Reading the tea leaves on debt ceiling negotiations
Rep. James Clyburn (D) SC characterizes Thursday's bi-partisan congressional meeting on raising the debt ceiling.
May 12th, 2011
07:47 PM ET

Reading the tea leaves on debt ceiling negotiations

WASHINGTON (CNN) - He gave it a "two thumbs up."  No that's not the latest take on the newest summer movie release.  This is Washington, a land where reporters try to read the tea leaves and politicians try their darndest to prevent us from doing so.  The reviewer in question is Rep. James Clyburn (D) SC and one member of a bi-partisan congressional group lead by Vice President Joe Biden tasked with somehow hammering out a compromise that would allow Congress to vote to raise this nation's borrowing limit.  The deadline: this summer or the United States could default on some of its loans.

Republicans Rep. Eric Cantor (R) VA and Sen. Jon Kyl (R) AZ left smiling. They answered no questions but they waved.  Hmmm.

But it was Vice President Joe Biden, never one to shy away from a microphone, who came over to reporters to dissect the two hour meeting.  "Nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to," he said solemnly adding, "[W]hat we agreed to is tentative."   He did repeat the mantra of the Democrats, "[E]verything is on the table."  But he also gave a glimpse inside the negotiations including that yes tax revenues, the bane of Republicans and long-term Medicare costs, something Democrats dismiss are all being discussed.

The bottom line from the vice president: "It is premature to be optimistic but I am clearly not pessimistic."  Oh and no more meetings until the week after next since the House is on break next week back in their home districts.

Congressional Black Caucus vows to keep pushing Obama on jobs
Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D) MO speaks to reporters outside the White House after his caucus met with President Obama Thursday.
May 12th, 2011
07:29 PM ET

Congressional Black Caucus vows to keep pushing Obama on jobs

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Despite what in the past has been a cool if not contentious relationship, members of the Congressional Black Caucus today met with one of its highest profile former members, President Obama.

The focus was jobs and the rising unemployment rate especially in the communities represented by CBC members.  CBC chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D) MO said his members told the president of the "pain that is taking place in the urban poor and in many of the districts we represent."   The unemployment rate among African Americans is nearly twice that of the general population. FULL POST


Topics: Economy • President Obama • The News
Obama honors law enforcement heroes
President Obama speaks at the 'Top Cop' ceremony in the White House Rose Garden
May 12th, 2011
05:23 PM ET

Obama honors law enforcement heroes

Washington (CNN) - Surrounded by police officers, some still recovering from gun shot wounds suffered in the line of duty, President Obama honored the recipients of this year’s Top Cop award Thursday in the White House Rose Garden.

“It’s like the Heisman Trophy presentation for law enforcement,” Obama said as he spoke of the hard work and humility of the recipients on stage behind him at the White House. “They didn’t know it that morning, as they pinned on a badge, or strapped on a vest, or holstered a weapon. But that day, something would happen that would make them worthy of this honor -– whether it was a random act of bravery, or a successful outcome that was the results of months or even years of painstaking and dangerous police work.”

Among the heroic actions that led to this year’s awards were everything from rescuing women and children from armed gang members, saving the life of a shooting victim without the assistance of paramedics, saving paralyzed senior citizens from a burning building, and investigating the attempted car bombing in New York’s Times Square last year.

The Top Cop Award is presented each year to a select group of law enforcement officers from across the country for their actions above and beyond the call of duty. Recipients are chosen by the National Association of Police Organizations.


Topics: President Obama • The News
White House lays out cyber-security proposal
May 12th, 2011
05:21 PM ET

White House lays out cyber-security proposal

WASHINGTON (CNN) – In reaction to ever increasing attacks of cyber crime across the country, the White House today laid out its plan to protect U.S. citizens and the country’s critical infrastructure. 

On a conference call with reporters, a senior White House official said cyber crimes have increased “dramatically” over the last several years and admitted that “the nation cannot fully defend against these threats unless certain parts of the cyber-security laws are updated.”

The proposal, the culmination of two and a half years of work, was done in consultation with cyber-security experts, privacy advocates, private industry and businesses, and officials from across the DOJ, DOD, DHS, and the Commerce Department.

“There’s a lot of smart people working in this,” the White House official said.

The plan was delivered to Congress today, is described by administration officials as “pragmatic and focused,” and aims to improve cyber-security for the American people, the country’s critical infrastructure, and the Federal Government’s own networks and computers.

FULL POST

Obama proposes extending Mueller's term at the F.B.I.
FBI Director Robert Mueller testifying before Congress earlier this year
May 12th, 2011
12:59 PM ET

Obama proposes extending Mueller's term at the F.B.I.

