Entries in President Barack Obama (7)


Romney: Obama Trying to Blame GOP for High Gas Prices

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(KIRKWOOD, Missouri) -- Mitt Romney said President Obama’s assertion that concerns about war between Iran and Israel in the Middle East are to blame for rising gas prices is a “pretty tough one to follow” and suggested the president is trying to deflect blame to his Republican rivals.

In an interview with ABC affiliate KVUE Monday, the president said concern about the Middle East and war there contributes to escalating gas prices.

“In the short term, the biggest driver is what’s happening in the Middle East and the concerns over war there. A couple of weeks ago I said, ‘Let’s stop with the loose talk about war,” Obama said.

Romney said the president was trying to pin blame on Republicans for gas prices.

“He said [the reason we have high gasoline prices] is because Republican presidential candidates are talking in a very muscular way about Iran and their nuclear program,” said Romney, speaking at an outdoor event outside St. Louis. “Now that’s a pretty tough one to follow, alright.”

“And frankly it’s disappointing to have the president of the United States take a serious foreign policy issue which is Iran, the state sponsor of terror in the world becoming nuclear, and trying to turn that into saying we’re somehow responsible for high gasoline prices in this country,” Romney continued.

Obama reiterated the talking point about “loose talk” of war, the Middle East and gas prices several times on Monday during a series of interviews in Washington, D.C., with local TV stations from throughout the country.

“The biggest driver of these high gas prices is speculation about possible war in the Middle East, which is why we’ve been trying to reduce some of the loose talk about why war there,” Obama said during a separate interview with ABC’s Orlando, Fla., affiliate, WFTV.

Romney said that Obama is simply deflecting responsibility when it comes to gas prices.

“The president is looking around for someone to blame,” said Romney. “You know, it’s, it seems to be part of his nature. He’s out of ideas, he’s out of excuses, and in 2012 we’re going to get him out of office. That’s got to get done.”

“But he said something, I think it was yesterday, he said the reason we have high gasoline prices is – and then he was seeking around. What could it be? What could it be?” said Romney. “Now I have some suggestions for him. Maybe it’s related to the fact that you stopped drilling in the Gulf. Maybe it’s related to the fact, Mr. President that you weren’t out drilling in ANWR. Maybe it’s related to the fact that you said we couldn’t get a pipeline in from Canada known as Keystone. Those things affect gasoline prices, long term.”

The president made the comment warning against “loose talk” of war before a meeting of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group. During a press conference two days later, as Republicans in 10 states were voting in their primaries, he was asked about the need for debate on tension between Israel, the U.S. and Iran.

“Well, I think there’s no doubt that those who are suggesting, or proposing, or beating the drums of war should explain clearly to the American people what they think the costs and benefits would be,” Obama said during that March 6th press conference.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Lew Defends Tax Increases in 2013 Budget

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Less than 24 hours before President Obama’s 2013 budget is delivered to Congress, White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew aimed to pre-empt the inevitable onslaught of criticism Sunday, defending the budget’s $1.3 trillion in additional deficit spending and $1.5 trillion in added tax revenue.

“We have tax cuts that go to people who don’t need them,” Lew said on This Week.  “We have tax cuts going to the wealthiest people in America who are going to have to pay their fair share.”

Similar to his 2012 budget, the president’s 2013 budget calls for a minimum tax rate of 30 percent for millionaires and ends the Bush tax cuts for high-income earners.

Lew said that for every dollar of revenue, the budget includes $2.50 of spending cuts, including cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, agriculture subsidies and federal civilian workers’ pensions. Over the next decade, Lew said the president’s proposal will reduce spending so it will no longer add to the deficit and create stability in the economy.

But despite these cuts, the president’s budget would mark the fourth straight year deficit spending that exceeds $1 trillion. This deficit spending comes after Obama pledged upon taking office in 2009 that he would “cut the deficit we inherited by half by the end of my first term in office.”

Lew defended that failed pledge on Sunday.

“When we took office, the economy was falling so fast that the first thing we had to do was put a bottom in,” Lew said. “That cost money in the Recovery Act.  It cost money in terms of lost revenue and slower economic growth.  We’re on track now.  We’ve seen several months of sustained economic growth and job creation, but we’re not out of the woods yet.”

Lew said the “American people should be pleased” with the recent uptick in the economy, but emphasized that the slow recovery is still in need of an “extra push,” which Lew said should come in the form of a payroll tax holiday extension.

