Christmas compromise lesson for lawmakers
December 21st, 2011
06:29 PM ET

Christmas compromise lesson for lawmakers

The mad dash to buy last minute Christmas presents is about at its peak. Shoppers rush around, their eyes glaze over. No words are exchanged but the message is clear, what can I find? What will it cost? Will they like this?

The president of the United States joined the throngs just days before Christmas with an unannounced stop at a local Best Buy to purchase Just Dance 3, a Wii game. “This is for the girls,” he said.

Retailers are banking on the holiday season to polish an otherwise dismal year in an economy that is struggling at best.

President Obama, who has delayed his Christmas getaway to Hawaii to join his family, is fighting with Congress to create jobs and ease the pressure on the unemployed, but there’s a lot of partisan bickering.

However, take a step away from all the political noise and listen.

Do you hear what I hear?
FULL POST


Topics: Christmas • Congress • Lothianisms • President Obama
Obama's last minute Holiday shopping trip
December 21st, 2011
03:56 PM ET

Obama's last minute Holiday shopping trip

With Christmas only four days away, President Obama did some last-minute holiday shopping escaping the legislative stalemate in Congress over the payroll tax extensions.

The president took first dog Bo with him to visit an Alexandria, Virginia shopping center.

First stop: PetSmart – where Bo checked out a small poodle named "Cinnamon," according to its owner.

On the same day the White House website asked "what does $40 mean to you?" the president spent $41 for a rubber chew toy and a large bone.

His next stop: Best Buy – where the president said, "this [stop] is for the girls now." After browsing games in the Wii section, he settled on Just Dance 3 for first daughters Sasha and Malia.

"The girls beat me every time on these dance games," the president said. "But you'll never get a picture of me (playing) because I get graded F every time."

His total bill came to almost $200 for the dance game, the Sims 3 Pets video game and two $50 Apple gift cards. As he pulled out his credit card at the big box store the president joked, "Let's see if my credit card still works."

All that shopping can leave a president hungry, so stop #3: a local pizzeria where he purchased three large pizzas to-go.

Grand total: The president spent nearly $300 on his last-minute shopping trip.

First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters are already in Hawaii on vacation. Hopefully, they have been busy enjoying the beach and not reading online about their famous father's shopping excursion! Gifts are so much better when they are a surprise.


Topics: Christmas • President Obama • The Family
Obama's EPA draws praise, fire over new emission regulations
December 21st, 2011
02:42 PM ET

Obama's EPA draws praise, fire over new emission regulations

(CNN) – The Environmental Protection Agency has unveiled new federal standards on toxic pollutants and mercury emissions from coal power plants – a move being praised by environmentalists but criticized by others, who predict lost jobs and a strain on the nation’s power grid.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, at an event at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, announced that for the first time U.S. coal and oil-fired power plant operators must limit their emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants.

“I am glad to be here to mark the finalization of a clean air rule that has been 20 years in the making, and is now ready to start improving our health, protecting our children, and cleaning up our air,” said Administrator Jackson.  “Under the Clean Air Act these standards will require American power plants to put in place proven and widely available pollution control technologies to cut harmful emissions of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel, and acid gases. In and of itself, this is a great victory for public health, especially for the health of our children.”
FULL POST


Topics: EPA • President Obama • The News
December 21st, 2011
01:12 PM ET

Dueling readouts of Obama-Boehner phone call

While the payroll tax extensions are on hold for the time being, things are still moving behind the scenes. President Obama made phone calls to both House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. While there are no plans to have a face-to-face meeting, the White House has made it clear that the ball is in the House's court.

We got two different readouts of the Obama-Boehner phone call. If only we had been conferenced in to hear what really was said.

From the White House:

In his call to Speaker Boehner, the President reiterated the need and his commitment to work with Congress to extend the payroll tax cut for the entire year, and the fact that the short-term bipartisan compromise passed by almost the entire Senate is the only option to ensure that middle class families aren't hit with a tax hike in 10 days and gives both sides the time needed to work out a full year solution.  The President urged the Speaker to take up the bipartisan compromise passed in the Senate with overwhelming Democratic and Republican support that would prevent 160 million working Americans from being hit with a holiday tax hike on January 1st. ...The President urged the Speaker to allow a vote on the one compromise that Democrats and Republicans passed together to give the American people the assurance they need during this holiday season that they won't see a significant tax hike in just 10 days.

From an aide to Speaker Boehner:

Speaker Boehner spoke to President Obama this afternoon regarding the House’s efforts to prevent a tax increase next year on 160 million working Americans. The Speaker reminded the President that the House is the only body that had done what he asked for by providing a full year of payroll tax relief and extended unemployment benefits. He urged the President to call on Senator Reid to appoint negotiators so that we can produce a full-year bill by the end of the year that provides a tax cut of $1,000 rather than only $166. The Speaker told the President that his conference was elected to change the way Washington does business and that we should not waste the next ten days simply because it is an inconvenient time of year. He said that our differences are not so great that we cannot pass a full-year bill by December 31st. Speaker reiterated to the President that Republican negotiators remain in Washington and ready to work. "Let’s get this done today," the Speaker said.

For the full story from our friends at CNN Wires, click here.

 

Obama’s vacation forecast: Cloudy with a lot of uncertainty
December 21st, 2011
10:13 AM ET

Obama’s vacation forecast: Cloudy with a lot of uncertainty

Washington (CNN) – The rest of the First Family is in Hawaii for the Christmas holiday but President Obama remains at the White House still trying to wrap up a very elusive present, a payroll tax extension and unemployment insurance.

Will he stay or will he go? Not even the president’s top aides know, or at least they aren’t saying.

“I’m reluctant to say where he’s going to be on which day because I don’t want to make this about him,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney when asked where the president would be on Christmas morning. “It is a very fluid situation.”
FULL POST


Topics: President Obama
Morning Briefing: December 21
December 21st, 2011
08:49 AM ET

Morning Briefing: December 21

Obama showing more fire in the belly? [CNN]

He’s got the big mo’ with the middle class [WashPost]

And now he faces the dreaded vacation calculation [Politico]

Does anyone know how this payroll standoff will end? [NYTimes]

WSJ hammers House Republicans [WSJ]

Gingrich was once a pragmatic [NYTimes]

What’s he doing in Virginia today? [NYTimes]

White House scores with its #40dollars campaign
December 21st, 2011
08:21 AM ET

White House scores with its #40dollars campaign

White House social media gurus took to twitter Tuesday afternoon after it was clear Congress would adjourn without extending the payroll tax holiday.  Their question to tweeps?  What does $40 - the average amount Americans will lose from each paycheck if the holiday is not extended - mean to them?

The CNN Wire reports the White House got some unique answers:

Responses, which ranged from the serious to the inane, began pouring in Tuesday after the White House posted the question on its Twitter and Facebook accounts:

"It would be easier to make my student loan payments," tweeted Matthew Nocella.

David Paul Hluchy posted on Facebook that $40 means "40 Hot Wheels mainline cars."

Full story HERE


Topics: The News
What's behind Obama's rising poll numbers?
December 21st, 2011
08:11 AM ET

What's behind Obama's rising poll numbers?

Washington (CNN) - The gridlock and partisanship that threatens to ruin Christmas in Washington could be an election year gift for President Barack Obama's campaign.

A growing number of voters , 50% compared to 44% in March, trust Obama to solve the nation's problems while the percentage of those with faith in congressional Republicans is slipping, according to a CNN/ORC International Poll.

CNN Poll: President's approval nearing 50%

For the Obama team, the poll numbers seem to validate the president's fall and winter strategy: Intone the jobs message like a mantra while squaring off against a do-nothing Congress and congressional Republicans in particular.

Full story


Topics: Poll
POTUS' Day Ahead: Waiting for the next move
December 21st, 2011
08:02 AM ET

POTUS' Day Ahead: Waiting for the next move

Good morning from the White House. As both Houses of Congress have left town, the president is hunkering down at the White House Wednesday with no public events planned. But the day's biggest question is how the president will react to the House's decision to adjourn for the year on Tuesday evening without resolving an extension to the payroll tax holiday - something the president has long pushed. To be sure, it's likely the president will appear on camera at least one time before he himself heads to Hawaii to ratchet up political pressure on Republicans over the issue.

Full Schedule after the jump
FULL POST