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Mar 15, 2010 7:12 am


March 15, 2010: Obama Administration Health Care, Education & Israel



The President delivers the Weekly Address

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Poll: Republican resurgence among young adults: A new poll shows 18- to 29-year-old Republicans are more politically energized than young Democrats and are more inclined to vote in this fall's elections. Young adults are also extremely concerned about the economy.
    Forty-one percent of young Republicans say they plan to vote in November, compared with 35 percent of Democrats and 13 percent of Independents, according to the poll conducted by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics (IOP), a nonpartisan group. Fifty-three percent of those who voted for Sen. John McCain (R) of Ariz., in 2008 say they will definitely vote in midterm elections, compared with 44 percent of those who voted for President Obama.... - CS Monitor, 3-9-10
  • Poll: Financially pinched, young adults lose faith: Young adults are financially anxious, worried that they can't meet their educational, housing and health care needs, according to a new poll that exposes a growing pessimism about achieving the American Dream. The poll by Harvard's Institute of Politics found that six out of 10 of those surveyed worry they may not meet their current bills and obligations. Nearly half of those attending college wonder whether they will be able to afford to stay in school. And more than eight out of 10 said they expect difficulty finding a job after graduation. Fewer than half said they believe they will be better off than their parents when they reach their parents' age.... - AP, 3-9-10
  • Poll: U.S. has lost global standing under Obama: A majority of Americans say the United States is less respected in the world than two years ago and believe President Obama and other Democrats fall short of Republicans on the issue of national security, according to a poll by two left-leaning groups.
    The Democracy Corps-Third Way survey released Monday finds that by a 10-point margin - 51 percent to 41 percent - Americans think the standing of the United States has dropped during the first 13 months of Mr. Obama's presidency.
    "This is surprising, given the global acclaim - and Nobel peace prize - that flowed to the new president after he took office," the pollsters said.... - Washington Times, 3-9-10
  • New poll spells potential trouble for Democrats: A new poll on Monday found signs of trouble ahead for President Barack Obama and his Democrats on national security issues such as the handling of terrorism suspects. The poll was conducted jointly by Democratic Corps, a Democratic organization, and Third Way, a progressive non-profit organization. It was done mainly to gauge voters' views on Democrats' handling of national security.
    The poll found 60 percent of Americans believe the United States is on the wrong track. It also found that people rated Democrats at about the same level as Republicans, in what amounted to an erosion of the advantage Democrats have held.
    "We would not want the election to be held today, with this poll," said Democracy Corps' chief pollster Stan Greenberg."If the election were held today, this would be a 'change' election."... - Reuters, 3-8-10

THE HEADLINES....

  • Agencies lag in following Obama's openness order: President Barack Obama is having difficulty getting all federal agencies to follow his order to deliver"a new era of open government," according to a study of how they administer the Freedom of Information Act. The National Security Archive, a private group that publishes declassified government information and uses the act and lawsuits to pry out official records, found a decidedly mixed record in an audit of how 90 agencies responded to Obama directives to open more records, and the guidelines and training sessions that followed from the Justice Department.... - AP, 3-14-10
  • Catholic hospitals support health care bill: A group representing Catholic hospitals is rallying behind President Barack Obama's health care bill. Support from the Catholic Health Association could help persuade anti-abortion lawmakers to provide critical votes in the House for the overhaul. The group's chief executive, Carol Keehan, writes on the association's Web site that the legislation isn't perfect, but is"a major first step" toward covering all Americans and would make"great improvements" for millions of people....- AP, 3-13-10
  • Reports: U.S. Pressuring Israel to Scrap Building Plan: The controversial plan to build 1,600 apartments was approved during Vice President Joe Biden's visit to the region last week.... - AP, 3-15-10
  • GOP Lawmaker: White House Job Offer to Sestak Would Have Been a 'Crime': A GOP lawmaker says that the White House committed a" crime" if it offered Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak a federal job in exchange for dropping his primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa.... - FOX News, 3-13-10
  • Obama promise: Brighter education futures for kids: President Barack Obama is promising parents and their kids that with his administration's help they will have better teachers in improved schools so U.S. students can make up for academic ground lost against youngsters in other countries.
