Archive for Obama
President Barack Obama signs into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in the East Room
of the White House. January 29, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Joyce Boghosian)
President Obama yesterday proposed a new rule for employers to make it easier to identify discriminatory pay practices in the workplace:
Women workers in the United States earn 79 cents for every dollar men do. And President Barack Obama doesn’t want you to forget it.
Speaking Friday at a White House event celebrating the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Obama proposed collecting pay data from companies with 100 or more people — and breaking down the numbers by gender, race and ethnicity. About 63 million workers would be covered, according to a news release accompanying his announcement, which aims to “focus public enforcement of our equal pay laws and provide better insight into discriminatory pay practices across industries and occupations.”
The White House also called again for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, calling it “commonsense legislation that would give women additional tools to fight pay discrimination.”
“Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction,” President Obama said last night in his final Sate of the Union Address. He used much of the speech to try to defuse the distrust in basic institutions that is eating at the country’s foundations, and to push back against demagoguery.
I told you earlier all the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker. The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined. Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world. No nation dares to attack us or our allies because they know that’s the path to ruin. Surveys show our standing around the world is higher than when I was elected to this office, and when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead – they call us.
President Obama makes his final State of the Union address tonight. Word is his speech will be aspirational, not the usual laundry list of policies that make up such speeches. Whether the aspirational speech will be inspirational is another matter. The Washington Post writes that the speech will attempt to address the “fear and anger” driving both candidates and the 2016 electorate:
To that end, the White House has promised a “non-traditional” speech that, in the president’s words, will cut through the “day-to-day noise of Washington” and celebrate the country’s capacity “to come together as one American family.” Instead of a to-do list of policy proposals that have little chance of passing Congress, he has said he plans to deliver a speech that will describe “who we are” as a nation — or perhaps more accurately, whom Obama, in the last year of his presidency, would like us to be.
Coming together as one American family? That is aspirational. Politico had more background:
President Obama held a town hall last night to talk about his executive action on gun law enforcement. Anderson Cooper asked if perhaps it was conspiracy (to confiscate guns), the one conspiracy theorists never tire of warning us about. Obama called BS on the question:
“There are certainly a lot of people who just have a fundamental distrust that you do not want to go further and further and further,” Cooper countered.
Incredulous, Obama reminded everyone that he’s only going to be in office another year. “When would I have started on this enterprise?,” he asked.
I’ve been waiting for years for Obama’s jackbooted thugs to arrive at my door. I’m just not foolish enough to run out and drop another $500-$1000 dollars I don’t have on another weapon and more ammo whenever after each general election or whenever the NRA’s spokes-salesmen tell me I should.
Republicans lost a major foreign policy fight yesterday when Democrats in the Senate filibustered a resolution to disapprove President Obama’s nuclear treaty with Iran. Over in the Animal House, Speaker John Boehner stood up and declared that the situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part: Frivolous lawsuit!
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) promised Thursday that House Republicans will “use every tool at our disposal to stop, slow and delay this agreement from being fully implemented” up to and including suing President Obama to keep him from enforcing the agreement.
Maybe someone else is keeping better count, but that would make at least three times Boehner has gone to the judicial bench after being humiliated in the Congress. The Washington Post report continues:
In response to yesterday’s Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare … again … expect Republican leaders to prescribe another thousand cuts. They’ll eventually “cure” America of Obamacare the way medieval barbers used bloodletting and leeches to cure patients. They’re just folksy, that way.
But first they will pitch a patented right wing hissy fit. If T-Party cannot have Torquemada for Chief Justice, it will at least try to inflict the kind of pain that (it believes) would make him smile:
Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) said that his SCOTUScare Act would make all nine justices and their employees join the national healthcare law’s exchanges.
“As the Supreme Court continues to ignore the letter of the law, it’s important that these six individuals understand the full impact of their decisions on the American people,” he said.
“That’s why I introduced the SCOTUScare Act to require the Supreme Court and all of its employees to sign up for ObamaCare,” Babin said.
We know Cleveland rocks. But on Wednesday, President Obama visited Cleveland to rock back.
For an infuriatingly long time, he’s been loathe to toot his own horn and play offense when that’s just what fellow Democrats needed him to do in 2010 and 2014. Where’ve you been Barack? [news quote extended, bolded]:
“It was one thing for them to argue against Obamacare before it was put in place,” Obama, using the nickname for his signature Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, said during an afternoon address to the City Club of Cleveland.
