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December 30, 2012

Obama on his second term: Immigration will be a priority

President Obama says in a close of the year interview today that fixing the country's "broken immigration system is a top priority."

He vowed in the Meet the Press interview to introduce legislation in the first year. "We've talked about it long enough, we know how we can fix it. We can do it in a comprehensive way that the American people support. That's something we should get done."

Obama says his second priority will be to "stabilize the economy and make sure it's growing." That will include deficit reduction -- and spending on infrastructure, including roads, bridges and schools.

He also called energy a priority, saying the U.S. could become an energy exporter, but that it has to be balanced with environmental concerns.

President Obama: The pressure is on Congress to produce

President Obama took to the airwaves today in a rare Sunday morning TV show appearance, lambasting Republicans for failing to reach a deal to avoid a fiscal crisis and warning that the lack of results could hurt the U.S. economy.

"What's been holding (the economy) back is the dysfunction here in Washington," Obama said. "If people start seeing that on Jan. 1 this problem still hasn't been solved...if they say that people's taxes have gone up, which means consumer spending is going to be depressed, then obviously that's going to have an adverse reaction in the markets."

He sought to put the blame for the inaction squarely on Republicans in Congress, saying "it's been very hard" for House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell "to accept the fact that taxes on the wealthiest Americans should go up a little bit as part of an overall deficit reduction package."

He charged that Republicans "say that their biggest priority is making sure that we deal with the deficit in a serious way. But the way they're behaving is that their only priority is making sure that tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are protected. That seems to be their only overriding, unifying theme."

Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, called the remarks "discordant" and noted that as Obama made them, McConnell "was in the office working to bring Republicans and Democrats together on a solution."

Continue reading "President Obama: The pressure is on Congress to produce" »

December 29, 2012

Days before deadline, Obama urges Congress to act on 'fiscal cliff'

President Obama urged Congress Saturday to approve "balanced" legislation that would prevent taxes from rising on the middle class and lay ä foundation for the economy to grow and reduce the deficit.  

"It’s a balanced plan – one that would protect the middle class, cut spending in a responsible way, and ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more," he said in his weekly radio address. "And I’ll keep working with anybody who’s serious about getting a comprehensive plan like this done – because it’s the right thing to do for our economic growth.''

Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate are spending the weekend working to find a possible solution a series of tax increases and spending cuts in time for votes Sunday night by both the Senate and the House of Representatives. If they fail, Obama will ask Congress to vote on his original proposal to raise taxes on individual income above $200,000 and family income above $250,000, and also to extend jobless benefits for 2 million unemployed workers.


Continue reading "Days before deadline, Obama urges Congress to act on 'fiscal cliff'" »

December 28, 2012

Obama criticizes Congress; senators take over negotiations

Senate Democratic and Republicans leaders said that they would spend the next two days working to find a possible solution in time for vote by both chambers Sunday night. The deal making moved to the Senate
Friday after talks between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio failed.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met with congressional leaders --Boehner, R-Ohio, Senator Majority Harry Reid, D-Nev., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. -- at the White House for more than an hour.

But as of Friday night, lawmakers still seem far apart on a variety of issues, including whether taxes should rise on the wealthiest Americans as Obama pledged during his re-election campaign.

A visibly frustrated Obama said that he was “modestly optimistic” that Reid and McConnell could reach a deal but, if they failed, he will ask Congress to vote on his original proposal to raise taxes for individual income above $200,000 and family income above $250,000 and extend jobless benefits for 2 million unemployed workers.

“The American people are not going to have any patience for a politically self inflicted wound to our economy,” Obama said in a six-minute statement from the White House. “We’ve got to get this

Continue reading "Obama criticizes Congress; senators take over negotiations" »

Obama, Biden to meet with congressional leaders Friday afternoon

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will meet with congressisonal leaders Friday at 3 p.m. in the Oval Office as the two parties search for ways to avert a series of end-of-the-year tax increases and spending cuts .

Obama and Biden will meet with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Senator Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

The president called each of the four Wednesday night but has not met with the four since just after the his re-election in November.

The Senate is in session but the House does not return until Sunday.

Read more here.

December 27, 2012

"Come Together" campaign buys newspapers ads

It's more than just Starbucks' cups.

Starbucks and Patch, AOL’s network of hyper-local websites, announced that they will take out full-page ads in the Washington Post and New York Times and advertise on Websites to continue its campaign to urge action on the looming fiscal crisis.

On Wednesday, the companies launched the “Come Together” initiative, which encourages Starbucks stores to write “Come Together” on coffee cups at approximately 120 Washington, D.C.-area stores on Thursday and Friday.

"As the clock ticks, I am hopeful the ‘Come Together’ campaign will spur our nation’s lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to come together and begin a serious dialogue focused on a meaningful solution," said Maya MacGuineas, President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and head of the Campaign to Fix the Debt.

House to return Sunday night to debate fiscal cliff

House Republicans on a conference call Thursday were told that the House of Representatives will be in session on Sunday with votes expected after 6:30 p.m., according to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's office.

That means members will have less than 30 hours to vote before the end-of-the-year-deadline.

The Senate and President Obama returned to Washington Thursday.


Obama calls congressional leaders about fiscal cliff

President Obama made a fresh round of call to congressional leaders late Wednesday in the hopes he could help revive stalled negotiations days before the nation faces a series of historic tax increases and spending cuts.

Obama called Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., according to the White House,

The president returned to Washington Thursday from Hawaii, where he spent the last five days, to resume negotiations. But there is little sign that any progress was made over the holidays.

McConnell's spokesman Don Stewart said Obama is the first Democrat to reach out to his boss since Thanksgiving.

"The leader is happy to review what the President has in mind, but to date, the Senate Democrat majority has not put forward a plan,'' he said. "When they do, members on both sides of the aisle will review the legislation and make decisions on how best to proceed."

The Senate returned to Washington Thursday, but the House has not indicated when they will be back.

EPA administrator Jackson to resign

Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, announced Thursday that she is resigning.

"I will leave the EPA confident the ship is sailing in the right direction, and ready in my own life for new challenges, time with my family and new opportunities to make a difference,'' Jackson said in a statement.

Jackson's four-year tenure included clashes with industry and congressional leaders over  issues, such as global warming, the Keystone XL oil pipeline and coal-fired plants.

Continue reading "EPA administrator Jackson to resign " »

Reid blasts House, Boehner, for not being in D.C. as fiscal cliff looms

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., opened the Senate session Thursday morning with a full-throated blast against the Republican-controlled House of Representatives for not being in Washington, D.C.,  and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, for not calling them in as the fiscal cliff deadline fiscal cliff looms.

The Senate opened for business Thursday while the House remained out on holiday break. Boehner said he would give House members 48 hours notice before they would have to return to Washington for legislative action. 

"They are not here," Reid said. "John Boehner seems to care more about keeping his speakership than keeping the nation on a firm financial footing. It's obvious what's going on. He's waiting until January 3 to get re-elected speaker because he has so many people over there that won't follow what he wants."

Reid noted that Boehner had to pull his so-call "Plan B" proposal from the  House floor because of lack of support from Republicans members. "He couldn't even that," Reid said. "Remember, he's not letting the House of Representatives vote. He's letting the Republicans vote. It was so bad and he was in such difficult shape there he wouldn't even allow a vote to take place with his Republicans because he knew he would lose." 


"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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