Sunday, January 31, 2010

Obama Q&A Feb. 1

Obama will be answering CitizenTube questions tomorrow at 1:45 pm eastern at WhiteHouse.gov. Some photos from the State of the Union:




U.S. Has Resumed Medical Flights From Haiti

Medical evacuation flights from Haiti were recently canceled after Gov. Charlie Crist said Florida hospitals were becoming over crowded. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor says flights have resumed:

“Since the earthquake, U.S. personnel have seen nearly 23,000 patients in Haiti. Additionally, we have worked to increase and strengthen domestic medical capacity by supporting a network of NGOs and local hospitals across the country. In limited instances where patients had medical needs that could not be met in Haiti, we have worked to transport them to hospitals in the United States for care. Given concerns about the strain on domestic health capacity, we worked to increase cooperation with our international partners, NGOs and states to expand access to additional facilities to care for Haitians who were gravely injured in the earthquake. Having received assurances that additional capacity exists both here and among our international partners, we determined that we can resume these critical flights. The flights are on track to resume in the next 12 hours. Patients are being identified for transfer, doctors are making sure that it is safe for them to fly, and we are preparing specific in-flight pediatric care aboard the aircraft where needed. Florida is identifying specific receiving facilities. The Government of Haiti has estimated that there are more than 200,000 injuries from the earthquake. We are working with the Haitian government and the international community to meet this urgent need and save lives.” Politico

Axelrod Says Healthcare Won't Wait

David Axelrod, on Meet the Press, says healthcare doesn't have to wait and that's not what Americans want. Obama's still determined to get it done. Axelrod also says people are tired of politics. Yep.
The roundtable was pretty interesting. David Brooks is right. The government can't do anything to grow jobs. The stimulus and another jobs bill can keep the situation from getting worse, but jobs won't grow until people start buying stuff again and people aren't buying stuff because they're trying to save money and be more fiscally responsible. About 10% of workers can't spend money because they don't have a job.

Companies aren't going to hire if they can squeeze the workers they have and still make a profit.
But the Obama administration, and most economists, are predicting job growth --with or without a jobs bill -- by spring.
In the future, I don't think we're going to have a consumer-driven economy anymore, which is why Obama spends so much time on the green economy. We have to create another kind of economy, one where we create things to export, not just an economy where we buy, buy, buy. There's also another hugely serious problem--there are jobs, but Americans aren't skilled enough to get them. Our education system is lagging.
Full show:

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Scott Brown's Interview with Barbara Walters on This Week

Scott Brown is pretty okay.

He's not a religious zealot, he's willing to work with Obama, he is pro-choice, he supported Bernanke and isn't calling for Tim Geithner's head. Brown is level headed and doesn't seem interested in sniping. He's seems amenable to working on healthcare. I especially liked what he said about terrorism.
He doesn't seem interested in blaming or grading, just keeping the nation safe.
He was wrong when he said Obama's never visited the republican caucus before. Obama has.
He's quite good at shutting down--in a direct but quiet way--dumb media questions too. Just how many times is the media going to include his centerfold in an interview?
Brown appears to be the republican version of Obama. What more could you ask for in a republican? It remains to be seen if he can stand as a Scott Brown republican without being tainted by the GOP. Watch part 1 here and 2 here.
During the roundtable, Paul Krugman made an interesting point: people still think they're voting for individuals when they're voting for parties. Hmmm.
But people are making a statement with the individual they vote for. With Scott Brown, they said they wanted fiscal responsibility, they wanted to see the current healthcare legislation tossed out the window and they wanted bipartisanship. Brown may change the republicans.
As a side note, I'm officially very, very tired of Arianna Huffington.

The left-handed Brown is signing autographs on his "thank you" tour:

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Obama's Budget Will Include Moon Mission Cuts

Obama will release the $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal year 2011, which begins in Oct., on Monday. He'll speak at 10:45 am eastern. The Army Corps of Engineers and NASA will see cuts for its moon missions, which will produce a lot of hollering.

President Barack Obama is essentially grounding efforts to return astronauts to the moon and instead is sending NASA in new directions with roughly $6 billion more, according to officials familiar with the plans.

A White House official confirmed Thursday that when next week's budget is proposed, NASA will get an additional $5.9 billion over five years, as first reported in Florida newspapers. Some of that money would extend the life of the International Space Station to 2020. It also would be used to entice companies to build private spacecraft to ferry astronauts to the space station after the space shuttle retires, said the official who was not authorized to speak by name.

The money in the president's budget is not enough to follow through with NASA's Constellation moon landing plan initiated by President George W. Bush. An aide to an elected official who was told of Obama's plans, but who asked that his name not be used because of the sensitivity of the discussions, said Obama is effectively ending the return-to-the-moon effort, something that has already cost $9.1 billion.

It all comes down to money. The six-year-old Bush plan, which a former NASA chief called "Apollo on steroids," sputtered when promised budget increases didn't materialize. And now money is a big consideration in NASA's latest shift in focus. Read more at Orlando Sentinel
Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie will have the Budget man himself, Peter Orszag, on The Daily Rundown Monday at 9 am eastern:
The budget for the 2011 fiscal year, which begins in October, will identify the winners and losers behind Mr. Obama’s proposal for a three-year freeze of a portion of the budget. Many programs at the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Energy Department are in line for increases, along with the Census Bureau.

