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Saturday
Sep032011

Detail Time for Republican Candidates on Constitution

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON ) -- The Republican presidential candidates are about to get a chance to put some policy meat on the rhetorical bones when it comes to talking about the Constitution.

On ABC’s Top Line Friday, Princeton Professor Robert George, who’s moderating a Republican presidential forum Monday in South Carolina, discussed his role with the American Principles Project.

George—who will question candidates at the American Principles Project Palmetto Freedom Forum alongside Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa—said he plans to press candidates on what they mean when they cite the federal government as growing beyond its constitutional bounds.

“A number of the Republican candidates have made clear that their view is that the national government has grown too big, too intrusive, too expensive. And they have claimed—I think quite plausibly—that there are constitutional questions and not just policy questions at issue here,” George said.

“The trouble is that the Republican candidates who make those claims and arguments have not gone into much detail about their views. And I think it’s time to press those candidates about the details.”

In George’s view, reining in the federal government shouldn’t fall to the Supreme Court exclusively, or even primarily.

“It seems to me that the primary responsibility for ensuring that the national government does stay within its constitutional limits rests with the Congress and the president—with the elected representatives of the people,” he said.

“I would reject any theory that says that Congress and the president should just do whatever they think is best from a policy point of view and then wait for the Supreme Court to tell them whether it’s permissible or not,” he said. “I would add that I think it’s the responsibility of the people—who are sovereign in this constitutional system—the people to police those boundaries by making politicians who transgress the boundaries pay the consequences at the polls.”

And with all the talk about the Tenth Amendment inside the Tea Party movement these days—it “reserved to the States” powers not delegated to the federal government—George explained why the textbooks he assigned in his class in the mid-1990s did not even include that amendment in its index.

“The Tenth Amendment is actually not something that adds a new dimension to the Constitution. It is rather a reminder of the original theory of constitutional government under the original Constitution, before the adoption of the first eight amendments, which we call the Bill of Rights,” he said.

“Now of course, if you talk to Rick Perry, if you talk to Ron Paul, probably a number of the other candidates, they’ll say there’s an additional reason that it’s been forgotten, and that is that the national government has grown too big and too strong and too powerful and that the Supreme Court has walked away since about 1937 from its responsibility to try to hold the national government to its proper constitutional limits and bounds.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Sep032011

Arizona Governor Decides Against Holding State Primary In January

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced Friday night that she has decided against holding her state’s presidential primary on Jan. 31, temporarily easing the concerns of GOP leaders around that country that she would throw the primary calendar into chaos.

What she got in exchange is a promise by the Republican National Committee of a GOP presidential debate to be held in her state, which she said would “make certain that the major presidential candidates travel to Arizona, speak with our voters and address issues unique to the Southwest.”

Brewer had been threatening to hold her state’s primary in late January—a violation of national Republican Party rules—and a date that was all but certain to force a quartet of other states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina) to push their primaries up in response.

In her statement on Friday, Brewer said she would set Arizona’s primary date, now scheduled for Feb. 28, at a later time.

“Just as important as what I’m announcing today is what I’m not announcing: a formal date for Arizona’s Presidential Preference Election,” she said. “I will for the time being keep my options open.”

Earlier Friday, ABC News reported that other states—namely South Carolina and Florida—were already sending signals that they might join forces against Brewer if she had picked Jan. 31 for Arizona’s primary.

The current calendar, which is still in a state of flux, has the Iowa Caucuses being held on Feb. 6, the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 14, the Nevada Caucuses on Feb. 18 and the South Carolina primary on Feb. 28. No other state is supposed to hold their primary before Mar. 6 and states that leapfrog ahead face sanctions from the Republican National Committee.

But that calendar is far from finalized as other states continue to jockey for an earlier slot on the nominating timeline. And Brewer could still cause headaches for Republican Party officials who are trying to sort out the timeline of nominating contests.

