December 23rd, 2011
08:13 PM ET

Obama's Hawaiian Hale

President Obama and the first family are once again spending their annual holiday vacation on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Obama's childhood home.  The first family is renting a secluded 5-bedroom house situated on Kailua Beach, according to local realtor David Dunham.  The first family has vacationed on Kailua Beach for the past three years.

The 6,000 square foot luxury house, has an "Asian flair", according to Dunham.  Interior Designer Jay Gorsia designed the house to reflect the Chinese and Indian heritage of the owners.  The house is accentuated with Brazilian hardwoods and cherry trim molding, and has a swimming pool set among a lush tropical garden and koi pond.

This year's presidential holiday retreat, just a few houses down the street from where the Obama family vacationed in the past, also has a larger swimming pool and a greater level of privacy than houses in years past.  A temporary eight foot barrier has been built as an added measure of privacy and security according to Dunham.  The Obamas are the first group to ever rent the house.

Dunham plans to list the house for sale once the Obama family returns to Washington. The sales price: a cool $7.9 million.

Topics: The Family • The Visuals • Vacation
Obama sends holiday cheer to the press
December 23rd, 2011
04:06 PM ET

Obama sends holiday cheer to the press

Before President Obama boarded Marine One to leave for his annual holiday trip to Hawaii, he made a surprise stop to wish the press corps Christmas greetings.

"Merry Christmas! Enjoy the time with your family," he told reporters and cameramen as he shook hands with each person. He spent about ten minutes greeting those who cover his every move.

The relationship between the White House press corps and the president can sometimes be adversarial but on this occasion it was strictly a time for holiday cheer.

Earlier during his statement in the James Brady Briefing Room, the president wished "Happy Holidays" to several groups of people, including the White House press corps.

"So I want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas, happy holidays, a happy New Year to you and your families - and that includes everybody here in the press corps," he said. "I know you guys have been working hard, and your families will be happy to spend a little more time with you over the next few days."

It almost felt like a deja vu.  Last year, the president did the same as he boarded his helicopter before departing for Hawaii.  Maybe he's starting a new holiday tradition!

Topics: Christmas • Hawaii • President Obama
Obama signs payroll tax cut extension and heads to Hawaii
December 23rd, 2011
03:15 PM ET

Obama signs payroll tax cut extension and heads to Hawaii

Well, the stalemate is over and President Obama can leave to join his family in Hawaii. While he was scheduled to make a statement about the payroll tax cut extensions around 12:15, he finally spoke about an hour later. They were waiting for the actual bill to arrive at the White House and then he had to sign it. The White House also tells us he signed the omnibus bill for 2012.

Check out how our friends at CNN wires have wrapped today's events:

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama signed a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut Friday, ending what had been a heated political stalemate and sealing a hard-fought win for Democrats on an issue - taxes - that has historically favored the GOP.

Earlier in the day, the measure cleared the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives by unanimous consent, a procedural move allowing the measure to pass even though most members of Congress were already home for the holidays.

"This is some good news just in the nick of time," Obama said shortly before departing the White House for Hawaii. But "we have a lot more work to do. This continues to be a make-or-break moment for the middle class in this country."

Among other things, the $33 billion bill also includes a two-month extension of emergency federal unemployment benefits and the so-called "doc fix," a delay in scheduled payment reductions to doctors who treat Medicare patients.

Congress will consider a longer extension of all three measures when it reconvenes in January.

For the full story, click here.

Topics: John Boehner • President Obama • The News
Morning Briefing: December 23
December 23rd, 2011
08:17 AM ET

Morning Briefing: December 23

The 1600 Report's daily roundup of what the White House is reading this morning online and in the papers:

Boehner gives Obama a Christmas gift [NYTimes]

Has the House GOP been ‘humbled’? [POLITICO]

Newt ’99 vs. Newt ’11 [NYTimes]

He’s lowering expectations in Iowa [CNN]

Maybe he being too darn nice? [WashPost]

Ron Paul feels the heat that comes with being a frontrunner [POLITICO]

Bush Sr. endorses Romney [NYTimes]

White House press office v. reporters [WashPost]

POTUS' Day Ahead
December 23rd, 2011
07:41 AM ET

POTUS' Day Ahead

Good morning from the White House. With a payroll deal in the bag, it remains unclear when and if President Obama will travel to Hawaii today to begin his vacation. The official schedule released by the White House gives little indication of what the president is up to today.

But we do know this: he still has to sign the omnibus spending bill, delivered to the White House yesterday. He's also likely waiting to see if the House indeed passes the payroll tax extension by unanimous consent as Speaker John Boehner has promised.

Full schedule after the jump:

Topics: Daily Schedule