Facebook

Twitter

Tumblr

iTunes

RSS

HEAR THIS HOUR'S UPDATE
News Pages

Entries in President Obama (2500)

Saturday
Apr132013

Obama Plays Golf for Third Straight Weekend

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama is spending his third consecutive Saturday on the golf course at Joint Base Andrews, taking advantage of the warm spring weather.

The president was joined on the course by White House Trip Director Marvin Nicholson and White House aides Michael Brush and Joe Paulsen, the same three who accompanied the president last Saturday. Nicholson and Brush also joined Obama on the links two weeks ago.

While the president spent the day golfing, the White House opened its gates to the public for the annual spring White House garden tours.

Visitors who received free tickets through the National Park Service were able to roam through the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, the Rose Garden, and the South Lawn of the White House.  They also caught a peek at the White House Kitchen Garden, the first vegetable garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden.

But while visitors saw the tulips and roses blooming in the White House gardens, the White House itself is still off limits for tours.  White House tours were cancelled indefinitely on March 9th due to sequester cuts faced by the Secret Service.

The White House garden tours are operating today and Sunday only.

The president is an avid golfer. Interestingly, President Obama's recent budget proposal would close a tax loophole that currently allows golf course owners to claim a charitable tax deduction by donating some of the land the course sat on to a conservation land trust.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar182013

White House Fountain Dyed Green for St. Patrick’s Day

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In honor of St. Patrick’s Day Sunday, the White House dyed the fountain on the South Lawn green to celebrate.

President Obama spent most of St. Patrick’s Day at the White House, but went out Saturday afternoon to play basketball with his 11-year-old daughter Sasha at the Department of Interior.

While his weekend was quiet, the president will continue his St. Patrick’s Day celebration on Tuesday, first attending the traditional St. Patrick’s Day lunch at the Capitol.  In the evening, the president and first lady will host Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny for a St. Patrick’s Day reception at the White House.  The president and Kenny will participate in the annual Shamrock ceremony, a tradition that dates back to the presidency of Harry Truman.

Last year, Obama popped into the Dubliner, a pub on Capitol Hill, for a Guinness and a toast with the crowd.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar152013

Obama to Start Fundraising for Dems Looking to Win House Seats

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama assured Republicans this week that he’s not running a perpetual campaign, that “I actually just want to govern, at least for a couple years.”  But now, it appears that the president’s self-described hiatus from the campaign trail will only last another three weeks.

ABC News has learned that Obama will hit the road on April 3 to help raise money for Democrats gunning to win House seats from Republicans in 2014.

Democratic sources say Obama will head to San Francisco next month to headline two fundraisers for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).   House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will also attend, the sources said.

As ABC News reported last month, Obama has committed to hosting at least 14 fundraisers this year for House and Senate Democratic candidates -- a significant step up from the fundraising efforts of previous second-term presidents.

Ten of the events will reportedly be held outside of Washington, D.C., with five benefitting the DCCC and five the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar132013

President Obama: There Is No Debt Crisis

Stephen Chernin/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- There has been no shortage of dire warnings about the mounting U.S. national debt, but President Obama is now offering a different assessment: no big deal.

“We don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt,” Obama said in an exclusive interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos for Good Morning America.  “In fact, for the next 10 years, it’s gonna be in a sustainable place.”

It’s an assessment that may throw cold water on the latest attempt to achieve a so-called grand bargain to reduce the deficit.  After all, a grand bargain would require difficult decisions for both sides -- for Republicans, it would mean raising taxes, and for Democrats, cutting future spending on programs like Social Security and Medicare.  If there is no crisis, why would either side do it?

So, what happens if this latest effort to reach a deficit agreement falls through?  Once again, the president’s answer was, essentially, no big deal.

“Ultimately, it may be that the differences are just too wide” to get a deal, Obama said.  “That won’t create a crisis.  It just means that we will have missed an opportunity.”

