Tag: obama

Trump’s stealth attack on Obama’s legacy

While many of us have been distracted by Rudy Giuliani’s latest legal theories — and President Trump’s latest tweets — the Trump administration is making two big moves that will get him closer to his goal of erasing President Obama’s biggest policies.

What’s happening: The administration is allowing the sale of health insurance plans that undermine some of the main rules of the Affordable Care Act. And today, it will freeze federal fuel efficiency standards, undermining Obama’s goal of making them progressively tougher.

obama

Why it matters: This is being done through rulemaking, which gets the attention of health care and environmental reporters, yet flies under the radar of the cable news networks. These moves have huge, long-term consequences — and they show how easily Trump can achieve his policy goals while the TV cameras are focused on the outrage of the day.

  • “The President’s daily feeding of the outrage machine allows us to get work done on the agency level that would invite much more scrutiny in a ‘normal’ administration,” a former senior Health and Human Services official tells Swan.
  • “Cable news anchors spend hours and hours of airtime dissecting the latest Trump tweet, yet they barely notice when we achieve long-sought conservative policy goals” — like adding work requirements to Medicaid and stripping federal funds from Planned Parenthood.

The details on the fuel rollback, from energy columnist Amy Harder:

  • The proposal includes a range of options, but the administration’s preferred one is the most aggressive: Freezing the standards at 35 miles per gallon in 2020 for six years, instead of rising to 50 mpg under Obama’s plan.
  • It would also revoke a federal waiver California has to issue tougher standards, which a dozen states also follow. The rollback goes further than most automakers have said they want.
  • Between the lines: Early in Trump’s administration, business urged him to slow down on deregulating, stressing that narrow regulation is better than none in a changing political climate. Today’s announcement is one of the starkest signs that Trump is throwing that advice out the window — and inviting lawsuits and regulatory uncertainty.

The details on the health care rule, from health care editor Sam Baker:

  • HHS finalized new rules yesterday that expand access to inexpensive, bare-bones insurance plans that don’t have to comply with the rest of the ACA’s rules. They’re technically “short-term” plans, but they can be renewed for up to three years.

This isn’t the only swipe the Trump administration has taken against Obama’s health care law since the repeal effort failed:

  • The administration has also expanded access to other forms of non-ACA coverage.
  • Plus, it has slashed the budgets for programs that promote enrollment.
  • Congressional Republicans nullified the law’s individual mandate, and now the Justice Department is using that move to try to knock out pre-existing condition protections.
  • None of those cuts are fatal in isolation. But they’re not happening that way: Each one will pull a few more healthy people out of the ACA’s insurance markets.

The bottom line: There’s a lot that the agencies can do to wipe out Obama’s legacy on their own — and they’re making full use of the space that Trump’s rhetorical battles are giving them.

Go deeper: What Trump’s latest changes mean for the ACA.

Swearing age-old oath, Obama steps into 2nd term

628x471WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama was sworn in for four more years Sunday in a simple ceremony at the White House, embarking on a second-term quest to restore a still-shaky economy and combat terrorists overseas while swearing an age-old oath to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution. “I did it,” a smiling president said to his daughter Sasha seconds after following Chief Justice John Roberts in reciting the oath of office. First lady Michelle Obama and the couple’s other daughter, Malia, were among relatives who bore witness.

The quiet moments were prelude to Monday’s public inaugural events, when Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will be sworn in on the steps of the U.S. Capitol before a crowd expected to reach into the hundreds of thousands and a television audience counted in the millions. The trappings were in place — the flag-draped stands ready outside the Capitol and the tables set inside for a traditional lunch with lawmakers. Across town, a specially made reviewing stand rested outside the White House gates for the president and guests to watch the traditional parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.

A crowd of perhaps 800,000 was forecast, less than the million-plus that thronged to the nation’s capital four years ago to witness the inauguration of the first black president in American history. The weather forecast was encouraging, to a point. High temperatures were predicted for the lower 40s during the day, with scattered snow showers during the evening, when two inaugural balls close out the official proceedings.The 44th chief executive is only the 17th to win re-election, and his second-term goals are ambitious for a country where sharp political differences have produced gridlocked government in recent years. Restoration of the economy to full strength and pressing the worldwide campaign against terrorists sit atop the agenda. He also wants to reduce federal deficits and win immigration and gun control legislation from Congress, where Republicans control the House.

