High stakes for President Obama at the U.N.
FILE/President Obama gives a speech about Middle East Speech at the State Department on May 19, 2011
September 16th, 2011
07:02 PM ET

High stakes for President Obama at the U.N.

Washington (CNN) - As President Obama fights to keep the nation's focus on his jobs plan, a new crisis looms. He'll be thrust into a high stakes showdown over Palestinian statehood when the United Nations General Assembly gathers in New York next week. 

“The Palestinians will not, and cannot, achieve statehood through a declaration at the United Nations. It is a distraction, and, in fact, it's counterproductive,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney to reporters on Thursday. 

But it's going to happen - so says Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. 

With peace talks stalled, Abbas insists he'll ask the UN Security Council to give Palestinians statehood status - which the Obama administration vows to veto. 

That could alienate Arab allies the United States desperately needs: allies who might question the President's commitment to freedom for all people in the region, given his strong stand during the Arab spring.  FULL POST

Topics: Middle East • The News
Friday fun: "Mad Men" in the White House
September 16th, 2011
05:25 PM ET

Friday fun: "Mad Men" in the White House

Open any newspaper or magazine. Drive down any highway or listen to your radio. Turn on your T.V. or, these days, turn on your iPhone. What do you see? Advertisements.

In today’s world, thousands of advertisements bombard us on every street corner, in every office building and even from our own living room – and though there is no definitive number based on the individual’s daily routine, most guesses regarding individual exposure to ads fall between 3,000 and 5,000 ads… per day. Heck, there are even televisions shows about advertisements! Take “Mad Men” for instance.

And so, I introduce to you the ultimate salesman: the president of the United States of America.

Like a “Mad Man,” the president needs to convince his “intended client” (read: the American public) to invest, both emotionally and financially, in every “ad” (read: project). And how does he do this? Why, a sales pitch (read: speech) of course! But when you’re the POTUS, it takes a little more than a jingle or slogan to make your “clients” invest in the “ad.”

And so, without further ado, we present a comparison of three well-known presidential sales pitches: Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “The New Deal,” Lyndon B. Johnson’s “The Great Society,” and Barack H. Obama’s “The American Jobs Act.”

It’s all in the name

As any Mad Men fan will tell you, it’s all in the name. However, unlike FDR’s “The New Deal” and LBJ’s “The Great Society,” – titles that evoke a sense of change – Obama’s title for his sales pitch falls flat.

WINNER: FDR’s “The New Deal” is short and simple, and ultimately brought hope to an American public desperately in need of a new life.

Topics: FDR • Friday fun • LBJ • President Obama
Sunday, September 11
September 16th, 2011
04:59 PM ET

Week in Review

The week began with a somber note as President Obama marked the 10-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks in all three locations where Americans were killed that day. The rest of the week saw the president travel to two swing states to sell his jobs plan, award the Medal of Honor to a former marine, and sign a bill that reforms that patent approval process.

Topics: President Obama
Obama signs patent reform bill
September 16th, 2011
12:38 PM ET

Obama signs patent reform bill

President Obama has long been pushing patent reform as a vehicle for job creation, and on Friday he was finally able to sign a major overhaul bill that had been kicking around Congress for months into law.

The story from The CNN WIRE:

(CNN) - President Barack Obama signed legislation Friday that will overhaul the U.S. patent system for the first time since 1952.

"We have to do everything we can to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit wherever we find it," Obama said at a signing ceremony at a high school in Arlington, Virginia. This measure "cuts away the red tape that slows down our inventors and entrepreneurs."

Obama used the occasion to promote his $447 billion jobs plan, calling patent reform a "part of our (larger) agenda for making us competitive over the long term."

If nothing else, perhaps the bill is proof our divided government CAN still pass a bill.


Topics: President Obama • The News
Previewing Obama's debt reduction plan
September 16th, 2011
10:54 AM ET

Previewing Obama's debt reduction plan

Our CNNMoney.com colleagues are up with a great preview of just what President Obama will suggest Congress institute to achieve the deficit reduction that was part of the debt ceiling compromise earlier this summer.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - President Obama's debt reduction plan is set to land Monday in the laps of the 12 members of the Congress' bipartisan debt committee.

In recent weeks the president has said his plan would offer specific proposals that can achieve savings "more ambitious" than the committee's $1.5 trillion target. He said it would be "balanced," involving both spending cuts and tax increases. And he promised it would "stabilize debt in the long run."

But those phrases offer wide berth for interpretation.

We already found out earlier in the week one thing the president will NOT propose: making any changes to social security.


Topics: Uncategorized
Axelrod says Dem base is behind Obama
September 16th, 2011
10:44 AM ET

Axelrod says Dem base is behind Obama

Top Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod is putting on a confident face after a string of polls have suggested the president’s approval ratings are at historic lows just as his reelection bid begins to ramp up.

In a memo to several reporters Friday, Axelrod writes the media has overly focused on the president’s low ratings without noting that those of the Republican Party and Congress are also scraping the bottom of the barrel:

Members of the media have focused on the President’s approval ratings as if they existed in a black box. Following the intransigence of the Republicans during the debt debate, the approval rating of the GOP brand dropped to a historic low. The approval rating of Congress dropped to a near historic low. Americans are still dealing with the impact of the financial crisis and recession and the long-term economic trends that have seen wages stagnate for many, and that is manifested in their anger towards Washington.

And, despite a wave of suggestions that many Democrats are upset and disappointed with Obama’s tenure, Axelrod argues, “The base is mobilized behind the president.”

12,000 individuals applied to join the campaign as volunteer summer fellows, more than in 2008. 1,100 students across the country are organizing their campuses in support of the campaign as fellows this fall. We had 552,462 individuals give to the campaign in the second quarter - more than we had in all of 2007. Of our 552,462 total donors to the 2012 campaign so far, more than 260,000 of them are completely new to the Obama organization and have never given before.

The memo comes a day after former Clinton campaign strategist and CNN Contributor James Carville wrote a widely-read article on CNN.com in which he said it's time for the president to “panic” about his reelection bid and fire several of his staff members.

Topics: The News
Morning Briefing: Tackling the patent problem
September 16th, 2011
09:38 AM ET

Morning Briefing: Tackling the patent problem

Today the White House will be talking about patent reform, as President Obama travels to a Virginia high school to sign the America Invents Act into law. The administration held a conference call yesterday where officials drew the connection between job creation and patent reform, explaining that many CEOs had asked for patent reform during meetings with the White House.

On that call, David Kappos, director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, said that this legislation “is the biggest change to the U.S. patent system since 1836” and it “simply makes it easier for American innovators to get out into the marketplace with their products and services.”

Now, unless you’re an inventor, a venture capitalist or the CEO of a big business, the patent process is probably not something you’re particularly familiar with. For a fantastic – if anecdotal – primer on the patent problem, take a listen to “When Patents Attack,” an episode of This American Life from late July. It highlights just a few of the problems with the way patents are currently handled.

And once again here’s a link to CNN Money’s breakdown of the legislation the president will sign today.

Here are some other articles the White House is watching today:

UBS in turmoil as $2 bln rogue trade hits ratings [Reuters]

Texas death-row inmate gets last-minute reprieve [CNN]

Investors take a breather [CNN Money]

Eurozone finance ministers' comments [Reuters]

'Abbas working on deal with EU, US to avoid statehood bid' [The Jerusalem Post]

Boehner: No tax hikes for super committee [CNN Money]

Obama's Day Ahead: The America Invents Act
September 16th, 2011
07:45 AM ET

Obama's Day Ahead: The America Invents Act

President Obama will wrap up his week by heading to a Northern Virginia high school to sign the American Invents Act. The bill, which was passed last Thursday night, is the first significant change in patent law since 1952. According to our friends at CNN Money:

At the core of both bills is a transition of the U.S. patent law from a ‘first to invent’ to a ‘first to file’ system. That would give the patent to the first applicant, rather than the first inventor. It's the standard most of the rest of the world uses, since it prevents inventors from coming out of the woodwork and laying claim to a patent. The bills also have provisions that attempt to keep patent battles out of the courts, and they allow the U.S. Patent and Trade Office to set and potentially keep its own fees. Currently, Congress sets and collects the fees, and allocates a set amount of funding to the office - which says it is woefully under-funded.

The president will travel to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia – a magnet school ranked the #1 “Gold Medal School” in the nation by US News and World Report. It draws its 1800-member student body from Fairfax County and other counties in Northern Virginia, and the school specializes in…well…science and technology.  While there President Obama will visit a classroom and see science and technology students’ projects. He’ll then make remarks at 11:10 AM.

There is no on-camera press briefing today.

Here’s the full schedule:

9:45AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Presidential Daily Briefing – Oval Office

10:45AM THE PRESIDENT visits a classroom at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology

11:10AM THE PRESIDENT delivers remarks and signs the America Invents Act into Law at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology

Topics: Daily Schedule