The president’s reasoning is that the series of 11th hour agreements he has struck with Republicans over the last two years -- to prevent a government shutdown, raise the debt ceiling and avoid the fiscal cliff -- have resulted in enough deficit reduction to get the debt under control.

“I think what’s important to recognize is that we’ve already cut $2.5- $2.7 trillion out of the deficit,” he told Stephanopoulos.  “If the sequester stays in, you’ve got over $3.5 trillion of deficit reduction already.”

By that accounting, we have already achieved nearly all the $4 trillion the Bowles-Simpson debt commission called for back in 2010.

But there are two problems with that accounting:

First, the Congressional Budget Office projects a deficit of $845 billion -- that’s lower than the $1 trillion-plus deficits we’ve seen over the past four years and, as a percentage of the total economy, half the annual deficit of 2009.  But CBO also warns that the deficit is projected to continue rising once again after 2015, adding a total of $7 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years.

Second, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson are now saying we are nowhere near accomplishing the amount of deficit reduction needed to put the government on sustainable path.

“They haven’t done any of the tough stuff, any of the important stuff,” Bowles told ABC's Jonathan Karl last month.  “They haven’t reformed the tax code…they haven’t done anything to slow the rate of health care, to the rate of growth of the economy, they haven’t made Social Security sustainably solvent.  There’s about $2.4 trillion more of hard work we’ve gotta do.”

Allan Simpson went further, calling the failure to control entitlement spending “madness.”

“Ten thousand [Americans] a day are turning 65,” Simpson told Karl.  “This is madness.  And life expectancy is 78.1, and in five years will be 80.  Who is kidding who?  This will eat a hole through America.”

Urgent or not, the president seemed downright pessimistic about bridging the difference between Democrats and Republicans on how to further reduce the deficit.

“I am prepared to do some tough stuff.  Neither side’s gonna get 100 percent.  That’s what the American people are lookin’ for.  That’s what’s gonna be good for jobs.  That’s what’s gonna be good for growth,” Obama said.  “But ultimately, it may be that the differences are just too wide.  It may be that ideologically, if their position is, ‘We can’t do any revenue,’ or, ‘We can only do revenue if we gut Medicare or gut Social Security or gut Medicaid’ -- if that’s the position, then we’re probably not gonna be able to get a deal.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar132013

Poll: Large Racial Gap Marks Trust on Immigration

John Gurzinski/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Slightly more Americans trust Barack Obama than congressional Republicans to handle immigration, but neither side garnered a majority between whites and nonwhites in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Americans overall divide by 45-39 percent between Obama and the Republicans in Congress in trust to handle the issue; the rest are undecided or trust neither side.  Whites favor the GOP over Obama on immigration by 47-36 percent, while nonwhites (blacks, Hispanics and others) prefer Obama by a broad 71-16 percent.

See a PDF with full results here.

There also are sharp partisan and ideological differences in trust on immigration in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.  Democrats and Republicans each prefer their side’s approach by an identical 66 percentage points; independents divide closely between Obama and the GOP, 41-36 percent.

Very conservative Americans favor the Republicans on immigration by 65 points and those who say they’re somewhat conservative do so by 33 points.  Moderates take Obama’s side by a 21-point margin, liberals by 61 points.

Obama has made immigration reform a second-term priority, having beaten Mitt Romney in last year’s election by 61 percentage points among the growing proportion of nonwhites overall and by 44 points among Hispanics, while losing whites by 20 points.

In step with the president’s policy direction, majorities in recent ABC/Post polls have supported a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.  His approval rating on the issue in February, while just 49 percent, was the highest of his presidency and up 11 points since the summer.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar132013

Obama Considers Resuming White House Tours for School Groups

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Four days after shuttering the White House to the public to cut costs, President Obama says he’s asking the U.S. Secret Service about the possibility of resuming tours for school groups, which have begun descending on the nation’s capital for spring break.