Among the losers would be some public works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers, two historic preservation programs and NASA’s mission to return to the Moon, which would be ended as the administration seeks to reorient the space program to use private companies for launchings. Mr. Obama is recycling some proposals from last year, including one to end redundant payments for land restoration at abandoned coal mines; Western lawmakers blocked it in 2009. Mr. Obama will propose a total of $20 billion in such savings for the coming fiscal year. NYT
Obama used a scapel in what to freeze:
Exempted from the cuts, however, are national security, veterans programs, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — the most expensive and fastest-growing areas of the budget.

By filling in the details behind the freeze, the administration hopes to show critics that it used a scalpel rather than an ax to keep spending for the targeted domestic agencies to $447 billion through 2013.

8 Year Old Boy Obama Mentioned in State of the Union

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Obama and Biden Attend Georgetown-Duke Basketball Game

Obama spent some time in the broadcast booth analyzing the game.

"First of all, if the Buckeyes are bragging about beating an Ivy League team, that doesn't say much," Mr. Obama said. "Number two, Clark's got a few inches on my brother-in-law. It's true that my brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, he will acknowledge that Clark had a pretty good game. I heard it from the source. I can't deny it."

"There you go!" said Kellogg. "I appreciate that, Craig."

Mr. Obama even handled some color commentary himself on a replay: "This was a terrific spin move and he didn't get any help coming back."

"That's well done," said Kellogg. "You can handle this job if you need to. Obviously, you've got one that's requiring a lot of your time and attention."

"After retirement, I'm coming after your job, partner," Mr. Obama said. "Just to let you know. You either have three more years, or seven, I'm not sure which, but you need to plan accordingly, since I'm going to do some play-by-play."

Mr. Obama was also treated to a replay of himself on the court. Let's go to the videotape: "That's heartbreak right there, oh," he sighed.

Verne Lundquist asked if the president, a left-hander, had any problems going to his right.

"I went to the Republican House Caucus just yesterday to prove that I can go to my right once in a while," he said, "but there is no doubt that I've got a stronger left hand."

Before leaving, Mr. Obama pointed out his assistant, Reggie Love ("a Duke guy") was suffering the worst case of nerves this afternoon. "He's a little stressed at the moment." Read it all at CBS

Verne Lundquist and Clark Kellogg chat about Obama's replay:

Republican Spin on Obama Session: It Proves We Aren't the Party of No

Mike Pence, one of the most divisive republicans, says yesterday's session proved that the republicans aren't just the "Party of No Ideas."

But Party of No doesn't just mean party of no ideas. It means no, no, no, no, no. It means Jim DeMint's waterloo strategy--let's just say no to healthcare and defeat Obama at the get go. It means voting along party lines on every piece of legislation.
I think what Obama was saying yesterday is that yes, republicans have ideas, they're just not good ones that address today's problems. They're stale and outdated.
If Obama keeps at the bipartisan efforts, he may be able to make some headway. But one session isn't going to cause republicans to join in. Republican leadership also has to change its course.

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Obama Speaks in Baltimore on Small Business Tax Cuts Jan. 29 Video

Obama did a lot of speaking in Baltimore yesterday. Before sparring with the republicans, he visited a Baltimore business and spoke about a small business tax cut proposal that would provide a $5,000 tax credit for every newly hired employee.

Obama Gets a Visit From George H.W. Bush Video

The visit was said to be a social call. Jeb Bush accompanied his dad.

Obama's Budget to Include $7 Billion to Maintain Nuclear Stockpiles

Obama's budget will be revealed on Monday. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Joe Biden said there will be $7 billion included in the budget to maintain our existing nuclear stockpiles.

GovExec: The added funding will help strengthen the United States' ability to recruit, train and retain skilled people, support the work of nuclear labs, and clean up and close down facilities that are no longer needed, the column said. The request comes as the Pentagon is completing its Nuclear Posture Review, which will be released March 1.
An excerpt from Joe's op-ed:
For almost a decade, our laboratories and facilities have been underfunded and undervalued. The consequences of this neglect—like the growing shortage of skilled nuclear scientists and engineers and the aging of critical facilities—have largely escaped public notice. Last year, the Strategic Posture Commission led by former Defense Secretaries William Perry and James Schlesinger warned that our nuclear complex requires urgent attention. We agree.

The budget we will submit to Congress on Monday both reverses this decline and enables us to implement the president's nuclear-security agenda. These goals are intertwined. The same skilled nuclear experts who maintain our arsenal play a key role in guaranteeing our country's security now and for the future. State-of-the art facilities, and highly trained and motivated people, allow us to maintain our arsenal without testing. They will help meet the president's goal of securing vulnerable nuclear materials world-wide in the coming years, and enable us to track and thwart nuclear trafficking, verify weapons reductions, and to develop tomorrow's cutting-edge technologies for our security and prosperity.

