Monthly Archives: January 2010

This from Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire:

clipped from politicalwire.com

Goldman CEO to Take $100 Million Bonus

Goldman Sachs “could be about to pay its chief executive a bumper bonus of up to $100 million in defiance of moves by President Obama to take action against such payouts,” the Times of London reports.

The world’s richest bank “is becoming the focus of an increasingly acrimonious political and financial showdown” over the payment of bonuses.

Last week, Obama described bonuses paid out by some banks as “the height of irresponsibility” and “shameful.”

  blog it
Have these bankers learned NOTHING?!

NY Times Editorial: It Happened in Our Backyard

clipped from www.nytimes.com

We sympathized with the concerns about security and inconvenience raised by the Justice Department’s plan to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described 9/11 mastermind, at a federal courthouse in downtown Manhattan, a short walk from ground zero.

But caving in to political pressure and agreeing to move the trial, as The Times reported the Obama administration has decided to do, was the wrong move. New York was the right place for this trial. This is where the attack occurred, and New Yorkers should have been proud to see justice done here. The United States District Court in Manhattan has a long, successful record of trying terrorists, including the ones responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
President George W. Bush’s decision to hold prisoners outside the law and then attempt to try them in rigged military courts was legally wrong, and hugely damaging to American values and this country’s global image.
  blog it
There’s more to be read in this editorial HERE.

And just in case you are wondering, I agree with the Times’ editors.

Will the Talking Heads screw up this week’s accomplishments?

I can’t say I’ve been looking forward to the Sunday morning talking heads shows… they, actually, scare me a little. This week, with both the State of the Union speech and the Q&A session with Republican congressmen, Obama did a major reach-out for working together and some of the comments by the Republicans involved seemed to indicate that things might soften up a bit.

As has happened in the past, the talk shows can come on and blow any cooperation that may have started to partisan bits, both to promote the points of view of their panels and to keep the “news” a seeming attraction for TV viewers.

When I get to the end of them (and listen to them rebroadcast without commercials on C-Span Radio this afternoon) I wonder how I’ll be feeling? I hope I still have the positive feeling I start this morning with.

Quote of the Day

Paul Volcker in today’s NY Times:

I’ve been there — as regulator, as central banker, as commercial bank official and director — for almost 60 years. I have observed how memories dim. Individuals change. Institutional and political pressures to “lay off” tough regulation will remain — most notably in the fair weather that inevitably precedes the storm.

The implication is clear. We need to face up to needed structural changes, and place them into law. To do less will simply mean ultimate failure — failure to accept responsibility for learning from the lessons of the past and anticipating the needs of the future.

Couldn’t agree more. Now, about those bonuses…

Dr. Flowers Arrested Outside Republican Conference Trying to get Medicare Message to Obama…

Courtesy of William Hughes Presents on YouTube:

On Jan. 29, 2010, Doctors Margaret Flowers and Carol Paris were arrested outside a hotel, at the Inner Harbor, in Baltimore, MD, where President Barack Obama was to give a speech. They were on a sidewalk outside the Renaissance hotel holding a banner. The doctors had a letter that they wanted to give to the President and/or one of his aides, re: Medicare for All. They were arrested for trespassing, according to to a police officer at the scene. Later after getting into a police car, this reporter was advised, the two doctors were released, without going to the local lockup. Each was then given” a citation” for trespassing. For background on this issue, check out Dr. Flowers visit to the White House, on Jan. 28, 2010, at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxziSR…

What costs $549 per ticket and a $9.95 fee, plus hotel and airfare, and is aimed at the ordinary guy?

Why, the Tea Party Convention in Nashville next week. This has become so expensive that many of the Tea Partyists are pulling out… people like Representatives Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota, and Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee (see below – a poster I found at Hysterical Raisins), two scheduled speakers who have canceled their appearances.

Of course, Sarah Palin hasn’t pulled out of her speaking engagement (or the $100,000.00 fee she is getting for it)… but a lot of other ordinary Teabaggers are pulling out and this looks like a real downer for the sponsors (who are being accused as profiteers.)

More to come…

Wow! I took the Pew Poll and was in the 2% of Americans who got all the questions right.

…but I have to admit, 2% seems really small to me. And apparently men outscored women (except for one question where they were equal)… that really surprised me.

The Pew Poll was about the current political scene and related stuff. If you want to take it and see where you stack up, go to http://pewresearch.org/politicalquiz and take it.

A Reward for the Supporters of Under The LobsterScope

So many of you have been following this blog since 2004 that I feel like a member of a huge web community.

I have enjoyed bringing you The Cartoon or Cartoons of the Week (this week’s pair on the recent Supreme Court decision are particularly poignant), the Quotes, the Political and Arts News, the Blogrolls to the best sites in America and beyond… They are all a joy to put together. Often we get the breaking political stories before you see them anywhere else. And our wide open communication channels with readers can’t be beat.

Well, I need YOUR help to keep it going. I’m hoping you will make a small contribution, by PayPal or credit/debit card,  in support of Under The LobsterScope. You’d be amazed at how much $5.00 can do to help me bring more and more to these pages. And it is probably the LOWEST annual subscription fee you will make to any publication… interactive or not.

And for a contribution of $5.00 or more you will receive a copy of my Picture Font, Bill’s Cast O’ Characters (I send you the True Type versions for both Macs and PCs by email). I regularly sell this font for $29.95. Sample Below:

You should know, however, that even a contribution of $1.00 adds to the ability of this unemployed blogger to find things for your benefit. By clicking on the DONATE button below, you tell me that Under The LobsterScope makes a difference in your time on the web.

Thanks,

– Bill T.

Cartoon(s) of the Week

The Supreme Court caught the cartoonists’ attention this week.

First, Jack Ohman in The Oregonian:

…or The Alito Elite.

– and –

Ted Rall, who turns up all over the web:

We are all looking for corporate identities… the Supreme Court has given us a whole new category of citizenship!

This article from Dr. Marty Klein is worth reading…

Even though the trial of Dr. George Tiller’s murderer is over, there are many questions still out there on how we deal with the “pro-life” terrorists… Here’s a clip, but go in and read the rest:
clipped from carnalnation.com

How Will Anti-Choice Forces Atone For George Tiller’s Murder?

The verdict is in: the guy who murdered physician George Tiller will spend the rest of his life in jail, feeling good about what he did.
Yes, the verdict shows that the justice system works, sometimes. But this doesn’t bring back Tiller. His family only had one of him. We have very few of him. The other side has plenty of Scott Roeders.
Roeder is a suicide bomber. He sacrificed his own life and blew up Tiller. No one can defeat a culture that produces suicide bombers. Almost a decade after 9/11, the mightiest military the world has ever seen hasn’t even made a dent.
While legally inevitable given the facts, the Roeder verdict is also unsatisfying because it doesn’t change anything. The government won’t protect physicians or clinics more. The anti-choice domestic terrorists won’t be punished as a group, won’t be fined out of existence, won’t even be discouraged an eighth of an inch.
Article Continues HERE. blog it

Tonite was my first Full Circle Board meeting

I was just put on the Full Circle Theater Company Board of Directors and tonite was my first Board Meeting. Lots of stuff to learn, especially in the area of where they expect to raise money.

One of the things I want to do is evaluate what regional grants are available… plus look into the promotion and advertising of ticket sales and the expansion of program advertising.

It is NOT going to be easy. However…

Onward and Upward.

Transcript of Obama with House Republicans.

I want to make this available for those of you who have been watching pieces of the President and the House Republicans on the evening news shows, both left and right. Form your own opinion. I thought Obama did pretty well and the Republicans were fairly civil.

Complete transcript of Obama’s remarks as recorded by the White House:

12:10 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Please, everybody be seated. Thank you. Thank you, John, for the gracious introduction. To Mike and Eric, thank you for hosting me. Thank you to all of you for receiving me. It is wonderful to be here. I want to also acknowledge Mark Strand, president of the Congressional Institute. To all the family members who are here and who have to put up with us for an elective office each and every day, thank you, because I know that’s tough. (Applause.)

I very much am appreciative of not only the tone of your introduction, John, but also the invitation that you extended to me. You know what they say, “Keep your friends close, but visit the Republican Caucus every few months.” (Laughter.)

Story continues below

Part of the reason I accepted your invitation to come here was because I wanted to speak with all of you, and not just to all of you. So I’m looking forward to taking your questions and having a real conversation in a few moments. And I hope that the conversation we begin here doesn’t end here; that we can continue our dialogue in the days ahead. It’s important to me that we do so. It’s important to you, I think, that we do so. But most importantly, it’s important to the American people that we do so.

I’ve said this before, but I’m a big believer not just in the value of a loyal opposition, but in its necessity. Having differences of opinion, having a real debate about matters of domestic policy and national security — and that’s not something that’s only good for our country, it’s absolutely essential. It’s only through the process of disagreement and debate that bad ideas get tossed out and good ideas get refined and made better. And that kind of vigorous back and forth — that imperfect but well-founded process, messy as it often is — is at the heart of our democracy. That’s what makes us the greatest nation in the world.

So, yes, I want you to challenge my ideas, and I guarantee you that after reading this I may challenge a few of yours. (Laughter.) I want you to stand up for your beliefs, and knowing this caucus, I have no doubt that you will. I want us to have a constructive debate. The only thing I don’t want — and here I am listening to the American people, and I think they don’t want either — is for Washington to continue being so Washington-like. I know folks, when we’re in town there, spend a lot of time reading the polls and looking at focus groups and interpreting which party has the upper hand in November and in 2012 and so on and so on and so on. That’s their obsession.

And I’m not a pundit. I’m just a President, so take it for what it’s worth. But I don’t believe that the American people want us to focus on our job security. They want us to focus on their job security. (Applause.) I don’t think they want more gridlock. I don’t think they want more partisanship. I don’t think they want more obstruction. They didn’t send us to Washington to fight each other in some sort of political steel-cage match to see who comes out alive. That’s not what they want. They sent us to Washington to work together, to get things done, and to solve the problems that they’re grappling with every single day.

And I think your constituents would want to know that despite the fact it doesn’t get a lot of attention, you and I have actually worked together on a number of occasions. There have been times where we’ve acted in a bipartisan fashion. And I want to thank you and your Democratic colleagues for reaching across the aisle. There has been, for example, broad support for putting in the troops necessary in Afghanistan to deny al Qaeda safe haven, to break the Taliban’s momentum, and to train Afghan security forces. There’s been broad support for disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al Qaeda. And I know that we’re all united in our admiration of our troops. (Applause.)

So it may be useful for the international audience right now to understand — and certainly for our enemies to have no doubt — whatever divisions and differences may exist in Washington, the United States of America stands as one to defend our country. (Applause.)

It’s that same spirit of bipartisanship that made it possible for me to sign a defense contracting reform bill that was cosponsored by Senator McCain and members of Congress here today. We’ve stood together on behalf of our nation’s veterans. Together we passed the largest increase in the VA’s budget in more than 30 years and supported essential veterans’ health care reforms to provide better access and medical care for those who serve in uniform.

Some of you also joined Democrats in supporting a Credit Card Bill of Rights and in extending unemployment compensation to Americans who are out of work. Some of you joined us in stopping tobacco companies from targeting kids, expanding opportunities for young people to serve our country, and helping responsible homeowners stay in their homes.

So we have a track record of working together. It is possible. But, as John, you mentioned, on some very big things, we’ve seen party-line votes that, I’m just going to be honest, were disappointing. Let’s start with our efforts to jumpstart the economy last winter, when we were losing 700,000 jobs a month. Our financial system teetered on the brink of collapse and the threat of a second Great Depression loomed large. I didn’t understand then, and I still don’t understand, why we got opposition in this caucus for almost $300 billion in badly needed tax cuts for the American people, or COBRA coverage to help Americans who’ve lost jobs in this recession to keep the health insurance that they desperately needed, or opposition to putting Americans to work laying broadband and rebuilding roads and bridges and breaking ground on new construction projects.