“Governor Brewer has punted the decision,” said Josh Putnam, a political science professor at Davidson College who follows the primary process.

Putnam said the Arizona Republican faces another series of deadlines throughout the month of September that would still allow her to choose a date before Feb. 28 to hold her state’s primary.

“With whatever date I choose, my goal remains the same as ever,” Brewer said. “To provide Arizona voters the biggest possible platform with which to impact the presidential nomination process.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Sep032011

Unexpected Detour: Marine One Forced to Land

Toby Melville/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a highly unusual maneuver, President Obama’s 30-minute flight to the Presidential mountain retreat at Camp David Friday afternoon was diverted to an undisclosed landing near Frederick, Md. and a motorcade assembled to drive him to the nearby site. White House press secretary Jay Carney tells ABC News a “bad weather call” was made before the President and his younger daughter Sasha even boarded the aircraft.

Carney says they arrived safely at Camp David. It remains unexplained why the President would be allowed to board Marine One knowing that the landing site on the mountain was experiencing poor weather making a landing difficult.

The press first learned of the diversion when wire agency still photographers, who traditionally stand by at Camp David for news coverage in case of an emergency, were told by the military at the mountain top Marine base that the President would be arriving by motorcade.

At the time Marine One took off in Washington Accuweather.com reported there was no precipitation across the entire region, including Camp David.

Light winds blew from the southeast at 10mph with mostly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-70s.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Sep032011

Obama's Weekly Address: Extending the Transportation Bill Is a 'No-Brainer'

Pete Souza/The White House(WASHINGTON) -- In his weekly address, President Obama once again urges Congress to pass an extension of the transportation bill, saying it would be a “disaster for our infrastructure and our economy” if the legislation is allowed to expire.
 
“There’s a lot of talk in Washington these days about creating jobs.  But it doesn’t help when those same folks turn around and risk losing hundreds of thousands of jobs just because of political gamesmanship.  We need to pass this transportation bill and put people to work rebuilding America.  We need to put our differences aside and do the right thing for our economy.  And now is the time to act,” the president says, noting that nearly one million American jobs are riding on the transportation bill.
 
The legislation, which has been renewed seven times over the last two years, provides funding for highway construction, bridge repair, mass transit systems and revenue in the form of the federal gas tax.
 
“Renewing this transportation bill is a no-brainer,” Obama says. “But thanks to political posturing in Washington, they haven’t been able to extend it this time -- and the clock is running out.”
 
Obama has been publicly pushing Congress to act on the transportation bill in an effort to sway lawmakers who may try to use the bill to create yet another impasse on Capitol Hill. The bill is set to expire at the end of September but the House and Senate remain far apart on the legislation: the House is proposing a six-year $235 billion bill, while the Senate wants a two-year $109 billion measure.
 
Because the differences between the two chambers are so great, Congress will likely need to pass a short-term extension to avoid a shut down at the end of the month. Democrats fear Republicans will try to attach extraneous riders, which is why the president is calling for a “clean extension.”
 
“This isn’t a Democratic or a Republican issue -- it’s an American issue,” Obama says. “I’m calling on Congress, as soon as they come back, to pass a clean extension of the transportation bill to keep workers on the job, keep critical projects moving forward, and to give folks a sense of security.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Sep032011

GOP Address: Rep. Bob Goodlatte Puts the Focus on Job Creation

David Scull/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In this week's Republican address, Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte focuses on job creation -- a topic that is no doubt weighing on the minds of many Americans, considering new jobs data released this Friday showing no new jobs created in August.

Rep. Goodlatte says that, high taxes, burdensome regulations and "red tape" keeps employers from planning and investing in the workforce.  Additionally, Goodlatte says the President Obama's "stimulus" proved to be "counterproductive," leaving more reason for the president to call for bipartisan support for the Balanced Budget Amendment.  The measure, Goodlatte says would ensure the government could only spend what it is taking in.