To achieve these goals, our budget devotes $7 billion for maintaining our nuclear-weapons stockpile and complex, and for related efforts. This commitment is $600 million more than Congress approved last year. And over the next five years we intend to boost funding for these important activities by more than $5 billion. Even in a time of tough budget decisions, these are investments we must make for our security. We are committed to working with Congress to ensure these budget increases are approved. WSJ

Obama on Paygo and Reducing the Deficit

Transcript

That’s why I’m pleased that the Senate has just restored the pay-as-you-go law that was in place back in the 1990s. It’s no coincidence that we ended that decade with a $236 billion surplus. But then we did away with PAYGO – and we ended the next decade with a $1.3 trillion deficit. Reinstating this law will help get us back on track, ensuring that every time we spend, we find somewhere else to cut.
Note: 60 democrats voted for the pay as you go. 40 republicans voted against. It seems republicans are just oppositers--they take an opposite position to the democrats even if it's something they'd normally support.

Friday, January 29, 2010

KSM Trial to be Moved From NYC

Politico is reporting that the Obama administration is moving terrorist KSM's trial elsewhere. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been calling for the trial to be moved, in part because of the high cost of keeping the city safe during the trial. He also said it would be bad for businesses in Manhattan. Dianne Feinstein said in an interview with Andrea Mitchell yesterday that moving the trial was the right thing to do. She said the situation has changed, given the recent failed underwear bomb plot.

Now, the media pundits have more to gnaw on. We'll be hearing about how it affects Obama politically for the next week.

House Republicans Pleased With Obama Session - Video

Eric Cantor and John Boehner call it a step forward. I like seeing democrats and republicans mixing and playing well. Hope to see more of it. See video of the Obama's meeting with House republicans in Baltimore here.

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Snowe On Getting Healthcare Back on Track

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Obama Addresses House Republicans Jan. 29 Video

Obama also held a Q&A session with the republicans, which is below. He needs to do more of these. See the republican response here. Here is the transcript of Obama's remarks.
Entire video:

The Q&A.

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Sam Nunn's Effort to Shore Up Loose Nukes-New Movie

Sam Nunn's new FREE documentary: Watch Nuclear Tipping Point here. Obama has been working on shoring up loose nukes even before he was president. Nunn also explains what it takes to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell.

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Here is the movie trailer:

Obama's Seeking $54 Billion in Nuclear Plant Loans

Obama's seeking republican support on energy. Obama is submitting his budget next week, which will triple the amount for nuclear plants. Also, the Energy department will be studying where the spent fuel goes--it isn't going to Yucca Mountain. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu says nuclear power provides 20% of our electricity but 70% of our carbon-free electricity.

Christina Romer Calls 5.7 Growth The Most Positive News to Date

This is great news. First the economy grows, which means companies are producing more stuff, replenishing stock and people are wanting more stuff, then companies have to start hiring again.

The economy grew for a second straight quarter from October through December, posting a 5.7 percent annual rate, the fastest pace since the third quarter of 2003.

The Commerce Department report is the strongest evidence to date that the worst recession since the 1930s ended last year, though an academic panel that dates recessions has yet to officially declare an end to it.

The two straight quarters of growth last year followed a record four quarters of economic decline. Still, the growth at the end of last year was primarily fueled by companies refilling depleted stockpiles, a trend that will soon fade. AP
Romer:
Christina Romer, the head of the Council of Economic Advisers, called the growth "the most positive news to date on the economy" in a statement. "While positive GDP growth is a necessary first step for job growth, our focus must remain on getting Americans back to work. That GDP rose strongly in the fourth quarter of last year while employment fell and the workweek increased only slightly emphasizes the need for policy actions designed to help spur private sector job creation. The President is announcing today the specifics of his plan for a small business jobs and wages tax cut. This policy is designed to encourage businesses to respond to rising demand and output by taking the plunge and hiring new workers again."
Criticism of the growth--stimulus is ginning up the economy. Stimulus is working.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Brown Says He Won't Always Vote With Republicans

I hope this guy is for real. If he is, he could lead the republicans out of their "NO!" slump. It's that or they're going to pressure him to be like them. Brown will be on This Week on Sunday with Barbara Walters, who will be anchoring. That ought to be interesting.

Scott Brown says he has already told Senate Republican leaders they won't always be able to count on his vote. The man who staged an upset in last week's Massachusetts Senate special election, in part by pledging to be the 41st GOP vote against President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that he staked his claim in early conversations with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip Jon Kyl.

"I already told them, you know, `I got here with the help of a close group of friends and very little help from anyone down there, so there'll be issues when I'll be with you and there are issues when I won't be with you,'" Brown said Thursday during the half-hour interview. "So, I just need to look at each vote and then make a proper analysis and then decide." AP

Michelle Obama Kicks Off Anti-Childhood Obesity Campaign at YMCA

She spoke at a YMCA in Alexandria, Va. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Dr. Judith Palfrey, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics were also there.

