SkyscraperCity banner

1 - 20 of 270 Posts

Gotham City
10,972 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Obama ramping up 2012 re-election campaign

By : The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is shifting senior White House staffers to his hometown of Chicago and opening a campaign headquarters there as he steps up preparations for the formal launch of his re-election bid this spring. The moves, widely reported for weeks though confirmed by the White House for the first time Thursday, open a new chapter in Obama's presidency; he will juggle dual roles of candidate and president for the remainder of his first term.
As aides ramped up preparations for 2012, outgoing White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters that the president will soon file papers with the Federal Election Commission to formally declare his candidacy. Officials say fundraising and grass-roots organizing is to begin in March or April.
"We've made progress on getting the economy back in order and I think the president wants to continue to do that," Gibbs said.
Thus, Obama is starting to execute a campaign plan that's been in the works for months. Under it:
Obama's deputy chief of staff Jim Messina will leave the White House to serve as campaign manager. Aides say he's looking for office space in downtown Chicago, and reaching out to potential campaign donors and consultants.
White House social secretary Juliana Smoot and Democratic National Committee executive director Jennifer O'Malley Dillon will serve as deputy campaign managers. Both are veterans of the 2008 campaign, with Smoot having served as finance director and Dillon focusing on battleground states.
As the campaign approaches, the White House plans to close its political affairs office and move its functions to the DNC. White House political director Patrick Gaspard will join the DNC as executive director; former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine will continue to serve as the committee's chairman.
Gibbs said dismantling the White House political wing was "a matter of duplication and efficiency that makes a lot of sense."
The developments are a part of broader White House changes as Obama prepares for his re-election race.
David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager in 2008, recently joined the White House; senior adviser David Axelrod plans to join the campaign in Chicago and Gibbs is to serve as a consultant.

Gotham City
10,972 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Senate Republicans to Oppose Obama’s Spending Plans


Published: January 23, 2011

The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said on Sunday that his party will vigorously oppose the spending initiatives President Obama plans to include in his State of the Union address on Tuesday because “it’s not a time to be looking at pumping up government spending.”

And the number two Republican in the House, Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, said that his party would press ahead with its plans for immediate cuts in spending, including in the defense budget. “Every dollar should be on the table,” he said.
In a video Mr. Obama sent to supporters on Saturday that gave a preview of the speech, the president indicated that he would seek to balance an attack on the deficit with increased spending in fields like education, research and technological innovation that he called crucial to long-term job growth.
Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Mr. McConnell countered that “The American public, as one pundit put it, issued a massive restraining order,” against government spending and excessive debt in November’s Congressional elections.
Indeed, Mr. McConnell seemed at times gleefully sardonic about President Obama’s efforts to depict himself as a centrist trying to find common ground with Republicans. The president, he said, has certainly moved to the enter , but mostly “rhetorically.”
“The president needs to pivot,” Mr. McConnell said. “He seems to be pivoting on virtually everything else, and I don’t put him down for that. I mean he obviously saw what happened in the November election and is trying to go in a different direction. He’s quit bashing business and is now celebrating business.”
“Well it’s about time,” Mr. McConnell added, “because the only way we’re going to get unemployment down and get out of this economic trough is through private sector growth and development. I think excessive government spending, running up debt, making us look like a Western European country is the wrong direction.”
In the video, Mr. Obama called for an attack on the budget deficit, but indicated that his “No. 1 focus is going to be making sure that we are competitive and we are creating jobs not just now but well into the future.” His advisors have said that he will make the case for “investments” in areas like education, transportation and technological innovation.
Mr. McConnell tartly ridiculed that plan as a camouflage for spending.
“With all due respect to our Democratic friends, any time they want to spend, they call it investment, so I think you will hear the president talk about investing a lot Tuesday night.”
But Mr. McConnell said that was the wrong approach because Americans were incensed by the $1 trillion annual deficits in each of the past two years, much of which went for an economic stimulus bill that Mr. McConnell contended had no impact on the job creation or growth in private industry. While Republicans will examine Mr. Obama’s recommendations, he said, “this is not a time to be looking at pumping up government spending in very many areas.”
Appearing on the same show, Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic whip, cautioned that cutting spending could be detrimental to a rebounding economy, noting that the president’s bipartisan deficit commission had issued such warnings.
“They said be careful,” Mr. Durbin, a member of the commission, said. “Don’t start the serious spending cuts until we’re clearly out of the recession in 2013. Maybe it will be sooner. But that warning is something we shouldn’t forget. We learned in history with President Franklin Roosevelt that after the Great Depression when they started to hit the deficit brakes too soon, they went into a double dip recession and higher unemployment.”
Mr. Cantor, the House majority leader, said in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” that a key confrontation between Democrats and Republicans over the issue of spending would come when Congress will be asked by the president to raise the ceiling on the national debt. Mr. Cantor has called that vote “a leverage moment,” when Republicans can extract concessions for their support.
“Let me be clear,” Mr. Cantor said. “Republicans are not going to vote for this increase in the debt limit unless there are serious spending cuts and reforms.”
He said Republicans would try to fulfill promises of cutting the budget by $100 billion this year, but noted that the figure would be met on an annualized basis, since the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, is already well along. In tackling such cuts, he said, “every dollar should be on the table,” including defense, whose budgets Republicans have historically safeguarded.
“No one can defend the expenditure of every dollar and cent over at the Pentagon,” he said. “And we’ve got to be very serious to make sure that they are doing more with less as well.”
Mr. McConnell did not outline where he would like to cut spending, but Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, said Washington needs “to take on some of the sacred cows.”
“Agriculture subsidies are outrageous today,” he said, in an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”. “Ethanol is a joke.” Another target should be federal subsidies to the Post Office, which Mr. McCain called a “model of inefficiency.”
“And then we have to go after entitlements,” Mr. McCain said. “And entitlements have to be on the table sooner rather than later. You and I could write the solution to Social Security problems on the back of an envelope.”
In his appearance, Mr. McConnell also promised that Republicans would find a parliamentary way to have the Senate vote on repealing President Obama’s health care overhaul. If repeal doesn’t pass, as he conceded it probably would not, Republicans would try to take the law apart piecemeal. The Republican-dominated House voted last Wednesday to repeal, a symbolic move since leaders of the Democratic-controlled Senate have said that they will not act on the repeal measure.

Gotham City
10,972 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
9 Senators Seek to Delay Debit Card Fee Changes


Published: March 15, 2011

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill on Tuesday that would delay a new federal regulation to lower the swipe fees that banks could charge merchants for processing debit card transactions.

Although there is growing uneasiness with the regulation, it is not at all clear the senators will succeed in upending the law, which easily passed the Senate last year and was a cause championed by a leading Democrat.
The latest bill, introduced Tuesday by nine senators led by Senator Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana, calls for a two-year delay and a one-year study during that period of the effect of the proposed limits on debit fees.
The Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill, which became law last summer, directed the Federal Reserve Bank to determine the limits in April and put them into effect in July.
The proposed rules have faced complaints and heavy lobbying from banks, credit unions and credit card companies, which say that cutting and capping fees mean that the fees will fail to cover the cost of processing the transactions and accounting for fraud.
The Federal Reserve proposed cutting the fees to 12 cents a transaction, down from the current average of 44 cents a transaction.
Processing fees on debit and prepaid cards totaled $20.5 billion last year, according to the Nilson Report, a research firm.
Five of the nine senators who co-sponsored Tuesday’s legislation opposed the debit fee limits when Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois pushed the original legislation through the Senate last year.
However, Mr. Durbin’s support, along with the fact that his measure passed on a lopsided 64-33 vote last May, means that the nine senators could face an uphill battle to win enough votes to pass. Only one co-sponsor voted in favor of the amendment, and the other three co-sponsors were not Senate members at the time.
Consumer groups and retailers have generally supported the limit on debit fees and opposed the move to delay the new rules.
Public Citizen and the United States Public Interest Research Groups said in a statement that a delay would hurt consumers by maintaining “anticompetitive practices in the payment card market.”
The Consumer Federation of America said it also opposed a delay, because high debit fees were passed along to all consumers through higher costs of goods and services.
The Federal Reserve did its own study of the debit fee market in preparing its proposal. But Mr. Tester said he believed that the Federal Reserve’s research on the issue did not take into account the costs of small community banks, which generally have higher per-transaction operating costs than do giant card issuers like Citigroup and Chase.
Smaller banks, those with less than $10 billion in assets, were exempt from the limits, but Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the Fed, and Sheila C. Bair, chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, told a Senate hearing last month that they had doubts a two-tier system of debit fees was practical.
Mr. Tester said that he believed that he would pick up further support from senators who voted in favor of the Durbin amendment.
“I think there is a little bit of buyers’ remorse as I talk to senators in the hallway,” Mr. Tester said.