At a reception Sunday night, Obama told supporters the inauguration is a celebration of “this incredible nation that we call home,” not the election results. “Let’s make sure to work as hard as we can to pass on an America that is worthy not only of our past but also of our future,” he said.

If Obama needed a reminder of the challenges he faces, he got one from half-way around the globe. An Algerian security official disclosed the discovery of 25 additional bodies at a gas plant where radical Islamists last week took dozens of foreign workers hostage. In Washington, tourists strolled leisurely on an unseasonably warm day. “I’m very proud of him and what he’s trying to do for immigration, women’s rights, what they call ‘Obamacare,’ and concerns for the middle class,” said Patricia Merritt, a retired educator from San Antonio, in town with her daughter and granddaughter to see the inauguration and parade as well as historic sites. “I think he’s more disrespected than any other president,” she added, referring to his critics.

Morning News Headlines 01.16.13

ImageNATION
Readers speak on budget, contractors, corruption, whistleblowers
Federal Diary gives readers a chance to speak out on issues affecting federal employees.
(, The Washington Post)
U.S. weighs military aid for France in Mali
Help wouldn’t include combat troops but could test U.S. boundaries and stretch counterterrorism resources in a murky new conflict.
( by Anne Gearan, Karen DeYoung and Craig Whitlock , The Washington Post)
Daniel J. Edelman, founder of influential public relations firm
Mr. Edelman looked deep into the postwar American culture and divined the potential power of public relations.
( by Emily Langer , The Washington Post)

Federal, local authorities prepare for security challenges at inauguration
While far fewer spectators are expected for Monday’s swearing-in, police plan to deploy thousands.
( by Peter Hermann , The Washington Post)

At world’s largest gun show, few worries about tighter controls
Gun makers and dealers argue that tougher controls won’t cure violence and won’t get past Congress.
( by Sari Horwitz , The Washington Post)

More National: Breaking National News & Headlines – Washington Post


LOCAL
Rector at St. John’s Church in D.C. to deliver inaugural benediction
The Cuban-born Episcopal priest is likely to be a less-controversial choice than the original one.
( by Michelle Boorstein , The Washington Post)

Prince George’s officer convicted of stealing guns
Juan Carter was accused of selling and giving away guns he had seized from criminals.
( by Matt Zapotosky , The Washington Post)

CIA sisterhood: One spy cared for her dying colleague, an agency pioneer
Jeanne Vertefeuille and Sandy Grimes were legendary CIA mole hunters and best friends.
( by Ian Shapira , The Washington Post)

Relatives of ex-MWAA official were paid $175,000-plus in no-bid contract
Files show a friend of an ex-vice president’s hired the official’s wife and daughter and paid them.
( by Cheryl W. Thompson , The Washington Post)

Tuskegee airmen, Martin Luther King Jr. to be honored in inaugural parade
Floats will also represent several states, the presidential committee announces.
( by Michael E. Ruane , The Washington Post)

More Post Local: Washington, DC Area News, Traffic, Weather, Sports & More – The Washington Post


POLITICS
White House sounds hopeful on bipartisan immigration reform
Spokesman says proposals from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) “bode well” for a “productive” debate.
( by David Nakamura and Felicia Sonmez , The Washington Post)

Obama to announce most expansive gun-control agenda in generations
Proposal will include assault weapons ban, universal background checks and magazine size limits.
( by Philip Rucker , The Washington Post)

Patrick Leahy could prove key to gun-control debate on Capitol Hill
Vermont Democrat could slow Obama’s plans for quick action on proposals.
( by Ed O’Keefe , The Washington Post)

Obama to use D.C. ‘taxation without representation’ license plates
The license plates will be placed on all presidential limousines starting this weekend.
( by Tim Craig , The Washington Post)

Clinton. Benghazi. Yawn?
The secretary of state is unlikely to make big news when she testifies, Al Kamen’s In the Loop says.
(, The Washington Post)

More Post Politics: Breaking Politics News, Political Analysis & More – The Washington Post


STYLE
On Love: Jessica Lohmann and Jaime Duque
On Love: Surprise! This engagement party is a wedding.
(, The Washington Post)

2nd celebration? A big fizzle.
History shows presidents — Lincoln excepted — often have a hard time recapturing the glow of the first oath.
( by Monica Hesse , The Washington Post)

At service for Joe Allbritton, a wealth of stories
Friends and colleagues remembered Joe Allbritton, who died on Dec. 12, as a man of vast interests.
( by Carol Morello , The Washington Post)

