The President’s weekly address: appealing to House Republicans to do their job

Right now, we are seven days away from thousands of American workers having to walk off the job because Congress hasn’t passed a transportation bill. We are eight days away from nearly seven and a half million students seeing their loan rates double because Congress hasn’t acted to stop it.  [...] This is a time when we should be doing everything in our power – Democrats and Republicans – to keep this recovery moving forward. My Administration is doing its part. On Friday, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced $500 million in competitive grants for states and communities that will create construction jobs on projects like road repair and port renovation. And that’s an important step, but we can’t do it all on our own. The Senate did their part. They passed a bipartisan transportation bill back in March. It had the support of 52 Democrats and 22 Republicans. Now, it’s up to the House to follow suit; to put aside partisan posturing, end the gridlock, and do what’s right for the American people. It’s not lost on any of us that this is an election year. But we’ve got responsibilities that are bigger than an election. We answer to the American people, and they are demanding action. Let’s make it easier for students to stay in college. Let’s keep construction workers rebuilding our roads and bridges. And let’s tell Congress to do their job. Tell them it’s time to take steps that we know will create jobs now and help sustain our economy for years to come. — President Obama


Everyone’s a hostage until the GOP gets its way

Politics before country — the Republican Party’s motto.

Think Progress: With as many as 2.9 million new and existing jobs on the line, House Republicans are refusing to pass a transportation reauthorization bill, even after the Senate’s version of the bill overwhelmingly passed through the upper chamber in a 74-22 bipartisan vote. The deadline for new transportation funding is June 30, and if the calendar flips to July without a compromise, as many as 1.9 million workers could lose their jobs, at least temporarily. The Senate version of the bill, if adapted, would create an additional one million new jobs as well, according to Department of Transportation projections.
So why are House Republicans holding nearly three million jobs hostage? Because they want approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to be included in the bill.

[...] The State Department estimates that roughly 6,000 jobs would be created if the Keystone XL is approved, but as few as 20 of them will be permanent.

Morning Bunker Report: TGIF 6.8.2012

WHAT ROMNEY / REPUBLICANS STAND FOR———————————————

“As for the idea that job creators are not creating jobs because their taxes are too high, think about it: Would Mitt Romney invest more of his money in American factories if only he had paid less than the 13.9 percent rate he paid last year? Please!” — Fareed Zakaria

Companies run by Romney’s Bain Capital received millions in state and local government subsidies — 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has been campaigning hard against government spending, blasting “crony capitalism” and criticizing the Obama administration for providing economic development subsidies… However, as Bloomberg News reported, the companies run by the private equity firm Bain Capital when Romney was its CEO had little problem accepting subsidies from state and local governments. [...] Romney has been citing the Steel Dynamics as an example of where his business acumen help turn around a company and create jobs. Steel Dynamics benefited from $37 million in subsidies from the state of Indiana. — Think Progress

WaPo ‘Bullygate’ Profile Foreshadowed Mitt Romney ‘Police Impersonator’ Story — The detail that is revealing is that the uniform was given to Romney by his father, George Romney, rather than being earned through skill and public service. That theme, the desire to wield unearned power, and a broader sense of entitlement, resonates much more strongly, and encompasses Romney’s avoidance of service in Vietnam. Romney’s support for the draft, even as he went on to avoid it, isn’t so much an indication of hypocrisy as it is of that sense of entitlement. Of course, Romney can support drafting other people’s children, husbands, and fathers to die in Vietnam, yet not go himself; that’s not what Romneys are for. No one suggests that a cattle rancher should submit himself for milking or slaughter, do they? By the way, can we please stop referring to Mitt Romney’s time in France as “missionary work?”… Tommy Christopher

Romney is just making stuff up now — Mitt is blatantly misconstruing and lying about Obama’s ‘intentions’ to tank the economy with health care reform. — Daily Intel

  • Noam Scheiber: Romney’s claim about my book is ‘false’ — and he knows it  — The author of a book documenting the White House’s policy making strategy, cited multiple times by GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, says the former Massachusetts governor is using the book to dishonestly accuse President Obama of intentionally harming the economy. — TPM


