power to reach a balanced solution is in our hands:

There are a lot of crises in the world that we can’t always predict or avoid -– hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorist attacks.  This isn’t one of those crises.  The power to solve this is in our hands.  And on a day when we’ve been reminded how fragile the economy already is, this is one burden we can lift ourselves.   We can end it with a simple vote –- a vote that Democrats and Republicans have been taking for decades, a vote that the leaders in Congress have taken for decades.

It’s not a vote that allows Congress to spend more money.  Raising the debt ceiling simply gives our country the ability to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up.  I want to emphasize that.  The debt ceiling does not determine how much more money we can spend, it simply authorizes us to pay the bills we already have racked up.  It gives the United States of America the ability to keep its word.

Finally, the President called on the American people to continue to make their voices heard in this debate:

Now, on Monday night, I asked the American people to make their voice heard in this debate, and the response was overwhelming.  So please, to all the American people, keep it up.  If you want to see a bipartisan compromise -– a bill that can pass both houses of Congress and that I can sign — let your members of Congress know.  Make a phone call.  Send an email.  Tweet.  Keep the pressure on Washington, and we can get past this.

And for my part, our administration will be continuing to work with Democrats and Republicans all weekend long until we find a solution.  The time for putting party first is over.  The time for compromise on behalf of the American people is now.  And I am confident that we can solve this problem.  I’m confident that we will solve this problem.  For all the intrigue and all the drama that’s taking place on Capitol Hill right now, I’m confident that common sense and cooler heads will prevail.

But as I said earlier, we are now running out of time.  It’s important for everybody to step up and show the leadership that the American people expect.


The Time for #Compromise is Now

Source: WH, 7-29-11

“The time for compromise on behalf of the American people is now,” said President Obama during a statement on debt negotiations this morning. On Twitter, people are using the hashtag #compromise in response to his speech. Here @whitehouse, we’ve been using Twitter all week for our new White House Office Hours series, where senior staff have been answering your questions on the debt debate and the economy in 140 characters or less.

Here are a some ways you can stay engaged in the conversation on Twitter:

  • Use the hashtag #compromise on Twitter to respond to the President’s remarks
  • Keep on using the hashtag #WHChat to ask White House staff question during Office Hours
  • Retweet or reply to our live tweeting of the President’s remarks (below)
Loading Storify…

Full Text: President Obama’s First Twitter Town Hall

Remarks by the President in Twitter Town Hall

Obama Twitter town hall

President Obama conducts the first Twitter town hall at the White House’s East Room. (Charles Dharapak, Associated Press / July 6, 2011)

East Room

2:04 P.M. EDT

MR. DORSEY:  Good afternoon and welcome to the White House.  I am Jack Dorsey, from Twitter.

Through more than 200 million tweets per day, people around the world use Twitter to instantly connect to what’s most meaningful to them.  In every country — Egypt and Japan, the UK and the United States — much of this conversation is made up of everyday people engaging in spirited debate about the future of their countries.

Our partners at Salesforce Radian6 studied more than a million tweets, discussing our nation’s politics over the recent weeks, and they found that America’s financial security to be one of the most actively talked about topics on Twitter.  They further found that President Obama’s name comes up in more than half of these conversations.

And so today this vibrant discussion comes here to the White House and you get to ask the questions.  To participate, just open your web browser and go to askObama.Twitter.com.  Neither the President or I know the questions that will be asked today.  That decision is driven entirely by the Twitter users.

And so let’s get the conversation started.  Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  First of all, everybody can sit down.  (Laughter.)  It’s much easier to tweet from a seated position.  (Laughter.)

MR. DORSEY:  And I understand you want to start the conversation off with a tweeter yourself.

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m going to make history here as the first President to live tweet.  So we’ve got a computer over here.  (Types in tweet.)

MR. DORSEY:  It’s only 140 characters.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  All right, I think I have done this properly.  But here’s the test.

MR. DORSEY:  And you tweeted.

THE PRESIDENT:  How about that?  Not bad.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  So I think my question will be coming up at some point.

MR. DORSEY:  So what was your question?  Here it is.

THE PRESIDENT:  Here’s the question:  “In order to reduce the deficit, what costs would you cut and what investments would you keep?”

And the reason I thought this was an important question is, as all of you know, we are going through a spirited debate here in Washington, but it’s important to get the whole country involved, in making a determination about what are the programs that can help us grow, can create jobs, improve our education system, maintain our clean air and clean water, and what are those things that are a waste that we shouldn’t be investing in because they’re not helping us grow or create jobs or creating new businesses.  And that debate is going to be heating up over the next couple of weeks, so I’d love to hear from the American people, see what thoughts they have.

MR. DORSEY:  Excellent.  Well, first question comes from a curator in New Hampshire.  And we have eight curators around the country helping us pick tweets from the crowd so that we can read them to the President.

And this one comes from William Smith:  “What mistakes have you made in handling this recession and what would you do differently?”

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s a terrific question.  When I first came into office we were facing the worst recession since the Great Depression.  So, looking around this room, it’s a pretty young room — it’s certainly the worst recession that we’ve faced in our lifetimes.  And we had to act quickly and make some bold and sometimes difficult decisions.

It was absolutely the right thing to do to put forward a Recovery Act that cut taxes for middle-class folks so they had more money in their pocket to get through the recession.  It was the right thing to do to provide assistance to states to make sure that they didn’t have to lay off teachers and cops and firefighters as quickly as they needed to.  And it was the right thing to do to try to rebuild our infrastructure and put people back to work building roads and bridges and so forth.

It also was the right thing to do, although a tough decision, to save the auto industry, which is now profitable and gaining market share — the U.S. auto industry — for the first time in a very long time.

I think that — probably two things that I would do differently.  One would have been to explain to the American people that it was going to take a while for us to get out of this.  I think even I did not realize the magnitude, because most economists didn’t realize the magnitude, of the recession until fairly far into it, maybe two or three months into my presidency where we started realizing that we had lost 4 million jobs before I was even sworn in.

And so I think people may not have been prepared for how long this was going to take and why we were going to have to make some very difficult decisions and choices.  And I take responsibility for that, because setting people’s expectations is part of how you end up being able to respond well.

The other area is in the area of housing.  I think that the continuing decline in the housing market is something that hasn’t bottomed out as quickly as we expected.  And so that’s continued to be a big drag on the economy.

We’ve had to revamp our housing program several times to try to help people stay in their homes and try to start lifting home values up.  But of all the things we’ve done, that’s probably been the area that’s been most stubborn to us trying to solve the problem.

MR. DORSEY:  Mr. President, 27 percent of our questions are in the jobs category, as you can see from the screen over here.  Our next question has to do about jobs and technology.  It comes from David:  “Tech and knowledge industries are thriving, yet jobs discussion always centers on manufacturing.  Why not be realistic about jobs?”