Oprah stretches Lance Armstrong interview from one night to two
TV COLUMN | The Queen of the Confessional says the exclusive interview lasted more than 2 hours.
(, The Washington Post)

Atlantic fiasco is latest incident to spur ethics concerns about advertorials
After allowing a Scientology ad that looked like a real article on its Web site, the magazine pulled it.
( by Paul Farhi , The Washington Post)

More Style: Culture, Arts, Ideas & More – The Washington Post


BUSINESS
In latest debt-ceiling move, Treasury to tap Thrift Savings Plan money
Congress will have until between mid-February and early March to raise the $16.4 trillion debt limit.
( by Zachary A. Goldfarb , The Washington Post)

In a stalled French economy, mixed signals from the socialist government
The political leadership seems torn between its socialist pedigree and more market-friendly policies.
( by Howard Schneider , The Washington Post)

For taxpayers, complexity run amok
COLUMN | For taxpayer advocate Nina E. Olson, a familiar refrain: The tax code is too complex.
(, The Washington Post)

Facebook introduces feature to search for friends’ interests and ‘likes’
Company officials say the tool will let it leverage social data for searches, a market Google dominates.
( by Hayley Tsukayama , The Washington Post)

Between Europe and United States, the world recovery remains weak
World Bank cuts its 2013 estimate of global economic growth over U.S. debt talks and the euro crisis.
( by Howard Schneider , The Washington Post)

More Business News, Financial News, Business Headlines & Analysis – The Washington Post


SPORTS
Patriots rebound with victory
George Mason surges in the second half for its 10th consecutive home victory over James Madison.
( by Steven Goff , The Washington Post)

Ellis boosts Gwynn Park
After sitting out the first quarter, Takayla Ellis scores 17 points to lead Gwynn Park past Friendly in a battle of PG 3A/2A/1A contenders.
( by Eric Detweiler , The Washington Post)

TV and radio listings: January 16
(, The Washington Post)

Johnson catches fire for Riverdale
George Washington recruit Nigel Johnson poured in a season-high 39 points to pace Riverdale Baptist to a 77-62 win over National Christian.
( by Brandon Parker , The Washington Post)

Transfers propel Saints to victory
Junior transfer Cameron Gregory dropped in the game-winning layup to lift St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes to a 54-52 win over IAC rival Episcopal.
( by Roman Stubbs , The Washington Post)

More Sports: Sports News, Scores, Analysis, Schedules & More – The Washington Post


TECHNOLOGY
Facebook introduces feature to search for friends’ interests and ‘likes’
Company officials say the tool will let it leverage social data for searches, a market Google dominates.
( by Hayley Tsukayama , The Washington Post)

NRA faces backlash over shooting app
The pro-gun group is facing criticism for an app that it released a month after the Newtown shootings.
( by Hayley Tsukayama , The Washington Post)

Facebook’s big announcement: What could it be?
The social network has been very quiet about its impending news, and the speculation is in high gear.
( by Hayley Tsukayama , The Washington Post)

Can ‘big data’ lift people out of cycles of debt?
To better gauge the arguments on both sides of this question, we ask a financial-technology investor and a big data entrepreneur.
( by Christina Farr | VentureBeat.com , VentureBeat.com)

MySpace offering track from site backer Justin Timberlake
The new version of the site has music and tools for musicians at its core.
( by Hayley Tsukayama , The Washington Post)

More Technology News – The Washington Post


WORLD
Insurgents attack Afghan intelligence agency in Kabul, killing 2 employees
Violence adds to security concerns as U.S. continues drawing down troops.
( by Kevin Sieff and Sayed Salahuddin , The Washington Post)

Helicopter crashes in central London

Aircraft apparently hit crane atop building in densely populated neighborhood; 2 dead, 9 injured.
( by Anthony Faiola , The Washington Post)

U.S. weighs military aid for France in Mali
Help wouldn’t include combat troops but could test U.S. boundaries and stretch counterterrorism resources in a murky new conflict.
( by Anne Gearan, Karen DeYoung and Craig Whitlock , The Washington Post)

At world’s largest gun show, few worries about tighter controls
Gun makers and dealers argue that tougher controls won’t cure violence and won’t get past Congress.
( by Sari Horwitz , The Washington Post)

Panetta reassures Portugal on Azores Islands after U.S. downsizes base there
Visit reflects Pentagon problem: how to warn allies against defense cuts while undertaking its own.
( by Craig Whitlock , The Washington Post)

More World: World News, International News, Foreign Reporting – The Washington Post


EDITORIAL
Stop the debt bluster
Their tough talk notwithstanding, the president and the GOP need to reach a debt accord.
(, The Washington Post)

Second-inauguration blues
This time, Obama’s swearing-in feels more somber than celebratory.
(, The Washington Post)

Time to see the doctor
In the U.S., it’s survival of the economically fittest.
(, The Washington Post)

Cutting the capacity to kill
Shrinking the size of gun magazines will save lives.
( by Jason Ross , The Washington Post)

Capitol Hill’s crazy new normal
GOP Rep. Steve Stockman was once an outlier. No more.
(, The Washington Post)

More Opinions: Washington Post Opinion, Editorial, Op Ed, Politics Editorials – The Washington Post


LIVE DISCUSSIONS
Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Gurus
Got Plans? Discuss great ideas for local entertainment, dates and family fun.
(, vForum)

Color of Money Live
Post columnist Michelle Singletary offers her advice and answers your questions.
(, vForum)

Eugene Robinson Live
Eugene Robinson discussed his latest columns and political news.
(, vForum)

Cold medicine for a sick child? Don’t bother.
Administering cold medicine probably won’t help a sick child. So, what will? Pediatrician Howard J. Bennett discusses common colds and the medicines that promise relief.
(, vForum)

ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri
The Compost, written by Alexandra Petri, offers a lighter take on the news and political in(s)anity of the day.
(, vForum) NATION
Readers speak on budget, contractors, corruption, whistleblowers
Federal Diary gives readers a chance to speak out on issues affecting federal employees.
(, The Washington Post)

U.S. weighs military aid for France in Mali
Help wouldn’t include combat troops but could test U.S. boundaries and stretch counterterrorism resources in a murky new conflict.
( by Anne Gearan, Karen DeYoung and Craig Whitlock , The Washington Post)

Daniel J. Edelman, founder of influential public relations firm
Mr. Edelman looked deep into the postwar American culture and divined the potential power of public relations.
( by Emily Langer , The Washington Post)

Federal, local authorities prepare for security challenges at inauguration
While far fewer spectators are expected for Monday’s swearing-in, police plan to deploy thousands.
( by Peter Hermann , The Washington Post)

At world’s largest gun show, few worries about tighter controls
Gun makers and dealers argue that tougher controls won’t cure violence and won’t get past Congress.
( by Sari Horwitz , The Washington Post)

More National: Breaking National News & Headlines – Washington Post


LOCAL
Rector at St. John’s Church in D.C. to deliver inaugural benediction
The Cuban-born Episcopal priest is likely to be a less-controversial choice than the original one.
( by Michelle Boorstein , The Washington Post)

Prince George’s officer convicted of stealing guns
Juan Carter was accused of selling and giving away guns he had seized from criminals.
( by Matt Zapotosky , The Washington Post)

CIA sisterhood: One spy cared for her dying colleague, an agency pioneer
Jeanne Vertefeuille and Sandy Grimes were legendary CIA mole hunters and best friends.
( by Ian Shapira , The Washington Post)

Relatives of ex-MWAA official were paid $175,000-plus in no-bid contract
Files show a friend of an ex-vice president’s hired the official’s wife and daughter and paid them.
( by Cheryl W. Thompson , The Washington Post)

Tuskegee airmen, Martin Luther King Jr. to be honored in inaugural parade
Floats will also represent several states, the presidential committee announces.
( by Michael E. Ruane , The Washington Post)

More Post Local: Washington, DC Area News, Traffic, Weather, Sports & More – The Washington Post


POLITICS
White House sounds hopeful on bipartisan immigration reform
Spokesman says proposals from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) “bode well” for a “productive” debate.
( by David Nakamura and Felicia Sonmez , The Washington Post)

Obama to announce most expansive gun-control agenda in generations
Proposal will include assault weapons ban, universal background checks and magazine size limits.
( by Philip Rucker , The Washington Post)

Patrick Leahy could prove key to gun-control debate on Capitol Hill
Vermont Democrat could slow Obama’s plans for quick action on proposals.
( by Ed O’Keefe , The Washington Post)

Obama to use D.C. ‘taxation without representation’ license plates
The license plates will be placed on all presidential limousines starting this weekend.
( by Tim Craig , The Washington Post)