The tax cut extension is currently stalled in a conference committee as the House and Senate seek to reconcile how to pay for extension. Lew called on Congress to “finish their work” and pass the payroll tax cut “on time.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Protesters Camp at Obama Headquarters, Talk ‘Occupy Caucus’ Plans

(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- A small group of protesters camped out overnight Saturday in front of President Obama’s re-election headquarters in Iowa, demanding to speak with someone in the president’s campaign office and air their concerns, vowing to stay planted in front of the office through the harsh Iowa winter.

There were about 10 protesters this morning sitting outside two tents surrounded by mostly anti-war and anti-capitalism signs, including one plastered on the front door of the Organizing for America office that read “Obama’s Former Headquarters.”

The protesters say about 11 people slept in front of the campaign office overnight, where the temperature was in the high 20s.

Jessica Reznicek, a member of Occupy Des Moines who also spent time in New York City’s Zuccotti Park as an Occupy Wall Street protestor, said they have “two demands” that they want met by the president.

“We ask that number one they cut the U.S. military budget in half and number two he dismantle the U.S. military empire,” Reznicek told ABC News. “When we arrived yesterday the business was shut down and nobody was in there and we made a vow to occupy until our demands were addressed, so here we stand.”

Ben Finkenbinder, Obama campaign spokesman for Iowa, told ABC News the campaign declines to comment.

Reznicek says the group understands they may be arrested, but have no plans to move.

She also runs the Occupy Des Moines off-shoot Occupy the Caucuses and said they have big plans for the week leading up to the Iowa caucuses, although she did say, “We have absolutely no plans of disrupting the grassroots caucusing process” on the night of Jan. 3.

However, they are going to be active and Reznicek has been reaching out to Occupy groups all over the country. She said she expects between 500 to 700 people will be here that week with many of them traveling to Des Moines, but added there could be more. She said she has been in touch with Occupy groups in New York, Chicago, Wisconsin, Kansas, Omaha, Neb., and Minneapolis.

According to Reznicek, on Dec. 26, Occupy protesters from all over the country will arrive in Des Moines. The following day they will be trained in “acts of non-violent civil disobedience.”

Different groups will also form that day and protesters will decide which of the presidential candidates, including Obama, they want to “target with their grievances.”

The groups will then take that list of grievances to all the campaign headquarters on Dec. 28, 29 and 30, and protest or “occupy” them “until those demands are met.”

Joseph Glazebrook, an attorney for several of the protesters, said that although he was an Obama supporter last cycle, they chose to camp out at the president’s re-election headquarters instead of one of the GOP candidates because “if we only focus on one part of the problem we are never going to change anything. We have to focus on the whole problem, which includes the president.”

Occupy Des Moines protested last month at Herman Cain’s headquarters when he was still in the race, and at a Mitt Romney adviser’s office before Romney’s campaign opened a headquarters. They also protested a Chris Christie event at Romney’s headquarters in Iowa, interrupting the New Jersey governor when he was stumping for the former Massachusetts governor earlier this month.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Is It the End of the Line for Payroll Tax Holiday?

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Families and individuals who rely on the $1,000 yearly temporary payroll tax holiday from the government can expect Republicans and at least one Democrat to pull support for the measure at the end of 2012.

“I believe that we should extend the payroll tax holiday another year, avoid a tax increase on working people for another year,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on Fox News Sunday.

President Barack Obama has made extending the payroll tax holiday a priority, and it is also a partisan talking point in his campaign to retain the White House in 2012.

“This is not about me. They shouldn’t extend the payroll tax cut for me. They shouldn’t extend unemployment insurance for me. This is for 160 million people who, in 23 days, are going to see their taxes go up if Congress doesn’t act,” Obama said, standing in front of a countdown timer, driving home the impending deadline to extend the payroll tax holiday.

A group of Republicans and some economists have argued that an extension of the payroll tax holiday would waste money and do nothing to stimulate job creation, but Democrats and the Republican leadership have agreed that a temporary extension is necessary to protect working class Americans.

If the payroll tax holiday is extended for one year, the provision would expire after the 2012 elections, which take place in November.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


What Kind of Things Could You Buy with the National Debt?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Despite a pledge by President Barack Obama on Monday to freeze federal spending for the next five years, the United States budget deficit will continue to grow. As it balloons to over $14 trillion, a bit of perspective can help put the debt into real terms for the average consumer. Using the figures provided by, here's how the national debt breaks down to more than $45,000 per citizen. That's up from just more than $20,000 per citizen back in 2000.