    A plan to overhaul the 2002 education law championed by President George W. Bush was unveiled by the Obama administration Saturday in hopes of replacing a system that in the last decade has tagged more than a third of schools as failing and created a hodgepodge of sometimes weak academic standards among states.
    "Unless we take action — unless we step up — there are countless children who will never realize their full talent and potential," Obama said during a video address on Saturday."I don't accept that future for them. And I don't accept that future for the United States of America."
    In the proposed dismantling of the No Child Left Behind law, education officials would move away from punishing schools that don't meet benchmarks and focus on rewarding schools for progress, particularly with poor and minority students. Obama intends to send a rewrite to Congress on Monday of the law.... - AP, 3-13-10
  • Coffee vs. Tea: A political movement is brewing: The new Coffee Party movement deemed its official kickoff Saturday a"huge success," with dozens of talks held at coast-to-coast coffee shops as members came together to discuss the issues most important to them.
    Billed by many as an answer to the conservative Tea Party movement, the Coffee Party was born on Facebook just six weeks ago. While the group has become an instant hit online -- it boasts more than 141,000 Facebook fans as of Saturday -- gauging the success of this weekend's coffee meetups was predicted to be an indicator of the group's strength.... - CNN, 3-13-10
  • Democrats move toward grouping health reform with student-aid bill: Democratic leaders said Thursday that they were increasingly inclined to release a final health-care bill that could accomplish two of President Obama's top domestic priorities: guaranteeing coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans and vastly expanding federal aid for college students.... - WaPo, 3-12-10
  • Health Care Bill 'Still a Jump Ball,' White House Official Says: Passage of health care reform bill is"still a jump ball," official tells Fox News, as Democratic leaders point to progress...
    The prospects for Democratic victory on health care reform, the president's signature domestic initiative, have improved, but"it's still a jump ball," a top White House official intimately involved in the ongoing health care negotiations with House and Senate Democrats told Fox News late Friday. That assessment confirms that the White House and Democratic leaders so far lack the votes to pass health care in the House. And it undercuts somewhat the declaration Friday from Press Secretary Robert Gibbs that President Obama finally feels the wind at his back on the issue.... - Fox News, 3-12-10
  • Obama prepares for showdown on health care: This time, the President acts as if he has set a deadline he can believe in... - Globe & Mail, 3-12-10
  • Clinton Rebukes Israel for Housing Announcement: In a tense, 43-minute phone call on Friday morning, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel’s plan for new housing units for Jews in East Jerusalem sent a"deeply negative signal" about Israeli-American relations, and not just because it spoiled a visit by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
    Such blunt language toward Israel is very rare from an American administration, and several officials said Mrs. Clinton was relaying the anger of President Obama at the announcement, which was made by Israel's Interior Ministry and which Mr. Netanyahu said had caught him off guard.... - NYT, 2-12-10
  • Scott Brown to give GOP rebuttal to President's weekly radio address: US Sen. Scott Brown, who was elected on a wave of opposition to current health care reform plans, will give the GOP rebuttal to President Obama's weekly address as the White House ramps up their reform efforts. The high-profile address comes as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) announced yesterday he would push to pass the reforms through reconciliation.... - Boston Herald, 2-12-10
  • Senators give Obama a bipartisan plan on immigration: The president is encouraged, but healthcare politics could jeopardize the proposal.... - LAT, 3-12-10
  • At U.N., Clinton rallies for more women's opportunities worldwide: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told government delegates and activists here Friday that violence against women remains a"global pandemic" and that their"subjugation" constitutes"a threat to the national security of the United States." Speaking on the final day of a two-week U.N. conference on women's rights, Clinton urged U.N. member states to expand opportunities for women and end practices that subject them to discrimination and violence.... - WaPo, 3-12-10
  • Dems look to health vote without abortion foes: House leaders have concluded they cannot change a divisive abortion provision in President Barack Obama's health care bill and will try to pass the sweeping legislation without the support of ardent anti-abortion Democrats. A break on abortion would remove a major obstacle for Democratic leaders in the final throes of a yearlong effort to change health care in the United States. But it sets up a risky strategy of trying to round up enough Democrats to overcome, not appease, a small but possibly decisive group of Democratic lawmakers in the House.... - AP, 3-12-10
  • Dems Abandon Abortion Deal, Ready Health Vote: White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel emerged from a meeting in the Capitol with top Democratic lawmakers Thursday night saying,"We made a lot of decisions. We're getting towards the end."... - AP, Fox News, 3-12-10
  • Obama Lists Who Will Get Prize Money From Nobel: President Obama has made good on a promise to give his $1.4 million in Nobel Peace Prize money to charity, releasing on Thursday the names of the organizations that will benefit.
