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Entries in Obama Administration (46)

Monday
Oct312011

Poll: Hillary Clinton Favored for VP if Biden Bows Out

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden says he’s “absolutely, positively” going to be President Obama’s running mate in 2012.  But if he wasn’t?

A plurality of Americans would strongly prefer Hillary Clinton to step in to assume the VP role, according to a new 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll.

Forty-three percent of adults said they favored Clinton as a Biden replacement when presented with a list of possible names by pollsters.  

Billionaire businessman Warren Buffett, CIA director David Petraeus, Oprah Winfrey and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo all received single-digit support in the survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Clinton has remained a highly popular figure with voters, insulated from the political fallout over the lagging economy in her role as secretary of state.  A recent Gallup poll found 66 percent of Americans had a favorable opinion of her, compared with 46 percent for Biden.

In a March interview with CNN, Clinton announced that she would leave her post if Obama won re-election. She also ruled out running for the presidency again, or joining Obama on the 2012 ticket.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct142011

Obama Administration Pulls the Plug on Long-Term Care Program

Tom Williams/Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama Administration threw in the towel Friday, acknowledging that a Long-Term Care provision in the health care law championed by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., was financially unsustainable.

Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius wrote a letter to Congress that a 19-month “comprehensive analysis” of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program indicated that it was not viable.

CLASS was a voluntary program where a taxpayer could say, “I may need long term care someday,” and volunteer to pay premiums that would allow the taxpayer to get that cash later in life. There were concerns about this program as it was being formed, leading Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., to push a provision in the health care legislation saying HHS would need to certify that CLASS Act would be actuarially sound and financially solvent for 75 years before it could be implemented.

Friday Sebelius acknowledged that she couldn’t make that certification.

“The challenge that CLASS was created to address is not going away,” she noted. “By 2020, we know that an estimated 15 million Americans will need some kind of long-term care and fewer than three percent have a long-term care policy. … (L)eft unaddressed, long-term care costs to taxpayers will only increase. Without insurance coverage or the personal wealth to pay large sums in their later years, more Americans with disabilities will rely on Medicaid services once their assets are depleted, putting further strain on State and Federal budgets.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement that the announcement essentially meant that the Obama administration was acknowledging “what they refused to admit when they passed their partisan health bill: the CLASS Act was a budget gimmick that might enhance the numbers on a Washington bureaucrat’s spreadsheet but was destined to fail in the real world.”

Joyce A. Rogers, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs at AARP, issued a statement saying that the powerful seniors organization was “disappointed that the Secretary has prematurely stated she does not see a path forward to properly implement CLASS. In fact, the CLASS actuarial report established that CLASS can still be designed to be a ‘value proposition,’ although development work still needs to be done. We urge the Administration to continue dialogue and development of a viable path forward. Medicare does not cover long-term care, and 70 percent of people age 65 and over will need long-term care services at some point in their lifetime.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct132011

Boehner Urges Obama to Hold Iran Accountable for Assassination Plot

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the wake of a disrupted Iranian plot to assassinate a top Saudi diplomat that top House Republicans are calling an “act of war,” House Speaker John Boehner says the Obama administration should respond by holding the Iranian government’s “feet to the fire,” although he declined to outline specific steps.

“This plot is a very serious breach of international behavior and I would hope that our administration would hold the Iranian government, and hold their feet to the fire over the actions that have been alleged in this complaint,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said.  “I don’t think I need to be specific in terms of what the administration could or should do, but I’m hopeful that the administration will hold them accountable for their actions.”

After news broke of the alleged hit Tuesday, Rep. Pete King, the chairman of the House committee on Homeland Security, called the scheme an “act of war” and suggested the president should deport any Iranian government officials currently in the country.

“All options should be on the table for President Obama to respond forcefully to this grave provocation by Iran, and the president has my full support to act,” King, R-New York, stated.  “He should consider expelling Iranian officials, especially known intelligence officers, from the Iranian Mission to the United Nations in New York, and the Iranian Interests Section in Washington.  Iran has not acted as a civilized nation.  This arrest shows that Iranian government officials are not here in our country to conduct diplomacy, but rather murder, mayhem, and acts of terror.  I believe they should be deported.”

Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, condemned the plot as well, warning that the conspiracy is “dangerous new territory for Iran” and he said that the U.S. should assemble an international coalition to respond.