There was an interesting headline in CNN today: “Americans disapprove of stimulus, but like every policy in it.” And there was a poll that showed that if you broke it down into its component parts, 80 percent approved of the tax cuts, 80 percent approved of the infrastructure, 80 percent approved of the assistance to the unemployed.

Well, that’s what the Recovery Act was. And let’s face it, some of you have been at the ribbon-cuttings for some of these important projects in your communities. Now, I understand some of you had some philosophical differences perhaps on the just the concept of government spending, but, as I recall, opposition was declared before we had a chance to actually meet and exchange ideas. And I saw that as a missed opportunity.

Now, I am happy to report this morning that we saw another sign that our economy is moving in the right direction. The latest GDP numbers show that our economy is growing by almost 6 percent — that’s the most since 2003. To put that in perspective, this time last year, we weren’t seeing positive job growth; we were seeing the economy shrink by about 6 percent.

So you’ve seen a 12 percent reversal during the course of this year. This turnaround is the biggest in nearly three decades — and it didn’t happen by accident. It happened — as economists, conservative and liberal, will attest — because of some of the steps that we took.

And by the way, you mentioned a Web site out here, John — if you want to look at what’s going on, on the Recovery Act, you can look on recovery.gov — a Web site, by the way, that was Eric Cantor’s idea.

Now, here’s the point. These are serious times, and what’s required by all of us — Democrats and Republicans — is to do what’s right for our country, even if it’s not always what’s best for our politics. I know it may be heresy to say this, but there are things more important than good poll numbers. And on this no one can accuse me of not living by my principles. (Laughter.) A middle class that’s back on its feet, an economy that lifts everybody up, an America that’s ascendant in the world — that’s more important than winning an election. Our future shouldn’t be shaped by what’s best for our politics; our politics should be shaped by what’s best for our future.

But no matter what’s happened in the past, the important thing for all of us is to move forward together. We have some issues right in front of us on which I believe we should agree, because as successful as we’ve been in spurring new economic growth, everybody understands that job growth has been lagging. Some of that’s predictable. Every economist will say jobs are a lagging indicator, but that’s no consolation for the folks who are out there suffering right now. And since 7 million Americans have lost their jobs in this recession, we’ve got to do everything we can to accelerate it.

So, today, in line with what I stated at the State of the Union, I’ve proposed a new jobs tax credit for small business. And here’s how it would work. Employers would get a tax credit of up to $5,000 for every employee they add in 2010. They’d get a tax break for increases in wages, as well. So, if you raise wages for employees making under $100,000, we’d refund part of your payroll tax for every dollar you increase those wages faster than inflation. It’s a simple concept. It’s easy to understand. It would cut taxes for more than 1 million small businesses.

So I hope you join me. Let’s get this done. I want to eliminate the capital gains tax for small business investment, and take some of the bailout money the Wall Street banks have returned and use it to help community banks start lending to small businesses again. So join me. I am confident that we can do this together for the American people. And there’s nothing in that proposal that runs contrary to the ideological predispositions of this caucus. The question is: What’s going to keep us from getting this done?

I’ve proposed a modest fee on the nation’s largest banks and financial institutions to fully recover for taxpayers’ money that they provided to the financial sector when it was teetering on the brink of collapse. And it’s designed to discourage them from taking reckless risks in the future. If you listen to the American people, John, they’ll tell you they want their money back. Let’s do this together, Republicans and Democrats.

I propose that we close tax loopholes that reward companies for shipping American jobs overseas, and instead give companies greater incentive to create jobs right here at home — right here at home. Surely, that’s something that we can do together, Republicans and Democrats.

We know that we’ve got a major fiscal challenge in reining in deficits that have been growing for a decade, and threaten our future. That’s why I’ve proposed a three-year freeze in discretionary spending other than what we need for national security. That’s something we should do together that’s consistent with a lot of the talk both in Democratic caucuses and Republican caucuses. We can’t blink when it’s time to actually do the job.

At this point, we know that the budget surpluses of the ’90s occurred in part because of the pay-as-you-go law, which said that, well, you should pay as you go and live within our means, just like families do every day. Twenty-four of you voted for that, and I appreciate it. And we were able to pass it in the Senate yesterday.

But the idea of a bipartisan fiscal commission to confront the deficits in the long term died in the Senate the other day. So I’m going to establish such a commission by executive order and I hope that you participate, fully and genuinely, in that effort, because if we’re going to actually deal with our deficit and debt, everybody here knows that we’re going to have to do it together, Republican and Democrat. No single party is going to make the tough choices involved on its own. It’s going to require all of us doing what’s right for the American people.

And as I said in the State of the Union speech, there’s not just a deficit of dollars in Washington, there is a deficit of trust. So I hope you’ll support my proposal to make all congressional earmarks public before they come to a vote. And let’s require lobbyists who exercise such influence to publicly disclose all their contacts on behalf of their clients, whether they are contacts with my administration or contacts with Congress. Let’s do the people’s business in the bright light of day, together, Republicans and Democrats.

I know how bitter and contentious the issue of health insurance reform has become. And I will eagerly look at the ideas and better solutions on the health care front. If anyone here truly believes our health insurance system is working well for people, I respect your right to say so, but I just don’t agree. And neither would millions of Americans with preexisting conditions who can’t get coverage today or find out that they lose their insurance just as they’re getting seriously ill. That’s exactly when you need insurance. And for too many people, they’re not getting it. I don’t think a system is working when small businesses are gouged and 15,000 Americans are losing coverage every single day; when premiums have doubled and out-of-pocket costs have exploded and they’re poised to do so again.

I mean, to be fair, the status quo is working for the insurance industry, but it’s not working for the American people. It’s not working for our federal budget. It needs to change.

This is a big problem, and all of us are called on to solve it. And that’s why, from the start, I sought out and supported ideas from Republicans. I even talked about an issue that has been a holy grail for a lot of you, which was tort reform, and said that I’d be willing to work together as part of a comprehensive package to deal with it. I just didn’t get a lot of nibbles.

Creating a high-risk pool for uninsured folks with preexisting conditions, that wasn’t my idea, it was Senator McCain’s. And I supported it, and it got incorporated into our approach. Allowing insurance companies to sell coverage across state lines to add choice and competition and bring down costs for businesses and consumers — that’s an idea that some of you I suspect included in this better solutions; that’s an idea that was incorporated into our package. And I support it, provided that we do it hand in hand with broader reforms that protect benefits and protect patients and protect the American people.

A number of you have suggested creating pools where self-employed and small businesses could buy insurance. That was a good idea. I embraced it. Some of you supported efforts to provide insurance to children and let kids remain covered on their parents’ insurance until they’re 25 or 26. I supported that. That’s part of our package. I supported a number of other ideas, from incentivizing wellness to creating an affordable catastrophic insurance option for young people that came from Republicans like Mike Enzi and Olympia Snowe in the Senate, and I’m sure from some of you as well. So when you say I ought to be willing to accept Republican ideas on health care, let’s be clear: I have.

Bipartisanship — not for its own sake but to solve problems — that’s what our constituents, the American people, need from us right now. All of us then have a choice to make. We have to choose whether we’re going to be politicians first or partners for progress; whether we’re going to put success at the polls ahead of the lasting success we can achieve together for America. Just think about it for a while. We don’t have to put it up for a vote today.

Let me close by saying this. I was not elected by Democrats or Republicans, but by the American people. That’s especially true because the fastest growing group of Americans are independents. That should tell us both something. I’m ready and eager to work with anyone who is willing to proceed in a spirit of goodwill. But understand, if we can’t break free from partisan gridlock, if we can’t move past a politics of “no,” if resistance supplants constructive debate, I still have to meet my responsibilities as President. I’ve got to act for the greater good — because that, too, is a commitment that I have made. And that’s — that, too, is what the American people sent me to Washington to do.

So I am optimistic. I know many of you individually. And the irony, I think, of our political climate right now is that, compared to other countries, the differences between the two major parties on most issues is not as big as it’s represented. But we’ve gotten caught up in the political game in a way that’s just not healthy. It’s dividing our country in ways that are preventing us from meeting the challenges of the 21st century. I’m hopeful that the conversation we have today can help reverse that.

So thank you very much. Thank you, John. (Applause.) Now I’d like to open it up for questions.

CONGRESSMAN PENCE: The President has agreed to take questions and members would be encouraged to raise your hand while you remain in your seat. (Laughter.) The chair will take the prerogative to make the first remarks.

Mr. President, welcome back to the House Republican Conference.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.

CONGRESSMAN PENCE: [Off microphone.] We are pleased to have you return. (Inaudible) a year ago — House Republicans said then we would make you two promises. Number one, that most of the people in this room and their families would pray for you and your beautiful family just about every day for the next four years. And I want to assure you we’re keeping that promise.

THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate that.

CONGRESSMAN PENCE: [off microphone] Number two, our pledge to you, Mr. President, was that door is always open. And we hope the (inaudible) of our invitation that we (inaudible).

Mr. President, several of us in this conference yesterday on the way into Baltimore stopped by the Salvation Army homeless facility here in Baltimore. I met a little boy, an African American boy, in the 8th grade, named David Carter, Jr. When he heard that I would be seeing you today his eyes lit up like I had never seen. And I told him that if he wrote you a letter I’d give it to you, and I have.

But I had a conversation with little David, Jr. and David, Sr. His family has been struggling with the economy.

[On microphone.] His dad said words to me, Mr. President, that I’ll never forget. About my age and he said — he said, Congressman, it’s not like it was when we were coming up. He said, there’s just no jobs.

Now, last year about the time you met with us, unemployment was 7.5 percent in this country. Your administration, and your party in Congress, told us that we’d have to borrow more than $700 billion to pay for a so-called stimulus bill. It was a piecemeal list of projects and boutique tax cuts, all of which was — we were told — had to be passed or unemployment would go to 8 percent, as your administration said. Well, unemployment is 10 percent now, as you well know, Mr. President; here in Baltimore it’s considerably higher.

Now, Republicans offered a stimulus bill at the same time. It cost half as much as the Democratic proposal in Congress, and using your economic analyst models, it would have created twice the jobs at half the cost. It essentially was across-the-board tax relief, Mr. President.

Now we know you’ve come to Baltimore today and you’ve raised this tax credit, which was last promoted by President Jimmy Carter. But the first question I would pose to you, very respectfully, Mr. President, is would you be willing to consider embracing — in the name of little David Carter, Jr. and his dad, in the name of every struggling family in this country — the kind of across-the-board tax relief that Republicans have advocated, that President Kennedy advocated, that President Reagan advocated and that has always been the means of stimulating broad-based economic growth?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, there was a lot packed into that question. (Laughter.) First of all, let me say I already promised that I’ll be writing back to that young man and his family, and I appreciate you passing on the letter.

Q Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: But let’s talk about just the jobs environment generally. You’re absolutely right that when I was sworn in the hope was that unemployment would remain around 8 [percent], or in the 8 percent range. That was just based on the estimates made by both conservative and liberal economists, because at that point not all the data had trickled in.

We had lost 650,000 jobs in December. I’m assuming you’re not faulting my policies for that. We had lost, it turns out, 700,000 jobs in January, the month I was sworn in. I’m assuming it wasn’t my administration’s policies that accounted for that. We lost another 650,000 jobs the subsequent month, before any of my policies had gone into effect. So I’m assuming that wasn’t as a consequence of our policies; that doesn’t reflect the failure of the Recovery Act. The point being that what ended up happening was that the job losses from this recession proved to be much more severe — in the first quarter of last year going into the second quarter of last year — than anybody anticipated.

So I mean, I think we can score political points on the basis of the fact that we underestimated how severe the job losses were going to be. But those job losses took place before any stimulus, whether it was the ones that you guys have proposed or the ones that we proposed, could have ever taken into effect. Now, that’s just the fact, Mike, and I don’t think anybody would dispute that. You could not find an economist who would dispute that.

Now, at the same time, as I mentioned, most economists — Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative — would say that had it not been for the stimulus package that we passed, things would be much worse. Now, they didn’t fill a 7 million hole in the number of people who were unemployed. They probably account for about 2 million, which means we still have 5 million folks in there that we’ve still got to deal with. That’s a lot of people.