"This fall, both the House and the Senate will vote on a Balance Budget Amendment to the Constitution that would force Congress to spend only what the government takes in," Goodlatte says in the address. "This would ensure spending cuts made today don't easily disappear tomorrow.  That doesn't just mean fiscal house in order -- It also means more certainty for the private sector and a better environment for job creation."

"That's why, in his upcoming jobs speech, President Obama should call on both parties to come together this fall and send a Balanced Budget Amendment to the states for ratification," he adds.

Goodlatte also says an expansion in energy production and the approval of free-trade agreements opening new markets to U.S.-made goods would boost job creation.  But, he says, government mandates and heavy spending must be removed as well.

"By focusing on removing barriers to job creation and creating barriers to debt creation, we can get our economy back on track."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep022011

White House on Jobs Report: 'Clearly, Faster Growth Is Needed'

Gary S Chapman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In its first reaction to Friday’s jobs report -- in which it was shown that in August, not a single net job was added to employers' payrolls, a first since 1945 -- the White House says that the unemployment rate “remains unacceptably high” and that “clearly, faster growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the downturn.”

Friday’s worse-than-expected jobs report from the Labor Department showed that the nation’s unemployment rate remains unchanged at 9.1 percent. However, in a White House blog Katharine Abraham, a member of the Council of Economic Advisers, notes that private sector payrolls increased by 17,000 and that "despite a slowdown in economic growth from substantial headwinds experienced throughout the year, the economy has added private sector jobs for 18 straight months, for a total of 2.4 million jobs over that period."

As it does every month, the White House notes that monthly unemployment numbers are “volatile” and that it’s important “not to read too much into any one monthly report.”

Friday’s figures set the stage as the president prepares to outline his jobs proposal before Congress next week. “Next week, the President will lay out a series of additional bipartisan steps that Congress can take immediately to put more money in the paychecks of working and middle class families; to make it easier for small businesses to hire workers; to put construction crews to work rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure; and other measures that will help the economy grow while still reducing our deficit and getting our fiscal house in order,” Abraham writes.

“This number is a real punch in the gut” to the Obama administration, said ABC News White House correspondent Ann Compton, who called the report “deeply discouraging.”

“This kind of stubborn unemployment is exactly what has prompted President Obama to plan for a jobs speech on a big stage. He wants to be standing there at Congress' door when they arrive back, with a tray full of specific tax incentives and jobs projects that would have impact in September and October.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep022011

Republican Candidates on August Jobs Numbers

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- With the announcement Friday that the United States saw no job growth in the month of August, Republican presidential hopefuls took the opportunity to decry President Obama’s performance and promote their own plans for fixing the economy.

“We learned today that not a single job was created during the month of August in the United States of America. In the land of endless opportunity and abundant freedom, the very promise that has inspired generations of industrious and innovative people seems to be dwindling away.” Herman Cain wrote in a statement.

“Sadly, the fact that zero jobs were created last month is only fitting for this administration, which is led by a President with zero leadership, zero plans, zero results and zero understanding of basic economics. And the American people are worse off because of it.”

Candidates also showed little optimism about the jobs speech the president plans to deliver to a joint session of Congress on Thursday, Sept. 8.

“Two days after I offered a plan with serious solutions that would create jobs and get our economy going, we learn of yet another month with zero job growth,” Jon Huntsman wrote in a statement. “There is no clearer sign that the President has failed and the theatrics around his far-too-late jobs speech demonstrate that he has no real plan to change course.”

In a speech to the Republican National Hispanic Assembly in Tampa, Mitt Romney said he would present his own plan to increase jobs on Tuesday – two days before the president’s planned speech – and that it would be “bold, sweeping and specific.”

“But any plan is only as good as the person leading it. And you know, if we want to create jobs, it helps to have a president who has had a job,” Romney said.

Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann framed the numbers as proof of Obama’s policy shortcomings.

“For three years, in speech after speech, the President has claimed to be focused on the American worker, but month after month and report after report shows the opposite.  So either, the President’s economic policies are killing this economy or his lack of leadership – either way, President Obama is to blame,” Santorum wrote in a statement.

“Today’s jobs report showing that the economy created no jobs in the last month and unemployment at 9.1 percent is further evidence that President Obama’s failed economic policies are not working and have completely stalled job growth,” Bachmann wrote. “After spending three days last month on a bus tour focusing on jobs – today’s economic report shows that the nation’s economy is sitting at a huge stop sign. Before his vacation, the President gave us a speech about a jobs speech; the American people don’t need speeches, they need jobs.”

Ron Paul 2012 Presidential National Campaign released a statement from Chairman Jesse Benton.

“It’s high time that the president and his Washington establishment allies – those in both parties – ‘man up’ and face the responsibility to enact authentic change.”

For its part, the White House said unemployment “remains unacceptably high” and that “clearly, faster growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the downturn.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep022011

Obama Tells EPA to Ditch New Ozone Regulations

EPA(LOS ANGELES) -- Just days after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced the House would begin voting to repeal proposed air quality regulations that he said would prevent job growth, President Obama instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw its proposed ozone regulations.

"I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover," Obama said in a statement.

Obama said the standards are already being revised and would have to be updated again in 2013.

"Ultimately, I did not support asking state and local governments to begin implementing a new standard that will soon be reconsidered," Obama said in the statement.

In a jobs agenda memo to House Republicans, Cantor said the proposed ozone regulations would be "possibly the most harmful of all the currently anticipated Obama administration regulations" and would cost at least $1 trillion over a decade to implement. The EPA estimates that the public health benefits from the regulations could save up to $100 billion per year. But critics say the restrictions would cost employers dearly.

Besides small business tax breaks, Cantor's plan to ignite job growth was focused entirely on preventing new federal regulations from taking effect. All but three of the 10 regulations Cantor targeted are Environmental Protection Agency rules geared toward limiting power plant emissions.

"By pursuing a steady repeal of job-destroying regulations, we can help lift the cloud of uncertainty hanging over small and large employers alike, empowering them to hire more workers," Cantor, R-Va., wrote in the memo to House Republicans.

But EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson wrote Wednesday in a Huffington Post Op-ed that delaying the implementation of the proposed standards would "leave companies uncertain about investing" and prevent them from creating more jobs.

Cantor claims the regulations are "costly bureaucratic handcuffs" and will destroy millions of jobs. Under his plan the House will vote each week to roll back regulations on everything from more stringent ozone standards to coal ash emissions, a by-product of coal-burning power plants.

An EPA official said the agency has been implementing regulations like these since its inception in 1970, both when the economy was booming and when it was lagging.

"The EPA's regulations have had nothing to do with the current economic recovery that we're in," the EPA official maintains. "We've been doing this for 40 years. The bottom line is the economy continues to grow in the United States while we continue to do environmental control in the United States."

Some scientists claim that environmental regulation does not kill jobs because stricter standards spur innovation, which in turn creates jobs. Critics maintain that since the restrictions cost more to implement, following them in turn means less money for hiring employees in a time in which the country needs jobs the most.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep022011

Romney Talks Illegal Immigration in Florida

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Mitt Romney expanded on his immigration policy during a speech to the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, criticizing “candidate Obama” for making promises President Obama failed to keep.

“Our country must do a better job of securing its borders and as president, I will,” said Romney speaking in Tampa, Fla. “That means completing construction of a high-tech fence, and investing in adequate manpower and resources.”

Romney said he would also create an employment verification system that would “get tough on employers who hire illegal immigrants.”

Referring to legislation he enacted while governor in Massachusetts Romney said, “We must stop providing the incentives that promote illegal immigration.  As governor, I vetoed legislation that would have provided in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants and I strengthened the authority our state troopers had to enforce existing immigration laws.”