“Every prediction they made about it turned out to be wrong. It’s working better than even I expected. But it doesn’t matter. Evidence be damned. It’s still a disaster. Well, why?”
“The truth is, the budget they’re putting forward and the theories they’re putting forward are a path to prosperity for those who have already prospered.”
Good line. Obama ticked off a number of things his opponents got wrong. Got in Republicans’ faces about it even. And with a smile on his. That probably ticked off them too. It’s the sort of thing Democrats are way to reluctant to do. As Drew Westen says (okay, I’m paraphrasing), if the message isn’t pissing off your opponents, you’re not doing it right. They’ll be on the Sunday bobblehead shows any minute to wag their fingers and wring their hands over the president’s “angry” words and inappropriate swagger.
It’s not as if there isn’t a wealth of material to work from. Perhaps the only sour note in Cleveland was Obama’s continued support for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact opposed by critics in his own party. We’ll leave that for another time.
Anyway, I sourced some of the president’s Cleveland material, maybe improved on it, and added a few peeves of my own. It’s the sort of thing I open carry on my smart phone for those “close encounters.”
People believed them.
Instead, while the national debt did increase as it has every year since the Clinton budget surpluses, budget deficits shrank from $1.4 trillion when Obama took office to $483 billion in 2014.
(Washington Post 10-15-14)
Republicans said Obama’s “socialist policies” would increase the size “of our already bloated government,” lead us towards “national socialism,” and “the country’s economy is going to collapse.”
(NC Rep. Robert Pittenger 01-21-15; Kansas Sen. Pat Robert 09-24-14; Rush Limbaugh 09-10-12)
People believed them.
Instead, federal government employment has shrunk since January 2009, “corporate profits have nearly tripled” and the stock market doubled in six years.
(BLS 03-21-15; New Republic 08-04-14; FactCheck.org 01-09-15; Google Finance)
Republicans said if Barack Obama was reelected, “gas prices will be up at around $6.60 per gallon.”
(Utah Sen. Mike Lee 03-07-12)
People believed them.
Gas prices dropped below $2 per gallon in early 2015.
Republicans said Obama’s policies would destroy “nearly 6 million jobs over the next decade” and lead to “diminishment of employment in America.”
(John McCain campaign 10-31-08; Texas Rep. Pete Sessions 11-07-09)
People believed them.
Instead, 12 million new jobs created, more under 6 years of Obama than under 12 years of two Bushes, “the best private sector jobs creation performance in American history [that] outperformed President Reagan’s in all commonly watched categories” according to Forbes.
(ElectaBlog 10-03-14; Forbes 09-05-14)
Meanwhile, “small-government, pro-business” George W. Bush presided over “the biggest federal budget expansion since Franklin Delano Roosevelt” and saw only 1.3 million net jobs created in 8 years (7 million net for Obama in 6 years). The Wall Street Journal called Bush’s “the worst track record on record.”
(Washington Times 10-19-08; ElectaBlog 10-03-14; Wall Street Journal 01-09-09)
Finally, for those with short memories:
Republicans said we had to invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. We even knew where they were. We’d be out in six months, it would cost at most $60 billion, “We do not torture,” etc.
People believed them.
How much longer will people believe these guys?
Even as civil rights groups gather at the bridge, a Change.org petition started by Student Unite has gathered 150,000 signatures from people who want the name Edmund Pettus removed from the Edmund Pettus Bridge, now a national landmark and part of the Selma To Montgomery National Historic Trail. It dawned on somebody that the name of a Civil War general and Alabama U.S. senator/Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon is “a symbol of oppression.” Really.
This is happening in Montgomery:
The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday passed a bill that would prevent clergy, officials and faith-based groups with religious objections to certain marriages from being forced to officiate them, or being sued over their refusal.
Although the legislation does not directly address the issue, same-sex marriage supporters said the bill would effectively give state officials and religiously affiliated organizations, such as hospitals, homeless shelters and food banks broad powers to deny services and benefits to same-sex couples.
This is also happening:
The ACLU of Alabama; the Southern Poverty Law Center; the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Americans United for Separation of Church and State asked U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade to add all Alabama couples seeking same-sex marriage licenses as plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit in Mobile County, and to add all of the state’s probate judges who may enforce orders barring or resist rulings allowing same-sex marriage as defendants.
The groups also want Granade to issue an injunction that the probate judges “refrain from enforcing all Alabama laws and orders that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying or that deny recognition of the marriages of same-sex couples.”
On Tuesday, the Alabama Supreme Court ordered probate judges to stop issuing the licenses, saying its powers to interpret the U.S. Constitution were equal to Granade’s. The seven-justice majority said that the bans did not violate the 14th Amendment, arguing that the laws did not target gay and lesbian couples and that the state had a legitimate interest in promoting traditional marriage.
It’s always something.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
Affordable Care Act opponents argue in King v. Burwell now before the U.S. Supreme Court that Congress intended to withhold subsidies from the states unless they established their own exchanges. If SCOTUS agrees, ACA opponents expect the ruling to effectively gut the federal exchanges operating in over half the states and to seriously undermine Obamacare.
Even as this argument seems to have fallen apart, should the court strike down the federal exchange subsidies, Republicans in Congress vow not to reinstate consumers’ health insurance tax credits.
Steve Benen writes:
Remember, as far as the public is concerned, a clear majority of Americans would expect the Republican Congress to protect consumers from hardship. Indeed, Greg Sargent this week flagged the latest report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which found that nearly two-thirds of Americans would expect lawmakers to keep existing subsidies in place if the Supreme Court ruling goes the wrong way. Only a fourth of the country would expect Congress to do nothing.
The same report found that even most Republicans support states setting up exchange marketplaces so that families can continue to receive subsidized access to medical care. This is, of course, the exact opposite of what GOP policymakers have in mind.
Ezra Klein reframes that outcome, arguing that Republicans’ plan for Obamacare’s demise has become “a plan to rip themselves off.” Klein elaborates:
If the Supreme Court rules for the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell, the subsidies will basically shut off in (mostly) red states. And congressional Republicans won’t do anything about it. That means Republicans in those states will be paying the taxes and bearing the spending cuts needed to fund Obamacare but getting none of the benefits.
Which is to say, the biggest fight in American politics in recent years began with Democrats creating a law that was a giant subsidy from blue states to red states and has evolved into Republicans working to turn the law into a giant subsidy from red states to blue states. It is very, very weird.
Not really. Republicans, especially in the 15 refusenik states Klein identifies, have a unremitting knack for cutting off their noses to spite their faces (and their children’s). They have principles and they stand
in on them.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
(Bloomberg) — The Obama administration proposed opening to offshore drilling an area from Virginia to Georgia in a policy shift sought by energy companies but opposed by environmentalists worried about resorts such as the Outer Banks or Myrtle Beach.
The offshore plan for 2017-2022 marks the second time President Barack Obama has recommended unlocking areas in the U.S. Atlantic for oil drilling, and it drew a swift retort from allies who say the payoff doesn’t justify the risk of a spill along the populated coast. The agency said Atlantic leases won’t be auctioned for at least six years and drilling wouldn’t start for several more years.
Well, that’s a relief. Plus, you know, with the Gulf Stream and all, a massive oil spill 50 miles offshore of the Outer Banks might never reach Cape Hatteras.
Heads up, Nantucket.
The proposal is still preliminary, officials suggested:
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told reporters the proposal was a “balanced” approach, but she stressed that it was only a draft.
“It is not final, we’re in the early stages of what is a multi-year process,” Jewell said, cautioning that some regions listed in it “may be narrowed or taken out entirely.”
That caveat and the timing make the announcement a mite suspect. Days ago, the Obama administration had Alaska livid over its request “to designate parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a wilderness area” off-limits to oil drilling. The request left Sen. Lisa Murkowski fuming. Something about decisions on federal land made Outside being a violation of state sovereignty. Other Alaska legislators were similarly put out:
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker was “outraged” at the timing of the announcement, which comes amid low oil prices and declining production “despite having more than 40 billion barrels of untapped resources, mostly in federal areas where oil and gas activity is blocked or restricted,” the joint statement said.
Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, called the plan “callously planned and politically motivated” in the same statement.
On the heels of the Alaska announcement, the Atlantic drilling proposal is generating predictable howls from East Coast environmentalists:
“This proposal sells out the southeast fisheries, tourism, and coastal way of life,” says Sierra Weaver, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. “This is an area that has never been drilled for oil production. These are places and communities that rely on natural resources like clean air and clean water for the quality of life and the lifestyle that they know.”
The White House surely knew its twin decisions would raise firestorms from both the left and right.
A head fake in advance of a Keystone pipeline veto? Or a sop?
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)