The package that we put together at the beginning of the year, the truth is, should have reflected — and I believe reflected what most of you would say are common sense things. This notion that this was a radical package is just not true. A third of them were tax cuts, and they weren’t — when you say they were “boutique” tax cuts, Mike, 95 percent of working Americans got tax cuts, small businesses got tax cuts, large businesses got help in terms of their depreciation schedules. I mean, it was a pretty conventional list of tax cuts. A third of it was stabilizing state budgets.

There is not a single person in here who, had it not been for what was in the stimulus package, wouldn’t be going home to more teachers laid off, more firefighters laid off, more cops laid off. A big chunk of it was unemployment insurance and COBRA, just making sure that people had some floor beneath them, and, by the way, making sure that there was enough money in their pockets that businesses had some customers.

You take those two things out, that accounts for the majority of the stimulus package. Are there people in this room who think that was a bad idea? A portion of it was dealing with the AMT, the alternative minimum tax — not a proposal of mine; that’s not a consequence of my policies that we have a tax system where we keep on putting off a potential tax hike that is embedded in the budget that we have to fix each year. That cost about $70 billion.

And then the last portion of it was infrastructure which, as I said, a lot of you have gone to appear at ribbon-cuttings for the same projects that you voted against.

Now, I say all this not to re-litigate the past, but it’s simply to state that the component parts of the Recovery Act are consistent with what many of you say are important things to do — rebuilding our infrastructure, tax cuts for families and businesses, and making sure that we were providing states and individuals some support when the roof was caving in.

And the notion that I would somehow resist doing something that cost half as much but would produce twice as many jobs — why would I resist that? I wouldn’t. I mean, that’s my point, is that — I am not an ideologue. I’m not. It doesn’t make sense if somebody could tell me you could do this cheaper and get increased results that I wouldn’t say, great. The problem is, I couldn’t find credible economists who would back up the claims that you just made.

Now, we can — here’s what I know going forward, though. I mean, we’re talking — we were talking about the past. We can talk about this going forward. I have looked at every idea out there in terms of accelerating job growth to match the economic growth that’s already taken place. The jobs credit that I’m discussing right now is one that a lot of people think would be the most cost-effective way for encouraging people to pick up their hiring.

There may be other ideas that you guys have; I am happy to look at them and I’m happy to embrace them. I suspect I will embrace some of them. Some of them I’ve already embraced.

But the question I think we’re going to have to ask ourselves is, as we move forward, are we going to be examining each of these issues based on what’s good for the country, what the evidence tells us, or are we going to be trying to position ourselves so that come November we’re able to say, “The other party, it’s their fault.” If we take the latter approach then we’re probably not going to get much agreement. If we take the former, I suspect there’s going to be a lot of overlap. All right?

Q Mr. President, will you consider supporting across-the-board tax relief, as President Kennedy did?

THE PRESIDENT: Here’s what I’m going to do, Mike. What I’m going to do is I’m going to take a look at what you guys are proposing. And the reason I say this, before you say, “Okay,” I think is important to know — what you may consider across-the-board tax cuts could be, for example, greater tax cuts for people who are making a billion dollars. I may not agree to a tax cut for Warren Buffet. You may be calling for an across-the-board tax cut for the banking industry right now. I may not agree to that.

So I think that we’ve got to look at what specific proposals you’re putting forward, and — this is the last point I’ll make — if you’re calling for just across-the-board tax cuts, and then on the other hand saying that we’re somehow going to balance our budget, I’m going to want to take a look at your math and see how that works, because the issue of deficit and debt is another area where there has been a tendency for some inconsistent statements. How’s that? All right?

CONGRESSMAN RYAN: Thank you. Mr. President, first off, thanks for agreeing to accept our invitation here. It is a real pleasure and honor to have you with us here today.

THE PRESIDENT: Good to see you. Is this your crew right here, by the way?

CONGRESSMAN RYAN: It is. This is my daughter Liza, my son Charlie and Sam, and this is my wife Janna.

THE PRESIDENT: Hey, guys.

CONGRESSMAN RYAN: Say hi, everybody. (Laughter.) I serve as a ranking member of the budget committee, so I’m going to talk a little budget if you don’t mind. The spending bills that you’ve signed into law, the domestic discretionary spending has been increased by 84 percent. You now want to freeze spending at this elevated beginning next year. This means that total spending in your budget would grow at 3/100ths of 1 percent less than otherwise. I would simply submit that we could do more and start now.

You’ve also said that you want to take a scalpel to the budget and go through it line by line. We want to give you that scalpel. I have a proposal with my home state senator, Russ Feingold, bipartisan proposal, to create a constitutional version of the line-item veto. (Applause.) Problem is, we can’t even get a vote on the proposal.

So my question is, why not start freezing spending now, and would you support a line-item veto in helping us get a vote on it in the House?

THE PRESIDENT: Let me respond to the two specific questions, but I want to just push back a little bit on the underlying premise about us increasing spending by 84 percent.

Now, look, I talked to Peter Orszag right before I came here, because I suspected I’d be hearing this — I’d be hearing this argument. The fact of the matter is, is that most of the increases in this year’s budget, this past year’s budget, were not as a consequence of policies that we initiated but instead were built in as a consequence of the automatic stabilizers that kick in because of this enormous recession.

So the increase in the budget for this past year was actually predicted before I was even sworn into office and had initiated any policies. Whoever was in there, Paul — and I don’t think you’ll dispute that — whoever was in there would have seen those same increases because of, on the one hand, huge drops in revenue, but at the same time people were hurting and needed help. And a lot of these things happened automatically.

Now, the reason that I’m not proposing the discretionary freeze take into effect this year — we prepared a budget for 2010, it’s now going forward — is, again, I am just listening to the consensus among people who know the economy best. And what they will say is that if you either increase taxes or significantly lowered spending when the economy remains somewhat fragile, that that would have a destimulative effect and potentially you’d see a lot of folks losing business, more folks potentially losing jobs. That would be a mistake when the economy has not fully taken off. That’s why I’ve proposed to do it for the next fiscal year. So that’s point number two.

With respect to the line-item veto, I actually — I think there’s not a President out there that wouldn’t love to have it. And I think that this is an area where we can have a serious conversation. I know it is a bipartisan proposal by you and Russ Feingold. I don’t like being held up with big bills that have stuff in them that are wasteful but I’ve got to sign because it’s a defense authorization bill and I’ve got to make sure that our troops are getting the funding that they need.

I will tell you, I would love for Congress itself to show discipline on both sides of the aisle. I think one thing that you have to acknowledge, Paul, because you study this stuff and take it pretty seriously, that the earmarks problem is not unique to one party and you end up getting a lot of pushback when you start going after specific projects of any one of you in your districts, because wasteful spending is usually spent somehow outside of your district. Have you noticed that? The spending in your district tends to seem pretty sensible.

So I would love to see more restraint within Congress. I’d like to work on the earmarks reforms that I mentioned in terms of putting earmarks online, because I think sunshine is the best disinfectant. But I am willing to have a serious conversation on the line-item veto issue.

CONGRESSMAN RYAN: I’d like to walk you through that, because we have a version we think is constitutional.

THE PRESIDENT: Let me take a look at it.

CONGRESSMAN RYAN: I would simply say that automatic stabilizer spending is mandatory spending. The discretionary spending, the bills that Congress signs that you sign into law, that has increased 84 percent.

THE PRESIDENT: We’ll have a longer debate on the budget numbers, all right?

CONGRESSMAN PENCE: Shelley Moore Capito, West Virginia.

CONGRESSWOMAN CAPITO: Thank you, Mr. President, for joining us here today. As you said in the State of the Union address on Wednesday, jobs and the economy are number one. And I think everyone in this room, certainly I, agree with you on that.

I represent the state of West Virginia. We’re resource-rich. We have a lot of coal and a lot of natural gas. But our — my miners and the folks who are working and those who are unemployed are very concerned about some of your policies in these areas: cap and trade, an aggressive EPA, and the looming prospect of higher taxes. In our minds, these are job-killing policies. So I’m asking you if you would be willing to re-look at some of these policies, with a high unemployment and the unsure economy that we have now, to assure West Virginians that you’re listening.

THE PRESIDENT: Look, I listen all the time, including to your governor, who’s somebody who I enjoyed working with a lot before the campaign and now that I’m President. And I know that West Virginia struggles with unemployment, and I know how important coal is to West Virginia and a lot of the natural resources there. That’s part of the reason why I’ve said that we need a comprehensive energy policy that sets us up for a long-term future.

For example, nobody has been a bigger promoter of clean coal technology than I am. Testament to that, I ended up being in a whole bunch of advertisements that you guys saw all the time about investing in ways for us to burn coal more cleanly.

I’ve said that I’m a promoter of nuclear energy, something that I think over the last three decades has been subject to a lot of partisan wrangling and ideological wrangling. I don’t think it makes sense. I think that that has to be part of our energy mix. I’ve said that I am supportive — and I said this two nights ago at the State of the Union — that I am in favor of increased production.

So if you look at the ideas that this caucus has, again with respect to energy, I’m for a lot of what you said you are for.

The one thing that I’ve also said, though, and here we have a serious disagreement and my hope is we can work through these disagreements — there’s going to be an effort on the Senate side to do so on a bipartisan basis — is that we have to plan for the future.

And the future is that clean energy — cleaner forms of energy are going to be increasingly important, because even if folks are still skeptical in some cases about climate change in our politics and in Congress, the world is not skeptical about it. If we’re going to be after some of these big markets, they’re going to be looking to see, is the United States the one that’s developing clean coal technology? Is the United States developing our natural gas resources in the most effective way? Is the United States the one that is going to lead in electric cars? Because if we’re not leading, those other countries are going to be leading.

So what I want to do is work with West Virginia to figure out how we can seize that future. But to do that, that means there’s going to have to be some transition. We can’t operate the coal industry in the United States as if we’re still in the 1920s or the 1930s or the 1950s. We’ve got to be thinking what does that industry look like in the next hundred years. And it’s going to be different. And that means there’s going to be some transition. And that’s where I think a well-thought-through policy of incentivizing the new while recognizing that there’s going to be a transition process — and we’re not just suddenly putting the old out of business right away — that has to be something that both Republicans and Democrats should be able to embrace.

CONGRESSMAN PENCE: Jason Chaffetz, Utah.

CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: Thank you, Mr. President. It’s truly an honor.

THE PRESIDENT: Great to be here.

CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: And I appreciate you being here.

I’m one of 22 House freshmen. We didn’t create this mess, but we are here to help clean it up. You talked a lot about this deficit of trust. There’s some things that have happened that I would appreciate your perspective on, because I can look you in the eye and tell you we have not been obstructionists. Democrats have the House and Senate and the presidency. And when you stood up before the American people multiple times and said you would broadcast the health care debates on C-SPAN, you didn’t. And I was disappointed, and I think a lot of Americans were disappointed.

You said you weren’t going to allow lobbyists in the senior-most positions within your administration, and yet you did. I applauded you when you said it — and disappointed when you didn’t.

You said you’d go line by line through the health care debate — or through the health care bill. And there were six of us, including Dr. Phil Roe, who sent you a letter and said, “We would like to take you up on the offer; we’d like to come.” We never heard a letter, we never got a call. We were never involved in any of those discussions.

And when you said in the House of Representatives that you were going to tackle earmarks — in fact, you didn’t want to have any earmarks in any of your bills — I jumped up out of my seat and applauded you. But it didn’t happen.

More importantly, I want to talk about moving forward, but if we could address —

THE PRESIDENT: Well, how about —

CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ: — I would certainly appreciate it.

THE PRESIDENT: That was a long list, so — (laughter) — let me respond.

Look, the truth of the matter is that if you look at the health care process — just over the course of the year — overwhelmingly the majority of it actually was on C-SPAN, because it was taking place in congressional hearings in which you guys were participating. I mean, how many committees were there that helped to shape this bill? Countless hearings took place.

