The power of the (auto) pen
In this handout photo from the White House President Obama swims in Hawaii on his holiday vacation last year. He directed the signing of the fiscal cliff bill via "auto pen" Wednesday while vacationing in Hawaii.
January 3rd, 2013
11:23 AM ET

The power of the (auto) pen

Honolulu, Hawaii (CNN) - If you are a president who desperately wants to salvage your Hawaiian vacation, why stick around Washington to sign a bill when an automatic pen can do it for you?

That’s what happened Wednesday when the long-haggled over bill to avert the fiscal cliff was delivered to the White House for the president’s signature. With Obama 5,000 miles away in Hawaii, aides decided to prepare the president with an electronic version of the document for his review rather than commission a special flight to currier over the document.

Upon review of the electronic copy, the president directed his signature be affixed to the bill – via that auto pen back in Washingon. It’s a move that, while convenient, raised questions over just how a president can make a bill become a law.

After all, Article I, Section 7, of the Constitution provides that a bill must be presented to the president and “[i]f he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it” (emphasis added).

So can an auto-pen, where the president himself is not technically signing, conform to what the Constitution demands? FULL POST


Topics: Congress • Economy • Fiscal Cliff • President Obama
Obama quickly returns to vacation mode
January 2nd, 2013
05:37 PM ET

Obama quickly returns to vacation mode

Kailua, Hawaii (CNN) - Drama surrounding the fiscal cliff negotiations in Washington lasted well into New Years Day, but a mere 12 hours later President Obama was fully back to his vacation routine 5,000 miles away in Hawaii.

Landing at a rainy Hickam Air Force Base in the pre-dawn hours, the president made a quick stop at his vacation house before scooting to the gym at nearby Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay.

Two hours later, Obama was on the move again, this time for a round of golf – also at the Kaneohe Bay Air Station. His foursome included old Chicago friends Marty Nesbitt and Allison Davis as well as Bobby Titcomb, a childhood friend of Obama from his days growing up in Hawaii.


Topics: Hawaii • President Obama • Vacation
Rice meeting with Obama Friday, not expected to get NSA post
December 14th, 2012
10:43 AM ET

Rice meeting with Obama Friday, not expected to get NSA post

Washington (CNN) – Oh to be a fly on the wall in the Oval Office Friday when President Obama meets with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.

The private one-on-one meeting comes the day after Rice abruptly withdrew her name from consideration to be the next secretary of state, citing a “lengthy, disruptive, and costly” confirmation process.

Rice, thought to be the president’s first choice for the top diplomatic post, took repeated fire for her comments in the aftermath of the September 11, attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. Meanwhile, a goodwill trip to Capitol Hill to allay concerns late last month did more harm than good.

While the president defended Rice publicly on more than one occasion, his delay in nominating her to the post was largely read as a sign he was wavering on his decision which weakened her standing.

As the president gets set to name a new national security team – which includes a defense secretary, CIA director and secretary of state – there was speculation that Rice might be tapped to fill Tom Donilon’s shoes as national security adviser.
FULL POST

Obama's day ahead: Meeting with Rice
December 14th, 2012
07:52 AM ET

Obama's day ahead: Meeting with Rice

Another day closer to the fiscal cliff deadline and another day of President Obama staying out of view. The president will be behind closed doors all Friday, save for a quick bill signing in the Oval Office that will normalize trade relations with Russia and Moldova.

The president is also schedule to meet with UN Ambassador Susan Rice, the day after she formally withdrew her name from consideration for Secretary of State. Unfortunately, that meeting is closed to cameras.

FULL POST


Topics: Daily Schedule
Obama to sit for local TV interviews
December 13th, 2012
10:55 AM ET

Obama to sit for local TV interviews

President Obama's latest fiscal cliff PR effort comes this afternoon, when the president sits down for four local interviews with stations in Philadephia, Miami, Minneapolis, and Sacremento. The interviews, just announced by the White House, constitute the latest move in a string of White House efforts to rally the public to the president's position on raising tax rates as part of a fiscal cliff compromise.

Actual announcement by the White House:

In the afternoon, the President will do a round of regional interviews with anchors from WPVI, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; WSCV Univision, Miami, Florida; WCCO, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and KCRA, Sacramento, California. These interviews are embargoed until 5PM EST. The interviews, in the Diplomatic Room, are closed press.


Topics: President Obama
Obama stays behind-the-scenes as fiscal talks continue
December 13th, 2012
07:54 AM ET

Obama stays behind-the-scenes as fiscal talks continue

As the window for a potential deal on the fiscal cliff begins to close, President Obama remains behind closed doors for the majority of Thursday. We can only expect behind-the-scenes maneuvers surrounding a possible agreement with congressional Republicans if Washington still hopes to salvage a Christmas vacation, not to mention avert the dire consequences that all agree would result if a deal is not reached. Meanwhile, the president is buoyed by new poll numbers from the Wall Street Journal/NBC News showing two-thirds of Americans was a compromise reached that includes both tax increases and tax cuts.

The president's only on-camera appearance Thursday will come this evening when he makes remarks at a Hanukkah reception.

Full schedule:
FULL POST


Topics: Daily Schedule
Obama visits 'middle class' family in latest fiscal cliff gambit
December 6th, 2012
03:58 PM ET

Obama visits 'middle class' family in latest fiscal cliff gambit

(CNN) – In one of the White House’s more elaborate photo-ops surrounding the ongoing fiscal cliff standoff, President Obama Thursday ventured nine miles west of Washington, D.C., to sit down with what his aides described as a “middle class family” in Falls Church, Virginia.

“For them to be burdened unnecessarily because Democrats and Republicans aren’t coming together to solve this problem gives you a sense of the costs involved in very personal terms,” the president told reporters flanked by members of the Santana family in their living room.

“Obviously it would also have impact on the economy because if this family has $2,000 less to spend that translates to $200 billion less in consumer spending next year,” Obama added.

The White House said Tiffany Santana, a high school English teacher, was among those who engaged in the #My2K social media campaign – the effort launched by the White House last week to encourage Americans to write in with stories on how an increase in taxes would affect their lives.

According to the White House, Santana explained her family household includes her husband, 6-year old son, and her parents. Because her parents are also middle-income wage earners, the entire household would see their tax bill go up by $4,000 if the Congress does not act, Santana said.

“The message that I got from Tiffany and the message that I think we all want to send to members of Congress is this is a solvable problem,” Obama also said.

Ahead of the visit, the White House also released a slickly-produced video of the family – reminiscent of a campaign commercial - in which they detailed their monthly expenses and explained why they supported the president’s position. Meanwhile, an Obama/Biden yard sign was spotted still gracing their lawn.

The living room sit-down constituted the president’s latest effort to take his case on the fiscal cliff debate to the American people directly. Earlier this week he spoke to workers at a toy-manufacturing plant outside Philadelphia. He’s set to make a similar speech in Detroit next week.


Topics: President Obama
Obama takes fiscal cliff talk to Twitter
December 3rd, 2012
03:16 PM ET

Obama takes fiscal cliff talk to Twitter

(CNN) – President Obama took his message on the fiscal cliff negotiations to Twitter Monday, personally responding to a handful of selected tweets regarding the ongoing debate over proposed changes to taxes and spending.

But while Twitter may have provided a fairly new venue for Obama to convey his message (he’s personally used Twitter only a handful of times), the president’s talking points on the issue mirrored those he has delivered repeatedly since negotiations began in earnest last month.

In his nearly 60-minute session on Twitter, conducted from a laptop set up in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Obama responded to about 10 questions, ranging from the likelihood of certain tax deductions being cut for middle class wage-earners to which spending cuts the president would agree to.

While the president said little on Twitter he and his aides haven’t said before, he made clear he is looking for more revenue than spending cuts in this deal because of the already $1 trillion in spending cuts he agreed to in last year’s negotiations.

This has come as an apparent surprise to the GOP leadership, who expected the president would be open to significantly more spending cuts this round of negotiations.

It wasn't all fiscal talk on Twitter however. The last tweet Obama replied to concerned his beloved Chicago Bears and Chicago Bulls.

POTUS' Day Ahead: Selling it on the road
November 30th, 2012
07:38 AM ET

POTUS' Day Ahead: Selling it on the road

There will be no Obama 2012 signage or a campaign playlist, but the president’s trip to a Philadelphia suburb Friday might feel a bit like late October again. Obama will hit the road to promote his position on freezing tax rates for households making under $250,000 while increasing those of the wealthiest wage-earners. The midday trip to Hatfiled, PA has already been criticized by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said earlier this week the president “is back on the campaign trail presumably with the same old talking points that we are all quite familiar with.”

Obama will tour The Rodon Group manufacturing facility, a toy manufacturer whose products include Tinkertoy, K’NEX Building Sets and Angry Bird Building Sets. The tour will be followed by formal remarks at 12:05 PM.  He returns to the South Lawn at 2:55 PM.

Full schedule after the jump:
FULL POST

POTUS' Day Ahead: Staying behind closed doors
November 26th, 2012
07:17 AM ET

POTUS' Day Ahead: Staying behind closed doors

Good morning from the White House. After a long holiday weekend, the president is back to work at the White House and out of view from the public eye. On the schedule today is his usual daily briefing and then a meeting with senior advisors. As is normally the case, those meetings are not open to the press.

Jay Carney will brief reporters at 1:30 pm.

Full schedule:
FULL POST


Topics: Daily Schedule