Gotham City
10,972 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Goodbye to federal funding for 2012 candidates

By : The Associated Press

NEW YORK — A cornerstone of U.S. politics since the 1970s, public funding of presidential campaigns may soon go the way of other relics of the era like long sideburns and lava lamps. Neither President Barack Obama nor any of the leading 2012 Republican contenders is expected to accept federal matching funds and the limits they impose. In fact, opting to take public money to finance a presidential campaign this year is likely to be seen as the mark of a loser.
"I would be shocked if they took matching funds. I don't think that it's a successful model this time, or in the future," says GOP strategist Carl Forti. He's been an adviser to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and helped run American Crossroads, an independent group that raised millions to defeat Democratic candidates in 2010.
Obama's record-breaking fundraising in the 2008 campaign allowed him to abandon the public system in both the Democratic primaries and the general election. With his success as a benchmark, top-tier Republican candidates now are planning to go it alone.
The president, who has no Democratic primary race, may become the first candidate to raise $1 billion for the general election in 2012.
Republicans in a wide field must battle each other for the party's private donors. But the emergence of free-spending independent political groups — since the Supreme Court in 2009 cleared the way for unlimited corporate spending in campaigns — is expected to help close the imbalance between Obama and the GOP. Several of the Republicans also have immense personal wealth.
Presidential candidates of both parties once relied on money from the U.S. Treasury as an indispensable part of their budgets. Indeed, the ability to qualify for matching funds was considered an indication of a candidate's strength after the system was put in place following Watergate-era fundraising abuses. The system was intended to reduce candidates' dependence on large contributions from individuals and groups.
Money for the program comes from a voluntary $3 checkoff on Americans' income tax returns. The fund currently contains $195 million, which can be used only for presidential primary and general election campaigns and to subsidize the major parties' nominating conventions.
Over time, the program began to weaken. George W. Bush refused public funding in his 2000 and 2004 presidential primary campaigns but did accept the money in the general election. Several candidates in both parties opted out in the 2008 primaries, but others did accept matching funds, including Democrat John Edwards.
Arizona Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee, turned down matching funds for the primaries but then took them in the general election — a move that severely hindered his ability to compete financially with Obama.
For this year's serious GOP candidates, refusing federal funds will be both liberating and daunting.
By refusing matching funds, candidates are potentially forfeiting a lot of money. Edwards received nearly $13 million in matching funds in the 2008 primary, and Joe Biden, now the vice president, accepted over $2 million for his primary run. McCain, the winner of the GOP nomination that year, accepted $84 million in federal funds for the general election, but that barred him from any private fundraising. Obama opted out of the system and raised $264 million.
For the general election this time, a qualifying party's nominee would get just under $90 million and would be prohibited from raising more privately. For the primaries it's more complicated: Qualifying candidates can receive a federal match of up to $250 for each contribution from an individual and must abide by both state spending limits and an overall spending limit of around $50 million.
Among the likely Republican candidates:
— Romney, a multimillionaire, turned down public funds in 2008. He raised $66 million and lent his campaign $44 million before eventually dropping out.
He's expected to enter the 2012 field soon and has begun assembling a list of "bundlers" who have been asked to raise $25,000 apiece. He has told donors he hopes to take in $50 million for the primaries — less than his 2008 run but an ambitious figure nonetheless. He has not indicated how much of his personal fortune he will commit.
— Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich hopes to raise $30 million for the primaries, his advisers say. Gingrich has long solicited funds for several organizations including the independent American Solution for Winning the Future, which raised and spent $28 million in 2010.
— Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has a strong national fundraising base from his years as a lobbyist and as chairman of the Republican National Committee and Republican Governors Association. His advisers say he plans to refuse federal matching funds and has set a goal of raising $55 million for the primaries.
— Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty hopes to raise about $25 million for the primaries. Advisers say they don't believe he would accept matching funds. Pawlenty's campaign has deployed a 16-member national fundraising team aimed at starting an aggressive fundraising push April 1. He also has raised $4 million for three separate political action committees.
Other potential candidates have been less clear about their plans.
— Real estate developer Donald Trump says he will decide by June whether to join the field. Like Romney, he is very wealthy and has vast business connections.
— Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is expected to launch a campaign sometime this spring when he returns from China, where his is serving as U.S. ambassador. Huntsman has abundant personal wealth.
— Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, a tea party favorite weighing a run, raised more than $13 million for her 2010 re-election campaign and has a strong national fundraising base. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is also considering a run and is popular among many social conservatives.
— Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin are weighing bids but are considered less likely to run. Both have strong fundraising connections.
The big Republican field is off to a late start. Most 2008 contenders were in by early 2007 and were able to raise money in the first quarter of the year, between January and March. Most this time won't start until the second quarter, beginning April. 1.
"We have a very different environment than we did in 2008," said Dave Levinthal of the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign fundraising. "These candidates have all shown they have a proven ability to raise money. The problem is, if you have half a dozen or more relatively well-known Republicans running around, there is only so much cash to go around."
Some of the GOP-favoring private groups may get involved in the primaries, raising and spending money on behalf of candidates or targeting others for defeat. But many are likely to save their firepower for the general election.

Gotham City
10,972 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Report: Obama set to launch re-election bid

By : The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is about to make one of Washington's worst kept secrets official: He wants a second term. Democratic officials familiar with the president's plans said Saturday that Obama intends to file papers as early as this coming week with the Federal Election Commission to launch his 2012 re-election campaign. He also will announce his candidacy to supporters by email and text messages.
The officials asked not to be identified in order to speak before the papers are filed.
That widely anticipated but formal step of registering with the FEC will free Obama to start raising money for the re-election effort, which, like his 2008 campaign, will be run from Chicago.
That fundraising already has begun. Obama netted $1.5 million at a Democratic fundraiser in New York's Harlem this past week. He's also scheduled to travel in the week ahead to headline events in Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Obama raised an eye-catching $750 million in 2008.
The president isn't expected to face a primary challenge.
Though a cast of Republican governors, former governors and others are laying the groundwork for a presidential bid, none has entered the race.
As the Obama campaign operation ramps up behind the scenes in terms of money, message and manpower, Obama plans to stay focused on his day job. Aside from the obvious fundraising that will be required of him, Obama intends to stay out of the fray until Republicans settle on a candidate next spring.
Obama's hopes for a second term received a boost Friday after the government said the March unemployment rate had dipped to its lowest level in two years, to 8.8 percent, and that the economy added 216,000 jobs last month.
Polls consistently show the economy is voters' top concern and Republicans plan to make an issue of Obama's handling of the recovery.
Obama said Friday's numbers mean the "economy is showing signs of real strength" as it continues to recover from the recession that wiped out 7.5 million jobs.

Gotham City
10,972 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Obama calls Boehner to White House to talk budget