Obama's Town Hall Speech in Tampa Jan. 28 Video

Note: This video doesn't include the Q&A portion. I'll post that later if it comes available. Obama was asked about the Middle East, jobs for felons, student loan repayments, loans for businesses, among other questions. Obama announced $1.2 billion in high speed rail funding for Florida.

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Obama's first question on the plight of the Palestinians:

Feinstein Says Republicans Haven't Given Obama a Chance

Sen. Dianne Feinstein says the atmosphere in Washington is the worst it's been in a long, long time. "The Republicans have not given this president a chance," she said. She's right. Republicans have been trolls. Feinstein says the administration needs a period of time "to earn its spurs." Feinstein also says things have changed regarding terrorist KSM. KSM doesn't have to be tried in New York City and the Obama administration can move the trial somewhere else, she said. Mayor Bloomberg is also pushing for that.

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Obama's New Student Loan Repayment Proposal Explained

This is the best explanation I've seen yet. The Income-based repayment is already one of the better choices for school loan repayments. This new proposal would further ease the debt burden:

Former students who sign up for income-based repayment currently pay 15% of any income in excess of 150% of the federal poverty line for their family size. That means that a single borrower without children pays 15% of whatever he makes above $16,245 per year.

Under the proposal the president is expected to unveil tonight, borrowers' payments would be reduced to 10% of their incomes above the levels already in place. For a single borrower with an adjusted gross income of $30,000 who owes $40,000 in student loans, the new plan would drop monthly payments from $170 under the current system down to $115 a month.

In contrast, paying off $40,000 in federal student loans over the standard 10-year period would require payments of $460 a month, assuming a fixed 6.8% interest rate.

The president is also expected to propose that the federal government forgive any balances that remain unpaid after 20 years. That period is down from 25 years under the current system. Read more at Forbes

Obama Announces $8 Billion in Rail Funding for Nation

Obama is announcing rail project funding, including $1.2 billion for Florida in Tampa. The event is being live audio streamed here at 1:05 eastern. The town hall is being live streamed at MSNBC.com

Tampa, FL – President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will today announce that the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is awarding $8 billion to states across the country to develop America’s first nationwide program of high-speed intercity passenger rail service. Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), these dollars represent an historic investment in the country’s transportation infrastructure, which will help create jobs and transform travel in America. The announcement is one of a number of job initiatives the President will lay out in the coming weeks that follow up on the continued commitment to job creation he discussed in last night’s State of the Union Address. A full list of the awards can be viewed HERE.

“Through the Recovery Act, we are making the largest investment in infrastructure since the Interstate Highway System was created, putting Americans to work rebuilding our roads, bridges, and waterways for the future,” said President Obama. “That investment is how we can break ground across the country, putting people to work building high-speed rail lines, because there’s no reason why Europe or China should have the fastest trains when we can build them right here in America.”

“By investing in high speed rail, we’re doing so many good things for our country at the same time,” said Vice President Biden. We’re creating good construction and manufacturing jobs in the near-term; we’re spurring economic development in the future; we’re making our communities more livable—and we’re doing it all while decreasing America’s environmental impact and increasing America’s ability to compete in the world.”

Today’s awards will serve as a down-payment on developing or laying the groundwork for 13 new, large-scale high-speed rail corridors across the country. The major corridors are part of a total of 31 states receiving investments, including smaller projects and planning work that will help lay the groundwork for future high-speed intercity rail service. The grants are not only expected to have an up-front job and economic impact, but help spur economic growth in communities across the country, provide faster and more energy-efficient means of travel, and establish a new industry in the U.S. that provides stable, well-paid jobs.

This historic $8 billion investment is expected to create or save tens of thousands of jobs over time in areas like track-laying, manufacturing, planning and engineering, and rail maintenance and operations. Over 30 rail manufacturers, both domestic and foreign, have agreed to establish or expand their base of operations in the United States if they are hired to build America’s next generation high-speed rail lines – a commitment the Administration secured to help ensure new jobs are created here at home.

“The President’s bold vision for high-speed rail is a game changer,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “It’s not only going to create good jobs and reinvigorate our manufacturing base, it’s also going to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and help create livable communities. I have no doubt that building the next generation of rail service in this country will help change our society for the better.”

The majority of the dollars announced today will go toward developing new, large-scale high-speed rail programs. This includes projects in Florida, which is receiving up to $1.25 billion to develop a new high-speed rail corridor between Tampa and Orlando with trains running up to 168 miles per hour, and in California, which is receiving up to $2.25 billion for its planned project to connect Los Angeles to San Francisco and points in between with trains running up to 220 miles per hour.

In April 2009, the Administration released a long-term plan for high speed rail in America. In addition to the $8 billion awarded today, the plan also included $1 billion a year for five years in the federal budget as a down payment to jump-start the program. Applicants submitted over $55 billion in project proposals for the initial $8 billion in funds awarded today.

Obama Administration officials are traveling across the country this week to announce funding for the high speed rail projects and discuss how this investment will create local jobs and rebuild the economy. Today, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson will travel to Durham, North Carolina, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis will visit Columbus, Ohio and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan will be in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood will hold an event in Washington, DC, Executive Director of the White House Council on Auto Communities and Workers Ed Montgomery will visit St. Louis, Missouri and Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo will be in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On Friday, a senior Department of Transportation official will travel to California and FRA Administrator Szabo will hold an event in Chicago, Illinois. More at WH

Supreme Court Judges Shouldn't Be Pulling a Joe Wilson

It wasn't exactly "You lie!" but it seems to me that Supreme Court justices should have more maturity, integrity and more of an ability to control themselves. Samuel Alito's response to Obama's light scolding during the State of the Union:

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito didn't like hearing President Barack Obama publicly criticize the high court's ruling removing corporate campaign spending limits — and he didn't try to hide it.

Alito made a dismissive face, shook his head repeatedly and appeared to mouth the words "not true" or possibly "simply not true" when Obama assailed the decision Wednesday night in his State of the Union address.

The president had taken the unusual step of publicly scolding the high court, with some of its members in robes seated before him in the House. "With all due deference to the separation of powers," he said, the court last week "reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections." MSNBC

Cantor Says Obama's Speech Lacked Focus

The smug Eric Cantor said Obama's speech lacked focus. No, it didn't lack focus. Obama's got a lot to accomplish. The republicans think they can have it both ways--wreak havoc on the economy and on our nation and then criticize the president who comes in to fix everything. The GOP is ugly. Bipartisanship is looking to be a fairy tale.
Watch Cantor here.

Rudy Giuliani wishes that Obama said "terrorism," "terrorist," "terror" more often.
Ultimately, it's not the speech the matters, but the actions. Pundits place too much importance on speeches, especially Obama's, just so they have something to talk about for days on end.
The republicans' single focus isn't to help govern. It's to get back in power:

Here's Joe Biden:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Obama's State of the Union Jan. 27 2010 Video

Speech transcript.

POTUS was powerful. Happy for the bipartisan message and happy that Obama is still fighting.

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If you'd like, you can watch Bob McDonnell give the republican response here. Read about the unofficial response by "You Lie!" Joe Wilson here. Alito's reaction to being called out by Obama for a lame SCOTUS decision on campaign financing. Bank bailouts as popular as a root canal video.
My favorite part of Obama's speech:
So no, I will not give up on changing the tone of our politics. I know it's an election year. And after last week, it is clear that campaign fever has come even earlier than usual. But we still need to govern. To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve some problems, not run for the hills. And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that sixty votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town, then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it's not leadership. We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions. So let's show the American people that we can do it together. This week, I'll be addressing a meeting of the House Republicans. And I would like to begin monthly meetings with both the Democratic and Republican leadership. I know you can't wait.
and this:
Unfortunately, too many of our citizens have lost faith that our biggest institutions - our corporations, our media, and yes, our government - still reflect these same values. Each of these institutions are full of honorable men and women doing important work that helps our country prosper. But each time a CEO rewards himself for failure, or a banker puts the rest of us at risk for his own selfish gain, people's doubts grow. Each time lobbyists game the system or politicians tear each other down instead of lifting this country up, we lose faith. The more that TV pundits reduce serious debates into silly arguments, and big issues into sound bites, our citizens turn away.

No wonder there's so much cynicism out there.

No wonder there's so much disappointment.

Obama Addresses Republicans in Baltimore Jan. 29

Update: Video of the republican Q&A with Obama here.
Update Jan. 29: Live audio here. Live stream here.
Update Jan. 28: Obama will a local business in Baltimore at 11 am and at 11:25, he'll speak on the jobs tax credit. At 12:10, he'll deliver remarks to House republicans. Then, he'll meet with them.
Obama mentioned this in his State of the Union speech tonight.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to make his first presidential appearance in Baltimore next Friday, when he addresses House Republican Conference members during a retreat.

Mary Vought, spokeswoman for the House Republican Conference, says Republican leaders chose Baltimore for the retreat "because it is a working class city that has a 10.8 percent unemployment rate." HA
The House republican retreat will be held at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel. The nonprofit Congressional Institute is paying for the retreat. Update Jan. 28 from the Baltimore Sun, following the small Hometown Annapolis paper:
House Republicans will gather at an Inner Harbor hotel this evening for an annual retreat that will feature an appearance Friday by President Barack Obama.

The president's midday speech, to be followed by a private question-and-answer session with the Republican lawmakers, is an election-year attempt at bipartisan outreach to a group that has been extremely hostile to his agenda.

Obama met with House Republicans at the Capitol last January, shortly after taking office, but failed to gain any of their votes for his $787 billion stimulus plan a few days later.

The Republican retreat, which runs through Saturday, is designed to help develop the party's strategic plan for the midterm elections. Independent campaign analysts are forecasting significant Republican gains this November, with some predicting at least an outside chance for Republicans to knock Democrats from the majority.
More at BS
Other speakers at the event:
Besides Obama, scheduled speakers at the Baltimore retreat include former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, newly elected Republican Gov. Robert McDonnell of Virginia and former House Republican Leader Dick Armey, who chairs a conservative group that has aggressively opposed Obama's agenda. Retired football coach Lou Holtz, a longtime Republican activist who gave a pep talk at the 2007 retreat on Maryland's Eastern Shore, is the Friday night dinner speaker.