Washington (CNN) - After recently announcing a major shake-up of his national security team, President Obama is asking Congress to approve a two-year extension on the ten year term of FBI Director Robert Mueller. His term is set to expire September 4.

In a statement released by the White House Thursday afternoon, Obama cited the ongoing threats agaisnt the United States, coupled with the upcoming change in leadership at the Pentagon and the C.I.A. as the reasons for his request.

FBI Director Robert Mueller has agreed to serve another two years if Congress approves an unprecedented extension of the current 10-year term limit, FBI officials said Thursday. One senior official who spoke to CNN said Mueller had fully expected to retire when his term ends September 4, but President Obama had persuaded Mueller to remain for two more years.

Both Attorney General Eric Holder and Senator Patrick Leahey, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee have offered their early support for the request.

Read the full statement from President Obama as released by the White House:
FULL POST


Topics: President Obama • The News
Obama: Homeowners need more help
May 12th, 2011
11:55 AM ET

Obama: Homeowners need more help

By CNNMoney Senior Writer Jennifer Liberto -
Washington (CNN) - President Obama said that struggling homeowners need even more help from the banks, in a CBS town hall that aired Thursday.

Calling housing "the biggest headwind on the economy right now," Obama broached two relatively new ideas for the White House: Longer-term mortgage modifications and principal reductions "in some cases."

Both ideas would require Congress to pass laws to force the banks to cooperate.

"If we were there for you [banks] when you got into trouble, then you've got to be there for the American people when they're having a tough time," Obama said during the CBS program which was taped on Wednesday.

In response to a question posed by Nancy Logan of Virginia, an underwater homeowner whose three-year mortgage modification will expire in January 2012, Obama said that reducing some mortgage principals would benefit the banks as well as homeowners.
FULL POST


Topics: Economy • President Obama • The News
May 12th, 2011
11:45 AM ET

Obama asks Hispanic evangelicals to 'keep praying' for immigration reform

WASHINGTON (CNN) - “I’ve got to say, there is no more inspiring way to begin a day than by praying with fellow believers,” President Obama said Thursday morning at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast.

At the event with Hispanic faith leaders, the president took the opportunity to tout immigration reform, describing the it as a “moral imperative.”

Obama spoke of patriots planning the American Revolution inBoston’s Episcopal churches, and noted that the civil rights movement was born in Baptist churches across the South.

“At critical junctures throughout our history, it’s often been men and women of faith who’ve helped to move this country forward,” he observed.

And if immigration reform is to happen, Obama said he needed the help of those in the room.

“The only way we are going to get this done is by building a widespread movement for reform. That’s why I’m asking you to keep preaching and persuading your congregations and communities.  That’s why I’m asking you to keep on activating, getting involved, mobilizing.  That’s why we all need to keep praying,” he pleaded.

For his own part, Obama pledged to continue push the issue and work with Congress.

“I know there are some folks who wish I could just bypass Congress. I can’t,” he said.

May 12th, 2011
10:49 AM ET

Administration official to meet with Libyan opposition

The White House announced Thursday that National Security Advisor Tom Donilon will host a delegation from the Libyan Transitional National Council (TNC) at the White House Friday.

Dr. Mahmoud Gibril, the president of the TNC's Executive Bureau, will be on hand. Gibril met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she was in Paris for a meeting with the Group of Eight foreign ministers in March.

After their White House visit, the TNC will meet with member of Congress.

Here is the release from the White House:

“National Security Advisor Tom Donilon looks forward to welcoming Dr. Mahmoud Gibril and the delegation from the Libyan Transitional National Council to the White House on Friday afternoon.  This is Dr. Gibril’s first official visit to Washington as President of the Transitional National Council’s Executive Bureau.  Dr. Gibril will also be meeting senior administration officials and members of Congress during his visit.”


Topics: Libya • The News • White House
POTUS schedule Thursday, May 12
May 12th, 2011
07:55 AM ET

POTUS schedule Thursday, May 12

(CNN) - The push for immigration reform continues as President Obama delivers remarks Thursday morning at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast.  Later in afternoon he gives interviews to Telemundo and Univision.

The economy and debt limit in particular remain a focus as the president and vice president meet with senate Republicans behind closed doors in the morning and later the Congressional Black Caucus also behind closed doors. There is an open event in the afternoon to honor the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) TOP COPS in the Rose Garden.

Schedule provided by the White House after the jump. FULL POST


Topics: Daily Schedule