    "These organizations do extraordinary work in the United States and abroad helping students, veterans and countless others in need," Mr. Obama said in a statement."I'm proud to support their work."
    Mr. Obama put Fisher House, an organization that provides housing for the families of those being treated at major military and Veterans Affairs medical centers, at the top of the list with a $250,000 donation. Fisher House was followed by the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, the project his two immediate predecessors are running to raise money for relief and reconstruction efforts in Haiti, which will get $200,000... - NYT, 3-11-10
  • Senate approves $138-billion spending bill: The legislation, which must be reconciled with the House version, would extend jobless benefits and tax measures created to boost the economy, and help states pay for Medicaid.... - LAT, 3-11-10
  • Key senators balk at adding student loan overhaul to health-care legislation: As they push to finish health-care legislation by the end of the month, Democratic leaders in Congress are weighing whether to add another of President Obama's priorities to the package: a popular proposal to overhaul the federal student loan program. The move could clear the way for Obama to claim victory on two of his most significant domestic initiatives in a single signing ceremony. Administration officials and House leaders have pressed aggressively for the addition in recent days. But key senators are objecting to the move, arguing that political resistance in the Senate and the rapidly rising cost of the education measure could jeopardize efforts to push health-care reform to final passage.... - WaPo, 3-11-10
  • It's Obama vs. the Supreme Court, Round 2, over campaign finance ruling: Roberts calls scene at State of the Union 'very troubling' In remarks during a question-and-answer session with law students at the University of Alabama, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. protested the timing of President Obama's State of the Union disapproval of the court's decision in a major campaign finance case.
    President Obama and the Supreme Court have waded again into unfamiliar and strikingly personal territory. When Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. told law students in Alabama on Tuesday that the timing of Obama's criticism of the court during the State of the Union address was"very troubling," the White House pounced. It shot back with a new denouncement of the court's ruling that allowed a more active campaign role for corporations and unions.... - WaPo, 3-11-10
  • Bill Clinton, Bill Gates unite in foreign aid plea: Former president Bill Clinton and Microsoft founder Bill Gates called Wednesday on US lawmakers to boost foreign aid to fight diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria in the world's poorest nations. The leading philanthropists went to Capitol Hill to boost support for the so-called Global Health Initiative (GHI) and promote a crucial health aid budget bill proposed in 2009 by President Barack Obama's administration.
    "I hope you will pass this bill," Clinton said in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee."It is a very good bill, I think, and I think it is the next logical step" in US efforts to boost global health care... - AFP, 3-10-10
  • Obama Gets Tough on Health Care Fraud: President Obama continued his drive for a health care overhaul on Wednesday, ordering a crackdown on Medicare and Medicaid waste and fraud, while in Washington, House leaders said they hoped to have a completed bill to present to rank and file members Thursday morning....