“What I’m asking them is are there ways, for example, for us to accommodate school groups … who may have traveled here with some bake sales,” Obama told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an interview on Good Morning America.  “Can we make sure that kids, potentially, can still come to tour?”

Obama’s comments suggested, contrary to previous statements by the administration, that the decision to scrap the tours fell solely to the Secret Service.

“I have to say this was not a decision that went up to the White House,” Obama said in the interview.  “But what the Secret Service explained to us was that they’re going to have to furlough some folks."

“The question for them is, you know, how deeply do they have to furlough their staff and is it worth it to make sure that we’ve got White House tours that means that you got a whole bunch of families who are depending on a paycheck, who suddenly are seeing a 5 percent or 10 percent reduction in their pay,” he said.

An administration official, seeking to clarify the president’s remarks, stressed that the decision to cancel the tours never came to the Oval Office, but that it was ultimately made by White House staff.

“In order to allow the Secret Service to best fulfill its core mission, the White House made the decision that we would, unfortunately, have to temporarily suspend these tours,” spokesman Jay Carney told reporters last week.

Secret Service officials also told ABC News that the decision to cancel the tours was made by the White House, although the agency first proposed the move as a possible cost-saving measure.  The Secret Service has to cut $84 million because of so-called sequestration; canceling public tours saves $74,000 per week, the agency said.

“I’m always amused when people on the one hand say the sequester doesn’t mean anything and the administration’s exaggerating its effects; and then whatever the specific effects are, they yell and scream and say, ‘Why are you doing that?’  Well, there are consequences to Congress not having come up with a more sensible way to reduce the deficit,” Obama said.

One group of sixth-graders from Waverly, Iowa, which had planned to tour the White House later this week, has launched a grassroots lobbying campaign to pressure lawmakers and the administration to open the doors at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

A new website produced by the students -- “The White House is OUR HOUSE” -- urges people to call and email the administration to reinstate the tours and features a catchy web video they hope will go viral.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar132013

Obama: Gap Between Parties 'Too Wide' for Grand Bargain on Budget

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In an exclusive interview with ABC News, President Obama spoke on a range of high-profile issues, including his outlook for the on-going budget negotiations, whether the Chinese government is behind the recent spate of cyber attacks against U.S. companies, North Korea’s nuclear threats, same-sex marriage, and the conclave to select the next pope.

Obama pessimistic about a grand bargain ahead of meetings with Republican lawmakers.


Ahead of meetings with GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate Wednesday and Thursday, Obama signaled pessimism about the prospect of reaching a grand bargain in the ongoing budget negotiations.  He said that there is not an “immediate debt” crisis and that, ultimately, there may just be too much space between the two parties to reach a deal.

“Ultimately, it may be that the differences are just too wide.  It may be that ideologically, if their position is, 'We can’t do any revenue,' or, 'We can only do revenue if we gut Medicare or gut Social Security or gut Medicaid,' if that’s the position, then we’re probably not gonna be able to get a deal,” the president told ABC's George Stephanopoulos.

“That won’t create a crisis,” Obama said.  “It just means that we will have missed an opportunity.  I think that opportunity is there and I’m gonna make sure that they know that I’m prepared to work with them.  But ultimately, it may be better if some Democratic and Republican Senators work together. ”

Examining the possibility of restoring some White House tours.


“What I’m asking them is are there ways, for example, for us to accommodate school groups, you know, who may have traveled here with some bake sales.  Can we make sure that kids, potentially, can still come to tour?” Obama said.

“I’m always amused when people on the one hand say the sequester doesn’t mean anything and the administration’s exaggerating its effects; and then whatever the specific effects are, they yell and scream and say, 'Why are you doin’ that?'” he said.  “Well, there are consequences to Congress not having come up with a more sensible way to reduce the deficit.”

For the first time, Obama publicly declared that the Chinese government is behind recent cyber attacks.

“Well, I think always have to be careful war analogies.  Because, you know, there’s a big difference between– them engaging in cyber espionage or cyber attacks and obviously a hot war.  What is absolutely true is that we have seen a steady ramping up of cyber security threats.  Some are state sponsored.  Some are just sponsored by criminals,” Obama said.