By : The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has summoned the top Republican in Congress to the White House on Tuesday for talks aimed at averting a government shutdown this weekend. Negotiations have stalled on legislation blending immediate spending cuts with the money required to run federal agencies through the end of September. Democrats are accusing the GOP of pressing harmful spending cuts and attaching a social policy agenda to the must-pass spending bill. House Speaker John Boehner counters that the White House is pressing gimmicky budget cuts.
On a separate long-term track, Republicans controlling the House have fashioned plans to slash the budget deficit by more than $5 trillion over the upcoming decade, combining unprecedented spending cuts with a fundamental restructuring of taxpayer-financed health care for the elderly and the poor.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will unveil the GOP budget blueprint Tuesday morning just as Boehner, R-Ohio, heads to the White House for a meeting on the current-year measure with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, his chief nemesis in Congress.
In an op-ed in Tuesday's editions of The Wall Street Journal, Ryan estimated the proposed Republican budget cut at $6.2 trillion over 10 years. And he said later in a nationally broadcast interview that lawmakers must find a way to come to grips with the financially ailing Medicaid and Medicare programs, which Ryan called "the drivers" of the federal debt.
While Ryan said that over the coming decade, his budget would slash $6.2 trillion from Obama's spending proposals, the savings as measured against the Congressional Budget Office "baseline" would be less.
And if Ryan follows past practice, he'll adopt Obama's assumption that overseas military operations will soon cost just $50 billion a year rather than current levels that are roughly three times that amount. Some have challenged such an assumption as unrealistic.
Ryan's program also includes a controversial proposal to convert the traditional Medicare program for the aged into a system by which private insurers would operate plans approved by the federal government.
Current Medicare beneficiaries or workers age 55 and older would stay in the existing system.
At the same time, Republicans propose to sharply cut projected spending on the Medicaid state-federal health program for the poor and disabled and transform it into a block grant program that gives governors far less money than under current estimates, but considerably more flexibility.
GOP officials requiring anonymity to discuss the budget before its release Tuesday said more than $1 trillion in savings would come from Medicaid.
Spending on hundreds of domestic programs — the accounts at the heart of the talks to avoid a government shutdown — would be returned to levels at or below those in effect in 2008, producing savings of hundreds of billions of dollars.
Ryan's goal for tax reform calls for a top tax rate of 25 percent for both individuals and corporations, down from the current top rate of 35 percent for both. That would mirror a proposal by Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. Ryan embraces the popular goal of simplifying the tax code.
Boehner has ordered up a weeklong stopgap bill to prevent a shutdown. That proposal includes $12 billion in immediate spending cuts and enough money to operate the Pentagon through the end of September.
However, Republicans on Monday disclosed plans to instruct lawmakers "on how the House would operate in the event Senate Democrats shut down the government." And the Obama administration advised government agencies to take the proper steps to prepare for a shutdown.
In a memo to agency officials, the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, Jeffrey Zients, urged agency heads to refine and update contingency plans in the event negotiators don't strike a deal by Friday's deadline. The memo was first reported by The Washington Post.
Boehner has already orchestrated action by Congress to pass a pair of stopgap bills, so far cutting $10 billion from an estimated $1.2 trillion budget to fund the day-to-day operations of government through Sept. 30.
A one-week measure that cuts an additional $12 billion could reassure tea party-backed lawmakers who are among the most vocal in seeking to reduce the size and scope of the government. It could also put pressure on Democrats and the White House to offer greater spending cuts.
But there's no visible movement on an impasse over GOP policy riders attacking Obama's health care and financial reform laws, cutting taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood and reversing a host of Obama's environmental policies.
Under the decidedly arcane congressional budget process, the GOP plan is not actual legislation but provides a nonbinding, theoretical framework for future actions of Congress.
Boehner said in a statement that the $33 billion in current-year spending cuts cited by Democrats "is not enough, and many of the cuts that the White House and Senate Democrats are talking about are full of smoke and mirrors."
Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, said Tuesday the GOP isn't "looking for a government shutdown" but is serious about demanding cuts in spending to curb mounting federal deficits.
Interviewed on CBS's "The Early Show" Tuesday, Ryan predicted that a stopgap bill to keep the government running past a shutdown date at the end of the week will pass the House, but said he wasn't certain about the Senate. Ryan said the Republican-run House has passed three such emergency spending bills this year while the budget legislation has languished in the Senate.
Of GOP demands for billions in budget cuts, he said, "We're looking to get a down payment on this deficit reduction." He also said that lawmakers must come to grips with decisions on how to fix the financially troubled Medicare and Medicaid programs.
Meanwhile, the GOP's decade-long plan far exceeds the $1 trillion-plus reduction outlined in Obama's February budget plan and is on par with recommendations released by Obama's own bipartisan deficit commission in December.
Still, despite cuts already deemed draconian by Democrats, Ryan's plan can't claim a balanced budget by the end of the decade because of promises to not increase taxes or change federal retirement benefits for people 55 and over.

Gotham City
10,972 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Obama administration: Shutdown would hurt economy

By : The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Warning of economic repercussions, the Obama administration said Wednesday that a government shutdown would halt the processing of tax returns and limit small business loans and government-guaranteed mortgages during peak home buying season. Obama's administration sought to put the prospect in terms people would care about, even saying the beloved Cherry Blossom parade in the nation's capital would be wiped out.
The administration described shutdown planning as congressional negotiators continued to work to strike a deal that sets spending limits through the end of September. Negotiators have until Friday to reach an agreement before triggering a shutdown.
President Obama cautioned congressional leaders Tuesday that he would have them back at the White House Wednesday if they didn't make progress. Obama did call House Speaker John Boehner Wednesday morning. Boehner's office said the call lasted just three minutes and that the speaker told Obama he was hopeful a deal could be reached.
Obama left in the early afternoon for events in Philadelphia and New York. He boarded his Marine One helicopter at the White House with no comment, just a friendly wave to supporters
Under the shutdown scenario described by the administration, the government would have to significantly cut staffing across the executive branch, including workers at the White House and civilian employees at the Defense Department; somewhere in the vicinity of 800,000 workers will be affected. Congress and the judiciary branch will also be subject to a shutdown.
The Federal Housing Administration, which guarantees about 30 percent of home mortgages, would stop guaranteeing loans. The issuance of government backed loans to small businesses would be suspended. And processing of tax refunds would halt for those who filed paper forms. Then again, so would tax audits.
Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries would continue to receive benefits. And taxpayers who file electronically will see no delay in processing of their returns.
Among other consequences cited by the administration:
—The Environmental Protection Agency would cease issuing permits and stop reviewing environmental impact statements which will slow approval of projects.
— Military personnel would not get paid beyond Friday, but would continue to earn money that would be paid to them once the government resumes.
— National parks would be closed.
— Most government websites would not be updated, unless they were deemed essential.

Gotham City
10,972 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·

House passes measure to keep government open another week

President Obama has threatened to veto the measure, which funds the Department of Defense through September and pays for an additional week of government operation — with $12 billion in cuts. Democrats seek a one-week extension at existing spending levels.

By Michael A. Memoli, Washington Bureau April 7, 2011, 11:49 a.m.

Reporting from Washington—
Despite a veto threat from President Obama, the House of Representatives passed a spending measure Thursday that would fund the Department of Defense through September and also keep the government open for an additional week.

Though there is broad agreement on the terms of the defense authorization bill, Democrats object to $12 billion in budget cuts that the measure calls for in the seven-day extension of funding for other areas of the government. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) called instead for a one-week extension at existing spending levels.

The House vote on the GOP proposal passed 247-181, largely along party lines.

The Democratic-led Senate is unlikely even to consider the legislation, but the White House nonetheless issued a veto threat Thursday afternoon before the House vote.

"This bill is a distraction from the real work that would bring us closer to a reasonable compromise for funding the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011 and avert a disruptive Federal Government shutdown that would put the Nation's economic recovery in jeopardy," the White House said.

Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said that a vote against the bill was a vote "against the troops." Republican leaders howled at the announcement from the administration.

"Neither the President nor Senate Democrats have identified a single policy provision they find objectionable in the bill," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement. "The bill … would fund our troops through September in the face of three conflicts and keep the government from shutting down tomorrow, while reflecting meaningful reductions in government spending that are widely accepted by both chambers of Congress."

After yet another White House meeting Thursday afternoon, Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that an impasse remained. They will return again Thursday evening, with a Friday deadline looming.

At the White House, Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients, who is charged with overseeing a government shutdown, said federal workers will receive formal guidance Thursday afternoon for what a funding lapse would mean. He also warned that even a brief shutdown could have a "significant" effect on the economy.,0,3794287.story

Gotham City
10,972 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Government shutdown averted: Congress agrees to budget deal, stopgap funding

Gallery: Government shutdown 2011: Congressional leaders agreed late Friday to a compromise that will keep the federal government funded for the remainder of the fiscal year.
By Paul Kane, Philip Rucker and David A. Fahrenthold, Saturday, April 9, 2:48 AM

Congressional leaders agreed late Friday to a compromise that will keep the federal government funded for the remainder of the fiscal year — averting a government shutdown less than an hour before it was set to start.

View all Items in this Story

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) announced the deal just before 11 p.m. The agreement came together in a few frantic hours at the near-deserted Capitol, with a midnight deadline looming.
“I’m pleased that Senator Reid and I and the White House have been able to come to an agreement that will, in fact, cut spending and keep our government open,” Boehner said at an impromptu news conference, mentioning Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).
Shortly after, President Obama read a statement from the White House, pointing out that the Washington Monument, seen lit up over his shoulder, would be open as usual on Saturday.
“Today, Americans of different beliefs came together,” Obama said. He said the cuts would be painful but necessary to maintain the country’s fiscal health. “We protected the investments we need to win the future.”
To keep the government running through Friday, lawmakers approved a short-term spending measure overnight — the Senate at 12:20 and the House at 12:40 — and said the final agreement should be approved next week.
If that happens, the measure would cut $37.8 billion from the federal budget through the end of September, congressional aides said.
Democrats had wanted to cut billions less: they assented to the larger figure, and in return Republicans dropped a demand to take federal funds from the group Planned Parenthood, according to aides in both parties.
However, Republicans did win the inclusion of a policy rider that forbids public money from going toward abortion procedures in the District of Columbia, a restriction that had previously been enacted when Republicans held power in federal Washington. The deal also adds money for one of Boehner’s favored projects, a program that provides low-income District students with money to attend private schools.
After 11 p.m., Reid described the negotiations briefly in a speech on the Senate floor.
“We didn’t do it at this late hour for drama, we did it because it’s been very hard to arrive at this point,” Reid said. “Both sides have had to make tough choices. But tough choices is what this job’s all about.”
The cuts, if enacted, would add up to the largest budget reduction for federal agencies in U.S. history. Some conservative Republicans had pushed for much more and grumbled about the compromise Friday.
But this was still a compromise made on their terms — and a sign of their power. Inside a few months, an ascendant Republican Party has managed to impose its small-government agenda on a town still largely controlled by Democrats.
“It’s all that one-half of one-third of the government can hope for,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), emerging from a caucus meeting after the deal was struck. “In democracy, you compromise.”

The budget agreement is not yet law. On Friday, there simply wasn’t time to make it legal before midnight.
Some conservatives have signaled that they would be unhappy with any compromise that offered a smaller spending reduction than the $61 billion the GOP-led House had passed.
Cutting “$61 billion was just a modest first step,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), co-chair of the conservative Republican Study Committee. He said he would vote “no” on the stopgap measure, signalling his displeasure that Boehner had settled for less. “You need to stay focused on getting the victories in the smaller things so you can get victories in the bigger things later.”
But it’s unclear how widespread such unhappiness will be inside the GOP. Already, many Republicans have called for the party to finish this fight, and focus on a much more ambitious one over the 2012 budget. This week, the House Budget Committee approved a plan that, over 10 years, would save $6 trillion.
The fight over the 2011 budget “is the first bite of the apple,” said Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the budget committee chairman and the architect of that proposal. “We want to get billions in savings and then we want to move on to get trillions in savings.”
On Friday, Obama, who had called congressional leaders to the White House three times in the previous two days to hash out an agreement, played a less public role in the debate. Aides said he spoke on the phone to Boehner twice and Reid at least once, as well as huddling with his own advisers.
He canceled a Friday morning speech in Indianapolis on energy and later in the afternoon opted against a family trip to Williamsburg as a shutdown loomed.
With an agreement, Congress seemed to have resolved a battle that had been brewing since last fall’s elections. As the shutdown ticked closer, it had transfixed and partially paralyzed a vast federal bureaucracy.
If the government had closed, it would have meant closures at national parks and federal agencies, a halt to trash pickup in the District, and furloughs for more than 800,000 governments workers. Just preparing for that had slowed federal business to a crawl in the last week.
Now, officials said, museums should re-open in the morning, and government workers should come to work as scheduled. Washington should continue as if nothing happened.
This budget fight involved just a tiny fraction of the $1 trillion-plus that Congress doles out every year. But the timing was more important than the numbers. This was the first battle since Republicans took the House of Representatives, promising to pare back government spending and deficits. So Republicans — led by Boehner, in his first intense engagement as a leader — were determined to stand their ground in their first fight.

Democrats, on the other hand, still hold the Senate and the White House. In the Senate, Democratic leaders were determined not to be outmaneuvered by Republicans. And in the White House, President Obama seemed interested in cementing his role as a calm mediator, a CEO.

And none of them wanted to be the first to blink. That might have set a damaging precedent for future fights with higher stakes, over the decision to raise the national debt limit, and to pass a 2012 budget.
Their brinkmanship lasted even into Friday, the last day before a shutdown that would likely have damaged both parties’ political fortunes.
Democrats used the day to repeatedly bash the other side for refusing to budge on an issue tied to abortion.
“The House leadership, with the speaker, have a very clear choice to make, and they don’t have much time to make that choice,” Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said in an afternoon news conference. “They can keep their word and significantly cut the federal deficit, or they can shut down the American government over women’s access to health care. If that sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is ridiculous.”
On the Republican side, Boehner emerged repeatedly to reiterate the same message: there was no deal yet.
“Most of the policy issues have been dealt with,” Boehner said Friday afternoon. “The big fight is over the spending.”
As the debate went on, frustration bubbled on both sides. Reid said the drawn-out negotiations had even provoked an outburst from Vice President Biden as a White House talking session hit snags Thursday night.
“Joe Biden wasn’t flustered,” Reid said when a reporter described Biden that way. “But he was damn mad.”
A key sticking point, aides said, was the argument about federal funding for groups such as Planned Parenthood — which was really an argument about abortion.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion provider. In accordance with federal law, none of the money it gets from the government funds abortions. But the organization receives millions of federal dollars for non-abortion services for low-income people, including breast exams and Pap smears, cholesterol and blood pressure screenings, family planning and contraceptives.
Conservatives have questioned the integrity of the group and argued that even if federal funding does not pay for abortions, it frees up other money that does.
In lieu of a provision defunding Planned Parenthood, Republicans this week proposed an alternative that would change the way funding for women’s health programs is distributed, according to senior congressional aides.
Instead of providing the money in federal grants to groups such as Planned Parenthood, the funds would be sent to states in the form of block grants. It would be up to state governments to distribute those funds to health groups.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who co-chairs the Pro-Life Caucus, said the original legislation stripping Planned Parenthood of all its federal funding would have been a blow to the group’s abortion efforts.
He said that one-fourth of all abortions in the United States were performed at the group’s clinics and that its services for women were minimal compared with community health centers that focus on helping the poor.
“You would think this is about women’s health care,” Smith said dismissively of the Democratic arguments. “It’s about abortion.”

Creando Un Nuevo Pais
3,158 Posts
ya veremos que pasa por que lo que se aprobo fue una extensión de 8 dias....there kicking the can a little longer until next week y en ese periodo recortaran $2 billones.

lo que debe preocuparnos es la votación sobre el "United States Debt Celing" no se aumenta we could easily get other words flat broke

Gotham City
10,972 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Obama to Offer Details of Plan to Reduce U.S. Budget Deficit


Published: April 10, 2011

President Obama will lay out a long-term deficit reduction plan later this week that will take “a scalpel, not a machete,” to programs like Medicare and education services and try once again to extract more taxes from the wealthiest Americans, his senior adviser said Sunday.


Next on the Agenda for Washington: Fight Over Debt (April 10, 2011)

The latest on President Obama, the new Congress and other news from Washington and around the nation. Join the discussion.
Appearing on several Sunday morning television talk shows, David Plouffe, Mr. Obama’s senior adviser and former campaign manager, laid out few of the contours of the deficit-cutting plan but sought to distinguish it from a Republican congressional plan announced recently by Paul D. Ryan Jr. of Wisconsin, the chairman of the House budget committee. He said the Republican plan “would give the average millionaire $200,000 in tax cuts” but double the health care costs of senior citizens “$6,000 a year down the road” and trim “energy investment at a time of record gas prices.”
Mr. Plouffe seemed upbeat about the down-to-the-wire plan agreed to Friday night between Republicans and Democrats that would cut this fiscal year’s budget over the remaining six months by $38.5 billion. While it produced more cuts in federal programs than Mr. Obama originally desired, “it preserved things that are important to the president’s plan to win the future — education funding, funding in medical research, other innovation areas,” and avoided “the draconian cuts” the Republicans had sought, he said on “Fox News Sunday.”
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” he also claimed that the deal reached with Republicans protected 800,000 children from being dropped from Head Start, the preschool program for children in poor families, and safeguarded the student loan program.
Republican leaders sounded equally triumphant in their appearances on the Sunday shows and trumpeted their own deficit-reduction plan, which argues that raising taxes on the wealthy would slow down the economy. They pictured Mr. Obama as a reluctant groom at the ceremonies Friday night announcing the compromise.
“We’ve had to bring this president kicking and screaming to the table to cut spending,” Eric Cantor of Virginia, the leader of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“They’re insisting that we have to go about looking at raising taxes again, all while holding up the tax agreement that was signed in December,” he said about the Democrats. “So, on one hand, we’re going to defend that tax agreement but then go ahead and violate it.”
Mr. Plouffe presented few details of the steps the president may outline in his deficit-reduction plan, one that would stretch over several years. But he indicated that Mr. Obama would try again to end tax cuts for those earning $250,000 a year that were enacted during the administration of George W. Bush.
“He’ll lay out his approach this week in terms of the scale of debt reduction he thinks the country needs so we can grow economically and win the future, a balanced approach,” Mr. Plouffe said. A White House official said Mr. Obama’s speech would be on Wednesday.
“Obviously, we need to look at all corners of government,” Mr. Plouffe said. As he said previously, his health care law is $1 trillion in deficit reduction over the next two decades, but we have to do more there. We have to look at more spending here, carefully. As he said, we have to use a scalpel not a machete. And, obviously, this is a distinction with the congressional Republican plan that was announced this week.”
He sounded a conciliatory tone at points, arguing that “what’s clear on deficit reduction, like anything in Washington, if we’re going to make any progress together — whether it’s in education reform, job creation, deficit reduction — the parties are going to have to come together to find common ground. And that’s what happened this week.”

Gotham City
10,972 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Obama to Call for Broad Plan to Reduce Debt

Philip Scott Andrews/The New York Times
President Obama will present his ideas Wednesday.


Published: April 10, 2011

WASHINGTON — President Obama will call this week for Republicans to join him in writing a broad plan to raise revenues and reduce the growth of popular entitlement programs, as the battle over the nation’s financial troubles moves past Friday’s short-term budget deal and into a wider and more consequential debate over the nation’s long-term fiscal health.



Representative Paul Ryan has outlined the Republicans' budget plans.

In a speech to be delivered at a university here on Wednesday, Mr. Obama will in effect come off the sidelines on the debate over reducing the nation’s debt, which is reaching dangerous heights as the population ages.
After months of criticism that he has not led on budget talks, Mr. Obama will urge bipartisan negotiations toward a multiyear debt-reduction plan that administration officials said would depart sharply from the one proposed last week by House Republicans.
The Republican plan includes a shrinking of Medicare and Medicaid and trillions of dollars in tax cuts, while sparing defense spending. Mr. Obama, by contrast, envisions a more comprehensive plan that would include tax increases for the richest taxpayers, cuts to military spending, savings in Medicare and Medicaid, and unspecified changes to Social Security.
In his remarks, which come after Friday’s bipartisan deal to cut domestic spending by about $38 billion for the remainder of this budget year, Mr. Obama will not offer details but will set deficit-cutting goals, White House officials said. The numbers were still under discussion on Sunday.
“He’ll lay out his approach this week in terms of the scale of debt reduction he thinks the country needs so we can grow economically and win the future — a balanced approach,” David Plouffe, the senior White House political strategist, said on “Fox News Sunday,” one of four talk shows on which he appeared Sunday.
“Obviously, we need to look at all corners of government,” Mr. Plouffe said, adding, “We’re going to have a big debate.”
Until now, Mr. Obama has avoided prescribing specific changes to entitlement programs like Medicare, beyond those contained in his health care overhaul. Indeed, few of the recommendations made by his own bipartisan fiscal commission were included in the budget he presented to Congress in February.
What is more, while Mr. Obama proposed a five-year freeze on the growth of domestic spending, he recommended increases in education, research, infrastructure and clean-energy programs — emphasizing that although deficit reduction is important, so are investments to create jobs and skilled workers.
The growing debate over federal spending and taxes is certain to ripple from the White House and Congress to the 2012 presidential campaign, helping to shape voters’ assessment of Mr. Obama’s record and challenging rivals for the Republican presidential nomination to respond, even as they court conservative voters who oppose any compromise with Mr. Obama.
Whether anything tangible comes of the debate, it will contrast the parties’ visions of the role of government.
Republicans reacted skeptically to word of Mr. Obama’s speech. “I sit here and I listen to David Plouffe talk about, you know, their commitment to cut spending and knowing full well that for the last two months we’ve had to bring this president kicking and screaming to the table to cut spending,” Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader, said on Fox.
The timing of Mr. Obama’s remarks reflects a White House strategy devised late last year after Republicans won their House majority, together with the confluence of four events, two last week and two ahead.
Friday night’s 11th-hour agreement on spending cuts, which averted a government shutdown, removed what had been a distraction for months over this year’s unfinished federal budget. Administration officials said they also hoped that the compromise helped build trust with the House speaker, John A. Boehner, that would carry over to the larger debates about long-term spending and the national debt.
Some lawmakers said Sunday that they opposed the compromise, but leaders in both parties remain confident it will pass in the House and Senate this week.
Also last week came a moment the administration had been awaiting for months: Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the House Budget Committee chairman, outlined House Republicans’ long-term budget plan.
Mr. Ryan said it would cut $6 trillion in the coming decade, though budget analysts questioned some of the claimed savings. The plan would turn Medicare into a voucher program for future generations and slash spending for the need-based Medicaid program and other domestic initiatives, while largely sparing the Pentagon and cutting $4 trillion more in corporate and high-income taxes.
The White House settled on a strategy in December by which Mr. Obama would wait for the House Republicans to lay down their cards before he proposed major reductions in popular entitlement benefit programs, according to interviews with administration officials at the time.
Mr. Obama’s budget waiting game, however, has helped to fuel widespread criticism by Republicans, pundits and some Democrats that he has failed to lead.

Another impetus to Wednesday’s move is the White House’s belief that a bipartisan “Gang of Six” senators will announce this week that they have reached agreement on a debt-reduction package similar to that of the president’s fiscal commission.

After months of private discussions, the tentative agreement among the three Republican and three Democratic senators would cut military and domestic programs and overhaul the tax code, eliminating popular tax breaks but using the new revenues to lower income-tax rates and reduce annual deficits. It would be the model, if not in all details, for Mr. Obama’s own goals, Democratic officials say.
Perhaps the biggest prod for Mr. Obama to act, however, is the need for Congress to vote to raise the legal limit on the federal debt, now $14.25 trillion. The government will hit that limit on its borrowing authority in as few as five weeks, the Treasury Department has said. Without an increase by early July, the government cannot continue to make payments on its existing debt, potentially forcing it into an economy-shaking default.
Speaking on Saturday in Connecticut, Mr. Boehner said Republicans would not agree to raise the cap “without something really, really big attached to it.”
Unlike the recent spending-cut negotiations, in which Mr. Obama was not active until the final days, “he knows he has to take a greater role from the beginning” on the debt-limit measure and any companion plan for reducing debt, said an adviser who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Several presidential advisers interviewed in recent weeks said Mr. Obama has been torn between wanting to propose major budget changes to entice Republicans to the bargaining table, including on Social Security, and believing they would never agree to raise revenues on upper-income Americans as part of a deal.
Three House Republican leaders, including Mr. Ryan, were on the fiscal commission; unlike the three Senate Republicans, they opposed the recommendations because they raised revenues and did not cut enough from health care.
The risk to Mr. Obama includes further alienating liberals in his own party. Progressive groups have formed coalitions to oppose any changes to Social Security, for instance.

Gotham City
10,972 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·

Analysis: Obama speech frames a 2012 choice for the country

By Dan Balz, Wednesday, April 13, 9:49 PM

Under pressure from Republicans, President Obama offered a broad vision for solving the nation’s long-term fiscal problems Wednesday. This was not a speech about dollars and cents as much as it was an appeal for Americans to think about what kind of country they want and how they define shared sacrifice.

Obama’s address left many questions unanswered, but there was no doubt that the president and his White House advisers regarded it as one of the most important political speeches he will make in his second two years in office. It was an effort to regain the offensive in a debate that will dominate budget negotiations for the rest of this year and will probably shape the choices voters will face in the 2012 presidential election.
Obama appeared to have two goals in mind. First, he sought to demonstrate that he is serious about solving the debt and deficit problems that threaten the country’s fiscal future. Second, he needed to prove to Democrats that he is prepared to take on the Republicans and fight for policies that his party has long stood for.
The question is whether he can do both. The angry reaction from many Republicans suggests he may have widened the gulf between the two sides, although bipartisan talks in the Senate continue.
In the recent negotiations over funding the government for the rest of this fiscal year, Obama gave considerable ground, at least in the overall size of the spending cuts. His concessions alarmed many Democrats, who fear that he will continue to yield to the GOP in the future. Wednesday’s speech was an effort to say that there are lines he will not cross in the coming talks about raising the debt ceiling and about future budgets.
The president has been on the defensive for weeks in the budget debates, and his hand was called when House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced his long-term fiscal blueprint last week. In responding, Obama laid down clear markers that established profound differences in governing philosophy.
Obama said the GOP proposal offers worthy goals for stabilizing the budget, but he took sharp exception to the path it would follow. “The way this plan achieves those goals would lead to a fundamentally different America than the one we’ve known, certainly in my lifetime,” he said. “In fact, I think it would be fundamentally different than what we’ve known throughout our history.”
Obama charged that the Republicans would threaten the social compact that long has governed society. What he hopes to prove is that that compact can be maintained while stabilizing the government’s fiscal condition. “To meet our fiscal challenge, we will need to make reforms.” he said. “We will all need to make sacrifices. But we do not have to sacrifice the America we believe in. And as long as I’m president, we won’t.”
By all the old rules of politics, Obama would appear to be on solid ground in many of his arguments. He said he will oppose Republican proposals to turn Medicaid into a block grant to the states and to sharply limit the amount of money the government spends on health care for poor people. He said he is against turning Medicare into a voucher program, as Ryan’s blueprint proposes, even though some Democratic deficit-reduction plans move somewhat in that direction.