“This episode underscores the need for concerted international unity to confront Iran,” Rogers, R-Mich., stated.  “It is the latest in a series of aggressive actions -- from their nuclear program to state sponsorship of terrorism, from complicity in killing our soldiers in Iraq to now plotting hostile acts on U.S. soil.”

Boehner would not divulge whether the response should include a military element, but said that the plot demonstrates that the threat of terrorism is still prevalent and was only uncovered thanks to investments in the country’s intelligence agencies.

“The terror plot first shows all of us that the threat that we face has not gone away,” Boehner said.  “It also shows us that all of the investment that we’ve made and the efforts of our intelligence agencies, and counterintelligence agencies over the last 10 years, has been paying big dividends and continues to pay big dividends.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct032011

Activists Protest Relationship Between Lobbyist, Obama Administration

American actress Daryl Hannah sits in front of the White House in Washington, DC, Aug. 30, 2011, during a protest against the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Hannah was among dozens of protestors arrested in a demonstration against the oil pipeline which, if constructed, would run from Canada to Texas. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Opponents of a proposed $7 billion Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline say emails between an oil company lobbyist and the Obama administration reveal a pattern of “deeply disturbing” bias and corruption that undermines an impartial government assessment of the deal.

Friends of the Earth, an environmental group that obtained the emails through a Freedom of Information Act request, has been publishing the documents online in an effort to ratchet up pressure on the State Department, which is considering approval of the so-called Keystone XL project by the end of the year.

The emails show frequent, friendly and collaborative interactions between Paul Elliott, a lobbyist for TransCanada, the pipeline’s owner, and State Department staffers in Washington and Ottawa. Elliott is a former campaign aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Activists say the “most disturbing document” is an exchange between Elliott and Maria Verloop, a State Department energy and environmental issues counselor, in which Verloop cheers Elliott’s success in winning support from Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., for the pipeline.

“Go Paul! Baucus support holds clout,” she wrote in a Sept. 10, 2010, email.

Elliott responded to Verloop later that day, saying lobbying “is a grind but when the grind pays off with support it makes it worthwhile.”

In a December 2010 email, Verloop told Elliott that “it’s precisely because you have connections that you’re sought after and hired.”

Critics say the exchanges and dozens more like them depict inappropriately “cozy” relations between Elliott and the department, even if there is no sign of illegality.

“If President Obama remains true to his campaign promise that his election would mean an end to the days of lobbyists setting the agenda in Washington, he has no choice but to rescind the executive order delegating to the State Department the authority to sign a presidential permit for this pipeline,” Friends of the Earth said in a statement on its website.

“If the pipeline decision is made in the White House, rather than at the biased State Department, and if President Obama undertakes a fair and impartial analysis of the evidence, we believe he will reject this pipeline,” the group said.

Neither Clinton nor Obama have signaled their views on the pipeline, and administration officials insist the independent vetting process remains underway. Clinton is the final arbiter of the deal, which she is expected to rule on by the end of the year.

Nuland said the documents depict only one side of multi-lateral consultations surrounding the pipeline. She also said no contact has occurred between Elliott and any administration staffers with direct influence on the final approval process.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep202011

Does Sexism Pervade the White House?

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama, who rose to power on a message of inclusion and equality, came under fire this week when an author quoted female members of his administration as saying the White House was a sexist and "hostile" work environment.

Since excerpts leaked from the book Confidence Men, journalist Ron Suskind's take on how the Obama administration handled the financial crisis, Anita Dunn, former White House communications director, and Christina Romer, former head of the Council of Economic Advisers, have denied the substance of their remarks and said they were misquoted.

"I felt like a piece of meat," Romer was quoted in the book as saying of one meeting with Larry Summers, former chairman of the National Economic Council, complaining she was "boxed out" of the discussion.

According to the Washington Post, Dunn says in the book: "This place would be in court for a hostile workplace because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women."

The two women seemed to briefly open a window on the White House, giving a rare glimpse inside a tightly messaged administration, only to quickly close it.  Accusations, however, that Obama favors male staffers have dogged him since his election when reporters noticed he spent critical face time on the basketball court and the golf course exclusively with men.