Congressional Budget Office defends stimulus — Mitt Romney has called the $787 billion package of temporary tax cuts and spending hikes “the largest one-time careless expenditure of government money in American history.” But on Wednesday, under questioning from skeptical Republicans, the director of the nonpartisan (and widely respected) Congressional Budget Office was emphatic about the value of the 2009 stimulus. [...] CBO’s own analysis found that the package added as many as 3.3 million jobs to the economy during the second quarter of 2010, and may have prevented the nation from lapsing back into recession. — Washington Post

CHART: Number Of Wealthy Households Paying No Income Tax Spiked After 2004 — According to data from the Internal Revenue Service, one in 189 high income Americans paid no federal income taxes in 2009. This included households making more than $200 million. As this chart by Noni Mausa at Angry Bear shows, the number of wealthy taxpayers managing to avoid the income tax spiked after 2004, while the percentage increased “eightfold”. — Think Progress

Boehner floats 6-month US transport funding extension — Boehner told reporters that if House and Senate negotiators fail to agree on new long-term funding by June 30, when the latest stop-gap authority for road, bridge and rail transit projects expires, he would not want another short-term extension. “Frankly, I think if we get to June 30, there would be a six-month extension and move this thing out of the political realm that it appears to be in at this moment,” Boehner said. [...] Asked whether Boehner would insist on Keystone approval as a condition of a six-month extension or agree to a “clean” extension of current law, Boehner’s spokesman, Kevin Smith, said no decisions have been made at this point. — Reuters

  • Keystone Pipeline: how many jobs would it REALLY create? The U.S. State Department, which must green light the project, forecasts just 5,000 direct U.S. jobs over a two year construction period. Even according to TransCanada, the amount of permanent jobs created would be only in the hundreds. “Those are the real numbers,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, director of international programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The Republicans have been acting as if this is a national jobs package, and it’s not.” Meanwhile, one study from Cornell University said the pipeline could actually lead to a decline in jobs in the long run. One reason is that the pipeline would lead to higher fuel prices in the Midwest, the study said, and that would slow consumer spending and cost jobs. — CNN Money 
  • And how many jobs would the Transportation Bill create? Right now, a congressional conference committee is attempting to reconcile transportation bills passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives that could upgrade our crumbling infrastructure, save 1.9 million jobs, and create 1 million more. However, the bill remains in negotiations. — The Hill’s Congress Blog
  • Reid rips into GOP, calls leaders’ statements ‘Orwellian’ — “Consistently, this Congress has taken weeks or months to pass even simple, common-sense proposals – proposals that would previously have passed in minutes. The Senate has wasted literally months considering bipartisan bills, only to have those bills smothered to death under piles of non-relevant, Republican amendments… congressional Republicans have held even the most important jobs measures hostage to extract votes on unrelated, ideological amendments. [...] For months Congressional Republicans have actively worked against any piece of legislation that might create jobs or spur economic growth.” — KansasCity.com

WHAT THE PRESIDENT / DEMOCRATS STAND FOR ————————————

“We are not a household. We are an economy. Your spending is my income, and my spending is your income.” – Paul Krugman (via azspot)

Axelrod: Obama will be first president to be outspent by opponent — Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod on Thursday said he wasn’t surprised that his campaign hadn’t raised as much money as Mitt Romney’s campaign. “You pick up all the money that you couldn’t raise in the primary from Republicans who were supporting other candidates,” Axelrod told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “So we anticipated this.” Politico has reported that Republican groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Crossroads GPS and Americans For Prosperity plan to spend approximately $1 billion on November’s elections. The Romney campaign and Republican National Committee plan to raise an additional $800 million. “We are going to be the first president to be outspent,” Axelrod added. “Not because of what Romney is raising, but because of the Super PACs. When you have people like the Koch Brothers, who just were so active in Wisconsin, say they are going to spend $400 million to impact this race, that’s more than John McCain and the Republican Party spent in total the last time.” — Raw Story