Both of those stances have proved to be winning arguments in past political debates, but it’s not clear this time whether Obama has a real plan for saving enough money in Medicare to ensure its future financial solvency.
The president also called for cuts in the Pentagon budget, which Ryan’s plan would not touch.
His sharpest distinction with the Republicans came over taxes. Republicans insist that the deficit should be reduced without raising taxes. Obama renewed his call to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, drawing heavy criticism from the GOP.
Polls show strong support for taxing the rich, just as they show opposition to cutting Medicare. But despite a campaign pledge to raise tax rates on income above $250,000, Obama has been unsuccessful in doing so, even when Democrats had sizable majorities in the House and the Senate.
Obama hopes to prove that he can successfully run part of the old Democratic playbook while coming to terms with a fiscal problem that he agrees needs to be dealt with in a comprehensive way.
William Galston of the Brookings Institution recalled Wednesday that there was a big debate inside the White House in 1995 over whether President Bill Clinton should propose his own plan for balancing the budget to answer the Republicans’ proposal. Once he did, Galston said, thereby demonstrating that he and the Republicans differed over means and not ends, Clinton gained the upper hand politically. Obama may hope that his speech will accomplish the same thing.
Obama has long talked about the need to get serious about addressing the problem of debt, deficits and the size of government. But in his first two years in office, he did little to make good on that commitment. His adversaries say he has done just the opposite by running up record deficits, with projections of trillions in new debt over the next decade.
Although he appointed a commission to make recommendations for dealing with debts and deficits, the president appeared to keep the group at arm’s length. In his State of the Union address in January, he barely referred to its plan and then seemed to ask the Republicans to take the first step to engage — which they did.
He has been criticized repeatedly for remaining on the sidelines in the budget battles. The president’s advisers say he long has intended to give the kind of speech he delivered Wednesday but thought he needed to get the 2011 budget resolved before entering into a bigger debate.
Critics scoff at that explanation, wondering how that can be the case when the budget he just submitted to Congress falls far short of the goals he outlined. If he had been serious about engaging this debate, they say, he would have done more to highlight it earlier.
Last week’s agreement on the 2011 budget seems to have convinced Obama that the coming debate over raising the debt ceiling will not be easy and that he and the GOP will need to make some progress on at least a framework for dealing with long-term spending problems. His call for bipartisan negotiations to begin soon, with Vice President Biden representing the White House, underscores that recognition.
Few believe Democrats and Republicans can reach an overall agreement by June, as the president called for in his speech, which is why this debate is likely to carry well into next year. Obama knows that reaching an acceptable deal with the Republicans would allow him to claim that he had tamed the partisan beast in Washington. Absent such a bargain, Wednesday was all about laying the foundation for a grand debate between the president and his Republican challenger in 2012.
[email protected]


Gotham City
10,972 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Laughing Liberally pours on the tea party jokes

( Jennifer S. Altman / FOR THE WASHINGTON POST ) - Comedian Jamie Jackson getting ready to perform in “Laughing Liberally: This Ain't No Tea Party.”

By Emily Wax, Sunday, April 24, 7:13 PM

NEW YORK — In a grungy basement comedy club on West 46th Street, Elon James White, 32, bursts onstage in a hooded sweat shirt, hip-hopistan baseball cap askew, and lobs an opening joke about Rep. Michele Bachmann.
“I’m a fan of Republicans. They are just so damn entertaining. They’re the best reality show — ever. Forget the Kardashians, I want to know what the Bachmanns are up to,” he hoots.

“That’s right, everyone. I’m a Negro in a hoodie, and I know who Michele Bachmann is,” he continues, as the audience claps and roars. “Sorry, but I’m paying attention!”
White is one of a dozen rotating acts in “This Ain’t No Tea Party,” a progressive comedy revue in the midst of a 10-week off-Broadway run. It often draws a packed audience filled with young Midwestern tourists in Uggs, dreadlocked blipsters from the Bronx, retired Upper West Side theater buffs, along with political wonks and human rights activists. The traveling show, Laughing Liberally, plans to tour nationally soon.
Like all good comedy, the show relies on timing. In a cultural moment that finds liberals dismayed by the tea party’s popularity and disheartened by Democratic losses in the 2010 midterm elections, the left is in need of a good laugh.
“Among liberals there’s no euphoria, that’s for sure,” says Laughing Liberally co-founder Justin Krebs, 33, who wears a rumpled suit and sports a loose ponytail as he ushers the audience inside. The goal, he says, is “to energize our base — in the same way the tea party does for the right. The left really needs this. It allows us to vent.”
Laughing Liberally is part of a national volunteer organization called Living Liberally, a social networking organization for like-minded progressives. It is best known for its offshoot, Drinking Liberally, a social club where progressives are invited to cry over a pint in bars and other venues while dishing on politics. “Like many liberals during the George W. Bush years, I realized I needed a drink,” Krebs says. He was not alone. Drinking Liberally grew to have chapters in 50 states.
Laughing Liberally began as a scrappy activist comedy show that entertained liberal protesters and others at St. Paul’s Ordway Center during the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minnesota. Justin’s father, Eric Krebs, a longtime theater producer, saw more in his son’s project than street theater.
“The tea party movement gives Laughing Liberally more urgency than ever,” says Eric Krebs, a curly-haired professor of thea*ter at Baruch College in New York City.
Conservatives in the early 1990s turned to talk radio as their main venue to hash out politics while liberals dominated fake comedy news shows on television, says Paul Lewis, a Boston College English professor and author of “Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict.”
“Inspired by Rush Limbaugh, conservative radio relies on what I call ‘rage-icule,’ an angry form of mockery that not only criticizes but also scorns its targets,” Lewis says.
Though conservative comedians exist — Dennis Miller or “Saturday Night Live’s” Victoria Jackson — conservative comedy hasn’t had as much mainstream success, Lewis says. In early 2007, Fox News attempted to launch a conservative version of “The Daily Show” called “The ½ Hour News Hour.” But after just 13 episodes, the show was canceled.

The show took lobs at “easy targets,” poking fun at Hillary Rodham Clinton, Al Gore and global warming — but a lot of material was off-limits because they feared Republicans being branded racist or insensitive, says a former co-producer.
One of the few right-leaning comics is Nick Di Paolo, who has written for “Saturday Night Live.” Di Paolo, who is socially liberal but economically conservative, has a one-hour special, “Nick Di Paolo Raw Nerve,” airing Saturday on Showtime, in which he takes swipes at favorite targets, such as President Obama and labor unions.
“But comedy has been liberal for so long,” Di Paolo says. “There’s a point of view that is so politically correct that the audience clams up — and laughter is contagious.”
Indeed, the Laughing Liberally show’s young comedians seem to be struggling with the mutable demands of political correctness: Which rules are funny to break and which aren’t?
With her heavy Upper West Side accent and frequent references to Zabar’s, comedian Katie Halper often stuns the audience by giving voice to the Palestinian plight — as a Jewish liberal.
“You’ve heard about the movie ‘Miral’ opening, right?” Halper asks the audience, referring to the recently released film about an orphaned Palestinian girl who finds herself drawn into the conflict.
“Like we really need yet another movie that looks at the conflict from a Palestinian perspective? Way to shatter the stereotype that Hollywood is run by Palestinians. And Palestinian women, specifically,” Halper exhales sarcastically. “Because there are so many Palestinians running Hollywood.”
Some in the audience laugh. But some clearly experience what Halper, a Laughing Liberally co-founder, calls the “PEP Phenomenon,” or Progressive Except on Palestine.
Dean Obeidallah, a boyish-looking Palestinian Italian comic, sees Laughing Liberally as part of a rich American tradition in which performers such as Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce were able to raise sensitive issues such as race and sex.
Obeidallah is also the co-creator of Comedy Central’s Internet series “The Watch List,” which features a cast of Middle Eastern American comedians. Dressed in jeans, sneakers and a hipster-pink plaid shirt, he’s an angsty Arab Chris Rock.
“One of the benefits of having a Muslim name in the U.S. is that you are immune to identity theft,” Obeidallah tells the audience. “I have an Arab American friend whose first name is Osama — he can leave his driver’s license and credit cards in a crack house and no one will pretend to be him.”
Many of the evening’s laughs are uneasy, but a central premise soon emerges: When in doubt, make fun of the tea party.
Comic Jamie Jackson flutters onstage in drag — faux Chanel suit, mousy brown bouffant wig — as Lady Margo Barnesly Farnsworth, a visiting Brit struggling to understand tea party politics.
A friend patiently explains to her that guns don’t actually kill people, and she launches into a bring-down-the-house ditty called “Guns Don’t Kill People. People Kill People.”
“It’s wonderful logic, isn’t it?” Lady Farnsworth croons. “So, let’s keep going.” And the audience claps and sings along.

Gotham City
10,972 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Weiner Tells Friends He Will Step Down

Richard Perry/The New York Times
Representative Anthony D. Weiner during a news conference last week.


Published: June 16, 2011

WASHINGTON — Representative Anthony D. Weiner has told House leaders and friends that he plans to resign his seat after coming under growing pressure from his Democratic colleagues to leave the House, said a top Democratic official and two people told of Mr. Weiner’s plans.


Interactive Feature
Milestones: Anthony D. Weiner

His decision follows of revelations of his lewd online exchanges with women.
The top Democratic official said Anthony Weiner called Representative Nancy Pelosi and Representative Steve Israel last night while they were at the White House picnic to inform them he had decided to resign on Thursday.
Mr. Weiner plans to resign in Brooklyn at 2 p.m., according to two people told of his plans.
The news comes 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 which 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.
Mr. Weiner, a Democrat, came to the conclusion that he could no longer serve after having long discussions with his wife, Huma Abedin, when she returned home on Tuesday after traveling abroad with her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Pressure on Mr. Weiner to leave the House has been building for days, with top House Democrats, including Ms. Pelosi, the Democratic leader, coming forward over the weekend publicly urge him to spare himself, his family and his party any more embarrassment.
But that pressure intensified earlier this week when President Obama publicly suggested that he should step down and Ms. Pelosi told reporters that she was prepared to strip Mr. Weiner of his committee assignments if he did not leave.
At the same time, the House ethics committee had formally opened an inquiry into Mr. Weiner’s conduct, including trading private messages with a teenage girl in Delaware. The investigation raised the prospect that he would face formal charges and sanctions, including expulsion. But with his decision to resign, the investigation is expected to end, since the committee has jurisdiction only over the actions of members of Congress.

Gotham City
10,972 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
United States Senate,

It Get's Better:


Gotham City
10,972 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Obama: The Good Enough President?

By Andrew Harmon

President Obama.

It’s weathered with age; its font is a bit vintage. But the message of the 1996 internal memo on the stakes of a presidential reelection is strikingly current, even more than 15 years later:
“To abandon the President who has delivered on the overwhelming majority of his commitment to gays and lesbians to end discrimination, especially when the alternative is virtually guaranteed to be a President who will rapidly turn back the clock on gay and lesbian progress, would be a political mistake which would haunt gays and lesbians for decades,” wrote Brian Bond, former executive director of the Democratic National Committee’s Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council, in a January 1996 memorandum to Democratic National Committee and White House officials. Included is a compendium of administration accomplishments, from endorsement of the still-pending Employment Non-Discrimination Act to significant increases in public health spending on HIV/AIDS — milestones overshadowed in particular by one lamentable moment over which the 42nd president presided: passage of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
“Bill Clinton has been the first President this nation has ever had to forthrightly, candidly, and in all but one case successfully attack some of the most basic and virulent discrimination that persists against gays and lesbians,” wrote Bond, now President Obama’s deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
As Gay Pride Month draws to a close today, pundits, community leaders, and activists are evaluating anew President Obama’s own advocacy — how the accomplishments that the administration has already achieved, and continues to achieve, should be weighed against his current marriage stance, one that Freedom to Marry founder and attorney Evan Wolfson has said is “wrong — historically, constitutionally, politically, and morally.”
The president struck a confident tone during Wednesday evening’s pride reception remarks at the White House (“I’ve met my commitments to the LGBT community”), confidence reiterated by Bond, now deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. “The President is proud of the accomplishments he and his Administration have achieved for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people here and abroad — accomplishments that have a positive impact on the daily lives of the LGBT community,” Bond said in a statement. “He looks forward to continuing that progress in the months and years to come.”
The Obama LGBT accomplishment list, featured on a White House Web page launched June 1, contains unquestionable historic victories for gay Americans, including declaring the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, signing “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal into law, and assuring rights to hospital visitation and medical decisions for LGBT couples. The Democratic National Committee, which hosted an LGBT Leadership fund-raiser in New York last week, has its own list as well, enumerating accomplishments from the substantive to the symbolic. “Everybody agrees that we’ve made more progress at the federal level in the last two and half years than in the last 250 years combined,” DNC treasurer Andy Tobias said Wednesday morning (the president echoed the sentiment a few hours later in his news conference, saying that in opposing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, “We have done more in the two and a half years that I’ve been in here than the previous 43 Presidents”). “At the same time, we all, including the president, want to see a lot more progress,” Tobias added.
Fred Sainz, vice president of communications for the Human Rights Campaign, which endorsed Obama’s reelection last month, said that LGBT voters will ultimately judge the president on the full body of his accomplishments. While an endorsement for marriage equality would be a huge symbolic moment, “if the president endorses marriage, it’s not game over,” Sainz said. “It’s one peg in a larger strategy. We’re also focusing on meaningful legislation, on policy changes, on everything that will, over time, make the lives of LGBT people better.”

Gotham City
10,972 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Obama raises more than $86M for campaign, DNC

By : The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama collected $86 million combined for his re-election campaign and the Democratic party during the past three months, giving him a large fundraising advantage over the Republican field seeking to challenge him in 2012. Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a video posted early Wednesday that it raised more than $47 million and the Democratic National Committee brought in more than $38 million through the end of June, building a foundation for advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts in next year's election. Obama's team had set a public goal of $60 million combined.
As expected, the fundraising totals outpace Republicans, who have collectively raised about $35 million so far, although some candidates have yet to release their results. At the same time in 2007, 10 GOP presidential hopefuls had raised more than $118 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads the GOP field in fundraising, pulling in more than $18 million during the past three months. An independent fundraising group supporting Romney's presidential bid has raised $12 million this year.
Following Romney, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty collected $4.2 million and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman brought in $4.1 million, with about half coming from his personal wealth. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, a tea party favorite, has not yet released her fundraising totals.
Obama's advisers have told donors privately they hope to match or exceed the $750 million they raised in 2008, anticipating a stiff challenge from Republicans amid rocky economic conditions. Obama has acknowledged he will need to re-energize supporters who were inspired by his message of hope and change three years ago but may be discouraged by the economy and the pace of change.
"We have reason to be proud of what we've built so far but it's going to get tougher from here," Messina said in the video, estimating outside spending by GOP groups could exceed $500 million.
Messina said more than 550,000 people donated money to the campaign during the first three months, a large increase from about 180,000 donors to Obama during the first half of 2007. The campaign has actively courted small donors, hoping to show that the president is in a good position for the 2012 campaign and capable of generating broad financial support.
About 98 percent of the donors gave $250 or less. Messina said the average donation was about $69.
Obama broke his previous fundraising record of $33.1 million during the same quarter in 2007 and surpassed finance efforts by his predecessors. President George W. Bush launched his re-election bid in mid-May 2003 and raised $34.4 million through June 2003. In his first complete fundraising quarter, Bush raised another $50 million, bringing his total to nearly $85 million by the end of September 2003.
Obama's team had said it hoped to collect a combined $60 million for the campaign and the DNC for the three-month fundraising period that ended June 30. Obama opened his re-election campaign in early April and his advisers said the initial fundraising efforts were crucial to building a strong campaign.
Messina said the money is building the campaign's ground game more than a year before Election Day, saying the campaign has "more grassroots support at this point in the process than any campaign in political history." Obama's team has opened 60 field offices across the nation and held more than 31,000 face-to-face meetings with volunteers.
Campaign finance reports are due Friday, and Messina estimated the Obama campaign's report would exceed 15,000 pages.
Obama has held dozens of fundraisers for his campaign and the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising account set up by the DNC and Obama's campaign. At Victory Fund events, the first $5,000 of a donor's contribution goes to the presidential campaign and the remainder goes to the DNC, up to a maximum of $30,800 a year.

