The White House decks the halls
November 30th, 2011
05:55 PM ET

The White House decks the halls

WHITE HOUSE (CNN) – First Lady Michelle Obama showed off the newly-decked halls of the White House on Wednesday to a select group of special guests.

Family members of military servicemen and women joined Mrs. Obama and her staff to preview this year’s holiday decorations at the White House.

“I want to thank all of the Gold Star families for your enduring strength and commitment to this country. And I want to thank all of the troops, all of our veterans, all of our military families, whose service and sacrifice inspires us all,” the first lady said. “I know for some of you, this holiday season will be tough. But hopefully, it's times like this that make you know that you live in a grateful nation, and that we are just so inspired by your sacrifice. And hopefully, this is a memory that will stay with you every holiday season.”

This year’s holiday theme is “Shine, Give, Share” and many aspects honor Gold Star and Blue Star families. There are 37 Christmas trees throughout the White House. The largest one, a 18-foot 6-inch balsam fir from Neshkoro, Wisconsin stands in the Blue Room. The tree is adorned with holiday cards made by military children, along with medals, badges, and patches representing all of the branches of the military.

Mrs. Obama spoke of one message on the tree which five children from Washington state wrote. “No matter how many Christmases our dad misses, he makes every Christmas special and we love him,” the card read.

After her remarks in the East Room, she invited all the children to the State Dining Room where the White House served cookies and the kids made holiday crafts. The White House chefs have made 20,000 cookies so far for this holiday season. The White House says approximately 85,000 visitors will pass through its halls this December.

Obama pushes for payroll extensions
November 30th, 2011
04:10 PM ET

Obama pushes for payroll extensions

Scranton, Pennsylvania (CNN) - President Obama brought his two month-long jobs push to Scranton, Pennsylvania Wednesday, pleading with members of Congress back in Washington to extend the payroll tax holiday that he claims will save the average family $1,500 next year.

“Let’s be clear, if they vote no, your taxes go up,” Obama told an enthusiastic crowd at Scranton High School.  “If they vote yes, you get a tax cut.  Which way do you think Congress should vote?”

The payroll extension holiday is among the final components of the president’s larger jobs bill the Congress has yet to formally consider.  Nearly every other measure Obama proposed in the $447 billion bill earlier this fall has been held up by Republicans - and in some cases Democrats - wary of increasing the country’s ballooning deficit or raising taxes on any income brackets. 

The White House, that long suspected many of the president’s proposals would meet opposition in Congress, has jumped at the opportunity to campaign against Washington in the months before the presidential campaign kicks into full gear. 

“Folks in Washington don’t seem to be getting the message,” the president also said in the 20 minute-speech in which he largely railed against congressional Republicans.   FULL POST

In Pennsylvania, presidential politics hard to ignore
November 30th, 2011
09:34 AM ET

In Pennsylvania, presidential politics hard to ignore

Scranton, Pennsylvania (CNN) – Planning to push for an extension of the payroll tax holiday at a high school in Scranton,Pennsylvania on Wednesday, President Obama is taking his jobs message to a familiar setting. 

Pennslyvania is among the states Obama has visited most as president.  It's no surprise: Pennsylvania's penchant for close elections makes its 20 electoral votes a tempting prize for both parties.  But a win here in November may be particularly important to the president, who could use a bit of breathing room as he faces tough odds to hold some of the Republican-leaning states he won in 2008.

Officially, the White House maintains this is not a campaign trip, but the 2012 overtones will be impossible to ignore when Air Force One touches down in this city that once thrived on the back of the coal-mining industry but now faces an unemployment rate bordering on nine percent – the highest among the state's most populous cities.

Obama has a bit of a complicated history here, having gotten his clocked cleaned by Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary before walloping Sen. John McCain eight months later.  Now, the state appears solidly up for grabs: a recent Quinnipiac poll showed him with a razor-thin lead over Mitt Romney, currently the odds-on favorite to win the GOP nomination.

Still, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday presidential travel decisions are based on a variety of factors, not least of which is their proximity to Washington.
FULL POST


Topics: 2012 Election • jobs • President Obama • The News
White House schedule for Wednesday November 30, 2011
November 30th, 2011
08:56 AM ET

White House schedule for Wednesday November 30, 2011

The President starts his day at The White House then heads to Scranton, PA to tout  his jobs plan.   Specifically he will push for the extension of the payroll tax cut.   After Pennsylvania he will head to New York City to attend three fundraisers before returning to DC for the night.   

The real news will happen mid-day here at  The White House when Mrs. Obama unveils The White House Holiday decorations.   Military families including Gold Star and Blue Star families are invited today to view the decorations and then some of the kids will make holiday crafts and treats with The White House chefs and florist.  

full schedule after the jump

FULL POST