As for what these numbers mean in more tangible terms, the national debt could buy you 4,080,522,307 tickets to the Super Bowl at $3,676 per ticket. That means you could cover attendance for the next 56,674 Super Bowls if the venue held 72,000 people.

Speaking of football, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward made $5,804,680 last season. If his salary remained stagnant, the national debt could fund his playing career for over two million more years. He may need the help if there's a lockout next season in the NFL.

Home foreclosures have been a huge problem ever since the economy collapsed, but if you had more than $14 billion, you could purchase 61 million homes at an average price of $242,000.

Not to put all your eggs in one basket, but you could see a lot of Lady Gaga shows if you had money equivalent to the amount of the national debt. StubHub says that Gaga's shows might have been a "little monster" on your credit card bill, ranking as the priciest act of 2010 with tickets coming in at an average of $407. You'd be able to buy 36,855,036,855 tickets to see her perform.

All things considered, it might be better to just keep your money in the bank.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Three Gulf States Seek Answers on BP Oil Spill Payout

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Top officials from three states along the Gulf Coast, whose shores were hit particularly hard both environmentally and economically following the BP oil spill in 2010, are having no qualms about publicly criticizing the man in charge of distributing the relief funds.

Kenneth Feinberg, the man appointed by President Obama to be his administration's pay czar, has been particularly slow and less than transparent in his dealings with BP and the funds, the attorneys general from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida say.

As of Thursday, the $20 billion Gulf Coast Claims Facility established by BP had paid 168,634 claims for a total of $3.4 billion, The Washington Post reported. Many of those claims have been dismissed as having no merit, causing outrage among those whose livelihood was severely impacted by the spill.

The attorneys general have taken large issue with the fact that Feinberg, as they allege, has been encouraging those appying for relief funds to settle with BP for a one-time payout, in exchange for waiving their right to sue in the future.

Louisiana had the highest percentage of claims to the fund, with 39 percent of overall requests coming from individuals or businesses within the state. Florida accounted for 33 percent, and Mississippi for 10 percent of claims.

All three states are appealing to a U.S. District Court Judge to ask for more transparency into the process used by Feinberg to distribute the relief money and on Feb. 18, when the next arguments are scheduled in the complaint process, may ask for court-mandated changes to the process.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Pushes for Energy-Efficient Businesses

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- Focusing on domestic issues Thursday afternoon in Pennsylvania, even as the situation in Egypt rages on, President Obama announced the “Better Building Initiative” to make American commercial businesses more energy-efficient.

The president admitted that energy-efficient buildings “may not sound too sexy” but tried to spice it up a little for the Penn State crowd by saying that it is “one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to save money, combat pollution and create jobs.”

Standing in front of a “Winning the Future” backdrop, a term coined in his State of the Union address last month, the president pushed the agenda of out-innovation, unveiling new initiatives that he said will make it easier for businesses to overcome the barriers of investing in innovation.

“If you're willing to make your buildings more energy efficient, we'll provide new tax credits and financing opportunities for you to do so,” Obama said. “So you show us the best ideas to change your game on the ground; we'll show you the money.”

The president gave what he called an “extreme example,” the Empire State Building whose owners are investing in renovations that will reduce their energy consumption. The investment will soon pay for itself and will save them $4.4 million a year in energy costs. The president issues a challenge to CEOs, to labor, to building owners, hospitals, universities and others to join in.

“So we're telling scientists and we're telling engineers all across the country that if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields and focus on tackling the biggest obstacles to clean, abundant and affordable energy, then we're going to get behind their work. We as a country will invest in them. We'll get them all in one place, and we'll support their research. “

The goals: to achieve a 20-percent improvement in energy-efficiency by 2020, reduce energy bills for companies and business by about $40 billion annually, and save energy by creating new incentives and challenging the private sector to serve as a catalyst for progress.

One of the president’s initiatives to reach that goal is to create new and more effective tax incentives for building owners who are looking to make investments and upgrades in their buildings to save energy.

The White House says the existing tax codes incentives are “outdated and they aren’t working as effectively as they could be.” The budget will propose a new tax credit that they hope will increase by ten-fold the take of the credit over the coming years.

To pay for it, the president proposed eliminating tax breaks for oil companies to pay for tax incentives.
“They are doing just fine on their own,” Obama said of the oil companies. “So it's time to stop. That's what our project is."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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