NASCAR's top drivers including champion Jimmie Johnson came to the White House Wednesday. President Obama honored Johnson and seven of the top 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship for their efforts to give back to the community especially the military.
"[W]hat also makes NASCAR special is the difference that it makes in the lives of so many people, especially our troops and their families," the president told the drivers and NASCAR fans gathered in the East Room. The president noting that the drivers and NASCAR staff served dinner to 400 wounded servicemen at Walter Reed Army Hospital last month.
Wednesday's event was all smiles despite the perception of a flap when some of the top drivers declined the coveted White House invite. Today's attendees included Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Kyle and Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton. The driver's presented the president with his own helmet and driving gloves.
The president joked he would put them to good use.
"I’m not allowed to drive much these days– basically just my golf cart at Camp David– which is called Golf Cart One."
Ahead of the president's major jobs speech tomorrow to a joint session of Congress, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney offered few specific details at today's briefing. Carney also spoke about the upcoming 9/11 10th anniversary saying there are "no specific threats" but the White House remains "vigilent".
On the president's jobs speech tomorrow:
(CARNEY) "As part of his proposal, the president will identify specific, scorable measures that will ensure that the jobs and growth measures are paid for."
(CARNEY) "...he will put forward, both in his speech and in supporting material, a very detailed series of proposals to grow the economy and create jobs.
...how the process moves forward, in terms of engaging Congress and working with Congress to pass those measures, I will leave for a later date. But you can be sure that they will be specific, they will be measurable, they will be paid for. And they will be, by any objective standard, the kinds of measures that have enjoyed bipartisan support in the past."
(CARNEY) "I am not going to get into specific numbers about the cost of the proposals he puts forward.
I will say, as I've said before, that they will be paid for...The important factor here is not the top-line number. It is the substance underneath the number."
(CARNEY) "He will tomorrow night put forward a jobs and growth package that he is quite certain responds to what the American people are demanding and is responsive to what the American economy demands."
On the 9/11 anniversary:
(CARNEY) "[T]here are no specific threats to which we are responding. But we are obviously very vigilant and are taking all the precautionary measures, both seen and unseen, that we believe are necessary around this anniversary."
(CARNEY) "[Y]esterday the president convened a meeting in the Situation Room with senior members of his homeland security team to ensure that all necessary homeland security measures, precautions are being taken in advance of the upcoming 10th anniversary of 9/11."
On the Pentagon raising the threat level at military bases in advance of the 9/11 anniversary:
"...[Y]ou've seen the report about the Department of Defense. I think they've spoken to that and the measures they're taking regarding military installations in the United States. This is a precautionary measure, and we don't have any specific credible threats. But obviously this is a significant anniversary. Al Qaida and others have expressed interest in anniversaries in the past. So we remain ever vigilant through the anniversary and beyond."
Washington (CNN) – A Democratic source familiar with President Obama’s jobs plan has given CNN details of the roughly $300 billion draft proposal. The plan will contain a combination of tax cuts, infrastructure spending, and aid to state and local governments.
In the working draft, the largest piece would be around $120 billion to extend the 2% payroll tax cut for all employees, with another approximately $50 billion to extend unemployment insurance, both of which expire December 31st. Small businesses would receive employer payroll tax cuts if they add more workers.
For infrastructure spending, there would be significant funding for building roads, as well as roughly $30 billion for school construction.
Finally, state and local governments would receive billions in aid to hire more teachers and first responders.
According to this Democrat, the plan aims to help the long-term unemployed get to work by giving small businesses tax credits for hiring them and possibly by encouraging states to use innovative jobs training programs to link them with businesses that offer on the job training. The goal would be to offer specific help to groups that have unique trouble finding work: low- income low-skilled people, seniors, veterans, among others.
The White House is still working on the exact details of the plan before the president delivers his speech to a Joint Session of Congress tomorrow night. President Obama will include proposals to pay for the plan.
As the remants of Tropical Storm Lee pass through the Mid-Atlantic, heavy downpours have left a little flash flooding along the White House sidewalk. The White House has already moved this afternoon's Rose Garden event with NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson inside to the East Room. We're guessing that Johnson's No. 48 car, sponsored by Lowe's, will have to stay outside.
President Obama is continuing to work behind the scenes on his job plan and getting his remarks ready for his primetime appearance in a joint session of Congress tomorrow night. In the meantime, he and Vice President Biden will have closed-door meetings with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. This afternoon, we'll see President Obama but he won't be touching the jobs plan- he'll be talking NASCAR as he hosts Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson and other NASCAR drivers such as Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, and Kyle Busch.
For the full schedule released by the White House, click below. FULL POST
The 1600 Report Blog's daily roundup of what the White House is reading this morning online and in the papers:
*The incredible shrinking Obama [Politico]
*Obama hits new lows among strongest 2008 supporters [Washingtonpost.com]
*A Campaign Challenge: Defining Obama [New York Times]
*Will Obama Meet with Boehner, Cantor? [WSJ: Washington Wire]
*Obama jobs plan to include $300 billion in tax credits, spending [LA Times]
*Blitzer's Blog: Cheney refuses to admit any mistakes as vice president [CNN.com]
*President to honor Johnson, 2010 Chase drivers [NASCAR.com]