But the whispers about how the Obama administration works behind the scenes contrast sharply with the president's public persona, the father of two daughters who appointed two women to the Supreme Court, and six women to cabinet or cabinet-equivalent positions.

Women, both Democrats and Republicans, who have worked in the White House in previous administrations describe the environment as intense and competitive.  Interviews with female officials who worked under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush said White House culture rewards the best ideas, regardless of who came up with them.

Though they haven't worked in the Obama White House, these female ex-officials said they were surprised by the way Dunn and Romer were quoted as characterizing their workplace.  They said they did not experience workplace harassment or sexism and were inclined to believe Dunn and Romer had indeed been misquoted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun152011

Did Obama Reward Big Donors with Jobs?

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama launched his campaign in 2007 promising a change in the way business is done in Washington, D.C., but on Wednesday a report from the Center for Public Integrity said that when it comes to major campaign donors scoring plum administration positions, it's business as usual.

The report says that 184 out of 556 2008 Obama campaign "bundlers," or donors who agreed to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for a campaign -- or their spouses -- joined the administration in some role.

But the percentages are much higher for the big-dollar bundlers. Nearly "80 percent of those who collected more than $500,000 for Obama took 'key administration posts,' as defined by the White House," the report said.

The center pointed out that candidate Obama suggested that big-moneyed interests would not have as prominent a role in D.C. during his administration.

"The cynics, the lobbyists, the special interests who've turned our government into a game, only they can afford to play," said then-Sen. Obama in his February 2007 announcement speech. "They get the access while you get to write a letter....The time for that kind of politics is over."

The White House on Wednesday pushed back on the report, saying it's "hardly a story" and insisting that donations play no role in awarding the plum jobs.

"The people who got those positions got them because of their credentials," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. "They also happen to be donors in some cases....Being a supporter does not qualify you for a job or guarantee you a job, but it does not disqualify you."

It's essentially the same explanation the Bush administration gave.

"We make no distinctions about people on the basis of whether they've given or not," said White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer in January 2001.

Tom Perrelli raised $500,000 for Obama in 2008 and is now associate attorney general. Charles Rivkin did the same and is now ambassador to France. So did Donald H. Gips, ambassador to South Africa, and John Roos, ambassador to Japan.

Fred Schulte, one of the authors of the report, said that there is a difference between the Bush administration and the Obama administration.

"We did look at the administration of George Bush, which was widely criticized for appointing donors to these kinds of posts, and they had about the same number in four years that the Obama administration has had in two years," Schulte said.

According to the American Foreign Service Association, President Obama has nominated more "political" appointees for ambassadorships versus foreign service candidates than any president in at least the past 20 years. A full 36.2 percent of Obama's ambassadors are political, while just more than 30 percent of Bush's were political. Under former President Clinton, 27.82 percent of such appointments were political, while under President George H.W. Bush, 30.3 percent were political.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May252011

Gen. Martin Dempsey to Be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey is the Obama administration's choice to become the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, succeeding Adm. Mike Mullen, who will retire Oct. 1, ABC News has learned.

An administration official confirmed the White House's surprise selection of the veteran officer, who became the Army's top officer last month.

Dempsey's selection finishes out the realignment of the Obama administration's Pentagon team brought on by the retirements of Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Leon Panetta, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, will replace Gates as defense secretary when he leaves his post June 30.

Dempsey's name had emerged in recent weeks as a top candidate to succeed Mullen as the chances of Marine Gen. James Cartwright seemed to fade. Cartwright had long been assumed to be the frontrunner since Bob Woodward's book, Obama's Wars, characterized him as President Obama's "favorite general."

During a meeting with Obama Saturday, a Defense official told ABC News, Cartwright was told that he was no longer a candidate to be the president's top military adviser. Neither Gates nor Mullen endorsed Cartwright to be the new Joint Chiefs chairman, the official said.

Dempsey served two combat tours in Iraq where he commanded the 1st Armored Division shortly after the 2003 invasion and later ran the U.S. effort to train Iraqi security forces. Dempsey also served as the acting commander of U.S. Central Command, which has responsibility for U.S. military affairs in the Middle East.

Prior to assuming the job as Army chief of staff in early April, Dempsey spent two years heading the Army's Training and Doctrine Command.

The career armor officer is a member of the West Point graduating class of 1974 where Gen. David Petraeus was a classmate.