Now, I kicked it off, by the way, with a meeting with many of you, including your key leadership. What is true, there’s no doubt about it, is that once it got through the committee process and there were now a series of meetings taking place all over the Capitol trying to figure out how to get the thing together — that was a messy process. And I take responsibility for not having structured it in a way where it was all taking place in one place that could be filmed. How to do that logistically would not have been as easy as it sounds, because you’re shuttling back and forth between the House, the Senate, different offices, et cetera, different legislators. But I think it’s a legitimate criticism. So on that one, I take responsibility.

With respect to earmarks, we didn’t have earmarks in the Recovery Act. We didn’t get a lot of credit for it, but there were no earmarks in that. I was confronted at the beginning of my term with an omnibus package that did have a lot of earmarks from Republicans and Democrats, and a lot of people in this chamber. And the question was whether I was going to have a big budget fight, at a time when I was still trying to figure out whether or not the financial system was melting down and we had to make a whole bunch of emergency decisions about the economy. So what I said was let’s keep them to a minimum, but I couldn’t excise them all.

Now, the challenge I guess I would have for you as a freshman, is what are you doing inside your caucus to make sure that I’m not the only guy who is responsible for this stuff, so that we’re working together, because this is going to be a process?

When we talk about earmarks, I think all of us are willing to acknowledge that some of them are perfectly defensible, good projects; it’s just they haven’t gone through the regular appropriations process in the full light of day. So one place to start is to make sure that they are at least transparent, that everybody knows what’s there before we move forward.

In terms of lobbyists, I can stand here unequivocally and say that there has not been an administration who was tougher on making sure that lobbyists weren’t participating in the administration than any administration that’s come before us.

Now, what we did was, if there were lobbyists who were on boards and commissions that were carryovers and their term hadn’t been completed, we didn’t kick them off. We simply said that moving forward any time a new slot opens, they’re being replaced.

So we’ve actually been very consistent in making sure that we are eliminating the impact of lobbyists, day in, day out, on how this administration operates. There have been a handful of waivers where somebody is highly skilled — for example, a doctor who ran Tobacco-Free Kids technically is a registered lobbyist; on the other end, has more experience than anybody in figuring out how kids don’t get hooked on cigarettes.

So there have been a couple of instances like that, but generally we’ve been very consistent on that front.

CONGRESSMAN PENCE: Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee.

CONGRESSMAN BLACKBURN: Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you for acknowledging that we have ideas on health care because, indeed, we do have ideas, we have plans, we have over 50 bills, we have lots of amendments that would bring health care ideas to the forefront. We would — we’ve got plans to lower cost, to change purchasing models, address medical liability, insurance accountability, chronic and preexisting conditions, and access to affordable care for those with those conditions, insurance portability, expanded access — but not doing it with creating more government, more bureaucracy, and more cost for the American taxpayer.

And we look forward to sharing those ideas with you. We want to work with you on health reform and making certain that we do it in an affordable, cost-effective way that is going to reduce bureaucracy, reduce government interference, and reduce costs to individuals and to taxpayers. And if those good ideas aren’t making it to you, maybe it’s the House Democrat leadership that is an impediment instead of a conduit.

But we’re concerned also that there are some lessons learned from public option health care plans that maybe are not being heeded. And certainly in my state of Tennessee, we were the test case for public option health care in 1994, and our Democrat government has even cautioned that maybe our experiences there would provide some lessons learned that should be heeded, and would provide guidance for us to go forward. And as you said, what we should be doing is tossing old ideas out, bad ideas out, and moving forward in refining good ideas. And certainly we would welcome that opportunity.

So my question to you is, when will we look forward to starting anew and sitting down with you to put all of these ideas on the table, to look at these lessons learned, to benefit from that experience, and to produce a product that is going to reduce government interference, reduce cost, and be fair to the American taxpayer? (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Actually, I’ve gotten many of your ideas. I’ve taken a look at them, even before I was handed this. Some of the ideas we have embraced in our package. Some of them are embraced with caveats. So let me give you an example.

I think one of the proposals that has been focused on by the Republicans as a way to reduce costs is allowing insurance companies to sell across state lines. We actually include that as part of our approach. But the caveat is, we’ve got to do so with some minimum standards, because otherwise what happens is that you could have insurance companies circumvent a whole bunch of state regulations about basic benefits or what have you, making sure that a woman is able to get mammograms as part of preventive care, for example. Part of what could happen is insurance companies could go into states and cherry-pick and just get those who are healthiest and leave behind those who are least healthy, which would raise everybody’s premiums who weren’t healthy, right?

So it’s not that many of these ideas aren’t workable, but we have to refine them to make sure that they don’t just end up worsening the situation for folks rather than making it better.

Now, what I said at the State of the Union is what I still believe: If you can show me — and if I get confirmation from health care experts, people who know the system and how it works, including doctors and nurses — ways of reducing people’s premiums; covering those who do not have insurance; making it more affordable for small businesses; having insurance reforms that ensure people have insurance even when they’ve got preexisting conditions, that their coverage is not dropped just because they’re sick, that young people right out of college or as they’re entering in the workforce can still get health insurance — if those component parts are things that you care about and want to do, I’m game. And I’ve got — and I’ve got a lot of these ideas.

The last thing I will say, though — let me say this about health care and the health care debate, because I think it also bears on a whole lot of other issues. If you look at the package that we’ve presented — and there’s some stray cats and dogs that got in there that we were eliminating, we were in the process of eliminating. For example, we said from the start that it was going to be important for us to be consistent in saying to people if you can have your — if you want to keep the health insurance you got, you can keep it, that you’re not going to have anybody getting in between you and your doctor in your decision making. And I think that some of the provisions that got snuck in might have violated that pledge.

And so we were in the process of scrubbing this and making sure that it’s tight. But at its core, if you look at the basic proposal that we’ve put forward: it has an exchange so that businesses and the self-employed can buy into a pool and can get bargaining power the same way big companies do; the insurance reforms that I’ve already discussed, making sure that there’s choice and competition for those who don’t have health insurance. The component parts of this thing are pretty similar to what Howard Baker, Bob Dole, and Tom Daschle proposed at the beginning of this debate last year.

Now, you may not agree with Bob Dole and Howard Baker, and, certainly you don’t agree with Tom Daschle on much, but that’s not a radical bunch. But if you were to listen to the debate and, frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you’d think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot. No, I mean, that’s how you guys — (applause) — that’s how you guys presented it.

And so I’m thinking to myself, well, how is it that a plan that is pretty centrist — no, look, I mean, I’m just saying, I know you guys disagree, but if you look at the facts of this bill, most independent observers would say this is actually what many Republicans — is similar to what many Republicans proposed to Bill Clinton when he was doing his debate on health care.

So all I’m saying is, we’ve got to close the gap a little bit between the rhetoric and the reality. I’m not suggesting that we’re going to agree on everything, whether it’s on health care or energy or what have you, but if the way these issues are being presented by the Republicans is that this is some wild-eyed plot to impose huge government in every aspect of our lives, what happens is you guys then don’t have a lot of room to negotiate with me.

I mean, the fact of the matter is, is that many of you, if you voted with the administration on something, are politically vulnerable in your own base, in your own party. You’ve given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion because what you’ve been telling your constituents is, this guy is doing all kinds of crazy stuff that’s going to destroy America.

And I would just say that we have to think about tone. It’s not just on your side, by the way — it’s on our side, as well. This is part of what’s happened in our politics, where we demonize the other side so much that when it comes to actually getting things done, it becomes tough to do.

Mike.

CONGRESSMAN PENCE: Dr. Tom Price from Georgia, and then we’ll have one more after that if your time permits, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I’m having fun. (Laughter.)

CONGRESSMAN PENCE: Okay.

THE PRESIDENT: This is great. (Applause.)

CONGRESSMAN PENCE: So are we.

CONGRESSMAN PRICE: Mr. President, thank you. I want to stick on the general topic of health care, but ask a very specific question. You have repeatedly said, most recently at the State of the Union, that Republicans have offered no ideas and no solutions. In spite of the fact —

THE PRESIDENT: I don’t think I said that. What I said was, within the context of health care — I remember that speech pretty well, it was only two days ago — (laughter) — I said I welcome ideas that you might provide. I didn’t say that you haven’t provided ideas. I said I welcome those ideas that you’ll provide.

CONGRESSMAN PRICE: Mr. President, multiple times, from your administration, there have come statements that Republicans have no ideas and no solutions. In spite of the fact that we’ve offered, as demonstrated today, positive solutions to all of the challenges we face, including energy and the economy and health care, specifically in the area of health care — this bill, H.R.3400, that has more co-sponsors than any health care bill in the House, is a bill that would provide health coverage for all Americans; would correct the significant insurance challenges of affordability and preexisting; would solve the lawsuit abuse issue, which isn’t addressed significantly in the other proposals that went through the House and the Senate; would write into law that medical decisions are made between patients and families and doctors; and does all of that without raising taxes by a penny.

But my specific question is, what should we tell our constituents who know that Republicans have offered positive solutions to the challenges that Americans face and yet continue to hear out of the administration that we’ve offered nothing?

THE PRESIDENT: Tom, look, I have to say that on the — let’s just take the health care debate. And it’s probably not constructive for us to try to debate a particular bill — this isn’t the venue to do it. But if you say, “We can offer coverage for all Americans, and it won’t cost a penny,” that’s just not true. You can’t structure a bill where suddenly 30 million people have coverage, and it costs nothing. If —

CONGRESSMAN PRICE: Mr. President, can I — and I understand that we’re not interested in debating this bill, but what should we tell our constituents who know that we’ve offered these solutions and yet hear from the administration that we have offered nothing.

THE PRESIDENT: Let me — I’m using this as a specific example, so let me answer your question. You asked a question; I want to answer it.

It’s not enough if you say, for example, that we’ve offered a health care plan and I look up — this is just under the section that you’ve just provided me, or the book that you just provided me — summary of GOP health care reform bill: The GOP plan will lower health care premiums for American families and small businesses, addressing America’s number-one priority for health reform. I mean, that’s an idea that we all embrace. But specifically it’s got to work. I mean, there’s got to be a mechanism in these plans that I can go to an independent health care expert and say, is this something that will actually work, or is it boilerplate?

If I’m told, for example, that the solution to dealing with health care costs is tort reform, something that I’ve said I am willing to work with you on, but the CBO or other experts say to me, at best, this could reduce health care costs relative to where they’re growing by a couple of percentage points, or save $5 billion a year, that’s what we can score it at, and it will not bend the cost curve long term or reduce premiums significantly — then you can’t make the claim that that’s the only thing that we have to do. If we’re going to do multi-state insurance so that people can go across state lines, I’ve got to be able to go to an independent health care expert, Republican or Democrat, who can tell me that this won’t result in cherry-picking of the healthiest going to some and the least healthy being worse off.

So I am absolutely committed to working with you on these issues, but it can’t just be political assertions that aren’t substantiated when it comes to the actual details of policy. Because otherwise, we’re going to be selling the American people a bill of goods. I mean, the easiest thing for me to do on the health care debate would have been to tell people that what you’re going to get is guaranteed health insurance, lower your costs, all the insurance reforms; we’re going to lower the costs of Medicare and Medicaid and it won’t cost anybody anything. That’s great politics, it’s just not true.

So there’s got to be some test of realism in any of these proposals, mine included. I’ve got to hold myself accountable, and guaranteed the American people will hold themselves — will hold me accountable if what I’m selling doesn’t actually deliver.

CONGRESSMAN PRICE: Mr. President, a point of clarification, what’s in the Better Solutions book are all the legislative proposals that were offered —

THE PRESIDENT: I understand that. I’ve actually read your bills.

CONGRESSMAN PRICE: — throughout 2009.

THE PRESIDENT: I understand.

CONGRESSMAN PRICE: And so, rest assured the summary document you received is backed up by precisely the kind of detailed legislation that Speaker Pelosi and your administration have been busy ignoring for 12 months.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Mike — well, hold on, hold on a second. No, no, no, no. Hold on a second, guys. (Applause.)