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it’s not an either/or question; it’s a both/and question.  We have to be successful at the cutting-edge industries of the future like Twitter.  But we also have always been a country that makes stuff.  And manufacturing jobs end up having both higher wages typically, and they also have bigger multiplier effects.  So one manufacturing job can support a range of other jobs — suppliers and the restaurant near the plant and so forth.  So they end up having a substantial impact on the overall economy.

What we want to focus on is advanced manufacturing that combines new technology, so research and development to figure out how are we going to create the next Twitter, how are we going to create the next Google, how are we going to create the next big thing — but make sure that production is here.

So it’s great that we have an Apple that’s creating iPods, iPads and designing them and creating the software, but it would be nice if we’re also making the iPads and the iPods here in the United States, because that’s some more jobs that people can work at.

And there are going to be a series of decisions that we’ve got to make.  Number one, are we investing in research and development in order to emphasize technology?  And a lot of that has to come from government.  That’s how the Internet got formed. That’s how GPS got formed.  Companies on their own can’t always finance the basic research because they can’t be assured that they’re going to get a return on it.

Number two, we’ve got to drastically improve how we train our workforce and our kids around math and science and technology.

Number three, we’ve got to have a top-notch infrastructure to support advanced manufacturing, and we’ve got to look at sectors where we know this is going to be the future.  Something like clean energy, for example.  For us not to be the leaders in investing in clean energy manufacturing so that wind turbines and solar panels are not only designed here in the United States but made here in the United States makes absolutely no sense.  We’ve got to invest in those areas for us to be successful.

So you can combine high-tech with manufacturing, and then you get the best of all worlds.

MR. DORSEY:  You mentioned education.  There’s a lot of questions coming about education and its impact on the economy.  This one in particular is from a curator who is pulling from a student in Ohio, named Dustin:  “Higher ed is necessary for a stronger economy, but for some middle-class Americans it’s becoming too expensive.  What can be done?”

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, here is some good news.  We’ve already done something that is very significant, and people may not know. As part of a higher education package that we passed last year, what we were able to do was to take away subsidies that were going to banks for serving as middlemen in the student loan program and funnel that to help young people, through Pell Grants and lower rates on student loans.  And so there are millions of students who are getting more affordable student loans and grants as a consequence of the steps that we’ve already taken.  This is about tens of billions of dollars’ worth of additional federal dollars that were going to banks are now going to students directly.

In addition, what we’ve said is that starting in 2013, young people who are going to college will not have to pay more than 10 percent of their income in repayment.  And that obviously helps to relieve the burden on a lot students — because, look, I’m a guy who had about $60,000 worth of debt when I graduated from law school, and Michelle had $60,000.  And so we were paying a bigger amount every month than our mortgage.  And we did that for eight, 10 years.  So I know how burdensome this can be.

I do think that the universities still have a role in trying to keep their costs down.  And I think that it’s important — even if we’ve got better student loan programs, more grants, if the costs keep on going up then we’ll never have enough money, you’ll never get enough help to avoid taking on these huge debts. And so working with university presidents to try to figure out, where can you cut costs — of course, it may mean that the food in the cafeteria is a little worse and the gym is not as fancy.  But I think all of us have to figure out a way to make sure that higher education is accessible for everybody.

One last point — I know, Twitter, I’m supposed to be short. (Laughter.)  But city — community colleges is a huge, under-utilized resource, where what we want to do is set up a lifelong learning system where you may have gotten your four-year degree, but five years out you decide you want to go into another field or you want to brush up on new technologies that are going to help you advance.  We need to create a system where you can conveniently access community colleges that are working with businesses to train for the jobs that actually exist.  That’s a huge area where I think we can make a lot of progress.

MR. DORSEY:  You mention debt a lot.  That’s come up in conversation a lot recently, especially in some of our recent questions, specifically the debt ceiling.  And this is formulated in our next question from RenegadeNerd out of Atlanta:  “Mr. President, will you issue an executive order to raise the debt ceiling pursuant to Section 4 of the 14th Amendment?”

THE PRESIDENT:  Can I just say, RenegadeNerd, that picture is — captures it all there.  (Laughter.)  He’s got his hand over there, he’s looking kind of confused.  (Laughter.)

Let me, as quickly as I can, describe what’s at stake with respect to the debt ceiling.  Historically, the United States, whenever it has a deficit, it finances that deficit through the sale of treasuries.  And this is a very common practice.  Over our lifetimes, typically the government is always running a modest deficit.  And Congress is supposed to vote on the amount of debt that Treasury can essentially issue.  It’s a pretty esoteric piece of business; typically has not been something that created a lot of controversy.

What’s happening now is, is that Congress is suggesting we may not vote to raise the debt ceiling.  If we do not, then the Treasury will run out of money.  It will not be able to pay the bills that are owing, and potentially the entire world capital markets could decide, you know what, the full faith and credit of the United States doesn’t mean anything.  And so our credit could be downgraded, interest rates could go drastically up, and it could cause a whole new spiral into a second recession, or worse.

So this is something that we shouldn’t be toying with.  What Dexter’s question referred to was there are some people who say that under the Constitution, it’s unconstitutional for Congress not to allow Treasury to pay its bills and are suggesting that this should be challenged under the Constitution.

I don’t think we should even get to the constitutional issue.  Congress has a responsibility to make sure we pay our bills.  We’ve always paid them in the past.  The notion that the U.S. is going to default on its debt is just irresponsible.  And my expectation is, is that over the next week to two weeks, that Congress, working with the White House, comes up with a deal that solves our deficit, solves our debt problems, and makes sure that our full faith and credit is protected.

MR. DORSEY:  So back to jobs.  We have a question from New York City about immigrant entrepreneurs:  “Immigrant entrepreneurs can build companies and create jobs for U.S. workers.  Will you support a startup visa program?”

THE PRESIDENT:  What I want to do is make sure that talented people who come to this country to study, to get degrees, and are willing and interested in starting up businesses can do so, as opposed to going back home and starting those businesses over there to compete against the United States and take away U.S. jobs.

So we’re working with the business community as well as the entrepreneurial community to figure out are there ways that we can streamline the visa system so if you are studying here, you’ve got a PhD in computer science or you’ve got a PhD in engineering, and you say I’m ready to invest in the United States, create jobs in the United States, then we are able to say to you, we want you to stay here.

And I think that it is possible for us to deal with this problem.  But it’s important for us to look at it more broadly.  We’ve got an immigration system that’s broken right now, where too many folks are breaking the law but also our laws make it too hard for talented people to contribute and be part of our society.  And we’ve always been a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.  And so we need comprehensive immigration reform, part of which would allow entrepreneurs and high-skilled individuals to stay here — because we want to be attracting that talent here.  We don’t want that — we don’t want to pay for training them here and then having them benefit other countries.

MR. DORSEY:  Our next question was just — was sent just an hour ago and touches on alternative energy and job creation:  “Will you focus on promoting alternative energy industries in oil states like Louisiana and Texas?”

THE PRESIDENT:  I want to promote alternative energy everywhere, including oil states like Louisiana and Texas.  This is something that I’m very proud of and doesn’t get a lot of attention.  We made the largest investment in clean energy in our history through the Recovery Act.  And so we put forward a range of programs that provided credits and grants to startup companies in areas like creating wind turbines, solar panels.