Live Stream of Obama's State of the Union Jan. 27 2010

You'll be able to watch it all over your TVs, but if you're not in front of a TV, here you go. It will be all over the Internet as well. What we know so far is Obama is going to ask Congress to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, he's going to talk about immigration reform, he's going to urge healthcare reform, he's going to talk about a 3-year freeze on discretionary spending. Will there be any surprises? A holler out, a "you lie," something in the speech that the media hasn't already fussed over. We shall see.
Speech over. See SOTU video here.

Glenn Beck Shuns O'Keefe

Does Glenn Beck believe his words have no consequences? He's been calling for a revolution. Hello. He's helping all sorts of people rationalize their bad behavior. Beck leaves James O'Keefe cold and lonely:

But O'Keefe, now accused with three others of posing as telephone repairmen in the New Orleans office of Democratic Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, won't find any comfort from Beck's corner. O'Keefe and friends face federal charges for the incursion in the senator's office.

"If they were doing that, it's Watergate,'' Beck said on the radio today. "That's insanely stupid, and illegal - if it's true.

"You don't do anything illegal. That's Watergate territory,'' Beck suggested. "You just don't do that. Besides that, I don't think you even go dressed up. It's a senator, for the love of Pete, it's a senator.'' Swamp

82nd Airborne Rescues Another in Haiti After 14 Days

Pelosi Says There Will be a Healthcare Bill

Obama will urge healthcare bill in his state of the union speech tonight. Once something passes--if something passes-- they should continue to work on healthcare. Maybe they'll be able to come up with more meaningful legislation out of the spotlight, once healthcare moves to the back burner, perception-wise.

Asked if Congress might abandon a health care initiative beset with political and policy problems, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., responded: "I don't see that as a possibility. We will have something."

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer told congressional staff that Obama will use Wednesday night's address to reiterate his commitment to an ambitious remake of the nation's health care system, similar to the call he issued last September after critics seized the momentum during a summer of angry town hall meetings. MSNBC

Obama Commemorates Liberation of Auschwitz and Birkenau

It's the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and Birkenau. Obama taped the message for a ceremony in Krakow, Poland and Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The Grilling and BBQ of Timothy Geithner

Frankly, I think Congress was highly irresponsible during the bailouts and they're just looking for a scapegoat, someone's head to roll to make it look like they're doing something. Geithner gets roasted but holds his own against John Mica.

Pass the salt:

Pepper:

Geithner's opening statement:

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Schumer and Hatch's Idea on Halting Payroll Taxes on New Hires

Chuck Schumer and Orrin Hatch talk about their new idea, which they wrote about in the NYT a couple of days ago. If an employer hires, they don't have to pay payroll taxes for a year. Joe Scarborough is salivating. Democrats sound like they're going to give up on healthcare. If they think that's going to get them re-elected, they've got another thing coming. Either that or just for PR purposes, they're pretending to put healthcare on the back burner because apparently, most people don't have the sense to realize that healthcare is about jobs. If we made healthcare into reality TV, we could better educate Americans on the key points.

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Smug Cantor Still Playing Games

Eric Cantor is a perfect example of why most of the nation blames republicans for the direction of the nation. He's so divisive. He's got this smugness and says the republicans have stood "ready and willing" to work with Obama. What a lie. He says the stimulus didn't work. Politics aside, MOST economists say the stimulus worked. How could it not work? He also says republicans are willing to work with democrats. What a lie. But as Robert Gibbs put it this morning, now they have to work with democrats. When democrats had the supermajority, republicans could be the Party of No and just watch the democrats be fully responsible for imploding. Now republicans actually have do something. But still, I don't see any sign that Congress is working on behalf of the American people. They're all just worried about losing their jobs. They always seem to be in a state of incompetent fear.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Obama Visits Nashua New Hampshire Feb. 2

Update Feb. 2: Watch video here.


Update: Obama will appear at Nashua High School North for a town hall to be held at 2:15 pm eastern. The event is likely to be live streamed at MSNBC.com. There will be an audio stream at WhiteHouse.gov.
Jim Demers, Concord lobbyist and former Obama campaign co-chairman during the New Hampshire primary campaign confirmed that President Obama will visit Nashua on Tuesday.

"I’m aware that he is going to be coming to the Nashua area and it is my sense that he will be carrying the message from his State of the Union address to the people here," he said. "It is one of many stops across the country he has planned."

Demers said polls indicate Obama remains "very popular in New Hampshire. Union Leader

Conservative Hero Charged With Bugging Plot of Democrat's Office

Hailed as a hero by Glenn Beck and conservatives around the nation for the now infamous videotape of an ACORN office assisting a prostitute and pimp, James O'Keefe was charged in a plot to bug Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu's office. O'Keefe, who describes himself in his Twitter bio as a investigative journalist tweets: "I am a journalist. The truth shall set me free."