Clinton. Benghazi. Yawn?
The secretary of state is unlikely to make big news when she testifies, Al Kamen’s In the Loop says.
(, The Washington Post)

More Post Politics: Breaking Politics News, Political Analysis & More – The Washington Post


STYLE
On Love: Jessica Lohmann and Jaime Duque
On Love: Surprise! This engagement party is a wedding.
(, The Washington Post)

2nd celebration? A big fizzle.
History shows presidents — Lincoln excepted — often have a hard time recapturing the glow of the first oath.
( by Monica Hesse , The Washington Post)

At service for Joe Allbritton, a wealth of stories
Friends and colleagues remembered Joe Allbritton, who died on Dec. 12, as a man of vast interests.
( by Carol Morello , The Washington Post)

Oprah stretches Lance Armstrong interview from one night to two
TV COLUMN | The Queen of the Confessional says the exclusive interview lasted more than 2 hours.
(, The Washington Post)

Atlantic fiasco is latest incident to spur ethics concerns about advertorials
After allowing a Scientology ad that looked like a real article on its Web site, the magazine pulled it.
( by Paul Farhi , The Washington Post)

More Style: Culture, Arts, Ideas & More – The Washington Post


BUSINESS
In latest debt-ceiling move, Treasury to tap Thrift Savings Plan money
Congress will have until between mid-February and early March to raise the $16.4 trillion debt limit.
( by Zachary A. Goldfarb , The Washington Post)

In a stalled French economy, mixed signals from the socialist government
The political leadership seems torn between its socialist pedigree and more market-friendly policies.
( by Howard Schneider , The Washington Post)

For taxpayers, complexity run amok
COLUMN | For taxpayer advocate Nina E. Olson, a familiar refrain: The tax code is too complex.
(, The Washington Post)

Facebook introduces feature to search for friends’ interests and ‘likes’
Company officials say the tool will let it leverage social data for searches, a market Google dominates.
( by Hayley Tsukayama , The Washington Post)

Between Europe and United States, the world recovery remains weak
World Bank cuts its 2013 estimate of global economic growth over U.S. debt talks and the euro crisis.
( by Howard Schneider , The Washington Post)

More Business News, Financial News, Business Headlines & Analysis – The Washington Post


SPORTS
Patriots rebound with victory
George Mason surges in the second half for its 10th consecutive home victory over James Madison.
( by Steven Goff , The Washington Post)

Ellis boosts Gwynn Park
After sitting out the first quarter, Takayla Ellis scores 17 points to lead Gwynn Park past Friendly in a battle of PG 3A/2A/1A contenders.
( by Eric Detweiler , The Washington Post)

TV and radio listings: January 16

(, The Washington Post)

Johnson catches fire for Riverdale
George Washington recruit Nigel Johnson poured in a season-high 39 points to pace Riverdale Baptist to a 77-62 win over National Christian.
( by Brandon Parker , The Washington Post)

Transfers propel Saints to victory
Junior transfer Cameron Gregory dropped in the game-winning layup to lift St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes to a 54-52 win over IAC rival Episcopal.
( by Roman Stubbs , The Washington Post)

More Sports: Sports News, Scores, Analysis, Schedules & More – The Washington Post


TECHNOLOGY
Facebook introduces feature to search for friends’ interests and ‘likes’
Company officials say the tool will let it leverage social data for searches, a market Google dominates.
( by Hayley Tsukayama , The Washington Post)

NRA faces backlash over shooting app
The pro-gun group is facing criticism for an app that it released a month after the Newtown shootings.
( by Hayley Tsukayama , The Washington Post)

Facebook’s big announcement: What could it be?
The social network has been very quiet about its impending news, and the speculation is in high gear.
( by Hayley Tsukayama , The Washington Post)

Can ‘big data’ lift people out of cycles of debt?
To better gauge the arguments on both sides of this question, we ask a financial-technology investor and a big data entrepreneur.
( by Christina Farr | VentureBeat.com , VentureBeat.com)

MySpace offering track from site backer Justin Timberlake
The new version of the site has music and tools for musicians at its core.
( by Hayley Tsukayama , The Washington Post)

More Technology News – The Washington Post


WORLD
Insurgents attack Afghan intelligence agency in Kabul, killing 2 employees
Violence adds to security concerns as U.S. continues drawing down troops.
( by Kevin Sieff and Sayed Salahuddin , The Washington Post)

Helicopter crashes in central London
Aircraft apparently hit crane atop building in densely populated neighborhood; 2 dead, 9 injured.
( by Anthony Faiola , The Washington Post)

U.S. weighs military aid for France in Mali
Help wouldn’t include combat troops but could test U.S. boundaries and stretch counterterrorism resources in a murky new conflict.
( by Anne Gearan, Karen DeYoung and Craig Whitlock , The Washington Post)

At world’s largest gun show, few worries about tighter controls
Gun makers and dealers argue that tougher controls won’t cure violence and won’t get past Congress.
( by Sari Horwitz , The Washington Post)

Panetta reassures Portugal on Azores Islands after U.S. downsizes base there
Visit reflects Pentagon problem: how to warn allies against defense cuts while undertaking its own.
( by Craig Whitlock , The Washington Post)

More World: World News, International News, Foreign Reporting – The Washington Post


EDITORIAL
Stop the debt bluster
Their tough talk notwithstanding, the president and the GOP need to reach a debt accord.
(, The Washington Post)

Second-inauguration blues
This time, Obama’s swearing-in feels more somber than celebratory.
(, The Washington Post)

Time to see the doctor
In the U.S., it’s survival of the economically fittest.
(, The Washington Post)

Cutting the capacity to kill
Shrinking the size of gun magazines will save lives.
( by Jason Ross , The Washington Post)

Capitol Hill’s crazy new normal
GOP Rep. Steve Stockman was once an outlier. No more.
(, The Washington Post)

More Opinions: Washington Post Opinion, Editorial, Op Ed, Politics Editorials – The Washington Post


LIVE DISCUSSIONS
Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Gurus
Got Plans? Discuss great ideas for local entertainment, dates and family fun.
(, vForum)

Color of Money Live
Post columnist Michelle Singletary offers her advice and answers your questions.
(, vForum)

Eugene Robinson Live
Eugene Robinson discussed his latest columns and political news.
(, vForum)

Cold medicine for a sick child? Don’t bother.
Administering cold medicine probably won’t help a sick child. So, what will? Pediatrician Howard J. Bennett discusses common colds and the medicines that promise relief.
(, vForum)

ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri
The Compost, written by Alexandra Petri, offers a lighter take on the news and political in(s)anity of the day.
(, vForum)

Inauguration 2013 Event Guide

barack-obama-24_400x295_5For the next week, Washington, D.C. will be the hottest place in America. With President Obama’s public inauguration taking place next Monday on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, hundreds of thousands of Americans are flocking to the nation’s capital to be part of history. There are number of popular cocktail mixers, brunches and balls leading the way to the grand day—where Beyoncé will perform the National Anthem and Myrlie Evers-Williams will deliver the invocation. Here is a list of a few events taking place all over the city.

Thursday, January 17
H.O.P.E. Inaugural Youth Ball

Friday, January 18
Young and Powerful Cocktail Mixer

Saturday, January 19
Desire to Aspire Brunch
Omegas for Obama Inaugural Ball
Historically Black Colleges and Universities Inaugural Ball
Young and Powerful Roundtable Political Forum
Enchant: Inauguration Variety and Comedy Show

Sunday, January 20
Ambassadors Ball
Hip-Hop Inaugural Ball
Congressional Black Caucus Late Night Pre-Inaugural Party
The African-American Church Inaugural Ball
Monday, January 21
Black Tie Gala & Rising Star Awards Ceremony

Hitting the debt limit: What bills would be paid?

departures-200-netbank-cs2007WASHINGTON — In the summer of 2011, when a debt crisis like the current one loomed, President Barack Obama warned Republicans that older Americans might not get their Social Security checks unless there was a deal to raise the nation’s borrowing limit. After weeks of brinkmanship, Republicans consented and Obama agreed to a deficit-reduction plan the GOP wanted. Crisis averted, for a time. Now that there’s a fresh showdown, the possibility of Social Security cuts _and more — is back on the table.

The government could run out of cash to pay all its bills in full as early as Feb. 15, according to one authoritative estimate, and congressional Republicans want significant spending cuts in exchange for raising the borrowing limit. Obama, forced to negotiate an increase in 2011, has pledged not to negotiate again.Without an agreement, every option facing his administration would be unprecedented. It would require a degree of financial creativity that could test the law, perhaps even the Constitution.

It could shortchange Social Security recipients and other people, including veteran and the poor, who rely on government programs. It could force the Treasury to contemplate selling government assets, a step considered but rejected in 2011. In short, the Treasury would have to create its own form of triage, creating a priority list of its most crucial obligations, from interest payments to debtors to benefits to vulnerable Americans. “It may be that somewhere down the line someone will challenge what the administration did in that moment, but in the moment, who’s going to stop them?” asked Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office. “I pray we never have to find out how imaginative they are.”

In such a debt crisis, the president would have to decide what laws he wants to break. Does he breach the borrowing limit without a congressional OK? Does he ignore spending commitments required by law? In a letter to Obama on Friday, Senate Democratic leaders urged him to consider taking any “lawful steps that ensure that America does not break its promises and trigger a global economic crisis — without congressional approval, if necessary.” The White House has resisted that path. It has rejected recommendations that it invoke a provision in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution that states that “the validity of the public debt of the United States … shall not be questioned.” “There are only two options to deal with the debt limit: Congress can pay its bills or they can fail to act and put the nation into default,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said. “Congress needs to do its job.”

So what’s left if Congress does not act in time? Technically, the government hit the debt ceiling at the end of December. Since then, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has halted full payments into the retirement and disability fund for government workers and to the health benefits fund of Postal Service retirees. The Treasury can stop payments to a special fund that purchases or sells foreign currencies to stabilize world financial markets. >>>CONTINUE READING

His Birmingham Moment?

cn_image.size.obama-jfk-newton-shooting-alabama (1)

It took a traumatic turn of events in Alabama to show John F. Kennedy that he had to confront the issue of civil rights. The Newtown massacre may be a precipitating event for Barack Obama.

Barack Obama’s pitch-perfect public statements on the Sandy Hook shootings summed up the grief and shock that even the most distant observer—and certainly every parent—must feel about last Friday’s unspeakable events. But I think I detected an even more personal elegiac note: regret that he himself has not done more to grapple with the issue of guns.

“Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?” the president asked in Newtown, Connecticut, on Sunday. “I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.”

So I can’t help wondering if the bullets of Sandy Hook Elementary will be for Obama what the snarling dogs and high-pressure fire hoses of Birmingham, Alabama, were for John F. Kennedy in 1963: the human tragedy that will force him to take a political risk, simply because it is right.

“THOSE WHO DO NOTHING ARE INVITING SHAME, AS WELL AS VIOLENCE,” SAID JOHN F. KENNEDY. “THOSE WHO ACT BOLDLY ARE RECOGNIZING RIGHT, AS WELL AS REALITY.”

Not that Obama has lacked political courage or been averse to all risk. Overhauling health care was no walk in the park, and he paid a big price for his efforts. But ever since Bill Clinton lost Democratic control of Congress—and many members lost their seats—in the wake of the passage of the assault-weapons ban in 1994, Democrats, especially the pragmatic variety, of which Obama is certainly one, have been extremely wary of sitting on that hot stove a second time. As a reporter for The New York Times, I covered the passage of the 1994 ban and lived to see some of its results. When Bill Clinton took his vacation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in 1995, I spent many hours covering him—and many more just hiking and enjoying one of the nation’s great national parks. When, by chance, in the Grand Teton National Park visitors’ center I came across my old congressman and fellow Chinese-laundry patron from Brooklyn, Chuck Schumer, now a senator, I was stunned to find him sporting a three- or four-day growth of beard. I asked if he’d been sitting shiva. He replied that, no, F.B.I. director Louis Freeh had told him he was a marked man as one of the proponents of the bill, and so he’d sprouted some cover, just in case. CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE

Obama Nominates Gay Black Judge to Federal Court

Yesterday, President Barack Obama nominated his first openly gay African-American judicial nominee for the federal courts. Judge William L. Thomas has been put forth for consideration for the U.S District Court for the Southern District of Florida. He’s one of seven judges nominated today and, if confirmed will be the second out African-American judge on the federal bench. “These individuals have demonstrated the talent, expertise, and fair-mindedness Americans expect and deserve from their judicial system,” President Obama said in a statement. “They also represent my continued commitment to ensure that the judiciary resembles the nation it serves.” Judge William L. Thomas has served as a Circuit Judge in Florida’s 11th Judicial Circuit since 2005, presiding over both civil and criminal matters. Prior to that, he was an Assistant Federal Public Defender in Florida, representing underprivileged clients in criminal cases. He received his B.A. from Washington and Jefferson College in 1991 and his J.D. from Temple University School of Law in 1994.

Read it at Queerty.