A great example is advanced battery manufacturing.  When I came into office, advanced batteries, which are used, for example, in electric cars, we only accounted for 2 percent of the world market in advanced batteries.  And we have quintupled our market share, or even gone further, just over the last two years. And we’re projecting that we can get to 30 to 40 percent of that market.  That’s creating jobs all across the Midwest, all across America.

And whoever wins this race on advanced battery manufacturing is probably going to win the race to produce the cars of the 21st century.  China is investing in it.  Germany is investing in it. We need to be investing in it as well.

MR. DORSEY:  I wanted to take a moment and point out the map just behind you.  These are tweets coming in, in real time, and these are questions being asked right now.  And it flips between the various categories that we’ve determined and also just general askObama questions.

So our next question is coming up on the screen now, from Patrick:  “Mr. President, in several states we have seen people lose their collective bargaining rights.  Do you have a plan to rectify this?”

THE PRESIDENT:  The first thing I want to emphasize is that collective bargaining is the reason why the vast majority of Americans enjoy a minimum wage, enjoy weekends, enjoy overtime.  So many things that we take for granted are because workers came together to bargain with their employers.

Now, we live in a very competitive society in the 21st century.  And that means in the private sector, labor has to take management into account.  If labor is making demands that make management broke and they can’t compete, then that doesn’t do anybody any good.

In the public sector, what is true is that some of the pension plans that have been in place and the health benefits that are in place are so out of proportion with what’s happening in the private sector that a lot of taxpayers start feeling resentful.  They say, well, if I don’t have health care where I only have to pay $1 for prescription drugs, why is it that the person whose salary I’m paying has a better deal?

What this means is, is that all of us are going to have to make some adjustments.  But the principle of collective bargaining, making sure that people can exercise their rights to be able to join together with other workers and to negotiate and kind of even the bargaining power on either side, that’s something that has to be protected.  And we can make these adjustments in a way that are equitable but preserve people’s collective bargaining rights.

So, typically, the challenges against bargaining rights have been taking place at the state level.  I don’t have direct control over that.  But what I can do is to speak out forcefully for the principle that we can make these adjustments that are necessary during these difficult fiscal times, but do it in a way that preserves collective bargaining rights.  And certainly at the federal level where I do have influence, I can make sure that we make these adjustments without affecting people’s collective bargaining rights.

I’ll give you just one example.  We froze federal pay for federal workers for two years.  Now, that wasn’t real popular, as you might imagine, among federal workers.  On the other hand, we were able to do that precisely because we wanted to prevent layoffs and we wanted to make sure that we sent a signal that everybody is going to have to make some sacrifices, including federal workers.

By the way, people who work in the White House, they’ve had their pay frozen since I came in, our high-wage folks.  So they haven’t had a raise in two and a half years, and that’s appropriate, because a lot of ordinary folks out there haven’t, either.  In fact, they’ve seen their pay cut in some cases.

MR. DORSEY:  Mr. President, 6 percent of our questions are coming in about housing, which you can see in the graph behind me.  And this one in particular has to do with personal debt and housing:  “How will admin work to help underwater homeowners who aren’t behind in payments but are trapped in homes they can’t sell?”  From Robin.

THE PRESIDENT:  This is a great question.  And remember, I mentioned one of our biggest challenges during the course of the last two and a half years has been dealing with a huge burst of the housing bubble.

What’s happened is a lot of folks are underwater, meaning their home values went down so steeply and so rapidly that now their mortgage, the amount they owe, is a lot more than the assessed worth of their home.  And that obviously burdens a lot of folks.  It means if they’re selling, they’ve got to sell at a massive loss that they can’t afford.  It means that they don’t feel like they have any assets because the single biggest asset of most Americans is their home.

So what we’ve been trying to do is to work with the issuers of the mortgages, the banks or the service companies, to convince them to work with homeowners who are paying, trying to do the right thing, trying to stay in their homes, to see if they can modify the loans so that their payments are lower, and in some cases, maybe even modify their principal, so that they don’t feel burdened by these huge debts and feel tempted to walk away from homes that actually they love and where they’re raising their families.

We’ve made some progress.  We have, through the programs that we set up here, have probably seen several million home modifications either directly because we had control of the loan process, or because the private sector followed suit.  But it’s not enough.  And so we’re going back to the drawing board, talking to banks, try to put some pressure on them to work with people who have mortgages to see if we can make further adjustments, modify loans more quickly, and also see if there may be circumstances where reducing principal is appropriate.

MR. DORSEY:  And our next question comes from someone you may know.  This is Speaker Boehner.

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, there you go.  (Laughter.)

MR. DORSEY:  “After embarking on a record spending binge that left us deeper in debt, where are the jobs?”  And I want to note that these characters are his fault.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  First of all —

MR. DORSEY:  Not his fault, not his fault.

THE PRESIDENT:  — John obviously needs to work on his typing skills.  (Laughter.)  Well, look, obviously John is the Speaker of the House, he’s a Republican, and so this is a slightly skewed question.  (Laughter.)  But what he’s right about is that we have not seen fast enough job growth relative to the need.  I mean, we lost, as I said, 4 million jobs before I took office, before I was sworn in.  About 4 million jobs were lost in the few months right after I took office before our economic policies had a chance to take any effect.

And over the last 15 months, we’ve actually seen two million jobs created in the private sector.  And so we’re each month seeing growth in jobs,  But when you’ve got a 8 million dollar — 8-million-job hole and you’re only filling it 100,000-200,000 jobs at a time each month, obviously that’s way too long for a lot of folks who are still out of work.

There are a couple of things that we can continue to do.  I actually worked with Speaker Boehner to pass a payroll tax cut in December that put an extra $1,000 in the pockets of almost every single American.  That means they’re spending money.  That means that businesses have customers.  And that has helped improve overall growth.

We have provided at least 16 tax cuts to small businesses who have needed a lot of help and have been struggling, including, for example, saying zero capital gains taxes on startups — because our attitude is we want to encourage new companies, young entrepreneurs, to get out there, start their business, without feeling like if they’re successful in the first couple of years that somehow they have to pay taxes, as opposed to putting that money back into their business.

So we’ve been able to cooperate with Republicans on a range of these issues.  There are some areas where the Republicans have been more resistant in cooperating, even though I think most objective observers think it’s the right thing to do.  I’ll give you a specific example.

It’s estimated that we have about $2 trillion worth of infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt.  Roads, bridges, sewer lines, water mains; our air traffic control system doesn’t make sense.  We don’t have the kind of electric grid that’s smart, meaning it doesn’t waste a lot of energy in transmission.  Our broadband system is slower than a lot of other countries.

For us to move forward on a major infrastructure initiative where we’re putting people to work right now — including construction workers who were disproportionately unemployed when the housing bubble went bust — to put them to work rebuilding America at a time when interest rates are very low, contractors are looking for work, and the need is there, that is something that could make a huge, positive impact on the economy overall.  And it’s an example of making an investment now that ends up having huge payoffs down the road.

We haven’t gotten the kind of cooperation that I’d like to see on some of those ideas and initiatives.  But I’m just going to keep on trying and eventually I’m sure the Speaker will see the light.  (Laughter.)

MR. DORSEY:  Speaking of startups, there’s a ton of questions about small businesses and how they affect job creation.  This one comes from Neal:  “Small biz create jobs.  What incentives are you willing to support to improve small business growth?”

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I just mentioned some of the tax breaks that we’ve provided not only to small businesses, but also in some cases were provided big businesses.  For example, if they’re making investments in plants and equipment this year, they can fully write down those costs, take — essentially depreciate all those costs this year and that saves them a pretty big tax bill.  So we’re already initiating a bunch of steps.

The biggest challenge that I hear from small businesses right now actually has to do with financing, because a lot of small businesses got their financing from community banks.  Typically, they’re not getting them from the big Wall Street banks, but they’re getting them from their various regional banks in their communities.  A lot of those banks were pretty over-extended in the commercial real estate market, which has been hammered.  A lot of them are still digging themselves out of bad loans that they made that were shown to be bad during the recession.

And so, what we’ve tried to do is get the Small Business Administration, the federal agency that helps small businesses, to step in and to provide more financing — waiving fees, seeing if we can lower interest rates in some cases, making sure that the threshold for companies that qualify for loans are more generous.  And that’s helped a lot of small businesses all across the country.  And this is another example of where, working with Congress, my hope is, is that we can continue to provide these tax incentives and maybe do even a little bit more.

Q    Our next question was tweeted less than five minutes ago and comes to us from Craig:  “My question is, can you give companies a tax break if they hire an honorable discharged veteran?”

THE PRESIDENT:  This is something that I’ve been talking a lot about internally.  We’ve got all these young people coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan; have made incredible sacrifices; have taken on incredible responsibilities.  You see some 23-year-old who’s leading a platoon in hugely dangerous circumstances, making decisions, operating complex technologies.  These are folks who can perform.  But, unfortunately, what we’re seeing is that a lot of these young veterans have a higher unemployment rate than people who didn’t serve.  And that makes no sense.

So what we’d like to do is potentially combine a tax credit for a company that hires veterans with a campaign to have private companies step up and do the right thing and hire more veterans. And one of the things that we’ve done is internally in the federal government we have made a huge emphasis on ramping up our outreach to veterans and the hiring of veterans, and this has been a top priority of mine.  The notion that these guys who are sacrificing for our freedom and our security end up coming home and not being able to find a job I think is unacceptable.

MR. DORSEY:  Mr. President, this next question comes from someone else you may recognize.  And what’s interesting about this question, it was heavily retweeted and voted up by our userbase.  This comes from NickKristof:  “Was it a mistake to fail to get Republicans to commit to raise the debt ceiling at the same time tax cuts were extended?”

THE PRESIDENT:  Nicholas is a great columnist.  But I have to tell you the assumption of the question is, is that I was going to be able to get them to commit to raising the debt ceiling.

In December, we were in what was called the lame duck session.  The Republicans knew that they were going to be coming in as the majority.  We only had a few short weeks to deal with a lot of complicated issues, including repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” dealing with a START treaty to reduce nuclear weapons, and come to terms with a budget.  And what we were able to do was negotiate a package where we agreed to do something that we didn’t like but that the Republicans badly wanted, which is to extend the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy for another two years.

In exchange, we were able to get this payroll tax that put $1,000 — tax cut that put $1,000 in the pockets of every American, which would help economic growth and jobs.  We were also able to get unemployment insurance extended for the millions of Americans out there who are still out of work and whose benefits were about to run out.  And that was a much better deal than I think a lot of people expected.

It would have been great if we were able to also settle this issue of the debt ceiling at that time.  That wasn’t the deal that was available.  But here’s the more basic point:  Never in our history has the United States defaulted on its debt.  The debt ceiling should not be something that is used as a gun against the heads of the American people to extract tax breaks for corporate jet owners, or oil and gas companies that are making billions of dollars because the price of gasoline has gone up so high.

I’m happy to have those debates.  I think the American people are on my side on this.  What we need to do is to have a balanced approach where everything is on the table.  We need to reduce corporate loopholes.  We need to reduce discretionary spending on programs that aren’t working.  We need to reduce defense spending.  Everything has — we need to look at entitlements, and we have to say, how do we protect and preserve Medicare and Social Security for not just this generation but also future generations.  And that’s going to require some modifications, even as we maintain its basic structure.

So what I’m hoping to see over the next couple of weeks is people put their dogmas aside, their sacred cows aside; they come together and they say, here’s a sensible approach that reduces our deficit, makes sure that government is spending within its means, but also continues to make investments in education, in clean energy, and basic research that are going to preserve our competitive advantage going forward.

MR. DORSEY:  So speaking of taxes, our next question is coming from us — from Alabama, from Lane:  “What changes to the tax system do you think are necessary to help solve the deficit problem and for the system to be fair?”

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think that, first of all, it’s important for people to realize that since I’ve been in office I’ve cut taxes for middle-class families, repeatedly.  The Recovery Act cut taxes for 95 percent of working families.  The payroll tax cut that we passed in December put an extra thousand dollars in the pockets of every family in America.

And so we actually now have the lowest tax rates since the 1950s.  Our tax rates are lower now than they were under Ronald Reagan.  They’re lower than they were under George Bush — senior or George Bush, junior.  They’re lower than they were under Bill Clinton.

The question is how do we pay for the things that we all think are important and how do we make sure that the tax system is equitable?  And what I’ve said is that in addition to eliminating a whole bunch of corporate loopholes that are just not fair — the notion that corporate jets should get a better deal than commercial jets, or the notion that oil and gas companies that made tens of billions of dollars per quarter need an additional break to give them an incentive to go drill for oil — that doesn’t make sense.

But what I’ve also said is people like me who have been incredibly fortunate, mainly because a lot of folks bought my book — (laughter) — for me to be able to go back to the tax rate that existed under Bill Clinton, to pay a couple of extra percentage points so that I can make sure that seniors still have Medicare or kids still have Head Start, that makes sense to me.  And, Jack, we haven’t talked about this before, but I’m assuming it makes sense to you, given Twitter has done pretty well.  (Laughter.)

I think that for us to say that millionaires and billionaires can go back to the tax rate that existed when Bill Clinton was President, that doesn’t affect middle-class families who are having a tough time and haven’t seen their incomes go up. It does mean that those who are in the top 1-2 percent, who have seen their incomes go up much more quickly than anybody else, pays a little bit more in order to make sure that we can make the basic investments that grow this country — that’s not an unreasonable position to take.  And the vast majority of Americans agree with me on that.

That doesn’t mean that we can just continue spending anything we want.  We’re still going to have to make some tough decisions about defense spending, or even some programs that I like but we may not need.  But we can’t close the deficit and debt just by cutting things like Head Start or Medicare.  That can’t be an equitable solution to solving the problem.  And then, we say to millionaires and billionaires, you don’t have to do anything.  I don’t want a $200,000 tax break if it means that some senior is going to have to pay $6,000 more for their Medicare that they don’t have, or a bunch of kids are going to be kicked off of Head Start and aren’t going to get the basics that they need in order to succeed in our society.  I don’t think that’s good for me; I don’t think it’s good for the country.

MR. DORSEY:  So we have a follow-up question to your answer about homeowners being underwater.  And this one came in under 10 minutes ago from Shnaps:  “Is free-market an option?  Obama on homeowners underwater: have made some progress, but plus needed looking at options.”

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, when Shnaps — (laughter) — when Shnaps talks about free market options, I mean, keep in mind that most of this is going to be a function of the market slowly improving because people start having more confidence in the economy; more people decide, you know what, the housing market has kind of bottomed out, now is the time to buy.  They start buying.  That starts slowly lifting up prices, and you get a virtuous cycle going on.

So a lot of this is going to be determined by how well the overall economy does:  Do people feel more confident about jobs? Do they feel more confident that they’re going to be able to make their mortgage?  And given the size of the housing market, no federal program is going to be able to solve the housing problem. Most of this is going to be free market.

The one thing that we can do it make sure that for homeowners who have been responsible, didn’t buy more house than they could afford, had some tough luck because they happened to buy at the top of the market, can afford to continue to pay for that house, can afford their current mortgage, but need some relief, given the drop in value — that we try to match them up with bankers so that each side ends up winning.  The banker says, you know, I’m going to be better off than if this house is foreclosed upon and I have to sell it at a fire sale.  The mortgage owner is able to stay in their home, but still pay what’s owed.

And I think that that kind of adjustment and negotiation process is tough.  It’s difficult partly because a lot of banks these days don’t hold mortgages.  They were all sold to Wall Street and were sliced and diced in these complex financial transactions.  So sorting through who owns what can be very complicated.  And as you know, some of the banks didn’t do a very good job on filing some of their papers on these foreclosure actions, and so there’s been litigation around that.

But the bottom line is we should be able to make some progress on helping some people, understanding that some folks just bought more home than they could afford and probably they’re going to be better off renting.

MR. DORSEY:  So 10 percent of our questions now are about education, and this one was surfaced from our curator in California by Marcia:  “Public education here in California is falling apart, not graduating enough skilled workers or smart citizens.  Privatization looming?”

THE PRESIDENT:  Look, when America was making a transition from an agricultural society to an industrial society, we as a country made a decision that we were going to have public high schools that would upgrade the skills of young people as they were leaving the farms and start participating in a more complex industrial economy.  When my grandfather’s generation came back from World War II, we made a decision that we were going to have a GI Bill that would send these young people to college because we figured that would help advance our economy.

Every time we’ve made a public investment in education, it has paid off many times over.  For us now to give short shrift to education when the world is more complex than ever, and it’s a knowledge-based society and companies locate based on whether they’ve got skilled workforces or not, that makes no sense.

And so we’ve got to get our priorities straight here.  It is important for us to have a healthy business climate, to try to keep taxes low, to make sure that we’re not spending on things that don’t work.  It’s important that we get a good bang for the buck in education.  And so my administration has pushed more reform more vigorously across the country through things like Race to the Top than most previous administrations have been able to accomplish.  So we don’t just need more money; we need more reform.

But we do have to pay for good teachers.  Young, talented people aren’t going to go into teaching if they’re getting paid a poverty wage.  We do have to make sure that buildings aren’t crumbling.  It’s pretty hard for kids to concentrate if there are leaks and it’s cold and there are rats running around in their schools.  And that’s true in a lot of schools around the country.

We do have to make sure that there are computers in a computer age inside classrooms, and that they work and that there’s Internets that are actually — there are Internet connections that actually function.

And I think that those states that are going to do well and those countries that do well are the ones that are going to continue to be committed to making education a priority.

MR. DORSEY:  We have another follow-up sent about 10 minutes ago in response to your answer on Vietnam vets.  From Brendan:  “We definitely need to get more vets into jobs, but when are we going to support the troops by cutting oil dependence?”

THE PRESIDENT:  Reducing our dependence on oil is good for our economy, it’s good for our security, and it’s good for our planet — so it’s a “three-fer.”  And we have not had a serious energy policy for decades.  Every President talks about it; we don’t get it done.

Now, I’d like to see robust legislation in Congress that actually took some steps to reduce oil dependency. We’re not going to be able to replace oil overnight.  Even if we are going full-throttle on clean energy solutions like solar and wind and biodiesel, we’re going to need oil for some time.  But if we had a goal where we’re just reducing our dependence on oil each year in a staggered set of steps, it would save consumers in their pocketbook; it would make our businesses more efficient and less subject to the whims of the spot oil market; it would make us less vulnerable to the kinds of disruptions that have occurred because of what happened in the Middle East this spring; and it would drastically cut down on our carbon resources.

So what I — unfortunately, we have not seen a sense of urgency coming out of Congress over the last several months on this issue.  Most of the rhetoric has been about, let’s produce more.  Well, we can produce more, and I’m committed to that, but the fact is, we only have 2 to 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves; we use 25 percent of the world’s oil.  We can’t drill our way out of this problem.

What we can do that we’ve already done administratively is increase fuel-efficiency standards on cars, just to take one example.  That will save us millions of barrels of oil, just by using existing technologies and saying to car companies, you can do better than 10 miles a gallon or 15 miles a gallon.  And you’re starting to see Detroit respond.  U.S. car companies have figured out, you know what, if we produce high-quality electric vehicles, if we produce high-quality low gas — or high gas mileage vehicles, those will sell.

And we’re actually starting to see market share increase for American cars in subcompact and compact cars for the first time in many years.  And that’s partly because we increased fuel-efficiency standards through an administrative agreement.  It’s also because, as part of the deal to bail out the oil companies, we said to them, start focusing on the cars of the future instead of looking at big gas guzzlers of the past.

MR. DORSEY:  So all of our questions now are coming in real time — this one less than 10 minutes ago, and surfaced from a curator:  “So will you raise taxes on the middle class at least to President George W. Bush levels?”

THE PRESIDENT:  No, what we’ve said is let’s make permanent the Bush tax cuts for low and moderate income folks — people in — for the 98 percent of people who, frankly, have not seen their wages go up or their incomes go up over the last decade.  They don’t have a lot of room; they’re already struggling to meet the rising cost of health care and education and gas prices and food prices.

If all we do is just go back to the pre-Bush tax cut rates for the top income brackets, for millionaires and billionaires, that would raise hundreds of billions of dollars.  And if you combine it with the cuts we’ve already proposed, we could solve our deficit and our debt problems.

This is not something that requires radical solutions.  It requires some smart, common-sense, balanced approaches.  I think that’s what the American people are looking for and that’s what I’ve proposed.  And that’s what I’m going to keep on trying to bring the parties together to agree to, is a balanced approach that has more cuts than revenue, but has some revenue, and that revenue should come from the people who can most afford it.

Q    So a slight deviation from the economy — we have a lot of questions, and this will be our last before we start reading some responses to your question — about the space program.  And this one from Ron:  “Now that the space shuttle is gone, where does America stand in space exploration?”

THE PRESIDENT:  We are still a leader in space exploration. But, frankly, I have been pushing NASA to revamp its vision.  The shuttle did some extraordinary work in low-orbit experiments, the International Space Station, moving cargo.  It was an extraordinary accomplishment and we’re very proud of the work that it did.  But now what we need is that next technological breakthrough.

We’re still using the same models for space travel that we used with the Apollo program 30, 40 years ago.  And so what we’ve said is, rather than keep on doing the same thing, let’s invest in basic research around new technologies that can get us places faster, allow human space flight to last longer.

And what you’re seeing now is NASA I think redefining its mission.  And we’ve set a goal to let’s ultimately get to Mars.  A good pit stop is an asteroid.  I haven’t actually — we haven’t identified the actual asteroid yet, in case people are wondering. (Laughter.)  But the point is, let’s start stretching the boundaries so we’re not doing the same thing over and over again, but rather let’s start thinking about what’s the next horizon, what’s the next frontier out there.

But in order to do that, we’re actually going to need some technological breakthroughs that we don’t have yet.  And what we can do is for some of this low-orbit stuff, some of the more routine space travel — obviously no space travel is routine, but it could become more routine over time — let’s allow the private sector to get in so that they can, for example, send these low-Earth orbit vehicles into space and we may be able to achieve a point in time where those of you who are just dying to go into space, you can buy a ticket, and a private carrier can potentially take you up there, while the government focuses on the big breakthroughs that require much larger investments and involve much greater risk.

MR. DORSEY:  So, Mr. President, we received a lot of responses to your question over the last hour.  And we wanted to go through seven of them that we picked out and just spend some time giving feedback on each.  This one from Brian:  “Cut defense contracting, end war on drugs, eliminate agribiz and big oil subsidies, invest in public campaign financing.”

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, that’s not a bad list.  (Laughter.)  The defense contracting is something we’re already making progress on.

I think with respect to the war on drugs, what we’ve always said is that investing in prevention, reducing demand, is going to be the most cost-effective thing that we can do.  We still have to interdict the big drug kingpins and we still have to enforce our drug laws.  But making sure that we’re spending more on prevention and treatment can make a huge difference.

With respect to some of these big agribusiness and big oil subsidies, those are the examples of the kinds of loopholes we can close.  And public campaign financing is something that I’ve supported in the past.  There is no doubt that money has an impact on what happens here in Washington.  And the more we can reduce money’s impact on Washington, the better off we’re going to be.

MR. DORSEY:  Our next response from Elizabeth in Chicago:  “Stop giving money to countries that waste it — Pakistan.  Keep military, share the wealth between branches, and don’t cut education.”

THE PRESIDENT:  You know, the one thing I would say is, on the notion of giving money to countries that waste it — and Pakistan is listed there — I think it’s important for people to know that foreign aid accounts for less than 2 percent of our budget.  And if you defined it just narrowly as the kind of foreign aid to help feed people and what we think of classically as foreign aid, it’s probably closer to 1 percent.

So sometimes people have an exaggerated sense that we spend 25 percent of the federal budget on foreign aid.  It’s a tiny amount that has a big impact.  And I think America, to be a leader in the world, to have influence, to help stabilize countries and create opportunity for people so that they don’t breed terrorists or create huge refugee flows and so forth, it’s smart for us to make a very modest investment in foreign aid.  It’s a force multiplier and it’s something that even in tough fiscal times America needs to continue to do as part of our role as a global leader.

MR. DORSEY:  This next one is pretty simple, from Daniel:  “We need to raise taxes, period.”  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  As I said before, if wealthy individuals are willing to simply go back to the rates that existed back in the 1990s when rich people were doing very well — it’s not like they were poor — and by the way, that’s when we saw the highest job growth rates and that’s when we saw the highest — the greatest reduction in poverty, and that’s when we saw businesses very profitable — if the wealthiest among us — and I include myself in this category — are willing to give up a little bit more, then we can solve this problem.  It does not take a lot.

And I just have to say, when people say, job-killing tax increases, that’s what Obama is proposing, we’re not going to — you’re entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.  And the facts are that a modest increase for wealthy individuals is not shown to have an adverse impact on job growth.

I mean, we can test the two theories.  You had what happened during the ‘90s — right?  Taxes for wealthy individuals were somewhat higher, businesses boomed, the economy boomed, great job growth.  And then the 2000s, when taxes were cut on wealthy individuals, jobs didn’t grow as fast, businesses didn’t grow as fast.  I mean, it’s not like we haven’t tried what these other folks are pitching.  It didn’t work.  And we should go with what works.

MR. DORSEY:  So our next response — we have about nine minutes left and four more responses — this one from Tammy:   “Cut military spending on oil subsidies and keep education investments.”

THE PRESIDENT:  I agree with this.  The one thing I’ll say about military spending — we’ve ended the war in Iraq, our combat mission there, and our — all our troops are slated to be out by the end of this year.  We’ve already removed 100,000.  I announced that we were going to begin drawing down troops in Afghanistan and pivot to a transition process where Afghans are taking more responsibility for their defense.

But we have to do all of this in a fairly gradual way.  We can’t simply lop off 25 percent off the defense budget overnight. We have to think about all the obligations we have to our current troops who are in the field, and making sure they’re properly equipped and safe.  We’ve got to make sure that we are meeting our commitments for those veterans who are coming home.  We’ve got to make sure that — in some cases, we’ve got outdated equipment that needs to be replaced.

And so I’m committed to reducing the defense budget, but as Commander-in-Chief, one of the things that we have to do is make sure that we do it in a thoughtful way that’s guided by our security and our strategic needs.  And I think we can accomplish that.  And the nice thing about the defense budget is it’s so big, it’s so huge, that a 1 percent reduction is the equivalent of the education budget.  Not — I’m exaggerating, but it’s so big that you can make relatively modest changes to defense that end up giving you a lot of head room to fund things like basic research or student loans or things like that.

Q    Our next response from southwest Ohio, Mostlymoderate: “Cut subsidies to industries which are no longer in crisis or are unsuccessful, cotton, oil, corn subsidies from ethanol.”

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, there’s been a interesting debate taking place in Congress recently.  I’m a big supporter of biofuels.  But one of the things that’s become clear is, is that we need to accelerate our basic research in ethanol and other biofuels that are made from things like woodchips and algae as opposed to just focusing on corn, which is probably the least efficient energy producer of these various other approaches.

And so I think that it’s important for even those folks in farm states who traditionally have been strong supporters of ethanol to examine are we, in fact, going after the cutting-edge biodiesel and ethanol approaches that allow, for example, Brazil to run about a third of its transportation system on biofuels.  Now, they get it from sugar cane and it’s a more efficient conversion process than corn-based ethanol.  And so us doing more basic research in finding better ways to do the same concept I think is the right way to go.

Q    I believe you addressed this next one, so we’re going to skip past it.


Q    But from Ryan:  “I would cut defense spending.”

Q    And James:  “I’d cut costs by cutting some welfare programs.  People will never try harder when they are handed everything.”

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, here’s what I would say.  I think we should acknowledge that some welfare programs in the past were not well-designed and in some cases did encourage dependency.  And as somebody who worked in low-income neighborhoods, I’ve seen it, where people weren’t encouraged to work, weren’t encouraged to upgrade their skills, were just getting a check, and over time their motivation started to diminish.  And I think even if you’re progressive, you’ve got to acknowledge that some of these things have not been well-designed.

I will say that today, welfare payments are not the big driver of our deficit or our debt.  There are work obligations attached to welfare, that the vast majority of folks who are getting welfare want to work but can’t find jobs.  And what we should be doing is in all our social programs evaluating what are upgrading people’s skills, giving them the tools they need to get into the workforce, nudging them into the workforce but letting them know that we’re there to support you and encourage you as long as you’re showing the kind of responsibility for being willing to work that every American should be expected to show.

And I’m somebody who believes that we can constantly improve any program, whether it’s a defense program — those who say that we can’t cut military at all, they haven’t spent a lot of time looking at military budgets.  Those who say that we can’t make any changes to our social welfare programs or else you’re being mean to poor people, that’s not true.  There are some programs that can always be improved.  And some programs, if they don’t work, we should have the courage to eliminate them, and then use that money to put it into the programs that do work.

But the bottom line is that our core values of responsibility, opportunity, making sure that the American Dream is alive and well so that anybody who is willing to put in the time and the effort and the energy are able to get a good education in this society, find a job that pays a living wage, that they’re able to send their kids to college without going broke, that they’ve got basic health care, they’re going to be able to retire with some dignity and some respect, that that opportunity is open to anybody regardless of race or religion or sexual orientation — that that basic principle, that’s what holds us together.  That’s what makes us Americans.

We’re not all tied together by ethnicity or a single religion.  What ties us together is this idea that everybody has got a shot.  As long as you carry out your responsibilities, you can make it.  You can get into the middle class and beyond.  And you can start a company and suddenly help bring the whole world together.  That’s what makes this country outstanding.

But in order to do that, it requires us to both have a commitment to our individualism and our freedom and our creativity and our idiosyncrasies.  But it also requires us to have a commitment to each other, and recognize that I would not be President if somebody hadn’t helped provide some scholarships for my school, and you would not have Twitter if the Department of Defense, at some point, and a bunch of universities hadn’t made some investments in something that ended up being the Internet.  And those were public goods that were invested in.

So you and I are sitting here because somebody, somewhere, made an investment in our futures.  We’ve got the same obligation for the folks who are coming up behind us.  We’ve got to make sure that we’re looking out for them, just like the previous generations looked out for us.  And that’s what I think will help us get through what are some difficult times and make sure that America’s future is even brighter than the past.

MR. DORSEY:  And on that note, thank you very much, Mr. President.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  I appreciate it.  (Applause.)  All right, thank you, guys.  Thanks.  (Applause.)

END 3:12 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines June 16, 2011: Weinergate: Rep. Anthony Weiner Announces his Resignation after Sexting Scandal


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.


Congressman Anthony Weiner announced his resignation Thursday after weeks of being embroiled in a scandal over lewd text messages.
Craig Warga/News

Congressman Anthony Weiner announced his resignation Thursday after weeks of being embroiled in a scandal over lewd text messages.

Rep. Anthony Weiner announces his resignation: Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) announced his resignation Thursday in Brooklyn, again apologizing for his actions. At a news conference where he was heckled by bystanders, he said “the distraction I have caused” had made it impossible for him to remain in office.
The news conference comes hours after a Democratic source claimed Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) plans to step down from his House seat Thursday after revelations of his lewd online exchanges with women.

Rep. Anthony Weiner Resignation Speech: “I’m here to apologize for the personal mistakes I have made and the embarrassment that I have caused. I make this apology to my neighbors and my constituents, but I make it particularly to my wife, Huma…. I had hoped to be able to continue the work that the citizens of my district elected me to do, but the unfortunately, the distraction I created has made that impossible… Today I announce my resignation, so my colleagues can get back to work and my neighbors choose a new representative, and most importantly, that my wife and I can continue to heal from the damage that I have caused.”

  • PHOTOS: WEINER’S WOMEN: Anthony Weiner’s ‘sextual’ partners: PHOTOS Women of Weiner-Gate: Porn star, college student, single mom among his ‘sext’ pals.
  • Weiner resigns in wake of sexting scandal: Embattled New York Rep. Anthony Weiner is resigning from Congress, saying he cannot continue in office amid the intense controversy surrounding sexually explicit messages he sent online to several women…. – AP, 6-16-11
  • Live blog: Rep. Anthony Weiner resigns: We live blogged Rep. Anthony Weiner’s resignation announcement. The New York Democrat has admitted he sent sexually explicit messages to women through Twitter and Facebook.
    Weiner spoke at the Council Center for Senior Citizens in Brooklyn, in the district he’s represented since 1998…. – USA Today, 6-16-11
  • Rep. Anthony Weiner resigns after online sex scandal: Embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner resigned today after admitting to sexually charged relationships with women on Facebook and Twitter.
    “Today I announce my resignation … so my colleagues can get back to work and my neighbors can choose a new representative,” the New York Democrat said, in brief remarks at a senior citizens center in Brooklyn.
    A Democratic source, who asked for anonymity, confirmed to USA TODAY that Weiner informed Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of his plans last night while she was attending the annual congressional picnic at the White House…. – USA Today, 6-16-11
  • Weiner Quits House Seat Over ‘Mistakes’: Representative Anthony D. Weiner, an influential Democrat who had been considered a leading candidate to be the next mayor of New York City, said Thursday that he was resigning from Congress following revelations of lewd online exchanges with several women.
    “I’m here to apologize for the personal mistakes I have made and the embarrassment that I have caused,” Mr. Weiner said, adding that he had hoped to be able to continue serving his constituents. “Unfortunately,” he said, “the distraction I created has made that impossible.”
    Mr. Weiner announced his resignation in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, at a senior center where he announced his first campaign for City Council in 1991.
    On Wednesday night, Mr. Weiner called Representative Nancy Pelosi of California and Representative Steve Israel of New York while they were at a White House picnic to inform them he had decided to resign, a top Democratic official said.
    The news came as Democratic leaders prepared to hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss whether to strip the 46-year-old congressman of his committee assignments, a blow that would severely damage his effectiveness.
    Mr. Weiner began telling his most trusted advisers about his decision on Wednesday night by phone, informing them that it no longer seemed fair to his constituents and his colleagues for him to remain in office…. – NYT, 6-16-11
  • Anthony Weiner resigns: Disgraced congressman calls it quits over sexting scandal: Rep. Anthony Weiner finally stepped down Thursday after a three-week cybersex scandal that turned the once promising politician into a laughingstock.
    “I had hoped to be able to continue the work that the citizens of my district elected me to do,” Weiner said. “But the distraction that I have created has made that impossible.”
    Then Weiner said he was resigning his seat and in a sign of how low his stock had fallen in a district that reelected him handily several times, some in the crowd actually broke into cheers – and one man was heard yelling “bye-bye pervert.”
    Weiner paused for a moment and then finished his statement. It was an unusually terse statement from the normally loquacious liberal…. – NY Daily News, 6-16-11
  • Anthony Weiner resigns from Congress, apologizes for ’embarrassment’ he caused: Anthony Weiner announced his resignation from Congress on Thursday, apologizing for the “embarrassment” his personal behavior caused to his family and colleagues.
    Standing without his wife but before a horde of media at a senior center in his Brooklyn district, Weiner said he had hoped to continue his work in the House but “unfortunately, the distraction that I created has made that impossible.”
    Resigning, Weiner said, will allow him to “continue to heal from the damage that I have caused.”
    Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, recently returned from overseas travel with her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. His Democratic colleagues have been steadily ramping up pressure on him to step down, and were prepared to take further action had he tried to stay on.
    Pandemonium erupted in the room as Weiner made his announcement, which lasted less than five minutes. “Bye-bye, pervert,” one man screamed as others showed support for Weiner…. – LAT, 6-16-11
  • Weiner’s colleagues say scandal isn’t the end of his career: As they absorbed news of his coming resignation, colleagues of Rep. Anthony Weiner expressed a mix of relief and regret at his stunning downfall Thursday.
    “It’s a loss,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.). “He could articulate the issues very well and dramatize them. Anytime you lose that kind of talent, of course it’s a loss.”
    “There is life after Congress for Anthony Weiner and I hope he devotes himself to repairing the damage he caused to his personal life,” Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said in a statement…. – LAT, 6-16-11
  • Ami Eden: Weiner follies: OK, now that Anthony Weiner is closing the zipper on his congressional career and stepping down — it’s time to focus on his critics.
    Let’s start on the right.
    In the past few campaign cycles, a standard line from Jewish conservatives has been… liberals should learn to love conservatives because support for Israel is more important than abortion rights and a host of other domestic issues.
    Well… Weiner has been one of the hawkish supporters of Israel in the Democratic caucus. He’s a regular at the annual dinner of the Zionist Organization of America, often taking the stage to declare that he represents the “ZOA wing of the Democratic Party.” I’ve seen him adapt the line for other crowds — “I represent the CAMERA wing of the Democratic Party.”
    To be clear, ZOA — which has been a strong critics of U.S.-led diplomatic efforts, Israeli concessions and the idea that the current Palestinian leadership is a partner for peace — did not throw Weiner under the bus over Twitter-Gate. It’s president, Morton Klein, praised Weiner’s record and said his troubles represented a “terrible loss for the pro-Israel community.” But Republicans who talk about the importance supporting Israel, like GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, had no trouble saying it was time for Weiner to go.
    Of couse, after the scandal broke, it might be unrealistic to expect partisans to take a pass on the scandal, just because Weiner was, from their perspective, good in one area. But what about before the fact? Andrew Breitbart, the right-wing muckraking blogger who broke the story, was a featured speaker at a Republican Jewish Coalition gathering on Sunday in Los Angeles.
    It turns out that several RJC members also helped bankroll Breitbart:

    “My first event was held here,” he told the audience. “Not in this esteemed room, but in the bar downstairs.” Since then, Breitbart said, he’s had the chance to speak to RJC gatherings numerous times, and he acknowledged that he has financial backers from the ranks of the RJC. “What a lucrative alliance we’ve created,” Breitbart said.

    Hey, it’s a free country, and no one forced Weiner to live up to his name in so many different ways. But next time you hear a Jewish conservative talking about how Jewish liberals should put domestic concerns aside to worry more about Israel… just remember… a bunch of Jewish conservatives helped bring down one of Israel’s staunchest congressional defenders over these tweets.
    But liberals, wipe that self-satisifed smile off your face. How many times in the past 15 years have you ripped into Republicans for trying to impeach Bill Clinton over his sexual indiscretions and lying under oath. Somehow all these Democratic leaders who have spent years painting Ken Starr and the congressional GOPers as waging a puratanical crusade against the will of the people took just a few days to conclude that Weiner had to go.
    Weiner sent tweets to young women, Clinton had an actual affair with his intern.
    Weiner lied to the press, Clinton lied under oath.
    Weiner lied for a few days, Clinton lied and roped his Cabinet into the lies for about eight months.
    Why exactly did Weiner have to go, but Bubba had to stay?
    OK, OK. That’s politics. But, still. – JTA, 6-16-11

Anthony Weiner announces his resignation from Congress in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Anthony Weiner announces his resignation from Congress in Brooklyn, N.Y. (Justin Lane / EPA)

Political Headlines Twitter Scandal: A Mess for Anthony Weiner, A Lesson for Congress


Rep. Anthony Weinerr (D) of New York walks from his office to an elevator in the Rayburn House Office Building for a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday. Weiner denied Wednesday sending a lewd photo from his Twitter account to a 21-year-old woman.

  • Twitter Scandal: A Mess for Anthony Weiner, A Lesson for Congress: Rep. Anthony Weiner has been unable to put questions about a lewd picture on his Twitter account behind him. The rest of Congress might become more wary of Twitter.
    At 45,000 Twitter followers, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) of New York says that he just passed Congress’s reining queen of the 140-character social media message, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) of Minnesota.
    That’s the upside of the congressional love affair with social media – name recognition, outreach.
    The downside is that, for the moment at least, Congressman Weiner is answering question after frenzied question about one particular tweet – a lewd picture from the waist down of a boxer-clad man, sent from his Twitter account to a young follower who is not his wife. He says he did not send it and has hired an outside firm to help find out how his Twitter account was hacked or spammed.
    For Congress, which has embraced Twitter in the wake of President Obama‘s success with social media, it is a potentially sobering lesson.
    “After all the enthusiasm from the 2008 election about the new social media, this is the kind of thing that will put a little chill into the atmosphere for members who are using this,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. “It’s a reminder that technology can very easily be turned against them.”
    More than 70 percent of the current Congress tweets – 156 Democrats, 229 Republicans, and two independents, according to TweetCongress.
    “If it is a hacker, it will show to legislators how easy it is to put a politician in a media frenzy by tapping into someone’s account and sending out a picture, a statement, who knows what else,” adds Professor Zelizer. “When there is a scandal like this, politicians tend to remember it. They will think twice about this.”
    The media hordes have been hard to miss. “I didn’t send this photograph,” Weiner told a scrum of reporters who converged on him just off the House floor. “I was tweeting about a hockey game at the time. I deleted it.”… CS Monitor, 6-1-11

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