You know, Mike, I’ve read your legislation. I mean, I take a look at this stuff — and the good ideas we take. But here’s — here’s the thing — here’s the thing that I guess all of us have to be mindful of, it can’t be all or nothing, one way or the other. And what I mean by that is this: If we put together a stimulus package in which a third of it are tax cuts that normally you guys would support, and support for states and the unemployed, and helping people stay on COBRA that your governors certainly would support — Democrat or a Republican; and then you’ve got some infrastructure, and maybe there’s some things in there that you don’t like in terms of infrastructure, or you think the bill should have been $500 billion instead of $700 billion or there’s this provision or that provision that you don’t like. If there’s uniform opposition because the Republican caucus doesn’t get 100 percent or 80 percent of what you want, then it’s going to be hard to get a deal done. That’s because that’s not how democracy works.

So my hope would be that we can look at some of these component parts of what we’re doing and maybe we break some of them up on different policy issues. So if the good congressman from Utah has a particular issue on lobbying reform that he wants to work with us on, we may not able to agree on a comprehensive package on everything but there may be some component parts that we can work on.

You may not support our overall jobs package, but if you look at the tax credit that we’re proposing for small businesses right now, it is consistent with a lot of what you guys have said in the past. And just the fact that it’s my administration that’s proposing it shouldn’t prevent you from supporting it. That’s my point.

CONGRESSMAN PENCE: Thank you, Mr. President. Peter Roskam from the great state of Illinois.

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, Peter is an old friend of mine.

CONGRESSMAN ROSKAM: Hey, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Peter and I have had many debates.

CONGRESMAN ROSKAM: Well, this won’t be one. Mr. President, I heard echoes today of the state senator that I served with in Springfield and there was an attribute and a characteristic that you had that I think served you well there. You took on some very controversial subjects — death penalty reform — you and I —

THE PRESIDENT: Sure. We worked on it together.

CONGRESSMAN ROSKAM: — negotiated on. You took on ethics reform. You took on some big things. One of the keys was you rolled your sleeves up, you worked with the other party, and ultimately you were able to make the deal. Now, here’s an observation.

Over the past year, in my view, that attribute hasn’t been in full bloom. And by that I mean, you’ve gotten this subtext of House Republicans that sincerely want to come and be a part of this national conversation toward solutions, but they’ve really been stiff-armed by Speaker Pelosi. Now, I know you’re not in charge of that chamber, but there really is this dynamic of, frankly, being shut out. When John Boehner and Eric Cantor presented last February to you some substantive job creation, our stimulus alternative, the attack machine began to marginalize Eric — and we can all look at the articles — as “Mr. No,” and there was this pretty dark story, ultimately, that wasn’t productive and wasn’t within this sort of framework that you’re articulating today.

So here’s the question. Moving forward, I think all of us want to hit the reset button on 2009. How do we move forward? And on the job creation piece in particular, you mentioned Colombia, you mentioned Panama, you mentioned South Korea. Are you willing to work with us, for example, to make sure those FTAs get called, that’s no-cost job creation? And ultimately, as you’re interacting with world leaders, that’s got to put more arrows in your quiver, and that’s a very, very powerful tool for us. But the obstacle is, frankly, the politics within the Democratic caucus?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, Peter and I did work together effectively on a whole host of issues. One of our former colleagues is right now running for governor, on the Republican side, in Illinois. In the Republican primary, of course, they’re running ads of him saying nice things about me. Poor guy. (Laughter.)

Although that’s one of the points that I made earlier. I mean, we’ve got to be careful about what we say about each other sometimes, because it boxes us in in ways that makes it difficult for us to work together, because our constituents start believing us. They don’t know sometimes this is just politics what you guys — or folks on my side do sometimes.

So just a tone of civility instead of slash and burn would be helpful. The problem we have sometimes is a media that responds only to slash-and-burn-style politics. You don’t get a lot of credit if I say, “You know, I think Paul Ryan is a pretty sincere guy and has a beautiful family.” Nobody is going to run that in the newspapers.

Q (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: And by the way, in case he’s going to get a Republican challenge, I didn’t mean it. (Laughter.) Don’t want to hurt you, man. (Laughter.)

But on the specifics, I think both sides can take some blame for a sour climate on Capitol Hill. What I can do maybe to help is to try to bring Republican and Democratic leadership together on a more regular basis with me. That’s, I think, a failure on my part, is to try to foster better communications even if there’s disagreement. And I will try to see if we can do more of that this year. That’s on the sort of the general issue.

On the specific issue of trade, you’re right, there are conflicts within and fissures within the Democratic Party. I suspect there are probably going to be some fissures within the Republican Party, as well. I mean, you know, if you went to some of your constituencies, they’d be pretty suspicious about it, new trade agreements, because the suspicion is somehow they’re all one way.

So part of what we’ve been trying to do is to make sure that we’re getting the enforcement side of this tight, make sure that if we’ve got a trade agreement with China or other countries, that they are abiding with it — they’re not stealing our intellectual property or making sure that their non-tariff barriers are lowered even as ours are opened up. And my hope is, is that we can move forward with some of these trade agreements having built some confidence — not just among particular constituency groups, but among the American people — that trade is going to be reciprocal; that it’s not just going to be a one-way street.

You are absolutely right though, Peter, when you say, for example, South Korea is a great ally of ours. I mean, when I visited there, there is no country that is more committed to friendship on a whole range of fronts than South Korea. What is also true is that the European Union is about to sign a trade agreement with South Korea, which means right at the moment when they start opening up their markets, the Europeans might get in there before we do.

So we’ve got to make sure that we seize these opportunities. I will be talking more about trade this year. It’s going to have to be trade that combines opening their markets with an enforcement mechanism, as well as just opening up our markets. I think that’s something that all of us would agree on. Let’s see if we can execute it over the next several years. All right, is that it?

CONGRESSMAN PENCE: Jeb Hensarling, Texas. And that will be it, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Jim [sic] is going to wrap things up?

CONGRESSMAN PENCE: Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: All right.

CONGRESSMAN HENSARLING: Jeb, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: How are you?

CONGRESSMAN HENSARLING: I’m doing well. Mr. President, a year ago I had an opportunity to speak to you about the national debt. And something that you and I have in common is we both have small children.

THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely.

CONGRESSMAN HENSARLING: And I left that conversation really feeling your sincere commitment to ensuring that our children, our nation’s children, do not inherit an unconscionable debt. We know that under current law, that government — the cost of government is due to grow from 20 percent of our economy to 40 percent of our economy, right about the time our children are leaving college and getting that first job.

Mr. President, shortly after that conversation a year ago, the Republicans proposed a budget that ensured that government did not grow beyond the historical standard of 20 percent of GDP. It was a budget that actually froze immediately non-defense discretionary spending. It spent $5 trillion less than ultimately what was enacted into law, and unfortunately, I believe that budget was ignored. And since that budget was ignored, what were the old annual deficits under Republicans have now become the monthly deficits under Democrats. The national debt has increased 30 percent.

Now, Mr. President, I know you believe — and I understand the argument, and I respect the view that the spending is necessary due to the recession; many of us believe, frankly, it’s part of the problem, not part of the solution. But I understand and I respect your view. But this is what I don’t understand, Mr. President. After that discussion, your administration proposed a budget that would triple the national debt over the next 10 years — surely you don’t believe 10 years from now we will still be mired in this recession — and propose new entitlement spending and move the cost of government to almost 24.5 percent of the economy.

Now, very soon, Mr. President, you’re due to submit a new budget. And my question is —

THE PRESIDENT: Jeb, I know there’s a question in there somewhere, because you’re making a whole bunch of assertions, half of which I disagree with, and I’m having to sit here listening to them. At some point I know you’re going to let me answer. All right.

CONGRESSMAN HENSARLING: That’s the question. You are soon to submit a new budget, Mr. President. Will that new budget, like your old budget, triple the national debt and continue to take us down the path of increasing the cost of government to almost 25 percent of our economy? That’s the question, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Jeb, with all due respect, I’ve just got to take this last question as an example of how it’s very hard to have the kind of bipartisan work that we’re going to do, because the whole question was structured as a talking point for running a campaign.

Now, look, let’s talk about the budget once again, because I’ll go through it with you line by line. The fact of the matter is, is that when we came into office, the deficit was $1.3 trillion. — $1.3 [trillion.] So when you say that suddenly I’ve got a monthly budget that is higher than the — a monthly deficit that’s higher than the annual deficit left by the Republicans, that’s factually just not true, and you know it’s not true.

And what is true is that we came in already with a $1.3 trillion deficit before I had passed any law. What is true is we came in with $8 trillion worth of debt over the next decade — had nothing to do with anything that we had done. It had to do with the fact that in 2000 when there was a budget surplus of $200 billion, you had a Republican administration and a Republican Congress, and we had two tax cuts that weren’t paid for.

You had a prescription drug plan — the biggest entitlement plan, by the way, in several decades — that was passed without it being paid for. You had two wars that were done through supplementals. And then you had $3 trillion projected because of the lost revenue of this recession. That’s $8 trillion.

Now, we increased it by a trillion dollars because of the spending that we had to make on the stimulus. I am happy to have any independent fact-checker out there take a look at your presentation versus mine in terms of the accuracy of what I just said.

Now, going forward, here’s the deal. I think, Paul, for example, head of the budget committee, has looked at the budget and has made a serious proposal. I’ve read it. I can tell you what’s in it. And there are some ideas in there that I would agree with, but there are some ideas that we should have a healthy debate about because I don’t agree with them.

The major driver of our long-term liabilities, everybody here knows, is Medicare and Medicaid and our health care spending. Nothing comes close. Social Security we could probably fix the same way Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan sat down together and they could figure something out. That is manageable. Medicare and Medicaid — massive problem down the road. That’s where — that’s going to be what our children have to worry about.

Now, Paul’s approach — and I want to be careful not simplifying this, because I know you’ve got a lot of detail in your plan — but if I understand it correctly, would say we’re going to provide vouchers of some sort for current Medicare recipients at the current level —

CONGRESSMAN RYAN: No.

THE PRESIDENT: No?

CONGRESSMAN RYAN: People 55 and above —

THE PRESIDENT: Fifty-five and — well, no, I understand. I mean, there’s a grandfathering in, but just for future beneficiaries, right? That’s why I said I didn’t want to — I want to make sure that I’m not being unfair to your proposal, but I just want to point out that I’ve read it. And the basic idea would be that at some point we hold Medicare cost per recipient constant as a way of making sure that that doesn’t go way out of whack, and I’m sure there are some details that —

CONGRESSMAN RYAN: We drew it as a blend of inflation and health inflation, the point of our plan is — because Medicare, as you know, is a $38 trillion unfunded liability — it has to be reform for younger generations because it won’t exist because it’s going bankrupt. And the premise of our idea is, look, why not give people the same kind of health care plan we here have in Congress? That’s the kind of reform we’re proposing for Medicare. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: No, I understand. Right, right. Well, look, as I said before, this is an entirely legitimate proposal. The problem is twofold: One is that depending on how it’s structured, if recipients are suddenly getting a plan that has their reimbursement rates going like this, but health care costs are still going up like that, then over time the way we’re saving money is essentially by capping what they’re getting relative to their costs.

Now, I just want to point out — and this brings me to the second problem — when we made a very modest proposal as part of our package, our health care reform package, to eliminate the subsidies going to insurance companies for Medicare Advantage, we were attacked across the board, by many on your aisle, for slashing Medicare. You remember? We’re going to start cutting benefits for seniors. That was the story that was perpetrated out there — scared the dickens out of a lot of seniors.

No, no, but here’s my point. If the main question is going to be what do we do about Medicare costs, any proposal that Paul makes will be painted, factually, from the perspective of those who disagree with it, as cutting benefits over the long term. Paul, I don’t think you disagree with that, that there is a political vulnerability to doing anything that tinkers with Medicare. And that’s probably the biggest savings that are obtained through Paul’s plan.