Gotham City
10,972 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
‘Enough is enough’: Obama says he’s willing to risk presidency for debt deal

By : The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Amid new warnings and fresh signs of strain, President Barack Obama and congressional leaders are entering a perilous debt-limit endgame. The president, declaring “enough is enough,” is demanding that budget negotiators find common ground by week’s end even as the Senate’s top Republican gained followers for his own last-ditch scheme to avoid a government default. The continuing impasse was unsettling Wall Street, which up to now had performed as if an increase in the debt ceiling was not in doubt. And the looming Aug. 2 cutoff for action was creating new tensions between the president and Republican leaders.
Moody’s Investors Service said Wednesday it will review the government’s credit rating, noting there is a small but rising risk that the government will default on its debt. If Moody’s were to lower the ratings, the consequences would ripple through the economy, pushing up rates for mortgages, car loans and other debts. A Chinese rating agency, Dagong Global Credit Rating Co., also warned of a possible downgrade.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, addressing lawmakers, warned Wednesday that not increasing the nation’s debt ceiling and allowing the nation default on its debt would send “shock waves through the entire financial system.”
And in the cauldron of the White House Cabinet Room, Obama and top lawmakers bargained for nearly two hours Wednesday on spending cuts. Obama curtly ended the session when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., urged Obama to accept a short, monthslong increase in debt instead of one that would last through next year’s presidential election.
“Enough is enough. ... I’ll see you all tomorrow,” Obama said, rising from the negotiating table and leaving the room, according to several officials familiar with the session.
CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante reports President Obama later warned Republicans he was willing to risk his presidency to stick by his insistence for a long-term agreement.
“I’ve reached my limit. This may bring my presidency down, but I will not yield on this,” said Mr. Obama, according to a Republican source.
Cantor said Obama had backed away from spending cuts agreed to earlier and the two sides were far from agreement on a $2.4 trillion package of deficit cuts that would allow the Treasury to borrow through the next election.
Cantor quoted Obama as saying the talks had reached the point that “something’s got to give,” and then demanded Republicans either jettison their demand for deficit cuts at least equal to the size of the debt limit or drop their opposition to tax increases.
“And he said to me, ‘Eric, don’t call my bluff.’ “He said, ‘I’m going to the American people with this.”
Democratic officials said that in fact Cantor had twice earlier in the meeting raised the possibility of a short-term bill, and that he interrupted the president midsentence to do so a third time. But as he left, Obama added, “I’ll see you tomorrow,” they said.
Another round of talks is set for Thursday.
The United States hit its current $14.3 trillion debt ceiling in May and the Obama administration says the government will default on its obligations if the debt limit is not increased by Aug. 2. For a new debt ceiling to last to the end of 2012 would require raising it by about $2.4 trillion.
Republicans, in control of the House of Representatives in part because of the support of tea party activists, say they will not vote to raise the limit if Obama doesn’t agree to at least an equal amount of deficit reductions over 10 years.
Obama and the top eight House and Senate leaders met for the fourth time in as many days Wednesday, and, despite the tense ending, agreed to meet again Thursday. Cantor, speaking to reporters after the meeting broke up, said the White House had been lowering the amount of spending cuts it would put on the table, offering less than $1.4 trillion over 10 years, mostly in domestic and defense spending outside of the major benefits programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
The White House argued that the total was closer to $1.7 trillion over 10 years when counting about $240 billion in reduced interest payments from the lowered debt.
Earlier, in comments to a small group of reporters before the White House session, House Speaker John Boehner complained that negotiating with the White House “the last couple months has been like dealing with Jell-O.”
Democratic officials have portrayed the White House as the more flexible party in the negotiations, willing to cut cherished programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, provided Republicans agree to some increases in revenue. Thursday’s meeting was to focus on spending cuts in the two health care programs and on new tax revenue.
With talks reaching a critical stage without real breakthroughs, some Republican and Democratic lawmakers were looking at a plan proposed by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell that would give Obama new powers to overcome Republican opposition to raise the debt ceiling.
The proposal would place the burden on Obama to win debt ceiling increases up to three times, provided he was able to override congressional vetoes — a threshold Obama could manage to overcome even without a single Republican vote and without massive spending cuts. Conservatives promptly criticized the plan for giving up the leverage to reduce deficits. But the plan raised the prospect of combining it with some of the spending cuts already identified by the White House in order to win support from conservatives in the House.
In an interview with radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham, McConnell described his plan in stark political terms, warning fellow conservatives that failure to raise the debt limit would probably ensure Obama’s re-election in 2012. He predicted that a default would allow Obama to argue that Republicans were making the economy worse.
“You know, it’s an argument he has a good chance of winning, and all of a sudden we (Republicans) have co-ownership of a bad economy,” McConnell said. “That is a very bad positioning going into an election.”
The proposal won praise from two disparate points in the political spectrum — Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
“I am heartened by what I read,” Reid said. “This is a serious proposal. And I commend the Republican leader for coming forward.”
McConnell’s plan was even winning some consideration in the White House. Democratic officials said that even as Obama confronted Cantor and Boehner in Wednesday’s meeting, he commended McConnell.
“Sen. McConnell at least has put forth a proposal,” a Democratic official quoted the president as saying. “It doesn’t reduce the deficit and that’s what we have to do. It just deals with the debt limit. Now Sen. McConnell wants me to wear the jacket for that.”
The officials said Obama went on to say they all had a responsibility to find a compromise.

Gotham City
10,972 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Obama: Still time for big deal on debt

By CB Online Staff
[email protected]

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Friday Congress has a "unique opportunity to do something big" and stabilize the U.S. economy for decades by cutting deficits even as it raises the national debt limit ahead of a critical Aug. 2 deadline. But, he declared, "We're running out of time." Obama said he was ready to make tough decisions — such as on Medicare costs — and challenged Republicans to do the same. He attempted to turn the Republicans' opposition to any tax increases back against them, warning starkly that failure to raise the debt ceiling would mean "effectively a tax increase for everybody" if the government defaults, sending up interest rates.
Still, Obama said that "it's hard to do a big package" in deadlocked Washington, acknowledging Republicans are opposed to any new tax revenue as part of a deficit-cutting deal.
"If they show me a serious plan I'm ready to move," he said.
The president spoke at the White House Friday after five days straight of meetings with congressional leaders failed to yield compromise, and amid increasingly urgent warnings from credit agencies and the financial sector about the risks of failing to raise the government's borrowing limit.
Administration officials and private economists say that if the U.S. fails to raise its borrowing limit and begins to stop paying its bills as a result, the fragile U.S. economy could be cast into a crisis that would reverberate around the globe. Democratic and Republican congressional leaders agree on the need to avert that outcome, but that hasn't been enough to get Republicans to agree to the tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy sought by Obama — or to convince Obama and Democrats to sign onto the steep entitlement cuts without new revenue that Republicans favor.
The president spoke at his third news conference in two weeks on an issue that is increasingly consuming Washington and his presidency.
The president said he was ready to make tough decisions such as restructuring Medicare so that very wealthy recipients would have to pay slightly more. He said he had stressed to Republicans that anything they looked at should not affect current beneficiaries, and he said providers such as drug companies could be targeted for cuts.
On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans in the House emerged from closed-door meetings to reiterate their hardened stances. Republicans announced plans to call a vote next week on a balanced budget constitutional amendment that would force the government to balance its books.
Obama dismissed the idea, saying, "We don't need a constitutional amendment to do that. What we need to do is do our jobs."
Failure to reach compromise has focused attention on a fallback plan under discussion by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. That plan would give Obama greater authority to raise the debt ceiling while setting procedures in motion that could lead to federal spending cuts.
Obama insisted the public was on his side in wanting a "balanced approach" that would mix spending cuts and the tax increases opposed by Republicans.
"The American people are sold," he said. "The problem is that members of Congress are dug in ideologically."
He renewed his pitch for a major package of some $4 trillion, about three-quarters of which would be spending cuts along with about $1 trillion in new revenue.
"We have a chance to stabilize America's finances for a decade or 15 years or 20 years if we're willing to seize the moment," the president said, adding later that everyone must be "willing to compromise."
"We don't need more studies, we don't need a balanced budget amendment," Obama said. He said lawmakers simply needed to be able to make tough decisions and stand up to their political bases.
The outline of the McConnell plan was winning unusual bipartisan support even as some conservatives voiced misgivings.
Under the plan, which would require approval by the House and Senate, Obama would have the power to order an increase in the debt limit of up to $2.5 trillion over the coming year unless both the House and Senate voted by two-thirds margins to deny him. Reid and McConnell were trying to work out ways to guarantee that Congress would also get to vote on sizable deficit reductions. The plan also could be linked to immediate spending cuts already identified by White House and congressional negotiators.
Obama offered measured praise: "It is constructive to say that if Washington operates as usual and can't get something done let's at least avert Armageddon."
But the president said that McConnell's approach only addressed the pressing issue of the debt ceiling, not the country's longer-term deficit woes, and he wanted to handle that as well.
Obama was asked why he still had hopes that the White House negotiations would provide any results, given the lack of success so far.
"I always have hope. Don't you remember my campaign?" he said.
1 - 20 of 270 Posts