The conservative young filmmaker whose undercover sting damaged a liberal activist group last year faces federal criminal charges in an alleged plot to bug the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

Federal investigators charged that James O'Keefe was among four men who created a ruse to enter the lawmaker's downtown office, saying they needed to repair her telephones. O'Keefe used his cellphone to take pictures of two men involved in the Jan. 25 plot, according to court records unsealed Tuesday.

Those men, Joseph Basel and Robert Flanagan, are accused in an FBI agent's sworn affidavit of impersonating telephone company workers, while O'Keefe and another man, Stan Dai, are accused of aiding the plot.

All four were taken to a suburban New Orleans jail and charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony. If convicted, each man faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. More at WaPo

White House Press Briefing Jan. 26

McCain Challenger a Birther

Obviously, this fool doesn't know that Obama has already shown his birth certificate. He has that Michele Bachmann look. Good grief. Is this all we can dredge up for leadership? Politics attracts so few decent people, I'm afraid.

Reid: No Rush on Healthcare

This sounds bad at first glance:

The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, deflected questions about health care. “We’re not on health care now,” he said. “We’ve talked a lot about it in the past.” He added, “There is no rush,” and noted that Congress still had most of this year to work on the health bills passed in 2009 by the Senate and the House.

Mr. Reid said that he and the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi of California, were working to map out a way to complete a health care overhaul in coming months. “There are a number of options being discussed,” Mr. Reid said, emphasizing “procedural aspects” of the issue. NYT
But I'd really be happy to see some bipartisanship and transparency on this bill going forward. I'd also like to see Ben Nelson get dunked. A slowed bill doesn't mean no bill, just not the Senate bill. Let's face it, democrats blew the healthcare bill.

Michelle Obama Announces New Funding for Military Families

Obama's 2011 budget will include $8.8 billion for military family support programs. Michelle spoke at the Joint Armed Forces Officers' Wives' Luncheon.

The Obamas Will Host Civil Rights Music Night Feb. 11

The Obamas at last year's Latina Fiesta night at the White House


Update Feb. 9: See video of the event here.

The event, featuring Bob Dylan, will be live streamed at WhiteHouse.gov at s 5:15 pm eastern. Obama will speak before the event.
The 2010 White House Music Series begins on Wednesday, February 10th, when the President and First Lady will host "In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement" - a concert celebrating Black History month. Participants include Natalie Cole, Bob Dylan, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Smokey Robinson, Seal, the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Howard University Choir and others. Morgan Freeman and Queen Latifah will serve as emcees for this concert which will feature songs from the Civil Rights Movement as well as readings from famous Civil Rights speeches and writings....
As part of this special event, Mrs. Obama will host "Music that Inspired the Movement," a workshop that several of the event's performers will lead for 120 high school students from across the country on Wednesday, February 10th from 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. ET. The students will come to learn about the continuing relevance of music from the Civil Rights Movement to today's generation and its original impact in the 1960s. This event will be streamed live on www.whitehouse.gov and students all over the country will be invited to watch and engage in the workshop.

South Carolina's Leaders Continue to Embarrass the State

Poor South Carolina. They seem to breed "backasswards" (as Sarah Palin would put it) kinds of leaders. South Carolina's Lt. governor Andre Bauer proves to be an arse. In his explanation of comparing poor kids who get reduced-priced school meals to "stray animals," he said: "Just like when you feed animals, you create dependency," he said. Republicans have this notion that poor people want to be poor, that they want to be taken of and yet when it comes to feeding business, they're always there with a handout.

Obama to Speak on Bioterrorism in State of the Union

The Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation recently gave the Obama administration an F, which is why Obama plans to address this at the State of the Union, which will be tomorrow at 9 pm eastern. Read the commission's report here.

President Barack Obama will use his State of the Union address to unveil a new plan for a better and quicker response to bioterrorism threats and attacks, the White House said Tuesday.

The announcement came just hours after the release of a report critical of the government's ability to prepare and respond to bioterrorist attacks.

Obama will be asking government leaders to rethink their plans for medical countermeasures so that quick, reliable and affordable antidotes will be available during any public health emergency, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said. This would be a redesign of the medical antidote system, he said. AP

Bayh's Advice for Obama

Mike Pence, by the way, has decided not to challenge Evan Bayh, probably because Bayh is popular in Indiana. While liberals are telling Obama he needs to move more to the left, moderates such as Bayh are advising Obama to move center. Still the same old battle, and the same one that blocked healthcare. I'm with Bayh. The majority of the country and the independents, really want people working together. Obama can't run the nation from one corner. I think Scott Brown's election made that clear.

"The only way Democrats can govern in this country is by making common cause with moderates and independents," he said. "It may be too late to regain them on health care. It's not too late to regain them on spending." To a president being pulled by some toward the left, and by others toward easy populism, Evan Bayh makes the case for driving a stake firmly in the political center instead. WSJ
Bayh says Obama needs to get tougher on Congress:
President Barack Obama, Mr. Bayh said in an interview, needs to "step it up" in his State of the Union address Wednesday and get tougher with Congress. Here's his message to the White House: "My strong advice is for you to draw a line in the sand on spending in the State of the Union, and to have the president pledge to veto spending bills that exceed the limits he puts out." The White House may be tacking in that direction; officials say it's preparing a plan to freeze some domestic spending.