Making the ‘sabotage’ argument more explicit — This week, in reference to the Paycheck Fairness Act, Reid said, “Unfortunately, it seems Paycheck Fairness may have two strikes against it. It would good for women and good for the economy.” And yesterday, referencing the stalled-but-critically-important highway bill, Reid said, “I’m told by others that [House Majority Leader Eric Cantor] wants to not do a bill to make the economy worse, because he feels that’s better for them. I hope that’s not true.” [...] Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), vice chairman of the Senate Democratic Conference, believes “some” Republicans “want the economy to actually fail” on purpose. Paul Krugman said in a column, “[I]t’s hard to avoid the suspicion that GOP leaders actually want the economy to perform badly.” Eugene Robinson, a Pulitzer Prize winner, was asked whether it’s possible Republicans would sabotage the economy. “Well, let me be honest,” he said. “It has occurred to me that this is a possibility.” E.J. Dionne Jr., Dan Gross, David Frum, and Andrew Sullivan have all raised the same concerns. A while back, Kevin Drum wondered whether this will ever be “a serious talking point,” adding, “No serious person in a position of real influence really wants to accuse an entire party of cynically trying to tank the economy, after all.” — Maddow Blog

  • In a sense, Republicans are holding a gun to the economy’s head and saying, “vote for us or the recovery gets it.”Ezra Klein


A group of House Democrats have proposed increasing the minimum wage to $10 — Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) pointed out would allow the wage to “catch up” with where it would be had it been allowed to grow with inflation. [...]  If the minimum wage had been indexed to the Consumer Price Index since 1968, it would be approximately $10.40 today. — Think Progress

Reid offers new plan on student loan deadlock — In a letter to Republican leaders, Reid, Democrat of Nevada, proposed extending current interest rates for the next year and paying the effort’s $6 billion cost with a combination of savings. His offer, coupled with a recalibrated recent offer from Senate Republicans, raised hopes of a deal that could hold off rising loan rates. — Boston Globe

Opposition to Obamacare — A new CNN/ORC survey finds that 51% of Americans oppose President Obama’s health care law, while 43% say they favor it. Caveat: It’s important to note, however, that of those who disagree with the law, only a third oppose it because it’s too liberal, while one in six oppose it because it doesn’t go far enough. — Political Wire

NATION OF MORONS: Apparently people may need reminding that Bush was president before Obama — Obama may have a good reason for name-dropping the nation’s previous Decider, according to a new CNN poll: When asked in the survey whether they are better or worse off than they were four years ago, Americans are split, 44% to 43%. But when asked whether they are better or worse off than they were four years ago “when Bush was president,” a small gap opens — 47% say they are better off compared to 41% who say they are worse off. — Daily Intel (image: whatalovelylamp)

(3/23) TGIF morning’s 6 potentially interesting things

1) PRESIDENT OBAMA / DEMOCRATS

FLASHBACK: Karl Rove: “I Think President Obama Needs To Be Complimented” For Bin Laden Raid – In a Wall Street Journal op-ed this morning, Karl Rove attacked the documentary released by President Obama’s reelection campaign and dismissed “the killing of Osama bin Laden,” writing: “Mr. Obama did what virtually any commander in chief would have done in the same situation. Even President Bill Clinton says in the film ‘that’s the call I would have made.’ For this to be portrayed as the epic achievement of the first term tells you how bare the White House cupboards are. [...] “Clinton [actually] said: “He took the harder and the more honorable path. When I saw what had happened, I thought to myself, ‘I hope that’s the call I would have made.’ ” [...] On May 2, 2011, the day after Bin Laden’s death was announced, Rove appeared on Fox & Friends and said “I think President Obama needs to be complimented on his handling of this operation.”

America’s Dad: (Video) Obama to heckler: “Show me some courtesy” – With a grin on his face, Mr. Obama said he would be happy to read the book and added, “show me some courtesy.” The president motioned to Secret Service to get the book from the man. According to CBS News White House producer Jeff Goldman, the man was not escorted out but did quiet down.

Check it out … at an event last week, a deaf man signs “I’m proud of you” at President Obama and Obama signs back “thank you.”

2) MITT “ETCH A SKETCH” ROMNEY

Mitt Romney lands prize on Hill visit Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who backed Romney in 2008 but has remained on the sidelines this year as the former Massachusetts governor labors to win the nomination, said it’s time the rest of the field consider bowing to the inevitable. “We all need to look at this presidential primary and encourage the candidates to do a little self-reflection here on what’s good for our country,” DeMint told reporters after a morning sit-down with the front-runner. “The sooner we can make a decision, the sooner we can focus on the real problem, which is [President Barack] Obama.” Saying he expects the prolonged and often heated presidential battle to end “pretty soon,” DeMint added: “There’s no need to drag this to a convention if it’s pretty clear who our nominee is.” Without mentioning Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum by name, DeMint said that “the best thing they can do is maybe look at kind of throwing their support behind the one who might be our nominee. And that’s beginning to look like Romney.” [image: triplestandard]

Mitt Romney’s Astonishing Lack of Small Donors – According to renowned rocket scientist Karl Rove, President Obama has a “money problem” because he isn’t bringing in enough large donors. That may be a problem if not for the fact that a clear majority of President Obama’s campaign, or nearly 60 percent, is being funded by people like you and I who donate much smaller amounts in mass numbers. [...] FEC filings on Tuesday showed Romney’s campaign has so far raised $7.5 million from small donors, which comprises only 10 percent of his fundraising. [...] the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama has brought in about $71.1 million in unitemized contributions, 59 percent of the money the campaign has raised so far.

As Governor, Mitt Romney Raised A Gas Tax By 400% – Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been attacking President Obama for the high price of gas prices… [...] But during his time as Governor, Romney actually increased the price of gasoline directly himself according to this 2010 News report from the Boston Fox affiliate. In 2003 Romney increased fees on gas by two cents a gallon to pay for environmental clean ups of leaking underground gas station fuel tanks. The fee increased the clean-up tax on drivers by 400% and hit consumers directly at the pump. The fund, which was originally only half-a-cent, was created in 1992 to aid gas station owners with clean-ups. Two weeks after raising that tax, Romney eliminated the fund for gas station clean-ups entirely but kept the two cent increase. The money raised by Romney’s tax increase now goes directly into Commonwealth’s coffers for legislators to spend as they please.

Does Romney not realize he’s making a Democratic argument? – After winning the Illinois primary on Tuesday, Mitt Romney’s victory speech featured an unexpected argument. The former governor was trying to argue that “government” stands in the way of American progress, which led to this observation: “We once built the interstate highway system and the Hoover Dam. Today, we can’t even build a pipeline.”

In case you were wondering why Mitt Romney voluntarily injected George W. Bush into the 2012 campaign yesterday, here’s your answer…

3) RICK SANTORUM

Santorum: Might As Well Have Obama Over Romney – Santorum reiterated an argument he has made before: The former Massachusetts governor is not conservative enough to offer voters a clear choice in the fall election and that only he can provide that contrast. “You win by giving people a choice,” Santorum said during a campaign stop in Texas. “You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who’s just going to be a little different than the person in there.” Santorum added: “If they’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk of what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate for the future.”

Santorum Up Big in Louisiana – A new Public Policy Polling survey finds Rick Santorum is headed for a commanding win in Louisiana on Saturday. He leads Mitt Romney, 42% to 28%, followed by Newt Gingrich at 18%, Ron Paul at 8% and Buddy Roemer at 2%. ||| OR NOT?

4) REPUBLICAN WAR ON WOMEN

HERO! Richard Hanna, GOP Congressman, Tells Women To Give Their Money To Democrats – As the only Republican Congressman at a rally for the Equal Rights Amendment on Thursday, Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) gave women an unexpected piece of advice: Give your money to Democrats. “I think these are very precarious times for women, it seems. So many of your rights are under assault,” he told the crowd of mostly women. “I’ll tell you this: Contribute your money to people who speak out on your behalf, because the other side — my side — has a lot of it. And you need to send your own message. You need to remind people that you vote, you matter, and that they can’t succeed without your help. [...]If equality had been enshrined in the Constitution for these past 40 years, I wonder if we would still be hearing today from right-wing presidential contenders that women should not serve in combat, that women should think twice before they seek to work outside of the house, that women should not use birth control, and that women who do are called names that are not fit to repeat here.”

Kay Bailey Hutchison Claims Republicans Don’t Want to Restrict Access to Contraception After Voting for Blunt Amendment – If you’re a Republican and you would like to come on the air and repeat one talking point after another virtually unchallenged, this Thursday, Chuck Todd once again showed us he’s happy to oblige you. Todd allowed Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to get away with a series of lies right off the bat, like pretending increasing domestic oil drilling will have any major impact in lowering the price of gasline (it won’t), or that Republicans have some sort of “principled” stance on energy production, unless you consider always doing the bidding of the oil companies “principled.” Todd then asked Hutchison about the Republicans “war on women” and he allows her to get away with claiming that Republicans don’t want to restrict women’s access to contraception after she just voted for the Blunt amendment. Heaven forbid he might have reminded her of that during the interview. She finished up with giving a half hearted defense of Planned Parenthood, saying she disagreed with Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to turn down the state’s Medicaid funding. It would have been nice if she’d bothered to say something when the House Republicans were seeking to defund it last year.

5) REPUBLICAN WAR ON THE 99% / PROTECTING THE ONE PERCENT

Harold Simmons On Obama: ‘That Socialist’ - The reclusive, super-wealthy Republican donor Harold Simmons sat down for an interview with the Wall Street Journal in which he explained why he decided to donate $18 million to conservative super PACs. To put it bluntly: he despises and fears President Barack Obama. “Any of these Republicans would make a better president than that socialist, Obama,” Simmons told the Journal (subscription required), in what is the piece’s most provocative quote. “Obama is the most dangerous American alive … because he would eliminate free enterprise in this country.” [...] The 80-year-old Texan takes his political advice from Karl Rove. And at another point in the interview, he insisted that if more campaign commercials had been run tying then-Sen. Obama to Bill Ayers, “we” — as in conservatives — “could have killed Obama.” By this, he is speaking metaphorically, though the impression is left that those very ads will be featured more prominently in 2012.

Analysis: House GOP Budget Gives $187,000 Tax Cut To Every Millionaire – Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would give away $3 trillion in tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest Americans. Roughly $2 trillion of those breaks are aimed at the rich, thanks to the repeal of multiple taxes that primarily affect the rich and the dropping of the top marginal tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. Ryan insisted those breaks won’t blow holes in the federal budget, first by claiming a level of revenue that borders on pure fantasy, and second by promising to close tax loopholes. Even in the unlikely scenario that the GOP managed to close every tax loophole available to the wealthy, each millionaire would pay an average of $187,000 less under Ryan’s plan than they would under current law (which assumes an end to the Bush tax cuts)…

GOP Threatens Transportation Funding Shutdown That Could Jeopardize 1.9 Million Jobs - House Republicans last night rejected the Senate’s bipartisan transportation reauthorization bill and said they would instead adopt a short-term resolution that would maintain current funding levels for 90 days. With just 10 days until the current short-term authorization plan expires, that means House Republicans have made possible a transportation shutdown that could force more than 1.9 million workers off the job. [...] The bill would also create roughly 1 million new jobs, according to Democratic estimates, bringing the total number of jobs in jeopardy to nearly 3 million, [Sen. Barbara] Boxer (D-CA) told the Washington Post: “The clock is ticking on the shutdown of our transportation programs,” said Boxer, who was floor leader in crafting bipartisan support for the Senate bill. “We’re talking about almost 3 million jobs, and the House is playing games. This is a jobs bill — make no mistake about it.” [See this link for explanation of image above]

6) MISC

HHS: Health reform to provide coverage for 13 million uninsured women – Even though millions more women will have insurance coverage, an estimated 14.7 million women will remain uninsured. In addition, insurance companies will no longer be able to charge higher rates due to gender once a provision of the health care reform law takes effect in 2014. The National Women’s Law Center released a report Monday morning that found health insurance companies have charged women $1 billion more than men for the same premium coverage. Even with maternity coverage excluded, nearly a third of the plans analyzed charged 25 and 40-year-old women were at least 30 percent more than men for the same coverage. Because of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for plans to cover essential health benefits, an estimated 8.7 million more women will gain maternity coverage starting in 2014. [image: BarackObama.com/health-care]

Poll: Too much religion talk - Almost four in 10 Americans say there is “too much” talk of religion and prayer by politicians — an all-time high since the question was first asked more than 10 years ago, according to a new poll. Thirty-eight percent of those polled said there’s too much expression of religious faith and prayer from political leaders, while 30 percent said there’s too little of it, a survey from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found. [...] The poll also found that more than half of Americans, 54 percent, think churches should stay out of politics, while 40 percent said religious institutions should express views on social and political questions.