And I raise that not because we shouldn’t have a series discussion about it. I raise that because we’re not going to be able to do anything about any of these entitlements if what we do is characterized, whatever proposals are put out there, as, well, you know, that’s — the other party is being irresponsible; the other party is trying to hurt our senior citizens; that the other party is doing X, Y, Z.

That’s why I say if we’re going to frame these debates in ways that allow us to solve them, then we can’t start off by figuring out, A, who’s to blame; B, how can we make the American people afraid of the other side. And unfortunately, that’s how our politics works right now. And that’s how a lot of our discussion works. That’s how we start off — every time somebody speaks in Congress, the first thing they do, they stand up and all the talking points — I see Frank Luntz up here sitting in the front. He’s already polled it, and he said, you know, the way you’re really going to — I’ve done a focus group and the way we’re going to really box in Obama on this one or make Pelosi look bad on that one — I know, I like Frank, we’ve had conversations between Frank and I. But that’s how we operate. It’s all tactics, and it’s not solving problems.

And so the question is, at what point can we have a serious conversation about Medicare and its long-term liability, or a serious question about — a serious conversation about Social Security, or a serious conversation about budget and debt in which we’re not simply trying to position ourselves politically. That’s what I’m committed to doing. We won’t agree all the time in getting it done, but I’m committed to doing it.

I would expect C-Span to run the whole thing at least once tonite and probably on C-Span 2 before it goes into Book TV mode. Check your listings.

Joe Conason says: Obama is right on the (foreign) money

[b]Right-wingers scream that Obama distorted the Citizens United decision. But Alito’s own remarks show they’re wrong.]

I clipped this from Conason’s column in Salon this morning. If you have been making Obama’s points with your Republican friends who seem to think Alito’s mouthing of disagreement is somehow truth, go into Salon and read the whole thing. You’ll get great backup info.

clipped from www.salon.com

Although the scope of the latest problem created by the court may be a matter of speculation, there is no doubt that unbridled corporate contributions will open the way for foreign interests and individuals to intervene in U.S. politics — so long as their money is laundered through a company incorporated in this country.

So warned Justice John Paul Stevens in his partial dissent from the majority decision

From Glenn Beck to Joe Scarborough,  right-wing voices are loudly complaining that President Obama’s remarks about the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United were false and  insulting to the court. They’ve picked up on Justice Samuel Alito’s muttered “not true” as somehow proving that the president was wrong to complain that the decision will permit foreign special interests to influence American elections.

  blog it

Paul Begala’s summary of the SOTU

Here’s a clip… go to CNN for the rest of this very sharp column.
clipped from www.cnn.com

Obama pushes reset button
Paul Begala

If the president’s goal in his State of the Union address was to reset the nation’s agenda, he succeeded.

Calm, comfortable and controlled, President Obama made it plain that jobs are his top priority. He devoted more time and attention to jobs and the economy than every other issue combined.

He shored up his credibility on fiscal responsibility, laying blame for the crushing deficits where they belong: at the feet of the Republican Congress and the Republican president who squandered the massive Clinton surpluses and left us even more massive Republican deficits. Channeling Joe Friday from “Dragnet,” he said, “These are just the facts.”
He expressed the American people’s righteous indignation over Wall Street fat cats who were bailed out by the taxpayers and are now living high on the hog with obscene bonuses. He hammered the Supreme Court for allowing corporations to buy elections.
  blog it

Here’s a Flash: Senate just approved Bernanke

In a vote of 70 to 30, the Senate just approved the reappointment of Ben Bernanke to the Federal Reserve Bank Chairmanship.

This was the most bipartisan vote I’ve seen in the Senate in months.

J.D. Salinger Dead at 91

My daughter Cassandra called me from Connecticut as I was working around the house to wonder why I wasn’t keeping up with my “deathwatch”… and then she informed me that J.D. Salinger had died.

For many people, the hermit-like author might as well have died in the 1960s since, after he published his last Glass family story in the New Yorker, he disappeared to Cornish, New Hampshire and spent the rest of his life avoiding the press and maybe writing for himself, maybe not.

There is mystery here, of course. In the Guardian I found this:

Ten years ago it was revealed that Salinger had a secret cache of about 15 novels that had never been published. In his last interview, in 1980, he said that he only wrote for himself.

In 1986 Salinger won an injunction against the publication of a collection of his letters. During the case, which went all the way to the US supreme court, he was asked what he had been working on for the previous 20 years.

“Just a work of fiction,” Salinger said in a deposition. “That’s all. That’s the only description I can really give it … It’s almost impossible to define. I work with characters, and as they develop I just go on from there.”

Will we ever see it? Will his survivors, a wife and son and daughter by a previous marriage, ever let things be released?

Stay tuned.

Activist Historian Howard Zinn has Died

From Boston.com:

Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and a leading faculty critic of BU president John Silber, died of a heart attack today in Santa Monica, Calif, where he was traveling, his family said. He was 87.

Zinn was the author of A People’s History of the United States, which was first published in 1980. Harper Collins, the publisher, lists this description of the current edition:

Known for its lively, clear prose as well as its scholarly research, A People’s History is the only volume to tell America’s story from the point of view of — and in the words of — America’s women, factory workers, African-Americans, Native Americans, the working poor, and immigrant laborers. As historian Howard Zinn shows, many of our country’s greatest battles — the fights for a fair wage, an eight-hour workday, child-labor laws, health and safety standards, universal suffrage, women’s rights, racial equality — were carried out at the grassroots level, against bloody resistance. Covering Christopher Columbus’s arrival through President Clinton’s first term, A People’s History of the United States, which was nominated for the American Book Award in 1981, features insightful analysis of the most important events in our history.

Revised, updated, and featuring a new afterword by the author, this special twentieth anniversary edition continues Zinn’s important contribution to a complete and balanced understanding of American history.

Last week he wrote his final essay for The Nation. You can read it HERE.

Joan says Barack has finally shown some spine…

I find myself going to Salon more and more lately. Her comments are right on.

Here’s a clip from her post SOTU speech comments… I recommend that you go in and read the whole ting:

clipped from www.salon.com

Joan Walsh

In case he wasn’t fully aware that Republicans are impervious to his political charm, President Obama saw it early in his first State of the Union address. After ticking off a list of taxes he’d lowered, the chamber was in cheers — except for the GOP side of the aisle, where traditionally tax-cutters have clustered. Obama smiled and ad-libbed, “I expected some applause for that one.”

Just like he expected some GOP cooperation when he became president a year ago – but he got neither. In this State of the Union speech Obama showed more spine and fire than he has of late, mainly using humor to turn the GOP’s dourness back on itself. It was a strong address, but it will take more than words for Obama to get his agenda back on track.

The best of the speech: In terms of policy, I was glad to see him demand that Congress continue to work on health care reform – though I was a little disturbed he offered no specifics.
  blog it

U. S. Chamber of Commerce is Demonstration Target

Obama said last night that we are so close to finishing Health Care legislation… however it is the corporate lobbyists and the U. S. Chamber of Commerce that is working against passage.

2 days ago, Healthcare For America Now demonstrated in front of the US Chamber building in DC:

Healthcare For America Now is organizing more anti-lobby protests. If you want to go to one and participate, check in HERE.

Text of the State of the Union Address

While you are watching him give it you can mark it with scores on how many times Dems stood up, Reps stood up, or Everyone stood up.

Have Fun!

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
The State of the Union
Wednesday, January 27, 2009
Washington, DC

Madame Speaker, Vice President Biden, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Our Constitution declares that from time to time, the President shall give to Congress information about the state of our union.  For two hundred and twenty years, our leaders have fulfilled this duty.  They have done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility.  And they have done so in the midst of war and depression; at moments of great strife and great struggle.

It’s tempting to look back on these moments and assume that our progress was inevitable – that America was always destined to succeed.  But when the Union was turned back at Bull Run and the Allies first landed at Omaha Beach, victory was very much in doubt.  When the market crashed on Black Tuesday and civil rights marchers were beaten on Bloody Sunday, the future was anything but certain.  These were times that tested the courage of our convictions, and the strength of our union.  And despite all our divisions and disagreements; our hesitations and our fears; America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, and one people.

Again, we are tested.  And again, we must answer history’s call.

One year ago, I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked by severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and a government deeply in debt.  Experts from across the political spectrum warned that if we did not act, we might face a second depression.  So we acted – immediately and aggressively.  And one year later, the worst of the storm has passed.

But the devastation remains.  One in ten Americans still cannot find work.  Many businesses have shuttered.  Home values have declined.  Small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard.  For those who had already known poverty, life has become that much harder.

This recession has also compounded the burdens that America’s families have been dealing with for decades – the burden of working harder and longer for less; of being unable to save enough to retire or help kids with college.

So I know the anxieties that are out there right now.  They’re not new.  These struggles are the reason I ran for President.  These struggles are what I’ve witnessed for years in places like Elkhart, Indiana and Galesburg, Illinois.  I hear about them in the letters that I read each night.  The toughest to read are those written by children – asking why they have to move from their home, or when their mom or dad will be able to go back to work.

For these Americans and so many others, change has not come fast enough.  Some are frustrated; some are angry.  They don’t understand why it seems like bad behavior on Wall Street is rewarded but hard work on Main Street isn’t; or why Washington has been unable or unwilling to solve any of our problems.  They are tired of the partisanship and the shouting and the pettiness.  They know we can’t afford it.  Not now.

So we face big and difficult challenges.  And what the American people hope – what they deserve – is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences; to overcome the numbing weight of our politics.  For while the people who sent us here have different backgrounds, different stories and different beliefs, the anxieties they face are the same. The aspirations they hold are shared.  A job that pays the bills.  A chance to get ahead.  Most of all, the ability to give their children a better life.

You know what else they share?  They share a stubborn resilience in the face of adversity.  After one of the most difficult years in our history, they remain busy building cars and teaching kids; starting businesses and going back to school.  They’re coaching little league and helping their neighbors.  As one woman wrote me, “We are strained but hopeful, struggling but encouraged.”

It is because of this spirit – this great decency and great strength – that I have never been more hopeful about America’s future than I am tonight.  Despite our hardships, our union is strong.  We do not give up.  We do not quit.  We do not allow fear or division to break our spirit.  In this new decade, it’s time the American people get a government that matches their decency; that embodies their strength.

And tonight, I’d like to talk about how together, we can deliver on that promise.

It begins with our economy.

Our most urgent task upon taking office was to shore up the same banks that helped cause this crisis.  It was not easy to do.  And if there’s one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, it’s that we all hated the bank bailout.  I hated it.  You hated it.  It was about as popular as a root canal.

But when I ran for President, I promised I wouldn’t just do what was popular – I would do what was necessary.  And if we had allowed the meltdown of the financial system, unemployment might be double what it is today.  More businesses would certainly have closed.  More homes would have surely been lost.

So I supported the last administration’s efforts to create the financial rescue program.  And when we took the program over, we made it more transparent and accountable.  As a result, the markets are now stabilized, and we have recovered most of the money we spent on the banks.

To recover the rest, I have proposed a fee on the biggest banks.  I know Wall Street isn’t keen on this idea, but if these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need.

As we stabilized the financial system, we also took steps to get our economy growing again, save as many jobs as possible, and help Americans who had become unemployed.

That’s why we extended or increased unemployment benefits for more than 18 million Americans; made health insurance 65% cheaper for families who get their coverage through COBRA; and passed 25 different tax cuts.

Let me repeat:  we cut taxes.  We cut taxes for 95% of working families.  We cut taxes for small businesses.  We cut taxes for first-time homebuyers.  We cut taxes for parents trying to care for their children.  We cut taxes for 8 million Americans paying for college.  As a result, millions of Americans had more to spend on gas, and food, and other necessities, all of which helped businesses keep more workers.  And we haven’t raised income taxes by a single dime on a single person.  Not a single dime.

Because of the steps we took, there are about two million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed.  200,000 work in construction and clean energy.  300,000 are teachers and other education workers.  Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, and first responders.  And we are on track to add another one and a half million jobs to this total by the end of the year.