Stephanopoulos asked the president to clarify that some were indeed state sponsored.

“Absolutely,” Obama responded.

“We don’t like margin of error” with regards to North Korea’s nuclear capacity.

Stephanopoulos asked the president if he believed North Korea could now make good on their threats of nuclear action against South Korea and the United States.

“They probably can’t, but we don’t like margin of error,” Obama began.  But when pressed if it was really that close, he rephrased his response.

“It’s not that close.  But what is true is, is they’ve had nuclear weapons since well before I came into office.  What’s also true is missile technology improves and their missile technology has improved,” the president said.

“Now, what we’ve done is we’ve made sure that we’ve got defensive measures to prevent any attacks on the homeland.  And we’re not anticipating any of that.  But we’ve seen outta the North Koreans is they go through these periodic spasms of provocative behavior,” he added.

Stephanopoulos asked the president if he believes these recent threats are more serious than previous threats.

“Well, I don’t necessarily think it’s different in kind.  They’ve all been serious.  Because when you’re talking about a regime that is oppressive towards its people, is belligerent has shown itself to sometimes miscalculate and do things that are very dangerous that’s always a problem,” Obama said.

Obama “couldn’t imagine circumstances” where a state ban on same-sex marriage was constitutional.

Ahead of the Supreme Court arguments on same-sex marriage scheduled for the end of the month, Stephanopoulos asked the president if he still believed that the issue was best left to the states, or if he felt that same-sex marriage was a right guaranteed by the constitution.

“Well, I’ve gotta tell you that in terms of practical politics, what I’ve seen is a healthy debate taking place state by state, and not every state has the exact same attitudes and cultural mores,” Obama said.  “What I also believe is that the core principle that people don’t get discriminated against. That’s one of our core values.  And it’s in our constitution.”

The president said he personally could not see a scenario where a state has a legal justification for banning same-sex marriage.

“What I believe is that if the states don’t have a good justification for it, then it probably doesn’t stand up to constitutional muster,” he said.

Stephanopoulos asked: "Can you imagine one?"

“Well, I can’t, personally.  I cannot.  That’s part of the reason I said, ultimately, I think that, you know, same-sex couples should be able to marry,” Obama said.

Obama rejected concerns that an American pope would be too closely aligned with the U.S. government.

Turning across the Atlantic to the papal conclave happening this week, Obama rejected the notion held by some cardinals that an American pope would be too closely aligned with the U.S. government -- an argument frequently used against American cardinals who might be considered contenders for the papacy.

"The conference of Catholic bishops here in the United States don’t seem to be takin’ orders from me,” he said.  “My hope is based on what I know about the Catholic Church and the terrific work that they’ve done around the world.”

Stephanopoulos' full interview with Obama will air Wednesday night on ABC's Nightline.  You can read the full transcript of the interview here.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar132013

Drop in Approval Ends Obama's Post-Election Honeymoon

Win McNamee/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The post-election party is over for Barack Obama, with the president slipping in overall approval and relinquishing his advantage over congressional Republicans in trust to handle the economy.  But it looks not so much like a gain for the GOP as a sequester-inspired pox on both houses.

The automatic budget cuts now in effect are unpopular, if not overwhelmingly so -- Americans in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll disapprove by 53-39 percent.  But concerns about their impact are broad, and, by a 14-point margin, more put responsibility on the Republicans in Congress than on Obama for the sequester taking place.

See a PDF with full results, charts and tables here.


That said, it’s Obama’s economic stewardship that’s taken the bigger hit.  Last December, still enjoying a post-election glow, he held an 18-point edge over the Republicans in Congress in trust to handle the economy.  Today, with the latest budget impasse in full force, that’s now shrunk to an insignificant 4 percentage points.

