WASHINGTON (CNN) - The first family braved 30 degree temperatures to attend the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the Ellipse near the White House Thursday evening.
President Obama delivered remarks and took a front row seat with his family and mother-in-law to watch the one-hour program that included musical performances and a Christmas story by the first lady.
Michelle Obama read The Night Before Christmas to children on stage and ignited laughter when she turned too many pages and lost her place. She said, "First Lady's taking off her gloves," as she exposed her hand to the frigid climate so she wouldn't repeat the mistake.
Statement by President Obama as released by the White House
I am extremely disappointed that yet another filibuster has prevented the Senate from moving forward with the National Defense Authorization Act. Despite having the bipartisan support of a clear majority of Senators, a minority of Senators are standing in the way of the funding upon which our troops, veterans and military families depend. This annual bill has been enacted each of the past 48 years, and our armed forces deserve nothing less this year.
Obama administration putting on a brave face - One hour inside the White House in the middle of a full blown PR campaign
Washington (CNN) - The White House is putting on a brave face in the midst of a congressional revolt, led by its own party, against the president's tax-cut deal.
In the latest move by angry Democrats, House lawmakers are refusing to bring Obama's controversial tax bill to the floor. As some political observers saw all legislative hell breaking out, the White House continued to make painstaking efforts to paint a rosy picture.
As the news of the Democratic blockage broke on Capitol Hill, the spinning over the course of an hour at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. could make you dizzy.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama may be under extreme pressure to get a tax cut deal, START treaty and other key items on his agenda, but according to a top aide, all that heat hasn’t forced the President to smoke.
“I've not seen or witnessed evidence of any smoking in probably nine months,” said White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs.
Gibbs was also unaware if the pressure of working in the White House had spawned any new smokers.
But he acknowledged that the President continues to “wrestle” with his habit by “chewing gum” and just being “stubborn.” “Even where he might have once found some comfort in that,[smoking] he's pushed it away,” Gibbs said.
While the President may have avoided lighting up in front of his spokesman in months, Gibbs stopped short of saying he’d kicked the habit.
Watch the Gibbs remarks FULL POST
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama did not attend a White House meeting Thursday with members of his own debt commission, irking some of the Democrats on the panel who were expecting a high-level push from the commander-in-chief to show that its comprehensive deficit reduction plan is being taken seriously by the White House.
"He should have at least dropped by," one Democratic member of the debt commission told CNN, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he wanted to speak more freely about the panel's private meeting.
A second senior Democratic aide close to the panel added that commission members were miffed and privately believe the President did not attend because it would have been awkward "given the fact that he has just endorsed $900 billion in deficit spending" with the tax cut deal.
Top White House economic adviser hits back at critics over dire economic Predictions
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama's departing top economic adviser Larry Summers hit back at Democratic critics accusing him of exaggerating the consequences of failing to pass the president's tax bill.
Summers surprised some lawmakers Wednesday when he warned Congress that not supporting the legislation could lead to a double-dip recession in 2011.
"If they don't pass this bill in the next couple weeks it will materially increase the risk that the economy would stall out, and we would have a double dip," he told reporters at a White House briefing.
On Thursday, Summers responded to some Democratic lawmakers' grumblings that his dire economic prediction was a wild overstatement, motivated by the White House's full court press to sell their controversial tax cut deal for the rich as well as the middle class.
Watch the interview here
From Dana Bash and Deirdre Walsh, CNN
WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Democrats voted Thursday not to bring up a tax package that President Barack Obama had negotiated with Republicans, raising questions over the president's influence in his own party.
"This message today is very simple. That in the form that it was negotiated, it is not acceptable to the House Democratic caucus," said Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen. "It's as simple as that."
Van Hollen pledged to "work with the White House and our Republican
colleagues to try and make sure we do something right for the economy and right for jobs," he said.
After the vote, the White House said it remains confident "that the major
components" of the tax compromise will pass, according to White House
spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
Check out the complete story on CNN Politics.
CNN's Ed Henry and John Helton contributed to this report.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A very vocal liberal critic of the White House says it is putting out a second television ad slamming President Barack Obama for caving in on the tax cut deal he made with congressional Republicans.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee announced Thursday that its going up with an ad that uses then-candidate Barack Obama's words from two and a half years ago against the president for now striking a deal that would extend Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
The PCCC, in an e-mail Thursday to supporters, said "President Obama did not force a single Republican in Congress to feel political pain back home for being on the wrong side of the tax cuts issue. And now he's asking us to accept a raw deal."
For the complete story, go to CNN's Political Ticker
9:30AM POTUS and VPOTUS receive the Presidential Daily Briefing in the Oval Office (closed)
10:15AM POTUS holds a meeting with the President’s Export Council in the EEOB (pooled press)