    "The health care system has billions of dollars that should go to patient care, and they’re lost each and every year to fraud and abuse and massive subsidies that line the pockets of insurance company executives," Mr. Obama told about 500 mostly supportive local residents in the gymnasium of St. Charles High School here.... - NYT, 3-10-10
  • Obama backs bipartisan crackdown on healthcare cheats: President Barack Obama, making a final push for healthcare reform, will back bipartisan plans to stamp out waste in government-run medical programs for the old and needy, the White House said on Tuesday... - Reuters, 3-9-10
  • Mitt Romney: Tea Party movement is great as long as they vote Republican: Mitt Romney is supportive of the Tea Party movement but draws the line when it comes to a third party. CS Monitor, 3-9-10
  • Ex-Congressman Massa says groping wasn't sexual: Former Rep. Eric Massa, a New York Democrat who resigned his seat Monday amid a sexual harassment investigation, goes on TV to defend himself.... - LAT, 3-10-10
  • Obama takes hard-sell health pitch to Pa.: President Obama stepped up pressure Monday on his fellow Democrats to retool the nation's health care system, decrying those who put politics above policy. Saving his harshest rhetoric for the insurance industry, Obama began his latest attempt to pass his 10-year, $950 billion measure by declaring,"The issue here is not the politics of it."
    "It's hard for some members of Congress to make this vote. There's no doubt about that," Obama said. In contrast, he said,"What's hard is what millions of families and small businesses are going through because we allow the insurance industry to run wild in this country.",.... - USA Today, 3-8-10
  • Obama hails contributions of 'daring' women: Crediting their role in the American story, President Barack Obama on Monday praised the nation's"daring, indomitable" women — including the one-time political rival who is now his secretary of state."Women like Hillary Rodham Clinton, who, throughout her career, has put millions of cracks in America's glass ceiling," Obama said in the grand East Room packed mostly with women."It's because of them — and so many others, many who aren't recorded in the history books — that the story of America is, ultimately, one of hope and one of progress, of an upward journey."
    "We're doing all of this not only because promoting women's empowerment is one of the best ways to promote economic development and economic success," Obama said."We are doing it because it's the right thing to do. I say that not only as a president, but also as the father of two daughters, as a son and a grandson, and as a husband." - AP, 3-8-10
  • Joe Biden in Israel to press Mid-East peace talks: US Vice-President Joe Biden has arrived in Israel to promote a new round of Middle East peace talks more than a year after they stalled. Mr Biden - the highest-ranking Obama administration official to visit the region - will meet both Palestinian and Israeli officials. Iran's nuclear intentions are expected to be at the top of Israel's agenda.... - BBC News, 3-8-10
  • Pa. Sen. Arlen Specter is penning a book: Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, who switched to the Democratic Party last year, is writing a book about his experiences... - USA Today, 3-8-10
  • Healthcare overhaul comes down to Pelosi and Obama: A bill's fate depends on whether the House Speaker can land enough votes - and whether the president can take control of the debate, which Democrats complain he has not done.... - 3-8-10
  • Democrats Voice Health-Bill Doubts: Some House Democrats wavering over whether to back a health-care overhaul questioned whether it would effectively curb the country's health costs, highlighting a difficult issue that the White House and congressional leaders must address in the final negotiations on the measure. The issue is one of several that have been raised by Democrats over the bill, which President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders are pushing to pass by the end of March. Conservative Democrats have raised questions over the bill's language on abortion and tax increases, while liberals are unhappy with its failure to include a government plan that would compete with private insurers.... - WSJ, 3-8-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012....

  • Voter turnouts for primaries 'a concern': The red-hot race in Texas earlier this month between Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison for the Republican gubernatorial nomination helped drive the state to its biggest primary turnout in 20 years. And just how many people showed up for the election? About 1.5 million Texans cast ballots in the March 2 GOP primary for governor, according to the secretary of State's office. That means only about 1 in 10 of the 15.3 million Texans 18 and older who were eligible to vote actually cast a ballot, according to Curtis Gans at American University's Center for the Study of the American Electorate... - USA Today,
  • McCain campaigns for NH Senate candidate: Arizona Sen. John McCain told New Hampshire voters Saturday that if the current health care bill passes, opponents will immediately launch a nationwide movement to repeal it.
    "We can repeal it, but I would hate to have to have that task; obviously because there's still the same resident of the White House," he said at a town hall meeting reminiscent of those he held during his two presidential campaigns.
    On Saturday, McCain was stumping for fellow Republican Kelly Ayotte, a former state attorney general who is seeking the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Judd Gregg.... - Boston Globe, 3-12-10
  • Bush keeps Crist in his gun sights: Former Gov. Jeb Bush has been increasingly critical of Gov. Charlie Crist, but his election endorsement is still pending. There's been a lot of speculation about when Jeb Bush will finally make his preference official and endorse Marco Rubio for the Senate. But it strikes us that Rubio is better served for now with the popular ex-governor continuing with his current role: ostensibly neutral and taking increasingly tough shots at Charlie Crist from the sidelines.... - St. Peterberg Times, 3-14-10
  • GOP nominates newcomer to succeed Murtha: Republicans last night selected a political newcomer who has never sought elected office as their nominee in the special election to succeed the late U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha. Tim Burns, a self-made millionaire from Eighty Four, Washington County, and a native of Mr. Murtha's hometown of Johnstown, handily defeated Bill Russell, who mounted a strong challenge to Mr. Murtha in 2008.... - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3-12-10
  • Palin will make an appearance at fundraiser for Bachmann: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will bring her star power and fundraising prowess to Minnesota next month to help U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann with reelection. Bachmann announced Thursday that Palin will host a fundraising dinner April 7 at a Minneapolis hotel. There will be a private reception and photo opportunity at 4:30 p.m., a general reception at 5 p.m. and a dinner at 6 p.m. It's not known how much tickets will cost.... - Star Tribune, 3-11-10
  • Cuomo Hands Paterson Case to an Ex-Judge: Facing growing political pressure, Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday appointed an independent counsel to take over his office’s investigation into the Paterson administration’s response to a domestic violence case. Mr. Cuomo said Judith S. Kaye, the former chief judge of New York, would lead the inquiry, along with an investigation into whether the governor lied when he was questioned by the State Commission on Public Integrity about his office’s solicitation of Yankees World Series tickets.... - NYT, 3-11-10
  • With a huge lead in Florida polls, Rubio dazzles crowd: The second poll in a week shows him more than 30 points ahead of Gov. Charlie Crist.... - Jacksonville.com, 3-11-10
  • Romney Ties Decision on Presidential Bid to Outcome of November Elections: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney suggested Sunday that his decision on whether to run again for president may hinge on the outcome of the November midterm elections....
    "I don't really have the pros and cons laid out yet," he said."It's something which we won't have to decide until some time after the November elections. My guess is after those elections are over and we see where the country is, and we see the features in our own lives that may affect a decision like that, we'll sit down and make a decision."... - Fox News, 3-8-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) Delivers Weekly GOP Address on Health Care: In the Weekly Republican Address, newly-elected Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts explains that the Democrats running Washington have their priorities all wrong. Sen. Brown says Americans"told me that they want their President and Congress to focus on creating jobs and reviving Americas economy. Instead, for more than a year now, we have seen a bitter, destructive, and endless drive to completely transform Americas health care system."
    "Somehow," Sen. Brown notes,"the greater the public opposition to the health care bill, the more determined they seem to force it on us anyway. Their attitude shows Washington at its very worst the presumption that they know best, and theyre going to get their way whether the American people like it or not."
    Sen. Brown says,"I havent been here very long, but, I can tell you this much already: Nothing has distracted the attention and energy of the nations capital more than this disastrous detour. And, the surest way to return to the peoples business is to listen to the people themselves: We need to drop this whole scheme of federally controlled health care, start over, and work together on real reforms at the state level that will contain costs and wont leave America trillions of dollars deeper in debt." - You Tube, 3-13-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama to Send Updated Elementary and Secondary Education Act Blueprint To Congress on Monday Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address March 13, 2010: Under the leadership of an outstanding Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, we launched a Race to the Top, through which states compete for funding by committing to reform and raising standards, by rewarding good teaching, by supporting the development of better assessments to measure results, and by emphasizing math and science to help prepare children for college and careers.
    And on Monday, my administration will send to Congress our blueprint for an updated Elementary and Secondary Education Act to overhaul No Child Left Behind. What this plan recognizes is that while the federal government can play a leading role in encouraging the reforms and high standards we need, the impetus for that change will come from states, and from local schools and school districts. So, yes, we set a high bar – but we also provide educators the flexibility to reach it.... - WH, 3-13-10
  • The Conscience of a Florida Conservative: "They voted for somebody they'd never heard of in Barack Obama because he ran on the platform of a very devoted centrist." That's the answer from Marco Rubio when asked about his stunning rise to national prominence as a Republican challenger to a popular Republican officeholder in the key electoral state of Florida. Underlying this strange political season, says Mr. Rubio, is the president's rapid uncloaking in office as anything but the postpartisan that voters thought they had elected."Within weeks," says Mr. Rubio,"he began trying to implement what appears to everyone else to be the left-of-center politics of the last 50 years, but in a much more aggressive way, using the excuse of a severe economic downturn as justification for growing and in essence redefining the role of government in America."... - WSJ, 3-15-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS' COMMENTS

  • Tevi Troy: Health Care: A Two-Decade Blunder: ...Fast-forward 19 years: it is the Democrats who are now faced with divining the results of another underdog’s victory. In January, a little-known state senator named Scott Brown defeated Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley in a special election for the United States Senate. Universal health care was once again on center stage. This time around, though, the Republican seized on widespread antipathy to what has come to be seen as an incoherent Democratic scheme for an unworkable federal takeover of health care.... - Commentary Magazine, 4-10
  • Nerd is another word for smart Republicans have long been viewed as those who get gentleman’s"C" in the national classroom. In fact, it is almost a liberal trope to call Republican presidents"dumb."
    Eisenhower, Ford, Reagan and both Bushes (the latter more than the former) got this critique. Nixon was spared — but only because it so clearly did not fit his image as a Machiavellian manipulator. -
    Democrats, in contrast, are usually cited as the smart ones in American politics....
    But this simplistic analysis of smart Democrats contrasted with dumb Republicans does not fit reality. - Politico, 3-12-10
  • Fred Greenstein: Obama Gets High Scores on Leadership Report Card: That's according to presidential historian and author Fred Greenstein, professor of politics emeritus at Princeton University. The author of the new Inventing the Job of President has just updated his initial Obama report card and declared the president a"rare political leader."
    In a scholarly paper, Barack Obama: The Man and His Early Presidency, Greenstein looks at six key leadership qualities and seems to find that the nation's first African-American president is up to snuff."Barack Obama is a fascinating political specimen," writes Greenstein, whose books include The Presidential Difference: Leadership Style from FDR to Barack Obama; The Hidden-Hand Presidency: Eisenhower as Leader; and How Presidents Test Reality: Decisions on Vietnam, 1954 and 1965.
    "Indeed," adds Greenstein,"he may turn out to be the rare political leader who is marked by both a first-rate temperament and a first-rate mind."... - US News, 3-12-10
  • Julian Zelizer: GOP health care refusal could backfire: Most Republicans have opposed President Obama's health care bill from the first day he proposed reform. If the House passes the Senate bill in the next few days, it will probably do so without any Republican support.
    Regardless of whether the legislation passes, Republicans can already claim a victory, given that the struggle for legislation has lasted more than a year and tied up the rest of the Democratic agenda....
    Yet Republicans should be wary about celebrating too much. The strategy of obstruction poses significant risks....
    A recent leaked document from the Republican National Committee suggests that the party is planning to base its 2010 campaign on fear and negative attacks, rather than hope and ideas. Sometimes, in the enthusiasm over a battle, armies can lose sight of the war.
    Republicans might have regained their fighting spirit over health care, but the strategy could prove to be costlier than they expect. - CNN, 3-8-10


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