Obama Will Answer Questions Post SOTU


After the President's speech begins this Wednesday (1/27) at 9pm EST, anyone will be able to submit a follow-up question and vote on others at YouTube.com/CitizenTube. Then next week, the President will answer questions in a special online event, live from the White House. WH

Don't miss the speech at 9pm EST on Wednesday night and the chance to follow-up with your questions.

Obama's Giving Yet Another 'Most Important Speech of His Presidency'

Does the media realize how many times it refers to one of Obama's speeches as a make or break? Practically every time he gives a speech, they declare it at THE MOST IMPORTANT. Drama.
Chuck Todd says Obama's spending ALL DAY behind closed doors working on his speech. That's not true. It's just more dramatic effect. He meets with advisers in the morning and business leaders in the afternoon. Later he meets with Robert Gates.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Schumer and Hatch's Idea

Awwww. A democrat and republican working together. Somebody's singing a song somewhere. Must be Orrin.

We have an idea that is simple, straightforward and easy to explain and administer. In fact, it is so simple that the legislative text of the proposal is only a few pages long — a rarity when it comes to tax policy.

Here’s the idea: Starting immediately after enactment, any private-sector employer that hires a worker who had been unemployed for at least 60 days will not have to pay its 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax on that employee for the duration of 2010. The Social Security trust fund will then be made whole with spending cuts elsewhere in the budget between now and 2015. That’s it. Simple to understand, and easy to explain. NYT

Obama and Biden Hold Town Hall in Tampa Jan. 28

Update: Watch video of the town hall here.


Update Jan. 28: The town hall starts at 1:05 pm eastern. Obama is announcing $1.2 billion in stimulus funds for high speed rail.

This town hall will follow the State of the Union, which should make it more interesting. Plus Joe is along. Should be live streamed at WhiteHouse.gov, MSNBC.com and CNN.com:
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will appear at Bob Martinez Sports Center beginning at 12:30 p.m., the White House announced Monday.

Free tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis on Wednesday from noon to 2 p.m. at Bob Martinez Sports Center.

Tickets are required for admission. The main gym at the center holds more than 3,400 people, according to the school.

The town hall meeting comes one day after the president gives his State of the Union address, one that will focus on jobs.

Read more at the Tampa Bay
The Tampa and Orlando rail projects:
Tampa - Orlando: This investment will initiate the development of the Tampa to Orlando segment, with speeds reaching 168mph and 16 round trips per day on brand new track dedicated solely to high-speed rail. Trip time between the two cities on the new line will be less than one hour, compared to around 90 minutes by car. is project will create jobs and generate economic activity as 84 miles of track are constructed, stations are built or enhanced, and equipment is purchased. Completion of this phase is anticipated in 2014.

Orlando - Miami: Scheduled for completion in 2017, the 230-mile Orlando to Miami line is expected to operate at speeds up to 186mph, reducing travel time between these two cities to approximately two hours, or roughly half as long as it takes to drive the same route. Ultimately, 20 round trips per day between Orlando and Miami are planned. Although no ARRA funding will be used for this segment, significant planning activities are on-going to prepare for this second phase of Florida’s high-speed rail vision. Read more here

Democrats Come Up With a Plan for Healthcare

Let's just put it this way. I'll believe it when I see Obama with his signing pen in his left hand.

Democratic congressional leaders are coalescing around their last, best hope for salvaging President Barack Obama's sweeping health care overhaul.

Their plan is to pass the Senate bill with some changes to accommodate House Democrats, senior Democratic aides said Monday. Leaders will present the idea to the rank and file this week, but it's unclear whether they have enough votes to carry it out. MSNBC
Even the House and Senate democrats are battling each other. It's gotten ridiculous and reality show worthy.
"[Senators] tend to see themselves as a House of Lords and they don't seem to understand that those of us that go out there every two years stay in touch with the American people," he said in an interview with Fox News Radio. "We tend to respond to them a little better."
Clyburn referenced the British upper chamber of Parliament, on which many member of the nobility sit. Read all about it at the Hill

Obama to Propose Freezing Discretionary Spending

This will cause uproar among democrats, republicans. Just as CNN says, Republicans will say it's not enough and democrats will say it's too much. It will be a free for all! Nothing Obama does will please anyone. Everyone has lost sight of the common good.

President Obama will call for a three-year freeze in spending on many domestic programs, and for increases no greater than inflation after that, an initiative intended to signal his seriousness about cutting the budget deficit, administration officials said Monday.

The officials said the proposal would be a major component both of Mr. Obama’s State of the Union speech on Wednesday and the budget that he will send to Congress next Monday for the fiscal year 2011 that begins in October.

It would cover the agencies and programs for which Congress allocates specific budgets each year, from air traffic control and farm subsidies to education, nutrition and national parks.

But it would exempt the Pentagon, foreign aid, the Veterans Administration and homeland security budgets, as well as the entitlement programs that make up the biggest and fastest-growing part of the federal budget, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. NYT