The plan that has made all of this possible, from the tax cuts to the jobs, is the Recovery Act.  That’s right – the Recovery Act, also known as the Stimulus Bill.  Economists on the left and the right say that this bill has helped saved jobs and avert disaster.  But you don’t have to take their word for it.

Talk to the small business in Phoenix that will triple its workforce because of the Recovery Act.

Talk to the window manufacturer in Philadelphia who said he used to be skeptical about the Recovery Act, until he had to add two more work shifts just because of the business it created.

Talk to the single teacher raising two kids who was told by her principal in the last week of school that because of the Recovery Act, she wouldn’t be laid off after all.

There are stories like this all across America.  And after two years of recession, the economy is growing again.  Retirement funds have started to gain back some of their value.  Businesses are beginning to invest again, and slowly some are starting to hire again.

But I realize that for every success story, there are other stories, of men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing where their next paycheck will come from; who send out resumes week after week and hear nothing in response.  That is why jobs must be our number one focus in 2010, and that is why I am calling for a new jobs bill tonight.

Now, the true engine of job creation in this country will always be America’s businesses.  But government can create the conditions necessary for businesses to expand and hire more workers.

We should start where most new jobs do – in small businesses, companies that begin when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, or a worker decides its time she became her own boss.

Through sheer grit and determination, these companies have weathered the recession and are ready to grow.  But when you talk to small business owners in places like Allentown, Pennsylvania or Elyria, Ohio, you find out that even though banks on Wall Street are lending again, they are mostly lending to bigger companies.  But financing remains difficult for small business owners across the country.

So tonight, I’m proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat.  I am also proposing a new small business tax credit – one that will go to over one million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages.  While we’re at it, let’s also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment; and provide a tax incentive for all businesses, large and small, to invest in new plants and equipment.

Next, we can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow.  From the first railroads to the interstate highway system, our nation has always been built to compete.  There’s no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products.

Tomorrow, I’ll visit Tampa, Florida, where workers will soon break ground on a new high-speed railroad funded by the Recovery Act.  There are projects like that all across this country that will create jobs and help our nation move goods, services, and information.  We should put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities, and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy efficient, which supports clean energy jobs.  And to encourage these and other businesses to stay within our borders, it’s time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs in the United States of America.

The House has passed a jobs bill that includes some of these steps.  As the first order of business this year, I urge the Senate to do the same.  People are out of work.  They are hurting.  They need our help.  And I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay.

But the truth is, these steps still won’t make up for the seven million jobs we’ve lost over the last two years.  The only way to move to full employment is to lay a new foundation for long-term economic growth, and finally address the problems that America’s families have confronted for years.

We cannot afford another so-called economic “expansion” like the one from last decade – what some call the “lost decade” – where jobs grew more slowly than during any prior expansion; where the income of the average American household declined while the cost of health care and tuition reached record highs; where prosperity was built on a housing bubble and financial speculation.

From the day I took office, I have been told that addressing our larger challenges is too ambitious – that such efforts would be too contentious, that our political system is too gridlocked, and that we should just put things on hold for awhile.

For those who make these claims, I have one simple question:

How long should we wait?  How long should America put its future on hold?

You see, Washington has been telling us to wait for decades, even as the problems have grown worse.  Meanwhile, China’s not waiting to revamp its economy.  Germany’s not waiting.  India’s not waiting.  These nations aren’t standing still.  These nations aren’t playing for second place.  They’re putting more emphasis on math and science. They’re rebuilding their infrastructure.  They are making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs.

Well I do not accept second-place for the United States of America.  As hard as it may be, as uncomfortable and contentious as the debates may be, it’s time to get serious about fixing the problems that are hampering our growth.

One place to start is serious financial reform.  Look, I am not interested in punishing banks, I’m interested in protecting our economy.  A strong, healthy financial market makes it possible for businesses to access credit and create new jobs.  It channels the savings of families into investments that raise incomes.  But that can only happen if we guard against the same recklessness that nearly brought down our entire economy.

We need to make sure consumers and middle-class families have the information they need to make financial decisions.  We can’t allow financial institutions, including those that take your deposits, to take risks that threaten the whole economy.

The House has already passed financial reform with many of these changes.  And the lobbyists are already trying to kill it.  Well, we cannot let them win this fight.  And if the bill that ends up on my desk does not meet the test of real reform, I will send it back.

Next, we need to encourage American innovation.  Last year, we made the largest investment in basic research funding in history – an investment that could lead to the world’s cheapest solar cells or treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched.  And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy.  You can see the results of last year’s investment in clean energy – in the North Carolina company that will create 1200 jobs nationwide helping to make advanced batteries; or in the California business that will put 1,000 people to work making solar panels.

But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives.  That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country.  It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies.  And yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.

I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year.  This year, I am eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate.  I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy; and I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change.  But even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future – because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy.  And America must be that nation.

Third, we need to export more of our goods.  Because the more products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we support right here in America.  So tonight, we set a new goal:  We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million jobs in America.  To help meet this goal, we’re launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports, and reform export controls consistent with national security.

We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are. If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores. But realizing those benefits also means enforcing those agreements so our trading partners play by the rules. And that’s why we will continue to shape a Doha trade agreement that opens global markets, and why we will strengthen our trade relations in Asia and with key partners like South Korea, Panama, and Colombia.

Fourth, we need to invest in the skills and education of our people.

This year, we have broken through the stalemate between left and right by launching a national competition to improve our schools.  The idea here is simple:  instead of rewarding failure, we only reward success.  Instead of funding the status quo, we only invest in reform – reform that raises student achievement, inspires students to excel in math and science, and turns around failing schools that steal the future of too many young Americans, from rural communities to inner-cities.  In the 21st century, one of the best anti-poverty programs is a world-class education.  In this country, the success of our children cannot depend more on where they live than their potential.

When we renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we will work with Congress to expand these reforms to all fifty states.   Still, in this economy, a high school diploma no longer guarantees a good job.  I urge the Senate to follow the House and pass a bill that will revitalize our community colleges, which are a career pathway to the children of so many working families.  To make college more affordable, this bill will finally end the unwarranted taxpayer-subsidies that go to banks for student loans.  Instead, let’s take that money and give families a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college and increase Pell Grants.  And let’s tell another one million students that when they graduate, they will be required to pay only ten percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after twenty years – and forgiven after ten years if they choose a career in public service.  Because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college.  And it’s time for colleges and universities to get serious about cutting their own costs – because they too have a responsibility to help solve this problem.

Now, the price of college tuition is just one of the burdens facing the middle-class.  That’s why last year I asked Vice President Biden to chair a task force on Middle-Class Families.  That’s why we’re nearly doubling the child care tax credit, and making it easier to save for retirement by giving every worker access to a retirement account and expanding the tax credit for those who start a nest egg.  That’s why we’re working to lift the value of a family’s single largest investment – their home.  The steps we took last year to shore up the housing market have allowed millions of Americans to take out new loans and save an average of $1,500 on mortgage payments.  This year, we will step up re-financing so that homeowners can move into more affordable mortgages.  And it is precisely to relieve the burden on middle-class families that we still need health insurance reform.

Now let’s be clear – I did not choose to tackle this issue to get some legislative victory under my belt.  And by now it should be fairly obvious that I didn’t take on health care because it was good politics.

I took on health care because of the stories I’ve heard from Americans with pre-existing conditions whose lives depend on getting coverage; patients who’ve been denied coverage; and families – even those with insurance – who are just one illness away from financial ruin.

After nearly a century of trying, we are closer than ever to bringing more security to the lives of so many Americans.  The approach we’ve taken would protect every American from the worst practices of the insurance industry.  It would give small businesses and uninsured Americans a chance to choose an affordable health care plan in a competitive market.  It would require every insurance plan to cover preventive care.  And by the way, I want to acknowledge our First Lady, Michelle Obama, who this year is creating a national movement to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity and make our kids healthier.

Our approach would preserve the right of Americans who have insurance to keep their doctor and their plan.  It would reduce costs and premiums for millions of families and businesses.  And according to the Congressional Budget Office – the independent organization that both parties have cited as the official scorekeeper for Congress – our approach would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next two decades.

Still, this is a complex issue, and the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became.  I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people.  And I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading, this process left most Americans wondering what’s in it for them.

But I also know this problem is not going away.  By the time I’m finished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance. Millions will lose it this year.  Our deficit will grow.  Premiums will go up.  Patients will be denied the care they need.  Small business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether.  I will not walk away from these Americans, and neither should the people in this chamber.

As temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look at the plan we’ve proposed.  There’s a reason why many doctors, nurses, and health care experts who know our system best consider this approach a vast improvement over the status quo.  But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know.  Here’s what I ask of Congress, though:  Do not walk away from reform.  Not now.  Not when we are so close.  Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people.

Now, even as health care reform would reduce our deficit, it’s not enough to dig us out of a massive fiscal hole in which we find ourselves.  It’s a challenge that makes all others that much harder to solve, and one that’s been subject to a lot of political posturing.

So let me start the discussion of government spending by setting the record straight. At the beginning of the last decade, America had a budget surplus of over $200 billion. By the time I took office, we had a one year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program. On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget. That was before I walked in the door.

Now if we had taken office in ordinary times, I would have liked nothing more than to start bringing down the deficit.  But we took office amid a crisis, and our efforts to prevent a second Depression have added another $1 trillion to our national debt.

I am absolutely convinced that was the right thing to do.  But families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions.  The federal government should do the same. So tonight, I’m proposing specific steps to pay for the $1 trillion that it took to rescue the economy last year.

Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years.  Spending related to our national security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will not be affected. But all other discretionary government programs will.  Like any cash-strapped family, we will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrifice what we don’t.  And if I have to enforce this discipline by veto, I will.

We will continue to go through the budget line by line to eliminate programs that we can’t afford and don’t work.  We’ve already identified $20 billion in savings for next year. To help working families, we will extend our middle-class tax cuts.  But at a time of record deficits, we will not continue tax cuts for oil companies, investment fund managers, and those making over $250,000 a year.  We just can’t afford it.

Now, even after paying for what we spent on my watch, we will still face the massive deficit we had when I took office.  More importantly, the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will continue to skyrocket.  That’s why I’ve called for a bipartisan, Fiscal Commission, modeled on a proposal by Republican Judd Gregg and Democrat Kent Conrad.  This can’t be one of those Washington gimmicks that lets us pretend we solved a problem.  The Commission will have to provide a specific set of solutions by a certain deadline.  Yesterday, the Senate blocked a bill that would have created this commission.  So I will issue an executive order that will allow us to go forward, because I refuse to pass this problem on to another generation of Americans.  And when the vote comes tomorrow, the Senate should restore the pay-as-you-go law that was a big reason why we had record surpluses in the 1990s.

I know that some in my own party will argue that we cannot address the deficit or freeze government spending when so many are still hurting.  I agree, which is why this freeze will not take effect until next year, when the economy is stronger.  But understand – if we do not take meaningful steps to rein in our debt, it could damage our markets, increase the cost of borrowing, and jeopardize our recovery – all of which could have an even worse effect on our job growth and family incomes.

From some on the right, I expect we’ll hear a different argument – that if we just make fewer investments in our people, extend tax cuts for wealthier Americans, eliminate more regulations, and maintain the status quo on health care, our deficits will go away.  The problem is, that’s what we did for eight years. That’s what helped lead us into this crisis.  It’s what helped lead to these deficits.  And we cannot do it again.

Rather than fight the same tired battles that have dominated Washington for decades, it’s time to try something new.  Let’s invest in our people without leaving them a mountain of debt. Let’s meet our responsibility to the citizens who sent us here.  Let’s try common sense.

To do that, we have to recognize that we face more than a deficit of dollars right now. We face a deficit of trust – deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years. To close that credibility gap we must take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; and to give our people the government they deserve.

That’s what I came to Washington to do. That’s why – for the first time in history – my Administration posts our White House visitors online. And that’s why we’ve excluded lobbyists from policy-making jobs or seats on federal boards and commissions.

But we can’t stop there. It’s time to require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my Administration or Congress.  And it’s time to put strict limits on the contributions that lobbyists give to candidates for federal office. Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.  They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong.

I’m also calling on Congress to continue down the path of earmark reform. You have trimmed some of this spending and embraced some meaningful change.  But restoring the public trust demands more. For example, some members of Congress post some earmark requests online. Tonight, I’m calling on Congress to publish all earmark requests on a single website before there’s a vote so that the American people can see how their money is being spent.

Of course, none of these reforms will even happen if we don’t also reform how we work with one another.

Now, I am not naïve.  I never thought the mere fact of my election would usher in peace, harmony, and some post-partisan era.  I knew that both parties have fed divisions that are deeply entrenched.   And on some issues, there are simply philosophical differences that will always cause us to part ways.  These disagreements, about the role of government in our lives, about our national priorities and our national security, have been taking place for over two hundred years.  They are the very essence of our democracy.

But what frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is Election Day.  We cannot wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about their opponent – a belief that if you lose, I win.  Neither party should delay or obstruct every single bill just because they can.  The confirmation of well-qualified public servants should not be held hostage to the pet projects or grudges of a few individual Senators.  Washington may think that saying anything about the other side, no matter how false, is just part of the game.  But it is precisely such politics that has stopped either party from helping the American people.  Worse yet, it is sowing further division among our citizens and further distrust in our government.

So no, I will not give up on changing the tone of our politics.  I know it’s an election year.  And after last week, it is clear that campaign fever has come even earlier than usual.  But we still need to govern.  To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve some problems, not run for the hills.  And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that sixty votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town, then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well.  Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it’s not leadership.  We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions. So let’s show the American people that we can do it together.  This week, I’ll be addressing a meeting of the House Republicans.  And I would like to begin monthly meetings with both the Democratic and Republican leadership.  I know you can’t wait.

Throughout our history, no issue has united this country more than our security. Sadly, some of the unity we felt after 9/11 has dissipated.  We can argue all we want about who’s to blame for this, but I am not interested in re-litigating the past.  I know that all of us love this country. All of us are committed to its defense. So let’s put aside the schoolyard taunts about who is tough.  Let’s reject the false choice between protecting our people and upholding our values.  Let’s leave behind the fear and division, and do what it takes to defend our nation and forge a more hopeful future – for America and the world.

That is the work we began last year.  Since the day I took office, we have renewed our focus on the terrorists who threaten our nation.  We have made substantial investments in our homeland security and disrupted plots that threatened to take American lives. We are filling unacceptable gaps revealed by the failed Christmas attack, with better airline security, and swifter action on our intelligence. We have prohibited torture and strengthened partnerships from the Pacific to South Asia to the Arabian Peninsula.  And in the last year, hundreds of Al Qaeda’s fighters and affiliates, including many senior leaders, have been captured or killed – far more than in 2008.

In Afghanistan, we are increasing our troops and training Afghan Security Forces so they can begin to take the lead in July of 2011, and our troops can begin to come home. We will reward good governance, reduce corruption, and support the rights of all Afghans – men and women alike. We are joined by allies and partners who have increased their own commitment, and who will come together tomorrow in London to reaffirm our common purpose. There will be difficult days ahead. But I am confident we will succeed.

As we take the fight to al Qaeda, we are responsibly leaving Iraq to its people. As a candidate, I promised that I would end this war, and that is what I am doing as President.  We will have all of our combat troops out of Iraq by the end of this August. We will support the Iraqi government as they hold elections, and continue to partner with the Iraqi people to promote regional peace and prosperity. But make no mistake:  this war is ending, and all of our troops are coming home.

Tonight, all of our men and women in uniform — in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world – must know that they have our respect, our gratitude, and our full support. And just as they must have the resources they need in war, we all have a responsibility to support them when they come home. That is why we made the largest increase in investments for veterans in decades. That is why we are building a 21st century VA. And that is why Michelle has joined with Jill Biden to forge a national commitment to support military families.

Even as we prosecute two wars, we are also confronting perhaps the greatest danger to the American people – the threat of nuclear weapons.  I have embraced the vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan through a strategy that reverses the spread of these weapons, and seeks a world without them. To reduce our stockpiles and launchers, while ensuring our deterrent, the United States and Russia are completing negotiations on the farthest-reaching arms control treaty in nearly two decades. And at April’s Nuclear Security Summit, we will bring forty-four nations together behind a clear goal: securing all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years, so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists.

These diplomatic efforts have also strengthened our hand in dealing with those nations that insist on violating international agreements in pursuit of these weapons.  That is why North Korea now faces increased isolation, and stronger sanctions – sanctions that are being vigorously enforced.  That is why the international community is more united, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated. And as Iran’s leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: they, too, will face growing consequences.

That is the leadership that we are providing – engagement that advances the common security and prosperity of all people. We are working through the G-20 to sustain a lasting global recovery. We are working with Muslim communities around the world to promote science, education and innovation. We have gone from a bystander to a leader in the fight against climate change. We are helping developing countries to feed themselves, and continuing the fight against HIV/AIDS. And we are launching a new initiative that will give us the capacity to respond faster and more effectively to bio-terrorism or an infectious disease – a plan that will counter threats at home, and strengthen public health abroad.

As we have for over sixty years, America takes these actions because our destiny is connected to those beyond our shores. But we also do it because it is right. That is why, as we meet here tonight, over 10,000 Americans are working with many nations to help the people of Haiti recover and rebuild. That is why we stand with the girl who yearns to go to school in Afghanistan; we support the human rights of the women marching through the streets of Iran; and we advocate for the young man denied a job by corruption in Guinea. For America must always stand on the side of freedom and human dignity.

Abroad, America’s greatest source of strength has always been our ideals.  The same is true at home.  We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution:  the notion that we are all created equal, that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it; that if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else.

We must continually renew this promise.  My Administration has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination.  We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate.  This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.  We are going to crack down on violations of equal pay laws – so that women get equal pay for an equal day’s work.  And we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system – to secure our borders, enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nations.

In the end, it is our ideals, our values, that built America – values that allowed us to forge a nation made up of immigrants from every corner of the globe; values that drive our citizens still.  Every day, Americans meet their responsibilities to their families and their employers.  Time and again, they lend a hand to their neighbors and give back to their country.  They take pride in their labor, and are generous in spirit.  These aren’t Republican values or Democratic values they’re living by; business values or labor values.  They are American values.

Unfortunately, too many of our citizens have lost faith that our biggest institutions – our corporations, our media, and yes, our government – still reflect these same values.  Each of these institutions are full of honorable men and women doing important work that helps our country prosper.  But each time a CEO rewards himself for failure, or a banker puts the rest of us at risk for his own selfish gain, people’s doubts grow.  Each time lobbyists game the system or politicians tear each other down instead of lifting this country up, we lose faith.  The more that TV pundits reduce serious debates into silly arguments, and big issues into sound bites, our citizens turn away.

No wonder there’s so much cynicism out there.

No wonder there’s so much disappointment.

I campaigned on the promise of change – change we can believe in, the slogan went.  And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren’t sure if they still believe we can change – or at least, that I can deliver it.

But remember this – I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I can do it alone.  Democracy in a nation of three hundred million people can be noisy and messy and complicated.  And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy.  That’s just how it is.

Those of us in public office can respond to this reality by playing it safe and avoid telling hard truths.  We can do what’s necessary to keep our poll numbers high, and get through the next election instead of doing what’s best for the next generation.

But I also know this:  if people had made that decision fifty years ago or one hundred years ago or two hundred years ago, we wouldn’t be here tonight.  The only reason we are is because generations of Americans were unafraid to do what was hard; to do what was needed even when success was uncertain; to do what it took to keep the dream of this nation alive for their children and grandchildren.

Our administration has had some political setbacks this year, and some of them were deserved.  But I wake up every day knowing that they are nothing compared to the setbacks that families all across this country have faced this year.  And what keeps me going – what keeps me fighting – is that despite all these setbacks, that spirit of determination and optimism – that fundamental decency that has always been at the core of the American people – lives on.

It lives on in the struggling small business owner who wrote to me of his company, “None of us,” he said, “…are willing to consider, even slightly, that we might fail.”

It lives on in the woman who said that even though she and her neighbors have felt the pain of recession, “We are strong.  We are resilient.  We are American.”

It lives on in the 8-year old boy in Louisiana, who just sent me his allowance and asked if I would give it to the people of Haiti.  And it lives on in all the Americans who’ve dropped everything to go some place they’ve never been and pull people they’ve never known from rubble, prompting chants of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A!” when another life was saved.

The spirit that has sustained this nation for more than two centuries lives on in you, its people.

We have finished a difficult year.  We have come through a difficult decade.  But a new year has come.  A new decade stretches before us.  We don’t quit.  I don’t quit.  Let’s seize this moment – to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more.

Thank you.  God Bless You.  And God Bless the United States of America.

As I predicted… here’s what meets you at the top of the NY Times Web Site…

And there’s Steve Jobs with the new “iPad”. BTW, when I went here at 4:25 PM, there was nothing at the top of the Times page about Pelosi saying she could bring in the House on the Senate’s Health Care Bill.

Cheers for independent blogs!

clipped from www.nytimes.com

Apple’s chief executive, Steven P. Jobs, introduced the iPad on Wednesday in San Francisco.


Apple Reveals the iPad Tablet

Steven P. Jobs said the new iPhone-like tablet computer, starting at $499, is prime for video, music and e-books.

blog it

3:55 PM – BREAKING NEWS – Pelosi says CAN DO!

The House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi has just let out the word that the House CAN pass the Senate’s Health Care Bill provided that refinements can be made later. This was just announced… hasn’t even turned up on HuffPo yet.  More later.

Vegan on the Road… The Entertainment of Geithner

I’m sitting in the Cafe at the Common Market store in Frederick, MD, where I shop on Wednesdays for the discount to buyers over 60. This is the best organic/vegan food source near our home in Shepherdstown and I have a great time shopping here.

On the way down, I listened on C-Span Radio to Geithner and the House Committee that he was testifying before duke it out over the TARP funding and why AIG got 100% monies while other sufferers got 3% or 5% monies… stuff like that. There also seems to be a large contingent on both sides of the aisle working on Geithner’s connections to Goldman Sachs which apparently made out like bandits on the federal funding deal and didn’t do anything to change their approach to the market. Of course it doesn’t help that Geihtner and Bernanke and a lot of the other “federal” folks involved were ex-Goldman Sachs employees. It sure looks like a stinky setup.

Lunch here at the Cafe, with free Wifi (albeit really slow) let’s me check in on e-mail and such and it looks like a lot of my friends are not buying Geithner’s babble. Can’t wait to see if he’s still going as I head back home. The Vegan Tofurkey Reuben was great, too.


It’s Wednesday, and what is Geithner doing?

Here’s a clip from McClatchy News Service. It’s worthwhile going in to read the whole thing… then watch Geithner get grilled on C-Span.
clipped from www.mcclatchydc.com

Geithner to defend bank bailout — and maybe his job, too
Facing a rising tempest and new investigations, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Wednesday will defend before Congress his 2008 decision to use taxpayer bailout money to pay major banks the full $62 billion face value of bets made on risky offshore securities.

Geithner, who headed the Federal Reserve Bank of New York at the height of the financial crisis, will not be alone in giving sworn testimony to members of the House Oversight and Governmental Affairs Committee skeptical about the handling of the massive rescue of the American International Group.

He will be joined by his predecessor at Treasury, Henry Paulson, who’s expected to be asked whether he “picked up the phone” or took any other action to force banks to accept a discount on the insurance-like contracts, a committee staffer said.

It seems clear that some lawmakers have Geithner and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke in their sights…
  blog it

Bernie Sanders: Let’s Not Renew Bernanke

Here is Senator Sanders’ comments for this week:

I agree with him. If enough of us sign on with Bernie you’ll see how fast Obama comes to agree with him as well!