Obama plays teacher-in-chief
September 28th, 2011
03:39 PM ET

Obama plays teacher-in-chief

President Obama marked the beginning of the school year Wednesday, urging students in a speech broadcast to many public schools to stay determined to succeed:

It starts, obviously, with being the best student that you can be. Now, that doesn’t always mean that you have to have a perfect score on every assignment. It doesn’t mean that you’ve got to get straight As all the time - although that’s not a bad goal to have. It means that you have to stay at it. You have to be determined and you have to persevere. It means you’ve got to work as hard as you know how to work. And it means that you’ve got to take some risks once in a while. You can’t avoid the class that you think might be hard because you’re worried about getting the best grade if that’s a subject that you think you need to prepare you for your future. You’ve got to wonder. You’ve got to question. You’ve got to explore. And every once in a while, you need to color outside of the lines.

Text of Obama's full speech after the jump:

Topics: President Obama
GOP stifling efforts for immigration reform, Obama says
September 28th, 2011
01:59 PM ET

GOP stifling efforts for immigration reform, Obama says

Seeking to shore up his support with members of the Hispanic community, President Obama held a Latino roundtable in the White House Wednesday, where he did his best to deflect criticisms over immigration issues.

From the CNN Wire:

Washington (CNN) - Republicans lack the leadership to put comprehensive immigration reform back to the table, President Barack Obama said Wednesday during an online roundtable about issues in the Hispanic community.

Obama reiterated that he he supports a pathway for legal status for the millions of undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. His immigration vision includes having undocumented immigrants pay a fine or learn English, or other steps that will lead to citizenship. Tough border security enforcement and actions against employers who hire illegal immigrants are the other pillars of his plan.

But immigration reform has not been on the table, even though in the past, Republicans such as George W. Bush and John McCain supported the idea.


Topics: The News
September 28th, 2011
12:30 PM ET

This week's poll

Topics: jobs • Poll
Morning Briefing: Economists warn of Congressional inaction
September 28th, 2011
08:25 AM ET

Morning Briefing: Economists warn of Congressional inaction

Good news for the White House today as Bloomberg News releases a new survey of 34 economists this morning that shows most think the president’s jobs plan would help stave off a double-dip recession. The economists’ median estimates predict the plan “would increase gross domestic product by 0.6 percent next year and add or keep 275,000 workers on payrolls. …The program would also lower the jobless rate by 0.2 percentage point in 2012, economists said.” [Bloomberg]

One symptom of the flailing economy that was largely left out of the president’s jobs plan is the housing market, but reports out today from the Mortgage Bankers Association show that stimulus efforts taken by the Federal Reserve have had at least some effect. Mortgage applications filed in the U.S. last week rose 9.3% from the previous week, and refinance activity climbed 11%. [Dow Jones Newswires]

Here are a few other stories the White House is reading this morning:

S&P 500 Index Futures, Stocks Advance as Commodities Pare Losses [Bloomberg]

Stocks: Europe enthusiasm growing [CNN Money]

China Set to Enter 'Space Age' by Launching Own Space Station Module [International Business Times]

Surveys: Health insurance costs shifted to workers, even as premiums surge [Washington Post]

Republican field: They may be rich but do not call them elite [Los Angeles Times]

Romney camp says fund-raising is down [Boston Globe]

Reelection won’t be easy, Obama strategist says [Boston Globe]

Iran planning to send ships near U.S. waters [CNN Wire]

CNN Poll: Trust in government at all time low [CNN Political Unit]

President Obama's day ahead: Virtual Latino roundtable
President Barack Obama delivering hist first - hotly debated - back-to-school speech to students across the country on Tuesday, September 8, 2009. He spoke at a high school in Arlington, Virginia. (Shawna Shepherd/CNN)
September 28th, 2011
07:53 AM ET

President Obama's day ahead: Virtual Latino roundtable

Good Wednesday morning from the White House. The president participates in an “Open for Questions” roundtable in the Map Room today at 11:25am, taking online questions from mostly Latino participants. The event will be streamed live on the White House website. Then later in the afternoon the president will visit Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington DC to deliver his 3rd annual back to school speech. He will then meet with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Vice President Biden in the Oval Office.

There will be a briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney at 12 noon. Here’s the whole schedule:

11:25AM        THE PRESIDENT participates in an "Open for Questions" roundtable – Map Room (The event will be streamed live at whitehouse.gov/live in both English and dubbed into Spanish)

12:30PM         THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT meet for lunch – Private Dining Room (Closed Press)

1:30PM           THE PRESIDENT delivers his third annual Back-to-School Speech – Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, Washington, DC (Open Press)

4:30PM           THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT meet with Secretary of Defense Panetta – Oval Office (Closed Press)

Topics: Daily Schedule
Campaigning on the taxpayers' dime
President Barack Obama and Linkedin CEO Jeff Weiner speak at the LinkedIn Town Hall meeting in Mountain View, California on Monday, September 26, 2011. (Jim Castel/CNN)
September 27th, 2011
10:41 PM ET

Campaigning on the taxpayers' dime


During President Obama's three-day swing through Washington State, California and Colorado, he fielded questions at a town hall meeting in Silicon Valley and visited a high school in Denver.  Two official events to promote his jobs plan.  Compare that to seven fundraisers he headlined, raising at least $8 million for his re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Who paid for the trip?  You did.  And so did we.  Taxpayers are footing the bill for almost the entire trip, which also cost millions of dollars.

It's standard practice for presidents, both Democratic and Republican, to go on predominantly fundraising trips with taxpayer's paying for most of the travel costs.  It's completely legal.  Do some official White House business on the trip and - voila! - the president's re-election campaign and party shoulder very little of the cost.

"Usually, a political party only covers a fraction of the costs of presidential travel, usually in the single digit percentages," says Pete Sepp with the National Taxpayers Union, a nonpartisan nonprofit group against wasteful government spending. "Most of the money raised really comes at a free cost to the parties. They only reimburse for a few hundred thousand dollars, on a given trip, if tax payers are lucky."

The price tag on presidential travel is exorbitant.  Air Force One costs $181,757 per flight hour to operate, according to the Air Force.  There's a C-17 military support plane to fly the president's limousines to his destination, perhaps another if Marine One will be used during the trip.

And the personnel: the salary costs of a Secret Service detail and dozens of White House staffers who also required meals, transportation and hotel rooms.  There are also local security costs like overtime pay for police officers who escort the presidential motorcade or provide security along the travel route.

There is little transparency in determining the cost of presidential travel.  A White House spokesman declined to say how the White House and the DNC divided the cost of Obama's western trip, citing security concerns.  Other administrations have refused on the same grounds. FULL POST

'Titanic struggle' to get Obama reelected?
September 27th, 2011
12:39 PM ET

'Titanic struggle' to get Obama reelected?

Looks like Axe is playing the expectations game in New Hampshire, proclaiming Obama's reelection bid will be a "titanic struggle."

CNN's Rachel Streitfeld has the story:

Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN) – In a blunt admission Tuesday, Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod acknowledged the president's re-election bid would be a "titanic struggle" in the face of the slumping economy and unpopular partisan gridlock in Washington.

"We had the wind at our back in 2008," he said. "We don't have the wind at our backs in this election. We have the wind in our face because the American people have the wind in their faces."

Axelrod told a New Hampshire audience the president was "on the right side of the struggle" and would ultimately triumph over his GOP competitors in 2012.


Topics: Uncategorized
September 27th, 2011
12:01 PM ET

Tunisian prime minister to visit White House October 7

Just announced for White House Press Secretary Jay Carney:

"President Obama will host Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi of Tunisia at the White House on Friday, October 7. During his meeting with the Prime Minister, the President looks forward to discussing America’s strong support for Tunisia’s historic transition to democracy, as well as a broad range of bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest. The President also welcomes the opportunity to highlight the strong bonds of friendship between the American and Tunisian people."

Topics: The News
Oops! White House fails basic geography test
Photo courtesy of Mark Walz/CNN
September 27th, 2011
10:49 AM ET

Oops! White House fails basic geography test

Looks like someone in the White House press office needs to brush up on his or her U.S. geography.

The press office issued credentials to those reporters and photojournalists who are covering the president’s trip this week to Washington state, California, and Colorado. The credential even provides a handy graphic highlighting (in white) which states the president will visit.

The only problem?

Wyoming is highlighted, not Colorado. To be fair, both states are rectangular, nearly identical in size, and stacked next to each other. But we doubt our third grade teachers would buy that!

Obama’s glitzy guest list
September 27th, 2011
09:35 AM ET

Obama’s glitzy guest list

Stars came out in full force for the president last night at a $17,900 per plate fundraiser at a trendy Los Angeles restaurant.

Among those in attendance, according to the pool report:

DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenburg
Actor Jack Black,
Actor Danny DeVito,
Actress Rhea Perlman
Producer Jon Landau
Director Judd Apatow
Music producer Quincy Jones
California Gov. Jerry Brown

Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson also hosted a separate fundraising event for the president earlier in the evening at Los Angeles’ House of Blues.

There, Obama remarked that his family is a fan of the hit ABC show:

"I was telling him that Michelle and the girls love them some Modern Family. They love that show,” he said.

Topics: The News