(CNN) – What better place to talk about the increasing tourism in the United States than on Walt Disney World’s Main Street USA?
With Cinderella’s castle as a backdrop, President Barack Obama announced a new strategy to increase tourism to the United States. Hoping it will bring much-needed money and jobs; the president’s plan is set to make it easier for travelers from emerging countries to visit the many iconic sites across the US.
“Look at where we are. We’ve got the most entertaining destinations in the world,” Mr. Obama commented. “I’m here because I want more tourists here tomorrow. I want America to be the top tourist destination in the world.”
The plan, signed as an executive order by the president this morning, is expected to dramatically increase the number of foreign tourists allowed entry into the US. The hope is that millions more tourists will travel around the country and spend money in local economies which could lead to the creation of over a million jobs over the next decade.
“That’s why we’re here today- to tell the world that America is open for business. We want to welcome you and to take concrete steps to boost America’s tourism industry so that we keep growing our economy and creating more jobs- here in Florida and all across the country,” the president said.
The United State’s tourism industry has heavily lobbied the administration for the changes in visa policies. The aim is to help tourists, especially from Brazil, India, and China, decrease the wait-time to obtain or renew U.S. visas. Among other reforms, the plan calls for an additional 100 consular officers in those three countries over the next year. FULL POST
You'll notice by the White House schedule that President Obama has a light day ahead. After getting home from fundraising in Chicago early this morning (1:40a), we assume he'll have meetings in the Oval Office but at this point we won't see him on camera at all today. As of right now, all the action at the White House day will have to center around the briefing which happens at 1:30p.
Guidance from the White House:
10:00AM Pool Call Time
1:30PM Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney
The 1600 Report's daily roundup of what the White House is reading this morning online and in the papers:
2012 New Hampshire: The high horse primary (Politico)
Alabama wins national championship (isportsweb)
Iran imposes death sentence on U.S. man accused of spying (NYT)
Latest Syrian violence (CNN)
Mississippi Gov pardons killers (CNN)
IRS gives offshore tax cheats chance another chance to come clean (CNNMoney)
As he takes aim at Congress, Obama risks hitting Democrats [New York Times blog]
Obama should not get carried away with jobless fall [Financial Times (ft.com)]
Iran court sentences American to death [Washington Post]
Chris Christie turns Romney protests against Obama in New Hampshire [LA Times]
New Hampshire Primary: The land of make-believe [POLITICO.com]
And we know this has been out there but just in case you missed it:
Michelle Obama's Evolution as First Lady [New York Times]
President Obama will have a treat for his Monday when he welcomes the champions of his favorite sport to the White House. The Dallas Mavericks who won the NBA championship last June. The team will be in the East Room of the White House today for a ceremony where President Obama will highlight their victory but also their work with military families off the court.
Tonight he turns his attention back to his re-election and has two campaign events here in DC. One will be closed to the press but the other one will have travel pool coverage.
Also, Vice President Biden and the president will sit down for their weekly lunch but we won't have any way of knowing what they discuss since it is closed to the press.
For the full guidance from the White House, click below. FULL POST
TGIF! Just days after the controversial recess appointment of Richard Cordray, President Obama will go over to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to meet and greet one of his newest hires. He'll meet the entire staff of the CFPB and deliver brief remarks to staff members of the new agency.
Also our radar screen today, we're looking forward to what the new jobs numbers are. We'll see if and how the White House will respond to the numbers out for December's unemployment rate and jobs created.
President Obama also has lunch plans today. He'll dine with winners of a campaign contest at a local DC-area restaurant.
For full guidance from the White House, click below. FULL POST
President Obama will head over to the Pentagon this morning to deliver remarks on the Defense Strategic Review, which as CNN has been reporting, is where the Pentagon will present a review saying the US shouldn't fight in two major ground wars simultaneously in the future. He will be joined by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey. According to guidance from the White House, his remarks will "come after a comprehensive review of our defense strategy by the President, America's civilian and uniformed military leadership, and the Administration's national security team."
The only other thing on his schedule is an afternoon meeting with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
The day after the Iowa caucuses, President Obama will spend his Wednesday at a high school in Shaker Heights, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland) to give what the White House calls an "economic-focused" speech. The White House confirmed this morning that he plans on making a recess appointment of Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The travel pool spotted Cordray on Air Force One with the president so we can assume they'll be side-by-side for today's event. Before the speech at 1:15p, President Obama will be stopping at one family's residence to have a discussion about the economy. The president will return to the White House later this afternoon.
For the full schedule, click below. FULL POST
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.
In the latest move in the tale of the dueling countdown clocks, the White House has stepped up their message to target the House and Speaker John Boehner. The running countdown clock, which has been displayed in the White House Briefing Room for the past couple weeks, now says "If the House doesn't act, middle class taxes increase in..." rather than calling on all of Congress to act.
House Speaker Boehner also put a countdown clock on is official website last week, with the word "Congress" marked out and calling on the Senate to act.
The battling clocks are both in reference to the vote in the House for an extension of payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits. Speaker Boehner has said that he rejects the Senate plan for a two-month extension and thinks the House should work through the holidays to reach a new compromise.