Romney also referred to the parents of Florida’s Republican Sen. Marco Rubio as an example of the benefits of legal immigration.

Rubio, said Romney, is “one of America’s great leaders.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep022011

Investigators Probe White House Role in Massive Energy Loan

Ken James/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House investigators said they have uncovered evidence that White House officials became personally involved in an Energy Department review of a hot-button $535 million loan guarantee to the now-failed California solar company Solyndra.

The allegation surfaced in a letter House Energy Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) sent to the White House Thursday night, saying he planned to accelerate efforts to understand an investment deal that may have left taxpayers out half a billion dollars.

"We have learned from our investigation that White House officials monitored Solyndra's application and communicated with [Department of Energy] and Office of Management and Budget officials during the course of their review," the letter says.

Thursday's letter, which calls on the White House to turn over correspondence between administration officials, Solyndra and its investors, presents the most pointed suggestion that the White House had direct involvement in the financing.

"How did this company, without maybe the best economic plan, all of a sudden get to the head of the line?" Upton told ABC News in an interview this week. "We want to know who made this decision ... and we're not going to stop until we get those answers."

White House officials have said in interviews that they did not intervene in the Solyndra deal or others benefiting companies backed by supporters of the president. Yet the administration, from Obama to the Department of Energy, has very publicly praised the loan guarantee.

In 2009, the Obama administration hailed the Solyndra loan as the first in a series of federal infusions for "green energy" firms that held the potential to clean up the environment and create jobs. But earlier this week, Solyndra abruptly closed its doors, announced it would file for bankruptcy and laid off more than 1,100 workers.

While Energy Department officials steadfastly vouched for Solyndra -- even after an earlier round of layoffs raised eyebrows -- other federal agencies and industry analysts for months questioned the viability of the company. Peter Lynch, a longtime solar industry analyst, told ABC News the company's fate should have been obvious from the start.

"Here's the bottom line," Lynch said. "It costs them $6 to make a unit. They're selling it for $3. In order to be competitive today, they have to sell it for between $1.5 and $2. That is not a viable business plan."

Other flags have been raised about how the Energy Department pushed the deal forward. The Center for Public Integrity's iWatch News and ABC disclosed that Energy Department officials announced the support for Solyndra even before final marketing and legal reviews were in. To government auditors, that move raised questions about just how fully the department vetted the deal -- and assessed its risk to taxpayers -- before signing off.

The White House's Office of Budget and Management viewed the arrangement as a riskier bet to taxpayers than DOE had. That forced the government to set aside millions more in case of a default, iWatch reported last month.

Republicans in Congress have raised questions for months about the Energy Department's decision to make Solyndra the poster-child for the green energy loan program. They expressed concern that so much federal money was headed to a company whose key investor was George Kaiser, an Oklahoma billionaire who raised more than $50,000 for Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. Since May, Kaiser has declined interview requests.

The Obama administration has said the loan to Solyndra came only after a thorough review by Energy Department analysts, and that no one from the White House exerted pressure to influence the decision to back the loan in 2009, or to restructure the financing this year after it became clear Solyndra was not thriving financially.

Asked about the wisdom of throwing its support behind Solyndra, Press Secretary Jay Carney said there is always risk in such a financing. But in the case of Solyndra and other green energy firms, he said, the risk is worth it.

"I think there were Republicans who thought investments in clean energy were a mistake, that they were ready to cede that vital industry to foreign competition," Carney said during Thursday's White House press briefing. "They were ready to cede the automobile industry to foreign competition, a million jobs there. I -- we just disagree on that front."

The Oklahoma-based George Kaiser Family Foundation, a prime investor in Solyndra, said in a statement cited by the Tulsa World newspaper that the company had been unable to overcome "serious challenges in the marketplace, especially the drastic decline in solar panel prices during the past two years caused in part by subsidies provided by the government of China to Chinese solar panel manufacturers."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio