President calls debt crisis 'self-created'
July 20th, 2011
08:13 PM ET

President calls debt crisis 'self-created'

Washington (CNN) - As President Barack Obama sat down with television stations from three key political states, he said he is still hopeful the White House and congressional leadership will come to an agreement to raise the nation's debt ceiling but said politics is interfering.

"This is actually a self-created crisis in some ways. It has to do with folks who are digging into set positions rather than saying how do we solve a problem," the president told KMBC, a CNN affiliate in Kansas City, Missouri.

When asked if people can expect their Social Security checks in August, he told the station it is not guaranteed.

"I am going to do everything in my power to make sure they do. My interest here is not scaring people. I want everyone to understand the consequences. If you don’t have money you have to make very difficult choices. The fact of the matter is if you don’t raise the debt ceiling then we have more obligations - 70 million checks have to be sent out - and all of those have to be covered."
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I'm in better shape than the President!
July 20th, 2011
04:38 PM ET

I'm in better shape than the President!

Take a look at next month’s issue of Better Homes and Gardens, and flowers won’t be the only thing in season— First Lady Michelle Obama is in full bloom and so are her efforts to fight childhood obesity.

The article, featuring several colorful photos and recipe suggestions, illustrates Mrs. Obama’s picnic with the fifth grade class from Harriet Tubman Elementary School, who joined her on the White House lawn back in May.

She tells Better Homes and Gardens that a regular check up with her daughters’ pediatrician first opened her eyes to the fact that the first family wasn’t reacting to life in Washington in the healthiest way.

She noticed it in herself, too: “I realized that some clothes were getting tighter. I didn’t know what was going on.” She started spending more time at the gym, and now she says it’s paid off. “I always tease him I’m in better shape than he is,” joked the First Lady about her husband. “I can do long workouts. He’s the President,” she jokes.
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Topics: Michelle Obama • The Family
First lady takes on ‘food deserts’
July 20th, 2011
03:43 PM ET

First lady takes on ‘food deserts’

Michelle Obama unveiled the latest push in her healthy-eating campaign Wednesday, announcing several national and regional food retailers have pledged to expand into a string of low-income markets where finding nutritious food options is nearly impossible.

“If a parent wants to pack a piece of fruit in a child’s lunch, if a parent wants to add some lettuce to a salad at dinner, they shouldn’t have to take three city busses…to go to another community to make that possible,” the first lady said at during a White House event marking the new effort.

National chains participating in the partnership include Wal-Mart, Walgreens and SuperValu, which have agreed to open or expand more than 1,000 locations as part of the effort to eliminate what the Department of Agriculture calls “food deserts” throughout the country.

A handful of regional retailers are also involved, including Calhoun foods, an Alabama-based chain that currently serves low-income communities with six stores. The minority-owned company, which in the depths of the recession two years ago was forced to cut back workers’ hours to avoid layoffs, said they plan to open 10 additional stores in the coming years in currently under-served communities. CEO Greg Calhoun as well as Jimmie Coleman, a manger at the chain, were on hand for the event.
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Topics: Michelle Obama
President Obama moves closer to supporting same sex marriage
July 20th, 2011
12:17 PM ET

President Obama moves closer to supporting same sex marriage

President Obama is now supporting the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the ban on same sex marriage President Clinton signed into law in 1996. 

"He is proud to support the Respect for Marriage Act ... which would take DOMA off the books once and for all," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney at yesterday's briefing. "This legislation would uphold the principle that the federal government should not deny gay and lesbian couples the same rights and legal protections as straight couples."

The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would erase DOMA's definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.  The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on the proposal today - the first, I'm told, on repealing DOMA.

It may seem like an incremental move but one Democratic source I spoke with actually described it as "momentous" because the president has taken a nuanced view on DOMA, calling it "unconstitutional" (as recently as June) but never outright calling for its repeal.
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POTUS schedule for Wednesday, July 20, 2011
July 20th, 2011
08:07 AM ET

POTUS schedule for Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Today is another day at the White House where President Obama doesn't have any public events on his schedule. He'll have his usual morning meetings and later this morning, he'll have his next set of interview with local affiliates- this time with TV stations in Columbus, OH, Los Angeles, and Kansas City, MO. Later this afternoon, he and the vice president will meet with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, which is also closed to the press. Meanwhile, there's plenty of time on the schedule to host the latest round of meetings on the deficit reduction talks. We don't know of any official, planned visits from Congressional leadership but we'll keep you posted when we do.

Click below for the official White House schedule. FULL POST