Now the top military commander in Afghanistan, Petraeus will also play a role in the Obama administration's shuffle of national security players. Petraeus is slated to replace Panetta as the new CIA director in September.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May072011

Jon Huntsman Defends Obama Administration Role

LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images(COLUMBIA, S.C.) -- Former U.S. Ambassador to China and potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman made a stop at the University of South Carolina Saturday, to speak at the school’s graduation.

During his speech, the former ambassador and Utah governor addressed the issue that both Republicans and Democrats appear intent on using against him if he launches a White House bid -- his service in the administration of a president he may now be seeking to run against.

"Work to keep America great. Serve her if asked. I was, by a president of a different political party," Huntsman said. "But in the end, while we might not all be of one party, we are all part of one nation -- a nation that needs your generational gift, energy and confidence."

That he chose South Carolina and a graduation ceremony is notable. South Carolina is one of the four early primary states, and a graduation ceremony, instead of a traditional political event, allowed him to define himself as a person and not just a politician.

Even so, the South Carolina primary doesn't seem like a natural fit for Huntsman, whose moderate record on issues like cap-and trade-and civil unions for gay couples are not likely to sit well with the evangelical conservative electorate there.

The debate over America's relationship with China is also going to be something Huntsman is going to have to navigate. China was often used as a boogeyman during the 2010 election cycle and potential candidates like Donald Trump have made China's "currency manipulation" a major talking point in speeches to GOP-oriented groups.

"There are many in China who think their time has come, that America's best days are over. And, there are probably some in this country who have lost confidence and think that China is the next big thing," Huntsman said. "But these people aren't seeing things from my earlier vantage point of 10,000 miles away. The way I saw it from overseas, America's passion remains as strong today as ever."

Huntsman has wasted no time jump-starting the preparations for a potential presidential bid. In fact, several key supporters, including veterans of Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential operation, had already formed a kind of campaign-in-waiting by the time Huntsman touched down in the U.S. last week.

On Tuesday Huntsman set up a federal political action committee, "H PAC." A spokesman for the PAC, Tim Miller, said it was “an organizational step that will allow him to travel the country, discuss issues that are important to him, and support Republican candidates.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May022011

Obama Highlights 'Same Sense of Unity' Felt After 9/11

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Speaking before a bipartisan group of House and Senate members, President Obama called for the unity felt in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden to be extended to the upcoming debates on Capitol Hill.

“I know that unity that we felt on 9/11 has frayed a little bit over the years, and I have no illusions about the difficulty of the debates that we’ll have to be engaged in in the weeks and months to come,” Obama said from the East Room of the White House. “But I also know there have been several moments like this during the course of this year that have brought us together as an American family.”

The president referred to the shooting in Tucson, Ariz., in January and the recent storms that swept the South as times when both parties came together.

“Last night was one of those moments," he said. "And so tonight it is my fervent hope that we can harness some of that unity and some of that pride to confront the many challenges that we still face.”

The president had scheduled a dinner with bipartisan House and Senate Leadership, Committee Chairs, Committee Ranking Members and their guests, senior administration officials and members of the Cabinet weeks ago because he thought it would be a good opportunity for leaders of both parties and their spouses to spend time together, outside of politics.

“Tonight seems like an especially fitting occasion to do this,” he said. “Obviously we’ve all had disagreements and differences in the past. I suspect we’ll all have them again in the future, but last night as Americans learned that the United States had carried out an operation that resulted in the capture and death of Osama bin Laden ...”

The president was then interrupted by extended applause and a standing ovation from the members of Congress in the room.

“You know, I think we experienced the same sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11," he said when he resumed. "We were reminded again that there’s a pride in what this nation stands for and what we can achieve that runs far deeper than party, far deeper than politics.”

Obama thanked Congress for giving support to the military and the intelligence officials.

“Without your support they could not do what they do,” he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Monday
Apr252011

No Early Review of Health Care Law by Supreme Court

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court opted Monday not to step in and hear a challenge to the Obama administration’s health care law. 

The decision follows a request by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for the Supreme Court to step in and provide an expedited review of the health care law. The court’s decision not to intervene means that the appeals process will continue with expedited hearings this spring. The issue, however, could find its way back to the Supreme Court next term.

The cert denial reportedly made no mention of any recusals from any of the justices.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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