The president’s job approval rating overall, meanwhile, has lost 5 points, from nearly a three-year high of 55 percent in January to his more customary 50 percent.  The Democrats in Congress have moved in the same direction, down 5 points in approval since December to 34 percent in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.

Approval of the Republicans in Congress is flat, but at 24 percent, it's even lower than it is for the Democrats.  And the Congress as a whole has a dismal 16 percent job approval rating, a mere three points from the record low in nearly 40 years of polling it set slightly more than a year ago.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar122013

Obama Heads to Capitol Hill in Search of Deficit Deal

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama kicks off a three-day series of rare meetings on Capitol Hill Tuesday, as he attempts to convince Congress to reach a deal to rein in the nation’s deficit.  

Obama will make the trip up Pennsylvania Avenue Tuesday afternoon for a meeting with the Senate Democratic caucus.  Over the course of this week, the president will woo Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate as he tries to cut a deal.

After Congress and the White House failed to reach a deal to avert $85 billion in across-the-board sequester cuts, and just months after the bitter battle over the “fiscal cliff,” the president is hoping to capitalize on a brief lull before the next fiscal deadline.

“Now we have a period where, because of the choice to let the sequester take effect, we are not now in a countdown clock situation,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney explained last week.  “There is an opportunity here to do what some members of Congress and leaders have said they would like to do, and we agree, and that is return to some sense of normalcy here, regular order, engage in a budget process and negotiation and debate that hopefully produces a bipartisan compromise.”

Obama’s outreach campaign, which began with a dinner with Republican senators last week and has been welcomed by lawmakers, will be tested this week.

The president’s meetings on the Hill come as Congress considers budget resolutions in both chambers.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray, D-Wash., are both expected to release their budget blueprints for 2014 this week.  The proposals, however, are expected to be far apart.

Carney said on Monday that the president’s discussions with lawmakers will not be budget negotiations.

“I wouldn’t expect that they’re going to trade paper on numbers,” he said.  “[The president] looks forward to making clear what his policy positions are, to making clear his sincerity when it comes to his belief that we need to take action on our deficit.”

The president is required by law to submit his budget to Congress no later than the first Monday in February, but Obama has yet to release his plan and the White House has not set a date for him to do so.

Also this week, Senate Democrats will introduce their bill to fund the government through the end of the year, after the House passed a version last week.  Most federal agencies will run out of money on March 27 if Congress doesn’t act.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar112013

Obama to Huddle with Organizing for Action Group

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will formally inaugurate Organizing for Action, his newly-formed independent advocacy group, with a headline speech Wednesday night before the group’s Founders’ Summit in Washington.

Obama’s appearance, confirmed to ABC News by an OFA official, will be his first in-person with the group’s core team of advisers, donors and grassroots organizers since its formation following the 2012 election.

It comes as Obama seeks to re-energize his expansive grassroots campaign infrastructure around top second-term priorities -- from new gun-control measures to comprehensive immigration reform and a plan to replace sequester -- and cement the foundation for his presidential legacy.

The summit will stretch over two days at Washington’s St. Regis Hotel, including a series of meetings, discussions and brainstorming sessions aimed at shaping the group’s advocacy agenda and grassroots mobilization strategy, the official said.  It will also engage key Democratic donors who have pledged to underwrite the group.

Obama has drawn criticism from government watchdog groups and some Republicans for reportedly promising regular face-time at quarterly meetings to wealthy would-be donors -- a charge which OFA has denied.  He is not expected to spend any one-on-one time with the donors in attendance on Wednesday, the official said.

“Everyone will be in one room,” including donors, former campaign aides and dozens of grassroots organizers and volunteers, the official told ABC News.  The group has pledged to voluntarily disclose the identities of its donors and post online the amounts of their contributions.

Also attending the gathering are former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina; senior adviser David Plouffe; OFA executive director Jon Carson; outgoing Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson; and other prominent organizers, according to the OFA official.

Obama’s planned speech at the OFA Founders’ Summit was first reported by Politico.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio